A BRIEF HISTORY
With Toronto FC's inception in MLS in the 2008 season, a new rivalry for the Crew was born. Columbus mayor Michael Coleman and then-Toronto mayor David Miller placed a small wager with one another in which the losing city's mayor would have to wear the winning team's jersey. As supporters of each club followed suit, the Trillium Cup rivalry began.
The Cup gets its name from trillium, the state wildflower of Ohio and the provincial flower of Ontario. In the series, the Crew has won three of the four series. The only time the Crew has lost the Cup was in 2011, a result of the club's only loss to a Canadian opponent.
The Crew will hope to retake the Trillium Cup in a three match series this season. The 2012 Trillium Cup kicks off at 2:00PM EST at BMO Field in Toronto. The match can be found on FOX Sports Ohio.
BALANCING CCL AND MLS
Toronto FC currently finds itself in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League after shocking the LA Galaxy in the quarterfinals 4-3 on aggregate. TFC will host Santos Laguna Wednesday evening in the first of two legs. The Reds' Saturday clash with the Crew is sandwiched in between the two CCL matches.
It will be interesting to see how Toronto head coach Aron Winter manages his lineup on Saturday against the Crew. Winter's decision will likely be dependent on Wednesday night's result. If Toronto beats, draws, or narrowly loses to Santos on Wednesday night, Winter's focus will be on cementing a spot in Canadian soccer history with a spot in the CCL Final-- a feat no club north of the border has ever achieved. If Santos handles Toronto like it did Seattle Sounders FC, Winter's focus will likely shift to MLS where TFC has yet to secure a single point in the young season.
As if the Dutchman already didn't have his hands full, injuries to integral parts of his squad have limited his options. Designated player Torsten Frings is expected to be sidelined with a hamstring strain for the next four to six weeks. On top of that, goalkeeper Stefan Frei broke his left tibula in training last Friday. Milos Kocic will likely start in goal on Saturday.
A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Tony Tchani has a unique perspective on the Trillium Cup as the Cameroon native took the field for both the Crew and Toronto FC in 2011. Though Tchani missed his first game of the Cup as a Crew player due to injury, the midfielder is looking forward to crossing the border to renew the rivalry on Saturday.
"The Toronto fans are crazy because they are so into soccer. It's going to be a tough place to play," he said of his former city.
Upon being traded to Toronto from New York a year ago, Tchani had no idea TFC and the Crew were such heated rivals.
"It was my first time playing for Toronto, I didn't know it was such a big rivalry with the Columbus Crew," Tchani said. "I thought the rivalry was only among the other Canadian teams."
Tchani did his damage for the Reds in the Toronto leg of the rivalry, scoring the opening goal against the Crew in a 1-1 draw on April 23 of last year. This time around, Tchani is hopeful the Black & Gold can do some damage of their own.
"It's going to be a tough game, especially after losing (the Trillium Cup) last year to Toronto," Tchani said. "This year we're going to go there, play hard, and want a win."