TFC v Columbus Pre Game
I am not expecting a terribly entertaining spectacle on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field as game number twelve between Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew takes place once again. And every TFC supporter knows that the Reds have never ever beaten the hated Crew.
And frankly I don’t know that this will change by 6:00 PM EST on Saturday. This match has a 0-0 draw written all over it.
Coming into this match the Crew have set the bar in MLS this season when it comes to defensive prowess. The last 373 minutes the Crew have played have been scoreless for the opposition. In the five matches he has featured in Crew goalie Will Hesmer has posted four shutouts in a row.
They are as dull as dishwater to watch but they keep things tight. They can’t score, just like TFC, but they keep themselves in the matches they are playing by keeping things controlled and orderly at the back. The aforementioned Hesmer is a huge part of this in my opinion, as is perennial All Star and US International Chad Marshall. And throw in Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers and you have four pieces that have been the spine of the Crew for the last few seasons that of course have seen them have some significant success, including a Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup.
The lack of results against the Crew have stuck in the craw of just about every TFC supporter perhaps more than any other opponent in their history. And after the horrible result last Saturday versus DC United it would be a huge emotional uplift for Reds fans to see TFC finally put the Crew to the sword. I would love to see it happen, but I am not expecting it.
Alan Gordon is at best doubtful with injury. Maicon Santos has been playing in the “Number 10” or as I like to call it the “Dennis Bergkamp” role so he is expected to dish the ball to whomever is playing up top. And he has not exactly been lighting up MLS defenses with much of a scoring touch since the first couple games of the season either. And with Gordon likely to be absent for part or all this match means to me that TFC will have a huge challenge on their hands to take advantage of any successful wing play that a player like Martina for example might be able to succeed with. Corners or set pieces may be the best way for TFC to try and get through the Crew defensive wall, and we all know how poor the Reds have been in these offensive categories as well.
Defensively TFC has not exactly been mirroring the Crew have they? There has been of course a revolving door at all the defensive positions. Adrian Cann is listed as doubtful with injury. Ty Harden is suspended due to that sketchy red card he earned last week versus DC. Nana Attakora has I think gone a way to securing his starting role at centre back once again with a decent performance in relief of Cann last week. Too bad he will also likely be out on Saturday as well! And newcomer Richard Eckersley is not being paid to sit on the bench. I would be shocked if he does not start at right back tomorrow to try and negate the usually strong play of Robbie Rogers. Stefan Frei leads all of MLS with 24 saves, seven more than Hesmer and four more than any other goalie in the league. He will need to be his usual sharp self to keep TFC close.
Luckily for TFC the Crew have been struggling as badly offensively as the Reds have and that means that at the very least this game is going to likely end up being a tight one. One goal, one flukey play or or one sketchy call from the official could be the difference maker either way.
Nothing would lift TFC supporters spirits than a victory against Columbus would. And if it comes from a bogus penalty call, a sketchy set piece or some lucky play from an unlikely hero that will be fine with everyone wearing red. All I hope is that if it ends up as another draw or loss that Will Hesmer or Jeff Cumingham have nothing positive to do with the outcome.
Losing I can take. Smugness and arrogance coming out of central Ohio I can’t.