Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire

BMO Field – Saturday, April 28 2018 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football (via Red Button)

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Preview

Toronto FC return to MLS action against Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon after their heartbreaking penalty defeat to Chivas in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Final on Wednesday. Gregg Vanney’s men fought incredible well but ultimately came up short. The competition has taken a lot out of the team, so Chicago will fancy their chances of picking up points.

Mexican sides continue to dominate the CCL, with Chivas lifting the trophy at Toronto’s expense this time around. The reigning MLS Cup champions can hold their heads high for their performances in the competition, but ultimately they returned empty handed.

The challenge will now be to ignite their MLS campaign, after losing four of their opening five games. Those losses have come as a result of focusing on the CCL games, but Toronto sit rock bottom in the Eastern Conference as a result. All four losses have also come directly after CCL fixtures, so fatigue will be a major concern for the home side here.

Chicago Fire arrive in high spirits after picking up a surprise 2-1 win at New York Red Bulls last weekend. Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez came up big, making nine saves to help his side to three big road points. The Fire have picked up seven points from six games but know they are capable of better.

The worry for the visiting side is they’ve lost six consecutive MLS games against Toronto, stretching back three years. Saturday’s game does, however, represent an excellent chance to capitalise on a beaten Toronto side, who are expected to have key players missing.

This will be the 27th MLS meeting between the Eastern Conference sides. They have each won nine of the previous 26 games, with eight matches ending level. Toronto won both games 3-1 last season.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Victor Vazquez (back spasms), Chris Mavinga (abdominal discomfort), Gregory van der Wiel (Achilles), Jozy Altidore (foot), Justin Morrow (calf strain), Drew Moor (undisclosed).

🚑 Out: Nick Hagglund (hamstring).

Chicago Fire

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Jorge Corrales (infection), Michael de Leeuw (left ACL), Djorjde Mihailovic (right ACL), Matt Polster (right MCL), Luis Solignac (left quad).

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: L/L/W/L/L

Chicago Fire’s MLS form: L/D/W/L/W

Key stat: Toronto FC have lost all four of their MLS games directly after playing in the CONCACAF Champions League this season, getting outscored 10-1 in those games.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-2 Chicago Fire: There are usually goals when these two sides meet. Both sides have scored in nine of their last 10 MLS meetings and that should be the case again here. Toronto need to rally after their midweek CCL loss but they will be drained mentally and physically. Chicago will be looking to replicate their game plan that worked so well at Red Bull Arena last weekend. They will sit deep and look to hit the hosts on the counter. Score draw.

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Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake

BMO Field – Friday, March 30 2018 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Preview

The current MLS Cup holders Toronto FC are looking to pick up their first points of the 2018 season as they welcome Real Salt Lake to BMO Field on Friday evening.

It has not been a good start to the new campaign for Toronto, domestically that is, as they have lost their first two. However, before the alarm bells start ringing around the club, their success in reaching the Concacaf Champions League semifinals (this coming Tuesday) against Club America is partly the reason why.

With that said, they cannot afford to allow a winless streak to set in. They sit bottom of the East, already ten points behind the leaders, although that is with two games in hand.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: TFC fans hoping for first win of 2018 season

The bye week wasn’t exactly kind to Greg Vanney’s thoughts, eight of his squad were in International action and with the games coming thick and fast, he will be keeping a close eye on his players and their intensity levels.

Real Salt Lake visit BMO Field having experienced all three ups and downs at the opening of this season. They have played three games picking up four points (1-1-1). They will be aiming to find some consistency in their quest to be making the playoffs this season.

Their well-disciplined performance to pick up a 1-0 win against RBNY last time out was exactly what their fans wanted to see.

RSL haven’t enjoyed the best form in their away trips to Toronto, having won just one of four meetings between the sides. Away form is a concern for Real Salt Lake too, they have lost 22 games and conceded 72 goals since the start of the 2016 season. That is the third-worst record on the road in MLS during that time span.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Justin Morrow (calf strain) and Chris Mavinga (abdominal discomfort).

🚑 Out: None.

Real Salt Lake

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Aaron Herrera (groin), Marcelo Silva (hamstring) and Joao Plata (hamstring).

🚑 Out: Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), Jordan Allen (knee) and Taylor Peay (knee).

