Toronto won by a score of 4-2 on Saturday night in front of 13,058 fans at Crew Stadium, the first time Columbus has ever lost to the team up north. With the win, Toronto will take the Trillium Cup to Canada for the first time ever. The Crew have won the trophy the first three years of its existence.
With the win, the Toronto-ians (I refuse to call them the reds) improve to 5-12-12 (27 points). However, they remain in last place in the Eastern Conference. Columbus drops to 11-9-7 (40 points), and are now in a tie for first in the East with Sporting Kansas City.
Toronto was threatening to score early on. In the 8th minute, forward Ryan Johnson’s header was tipped by Crew goalie William Hesmer and knocked off the crossbar. Toronto managed to get one past Hesmer in the 21st minute. Off a corner kick, Columbus cleared the ball, but it fell to Torsten Frings near the right hand side of the field. Frings sent in a low hard cross which hit Nick Soolsma. The ball dropped straight to Soolsma’s left foot, and he finished calmly past Hesmer for his second goal of the year.
The team from Canada doubled their lead before half-time. In the 42nd minute, Joao Plata crossed the ball from the left sideline near the Crew’s bench. His cross found Ryan Johnson, who’s looping header couldn’t be chased down by Hesmer before it went into the net.
Toronto hit the crossbar once again in the 46th minute after Eric Avila’s half-volley dipped over Hesmer’s hands but couldn’t get underneath the goal frame.
In the 62nd minute, Emilio Renteria and Toronto goalie Stefan Frei collided. Both were subbed off after being treated by medical staff. Renteria signaled to the bench that he didn’t need to come out, but Coach Warzycha didn’t take the risk and put in Tommy Heinemann.
Columbus got a goal back in the 67th minute. Emmanuel Ekpo played a nice through ball to Robbie Rogers, who had gotten behind the Toronto defense. Rogers crossed the ball low across the box. Heinemann made a penetrating run between Toronto’s defenders and finished nicely with the side of his foot.
The Crew tried were pushing to tie the game, but Toronto got a third goal in the 83rd minute. Julian de Guzman dispossessed Kevin Burns as he was trying to dribble out of trouble near the box. Guzman unleashed a low, hard shot that beat Hesmer at his near post.
However, Columbus didn’t go down without a fight. They pulled a goal back in the 87th minute after Heinemann laid off a beautiful pass near the center of the box. Mendoza ripped a one-time left-footed shot that went into the top-right corner of the goal. Mendoza celebrated by holding his groin, which he seemed to have injured a few minutes previous to scoring.
The comeback wasn’t in the soccer gods’ plans. Toronto scored their fourth in stoppage time. They cleared the ball down the field, and Hesmer came way out from his box to clear the ball. Instead, Danny Koevermans beat Hesmer to the ball and poked it around him on his way to shooting into an empty net. Toronto won, 4-2, and they finally were able to get their hands on the Trillium Cup.
The Crew return to action this Wednesday at home against the Houston Dynamo. Toronto travels to Mexico on Wednesday to take on Pumas UNAM in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Columbus Crew – William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner, Robbie Rogers, Emmanuel Ekpo, Rich Balchan (Kevin Burns 80), Dilly Duka (Jeff Cunningham 74), Andres Mendoza, Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 65).
Toronto FC – Stefan Frei (Milos Kocic 66), Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Andy Iro, Ashtone Morgan, Julian de Guzman, Eric Avila, Torsten Frings, Joao Plata, Nick Soolsma (Matt Stinson 80), Ryan Johnson (Danny Koevermans 87).
One of the few positives of the night occurred in the stands. Before the game, the Nordecke revealed three huge banners that read, “Because of Columbus, you are here.”