Bernardo Anor scored early in the second half as the Columbus Crew defeated Toronto FC 1-0 before a crowd of 18,944 at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Crew (2-1-0) took all three points for the second time in three games this season, registering their first road victory of 2012 to move into a tie for second in the Eastern Conference with Houston on six points.
It was the third loss in a row, and the second straight at home, in league play for the Reds (0-3-0), who have had more success in the CONCACAF Champions League while scuffling elsewhere in the early going.
Toronto has not scored in either of their MLS games at home this season, and was fortunate not to lose 2-0 after Ty Harden was called for a first-half penalty that goalkeeper Milos Kocic saved.
The Crew are now 5-0-2 against Toronto at BMO Field, dominating the Trillium Cup rivalry north of the border and preventing the Reds from earning their first point of 2012 with Saturday’s victory. Toronto won the series in 2011.
The game started slowly, with both sides struggling to create full-fledged scoring opportunities for most of the first half. The Crew nearly took the lead just before halftime, however, when Harden was ruled to have fouled Olman Vargas near the end line in the 42nd minute.
Despite TFC’s protests, midfielder Milovan Mirosevic stepped up to take the spot kick, driving a shot low and the left that Kocic dove to deflect out for a corner kick.
But despite Kocic’s heroics, Columbus took the lead in the 56th minute when Anor hammered home a shot from the center of the box after defender Logan Emory couldn’t clear the ball. Anor charged through the midfield and into the box after a turnover by Julian de Guzman. Emory attempted to clear the ball, but it deflected back to Anor, who drove a shot past Kocic.
Toronto desperately tried to push forward for the game-tying goal, but it wasn’t to be for the home side. Rookie Luis Silva, a second-half substitute, had the best chance but headed the ball over the goal in the 77th minute.
Toronto’s best chance of the match came just 11 minutes into the match on a shot from the center of the penalty area by Danny Koevermans, but Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum stopped the Dutchman’s tame effort without difficulty.
The Reds were without defender Miguel Aceval, who scored their goal against Santos in CCL play on Wednesday before leaving with a hamstring injury. Midfielder Dilly Duka and defender Carlos Mendes were out for the Crew with hamstring injuries.
Toronto FC is back in action on Wednesday when they play the second leg of their CCL semifinal against Club Santos Laguna in Mexico. The teams played a hard-fought 1-1 tie at BMO Field last Wednesday.
Columbus return home to Crew Stadium next Saturday to take on the New York Red Bulls.