The Crew took a 1-0 advantage in the 2012 Trillium Cup with Saturday's victory in Toronto. In addition, Columbus moved to third place in the Eastern Conference standings. Here are three things to take away from the match:
1. DEFENSIVE DEPTH
Eric Gehrig knew he would play on Saturday, he just thought it would be in the Crew's reserve match against Toronto FC.
With Danny O'Rourke out as a late scratch for the match, Crew head coach Robert Warzycha put his faith into the second year player out of Loyola to step into O'Rourke's starting role. Warzycha notified Gehrig just hours before kickoff on the team's pregame walk through Toronto.
Gehrig rose to the occassion, helping to snuff out TFC's three forward attack all afternoon. His performance earned him Man of the Match honors with both his teammates and Crew fans. Gehrig's match demonstrated the depth the Crew has assembled defensively.
"I have watched him over the years, he is incredible he is one of the hardest workers you could have on your team and he had a great game," goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said of Gehrig. "It goes to show you how much depth we have on the team."
Fellow second year defender Josh Williams made his second straight appearance after his MLS debut against Montreal on March 24. Williams fit in nicely along the back line, coming on for Sebastian Miranda in the 79th minute.
As Carlos Mendes and Julius James work their way back from injuries, it is uncertain how the Crew's defense will be comprised. One thing is for sure: Robert Warzycha will have faith in his many defensive options going forward.
2. ALL-AROUND MILO
Primarily billed as an attacking player, Milovan Mirosevic has proven in his three matches with the Crew that he can be a threat defensively as well. After having his first half penalty saved by Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kokic, Mirosevic could've hung his head for not putting his team ahead before halftime. Instead, it was Mirosevic whose perfectly timed slide tackle to dispossess Julian de Guzman sprung the counter-attack that resulted in Bernardo Añor's game winning strike in the 56th minute.
"(Mirosevic) is a great professional because he knows the last thing that you want is for the missed penalty kick to affect the game. For a lot of players it's difficult to overcome," head coach Robert Warzycha said after the victory. "His game didn't change. He was the same Milo as he was in the first minute. Because he won that ball, I am not surprised. That is what he does on the field, and that is why he is here."
3. DUKA REGAINING FITNESS
Midfielder Dilly Duka passed his first fitness test in returning from a hamstring injury sustained in the opening minutes of the Crew's loss in Colorado on March 10. Duka played 30 minutes in the Black & Gold's reserve match on Saturday evening in Toronto, becoming heavily involved in the Reserve team's attack on the left flank in his limited time on the field.
"There were no signs of the injury or lack of fitness. I was happy with the minutes that (Duka) played," Robert Warzycha said Monday afternoon. "We didn't want to push him too far, but overall it was very good."
Duka could possibly see time in the Crew's upcoming matches against New York and Philadelphia depending on how he performs in training this week.