The Columbus Crew is playing for more than just three points at BMO Field on Saturday. By virtue of Toronto FC’s win over the Crew in April, the Reds can clinch the Trillium Cup, presented by Scotts, with a victory in Saturday’s match.
However, with an additional match on tap between the two sides in August, a win or a two-goal draw by the Crew would keep Columbus’ hopes of retaining the Cup for the third consecutive year (and the sixth time in seven seasons) alive.
Total points in the team’s matches decides the winner, with the first tiebreaker being away goals and the second tiebreaker being overall goal differential. The scenarios for the Crew are a bit complicated, but the bottom line is that Columbus needs to either win, or draw while scoring at least two goals. That’s because Toronto FC’s 2-0 victory in April gave the Reds two valuable away goals along with the three points.
If the Crew wins on Saturday, then the winner of August’s match takes the Cup: it's as simple as that. Thanks to the away goals tiebreaker, if the Crew draws on Saturday, it will need to be by at least a 2-2 scoreline to stay alive in the Trillium Cup hunt. That would level Columbus with Toronto FC on total away goals at two, setting up a final showdown in August that the Crew would need to win by at least two to make up overall goal differential.
Given that the clubs are also playing for a valuable three points in addition to the Cup, you can expect the Black & Gold to have a little extra motivation north of the border.
“It’s three points, but there’s a trophy on the line,” said Justin Meram. “You always want to get as much hardware as possible throughout the year. We definitely have to go up there and get a 2-0, 3-0 so we can balance it out for the third leg.”
Meram, one of the longest-tenured Crew players, has come to learn the importance of the Trillium Cup over the years.
“It’s three points, it’s a long season, you want to do well and they’re rivals of ours, but at the same time, there’s a Cup on the line.”
Conversely, Gregg Berhalter is new to the Trillium Cup scene. The Crew boss said that he hasn’t experienced a “rivalry cup” anywhere else in his soccer career, but he likes the concept.
“I think it has special meaning, these games,” said Berhalter. “It’s fun to play a mini-series within the regular season. We’re looking forward to it. We think it’s a great event, and hopefully we can turn it around a little.”