On the heels of #HellisReal, the Columbus Crew (7-14-5) plays host to Toronto FC on Saturday, Aug. 17 to round out a two-match homestand.
Headlined by Designated Players Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto (9-10-6) currently sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, though tied on points (33) with seventh-place Montreal and eighth-place Orlando City.
Offensively, Altidore and Pozuelo have each tallied a team-high nine goals, as Toronto stands as one of only four teams to host two players with nine-plus regular-season tallies. However, only four of their 18 total goals have come away from BMO Field, including just one from Pozuelo who signed with the club in early March.
Those two, in addition to midfielder Michael Bradley and recent defensive acquisition Omar Gonzalez will come in fresh on Saturday after not playing in Toronto’s most recent 3-0 win over Ottawa Fury FC on Aug. 14 as part of Leg 2 of the Canadian Championship semifinal.
As for the Crew, the Club heads into Saturday with two goals in four of the last five matches, including coming back from a 2-0 deficit to draw FC Cincinnati 2-2 last week. The match marked the fifth straight occasion in which the Crew posted a second-half goal, continuing a trend of response goals.
“We know we can always come back because we believe in ourselves and we believe in the coaching staff as well, and the message they always give to us,” said defender Harrison Afful. “We make sure we go to the pitch and make sure we deliver.”
As for areas of improvement come Saturday, midfielder Luis Argudo emphasized cleaning up self-inflicted wounds and capitalizing on chances.
“At the end of the day, if we are not scoring, we are not going to win,” Argudo said. “I think just being [calmer] in the final third and eliminating those silly mistakes that we gave up [vs. FCC] – set pieces or run of play.”
Keeping up the mentality and the scoring pace will be key as Toronto ranks top-10 League-wide in chances created (258), shots on target (125), and shot conversion rate (15 percent), in addition to scoring the sixth-most goals in the East with 49 overall.
“You know, every game is big, so we just have to go in with the right mentality and make sure that we stick to the game plan and make sure that we take our chances,” Afful said.
On the plus-side for Crew SC, inconsistency has plagued TFC away from BMO Field, as they hold a 3-6-2 road record and are tied with a League-low 11 away goals scored while conceding 18 goals on 51 shots-on-target faced.
In TFC’s last five regular-season road matches, the club has posted just one win, which came on July 13 vs. Montreal, while getting shut out in all three of their losses.
Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and fans can follow on SportsTime Ohio, or tune in on 97.1 FM The Fan or ColumbusCrewSC.com for live English & Spanish play-by-play.