It’s a rare Wednesday league match for the Columbus Crew and it’s a rare location for a match against Toronto FC. Due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions between the United States and Canada, the three Canadian Major League Soccer teams have home matches in the U.S. TFC is playing its “home” games in Orlando, Florida which is where Columbus will be Wednesday night for its fourth MLS game of the season.
Toronto is one of the five teams in MLS that had to juggle early CONCACAF Champions League matches to begin the 2021 regular season. Unlike the Black & Gold, TFC hasn’t found the balance yet with no wins in league play while having the 2020 MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo out with injury.
The Black & Gold have a chance to keep the unbeaten start to the year going in what will continue a months-long streak of MLS matches in only two locations: Columbus and Florida. Head coach Caleb Porter said to expect rotation in his starting 11 with a Sunday contest at the New England Revolution just around the corner.
Can the Crew win its first Trillium Cup match since 2018? We asked out staff for their predictions.
The Crew grabbed its first win (and first goals) of the season against D.C. United but still was not particularly potent offensively. Despite scoring three goals, two from D.C. own goals, Columbus registered an expected goal total of just 0.4 from nine shots on target.
At Toronto FC, played in Orlando, the Black & Gold will meet a winless Reds side who is still finding its footing under manager Chris Armas. Like United, Toronto is in the early stages of implementing a new high-pressing system. If the Crew is able to put out a near full-choice lineup, a tough job in a fixture-packed week, Columbus should be able to grab its first road win in more than a year.
Columbus Crew 2 Toronto FC 2
Toronto welcomes Columbus after giving up nine goals in three matches. The Black & Gold will exploit TFC’s defense. Instead of getting ahead by defensive own goals, the Crew will score goals of its own.
Gyasi Zardes will get the goal-scoring going in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, as Toronto pushes for an equalizer, the Black & Gold will get behind the home team’s defense and add another. Winger Luis Diaz will end his scoreless drought, adding the team’s second. The Crew gives up one goal, but it isn’t enough for TFC to get any points for the Eastern Conference table.
Columbus Crew 2 Toronto FC 1
Chaos may reign off the field, but the Crew is in a good position to get its second win of the season against Toronto FC. Much like the Crew, Toronto is coming off the end of its Champions League campaign and has suffered multiple injuries to key pieces (although reigning league MVP Alejandro Pozuelo is a bigger loss than any the Crew has suffered). Toronto’s offense is in flux, but should still be a good test for a Columbus defense that has made simple mistakes over the last couple of games.
On the other side, the Crew has the dynamic offensive talent to overrun TFC’s defense, although this may be impacted by Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos’ potential absences from the lineup. Regardless of rotation, the Crew should be strong enough to secure a solid win down in Orlando. Both goals will come from Lucas Zelarayan.
Columbus Crew 2 Toronto FC 0
Toronto FC is dealing still with some key injuries. Playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo is still unable to play and striker Jozy Altidore is a question mark going into this midweek contest. While the Crew lineup should be rotated, having Lucas Zelarayan or Pedro Santos in the No. 10 role will make life difficult for Toronto’s defense. We saw the Crew succeed against a high-press on Saturday against D.C. United and the team will do it again in Orlando. Just one goal though from the Black & Gold.
Columbus Crew 1 Toronto FC 0
Even though Toronto has limped into the season with a 0-1-2 start, I just can’t predict a Columbus win on the road until proven otherwise. Although a win against your rivals following several days of controversy would be nice for a less than thrilled fan base. My prediction? A result as bland as the rebrand.
Columbus Crew 0 Toronto FC 0
The Crew still doesn’t look fluid, with fatigue and injuries taking a toll on the offense. The team will have to rotate significantly or be dead-legged for its fifth match in 15 days and another looming over the weekend. That means whoever is available on the second team will have to come up with the team’s first road win in over a year.
Toronto is struggling with key injuries as well, but is also trying to adapt to a new coach. There is plenty of talent on this roster, but TFC certainly doesn’t appear to understand what Chris Armas is trying to accomplish. A fatigued team against an unsure team means a rough disjointed match.
Columbus Crew 1 Toronto FC 1
Another midweek, another short turnaround for the Crew. The Black & Gold travel to Florida to take on Toronto FC in another installment of the Trillium Cup. Fortunately, TFC has been through a similar run of matches due to Champions League and MLS play and both teams head into this contest tired and banged up.
Head coach Caleb Porter said that this was a game booked for rotation after the win against D.C. United and the contest against the New England Revolution on Sunday, so I expect an interesting lineup for Columbus. But Toronto will also likely have to make changes as well. Because of this, I believe the Black & Gold find a way to get the team’s first road win since March of 2020.
Columbus Crew 2 Toronto FC
What’s your prediction for the Crew against TFC tonight? Let us know in the comment section below.