It’s now or never for Columbus Crew SC, or at least that’s what their saying in the Black & Gold camp. After two seasons of success, Columbus is facing its toughest challenge in the Gregg Berhalter era and no one is happy with the team’s results.
The good news for Crew SC is Toronto FC is coming to town, a team the Black & Gold have dominated with a 12-5-9 record in 26 all-time meetings. The bad news, this isn’t your historical TFC team.
Sebastian Giovinco is at it again after his 2015 Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player season. The Italian once again leads the Reds in goals (8) and assists (7), although he has not scored in seven matches.
While Giovinco is dominating the league again, Toronto hasn’t been as good as the club would like. TFC is 6-6-5 on the year and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Aside from Giovinco, the rest of the players have combined for 11 goals in 17 matches and no other player has more than two finished in 2016.
Add to this the injuries to key players Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and goalkeeper Clint Irwin and you can begin to see why Crew SC is confident heading into this match.
While Columbus is still dealing with injury problems of its own — Federico Higuain and Gaston Sauro remain out for the foreseeable future — the team is beginning to get healthy. Cedrick Mabwati is back after dealing with malaria and Conor Casey is on the mend from a knee injury. There are likely reinforcements on the way as well and the team has the hottest scorer in MLS in Ola Kamara.
The focus is on the this game for the Black & Gold so here is all you need to know heading into the game.
Keys to the Match
- Winning the midfield: Without Michael Bradley, Toronto aren’t nearly as good in the center of the park, but Columbus has felt the absence of Federico Higuain. Who can control things take a stranglehold on this contest?
- Finishing Chances: The two teams combined for 23 shots in the first meeting this season but scored zero goals. Both sides can create chances but the winner will be the one who finishes them.
- Goalkeeping: On the flip side, it’s a battle of two goalkeepers with different experience levels. TFC’s Alex Bono has three career appearances but already one shutout. Crew SC’s Steve Clark has only four shutouts in 17 matches. Can one of these guys keep their team in the game with heroics?
How to Watch
Date/Time: July 13, 2016/7:00 p.m. EST
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, OH
Television: CW Columbus, TWC SportsChannel
Online: MLS Live
Radio: CD 102.5 (English), La Mega 103.1 (Spanish)
Come back during the match to chat with other Crew SC fans in the comment section below.