Match Preview: Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC

Trillium Cup rivalry starts off with trip north to battle Toronto FC

TORONTO FC vs COLUMBUS CREW

BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.

May 18, 2013 (WEEK 12, MLS Game #104)
5 p.m. ET (UDN; TSN; FS-OH)

Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew renew their battle for the Trillium Cup when the clubs meet for the first time this season at BMO Field. TFC return home after a road trip extended their current losing run to three games, dropping a 2-1 decision to the San Jose Earthquakes last time out. The Crew hit the road following back-to-back home shutout losses, last a 2-1 defeat by the Colorado Rapids.

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REFEREE: Jose Carlos Rivero. AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Marco Arruda; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 12 games; FC/gm: 26.0; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 4; pens: 5

DISABLED LIST: TOR: Danny Koevermans
SUSPENDED: CLB Jairo Arrieta
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Glauber, Federico Higuain
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Jairo Arrieta
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (16 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 17 goals … Crew 8 wins, 26 goals … Ties 7
AT TORONTO (7 meetings): Toronto FC 0 wins, 6 goals … Crew 2 wins, 8 goals … Ties 5
RETURN MATCHES: 7/27: Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew, 2 p.m. ET; 8/17: Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/31: TOR 0, CLB 1 (Anor 56)
8/22: CLB 2, TOR 1 (Gaven 4; Higuain 58 – Silva 71)
10/28: CLB 2, TOR 1 (Higuain 17, 62 – Wiedeman 27)

  • In 16 all-time meetings between the teams, Toronto FC have won just once -- a 4-2 win Sept. 10, 2011 at Columbus Crew Stadium, snapping a 12-game winless run vs. Columbus.
  • The Crew have never lost at BMO Field. The teams had played to five successive draws in Toronto before the Crew won in their only meeting there last season.
  • Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. TOR: P10 W5 L1 D4 … Ryan Nelsen v CLB: first game

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC return home off a lost two-game road trip, falling 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes on May 8 to extend their winless run to eight games and their league losing streak to three. TFC sit in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 10 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC took the lead in the 14th minute. Doneil Henry headed on Darren O’Dea’s long free kick and Justin Braun wrapped a left-footed volley around his marker to beat San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch from close range.
  • But the Earthquakes yet again struck back. Rookie Adam Jahn tied the score three minutes into the second half, beating Toronto goalkeeper Joseph Bendik with a deft left-footed strike from 10 yards, freed up when Chris Wondolowski one-timed a quick throw-in from Dan Gargan.
  • Wondolowski then broke the tie in the 81st minute, using his right knee at point-blank range to jam home Walter Martinez’s flicked header off a Marvin Chavez corner kick.
  • TFC boss Ryan Nelsen made two changes to the team that dropped a 1-0 decision to the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Doneil Henry came back into central defense for Gale Agbossoumonde,and Justin Braun returned to the team in place of Hogan Ephraim.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Ryan Richter, Darren O'Dea, Doneil Henry, Logan Emory (Darel Russell 60) - Reggie Lambe, Matias Laba, Jeremy Hall, Luis Silva (Hogan Ephraim 69) - Robert Earnshaw, Justin Braun (Jonathan Osorio 77).

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC saw their current winless run extended to eight games with the two defeats on the West Coast swing, and are now 1-15-8 in their last 24 MLS games, dating back to last July 28.
  • “I think we were playing really well. They defended the box, were confident on the ball, got the goal and were looking very comfortable. Then [we] switched off on a throw in during the second half. It was just an unbelievably soft goal, but we have been doing that all season,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. “I don’t think an opposition team has earned a goal against us yet. It has just been cases of us switching off and they just walk it though into the back of the net.”
  • TFC’s lone victory in that time came in their home opener this season, a 2-1 win against Sporting KC. The Reds return to BMO Field with three draws and a loss in their last four home matches.
  • While Toronto FC have not allowed more than two goals in any league game this season, they still have not kept a clean sheet. Only Chivas USA have also failed to keep a defensive shutout this season.
  • “We haven’t had a clean sheet yet. No team has played through us or broken through us or stretched us or won any one on ones or scored from outside the box,” Nelsen said. “We are just too soft and we have to be hard. We have to change that and we will change that. We’re bringing in players who will know how to defend and who will have the confidence to get on the ball when the pressure is on.”
  • Toronto FC have also allowed seven goals after the 76th minute, including three in stoppage time, both the most in MLS (the seven goals in the final quarter-hour level with New York).
  • “If we haven’t learned from [allowing late goals] yet then there’s something wrong with the direction that we’re going. We have to figure this out fast because it’s a long season,” said defender Logan Emory. Said Toronto FC president and general manager Kevin Payne said: “Our inability to defend the box late in games has killed us. We really should be in the top four places in the East based on how we have played. It is very disheartening to play long stretches of games and be right in the matches or as the better and more dangerous team in many instances and then surrender plays late.”
  • Over their 10-day break, Toronto FC have made a number of loan acquisitions, picking up Israeli international defender Tal Ben Haim, Scottish defender Steven Caldwell and New Zealand international striker Jeremy Brockie. “Ryan has tried everything to prepare the group of players that we have to deal with those situations and it just hasn't improved. So the decision was made to try to bring in some reinforcements,” said Payne.
  • There could be another welcome addition, as striker Danny Koevermans has returned to training and could be ready to come off the disabled list.
  • “The hope is that he may see some action this week in the reserve game,” Payne said. “Koev can score goals. Just watching him this week in training, it’s remarkable how many goals he scores in training. The guy just knows where the goal is. With that big body he is able to get position and is just a born goalscorer. He is going to add a different dimension, whether he plays with Robbie [Earnshaw] or alternates time with Robbie.”
  • On Thursday, TFC continued their rebuilding project by acquiring winger Bobby Convey from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for third-round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft.

