Gregg Berhalter discusses Columbus Crew SC’s 0-0 draw in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Eastern Conference Final against Toronto FC.Posted by Massive Report on Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Columbus Crew SC failed to break through against a committed Toronto FC rearguard in a 0-0 to open the two leg Eastern Conference Finals series. The Black & Gold held the visitors to no shots on goal, but failed to find the target themselves.
Both sides were cagey to open the match. Toronto opted to deploy a 4-1-4-1 that stymied the Crew attack but didn't lead to too much offense for the visitors as the first half rolled along. Columbus struggled against the tight, pressing defense of the Reds.
TFC finally tested Zack Steffen in the 41st minute. Chris Mavinga headed down a corner from Marco Delgado. Steffen got down quickly to corral the ball that was heading to the far post.
Columbus also got a half chance at the end of the first half with left back Jukka Raitala whipping in a ball from wide, but Ola Kamara could only get a glancing header on it. The play would close out a half where was a single shot on goal between both teams, a Pedro Santos shot from distance that was easily saved in the 11th minute
The cagy nature of the game was shed quickly in the second half. The Crew nearly had a chance setup through transition on offense with Justin Meram sending a ball into Santos in the 51st. Alex Bono tried to collect the ball, but the rebound fell to Kamara. His show was blocked for a corner by Drew Moor to end the chance.
Artur would get the crowd on it's feet in the 72nd minute with a slippery run through the middle of the Toronto defense, splitting Michael Bradley and Victor Vasquez and uncorking a shot from distance that drifted less than a yard wide of the post.
Both sides traded attacks over the next 10 minutes, but the conditions and fatigue took some of the sharpness out of the attacks. Neither side truly tested the opposing keeper.
The addition of Kekuta Manneh added new spark to the Crew offense. The speedy winger came in on the left side and Meram switching to the right to give Columbus energy going forward.
Manneh was involved in the buildup that sent Harrison Afful in front of goal. His point blank shot forced a miraculous save out of Bono. Manneh followed up, but his shot was also blocked.
After a reset on offense and an attacking free kick, Meram rang the cross bar from a driven Higuain service, but the play was whistled offside.
The Crew got another chance in stoppage time off a sloppy TFC turnover. Higuain played a redirecting touch to Meram. The winger attacked down the right and fired a driven cross in to the six-yard box. Kamara couldn't get to the ball, but he was called offside, ending the play.
Toronto was more than happy to escape town without giving up the aggregate lead and preceded to slow down the game for the last 15 minutes.
When it was over
When Robert Sibiga blew his whistle. The Crew knocked at on the door late in the second half, but were unable to break through.
The Crew now heads to Toronto for the second leg on Wednesday, Nov. 29th at 8:00 p.m. Columbus will need at least to tie Toronto after the scoreless draw. Columbus will have to get the result without Artur while Toronto will get Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore back.