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 is 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.