Toronto FC-Crew Preview
Chris Armas admits Toronto FC have got what they deserve so far this season but is confident his side can soon put together a winning run.
The Reds fell 1-0 to Orlando City last time out and have just five points from a possible 18, placing them 12th in the Eastern Conference ahead of their trip to Columbus Crew.
Armas was frustrated by some refereeing calls in the loss to Orlando, but the Toronto head coach accepts it is down to his players to turn things around.
"The way I see it, we're getting what we're putting out there," he said. "There's been some really good moments.
"But to win in this league you have to put it together for 90 minutes, which we haven't done. When you look at the Orlando game, at the end we fell short.
"We have to execute in the moment of truth. We have to get on the winning side of things. For all the good things we're doing, we need to and want to win. I think that's coming.
"We'll look at this next game and throw everything at it. We want to get a big result, sit on it for a few weeks and then build on it."
Like Toronto, the Crew are playing their last game before a three-week shutdown for the majority of sides in MLS.
Caleb Porter's charges ended a two-game losing run with a 2-1 victory against New York City FC last weekend, a win that has helped heal wounds between supporters and owners.
"We're obviously aware somewhat of the noise," Porter said, referring to the outrage over the recent attempt to change the club's name and logo.
"We love our supporters, love their passion and we are glad, of course, that they feel good about the direction.
"Hopefully, they feel good about the direction of the team as well. I think it's great."
Columbus Crew - Lucas Zelarayan
Six games into the season, the Crew are still searching for their first goal from open play. In Zelarayan, though, they have a player capable of producing set-piece magic. The 28-year-old scored two free-kicks to earn his side all three points against New York City FC, including the Goal of the Week winner. More of that magic may be required here.
Toronto FC - Ayo Akinola
Armas' problems have mounted amid suggestions that he has fallen out with Jozy Altidore after the star striker was replaced early in the loss to Orlando. Altidore is not likely to play any part against Columbus, then, and all eyes will be on Akinola, the man who replaced him in that now-controversial substitution last weekend.
- Toronto has won three straight matches against the Crew, including a 2-0 victory on May 12, though none of the meetings were in Columbus. This is the second time the Reds have won three straight over Columbus, also doing so in 2014, though they have never won four in a row over the Crew.
- Columbus has won 15 of its last 17 home matches (D1 L1, incl. playoffs) dating back to late 2019. The Crew have allowed a total of nine goals in those 17 games.
- Toronto's five points from six games is the third-worst start in the club's MLS history (zero points in 2012, four points in 2018). The Reds have collected just one point from their last six away games dating back to October 2020.
- Zelarayan scored two direct free-kick goals against New York City FC, taking his total to three for the season. The last player to score three direct free kick goals in a season was Laurent Ciman for LAFC in 2018, while the only player with more since 2016 was Sebastian Giovinco (7 in 2017 for Toronto FC).
- Altidore has scored just two goals in his last 10 MLS appearances dating back to the end of last season, with both of those goals coming against Columbus (one in September 2020, one in May 2021).
Updated May 28, 2021