Pregame 7: Crew @ Toronto FC
Two teams that have had opposite starts to the season. The Crew continue to look for their first win; Toronto sits on top of the Eastern Conference. Columbus has always had a hard time playing at BMO Field; Toronto has won two straight at home. The injuries are piling up again for the Crew; TFC gets DeRosario back. This is game comes at the perfect time for Toronto to pickup their first win against the Crew. Columbus will have to play a very good to record win number one of the season.
Crew on Offense: Last week was another good week for the Crew offense, but I still expect the could have done better. The passing was crisp and the Columbus could have had even more than the two goals they scored last week. This week will be more of a struggle as the Crew never play well on the BMO turf and will be missing Adam Moffat in central midfield.
It will be interesting who gets the start for Moffat. Noonan plays a little more forward and may not be 90 minutes fit, O’Rourke will be needed on the backline, and Gaven may be a good fit in the middle, but he looks unlikely to switch. Ekpo is probably the default choice. He will need to play a much better game than earlier this year. He has not shown to be mobile enough to get into both the attack and back on defense.
The team will have to rely on moments of individual brilliance such Noonan’s drive in the last game in Toronto. The Crew have players that can change a game. Rogers is back on the wing and can open up a defense, Schelotto is nothing short of brilliant on the ball, but the key may be how well Moreno holds up the ball. The Crew work best when the midfield has time to join in on the attack and that is what has been missing a little too much this year.
Crew on Defense: More changes to a back line that has broken more than it has bent. Hejduk and Padula will be out on the wings. Hejduk is still not ready from his hamstring injury and it looks like Padula’s red card will stand. This will force another reshuffling for the backline. Chad Marshall is still the stalwart in the heart of the defense, but the development of Eric Brunner has really given the team some flexibility. That gives the Crew 3 solid central defense options and allows for O’Rourke to move outside.
Danny will probably play out on the left. He plays a solid game at either fullback and will allow Jed Zayner to play on his preferred right side. Jed has been improving after having a rough start to the season. Neither wide back gets into the offense as much as Hejduk or Padula did, but staying back will help solidify a defense that has leaked goals at inopportune times.
With all of the changes on the backline, I still think the key is who plays in the central midfield. Ekpo needs to play a very solid defensive game. Toronto’s offense really comes out of the midfield. Brian Carroll cannot patrol the area by himself. Ekpo needs to develop that teamwork that Carroll has had with Moffat and O’Rourke this season so that Toronto cannot control possession.
Final Thoughts: This is a game where the Crew need to step up and put in great performances to get their first win. I have repeatedly read the team isn’t out of it if they lose and spirits on the team are high. That doesn’t matter if they keep hemorrhaging points. I think they get caught up against a team really trying to prove something to a new coach and rounding into form and drop another one:
Crew 0 – Toronto 2