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Crew Falls 2-0 to Upstart TFC

They were calling it “Marvelous March” with the Columbus Crew starting the season a perfect 3-0 for the first time in their history. It wasn’t long before Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter’s honeymoon was abruptly ended by a 2-0 loss to Toronto FC, a team that finished last season with the third-worst record in MLS. That was certainly before some big-name signings came to Ontario during the offseason, bringing along an expectation that the team would be reaching the playoffs this year.  This was clearly a different TFC than the Crew have faced before.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

Toronto started the game brightly with U.S. international Michael Bradley the star of the first half, following up on an impressive midweek performance against Mexico. He put Toronto ahead on 11 minutes after Bernardo Anor was unable to track his run, finishing with a powerful shot from a tight angle through the legs of Steve Clark. The runs from Toronto’s midfield trio of Jackson, Alvaro Rey, and Bradley supporting the strikers were the key of the first half with the Crew’s midfield and defense struggling to keep pace.

“We had a horrendous start to the game,” Berhalter remarked. “It was sloppy in every sense of the word. I attribute this loss to two things: a bad start to the game and a very well-organized Toronto FC.”

The second half started well for Columbus as they started to control possession and assert pressure on the Toronto goal and finally tested Julio Cesar on 49 minutes when a low drive from Anor was punched away. This was the best of Anor today with him struggling for consistent passing through tonight’s game, though all attacking players were struggling to complete the crisps passes which has been a trademark to their hot start of the season.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

The Crew’s attack was also a little one-dimensional tonight with a pattern of getting the ball out wide and crosses being comfortable repelled from a well- marshaled Toronto defense. You could see the influence of head coach Ryan Nelsen, who stood out as one of the best defenders in the EPL during his eight seasons there.

Berhalter brought on both Justin Meram and Jairo Arrieta during the second half in an attempt to find the equalizer. It nearly worked on 83 minutes after a left field cross caused confusion in Toronto’s box and Meram’s goalbound shot was well-blocked. Almost immediately after Toronto put the game to bed after a left field cross found the onrushing Issey Nakajima-Farran to toe the ball past Clark, who will be disappointed he did not do better to save the shot.

“I think we have to come out of the gate ready to go,” Clark concluded. “That’s been our game all year. When you don’t do that, sometimes you get punished and obviously the first goal was a soft one by me. We will move on.”

Event Photos

Category: Columbus Crew