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Massive Predictions: Toronto FC at Columbus Crew SC

Do we think the Black & Gold can take leg one of the Trillium Cup?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The last two Major League Soccer runner ups meet for the first time in 2017 on Saturday evening.

Columbus Crew SC fell to the Portland Timbers 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium in the 2015 MLS Cup Final. Last year, Toronto FC dominated the championship game but fell to the Seattle Sounders in penalty kicks at BMO Field.

But it’s a new year and both teams have put the past behind them. Crew SC have begun this season brightly with a 3-2-1 record. The Black & Gold entered last weekend with a three-match winning streak, but suffered defeat at the hands of the Chicago Fire on the road.

TFC meanwhile is undefeated this year, but have only a single win on the year.

Can Columbus end the unbeaten run of a team for the third time this year, after doing so to both the Timbers and Orlando City in back-to-back weeks? Let’s see what our staff thinks.

Kris Landis

This could be a rough week for the Black & Gold as they take on what has to be admitted to be a very good TFC side. Crew SC struggled to create for large stretches against the Fire, and when they did, they lacked a finishers’ touch.

If Columbus hope to get anything against the team from up north, they'll have to be better. If Federico Higuain and Harrison Afful both return, and Kekuta Manneh is ready to play, it definitely increases the chances by virtue of the addition of firepower, but I just don't see this one going the Black & Gold's way. The defense has been solid all year, but against the likes of Sebastian Giovinco, I'm just not sure.

This Crew SC team has surprised me to start the season, but I just don't have enough faith in them, at this point, to predict anything but a loss. It won't be an embarrassing one, but it will still be a loss.
Toronto FC 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Josh Enke

So far I've predicted a win for Crew SC every match this season. I'll concede my naivety over the away Houston Dynamo matchup, but other than that, I truly believe Columbus has been the better team in each contest. This upcoming Saturday clash with conference rival Toronto FC is no exception.

To start, I don't think Columbus looked terrible against the Fire last week; the team looked Pipa-less. There was a jarring lack of creativity in the final third of the field. Assuming both Federico Higuain and Harrison Afful are healthy and starting, this Columbus team will find the back of the net.

From Toronto, I expect target man Jozy Altidore to be smartly positioning himself around the 18-yard box. His ability to connect play with one-touch flicks is well documented. He and Sebastian Giovinco demonstrated against Atlanta United how dangerous their pairing can be and how well they complement each other.

My greatest concern is for the Black & Gold backline. Youngsters Alex Crognale and Zack Steffen can both take a share of blame for the Fire's lone goal last weekend. However, it should be acknowledged they also immediately recovered from that lapse in focus. Crognale showed heart on a couple late offensive set pieces and earned a yellow card (not upset - shows he has teeth), and Steffen denied a point-blank Bastian Schweinsteiger free kick. The two Maryland men didn't get down on themselves for their mistakes; they got better.

There's still wind hitting the sails.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Toronto FC 1

Patrick Murphy

Toronto is a good side, there’s no doubt about that. The attack has high-profile names in Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore along with new addition Victor Vazquez and midfielder Michael Bradley. But it’s the defense, one of the best in MLS a year ago, that really propelled TFC to MLS Cup.

The big question for me is will Crew SC’s attack be able to break down the backline that, like Chicago a week ago, can go from three men to five rather quickly.

With Federico Higuain and Harrison Afful likely to return for this match after missing out last week, the Black & Gold attack should be more potent. With a defense that’s been good, I see this being a case of the home team gets the better of a tight contest and Crew SC picks up three more points.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Toronto FC 1

Nick Clarkson

Despite falling on the road at Chicago last week, Columbus Crew SC remains the top team in the Eastern Conference this week. A meeting with Toronto FC awaits the Black & Gold as they return to MAPFRE Stadium, and the clash with The Reds features another against an unbeaten MLS team (relax, they have four draws).

