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TFC go to Ohio Ready to make a Statement : Toronto v. Columbus Preview

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Kei Kamara and Sebastian Giovinco continue to duke it out on top of the Golden Boot standings at the midway point of the season. Columbus are in the hunt for first in the east, and shockingly, so are the Reds. Its a bit early for 6-point games, but this'll be a fun game to watch regardless.

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A Trillium cup match like none before it. Both teams are climbing the Eastern Conference standings. Both teams have players who are absolutely on fire - midseason MVP candidates Kei Kamara and Sebastian Giovinco - and both teams still have a chance at Trillium Cup glory success something.

On the surface, this game is about three players - Kei Kamara, Ethan Finlay, and Sebastian Giovinco. Crew playmaker Frederico Higuain has had a quiet season, but Kamara and Canadian-American Ethan Finlay are on top of the Goals and Assists columns respectively. Behind them, Sebastian Giovinco  is second in goals and third in assists. The elite of MLS are in Ohio this weekend - a sentence that is likely pure anathema to Don Garber, especially on the heels of his head-scratching All-Star "Commish Picks" in Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, the former who scored in his MLS debut after being named an all-star, the latter whose first MLS action will be in the all-star team. All of this to say - its a big game on Saturday in a boring place. (Sorry Ohio)

Match Talking Points

Both sides are in great form. Columbus have two wins against Chicago from last week, while TFC played Philadelphia to a professional 2-1 victory last Saturday. TFC have already lost to Crew SC this season, a 2-0 defeat the second game of the campaign. Both teams have changed significantly since then.

TFC's changes haven't been insignificant, but they still might not be enough. Prior to the win last week, TFC had given up 8 goals in two games. Its been ugly at the back for the Reds and though defensive help is here in Ahmed Kantari, he won't suit up the game this weekend. TFC have been poor defending crosses this season (and most others) and that is the Finlay-Kamara bread-and-butter special. In short, this could get ugly.

The positive for TFC is and will continue to be Giovinco, who powers the offence for the Reds. He and Kamara are both dominant attackers and reliable goal-scoring threats, though the similarities pretty much end there. Giovinco will have Altidore to work with again, though Michael Bradley is away on consolation duty for the USA.

TFC XI

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Look for Delgado to play the same role he did against Philadelphia, getting into the attack while stifling the deep-lying passers of Columbus. Both Wil Trapp and Higuain like to spray the ball around from deep, and Delgado will have to have another good outing to contain them.

Keys to the Game

It goes without saying that trying to outscore Columbus 8-7 is not a sound game plan. The central defense pairing of Wahl and Michael Parkhurst is susceptible to being beaten by good interplay, something Montreal showcased in their 3-0 win on July 11, and something Giovinco and Altidore are more than capable of producing.

The other end of that equation is the TFC defense. If Morgan is not ready for Saturday, Morrow is a top-quality left back. The Reds have no natural right-back who is healthy, though and Justin Meram is no slouch. Maybe Daniel Lovitz gets another run out at left back, but my guess is Ethan Finlay eats him for lunch if that happens. In the middle, Kamara and Higuain are dangerous, and Zavaleta and Perquis have been good at points, though not always convincing this season.

I've gotten away from the bold-but-useless prediction gag, but there's one staring us in the face here. Giovinco scores a header, Kamara scores with his feet. Probably still off a cross though.

Watching the Game

The match starts at 7:30 pm, and you can catch it on Sportsnet 360 or MLS LIVE. Be sure to check out Know Your EnemyAre You Smarter than Ryan Nelsen, and all of the latest team and transfer news here at WTR. And, of course, #COYR.