Columbus Crew 2-1 TFC: I've Become So Numb, I Can't Feel It There

Well, that's as much as we're going to win here... (CREDIT: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS
2 – 1
TORONTO FC
Gaven 4'
Higuain 56'
GOALS Silva 71'
Higuain 20' DISCIPLINE O'Dea 69'
Morgan 93'
CLB

TFC
8
SHOTS 13
3
SHOTS ON GOAL 4
8
FOULS 16
4
CORNERS 4
4 OFFSIDES 2
1/0 YELLOWS/REDS 2/0
51
DUELS WON
46
46 POSSESSION % 54

I'm tired of being what you want me to be,
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface.
Don't know what you're expecting of me,
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes...
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you...
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)

- "Numb", Linkin Park

Well, what can we say? When we should be playing spoiler -- we can't even do that properly. Two goals early in both halves; one four minutes in from Eddie Gaven, and a 56th minute special from Columbus's new Argentine DP Federico Higuain was enough. Sure, rookie Luis Silva managed to pull one back in the 71st minute, but it was too little, too late on a night where just everything came just a little too late.

It's mind numbing that nights like this are still happening, but alas it is. A slow start to begin with, and a comeback that really didn't start in earnest until the Silva goal deep into the second half -- it all adds up to five games without a win. Freddy Hall had a shaky start in goal, with the defense overwhelmed by the combination of Gaven and Higuain. It was the umpteenth time that TFC had given up the early goal, and perhaps not the last.

The rest of the game was relatively uneventful, save for the three goals. Emilio Renteria and Chris Birchall had two good chances on the two sides of the half, while Toronto's forward pairing Ryan Johnson and Eric Hassli couldn't find the back of the net to save their lives. Higuain's goal early in the second half from Jaro Arrieta, showed why it is important to cash in when chances are rare: his was only one of eight Columbus shots on goal, compared to Toronto's 13; TFC had the majority of possession, but yet was unable to achieve anything with it -- sure, they showed some good work while with possession, but when it doesn't result, it doesn't matter.

Then again, what can we say? Lax play leads to less than stellar results. Despite having the majority of possession, it was once again the defence that was lacking. Sure, there were a few moments where Darren O'Dea actually showed his worth by demonstrating his skills, and Richard Eckersley somehow staying standing after a kick to the face from Higuain that should have been an automatic red, and then there was Luis Silva scoring yet another crucial goal and demonstrating that he will be a key piece of the future.

However, the three "bright spots" aside -- one has to wonder what the thinking of Paul Mariner has to be, after a game like this. Is the league no longer a priority? Are we simply awaiting the arrival of Santos Laguna? The decision to start Hall could be understandable (perhaps to save Kocic for the continental tie, maybe?) -- but the lax play, especially when such an important match is coming up, certainly does not bode well for the near future, and for supporters, it is mind- and heart-numbing to see yet another string of poor performances.

Playing like the way they are tonight, surely the Mexicans won't have much issues. The lack of finishing up front from Hassli and Johnson (the latter of which is known to be bad in the finishing department), and the continual brittleness of the backline, especially with Eckersley in the centre (who on Earth gave Mariner the brilliant idea of playing him there?), isn't exactly giving the green hooped Torreon folks nightmares. It's sure not giving anyone in the league nightmares, and it's the same old story time and again, despite all the changes.

(Also, the fact that the Reds didn't try to game Higuain into a second yellow to get him ejected and removing one threat from the field was a wasted opportunity; the Argentinian was clearly on the path for one.)

For now, the game is what it is -- it's another night, and another game to come on Saturday night when the Reds revisit BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston for a weekend tilt with their Dynamo, who will be returning from a CONCACAF Champions League match in El Salvador. Then it will be that crunch tie against Santos Laguna at BMO Field on Tuesday night. If this season has taught us anything, we can only expect the unexpected.

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