READ: Ryan Nelsen believes Bobby Convey can make an impact: "Bobby is a winner"

COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew lost for the second time in as many starts at Crew Stadium, the Colorado Rapids leaving with a 2-0 victory on Saturday evening. The Crew are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points from 10 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Rapids took the lead after just eight minutes. Taking a layoff from Atiba Harris, Edson Buddle brought the ball down in the middle of the area and hooked it past goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
  • Colorado hit for a second in the 69th minute. From a free kick in the right corner, the restart pinged out to the top of the box, where Dillon Powers struck the ball low and hard back toward goal which took a dramatic ricochet off defender Josh Williams that left Gruenebaum wrongfooted.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that lost 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls at Crew Stadium. Matias Sanchez came into the midfield in place of Danny O'Rourke.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Glauber, Tyson Wahl (Ryan Finley 70) - Matias Sanchez (Konrad Warzycha 77), Tony Tchani (Justin Meram 73) - Dominic Oduro, Federico Higuain, Eddie Gaven - Jairo Arrieta.

READ: Injuries force Columbus Crew to juggle lineup vs. TFC

TEAM NEWS

  • For a second consecutive match, the Crew held a statistical advantage at the attacking end, yet failed to score a goal. The Crew took a season-high 22 shots (7 on target) vs. Colorado; they held a 15-7 edge in attempts at goal in the New York match, with 6 on target.
  • “I think we created chances but we need to score goals, simple as that. I think we played good enough to win the games. You score the goals you get the points, [if] you don’t, then obviously it’s very difficult,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “We scored three [goals] against D.C. and we got the points, and we didn’t score against New York and we didn’t score today. Like I said before, I think we created enough chances, but whoever is supposed to put the ball in the net misses.”
  • After a 12-game home undefeated streak dating back to last July 14, the second-longest in club history, the Crew have now lost back-to-back matches at Crew Stadium.
  • “It’s tough obviously to only get three points out of the last three games at home. Not good any way that you slice it. Not good,” said midfielder Eddie Gaven. “At the same time, I try to be a very positive person. It’s hard right now obviously because we lost the game and there’s so many things that we need to fix, so many things that we need to make better – but I do think that we have a good team – I do think we have all the pieces to the puzzle there.”
  • With midfielder Agustin Viana sidelined for a second match with a hamstring strain, and Danny O’Rourke missing his first match of the season with a sprained ankle suffered late in the New York match, Matias Sanchez made his first MLS start, after four appearances off the substitutes’ bench.
  • “I think [Sanchez] did very well. I think he was one of the best players on the field to be honest with you,” said Warzycha. “He was very aggressive. He was a good passer so I think he did what we asked him to do. I have to say he shined.”
  • Warzycha said there will be a major absence in central defense for the Toronto FC match, with center back Chad Marshall out for the game with a hamstring injury.
  • But the Crew dodged another blow when a yellow card originally attributed to center back Glauber late in the Red Bulls was changed to Federico Higuain. As a result, both Glauber and Higuain are one yellow card away from suspension, but both eligible for selection this week.
  • “He is the captain. He has the right to talk to the referee,” Warzycha said. “I don't know if they realize we have a new captain this year [instead of Marshall]. Maybe they're thinking it's still Chad.”