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: L/L

Real Salt Lake’s MLS form: D/L/W

Key stat: Toronto will become the first defending champion to start the following season with three straight defeats if they lose this game.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-1 Real Salt Lake: It has the makings of a close game all things considered. TFC will have more than a close eye on their semifinal next week heading into this one. That is by no means through a lack of respect for RSL – just the nature of knockout competitions. Salt Lake will see this as a tie that they can pick up points from. However, the TFC faithful will be expecting their side to get their first win of the season.

Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC | 2018 MLS Match Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC

Olympic Stadium – Saturday, March 17 2018 – 15:00 ET (19:00 GMT)

Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC: Preview

It’s taken just three weeks for the first 401 Derby of the season to take place as Montreal Impact and Toronto FC go head-to-head at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The Impact will be looking forward to playing in front of their own fans for the first time this season but know Toronto arrive in incredibly high spirits.

The Impact have opened their season with back-to-back road losses, but have managed to score three goals. They fell 2-1 at Vancouver on opening weekend and were perhaps unlucky to lose 3-2 at Columbus last week. Gyasi Zardes netted a penalty in the 94th minute after Montreal had come from 2-0 down at halftime.

Photo Credit: Hazel May

Remi Garde’s men need to shore up their defence but it’s unclear if the arrival of Rod Fanni will help in that regard. The Impact need to impress on their home opener and will be desperate to get at least one point on the board.

Toronto FC travel to their Canadian rivals after their incredible CONCACAF Champions League win over Tigres on Tuesday night. The reigning MLS Cup champs advanced to the semifinals with a 4-4 away goals aggregate win, and now have a few weeks to prepare for their clash with Club America.

Their priority now needs to be getting their MLS season up and running. They haven’t played since opening weekend, when they fell 2-0 to Columbus in one of the surprise results of the season so far.

Montreal will hope to capitalise on any fatigue that may be on show but both sides will be looking to attack in what should be an entertaining battle. They both come into the game as the bottom two sides in the East, so they will be going for the win at this very early stage of the campaign.

The rivals met five times last season. Toronto beat Montreal over two legs in the Canadian Championship Final before they went head-to-head three time in MLS over the final two months of the season. The Reds won at Montreal 3-1 before the Impact got revenge with a crazy 5-3 win at BMO Field. Toronto then made amends with a 1-0 win at home on the final day of the regular season.

Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC: Team News

Montreal Impact

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Zakaria Diallo (ruptured achilles), Kyle Fisher (leg), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (hamstring).

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Justin Morrow (leg), Chris Mavinga (leg).

🚑 Out: None.

Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC: Key Stats

Montreal Impact’s MLS form: L/L

Toronto FC’s MLS form: L

Key stat: There have been 30 goals in the last six MLS clashes between these two sides (including playoffs) – an average of five per game.

Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC: Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-2 Toronto FC: It’s a tough game to call, as Toronto are expected to make some changes to the team that advanced past Tigres on Tuesday. Montreal will be ready to take advantage but the Reds still have strength in depth. Goals are expected but this one might just end in a high-scoring draw.

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew | 2018 MLS Match Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew 

BMO Field – Saturday, March 3rd 2018 – 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Preview

MLS is back. It’s been 12 weeks since Toronto FC beat Seattle to be crowned 2017 MLS Cup Champions at BMO Field and the new season will begin on the same turf. The reigning champs will open the 2018 season against the Columbus Crew. It was Toronto who ended the Crew’s season last time out, but they will kick it off on Saturday afternoon. The standings are reset and 23 teams have fresh hopes of glory as we enter what should be an incredible 2018 campaign.

There have been several MLS Cup winners of past who have seen their squads weaken over the course of the following offseason. But that’s not been the case in Toronto. If anything, the Reds have strengthened. Signings like Auro, Gregory van der Wiel and Ager Aketxe should ensure Toronto remain as strong, if not stronger as they were last year.

Greg Vanney’s men come into the game off the back of their CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 win over the Colorado Rapids. That two-legged tie will have injected some early match fitness into the Toronto legs, but they will also now have one eye on next Wednesday’s quarterfinal clash with Tigres.

That could well play into Columbus’ hands. Yes, they are facing the reigning champions on their own soil. Yes, Columbus have a lot of new faces who need time to adapt. But the Crew will be out for revenge and are facing a Toronto side who will undoubtedly have one eye on the Tigres clash.

