Toronto FC: Columbus Crew take Reds back to reality on opening day

Jozy Altidore of Toronto FC. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Jozy Altidore of Toronto FC. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Well, that wasn’t expected. Toronto FC started their quest for back-to-back MLS Cups on home turf against the Columbus Crew, only to be defeated 2-0.

The Crew, looking for revenge from last season’s playoffs, found contributions from Frederico Higuain and Gyasi Zardes in a span of two minutes. Two goals were all that was needed to disappoint Toronto FC on opening day.

It might be too early to be looking at the table, but interestingly, the two powerhouses of last season in TFC and Atlanta United both took losses on the first match-day.

It was the first time the Reds opened an MLS campaign at BMO Field. They had to start what should be a tradition by displaying all the silverware that was won in the past year.

However, it didn’t look like a completely packed house up North. Maybe the Leafs and the Raptors down the stretch have a big part to do with it, but time needs to kick in for TFC to start seeing last season’s solid attendance numbers.

TFC, or more specifically Sebastian Giovinco, fed off the momentum from the ceremonies by taking an early strike on goal that was gobbled up.

It was another one of those games where Toronto FC could not maintain a solid streak of dangerous chances. Too much time in between chances allowed Higuain to blister a first-time hit past Alex Bono before the half ended.

Whatever Greg Vanney said at halftime must have been pretty irrelevant. As soon as the second-half whistle blew, Pedro Santos sent in Zardes, who slotted the ball into the low-corner of the net for the double advantage.

The life was sucked out of the crowd after the second goal. Jonathan Osorio tried with a rebound chance, but Zach Steffan collected the chance with ease.

The best chance for the Reds came in the 64th minute, when Giovinco curled a ball off the post and a whole scramble occurred in front of the net. Unfortunately for Toronto, the ball was cleared away.

New signing Ager Aketxe took a shot from midfield which also hit the bar, ultimately summing up the luck for Toronto FC in this one. The chances came, but the finishing couldn’t at least give the Reds a point in this one.

Key Stats

Toronto FC

  • 13 shots
  • 2 shots on target
  • 58 percent possession
  • 10 fouls
  • Key Player: Giovinco finished with five good shots that tested Steffan, but the luck wasn’t there.

Columbus Crew

  • 12 shots
  • 4 shots on target
  • 42 percent possession
  • Key Player: Steffan kept his squad in the game at certain points. Definitely a young keeper to watch out for this season.

TFC Subs: Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Jay Chapman, Marco Delgado, Nicolas Hasler, Tosaint Ricketts, Auro

TFC Stats to Keep an Eye On (WhoScored)

  • Giovinco made up for the majority of TFC’s shot with five. Jozy Altidore finished with three shots, while offseason acquisitions Aketxe and Auro combined for three shots.
  • Altidore was surprisingly the player with the highest pass completion percentage among players who featured the whole 90 minutes. Delgado finished with the highest pass percentage (95) among the subs, but only played for 19 minutes.
  • Gregory Van der Wiel led the team with six interceptions
  • The Atomic Ant earned the highest match-rating with a 7.57

Around the MLS

  • Houston Dynamo 4-0 Atlanta United
  • Philadelphia 2-0 New England
  • Orlando City 1-1 DC United
  • FC Dallas 1-1 Real Salt Lake
  • San Jose 3-2 Minnesota United

MLS live standings found right here.

What’s Next for the Reds

It wasn’t the ideal start by all means. However, it doesn’t come as a complete shock.

TFC is aging, and the chances of a repeat in dominating fashion such as last season shouldn’t be the expected norm. Plus, talent is being spread out across the MLS; the time of two teams battling out for consecutive years likely won’t be the case anymore.

More from Tip of the Tower

The Reds need to put fight and passion into MLS games now. They simply can’t steamroll opponents anymore and get away with it. It’s still too early in the season, but TFC are going to need more than that more often.

They got a tough challenge ahead of them on Mar. 7 and Mar. 13. It’s the two legs against Tigres, and will probably be the toughest games for Toronto all season.

Diversifying the silverware while making the club world-known is on the line over the next two legs, and they will need more than the effort shown against the Crew.

As always, catch all your in-depth coverage for TFC right here on Tip of the Tower. Seriously, don’t get it anywhere else!

Next: TFC go from strength to strength with Justin Morrow extension

What was your main takeaway from the home opener? Are you concerned at all, or confident in TFC’s chances of challenging for a second MLS Cup? Share your thoughts on the contest in the comments section below!