by Carlos Mojica
[4.5.2014] On Saturday, the Columbus Crew will host Toronto FC in what will be the first of three games for the Trillium Cup. The Crew is coming off an impressive last second away victory against the Seattle Sounders, which saw it keep its record unblemished. Meanwhile, Toronto is still recovering from its first loss of the season, a 3-0 defeat against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In 19 previous meetings, Toronto FC has only won twice, with only one of those victories occurring at Crew Stadium. Last time Toronto FC faced off against the Crew in Columbus, they fell 2-0 courtesy of two Federico Higuaín goals, which saw the Trillium Cup stay in Columbus. However, this is not the same Toronto team from last year.
During the off-season, Toronto FC made quite the impact in the transfer market, acquiring players of the caliber of Jermaine Defoe, Julio Cesar, Gilberto, Dwayne Rosario, and of course Michael Bradley. While the signings of Jermaine Defoe and Julio Cesar alone were a signal of intent by Toronto, it was the acquisition of Bradley that truly put other teams in notice.
Bradley, widely considered to be one of the jewels in the USMNT’s crown, is a player who had been a key part of European teams, so for him to walk away from Europe and to the MLS sent waves throughout the transfer market, echoing the noise made by Seattle’s acquisition of Clint Dempsey a few months earlier.
With Bradley at the helm, Toronto FC won its two first games to the acclaim of soccer pundits everywhere, before falling victim to Real Salt Lake. Conversely, while the media was fawning over Toronto FC, the Columbus Crew slowly and quietly rose up the power rankings, maintaining a perfect record in the process. Against Toronto, the Crew will not only be facing a rival, but also an opponent who is hungry to prove they are “the” team to fear.