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A Study in Red: Toronto FC Fall to Columbus Crew

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Their are lessons to be learned from Toronto's 2-0 loss to Columbus Crew, and a phantom red card has very little to do with it.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The official game sheet will read that Toronto FC spent 45 minutes of tonight's game playing with 10 men, but in reality it seemed like they had even less. A 2-0 loss to rival Columbus Crew is sure to bring the momentum carried from Week 1's victory to a complete halt, and in the process asks a couple of questions about the team moving forward.

Before getting to those questions, however, it is worth addressing the underlying narrative to this game: Justin Morrow being sent off at the end of the first half. There is no question that it was the wrong call, as a play that shouldn't have even been a foul ripped the glue out of Toronto's back line. For this, David Gantar once again wrote himself into a story he has no business being in by making a call that damaged what should have been an excellent game.

What would be more damaging, however, would be for Toronto to accept that as the reason they lost this match. It was a factor, sure, but not a factor they can control and therefore not relevant when considering how many other aspects of their game were below a winning standard.

On both Justin Meram's opening, and when Kei Kamara added a second, Toronto's defense showing they are still vulnerable in the air, and struggled with positioning. These were only two examples, as Columbus easily could have added a few more goals to their tally.

When they had a full team the source of this issue was exactly the same as last week: the right side. This time Warren Creavalle did little to help Steven Caldwell in the middle, and questions will surely be asked as to how soon it will be before Mark Bloom returns to the starting lineup.

Caldwell was taken off at halftime and replaced by Nick Hagglund, which was later revealed to be the result of hamstring discomfort. However, the former Captain would be best served to improve his performances before this roster shift becomes more permanent.

As for Creavalle, he played a big role in Toronto being out of positon for most of the night. His tendency to leave the fullback spot resulted in Robbie Findley and others slotting into the positon and created holes. The service he provided going forward was lackluster at best, and really crippled Toronto's strategy of using offensive fullbacks.

After becoming a talking point league wide for their performances in Week 1, Toronto's band of designated players fell silent. Sebastian Giovinco was the club's most promising player going forward, but that is no complement considering the team's complete lack of forward motion. Jozy Altidore had some impressive defensive plays but lacked the service to match his player of the week season opening performance.

Michael Bradley was the only one making noise, but it was fully directed at Gantar. The new captain would have done well to listen to his predecessor's wise words at halftime: forget about the Red Card. Bradley did not, and could easily have been booked for his consistent abuse of the official.

Joe Bendik the club's player of the game, but even his performance had major flaws. He was able to keep Toronto alive with some superb saves in the first half, but his poor distribution played a big role in Toronto's complete lack of ball possession throughout the match.

For the same reason the season opener wasn't worth getting to high about, this loss isn't worth stressing about. In equal ways the holes and strengths of this team have been expressed and it is now up to Greg Vanney and his players to make the necessary adjustments to insure a cave in like this doesn't happen again.