As the clock ticks and the time in the 2019 Major League Soccer season dwindles down, Columbus Crew SC is running out of time to make a statement in the Eastern Conference. The team’s third game of August brings Toronto FC to MAPFRE Stadium on quite the short week.
This starts the first of three games in eight days time for Columbus. Following Saturday’s match, the Black & Gold head on the road to face New York City FC and back to the home state for another clash with Cincinnati on the following Sunday. The schedule may look daunting for the Crew looking onwards but Saturday can be the start of some fuel to Caleb Porter and the fire that needs ignition for a late-season playoff push.
Let’s check out Toronto FC, exactly what Columbus can expect to see from the Canadian side and how they can see out three points and get the season back on track.
Toronto FC at a glance
Scoring leader: Alejandro Pozuelo (midfielder): 9 goals
Assist leader: Alejandro Pozuelo: 9 assists
Projected Toronto FC Starting XI
How they play
Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney will certainly come into MAPFRE Stadium with the hopes of coming away with three points. In the team’s last MLS outing, a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC, Vanney had deployed a 4-4-2 formation, linking playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo and striker Jozy Altidore at the forefront of the attack while the rest of the team can help supply them services. Either the two midfielders pushing the ball through the middle or dropping back, allowing wingers Jacob Shaffelberg or Tsubasa Endoh to push from the outside in.
This was a formation that somewhat paid dividends. It was definitely a shakeup from the preferred formation of the season for Vanney, which was a traditional 4-2-3-1. Such a formation allows for the opposition to apply pressure only for the side to spring forward with surprising force. A lone striker allows for a playmaking No. 10 to sit behind and play balls forward or out wide. It will be interesting to see the installment of players that Vanney chooses against a back-and-forth Columbus side.
How the Crew win
The winning has to come sooner or later if Caleb Porter is still wishing to keep the Crew’s playoff dreams alive in the short amount of time that’s left in the season. While it seems like he has figured out what previous issues kept this side to click, the injury list continues to pile up in a time where it certainly doesn’t help.
Columbus, however, can win if they can get in the driver’s seat early and often. Toronto FC is no slouch and have had the Crew’s number in recent years. Vanney should have an idea what they face in a Black & Gold side who sit seven points back from the playoffs and are hurting from injuries (no pun intended).
The players, coach and fans all know what exactly is at stake, even in a game that’s eight removed from the start of the postseason. There can’t be any more room for excuses in such a crucial point in time. For Columbus, this match could very well decide the team’s playoff fate.