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Columbus Crew fall to Toronto F.C. for first loss of the year

Crew fall to Toronto 2-0 as Columbus shut out for the first time on the year.

Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

The Columbus Crew and Toronto F.C. came into the game as the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference with a single loss between them on the year. The Crew were primed to continue their hot start against a makeshift Toronto lineup. Even without Jermain Defoe, Jonothan Osorio, Steven Caldwell, and Doneil Henry, it would be the visitors that would get the win off of goals from Michael Bradley and Issey Nakajima-Farran as the Crew were shut out for the first time this season.

Toronto looked far more comfortable in the opening minutes. They moved the ball with ease through the Crew defense. Steve Clark would come up with a big save with Dwayne DeRosario firing a shot at the Crew goalkeeper.

It wouldn't take long for Toronto to break through though. The visitors would take the lead in the 11th minute behind a Bradley goal. The captain would slip through the right side of the box and would fire a close range shot that squibbed between Clark's legs and into the side netting to give Toronto the 1-0 lead.

Bradley nearly doubled the lead in the 17th minute as he again split the Crew defense and bore down on goal. Only a scrambling rear guard action from Michael Parkhurst and Waylon Francis forced his shot wide of goal.

Toronto would keep the high scoring Crew offense at bay throughout the first half. While the home team controlled possession, Toronto continued to put Columbus on the back foot as they disrupted the Crew possession based attack with ease. The visitors consistently forced turnovers in the final third of the field and dissipated any Columbus attack before the Black and Gold were able to get off a dangerous chance on goal.

Columbus would start brightly after the half. The Crew would create an excellent chance early with a free kick chance. Higuain tapped a ball to Anor and the Venezuelan blasted a shot from 30 yards that forced Toronto goalkeeper Julio Cesar to parry the shot. Toronto would clear the danger and another Crew chance went wanting.

Toronto would be content to lay deep and push the Crew attack wide. Columbus would keep the majority of possession, but would repeatedly fire in crosses. The Crew would launch 46 crosses on the evening, but only complete 8 of them. The visitors easily pushed aside the one dimensional attack.

Columbus would slip a ball into the box and caused a scramble in the 83rd minute. Justin Meram would get a chance six yards from goal, but the frantic Toronto rearguard action would block his shot and the danger was quickly cleared.
Toronto soon put the game beyond doubt as Justin Morrow would cut the ball down the left side of the Crew box and put a low cross that a sliding Nakajima-Farran clipped past Steve Clark to make the score 2-0.

Columbus had one late chance to keep from getting shut out. Ethan Finlay took a Higuain pass and slipped past the Toronto defense and fired a low left footed shot that forced a Cesar save. The ball kicked up and hit the crossbar and was finally cleared by the visitors.

Toronto's high pressure game plan disrupted the Crew attack all evening. Berhalter pinned the loss on a stalwart Toronto team and complacency among his own squad. This is the first loss that the Crew suffered during Berhalter's regime dating back to preseason. After an extremely bright start, the loss gives the Crew a dose of reality. They have a chance to bounce back as they hit the road and head west to face the San Jose Quakes next Sunday. This was the team's first taste of adversity and next week is another test of the New Crew Era.