O'Brian White

Can Reds Reverse Columbus Curse?

The Basics

Toronto FC (8W-7D-13L), 31 points, 5th place Eastern Conference) vs. Columbus Crew (13W-7D-8L, 46 points, 2nd place Eastern Conference), BMO Field, Toronto.

Columbus lead the all-time series 5W-4D-0L.

TV Info

4 p.m. EST, CBC

Game Introduction

Two teams with differing agendas take to the field in Toronto’s final home game of the season.

Columbus are battling New York for first in the Western Conference and look to jump ahead of the Red Bulls by taking three points from struggling Toronto. The conference winner will earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Also, a win or a draw will give Columbus the Trillium Cup, which is awarded each season to the team with the best record in head-to-head matchups.

With Toronto officially eliminated from playoff contention last Saturday, players and coaches will use this game as an audition for next season.

Home Team News

It hasn’t been a good week for Toronto FC. After the team took heat over its elimination last Saturday, it was the management’s turn to face criticism over its controversial 2011 season ticket package [READ: TFC say sorry to fans]. Interim head coach Nick Dasovic and the players hope to close out the home schedule on a strong note to appease the fans angry over the club’s fourth straight playoff-less season.

They’ll be without a number of players due to injury, including Chad Barrett, Mista and Adrian Cann. Dasovic told a local radio station on Thursday that Cann will miss the rest of the season to recover from the facial injury he suffered from an elbow by Chivas USA’s Alan Gordon. Also out will be leading scorer and the season’s brightest light, Dwayne De Rosario, who’ll sit after picking up a caution versus the Goats.

Away Team News

Teams heading into the playoffs on hot streaks tend to go a long way. Unfortunately for Columbus, they are riding a 0-3-2 streak from their last five games.

Scoring has been a concern as they’ve tallied just three goals over this stretch and been shut out in two straight matches. Crew coach Robert Warzycha said the team’s schedule of 11 games in 39 days has taken its toll due to workload and a lack of practices. To address this, Warzycha gave the players three days off after last Friday’s defeat at Chicago and the players have responded well in training this week.

“With the rest we have and maybe the mental break, we can get that composure back in front of the goal,” Warzycha said.

Heroes & Villains

Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei vs. Columbus striker Guillermo Barros Schelotto: Frei, one of the club’s most consistent players in an otherwise dismal season, will look to bounce back from an un-Frei like performance in last Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Chivas USA. On the Goats’ second goal by Jesus Padilla, Frei misplayed the ball on a shot he’d typically save nine times out of 10. That goal virtually put the game out of reach for TFC. Though the Crew have been struggling offensively, Schelotto will try to shake the Crew out of its funk against a club he’s played well against over the years.

Stat that makes you go, “Hmm ..."

Toronto are 1W-2D-4L since Earl Cochrane and Nick Dasovic took over from Mo Johnston and Preki, respectively, on Sept. 14.