Columbus Crew vs. Toluca
Where: Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
When: Tuesday, 8 pm ET
Let’s do this thing, already. After a long, intriguing offseason, the 2010 season is finally ready to hit the field. And what better place to start than at Crew Stadium?
This CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals 1st-leg match represents the first competitive match for the Columbus Crew since last season. The Crew reported for preseason training on January 24 and registered an undefeated 5-0-2 record in exhibitions played in Florida and Arizona. But coach Robert Warzycha will be without four key players due to suspension (Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Frankie Hejduk) and injury (defenders Chad Marshall and Jed Zayner).
Toluca is not enjoying the best start to their Mexican league season. The club, which under coach José Manuel Chepo de la Torre has been among Mexico’s elite in recent seasons, currently sits 11th in the table.
Still, los Diablos Rojos have Chilean forward Hector Mancilla (3 goals), who scored on the weekend in a 1-1 road tie with Atlas. At the other end, though, regular centerback Edgar Dueñas is out due to suspension.
The Columbus Crew and Toluca have never faced each other in official competition.
8:00 p.m. ET - Fox Soccer Channel (English) and Galavision (Spanish)
What’s at Stake?
The Crew are the lone MLS team still standing in the CCL. To keep their dream alive, they must capitalize on their first-leg home-field advantage by staking themselves to an aggregate-goal lead against the Mexicans. Anything short of a victory—preferably by a few goals’ margin—will make the return leg on March 17 a gargantuan task. After all, no MLS team has ever won a competitive match in Mexico.
The Crew dropped both results to Mexican opposition in the group stage of the current tournament, losing 2-0 (at home) and 5-0 (away) to Cruz Azul. Toluca, in the group stage, earned a 3-1 home win and a 1-1 away draw with MLS side D.C. United.
Two-time CONCACAF champions Toluca (1968 & 2003) have played American clubs five times in the region’s premier club competition, losing just once. Back in 1968, Los Choriceros defeated the New York Greek Americans in two matches. Thirty years later Toluca was defeated in the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup title match by D.C. United.
Heroes & Villains
Crew starting right back Frankie Hejduk will miss the first leg due to suspension and his replacement will not be a right back by trade (the versatile Danny O’Rourke or midfielder Adam Moffat). Whoever takes Hejduk’s spot will likely have to deal with the skill and speed of Mexican winger Néstor Calderón. Although classy Toluca playmaker Naelson Sinha will be the fulcrum of Toluca’s possession game, Calderón is a force down the left flank.
Toluca has not won a road game during the current Primera Division season (2 losses and 3 ties), scoring just two goals on their travels.
They Said It
“I can't believe it. I think the CONCACAF don't have the clear rule.” – Crew star Guillermo Barros Schelotto to the Columbus Dispatch on the one-game suspension he will serve by missing the first leg of the quarterfinal series against Toluca. He received the suspension for receiving two yellow cards in the Champions League group stage.