Reds Drop Preseason Opener

Toronto hits the woodwork late in 1-0 loss to Columbus in Disney Classic.

Toronto FC fell short in the opening of the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 1-0 decision to Columbus Crew.  

The bigger loss for the Reds could be the absence of goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who returned from an ankle injury, only to leave his first match in nearly a year after taking a boot to the nose during open play.

The goal came at the 30th minute, when Crew’s Brazilian import Glauber got his head to a corner serviced by Argentinean playmaker Federico Higuain. The South Americans combined for the lone strike of the day, though Toronto had chances.

While Columbus enjoyed much of the possession in the first half, Toronto managed quick counter-attacks thwarted by hard fouls.

At the 22nd minute Emery Welshman was nearly through on goal on a pass from Justin Braun. The foul at the edge of the box produced a free kick and the offender Glauber escaped with only a yellow card. A few minutes earlier Agustin Viana was similarly punished with a caution when Braun looked to fly on another Toronto counter.

Glauber went from delinquent to darling at the half hour mark, redirecting Higuain’s ball from the middle of the Toronto box to the underside of the crossbar behind Frei.

The first half was winding down in an uneventful fashion until Frei left his line seconds from intermission, sacrificing his nose in an attempt to head the ball away from hard charging Ryan Finley. The Columbus forward received a yellow card for making contact with the TFC keeper with an extended foot. Frei meanwhile, walked off the pitch on his own before taking a trip to the hospital, full extent of his condition was not yet clear as of Saturday night.

Toronto introduced a pair of South Americans of its own at restart in Brazilian central midfielder Julio Cesar and winger Nicolas Cabrera, a speedy trialist from Argentina.

The changes sparked Toronto forward. At the 56th minute Cabrera picked out Ashtone Morgan’s run on the left flank. The Canadian’s cross skipped past Braun to find Luis Silva at the far post, his shot stopped by Matt Lampson.

Toronto came agonizingly close to leveling the match again nine minutes from fulltime, this time Terry Dunfield saw his header from an Ashton Bennett cross hit the woodwork.

Reds return to preseason action in the Disney Classic on Wednesday, February 13 at 8 p.m. ET against hometown Orlando City Soccer Club. The match will be streamed live on Toronto FC TV via MLS.

Toronto lineup:

Stefan Frei (Joe Bendik 45'); Richard Eckersley (Matt Stinson 70'), Gale Agbossoumonde (Doneil Henry 70'), Darren O'Dea (Daniel Fabrizi 70'), Ashtone Morgan (Derric Bassi 70'); Reggie Lambe (Ashton Bennett 64'), Jeremy Hall (Torsten Frings 64'), Jonathan Osorio (Julio Cesar 45' Terry Dunfield 71'), Emery Welshman (Nicolas Cabrera 45'); Luis Silva (Kyle Bekker 64'), Justin Braun (Taylor Morgan 64')