Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
MAPFRE Stadium – Columbus, Ohio
Wednesday, May 10 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE (USA) | TSN 4/5 (Canada)
Toronto FC have won four straight after a 1-1-4 start. The way their May schedule looks, though, that might be some difficult momentum to maintain.
Wednesday's match at Columbus Crew SC will be their third in eight days, and their third in a month that will see them take the pitch eight times – six in MLS action and two more in the home-and-home semifinals of the Canadian Championship.
Crew SC's fortunes have been more down than up of late: They won four of their first seven matches but are 1-2-0 since then. Still, with Saturday's 2-0 blanking of the New England Revolution, Columbus got to five wins on the season almost four months earlier than they did in their disappointing 2016 campaign.
Their schedule is almost as crowded as the Reds' too, with seven matches in a span from May 6 to June 3. With that in mind – especially given the demands placed on TFC's roster last week – it will be interesting to see what kind of lineup shuffles managers Greg Vanney (TFC) and Gregg Berhalter (Crew SC) might make, as they try to stretch their rosters without breaking anyone.
If there's an immediate edge to be seen in this one, it goes to Toronto's team defense. The Reds are one of three teams conceding less than a goal a match on average (eight in 10 outings), while Crew SC have surrendered 13 goals in their 10 matches this season.
Wednesday's match also offers TFC a chance to climb back into the Trillium Cup competition with their Ohio rivals – or for Crew SC to clinch it with a victory, after taking the first meeting between the two sides by a 2-1 margin in April.
Columbus Crew SC
TFC could be challenged to keep the home side off the board, because Columbus don't lack for weapons. Forward Ola Kamara has six goals already, winger Justin Meram has four goals and four assists, and playmaker Federico Higuain is back in DP form with three goals and four assists.
They can find those options quickly in transition – Higuain and defender-midfielder Nicolai Naess both showed long-range passing skills off against the Revs – or in a buildup led by holding midfielder Wil Trapp, who leads MLS with 667 completed passes.
Being matched with Naess in the holding midfield has allowed Trapp to push farther up the pitch, with Naess tasked with breaking up opposing attacks while Trapp controls the tempo.
- Suspended: None
- Int'l Duty: None
- Injuries: OUT – D Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery, out for season), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery, out for season), M Artur (left wrist surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Brad Stuver (right elbow strain), D Alex Crognale (ankle sprain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Zack Steffen – Hector Jimenez, Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala – Wil Trapp, Nicolai Naess – Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram – Ola Kamara
Notes: Crew SC have won six of their last eight home games (1L-1D) dating back to last season, averaging 2.1 goals per game over that time. They have scored in each of their last 16 games at MAPFRE Stadium. … Since the start of last September, Ola Kamara has scored 12 goals in 17 regular season appearances for Crew SC. Only New York City’s David Villa (13) has more over that time.
Speaking of firepower, though, the Eastern Conference-leading visitors have plenty of it as well. Forward Jozy Altidore's converted penalty in last weekend's 1-0 away victory over Seattle gave him six goals on the season, and Sebastian Giovinco has overcome a slow start to ring up five goals.
That target-rich environment up top has enabled Victor Vazquez to record six assists so far, tying him for the league lead – but will Vanney go with both (or even either) of his stars on Wednesday?
If they don't feature – or even if they do – Raheem Edwards could have something positive to say about the result for the Reds. Edwards, promoted from USL side Toronto FC II in the offseason, has provided plenty of energy in the attack and has also found the net twice this season.
- Suspended: None
- Int'l Duty: None
- Injuries: OUT – D Drew Moor (cardiac arrythmia); D Ashtone Morgan (stress fracture in foot)
Projected Starting XI (3-5-2): Clint Irwin – Eriq Zavaleta, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow – Steven Beitashour, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez, Raheem Edwards – Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco
Notes: Toronto have lost just one of their last 10 away matches in the regular season (5W-4D), which includes their 1-0 win at Seattle last weekend. Over their last six road games, Toronto have alternated between conceding two goals and keeping a clean sheet. … Jozy Altidore has nine combined goals and assists in 10 games this season – only New York City FC’s David Villa (10) has more. Jozy’s six goals since March 10 are the second-most in MLS, trailing just Philadelphia’s C.J. Sapong.
Including the two teams' meeting on April 15, Crew SC have only dropped one of the last five matches against Toronto (2W, 2D). Over the last five games both clubs have scored five goals and been held scoreless twice.
- Overall: Columbus 13 wins (44 goals) … Toronto 6 wins (35 goals) … Ties 10
- At Columbus: Columbus 9 wins (30 goals) … Toronto 3 wins (21 goals) … Ties 4
Referee: Sorin Stoica
Assistant Referees: Claudiu Badea, Logan Brown
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda