For the first time ever, Toronto FC will open the MLS season at BMO Field this year. I suppose, after playing a handful of far colder games, today’s positive temperatures will feel positively balmy for the Reds.
Anyway, TFC play host to the Columbus Crew this afternoon, kicking off at 1 p.m. Looks like we’re going to be getting cold (feels like -4), but sunny conditions. They’ve played in worse.
Last time the Reds saw Columbus, they walked away with a trophy — and not the Trillium Cup, either. TFC beat the Crew 1-0 on aggregate in the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, Jozy Altidore’s marker on an injured ankle putting the Reds back into the MLS Cup final.
Over the off-season, the Crew made several moves, although a lot of them involved players leaving Columbus. Both Ola Kamara and Justin Meram are gone, to the LA Galaxy and Orlando City, respectively. Those are two big pieces to lose. Columbus also lost Jukka Raitala and Kekuta Manneh, both of whom were helpful depth for them down the stretch last season.
In terms of additions, Columbus did make a couple. They got Gyasi Zardes from LA, and he could bang in a couple of goals. Left back Milton Valenzuela, who comes in as a young DP on loan from Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, will also help provide defensive cover for a team that wasn’t the most solid defensively in 2017.
Of course, the Crew weren’t decimated by their outgoing players, either. They still have Federico Higuain to help feed Zardes up front. Wil Trapp and Artur should also feature in the midfield — what’s the over/under on times Trapp is compared to Michael Bradley on the broadcast?
This game won’t be easy for TFC by any means; they’ll have to give Columbus their due and not look too far ahead to Wednesday’s test.
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 1, 4, 5 (Canada)
Live stream: ESPN+ (USA), TSN Go (Canada)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto)
Toronto FC: No major injuries to speak of. Gregory van der Wiel may be available, as may Tosaint Ricketts.
Columbus Crew: None announced.
It's finally here! #MLSisBack today with kickoff @torontofc in an hour.— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) March 3, 2018
Here's your #CrewSC Starting XI for #TORvCLB! pic.twitter.com/KiVmZlwYLR