TORONTO – The faces were new, but the result was the same for Toronto FC, as Federico Higuaín and the Columbus Crew continued their mastery of their Trillium Cup rivals in a 1-0 victory at BMO Field on Saturday.
Newcomers Steven Caldwell, Jeremy Brockie and Bobby Convey all made their TFC debuts, but it went for naught as the Reds dropped their fourth straight game in MLS play. Conversely, Columbus snapped a two-game winless and scoreless streak of their own.
Dominic Oduro broke through with the game-winning goal for the Crew in the 42nd minute after a pin-point lead pass by Higuaín on a play in which TFC defender Doneil Henry was caught too far up the pitch to recover against the lighting-quick Columbus forward.
Both teams generated plenty of scoring chances but lacked the finishing touch in an often hapless first half. Higuaín hit both the crossbar and the post while TFC attackers Robert Earnshaw, Luis Silva and Justin Braun each blew good opportunities right in front of goal.
Toronto came closest in the 38th minute when Silva did a fantastic job to head an Earnshaw cross back across the box to a wide-open Braun, who ultimately volleyed the ball wide of the Columbus net when he actually had time to control the ball and deliver a more controlled shot.
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen attempted to jumpstart his team’s offense to start the second half by bringing on recently acquired winger Convey, then substituting in Brockie in the 64th minute. But the Reds still struggled to engineer scoring opportunities against a Crew backline missing stalwart central defender Chad Marshall due to injury.
With the loss, Toronto are still looking for their first regular-season win at BMO Field under Nelsen and saw their winless streak in league play stretch to nine games. They next head to New England on May 25.
Columbus meanwhile, maintained their success in Toronto, where they have yet to lose in seven trips. With the win, they pulled even with fifth-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference and next head to New York on May 26.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Federico Higuaín||Argentine maestro's feed to Oduro was a beauty, and nearly scored two of his own. A master class.|
|2||Dominic Oduro||Perfect finish off Higuaín's perfect pass for his fifth goal on 2013, and nearly No. 6 in the second half.|
|3||Matías Sánchez||Had some dicey moments early, but the little Argentine was a big reason why TFC had nothing going.|