Gregg Berhalter has had a tough offseason. The ongoing doubts about the team’s possible relocation to Austin still linger, while key players such as Ola Kamara and Justin Meram have departed to league rivals. Replacements such as Gyasi Zardes and Mike Grella have come in but it might take Columbus a few games to get used to their new-look attack.

These two met in last season’s Eastern Conference Final, with Toronto advancing to MLS Cup after a narrow 1-0 aggregate win. Columbus did beat Toronto 2-1 in the first of their three regular season clashes but they haven’t won at BMO Field since 2015.

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: None

(Take a look at all Toronto FC’s key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

Columbus Crew

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: None

(Take a look at all Columbus Crew’s key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: N/A

Columbus Crew’s MLS form: N/A

Key stat: Columbus Crew have failed to score in their last four trips to BMO Field, losing their last three trips on the spin. However, last time they did find the net away at Toronto, they went on to win the game 2-0, back in October 2015.

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-0 Columbus Crew: It might be a new season but the same is expected from Toronto as they look to start the new campaign by once again proving their dominance in MLS. The Reds were simply unstoppable last season, particularly at home and it will take something special for the Crew to leave with anything on opening day. Toronto are rightly favourites and it’s difficult to look past them.

2018 Key Transfers: Toronto FC

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Toronto FC and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The MLS Cup holders have got a lot to live up to. They head into the 2018 campaign on the back of an historic treble in 2017. Greg Vanney’s side really raised the bar last season and repeating that feat again this time around is going to take a huge amount of work. There have been some exciting new players come in, while Toronto have done well to keep the core of their squad together. With little improvement needed on the face of it, this has been a winter transfer window where the aim has been to keep the squad fresh and ensure there is enough depth to challenge on all fronts once again…

Key Signings

Gregory van der Wiel: Toronto have identified where they wanted to improve on their squad depth. They’ve certainly picked up a quality defender in Gregory van der Wiel. The Dutch fullback is a winner. He has league titles with European giants Paris Saint Germain and Ajax to his name. He was also in the Dutch side that came runners up in the 2010 World Cup. This is certainly an exciting signing for Toronto and further proof they are looking to dominate.

Ager Aketxe: This is a big statement from Toronto and for MLS. Ager Aketxe might not be a household name in European football but he has made the switch from La Liga at 24. He started his career with Athletic Bilbao and spent last season on loan at Cadiz. As a creative midfielder who is known for his ability to finish, Aketxe has the potential to be a real asset to Toronto.

Auro: Another defensive addition to Toronto’s ranks. Auro comes in on loan with the option to buy from Brazilian side Sao Paulo. He has represented Brazil at U17 and U20 level. He is a good option for Toronto due to his versatility of being to play on either the left or the right.

Notable Departures

Benoit Cheyrou: The experienced Cheyrou has called time on his playing days at 36, but his story with Toronto hasn’t ended. He is now working with the TFC academy, which is a huge bonus for the future stars of MLS. Keeping him at the club in some capacity is a good move by Toronto, given he was part of their rise to the top. His career saw him play at the top level in European football and while he is going to be a miss in the dressing room as well as on the field, he will still be a part of the setup for what looks like years to come.

Steven Beitashour: Toronto moved quickly in the winter window to ensure they had cover for their departing players. Beitashour featured 22 times last season for TFC and played in 51 games across his two seasons with the side. A solid fullback who pitched in with supply from the righthand side who will no doubt be a miss. He has moved to expansion side LAFC, who have picked up a good signing.

David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco: How the strikers compare

Two sides expected to battle for MLS supremacy in 2018 will go head-to-head in the Eastern Conference again. It’s New York City FC vs Toronto FC and that also means David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco in the scoring charts.

Toronto kick things off with the season opener on Saturday at home against Columbus Crew, while NYCFC aren’t in action until Sunday evening. They face a trip to SKC.

They were the top two sides in the East last season, however Toronto finished 12 points ahead, winning the Supporters’ Shield. Interestingly the pressure on Villa to deliver the good is seemingly more than Giovinco. NYCFC scored 56 goals last season, compared to Toronto’s 74.

Both players head into their fourth season. Villa is yet to win any silverware, while Giovinco and Toronto are looking to defend their historic treble from 2017. There is no doubting how influential they both are and how much of an impact they can have on how their side performs respectively. But how do the two compare?

