Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC | MLS Match Preview

COLUMBUS CREW vs TORONTO FC
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
Aug. 9, 2014 (WEEK 22, MLS Game #204)
7:30 p.m. ET (TWCS-OH; SNet 360)

It's the third meeting for the Trillium Cup as the Columbus Crew play host to Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. TFC have already claimed the supporter-awarded trophy this season, winning both at BMO Field and in Columbus. The Crew come into the game holding down the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, now with a three-game undefeated streak following a 1-1 draw at Chicago. TFC snapped their two-game losing slide last weekend in satisfying fashion, defeating arch-rivals Montreal Impact 2-0 in Quebec.

REFEREE: Marcos de Oliveira. AR1 (bench): Craig Lowry; AR2 (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Mark Geiger
MLS Career: 1 game; FC/gm: 37.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 1; pens: 1

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp ? TOR: Michael Bradley, Jackson
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Bernardo Anor, Federico Higuain, Giancarlo Gonzalez ? TOR: Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow, Dominic Oduro, Collen Warner, Warren Creavalle
DISABLED LIST: CLB: Matthew Wiet; Josh Williams; Kingsley Baiden (season-ending injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Crew 10 wins, 32 goals | Toronto FC 4 wins, 24 goals | Ties 7
AT COLUMBUS (11 meetings): Crew 7 wins, 20 goals | Toronto FC 2 wins, 13 goals | Ties 2

2014 (MLS)
4/5: CLB 0, TOR 2 (Bradley 11; Nakajima-Farran 85)
5/31: TOR 3, CLB 2 (Defoe 21, 81; Henry 92+ -- Meram 18; Viana 65)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Michael Bradley and Issey Nakajima-Farran scored goals to lead Toronto FC to a 2-0 victory on April 5 at Crew Stadium; then TFC got late goals from Jermain Defoe and Doneil Henry for a 3-2 come-from-behind win May 31 at BMO Field.
  • Toronto FC have won their last two home meetings with the Crew, their first ever in the series, after three losses and five draws.
  • TFC's win in the last meeting was their first in Columbus since 2011, just their second all-time at Crew Stadium.
  • Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen v CLB: P5 W3 L2 D0 | Gregg Berhalter vs. TOR: P2 W0 L2 D0

LAST MEETING

  • The Crew took the lead in the 18th minute. Justin Meram picked up a pass at the edge of the box on a quick Crew counterattack and curled a shot past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik into the top corner for a 1-0 lead.
  • But just a couple of minutes later, Jackson found Jermain Defoe in the box, and after he was pulled down by defender Tyson Wahl, referee Sorin Stoica awarded a penalty kick. Defoe stepped up to the spot and struck his finish into the bottom left corner past Crew 'keeper Steve Clark, who got a touch on the ball but couldn?t make the save.
  • The Crew regained the lead again in the 65th minute when a corner kick which was swung in and met by Agustin Viana, who outjumped a defender and headed home.
  • But TFC had another comeback in them. First, in the 81st minute, when substitute Gilberto slipped a through ball in for Defoe, and he hammered a first-time with his left foot from just outside the box into the top corner for the leveler.
  • Then in stoppage time, Dan Lovitz swung in a free kick from the right flank and Doneil Henry sent a glancing header inside the far post for the winner.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Doneil Henry, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow, - Jackson (Gilberto 66), Bradley Orr (Daniel Lovitz 18), Kyle Bekker, Jonathan Osorio (Dwayne De Rosario 71) - Luke Moore, Jermain Defoe.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Steve Clark - Josh Williams, Tyson Wahl, Michael Parkhurst, Chad Barson - Agustin Viana (Fifi Baiden 73), Tony Tchani - Ethan Finlay (Bernardo Anor 90), Daniel Paladini (Ben Speas 61), Justin Meram - Jairo Arrieta.

COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew extended their undefeated streak to three games, reaching a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Crew are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, with 27 points from 22 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Fire took the lead in the 37th minute. Grant Ward put in a cross from the right side of the box which hit the arm of defender Tyson Wahl, and he was whistled for a handball by referee Silviu Petrescu. Mike Magee converted, slotting the spot kick past Columbus 'keeper Steve Clark into the lower-right corner.
  • But the Crew pulled even just 12 seconds after the halftime restart. A Fire defender missed a header in the Fire's final third and the ball fell to Federico Higuain, who evaded a tackle in the box and poked home.
  • Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter made two changes to the team that took a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Tyson Wahl came into the back four for Chad Barson, and Ben Speas came back into the midfield in place of Bernardo Anor.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-2): Steve Clark - Michael Parkhurst (Eric Gehrig 90), Tyson Wahl, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Waylon Francis - Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Ben Speas (Justin Meram 66) - Federico Higuain, Adam Bedell (Aaron Schoenfeld 66).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Crew extended their undefeated streak to three matches, taking points from a second consecutive away match.
  • "In the first half, we lacked the desire, pure and simple," Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said. "In the second half, when we started playing, there was combination and desire all across the board, the defensive side and offensive side."
  • Federico Higuain scored a goal for a second consecutive match, his first goals since May 17.
  • "We needed to be patient and find those gaps between the midfield line and the defensive line, more towards the inside, then we can turn and play from there. I think we did that," said Berhalter. "But besides tactics, to me it was the will, it was the will of the guys, the belief in the guys, and I missed that in the first half. That's what we communicated to the guys at halftime. We said you have to show more.  It's not good enough."
  • Said midfielder Wil Trapp: "I thought the second half we came out obviously right off the bat.  It's something we've been kind of looking at which is great. Not a pretty goal but a goal nonetheless. I thought we created a lot of chances. We were a little unlucky not to come away with three points."
  • Ethan Finlay set up the Crew goal, his third assist of the season. He has two goals and two assists over the last six matches, since July 4, all since returning to the starting lineup.
  • Tyson Wahl came into central defense, his first start since June 7. Michael Parkhurst moved outside to right back, his second start at fullback this season.
  • "You see when he gets forward he's accurate in his passing, he's calm, and I thought we needed a little bit more accuracy in that position," Berhalter said of Parkhurst.
  • Ben Speas returned to the starting lineup, his first start since July 12.
  • "I thought we were pushing hard to get the second one," Speas said. "We had some good chances, [Johnson] made some nice saves. We pushed, but we wish we could have come away with three [points]."

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC put an end to their losing run after two games, defeating the Montr?al Impact 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo. TFC sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, with 29 points from 20 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC opened the scoring in the 11th minute. On the ball in front of the Montreal box, Michael Bradley picked out Dominic Oduro on the right, and he cut the ball back to Gilberto, who blasted his first-time effort on frame. The shot hit Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins and bounced off the underside of the bar before landing on the turf just over the line.
  • TFC hit for the second in the in the 54th minute. With a magnificent long service, Bradley found Oduro sprinting behind the Montreal line on the right. Oduro carried the ball into the box, bouncing a cross off a defender and into the path of an onrushing Luke Moore, who tapped in from close range.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made three changes to the team that fell 3-0 to D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Doneil Henry came into the back four for Bradley Orr, Jonathan Osorio started in midfield in place of Jackson, and Gilberto came in up top in place of Jermain Defoe.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Warren Creavalle, Doneil Henry, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow - Dominic Oduro (Jackson 74), Collen Warner (Kyle Bekker 84), Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio - Gilberto (Daniel Lovitz 90), Luke Moore.

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC put an end to their winless streak after four games (including back-to-back losses), their first win since July 12. TFC has won twice in the last nine MLS games.
  • "The performances have been there for us. During the Kansas City and D.C. game we got a lot of chances, so I'm not surprised with our win, but getting the three points is a reward for the past two or three weeks for us that got us to know who we are as a team," said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen.
  • Said Michael Bradley "We walked off the field for the past two games without the results we wanted, so we really wanted this game and we gave a good performance and came out with those three points. ... We have a lot of games against Eastern Conference teams coming up and they're all 6-point swings, so we have to go on a good run and be consistent and come away with wins."
  • TFC also had its first shutout in nine games, since June 7, when they shut out San Jose 1-0 at BMO Field.
  • "[Defenders] Warren [Creavalle], Doneil [Henry] and Nick [Hagglund] are in their early 20s, Justin [Morrow] and [goalkeeper] Joe [Bendik] are still young and it was a very experienced and composed performance in the back," Nelsen said. "We possessed the ball with control and with purpose instead of just for possession?s sake. In the end, the performance was fantastic."
  • There was an injury blow in the days following the game when it was revealed Jermain Defoe will be out 2-3 weeks because of a groin injury that kept him out of the Impact game.
  • Gilberto scored his second league goal in the last four games, and now has three goals for his first MLS season.
  • Michael Bradley recorded his first assist in his return to MLS, involved in the opening goal. Bradley scored his only goal this season on April 5.
  • "Michael Bradley, it was his best performance in a Toronto FC shirt by a long way," Nelsen said. "Gil, he's used to the league now. His body's getting used to it, he's stronger now and in all honesty he?s only going to get better and better. He's also understanding a bit more English, too - he doesn't understand New Zealander but we'll work on that."
  • Dominic Oduro recorded his second assist in the last three games, and has four assists this season, all since coming to Toronto FC from Columbus.
  • Luke Moore scored his fourth goal of the league campaign, his first since July 5.