Columbus vs Toronto – Tuesday, November 21, 5:00PT/8:00ET – MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio.
The Columbus Crew story continues. Eliminating first Atlanta United and then New York City FC the Crew are currently riding a wave of success amidst a real possibility that the club could be relocated to Austin, Texas at the end of next season.
Ahead of the playoffs, it emerged that current owner Anthony Precourt bought the club in 2013 with a guarantee to keep the franchise in Columbus. What was, however, unknown was the fact that the guarantee included an exit clause to move the team to Austin. Precourt has stated that the current Mapfre Stadium in Columbus does not meet demands of a modern Major League Soccer franchise and therefore has asked for talks with the city, which have since failed, to provide a better environment for the club—in other words, a free new stadium.
It currently looks likely that one of the MLS’ founding members could pack their bags and relocate in 2019. But the relocation talks have also created an MLS wide fan movement to #SaveTheCrew, and it also seems to have provided plenty of momentum on the field.
Now facing the league’s best regular season side, Toronto FC Columbus have a realistic chance to continue their playoff run. Toronto FC lost both superstars Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore due to suspensions. Both players showed that they lacked the maturity necessary to lead a club to a first-ever MLS Cup title. Giovinco received a second yellow card of the playoffs for a silly protest and Altidore a straight red card for an altercation in the hallway to the dressing rooms with NYRB captain Sacha Klejstan.
With the two superstars out Toronto FC head coach, Greg Vanney will have to make some major adjustments ahead of the first leg of the semi-final against Columbus. Given Columbus’ home record the Crew may very well be the favourites to win the first leg.
Columbus vs Toronto – Player to look out for:
Ola Kamara #11 – Columbus Crew
With 18 goals and five assists Norwegian forward Ola Kamara is Columbus’ top scorer. Signed from Austria Wien in February 2016 the 28-year-old Kamara is finally showing his goal scoring ability. Always considered a raw goal scoring talent Kamara failed to achieve a breakthrough with 1860 München all the way back in 2013 and has since bounced around various clubs in Norway and Austria. Now at the Crew Kamara has finally become a goalscoring guarantee.
Victor Vazquez #7 – Toronto FC
In the absence of both Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, former FC Barcelona youth prospect Victor Vazquez will be asked to carry much of the weight in the first leg against Columbus. The club’s third highest scorer with eight goals and ten assists Vazquez could even be asked to play as a shadow striker just behind Tosaint Ricketts.
Columbus vs Toronto – Match Stats
- Columbus’ overall record against Toronto is W13 D10 L8.
- The Crew also have a winning record at home (W9 D4 L4)
- Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter, however, has had a weaker record against Toronto (W3 D3 L6).
- The record against current Toronto head coach Greg Vanney is, however, even (W3 D3 L3).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Columbus vs Toronto – 2-1
Columbus vs Toronto – Possible Lineups
Steffen – Jimenez, Mensah, Williams, Afful – Trapp, Higuain, Abu – Meram, Kamara, Santos
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Bono – Moor, Mavinga, Zavaleta – Morrow, Cooper, Delgado, Bradley, Beitashour – Ricketts, Vazquez
Coach: Greg Vanney
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.