MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Venue: Mapfre Stadium – Saturday, March 14 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT )

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 13/10 – Draw 9/4 – Toronto FC 15/8

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host Toronto FC at the Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening for the second game of the 2015 MLS season in a key Eastern Conference clash.

Columbus Crew didn’t get off to the best start after suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat away at Houston Dynamo last weekend, although they may count themselves unlucky as they dominated possession and managed to get 18 shots away but just couldn’t find the net.

Toronto FC couldn’t have asked for a much better result in their opening game as they won 3-1 away at Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps thanks to goals from Jozy Altidore and Robbie Findley.

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Columbus enjoyed six consecutive wins on home soil at the end of the 2014 regular season, so they will be hoping to continue where they left off at the Mapfre Stadium against a Toronto side who recorded their first away win for seven games in MLS last time out.

Head Coach Gregg Berhalter led The Crew to the playoffs for the first time in three years last season and he will certainly be confident that he can replicate that achievement, but with such a competitive Eastern Conference, Columbus will be desperate to get early points on the board.

Greg Vanney‘s Toronto have been the subject of attention throughout the preseason due to the resources they’ve invested in the squad as they’ve brought in key players in the shape of Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Benoit Cheyrou.

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Although it’s very early days, they look to have hit the ground running and their quality was immediately evident in the first game last weekend. The club will be hoping that they continue to justify the expenditure their arrivals demanded.

As well as a significantly improved squad, recent history is also on Toronto’s side when it comes to fixtures against Columbus. The Reds won all three of the games between these two sides last season, with the most recent meeting providing an entertaining 3-2 win for Toronto back in August 2014.

Having said that, in the games before the 2014 season, Toronto had managed just two wins from 19 attempts against Columbus with The Crew coming out on top on ten occasions and drawing seven.

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It’s tightly poised and with two teams that like to get the ball down and play in an entertaining way, we could be in for a real treat.

Team News

Columbus Crew midfielder Romain Gall may not be fit for action after he missed the last game with a knee injury while Tony Tchani will miss the game after being issued with a one-match suspension for endangering the safety of an opponent in last week’s 1-0 loss to Houston. Toronto FC have no injuries or suspensions to take into consideration and are likely to field an unchanged side.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: L

Toronto FC’s form: W

Key Stat: The last five meetings between Columbus and Toronto have produced 17 goals, so we can hope for more of the same.

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Key Player: Jozy Altidore – The USMNT striker marked his return to Major League Soccer with two goals and looks full of confidence once again. With Giovinco, Bradley and Cheyrou orchestrating the midfield behind him, chances will inevitably come his way.

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Toronto FC – Columbus were unlucky to lose last week against Houston. Toronto certainly weren’t lucky to win at Vancouver and they looked very strong. The Reds should have too much firepower for Columbus to handle.

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Greg Vanney praises “very good” Toronto FC midfielder Benoit Cheyrou

Toronto FC are set to begin their 2015 MLS season with a trip to Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday and head coach Greg Vanney has been full of praise for his squad, and in particular, Benoit Cheyrou.

The French midfielder joined on a free transfer in January after a seven-year spell at Marseille where he was a first-team regular and consistently played in Europe’s elite competition because of Marseille’s participation in the Champions League.

“We knew he was a very good player and the idea was to create some balance with Michael (Bradley) in midfield,” said Toronto head coach Greg Vanney, who is happy with the way the two compliment each other.

“We have a left footed player, right-footed player, experience from both of them and they’re very savvy players who can read and understand the game.”

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Cheyrou is predominantly known as a defensive midfield player, but Vanney is confident that playing alongside Michael Bradley will also allow him to have a positive impact on the team going forward this year.

“They cover a fair amount of ground and both of them in their own right can make plays and make things happen. The idea is to open up space for Sebastian (Giovinco) to do his thing.”

With a team including the likes of Benoit Cheyrou, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC could well be one team to keep an eye on this year.

Greg Vanney is happy with the development of the squad over the course of the preseason and feels they’re in good shape with the first game just around the corner.

“I think we’re in a good place, we have a good foundation.”

Will Toronto FC be one of the strongest teams in MLS this season?

Toronto FC emerging as strong force for 2015 MLS season

Toronto FC are starting to build a formidable line-up and are starting to emerge as a real force to be reckoned with before the 2015 MLS season has even started.

Last week saw Juventus star Sebastian Giovinco agree to join the Canadian side in July, only days after they had secured the services of striker Jozy Altidore from Sunderland.

In the last 24 hours, they have also managed to sign midfielder Benoit Cheyrou. With an attacking spine consisting of Michael Bradley, Cheyrou, Giovinco and Altidore, Toronto look as though they are going to be a real threat in 2015.

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Benoit Cheyrou made 305 appearances for French side Marseille in the last seven years between 2007 and 2014, contributing 28 goals and 32 assists. He also had spells in France with Lille and Auxerre.

Cheyrou’s arrival allows his fellow attacking players to have full freedom of the pitch and as a Ligue 1 title-winner with Marseille in 2010, as well as playing regular Champions League football, his experience will be invaluable to the team.

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Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said, “Benoit’s vision and his ability to distribute the ball are two very distinct qualities that have made him such a successful player throughout his career both domestically in France and in European competition,” when speaking to the club website.

“He has a wealth of experience and success and is another important piece that complements the ones we currently have in place. We are very excited to bring him to Toronto FC,” he added.

Cheyrou himself has said that he’s “very excited to sign for Toronto FC” and that he “cannot wait to wear the jersey and join my new teammates.”

Will Toronto FC challenge for Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup glory in 2015?