A stat sheet-filling night for Luke Moore gave Toronto FC a historic 3-2 victory over the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
The win at Crew Stadium marked the first time Toronto have ever swept its Trillium Cup foe in the history of the rivalry, one that has largely been dominated by Columbus. Moore had a hand in all of his side's goals, helping to set up two while scoring a late winner for the visiting Reds.
The victory was Toronto's second in a row after a four-game winless spell, bringing the club to 9-7-5 on the season and solidifying their hold of third place in the Eastern Conference. The Crew, meanwhile, had a three-match unbeaten streak snapped and dropped to 6-8-9.
Toronto was without star Jermain Defoe, who was still nursing a groin injury, while Crew forward Jairo Arrieta was not quite healthy enough for a start as he works to return from injury. But the match did mark the return of winger Dominic Oduro to Columbus, where he was the leading scorer in 2013 before being traded to Toronto this past June in exchange for Alvaro Rey, who now plays in Spain.
Both teams had their fair share of chances in a back-and-forth first half. Oduro ran wild as he constantly switched sides, but showcased his characteristic misses on a breakaway and squandered several other good chances for Toronto.
The Crew seemed content to target rookie Adam Bedell with a slew of crosses, but the big man was unable to find the net on his many chances.
Toronto opened scoring in the 43rd minute, when Designated Player Gilberto found space behind the Crew backline. Gilberto drifted off the back of Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, and Moore found the Brazilian in plenty of space. Gilberto was then able to turn and curl a low shot past Steve Clark to give Toronto the lead just before half.
But the Crew refused to go into halftime down a goal. A perfectly-placed Federico Higuain corner kick found the head of Tony Tchani, whose header seemed destined for goal. But Toronto defender Justin Morrow's flailing arm got in the way of the shot, and referee Marcos de Oliviera controversially awarded the Crew a penalty kick.
Higuain confidently slotted the ensuing penalty past Joe Bendik in the 45th minute for the Argentinian's ninth goal of the season and fourth converted penalty kick in five tries to bring the Crew level at 1-1 before the half.
The late first-half goal was still not enough to give the Crew the momentum after the intermission. Despite moving the ball well in the first 45 minutes, Columbus found itself pinned in their own end by Toronto for much of the second half.
The Crew's defense folded 15 minutes in, giving a trio of Toronto players a break toward Clark. Moore's lunging effort bounced off of the Columbus goalkeeper, falling perfectly for Jonathan Osorio, who calmly put Toronto ahead 2-1 in front of an open net to give Moore his second assist of the night.
The Crew tried to respond with three offensive subs, but continued to struggle to find a response in the final third until the 82nd minute when substitute Justin Meram once again made a difference from the bench by hitting a cross that bounced past a befuddled Bedik to draw the game level at 2-2.
But that was not enough for Columbus, as Toronto responded just two minutes later. Moore continued his big night by finding space in the box and finishing a Collen Warner cross with authority to give Toronto the 3-2 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Luke Moore||He had a hand in all three goals for TFC, but it was his clutch game-winner that highlighted one of the best nights of his career and gave the Reds three big road points.|
|2||Michael Bradley||He constantly found teammates in transition for good-looking chances they wasted, moved the ball quickly and accurately, and was a key defensive cog for Toronto.|
|3||Federico Higuain||Scored a late penalty kick in the first half to pull the hosts level and looked like the only creative threat that the Crew had in a match that they eventually dropped.|