TORONTO – While Toronto FC supporters will be looking to new acquisitions Steven Caldwell, Bobby Convey and Jeremy Brockie to help the club out of its eight-match winless streak, it's the club’s recent hiring of Duncan Oughton that could wind up being their most important signing in Saturday's home match against the Columbus Crew (5 pm ET, TSN and Univision Deportes).
The former New Zealand international and former Columbus assistant coach played his entire 10-year MLS career with the Crew and after his official announcement on May 8, he won’t have to wait long to see his former Black & Gold mates given that Columbus will be the visiting team at BMO Field in his first game with his new club.
WATCH: Columbus says goodbye to Oughton
“Duncan has won the league, the MLS Cup, the US Open Cup, the Supporters' Shield," TFC manager and compatriot Ryan Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. "He has won everything in MLS. Besides that success he has a great knowledge of all the players in the league, as well as how it works and how to win in it.”
Added Nelsen: “Duncan knows [Columbus] pretty well, so he’ll be helping us break down a very good team. It’s one of those times where when we are talking about how to approach the game that I should probably shut up and just let Duncan do the talking about Columbus, because he knows them the best.”
As someone who is practically a legend in Columbus, Oughton sees his move to Toronto as something that is both exciting and bittersweet.
“It’s been a great run of 12-and-a-half years in Columbus" Oughton told MLSsoccer.com. "It is my home and the people have been fantastic. But I just see so much potential in this club working with Ryan. He is a new coach and it really looks like he has started to get things a lot more solid here. The team is starting to evolve. When I saw that and when he came knocking, I was excited for the opportunity.
READ: Who will replace Chad Marshall in defense for Crew?
“I’m obviously sad to leave one place, but very excited for the opportunity to help be a part of putting this club where it should be and that’s up and around the top of MLS.”
WATCH: Oughton speaks to TFC TV
According to Oughton, as much as he adores the city of the Columbus and the Crew organization, their won’t be any sentimentality on his part when two sides who have built up something of a rivalry over the years renew hostilities with the kickoff of the 2013 Trillium Cup battle on Saturday.
“Hopefully I know a thing or two about the Columbus team," he said. "I will do what I can to help these guys prepare for the game. The coaching staff here is on the ball already and they know them pretty well already, but I’m sure I can find a few little bits and pieces that they don’t know about.
"I think [Nelsen] has a pretty good idea of what he wants to do already. Obviously anything I can offer in terms of weaknesses or formation, I’ll be passing that information along and hopefully it goes well this weekend.”
On the line is the Trillium Cup, created by the supporters for the team that accumulates the most points between the two rivals every season. And Toronto FC could use all the help they can get against the Crew, conjuring up just one win in 16 all-time meetings, including none at home.
TFC and the Crew face each other twice more during the regular season on July 27 and August 17 to determine which team takes home the Trillium trophy.
“When I was a Columbus player I might have said some stuff that was a bit out of line, but I was trying to feed that rivalry between the teams. In Columbus they always said that there is no real rivalry if there is a team that can’t beat you,” Oughton added.
“I always really enjoyed playing here when I was playing for Columbus because the fans were educated and always on you and they reamed me a few times. As a player I really enjoyed that atmosphere. Hopefully it is a rivalry that will keep evolving and hopefully the Trillium Cup will end up here in Toronto this year.”
Steve Bottjer covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com