Preview: Columbus Crew SC v Toronto FC

Coming off an impressive victory in Vancouver, the Reds travel east to Mapfre Stadium to take on the Columbus Crew.  At stake is more than just a result for both clubs.  Outside of the natural distaste for their other Canadian rivals in Montreal and Vancouver, Toronto FC’s biggest rivals since 2008 have been the Crew.  While points and placement in the Eastern Conference standings are always top of mind, the two also compete for bragging rights and the Trillium Cup.

 

Both Ohio and Ontario share the trillium as their provincial and state flower which gives the Trillium Cup its name and is awarded to the club who earns the most points in league matches between the two.  Columbus won the Trillium Cup in the early years of its existence, running from 2008 – 2010 while Toronto are the current cup holders, winning all nine points in 2014.  In total Columbus has won the Trillium Cup five times and Toronto twice, the first time in 2011 for Toronto.  Putting the trophy aside, the overall record for the two sides are below.

 

TOR Win CLB Win Draw
Total 5 10 8
2014 3 0 0
2013 1 2 0
2012 0 3 0
2011 1 0 2
2010 0 1 1
2009 0 1 2
2008 0 1 2
2007 0 2 1

 

The weather outside is warming up but Columbus is still expected to be on the chilly side in the evening seeing that Mapfre Stadium is an outdoor soccer specific stadium.  The temperature on Saturday will be a warm 14c at its peak, and a low of 4c.  There is also a certainty of light rain during the early part of the day which will hopefully end by match time.  Regardless of the weather, matches on the road will continue to be a true test for Toronto with the club only earning maximum points during four matches away from BMO Field in 2014.

 

The MLS recognized Greg Vanney and three Toronto FC players in Week 1; Justin Morrow, Michael Bradley and MLS Player of the Week Jozy Altidore.  The success of Greg Vanney’s lineup in Vancouver should not change but as always could see an adjustment or two.  It’s possible we may see Warren Creavalle swapped at the right fullback position for Mark Bloom who was not selected to play against the Whitecaps.

 

Considering the distance between Toronto and Vancouver, there was a strong showing of Toronto FC supporters who made the trip.  Columbus on the other hand is a mere six to seven hour drive which is about the same distance as Toronto to Montreal.  The travel support will be even stronger this Saturday with TFC’s front office sending a total of five buses to Columbus for the match.  Included on three of the buses will be supporters from The Inebriatti, Red Patch Boys, U-Sector and Kings In The North who will surely be in full support, voice, and waving flags.  In total 500 to 600 people are expected to make the trip to Columbus which will be a big boost of encouragement to Toronto FC.

 

Toronto FC supporters should have mixed feelings about the referee for the match, Canadian Dave Gantar.  Michael Bradley was visibly upset with Gantar during Toronto FC’s match against the Chicago Fire in September 2014, afterwards saying “It’s not the first time we’ve had him this year. What can you say? He’s just not good enough.”. Gantar has been refereeing since 2010 with 33 matches under his belt and 11 of them in 2014.  Assisting him will be James Conlee and Danny Thornberry, with Sorin Stoica as the Fourth Official.

 

If you’re going to the match in Columbus, be sure to be in full voice.  If you’re watching at home, you’ll be able to catch the match on TSN2 at 7:30pm on March 14.  Both clubs will be fighting tooth and nail to win this intense and exciting match.  It could come down to being a pivotal match at the end of the season.  Not only for a trophy and pride, but for placement in the Eastern Conference in late October.  No matter what happens, this is first of three passionate meetings with a second trip to Columbus on July 25 and then Toronto FC’s home finale on October 17.

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