I think Sebastian Giovinco and company were robbed of three points last weekend in a draw with Atlanta United, and will come into Columbus eyeing their second win of the season. With that being said, I think chances are in abundance Saturday night for both sides — but one goal each will leave each team with one point and loads of frustration for different reasons.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Toronto FC 1

Josh Mlot

This is a tough one. I think Toronto FC is better than a seven-point team right now, and obviously some of its individual talent is elite. I also think it's an interesting tactical clash. There are so many questions about the health and availability of players for Columbus that it's hard to know how thin Crew SC will be. As Nate and I discussed earlier this week, I do think there's a decent shout for a return to the 3-4-2-1 against TFC. But will Columbus have Federico Higuain and Harrison Afful? Will Jonathan Mensah be available? Will Kekutah Manneh play a part? I think CCSC needs to be full strength. I feel like there are all kinds of ways this game could go.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Toronto FC 2

Ralph Schudel

Anytime Columbus and Toronto get together it always is a great affair. So far this season TFC look good. Their match with Atlanta last week was highly contested and exciting to watch. I expect to see a great performance from Toronto. Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco, and Jozy Altidore are formidable opposition. TFC head coach Greg Vanney has done a wonderful job building a great squad of role players to compliment the “Big 3.” With the Columbus defense having a “different” performance last Saturday in Bridgeview I anticipate some goals to be conceded and Zack Steffen to be tested early and often. Justin Meram keeps the Golden Boot dream alive by scoring on Saturday and having another great game, but it’s not enough.
Toronto FC 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Guilherme Torres

One more undefeated team is coming to MAPFRE Stadium this weekend in Toronto FC. And, even though Crew SC under performed last week against the Chicago Fire, I believe the team will bounce back and defeat the Canadians.

With a lot of fire power coming from both sided, I think there will be a lot of goals to enjoy. In the end, home field advantage might be the difference on the Black & Gold's favor.
Columbus Crew SC 3 Toronto FC 2

Collin Johnson

Yet again, Crew SC find themselves playing an undefeated team in this young MLS season. Oddly, Toronto FC only has one win, having drawn four times so far. TFC comes to Columbus with a relatively healthy roster that should feature Michael Bradley, Sebastain Giovinco, and Jozy Altidore. Crew SC might still be missing DP center-back Jonathan Mensah but will hopefully have the full service of Harrison Afful, Federico Higuain, and newcomer Kekuta Manneh. Those three could be the difference between a loss and a win on Saturday. Plus, Crew SC no longer has Giovinco-kryptonite Mohammed Saied, so it will be up to someone else to stop the Toronto spark plug.

Assuming Higuain is finally healthy and playing in his usual role, I expect Columbus to end the match with at least a draw. I'm still hoping for a Manneh debut and I think he'll sub on in the middle of the second half. A Manneh goal sees Columbus take one point from Toronto in yet another draw for Crew SC's Trillium Cup rivals.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Toronto FC 2

Nathaniel Marhefka

Jozy and Seba in town this week, huh? That's quite the strike force and Crew SC is going to have their hands full. Fortunately for the Black & Gold, TFC has looked only decent in their match against Atlanta this year. Now, not to say they aren't a quality team, but they clearly have some kinks to work out in the early goings of the season. Due to this, I like Crew SC at home in this "rivalry" tie. I expect Gregg Berhalter to jump back to a three-man back line against this 3-5-2 of Toronto, especially with Jonathan Mensah likely out injured. Josh Williams may see a start against his former club and we will see an appearance from Kekuta Manneh.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Toronto FC 1

Patrick Guldan

Crew SC will have some reinforcements with Afful and Higuain returning, but the key is in the middle of the field as Trapp and Artur having the big challenge of keeping the dynamic Toronto attack in check. Giovinco is masterful in finding space and Bradley makes the right passes more often than not. Without Mensah, Crognale, Naess and the rest of the backline will have to deal with the the best target forward this side of Fanendo Adi.

There will be too many chances as Columbus slips to a second straight loss.

Columbus Crew SC 1 Toronto FC 2

Do you agree? Disagree? Have a different score prediction? Let us know in the comments below.