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

Playoffs - 2017 - Eastern Conference Championship Leg 2

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC
Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Championship, Leg 2
BMO Field – Toronto, Ontario
Wednesday, Nov. 29 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: FS1 in the US | TSN 1/4/5, TVAS in Canada

After a tense scoreless draw at MAPFRE Stadium last Tuesday, the Eastern Conference Championship will be entirely up for grabs next Wednesday on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Toronto FC and Columbus Crew SC will battle at BMO Field to determine the host of MLS Cup 2017, with Supporters’ Shield winners TFC favored to advance past visiting Columbus. Toronto need an outright win to go through, while Columbus will take the series with a win or a draw featuring any goals. If the teams are scoreless after regulation, they’ll go into extra time and, if necessary, penalties.

TFC weren’t spectacular in the first leg, but they were effective, surviving suspensions to star attackers Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore and not allowing Crew SC anything going forward. Their attack wasn’t much to write home about, but they’ll gladly take the 0-0 draw heading into their home leg.

It was a bit of a different story for Columbus. Though Crew SC will advance to MLS Cup with a win or draw featuring any goals on Wednesday, there’s a sense they put themselves in a bit of a hole by failing to score in the first leg. Toronto put the clamps on their attack, holding Columbus at bay for the overwhelming majority of the match before allowing a couple of solid chances in the final 10 minutes.

With Giovinco and Altidore set to return and both sides needing to score in to advance, Wednesday’s second leg should be much more open than Leg 1. There’s a good chance we see some attacking fireworks from Giovinco, Altidore and Victor Vazquez for Toronto and Ola Kamara, Federico Higuain and Justin Meram for Columbus as TFC aim for the MLS Cup, Shield and Canadian Championship treble and Columbus look to host their second MLS Cup in three years.   

Toronto FC

  • Suspended: None
  • International Duty: None
  • Injury Report: None

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 – Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

Notes: o Toronto has not conceded a goal against Columbus in their last three home matches against Crew SC (2W-1D). Two of the last four results between the two teams in Toronto would see Columbus prolong the game to extra time or advance in 90 minutes (0-0 draw on May 21, 2016 and 2-0 Columbus win on October 17, 2015)...Toronto’s 1-0 loss to the Red Bulls in their last home game snapped a 16-game run of MLS home games in which TFC scored at least once (13W-1L-2D). Toronto averaged 2.8 goals per game across these 16 matches...Toronto has conceded 1.09 expected goals per game in these playoffs, the fifth-lowest total of any of the 12 playoffs teams.

Columbus Crew SC

  • Suspended: M Artur (yellow card accumulation)
  • International Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M Connor Maloney (left knee meniscectomy), D Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery) QUESTIONABLE: D Alex Crognale (hernia repair)

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

Notes: Columbus has lost just three of their last 10 MLS road games (2W-5D). Six of the non-loss results would be scorelines that would send Crew SC through after 90 minutes against Toronto...Harrison Afful has 1.47 expected goals in the playoffs, the fourth-highest total of any player in the league.

All-Time Series

This is the first MLS Cup Playoffs series between the two clubs.

  • Overall (Regular Season): Toronto 8 wins (42 goals), Columbus 13 wins (45 goals), Ties 10
  • At Toronto (Regular Season): Toronto 4 wins (19 goals), Columbus 4 wins (14 goals), Ties 6


Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Corey Rockwell
Fourth Official: Baldomero Toledo
VAR: Drew Fischer