MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

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

via @TorontoFC on Twitter

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.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 15 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST) 
Match Odds: Columbus 6/5 – Draw 23/10 – Toronto 2/1

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome Toronto FC to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night in the latest clash between the Trillium Cup rivals, with both looking for three vital points as they look to prove their credentials in the East.

Columbus started the season poorly before winning three-straight games and climbing to the top of the conference But they fell short last weekend as they lost 1-0 in Chicago and they need to work on finding some consistency if they are to stay at the top of the East.

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They have one of the league’s most potent attacking units, with the addition of Kekuta Manneh making them even more of a threat, so it’s now about building a winning mentality as they look to get back to the MLS Cup Final this season.

Toronto FC have yet to lose a game this season but they’ve only recorded one victory in five outings so far and are capable of much better. Sebastian Giovinco got off the mark for the season in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Atlanta United but his struggle for form has meant the Reds have been finding it tough to put the ball in the net.

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They will remain tough to beat this season – something Greg Vanney will be delighted with – but they need to find their attacking rhythm if they are to get back to an MLS Cup Final this year.

Three of the last five meetings between these sides have ended all square. Toronto won last year’s Trillium Cup series 4-1 on aggregate but only won one of the three games and haven’t won away at the Crew for two seasons.

Team News

Columbus Crew will be without Gaston Sauro for the season, while there are doubts hanging over Dilly Duka, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful and Brad Stuver.

Toronto have two players ruled out as goalkeeper Clint Irwin will miss out along with Ashtone Morgan.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: L/W/W/W/L

Toronto FC’s form: D/D/W/D/D

Key Stat: Toronto haven’t lost away to an Eastern Conference opponent in regular season play since June 2016 (3-2 defeat at Orlando).

Key Player: Justin Meram – The Crew attacker has been in great form so far this season, scoring three goals in Crew SC’s last two home games. If he is on song, Columbus will be in a great position to go on and win Saturday’s game.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-1 Toronto FC – Despite being seven places behind Columbus coming into Week 7, Toronto are only three points off the Crew and will fancy their chances of getting a first win in Ohio since 2014 here. However, these sides have drawn two of their last three and another close battle is expected here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, July 25 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Columbus 4/5 – Draw 14/5 – Toronto 3/1

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host Toronto FC in what should be a thrilling Eastern Conference clash on Saturday evening, with both sides looking to mount pressure on conference leaders DC United.

Columbus sit second in the East after two wins in five days against Chicago Fire last week and they are now five points behind DC with a game in hand.

They have only lost one of their last seven MLS games and Gregg Berhalter will be delighted with the way his team have progressed through the season.

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Toronto are in fourth in the Eastern but have four games in hand over DC and sit eight points off top spot. They beat Philadelphia 2-1 last weekend and will hope to go level on points with Columbus with a victory at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday.

The game will see the two leading goalscorers Kei Kamara and Sebastian Giovinco go head-to-head ahead of next week’s MLS All-Star game which they have both been selected for.

Kamara netted his 14th of the year last Sunday and is two ahead of Giovinco in the Golden Boot standings. The ‘Atomic Ant’ has been sensational for Toronto in his debut campaign and has contributed to 20 of the team’s 24 goals since April 4 – a stunning 83%.

These two sides met back in Week 2 as Columbus saw off a ten-man Toronto side 2-0 thanks to goals from Justin Meram and Kei Kamara in the space of four second-half minutes.

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Toronto beat Columbus away from home twice last year and will be desperate for all three points in what should be a thoroughly entertaining game.

Team News

Columbus look set to be without Hector Jimenez through injury but have no other worries as Berhalter could send the same team out that beat Chicago last weekend. Winter signing Cedrick Mabwati could make his debut after recently arriving but it’s unclear how close to action he is.

Toronto will still be without Michael Bradley as the USMNT star is still away at the Gold Cup, while Nick Hagglund is a doubt. Giovinco and Jozy Altidore will partner each other in attack.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/W/L/W/W

Toronto FC’s last five: W/D/L/D/W

Key Stat: There have been 19 goals in the last six league meeting between the two, an average of 3.1 per game. Goals.

Key Player: Kei Kamara – Tough to decide who will be more important on Saturday – Kamara or Giovinco – but home advantage should see the Crew striker outscore his opponent.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-2 Toronto – Expecting goals in what should be a great game, but it’s difficult to split the sides on paper ahead of what could be a close game. It could come down to who has the better game out of Kamara and Giovinco, but this looks set to end a draw.

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.