A first-half goal from Andy Iro would’ve been enough for the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon. But a controversial second-half goal from Guillermo Barros Schelotto finished things off the home-standing Crew defeated Toronto FC 2-0 in the season opener for both.
Iro, starting for the injured Chad Marshall, resembled center back usually starting in front of him he put Columbus up in the 29th minute. Schelotto’s free kick near the right sideline whipped into the box, where Iro slipped his marker and headed the ball home from seven yards.
The goal, however, got Toronto going. Just two minutes later, Martin Saric wheeled and fired a left-footed shot from 20 yards on the right side of the arc that forced William Hesmer to the ground for the save.
Schelotto, the Crew’s scoring leader last season with 12 goals, almost opened his account this year in the 37th minute when he pounced on a back pass from Ty Harden. The Argentine pushed the ball the TFC goal but was unable to get a quality touch before Stefan Frei came off the line to knock the attempt away.
The Reds, despite being without injured striker Chad Barrett, continued to press for the equalizer as the second half ticked along. Just before the break, O’Brian White sent a shot inches wide. White was active all day, and he went close just after halftime with a box-to-box run. His rising strike forced Crew keeper Will Hesmer into a fine save, lunging to his left to get his fingertips on the shot and preserve the lead.
Schelotto then iced the game in the 87th minute. A collision between Frei and Crew defender Danny O’Rourke on the fringe of the Toronto penalty area produced a loose ball and an open net. Toronto defender Nick Garcia tried to clear, but the ball fell to Schelotto, who had the easiest of shots to ensure the full points for Columbus.
Both Toronto and Columbus have next week off. On April 10, TFC travel to New England and the Crew are away to FC Dallas.
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CLB – Andy Iro 1 (Guillermo Barros Schelotto), 29'; CLB Schelotto 1, 87'.
TFC – Martin Saric (caution, reckless foul), 23rd; TFC—Nena Attakora (caution, recklees foul), 77th: CLB Moffat (caution, reckless tackle), 92+
TFC: Frei, Attakora, Brennan, Garcia, Harden, Saric (Sanyang, 66th), de Guzman, Cronin, Gala (LaBrocca, 52nd), De Rosario, White
CLB: Hesmer, Hejduk (Padula, 89th), Iro, Brunner, O’Rourke , Carroll, Moffat, Rogers, Gaven, Schelotto, Lenhart (Garey, 90+).