David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco in stats

David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco compared

Their stats are incredibly similar. Villa has played in an additional eight games, mainly due to Giovinco’s injury struggles last season. Villa’s goal output is higher, having scored eight more goals.

However, Giovinco’s direct involvement in overall goals is where he comes into his own. In his 86 appearances he has contributed to 92 goals, with his 37 assists nearly doubling Villa’s 21.

Villa does however have a better minutes per goal ratio, making him the more clinical of the two with his chances.

Last season Villa finished on 22 goals, while Gio netted 16. They were outscored by Nemanja Nikolic, who topped the standings with 24. Both players will have an eye on winning the golden boot this season. Although personal accolades aren’t going to be their main aim, it’s going to be an interesting battle to watch.

Who will score more goals this season? 

Toronto gets revenge over Sounders to complete historic treble – Exclusive photos from the 2017 MLS Cup Final

For the first time in MLS history, a Canadian side has won the MLS Cup. Toronto FC claimed the 2017 MLS Cup Final with a 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders on Saturday night, completing a historic treble after an almost faultless year. They have been the best team by a margin this year and have now been rewarded with their first MLS Cup title.

They dominated the game from start to finish but could not get past Stefan Frei, as the game started to feel like a repeat of the 2016 Final in which Seattle stunned the hosts on penalties.

But after 66 minutes, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore took the game by the scruff of the neck and broke Seattle’s resolve. Giovinco’s pass put Altidore through and the powerful striker coolly finished past the once again excellent Frei.

The goal woke the Sounders up but not enough as Toronto withstood the late pressure and then sealed the win with a stoppage time tap-in from Victor Vazquez. That goal sent BMO Field into raptures as they knew a decade’s worth of pain was over. They’d got revenge. They’d won the title. And they have probably earned the tag as the ‘greatest MLS side of all time’.

Check out exclusive photos from the 2017 MLS Cup Final below, courtesy of Jil Hendershot.

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2017 MLS Cup Final Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders

2017 MLS Cup Final: Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders

BMO Field – Saturday, December 9 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto 4/5 – Draw 23/10 – Seattle 7/2

2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Preview

Here we go again! Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders. It’s the same MLS Cup Final matchup for the second-straight season. And just like last year, the two sides will battle it out at Toronto’s BMO Field to be crowned 2017 Major League Soccer champion.

For the past two seasons, Toronto and Seattle have been the league’s best two sides. So it makes sense that both have made back-to-back MLS Cup Finals. For Seattle, it’s about defending their cup. For Toronto, it’s about revenge.

Seattle Sounders celebrate winning the 2016 MLS Cup Final in Toronto. (Photo: Denise McCooey)

This will be just the third MLS Cup rematch in league history. The previous two occasions saw the same side win both finals – Houston Dynamo over New England in 2006 & 2007 and LA Galaxy over Houston Dynamo in 2011 & 2012. But the Seattle Sounders come into Saturday’s final as underdogs once again.

Toronto have had one of, if not the greatest, MLS seasons ever. They convincingly ran away with the Supporters’ Shield. They won the Canadian Championship. Now they just need to go one better than they did last year to become the first side to win a treble, which would surely guarantee the Toronto 2017 team’s status as ‘the greatest MLS side ever’.

They’ve not had an easy playoff route to this year’s showpiece event though. They narrowly edged past the Red Bulls on the away goals rule before beating Columbus 1-0 on aggregate after a nervy two-legged Eastern Conference Final.

But what matters more than anything for the hosts is that they have the chance to put last year’s miserable penalty shootout lost right. They wouldn’t have wanted any other MLS Cup opponent than the Sounders. Form tends to go out the window in these games so it’s all about Toronto handling the occasion.

The Seattle Sounders didn’t have the most impressive of regular season campaigns but did come good when it mattered most once again: Down the stretch. They’ve kept momentum going – just as they did last year – and have been exceptional in the playoffs.

A 2-0 aggregate win over Vancouver was followed up by a 5-0 aggregate win over Houston to claim the Western Conference Championship for the second successive year. They have added well to the squad that won last year’s final. The likes of Will Bruin and Victor Rodriguez will be looking to continue their impressive form in Saturday’s showdown.

But it’s the return of Clint Dempsey that’s making all the headlines. The US soccer legend was ruled out of last year’s run to glory with a heart problem that was eventually cleared. Now he’s back and hungry to be a part of his team’s success.

