2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Final (1st Leg): Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC
MAPFRE Stadium – Tuesday, November 21 – 20:00 ET (01:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Columbus 19/20 – Draw 11/5 – Toronto 2/1
Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Preview
The MLS Cup Playoffs continue on Tuesday night with the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship. Columbus Crew welcome Toronto FC to MAPFRE Stadium in a game which has had plenty of people talking.
Columbus Crew weren’t tipped by the masses to make it this far considering they finished 5th in the East in the regular season. However, their playoff form has made people sit up and take note. They will be relishing the chance to try and take a lead away to Toronto in the second leg.
They have been spurred on by off-field uncertainties surrounding the team’s future location. A special atmosphere is expected on Tuesday night, considering this could be the final game at MAPFRE Stadium.
This is a big chance for Crew to do what they did to NYCFC in the previous round in their home fixture. They have won seven of their last eight at MAPFRE and given the absentees for Toronto there is every chance they can do it again.
Embed from Getty ImagesToronto FC have already secured a double this season and are aiming for the first treble in MLS history. But, those missing key players are going to have a huge impact on the game.
Sebastian Giovinco, arguably the frontrunner for the MVP award is suspended as is his strike partner Jozy Altidore. No matter how well a squad can perform on their day, missing two superstars is a concern for the very best teams.
Greg Vanney will be looking for his side to pull together here and make it difficult for their opponents. They cannot afford to fall to the sword in the first leg like NYCFC did at the hands of Columbus.
If they can take a draw or a low scoring margin of defeat into the second leg they’ll fancy their chances. That said, there is no chance they won’t be playing for the win.
Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Team News
Columbus Crew have no suspensions ahead of the first leg. However Hector Jimenez, Artur, Josh Williams and Mohammed Abu are going to have to be careful not to pick up a booking, as it will rule them out of the return fixture. Alex Crognale, Gaston Sauro, Ben Swanson and Connor Maloney are all out through injury.
Toronto FC are without Giovinco and Altidore through suspension, but will return for the second leg. Drew Moor and Victor Vazquez are doubtful to make it into the squad as they continue to recover from injury.
Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Key Points
Columbus Crew’s last five: W/D/W/W/L
Toronto’s last five: W/W/D/W/L
Key Stat: 32 goals missing – The absence of Giovinco and Altidore means Toronto are missing two players who have netted a combined 32 goals in 2017.
Key Player: Ola Kamara – The Columbus Crew forward has 19 goals to his name this season. He will be expected to provide the goals to put his side in a commanding position after the first leg.
Embed from Getty ImagesColumbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Prediction
Columbus Crew 2-1 Toronto FC – Given the squads ahead of this game it would be surprising to see Columbus Crew not take a lead into the second leg. However, Toronto FC are more than a two-man team. They have only lost one of their last nine games on the road and will be out to prove a point in such a big game. It’s going to be a tactical battle which should set up the second leg to be an even better game next week.