Match Preview: Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC

Preki makes his Reds debut against EPL mate Warzycha

The basics

Columbus Crew (0-0-0) vs.
Toronto FC (0-0-0) at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

All-time record: Columbus
leads the series 4-0-5

TV info

4 p.m ET; Ohio News
Channel, GOLTV, DirectKick

What's at stake?

The winner has a leg up on
the Trillium Cup, won by the Crew the first two seasons it was contested.
What’s a trillium? It’s the official flower of the province of Ontario and the state
wildflower of Ohio.

Last meeting:

Jason Garey scored on
a header two minutes into stoppage time as Columbus stunned Toronto FC 3-2 last
July 25 to establish an MLS record with its 19th straight
regular-season home match without a loss. Steven Lenhart leveled the score at 2-2
for the Crew in the 76th minute.

Remember when?

This series isn’t exactly
loaded with the memories of the league’s other rivalries, but it’s getting there.
It’s tough to believe Toronto didn’t sting a bit from Garey’s goal last summer,
meaning the Reds should have a bit more incentive for revenge after perhaps the
best chapter of the rivalry.

Heroes & villains:

Dwayne De Rosario vs. Gino Padula: At some point the wily TFC forward De Rosario could
find himself against the crafty veteran defender.  De Rosario has had success in Crew Stadium,
including the scoring the OT winner for San Jose in the 2001 MLS Cup. Padula
would like to erase memories of his own goal that allowed TFC to escape with a
1-1 tie in the Crew’s home opener last season.

Preki vs. Robert
Warzycha:
OK, so it’s a matchup of former players who happen to be best
friends from their days together with Everton in the EPL. Now that Preki has
switched conferences, the stakes are even higher when these two get together.
Both bring a hard-nosed Eastern Bloc mentality to the pitch but with different
pressures on them: Preki is trying to get the Reds to the playoffs for the
first time, and Warzycha wants to return the Crew to the MLS Cup glory it had
under former coach Sigi Schmid in 2008.

Stat that makes you go “Hm”:

The Crew are 2-0-3
in home openers since 2005, outscoring visitors 7-2. TFC lost 2-0 in 2008 and
drew 1-1 last year.

He said it

“It’s always a
good game against them whether it’s in Columbus or Toronto. They’re a team with
a new coach that has a lot to prove and we’re trying to establish ourselves at
home again. In the past it’s been our fortress and we want to start it off with
a win here” – Crew defender Frankie Hejduk.