Toronto FC have their own weapons. Like last year, the focus will be on Designated Players Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. But Victor Vazquez has been incredibly good in his debut campaign and will look to provide the spark that was missing in last year’s final.

These two sides have only met once since last year’s showpiece event. That came back in May as Toronto ran out 1-0 winners at CenturyLink Field, courtesy of an early Altidore penalty. But Toronto haven’t recorded a home win over the Sounders for over seven years, with their last victory coming back in April 2010.

2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Team News

Toronto FC’s only injury concern ahead of Saturday’s final is Jozy Altidore. The striker was hurt in the second-half of the Conference Final win over Columbus but fought on to score the decisive goal. He won’t let an ankle problem keep him out of a game like this either.

Seattle Sounders will definitely be without Brad Evans as the defender is still sidelined with that back problem. Osvaldo Alonso has also been ruled out just a couple of days before the final in what is a blow for the defending champions. However, they’ve coped well without him over the past three months and will hope to continue.

2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: D/W/L/D/W

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/D/W/W/W

Key Stat: Shutout – The Sounders have kept up their reputation of being almost impossible to breakdown in playoff football. They’ve kept four-straight clean sheets in this year’s playoffs and haven’t conceded in the postseason in six consecutive games, including last year’s final win at Toronto.

Key Player: Victor Vazquez – Toronto’s Spanish playmaker has enjoyed a fine debut season in MLS and he could be the man to prove the difference. He wasn’t a part of last year’s final but likes to play between the lines and could exploit the Sounders defence, who will have Altidore and Giovinco to contend with. In a game that’s expected to be tight, Vazquez could be the man to make the difference.

2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Prediction

Toronto FC 1-1* Seattle Sounders – This is surely going to be one of the most intriguing finals in recent years, not least because it’s a rematch in which the defending champions remain underdogs. Toronto are expected to win, but it was the same case last season. The Sounders enjoy playing with house money, so to speak, and will be looking forward to trying to cause another major upset and defend their title. Goals will surely be on offer this time, but don’t be surprised to see this one go beyond the 90 minutes again. And if it does, it’s hard to look past the Sounders…

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Final (2nd Leg): Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew

BMO Field – Wednesday, November 29 – 19:30 ET (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Toronto 4/7 – Draw 4/1 – Columbus 3/1

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Preview

The Eastern Conference Final second leg is finely poised as Toronto FC welcome Columbus Crew to BMO Field. The scoreless draw at MAPFRE Stadium a week ago means there has to be a goal for this one to be settled in normal time.

Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney has been named MLS coach of the year. He will be looking for his side to progress here. But as the first leg proved, the two can be difficult to separate.

Their effective performance in the first leg has given them the ideal platform ahead of this game. Toronto are favourites to reach the MLS Cup Final, but they cannot take that for granted.

Embed from Getty Images

Columbus Crew struggled to break Toronto down and were frustrated in the first leg. By failing to score they have missed a good opportunity to put TFC on the back foot.

But Crew SC know that they can actually reach the final without winning the game. A score draw will be enough to take them through.

Gregg Berhalter will need to have his side well drilled and prepared to deal with a much stronger Toronto. They cannot afford to try and sit back too much, but by the same token they cannot play with an overly expansive style.

Embed from Getty Images

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Team News

TFC welcome back Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore for the second leg. The squad is fresh with no injuries, so this should be Toronto in full force.

Columbus are with midfielder Artur through suspension. Connor Maloney, Gaston Sauro and Ben Swanson are all out, while Alex Crognale is a doubt.

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Key Points

Toronto’s last five: W/D/W/L/D

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/W/W/L/D

Key Stat: 32 goals return – The return of Giovinco and Altidore means Toronto are in a strong position to advance to the MLS Cup Final. Their goal machines were missed last time out but considering their absentees the TFC side that drew the first leg did very well.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco  – Greg Vanney has called for the MLS MVP to come from his record-breaking Toronto side and it would be a surprise to see Giovinco honoured with the award. The Atomic Ant has had an extraordinary season and he will surely be key if his side are to progress to their second final in as many seasons.

Embed from Getty Images

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

Toronto FC 3-1 Columbus Crew – The Eastern Conference Final second leg is finely balanced. TFC’s returning duo will be expected to provide the goods and prove too much to handle for Columbus.

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.