The Headliner: Time to Get Three Points
Toronto FC earned 1 point from the six available in their last two home matches. For a team that has talked so much about wanting to make BMO Field into a fortress, that's not good enough, even with all of their absences.
With that being said, today's game against the Columbus Crew presents a crucial opportunity for Toronto to get back on track against a team who have not won away from home this season.
In fact, no matter where they have played this year, the Crew have struggled. They have won only twice all year and sit second last in the MLS Eastern Conference, as well as the entire league.
To make matters worse, they have recently been involved in a headline-making controversy after a disagreement between star players Gonzalo Higuain and Kei Kamara turned ugly. The latter has since departed town, heading to join the New England Revolution, and the Columbus Crew have been left without their main attacking threat.
With all this said, Toronto FC need to be careful not to underestimate the Crew. The Vancouver Whitecaps came into BMO Field, where they had never won in their MLS history, with a number of key players missing. They left with a 4-3 victory. New York City FC came in amidst a ridiculous travel schedule and started a new-look roster. They left with a point.
Toronto FC needs to make sure that the Crew ultimately leave empty handed, and put a strong ending on their first homestand of the season. They need to make sure they get a win while all their tools are still available. Michael Bradley will be joining the United States shortly for the Copa America Centenario. Sebastian Giovinco could still make the Italian roster for Euro 2016.
If that happens then points are going to be a lot harder to come by for Toronto FC, and things could change very quickly in a wide open Eastern Conference. So they need to strike while they still can, and then use that momentum to keep the team moving forward.
Key to the Game: Score the Opening Goal
It seems like an obvious key to the game, and for the most part it is. But when Toronto FC score the opening goal, they win, simple as that. This team has the defensive capabilities to be able to easily hold a one-goal lead, especially at home.
The last two matches they have allowed early goals, and have spent the rest of the match fighting back. They can't allow this to happen a third straight week. Instead, from the opening whistle they need to attack Columbus with the sort of ferocity they have shown when behind the past two games.
To that point, Toronto FC has a lot of inexperienced players in their roster. The longer they go without a goal the more players will tighten up in front of goal. Get a goal early and confidence is sure to rise.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Zavaleta, Williams, Moor; Beitashour, Johnson, Bradley, Chapman, Morrow; Babouli, Giovinco
Subs: Bono, Perquis, Morgan, Endoh, Lovitz, Osorio, Hagglund
Columbus Crew: Clark; Ashe, Sauro, Parkhurst, Afful; Trapp, Saied; Cedrick, Higuain, Meram; O. Kamara
Location: BMO Field Toronto, Ontario
Kick-off time: 5:00 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: Massive Report
Available TV: Sportsnet One
Available streaming: Sportsnet Now
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.