Toronto FC has clinched a spot in the playoffs, but there is plenty of work left to be done.
The Reds host the Columbus Crew on Saturday at 2 PM ET at BMO Field. TFC currently sit in second place. If they can maintain that position they’ll get a bye into the Eastern Conference semifinals.
There’s also the Trillium Cup. While the trophy doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, there is no love lost between supporters of the Reds and the Crew.
Columbus took the first meeting this season 2-0 after Justin Morrow was shown a red card just before halftime. Steven Caldwell left that game at halftime, marking the end of his playing career.
TFC stormed back from 3-0 deficit to steal a point at Mapfre Stadium in the second matchup at the end of July.
Lost in the playoff clinching euphoria on Wednesday was the fact that TFC won their fourth game in a row for the first time ever. They can make it five against the Crew.
Here are the keys to the match.
The Golden Boot Race
Both players want it and so do their coaches.
The race for the Golden Boot remains too close to call. Sebastian Giovinco and Kei Kamara have laid waste to opposition defences this season and they’ll go head-to-head on Saturday at BMO Field.
Both strikers sit on 22 goals, though Giovinco is also tied for first in the league with 15 assists while Kamara only has two. We’ve seen what Seba can do on a weekly basis. Kamara presents a different challenge.
“Kei is a very dangerous forward, especially when they’re able to get balls out wide and whip balls into the box” said Greg Vanney following training on Friday. “We can’t allow him the freedom to run in the box and out jump us.”
Giovinco and Kamara have completely different skill sets, but each player is incredibly effective with the tools at their disposal. It’s going to be fun watching them square off for the final time this season with some silverware on the line.
Trillium Cup Up For Grabs
Last year’s Trillium Cup loss still haunts Crew playmaker Ethan Finlay.
“When I think back - and a lot of these guys think back to it - it's the result that we dropped there last year,” Finlay said, via the Crew website. “Those were important points down the stretch [...] No one was happy about that, so it’ll be a good opportunity for us to go and make it right.”
Doneil Henry’s dramatic header secured the Trillium Cup last season and the Reds will look to win trophy for the second consecutive year.
The Crew lead the 2015 edition with four points. Should the Reds win the first tiebreaker is goal differential and the second is total goals.
A bye in the first round of the playoffs is what the Reds are after. That’s what Vanney and his players stressed on Friday following training.
“With the momentum we have and the belief that every player has when they step on the field right now of course [getting a bye in the playoffs] is reachable,” said Marky Delgado.
"We have a team that can do more than just make the playoffs,” added Chris Konopka.
Columbus is coming off a bye as well and are a team that the Reds could see again when the playoffs roll around.
“They’re a very good attacking team,” said Vanney. “They’ve proven that all year.”
There will be plenty on the line this Saturday at BMO Field. It should be a good one.