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Soaring Crew visit BMO

Posted on 15 May 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC and Columbus Crew will renew hostilities in the Trillium Cup on Saturday, with Toronto getting their chance to host their newfound rivals after a 2-0 loss in Columbus to begin the season on March 29th.

Since then, both sides have been in top form early this season after a momentary hiccup. Both sides lost their next match but Columbus have since recorded five straight wins while Toronto have gone on to a 3-1-0 record.

They’re not alone, however, with six of the seven Eastern Conference sides sitting at .500 or above. A win for Toronto on Saturday would put them five points back of Columbus at the league summit but with a game in hand and restore hope of winning the inaugural Trillium Cup.

The competition, which will be decided on the teams’ three regular-season encounters this season, will conclude later this season at BMO Field. If Columbus win the upcoming clash they’ll have an unassailable lead in the Trillium Cup standings despite facing another trip to Toronto on September 13th.

A win for the Crew would also represent Toronto’s first home defeat of the season. The draw with New York two weeks ago ruined an 100% record at BMO Field but John Carver’s men have yet to taste defeat since their home opener in April.

If the wheels are going to come off Columbus’ excellent league run, BMO Field may be the place for it. The typically buoyant home crowd will be in full voice on Saturday, with the burgeoning rivalry between both sets of fans exacerbated by the large amounts of Toronto fans who made the trip to Columbus earlier this year.

Injuries certainly haven’t helped Crew manager Sigi Schmid, with Duncan Oughton, Adam Moffat and Stefan Miglioranzi all sidelined for Saturday’s encounter.

Once again, Toronto aren’t reporting any injuries, a remarkable turnaround from last season and a testament to the physical training methods of the club’s new fitness coach John Winsper.

Joining the former Newcastle physio last week were staff members Nick Dasovic and Chris Cummins, reported on ASN last month and just recently made official by TFC.

One player that will hope to make a difference on the turf at BMO is Robbie Rogers, the most recent MLS Player of the Week based on his two goals in Columbus’ 3-2 win in San Jose last weekend. Argentine midfielder-forward Guillermo Barros-Schelotto was also on target for Schmid’s men, who will travel to Toronto as the team to beat in MLS.

With a clean injury list, Toronto’s selection dilemma lies in who to start up front. Danny Dichio has a goal to his credit this season but has been lonely up front in a 4-5-1 formation, and with four more games in two weeks following Saturday’s clash, Carver may be looking to reap the benefits of squad rotation.

Jeff Cunningham and Andrea Lombardo have been restricted to substitute appearances this season but could see starting time sooner rather than later, with Toronto balancing MLS play with their first Canada Cup appearance in Montreal on the 27th.

Amado Guevara, Rohan Ricketts and Laurent Robert are likely to reprise their roles as an attacking midfield trident for Toronto. None of the trio were TFC players yet during the club’s trip to Columbus in March.

Another new arrival has been defender Olivier Tébily, but the Ivorian has seen his playing time blocked by the stunning turnaround in Marco Vélez’s performances at the heart of Toronto’s back line. The Puerto Rican scored a free header against New York, with his own upturn in fortunes helping the club to a goals-against record of just 1 in their three home matches so far in 2008.

Between the sticks

Greg Sutton is set to start his fifth straight match for the club, having recovered from the trauma of being passed over in the early-season trip to Columbus in favour of draft pick Brian Edwards. The two straight clean sheets he recorded in the run-up to New York’s vist early this month pushed him past Kenny Stamatopoulos as the all-time shutout leader in Toronto’s short existence.

Crew stopper Will Hesmer

Will Hesmer has started every match for the Crew this season, conceding nine goals but making the difference on numerous occasions for his side. The 26-year-old made several important stops, including a penalty save, against Toronto in March.

A win against Columbus would improve Toronto’s home record to 3-1-0 ahead of another revenge mission next week, the visit of D.C. United to BMO Field in the last of a five-game home stand for Toronto. United were 4-1 winners at RFK Stadium in the second game of Toronto’s season, a match that marked not only Laurent Robert’s debut but Maurice Edu’s late consolation goal, a strike that seems to have marked a turning point for TFC this season.

Toronto FC vs. Columbus will kick off at 4 PM EST on CBC in Canada. Visit here for the Crew’s perspective.

