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Columbus Crew 0-0 Toronto FC: The good, the bad & the ugly

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Alex Bono came up big as the Reds rode their luck.

MLS: Eastern Conference Championship-Toronto FC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

The horseshoes, rabbits’ feet and other lucky charms that the boys are carrying with them… Alex Bono’s ‘hands of god’ save in the second half… Greg Vanney’s shirt has returned… pass the Duthie on the right-hand side: James Duthie on the TSN broadcast. Never enough Duthie… Alex Bono’s save… Steven Beitashour’s back-line prowess. He was the best defender on the night… the artwork at the north end of Mapfre Stadium. Including the Elvis poster. Not the ‘fat Elvis’, by the way… Vanney’s decision to play four at the back and his strategy to press for an early goal… Alex Bono’s save… the travelling TFC supporters. Well done lads and lassies… solid, and brave, non-calls by the referee: the outright rejection of Pedro Santos’ penalty plea, and the non-yellow issued to Michael Bradley for his late-game trip (after Chris Mavinga’s giveaway)… Victor Vazquez’s low free-kick during the first half. It almost curled inside the post… Drew Moor played a strong game. Before you cite the ‘Afful’ giveaway, remember his block of Ola Kamara’s open-net shot. Let’s call it square… Tosaint Ricketts’ aggressive, high press early in the match. It forced some mistakes from a less than solid Columbus defence. Unfortunately, that level of exertion was (is) not sustainable over 90 minutes… Duthie capturing the Columbus fans’ anti-Canada taunts. My favourite: “Timbits are overrated”… and finally – I might not have mentioned it - Alex Bono made an awesome save late in the second half.

The Bad

The anthem singer’s rushed rendition of ‘O Canada’. Any faster and you could call him ‘Alvin’ or, more appropriately, ‘Theodore’… TFC’s overall form since mid-September. Luck only goes so far… not sure if the boys did or did not do this, but I did not notice any team-wide recognition of the travelling supporters… Jonathan Osorio’s best impersonation of an angry Seba, right down to procuring a yellow card. I thought that we were going to be better than that… the phantom offside call on Justin Meram. He hit the crossbar anyway, so no real controversy there... bringing Armando Cooper onto the pitch. In a nil-nil game, with Columbus threatening? In the end, if you excuse a couple of nerve-wracking giveaways, nothing really bad happened. But why not Benoit Cheyrou? Isn’t that his role?… the Seattle Sounders are looking strong. Really strong… Raheem Edwards is looking rusty. Really rusty.

The Ugly

The lighting at Mapfre. The snowflake shadows around the players are distracting and amateurish to say the least… the Bradley boo-birds. Are all U.S. soccer fans this dense?… repeated, sloppy, careless giveaways… not a single shot on target for the good guys. I know that there were extenuating circumstances, but this is unacceptable for a team that wants to be known as the best in MLS history… the lack of coverage on Artur that led to his heart-stopping crack on goal… playing too high defensively early in the game and then playing too deep defensively late in the game. Toronto needs to play in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ for the entire match… the Lucky Charms leprechaun is actually named ‘Lucky’. How original. That’s like calling Toucan Sam ‘Frooty’. That’s ‘Frooty’, not ‘Footy’. Come to think of it, ‘Footy, the Frooty Bird’ would be quite original. Wonder if he would boo Bradley?