SOUNDBYTE | Zack Steffen shares thoughts after #CLBvTOR

COLUMBUS — Columbus Crew SC hosted Supporters’ Shield winners, Toronto FC, for a nail biting scoreless draw in Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Championship on Tuesday night at MAPFRE Stadium.

The battle for the Eastern Conference Championship and the right to host the MLS Cup in a series against Toronto FC continues on Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET at BMO Field in Toronto.

What lacked in goals, the teams made up for in action. Things started off hot with a left footed blast by midfielder Pedro Santos from outside the box, which was saved by Toronto’s goalkeeper, Alex Bono. The Reds then returned the favor with a close call of their own. Víctor Vázquez attempted to bend one around a Crew SC wall in the 12th after a direct free kick was awarded, but wasn’t able to find a connection. 

Crew SC’s midfielder Artur was shown the yellow card in the 33rd minute, which will result in him missing Leg 2 of the series due to yellow card accumulation. Another chance came for Toronto just before the end of the first half when Chris Mavinga sent one in on frame forcing Crew SC’s Zack Steffen into action.

Just five minutes into the second half, Crew SC forced TFC into frenzy when Santos treaded into dangerous waters forcing Bono into a tackle. Forward Ola Kamara found the rebound but TFC’s Drew Moor was able to scramble back in time to save a sure goal for the Black & Gold. Another golden opportunity came in the 85th minute when Harrison Afful delivered a bullet from the top of the six-yard box. The Reds had Bono to thank once again.

The Great Lakes rivals were neck-and-neck as far as stats went in front of a sellout crowd in Columbus, with Crew SC having the slight edge. The Black & Gold held an 83 percent passing accuracy compared to TFC’s 80 percent. They also held a 52.1 percent of possession compared to TFC’s 47.9 percent. Despite not finding the back of the net, there were plenty of close chances. Crew SC had 14 shots compared to the visitor’s seven. 

MATCH INFO

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium (Columbus, OH)
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski, Ian Anderson
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
​Video Assistant Referee: Dave Gantar
Attendance: 21,289
Weather: Clear

DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

33'
 
Artur
Reason: Unsporting Behavior
52'
 
Pedro Santos
Reason: Dissent
54'
 
Jonathan Mensah
Reason: Unsporting Behavior
68'
 
Jonathan Osorio
Reason: Not Retreating
85'
 
Raheem Edwards
Reason: Unsporting Behavior

THREE THINGS

By MLSsoccer.com's Ben Baer
  • OFF THE MARK: After scoring four goals in the first leg against New York City FC, Columbus were looking for a repeat attacking performance against Toronto. Despite some late chances, they were unable to come up with similar results. An away goal would be huge for them in Leg 2 but Gregg Berhatler’s team has to be disappointed that his team failed to get a goal at home.
  • NEW LOOK: With Giovinco and Altidore out, head coach Greg Vanney decided to make some changes to his team’s shape in Columbus. Instead of his usual 3-5-2, Vanney had his team set up in a 4-1-4-1, a formation TFC had not played all season. They were able to keep a clean sheet, but a road goal would’ve probably made his team feel a little more comfortable going into Leg 2.
  • MISSING PIECE: One player who will not be making the trip to Toronto is Artur. The Brazilian midfielder has had his moments in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, including a shot that almost found the upper 90 in the 72nd minute, but he will miss the second leg due to yellow card accumulation.
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