Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC | 2017 Conference Championship Preview

Playoffs - 2017 - Eastern Conference Championship generic image

Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC
Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Championship, Leg 1
MAPFRE Stadium – Columbus, Ohio
Tuesday, Nov. 21 – 8 pm ET
WATCH: ESPN, ESPN Deportes in the US | TSN1/3/4/5, TVAS in Canada

The Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs resume on Tuesday evening with the Eastern Conference Championship first leg, as the last two teams to represent the East in MLS Cup, Toronto FC and Columbus Crew SC, square off in Columbus.

The story coming into the match on the field is the suspensions of two of TFC's superstars, in Jozy Altidore (red card for a tunnel fracas against the New York Red Bulls) and Sebastian Giovinco (yellow-card accumulation). Greg Vanney's team, who already have a double on the season and are aiming for the first MLS Cup/Supporters' Shield/domestic cup treble in league history, have been marked by their squad depth this season. But this will be the biggest test of that yet, missing two key components of their team in a two-game, winner-moves-on series.

The door is therefore quite open for Columbus, a team that finished the season in stellar form but yet have spent some or all of the MLS Cup Playoffs as the underdog. With Zack Steffen having played well in goal for the team and the blueprint for starting a two-legged series well with a staggering 4-1 knockout punch in the previous round at home against NYCFC, Gregg Berhalter's squad will likely aim to take the lead and amass a healthy margin in the first leg once again. Considering Giovinco's set-piece prowess will be back for the second leg, it's not a bad strategy at all for Crew SC.

Columbus Crew SC

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended next yellow: D Hector Jimenez, M Artur, D Josh Williams, M Mohammed Abu
  • International Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D Alex Crognale (sports hernia surgery), D Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery), D Connor Maloney (L knee meniscectomy)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, left to right)
GK: Zack Steffen – Hector Jimenez, Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful – Wil Trapp, Artur – Justin Meram, Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos – Ola Kamara

Toronto FC

  • Suspended: F Jozy Altidore (red card), M Sebastian Giovinco (yellow-card accumulation)
  • Suspended next yellow: M Michael Bradley, F Jozy Altidore
  • International Duty: None
  • Injury Report: QUESTIONABLE: D Drew Moor (ankle sprain), M Victor Vazquez (pelvic injury)

Projected Starting XI
(3-5-2, left to right)
GK: Alex Bono – Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta – Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Steven Beitashour – Tosaint Ricketts, Jonathan Osorio

All-Time Series

This is the first time the teams will meet in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Overall (Regular Season): Columbus 12 wins (42 goals) … Toronto 6 wins (34 goals) … Ties 10

At CLB (Regular Season): Columbus 8 wins (28 goals) … Toronto 3 wins (20 goals) … Ties 4


Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski, Ian Anderson
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
​Video Assistant Referee (VAR): Dave Gantar