Scouting Report: Toronto FC
Chapter two of three in the 2012 Trillium Cup series kicks off Saturday as the Crew welcomes Toronto FC to Columbus. Here are a few things to know about the Black & Gold's rival from north of the border:
The Crew took the last match 1-0 between the two clubs back on March 31 at BMO Field in Toronto. Milovan Mirosevic sprung a counter attack with his perfectly-timed slide tackle on then-TFC midfielder Julian de Guzman that lead to Bernardo Anor's 56th minute strike to lead the Crew to victory. Andy Gruenebaum earned his second clean sheet of the season with three saves on the afternoon. Eric Gehrig was a gameday decision to start in place of injured Danny O'Rourke in central defense, and helped limited the Reds to just three shots on frame.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
After losing its first nine matches of the season, it became clear to Toronto FC management that some changes had to take place. Former England International Paul Mariner replaced Aron Winter as head coach on June 7. In addition, TFC parted ways with Designated Player Julian de Guzman, trading the midfielder to FC Dallas in exchange for 22-year-old forward Andrew Wiedeman in mid-July. Following striker Danny Koevermans' season-ending knee injury, Toronto traded a first round pick in the 2014 MLS Superdraft for Designated Player Eric Hassli from Vancouver to replace the Dutch forward. Most recently, TFC acquired Irish center back Darren O'Dea, who was a part of Ireland's Euro 2012 roster.
Torsten Frings, who missed the March 31 match due to injury, has since returned to TFC's midfield to add a veteran presence to Mariner's lineup.
BALANCING CCL PLAY
Much like the last time the two teams met, Toronto FC is currently balancing the MLS schedule with CONCACAF Champions League play after winning the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship back in May. Toronto kicked off its 2012-13 CCL campaign on August 1 with a 5-1 thrashing of Salvadoran side CD Aguila behind goals from Luis Silva, Terry Dunfield, Asthone Morgan, and a brace from Reggie Lambe in the opening group stage match.
TFC's next Champions League bout is August 28 against Mexican power Santos Laguna.