Categorized | Match Reports

Trillium Cup off to a flyer

Posted on 30 March 2009 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC drew kicked off the 2009 Trillium Cup in Columbus on Saturday, playing to a 1-1 draw in front of a large contingent travelling fans at Crew Stadium.

Having won 3-2 in Kansas City last week, John Carver’s Toronto side were looking to carry that momentum into a trip to the defending league and cup champions. The match represented the first of the 2009 Trillium Cup, a trophy awarded to the team with the most points from the regular-season meetings between the clubs and won by the Crew last season with a win and two draws against TFC.

What is quickly becoming an early-season ritual for Toronto fans saw more than 1500 pilgrims travel to Columbus again this season. The south end at Crew Stadium was covered in red for a second straight home opener, with the defending champions looking to repeat the 2-0 win that saw them start last year’s campaign in style.

Columbus were pressuring early on and won a penalty at the half hour mark, league and MLS Cup MVP Guillermo Barros-Schelotto playing a cross off the arm of Kevin Harmse in the area. The Argentine stepped up and sent the resulting penalty past a diving Stefan Frei and down the middle to take the lead.

Frei was on his toes to keep the lead at one through the rest of the first half, and pulled off a spectacular save from an Emmanuel Ekpo strike just minutes after seeing the post deny Eddie Gaven.

Greg Sutton replaced the Swiss keeper at halftime in what appeared to be a pre-planned switch by Carver, who had named two keepers on the substitutes bench with Brian Edwards staying on the sideline. Frei was diagnosed with a slight back problem at half time but club officials have since indicated it is not a serious injury.

Sutton managed to keep Columbus at bay in the second half until Dwayne De Rosario had a chance to whip in a free kick for the away side with 10 minutes remaining. With the Toronto fans lighting flares and setting off smoke in the south end, De Ro sent in a dipping ball that Gino Padula attempted to head out of danger and inadvertently sent past a diving Will Hesmer and into his own net.

Columbus had several late chances with Jason Garey particularly troubling the Toronto defense, but the Reds were able to hold on to claim a point at the defending champions.

Asked for his take on his side’s failure to maintain their lead, Columbus goalkeeper Hesmer was unequivocal.

“At the end of the game, you’ve got to close it out,” he told assembled media after the match. “Just pumping balls out, and throwing them into their half, and hoping that that is going to get the job done, just doesn’t cut it. We need a little bit more experience and [to] learn to finish the game and keep better possession.”

Columbus are in Salt Lake on Thursday night, while Toronto host Seattle on Saturday in the Canadian side’s home opener. The expansion side have won two home games of their own to lead the Western Conference early in their maiden MLS campaign.

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