The history of the Trillium cup leans heavily in Columbus’ favour, but last season TFC had the Crew’s number, winning twice at Crew MAPFRE Stadium and once more at BMO Field for good measure. Through the offseason, though, each team has made some significant changes. WTR has a breakdown of the Crew here. This match should be as exciting as the last - lets break it down a little.
Match Talking Points
Toronto FC made a tactical change at halftime against Vancouver that Greg Vanney deserves some serious credit for. The Whitecaps never adapted and it helped TFC get the win. Will we see the second-half tactics from the start or will the narrow midfield get another chance against a less run-and-gun offense?
Columbus vs. Houston was (for my view) one of the more exciting games of the past weekend despite the 1-0 scoreline. Columbus consistently broke Houston down and only a number of great saves by Tyler Deric kept Houston hanging on for the victory. If Kei Kamara starts finishing some of the chances he’s getting, this could be ugly for TFC.
Columbus and Toronto have both received a boost from their newer players. Altidore, Cheyrou, Findley, Giovinco, and Perquis all had a big part to play in the season opener for the Reds, while Columbus’ Kristinn Steindorsson, Kei Kamara, and Hernan Grana all featured for the Crew. Expect all of them to feature again on Saturday.
With the MLS Disciplinary Committee in midseason form issuing fines and supplemental discipline, Columbus will be without former TFC man Tony Tchani for a bad foul on Leonel Miranda. Tchani was a breakout player for the Crew in the latter half of last season and his absence in midfield will give TFC a much better chance of limiting possession. Columbus had nearly 60% possession against Houston on the road and played a very pretty game of soccer. The grand opener at the re-christened Mapfre Stadium should be a spectacle all its own.
Projected TFC Starting XI
No surprises here - TFC continue where they left off in Vancouver.
Keys to the Game
For TFC to be effective they need the ball, and Columbus doesn’t seem keen to share. They had a huge possession advantage over Houston and will look to do the same against the Reds. Getting some tackles and interceptions in midfield will be key - and with Wil Trapp and (likely) Mohammed Saeid in the middle, Bradley and Cheyrou should be able to physically boss the
TFC’s fullbacks will need to try and limit crosses to Kei Kamara, who had several good looks in the air against Houston, including one that was only a Tyler Deric Superman-save from Kamara’s first goal for the new-look Crew. Caldwell and Perquis will have their hands full with Kamara, who acts as a sort of battering ram for the Columbus attack. His movement helps create space for Higuain, who TFC must also keep quiet.
At the other end, Altidore could be in for a good game - Parkhurst is a physical mismatch, and Pogatetz is red card waiting to happen. With Tchani out, the scales are balanced for Giovinco as well, who is much closer in size to Saeid and Trapp than he is to Tchani (duh), who is a full foot taller than him. Size isn’t everything though, which TFC fans are excited to see for themselves again on Saturday.
Bold but Useless Prediction: TFC nice-guy Nick Hagglund makes a cameo appearance in his home state.
The game kicks off at 7:30 pm on TSN2. Don’t forget to post your comments and predictions below, set your WTR Fantasy League lineups (league code 3363-904), and cheer the Reds to Trillium Cup™ victory!
* Trillium Cup is the Property of Major League Soccer and in no way reflects reality, or the attitudes, opinions, or sentiments of Ontario, Ohio, Trilliums, or Sports Fans.