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Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC | 2018 MLS Match Preview

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC
2018 MLS Regular Season – Week 1
BMO Field - Toronto
1 pm ET – March 3, 2018
WATCH: TSN 1/4/5 in Canada

Columbus Crew SC quite literally could not have had an earlier chance to get revenge for Toronto FC ending their playoff run in last year's Eastern Conference Championship. While Saturday afternoon's MLS opener will have an element of déjà vu about it, Columbus will undeniably feel like a different team without the departed attacking tandem of Ola Kamara and Justin Meram. Even if new arrival Gyasi Zardes flourishes in coach Gregg Berhalter's system, he's a stylistic departure from Meram's craftiness or Kamara's precision.

And yet Columbus just might be catching Toronto at the right time, fresh off their CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 triumph, and with the first leg of their quarterfinal against UANL Tigres set for Wednesday. That said, with signings like Gregory van der Weil, Auro and Ager Aketxe now in the fold, the Reds still have more depth to manage fixture congestion than just about any other MLS side.

Toronto FC

With Auro making his debut in the first leg of Toronto's aggregate victory against Colorado and Aketxe coming on for his in the second leg, the league opener may well represent van der Weil's turn. The Dutch international is healthy, but he's been on family duty after his girlfriend gave birth to the couple's first child.

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • Injury Report: None

Projected Starting XI
(4-3-1-2, right to left)
GK: Alex Bono — Gregory van der Weil, Nick Hagglund, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow — Ager Aketxe, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio — Victor Vazquez — Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

Columbus Crew SC

No one is expecting Zardes alone to make up for the 31 goals Kamara and Meram scored last season. But he should get plenty of opportunity to recapture the peak attacking form he's been missing for a couple years now; Columbus' other forwards, Adam Jahn and Edward Opoku, have combined for fewer career MLS goals than the 16 Zardes scored in his career-best 2014 season.

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • Injury Report: None

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)

GK: Zack Steffen — Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Milton Valenzuela — Wil Trapp, Artur — Niko Hansen, Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos — Gyasi Zardes

All-Time Series

Columbus has the edge in the series overall, but lost on all three of their trips to BMO Field last regular season and playoffs. Toronto outscored Crew SC 7-1 in those games.

  • Overall: Toronto 8 wins, 42 goals  … Columbus 13 wins, 45 goals … 10 Ties
  • At Toronto: Toronto 4 wins, 19 goals … Columbus 4 wins, 14 goals … 6 Ties
  • Last meeting at Toronto: Toronto 5, Columbus 0 (May 26, 2017)

Officials

Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Phil Briere
4th Official: Sorin Stoica
VAR: Silviu Petrescu
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Current Form

Toronto FC
Columbus

Season Stats

Toronto FCColumbus Crew SC
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