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Twelfth man helps TFC to home win

Posted on 21 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Six days after a win in Los Angeles, their highest-scoring away trip yet, Toronto FC made it two in a row with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Both sides were on a high going into the match, with Salt Lake having hammered D.C. United 4-0 last week for an historic victory of their own. With confidence running high going into the BMO Field encounter, Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis had warned of the intense atmosphere at the Toronto stadium. He was proved right as the sold-out crowd got firmly behind the home side in their 2008 stadium opener.

Six months of pent-up emotion was in evidence from the 20 219 in attendance, and the crowd inspired their side to take the game to Salt Lake early on. John Carver fielded a 4-5-1 similar to the lineup he used at LA last week with Rohan Ricketts coming into the side on the right wing.

Along with Laurent Robert and Amado Guevara, Ricketts was threatening the Salt Lake defense, but Danny Dichio was largely isolated up front without an out-and-out striker beside him. Central midfield was the scene of a battle between Kyle Beckerman and the Toronto duo of Carl Robinson and Maurice Edu.

Toronto’s pressure was drawing a series of fouls from their visitors, and referee Silviu Petrescu called a free kick just outside Salt Lake’s goal when Matias Mantilla hauled down Guevara on the half hour mark. Guevara and Robert stood over the free kick while Robinson tried to disrupt the wall, and with Robert expected to blast one, the French winger took a low strike that took a deflection on its way through the throng of players and trickled past Rimando.

The goal, Robert’s first in a TFC shirt, came right in front of the south end, and the Ultras groups led the celebrations that echoed through the ground. With their first home goal of the season behind them, Toronto kept creating chances, but Marvell Wynne’s left-shooted shot was palmed away by Rimando just minutes after Robert’s goal.

Salt Lake started stronger in the second half with Toronto’s confidence starting to seep as they tried to defend their lead. It was unfamiliar ground for the Canadian club, who were on the losing end throughout much of last season.

The visitors had three corners just after half time but were kept at bay throughout the second half. TFC goalkeeper Greg Sutton and centerback pairing Tyrone Marshall and Marco Vélez did their part in shutting out Salt Lake, with Vélez particularly vindicated for a slow start to the season.

Toronto sit at .500 for the first time in the club’s history and will look to push past that mark this Saturday. Kansas City visit BMO Field in the second of a five game home stand, and if the rumour mill is to be believed, Olivier Tébily may be available for Toronto FC by that time. The French defender is widely expected to sign for the Reds in the coming days.Other new arrivals may include youth director Chris Cummins and former MLS defender Tim Regan, who is expected to take up a head scout position with Toronto. Early reports indicated that Regan would take up a technical director role with the club, but it is believed that such a job title — increasingly popular in MLS — would conflict with Director of Soccer Mo Johnston’s duties.

While Cummins had worked with TFC coach John Carver at Luton, Regan was an old college of Johnston, who coached the American defender at New York three years ago. Johnston drafted Regan in Toronto’s expansion campaign, but before a ball was kicked in 2007 Regan was back at New York for a second spell. He played just three times last year and was waived by NYRB, going on to attend graduate studies in North Carolina.

Regan is likely to head up a revamped scouting network in Toronto with a focus on American and Latin American players as the club seeks to establish itself both on and off the pitch in their sophomore season. In the stands, things are as healthy as ever, and the players and support staff alike will be looking to reward that support with maximum points through the present run of home matches.

Game Capsule

Real Salt Lake (1-2-1) vs. Toronto FC (2-2-0)
April 19, 2008 — BMO Field

Scoring Summary:
TOR — Laurent Robert 1 (unassisted) 31

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Ian Joy (Andy Williams 62), Matias Mantilla, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Kyle Beckerman, Dema Kovalenko (Yura Movsisyan 79), Nathan Sturgis (Carey Talley 27), Javier Morales, Kenny Deuchar, Robbie Findley.

Substitutes Not Used: Tony Beltran, Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, Chris Seitz

Toronto FC — Greg Sutton, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, Rohan Ricketts (Jarrod Smith 84), Maurice Edu, Carl Robinson, Laurent Robert (Todd Dunivant 81), Amado Guevara, Danny Dichio (Jeff Cunningham 90).

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Kevin Harmse, Julius James, Andrea Lombardo

Misconduct Summary:
TOR — Marco Velez (caution; Pushing, Holding) 73
RSL — Chris Wingert (caution; Reckless Foul) 78

Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee’s Assistants: Amato DeLuca; Kermit Quisenberry
4th official: Paul Ward
time of game: 1:50
attendance: 20,219
weather: Clear -and- 75 degrees

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