Crew prepares for showdown with Toronto
Only once has the Crew lost to a Canadian team. Unfortunately for the Black & Gold, it was the first time the club has lost possession of the Trillium Cup.
Last September's 4-2 loss to Toronto FC at Crew Stadium still leaves a bad taste in many of the Crew players' mouths. Midfielder Eddie Gaven is ready to do his part in bringing the Cup back to Columbus.
"That was the first time ever that we hadn't won the Trillium Cup, so we definitely want to regain it this year," Gaven said following Thursday's training session. "It starts with the game on Saturday."
Though the Crew has never lost on Canadian soil, both Gaven and head coach Robert Warzycha admit BMO Field can be a daunting place to play.
"Once you're there playing the game in front of 20,000 fans holding up their red scarves, that's when you understand what (the rivalry) really means," Gaven said.
"(Toronto) is very dangerous at home when they're playing in front of their own fans," Warzycha echoed. "A positive result for us would be very good. It's going to be a tough game for us. It's usually very, very tough to play up there. In front of a full stadium that's supporting them, it's challenging."
BMO Field played a home field advantage for the Reds on Wednesday night with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals against Mexican power Santos Laguna. Warzycha watched the CCL clash with a watchful eye.
"(Toronto) played against a very good team. Santos is obviously well known and a good Mexican team. Toronto did very good job," Warzycha said of the game. "They take a lot of risks, but they are creating some chances. It could have easily been a different score yesterday. I think Toronto had chances to win."
Warzycha knows the tough task Toronto FC's Aron Winter has in front of him with his squad playing four matches in ten days. Columbus had to balance between MLS and CCL play in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
"It's a lot of games. Especially when you travel, it adds a lot to it," Warzycha explained. "I think Toronto is doing a good job. You saw the lineup against Santos, obviously the lineup against us is going to be a little bit different."
It's likely one of TFC's designated players, Dutch forward Danny Koevermans, will be in the lineup Saturday as he will sit out next Wednesday's CCL semifinal return leg against Santos with multiple yellow cards.
Whomever else Aron Winter decides to play when Saturday comes, the Crew will be ready.
FRANCIS FEELING CONFIDENT
After giving the Montreal Impact trouble along the left flank all day, Crew left back Shaun Francis is feeling confident in his role with the Crew. The Jamaican picked up his second career assist on a beautiful cross headed home by Olman Vargas in the 66th minute last Saturday.
"(Francis) proved last game that he can play well. He can play on both sides of the game. He can defend well and obviously the cross for the second goal was a World Class goal," Robert Warzycha said of Francis. "If he plays with confidence like he did the last game, I think he's going to be playing for a long, long time."
Francis' performance came days after the club signed Montenegrin left back Namanja Vukovic to create confidence in training and much needed depth at the position. Francis wasn't phased by the new challenge for his spot.
"You come out here everyday, that's your job," Francis said Thursday. "You have to be able to motivate yourself and work hard at what you're doing."
"You have to keep performing, keep enjoying yourself, and enjoying the game," Francis finished.