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Massive Predictions: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC

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Is there life on the road for the Black & Gold?

Three straight home matches for Columbus Crew SC resulted in only three points. You would think a chance to get out of Columbus would be good for the Black & Gold.

That is until you take note of Crew SC’s 0-6-3 record away from the friendly confines of MAPFRE Stadium this season.

The road is exactly where the Black & Gold will be on Sunday when the club travels to take on Toronto FC. The Reds were part of one of the three recent home ties in Columbus, doing it without four of the squad’s best players making the trip.

After the disappointing run, Crew SC now sits seven points back of the final MLS Cup Playoff spot. Following the last contest, where the Black & Gold squandered a 2-0 second half lead, head coach Gregg Berhalter vowed that he would get the players on the field who would continue to fight for the club.

Will there be changes? Can Toronto pounce on a Columbus side while it’s down? How will the Trillium Cup play out? Let’s see what our experts believe.

Sam Fahmi

So what happens if this games ends in a tie? Do we go for penalty kicks to determine the winner of the Trillium Cup? Do we even care? No. No we don't. Sebastian Giovinco won his ESPY and he is kicking ass and taking names to show that his Italy snub was personal and not about form. Against our Swiss cheese defense, he may easily get a hat trick. Federico Higuain returns to the starting roll with Mohammed Saied finally getting a break to let his injured back recover. I'll actually be happy if we come back with a point on the road, but my gut, which is a big one if you know me, says otherwise.

Toronto FC 3 Columbus Crew SC 1

Nathaniel Marhefka

After two low-scoring draws this year against Toronto, I expect this game to open up a bit more. In Columbus, Toronto bunkered down and played very compact. While defensively, it did well to hold the Crew, offensively they were invisible. This match will see some stars return for both sides.

Toronto may line up in a 5 defender set again, but that will only be to the benefit of the Crew if they do. Expect Toronto to lineup in a similar set to the side that dismantled DC United 4-1 last week, but with the addition of Jozy Altidore in the starting XI and possibly Toisant Ricketts on the wing. Situated in a 4-4-2 diamond, expect them to play narrow with Columbus trying to exploit the wings (surprise). Pipa makes his way back into the starting XI so Columbus may be good for a few goals themselves if they can convert, of course.

And then there's this, taken from the Columbus Crew SC website,

A scoreline of 2-2 would result in a tiebreaker of f

ewest combined team disciplinary points in Trillium Cup matches, which would not be calculated until the completion of the match.

I am expecting this match to end in a draw, otherwise known as a "Berhalter victory".

Columbus Crew SC 2 Toronto FC 2

Josh Mlot

I'm at the point where I just don't think I can predict positive results for this Columbus team until I see it on the field. I do think that Federico Higuain makes a big difference in the attack from a standpoint of creativity and rhythm, so that's a big plus. But there's still too much missing. Michael Bradley is still out for Toronto, as is Will Johnson, but Jozy Altidore is back and, despite all the absences, TFC has been in decent form, or, at least, picking on bad teams. Well guess what, Toronto, here's another bad team for you to pick on. The results don't lie. There's not a huge gulf between these teams, but home field is helpful in this Trillium Cup finale.

Toronto FC 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Kris Landis

Is there really a reason to think positively at this point? Until this team shows that it can play quality soccer for 90 minutes and deliver a result, I don't think there is. Even with Michael Bradley out, I don't see the Crew SC midfield having a good day, and Sebastian Giovinco still scares the pants off of me. Assuming Federico Higuain plays the majority of the match we could see some of the creativity back in play, but I don't think it will be enough to take down TFC.

Toronto FC 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Patrick Guldan

The sunshine and optimism of a three-game home stand is in the rear view mirror. This team needed a win then, now it’s not clear if it matters for this season. Federico Higuain is fit, but again, it’s not clear even he can carry this team. Not with the defense as a shambles. Now seven points back of the playoffs, Crew SC aren’t eliminated from playoff position, but it’s approaching mere formality. Toronto on the other hand is looking to claw into better position and the return of Jozy Altidore makes them a more complete team. Crew SC remains fatally flawed.

Toronto FC 3 Columbus Crew SC 1

Matt Weisgarber

Columbus hasn't given fans watchable soccer as of late. And the games that are watchable end with giving up late goals. This game will be one or the other, or both. Best case scenario this is a watchable game that ends in a close loss.

Toronto FC 3 Columbus Crew SC 1

Andrew Todd-Smith

Nothing has come together for Columbus Crew SC to attain a decisive and positive result these past 2 months. The correlation between lack of wins and the extended absence of Federico Higuaín certainly exists, even if it is a weak and only partially explanatory one. There are moments when they have played well: see a competitive showing at Sporting Kansas City ruined by a stoppage time goal by defender Matt Besler, a strong first half against Orlando City SC and an ability to create a chance down the stretch against the New York Red Bulls. But the consistency is the issue. Glaring mistakes have proven damning, and I can't see those being phased out magically and suddenly. But the attack is looking better with Harrison Afful, Cedrick Mabwati and a 90% Pipa there to contribute and aid Justin Meram and Ola Kamara. Sebastian Giovinco is coming off a scary good hat trick versus D.C. United, however.

Something's got to change to spark a return to the win column, so I'll start the momentum with a ambitiously contrarian, if ill-advised, shot in the dark.

Columbus Crew SC 3 Toronto FC 2

Patrick Murphy

This is the Toronto FC team that came into Columbus and used smart tactics to get a 1-1 draw featuring a team with very few names many fans knew. Props to Greg Vanney on that one. Now this contest is in Toronto, where Crew SC went, controlled the match, but couldn’t score in a 0-0 draw earlier this year.

Despite Gregg Berhalter ripping into his team following the last match and letting the players hear it at practice early in the week, I don’t think it changes much. Federico Higuain’s return sparked some offense when he entered the game, but there’s no guarantee he’s ready to go 90 minutes.

With Sebastian Giovinco back on form and Jozy Altidore returning to the lineup, I think TFC will want to make quick work of the Black & Gold on a Sunday evening. Get home in time for supper.

Toronto FC 3 Columbus Crew SC 1

Are you still optimistic about this team? Think Crew SC can turn things around in Toronto? Let us know in the comments below.