The Columbus Crew continued their streak of never losing above the border on Saturday afternoon. As a matter of fact, they even picked up their second ever win in Toronto, defeating the Reds 1-0 and improving their all-time record in the capital of Ontario to 2-0-5.
Columbus started in the same 4-4-2 formation which beat Montreal 2-0 on March 24th.
While Toronto created more overall chances to score, Columbus had the two biggest threats of the game. However, they were only able to capitalize on one of them.
The first came in the 41st minute. Kirk Urso’s free kick was cleared to the top of the box where Bernardo Anor was able to head the ball back toward Olman Vargas. Vargas turned to the endline, took one touch, and was tackled by defender Ty Harden. The tackle brought Vargas to the ground, and the referee awarded a penalty kick. Milovan Mirosevic, who converted a penalty against Montreal, stepped up. However, his weak attempt was saved by TFC goalie Milos Kocic and the game went into the half scoreless.
Mirosevic made up for his missed penalty by making plenty of ball-winning tackles throughout the game. His best tackle came in the 56th minute when he dispossessed Julian de Guzman in midfield. Anor picked up the loose ball and proceeded to run the length of the field with it before finally passing to Vargas on the left side of the box. Vargas returned the ball to Anor, whose first touch went straight into Toronto’s defense. Luckily for Anor, the loose ball fell right back to him, and his right-footed shot found the roof of the net. Anor’s goal made his second straight start a lot better than it would have been without, as he had given the ball away a few times and wasn’t having the most solid game.
The Man of the Match was almost unanimous for both sets of fans: Eric Gehrig. Gehrig wasn’t scheduled to start, but a late ankle injury to Danny O’Rourke forced Gehrig into center defense. Now, O’Rourke may no longer be the starter. Gehrig made a countless number of clearances and interceptions to help Crew goalie Andy Gruenebuam pick up his second consecutive clean sheet.
After the game, the Crew reserves played Toronto’s reserves. The theme of the day continued to be 1-0 wins for Columbus. Ethan Finlay scored the lone goal in the 58th minute, a surefire way to improve the rookie’s confidence. Another positive for the Crew during the reserve match was the return of midfielder Dilly Duka. Duka has been sidelined since the first couple minutes of Columbus’ season due to a hamstring injury. He started and was subbed out in the 32nd minute for Justin Meram.