Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC | 2018 MLS Match Preview

ExLink - 05/06/02 - CLBvTOR

Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC
2018 MLS Regular Season
— Week 14
MAPFRE Stadium — Columbus
June 2 — 7:30 pm ET

A desperate Toronto FC head to MAPFRE Stadium needing to get into a good run of form, but it won’t be easy, because they will face a Columbus Crew SC squad who are unbeaten in their last seven.

The Reds have lost three of their last four, including a 1-0 defeat to FC Dallas at BMO Field last Friday, while Crew SC played Sporting Kansas City to a 0-0 draw Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park.

This is the second 2018 meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals, with Columbus opening the season with a 2-0 road win over TFC.

Columbus Crew SC

Gregg Berhalter made two changes from the team that defeated the New England Revolution, 1-0, the previous week, with Mike Grella starting in place of Luis Argudo, while Cristian Martinez came on for Niko Hansen on the other wing.

After Gyasi Zardes was denied from the penalty spot by Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia, Columbus (7-3-4) were reduced to 10 men when Federico Higuain was sent off in first-half stoppage time for serious foul play. But Crew SC  gutted out a goalless draw as Zack Steffen made three saves to earn his fifth consecutive clean sheet and set a new club record for consecutive shutout minutes at 495 and counting.

“It’s not something we talk about. It’s not something we’re aiming for. But we’re certainly proud of it,” Berhalter said of the shutout streak. “It’s a culmination of work by a lot of guys. It’s the whole team. On nights like tonight and days like Seattle, where the guys work together to achieve their goals.”

  • Suspended: M - Cristian Martinez, 
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Milton Valenzuela
  • International duty: GK - Zack Steffen, M - Wil Trapp
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Pedro Santos (right thigh injury); QUESTIONABLE: D - Jonathan Mensah (left thigh injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Jon Kempin — Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar, Milton Valenzuela — Ricardo Clark, Artur — Luis Argudo, Federico Higuain, Mike Grella — Gyasi Zardes

  • Notes: The Crew are unbeaten in their last seven games (4W-3D) and have not conceded a goal in their last five games. Dating back to last season, they have lost just one of their last 16 MLS home games (12W-3D inc. playoffs). … The Crew have not allowed a goal in their last 495 minutes of play in MLS, a franchise record and the eighth-longest streak in league history. Another clean sheet would move them up to third place all-time.

Toronto FC

Greg Vanney made four changes to his starting XI from the squad that defeated Orlando City SC, 2-1, the previous week. Clint Irwin filled in for Alex Bono, who was with the US national teamLiam Fraser slipped in at center midfield, with Michael Bradley moving to center back and Sebastian Giovinco returned from a one-game red-card suspension to partner with Tosaint Ricketts up top, replacing Jordan Hamilton in an altered 3-5-2 formation.

After Maxi Urruti put the visitors in front after 11 minutes, Giovinco had a golden chance to level for Toronto (3-7-1), but Jesse Gonzalez saved his 16th-minute penalty kick

“This year they've gotten a little more practical,” Vanney said of Columbus. “At times, they'll just play Gyasi over distance, behind. If the opposition is pressing, they'll play direct, which has led to them conceding less chances and goals. They've become a stingier team.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: F - Jozy Altidore (foot surgery), D - Drew Moor (quadricep strain), D - Ashtone Morgan (hamstring strain), M - Aget Aketxe (hip flexor); QUESTIONABLE: D - Justin Morrow (calf strain), M - Nicolas Hasler (quadricep strain), D - Chris Mavinga (undisclosed injury)

Projected Starting XI
(3-5-2, right to left)
GK: Alex Bono — Greg van der Wiel, Michael Bradley, Nick Hagglund — Auro, Jonathan Osorio, Liam Fraser, Victor Vazquez, Ryan Telfer — Tosaint Ricketts, Sebastian Giovinco

  • Notes: Giovinco has put nine shots on target from outside the box this season, tied for the most in the league. … Toronto have lost their last four regular season away matches, their longest such streak since dropping the last five games of the 2015 regular season.

All-Time Series

  • Overall: Columbus Crew SC 14 wins, 47 goals … Toronto FC 8 wins, 23 goals … 10 ties
  • At Columbus: Crew SC 9 wins, 31 goals … Toronto FC 4 wins, 23 goals … 4 ties
  • Last meeting at Columbus: Columbus Crew SC 1, Toronto FC 2 (May 10, 2017)


Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Jeremy Hanson, Eric Weisbrod
4th Official: David Barrie
VAR: Rosendo Mendoza