Crew-Toronto FC Preview
Toronto FC coach Chris Armas is confident his side are heading in the right direction, despite failing to win any of their opening three games of the 2021 MLS campaign.
The Reds face Columbus SC at their temporary Exploria Stadium home in Orlando on Wednesday looking to improve on a return of one point from a possible nine to kick things off.
Armas' side have lost three games in a row in all competitions, having also gone down 4-1 to Cruz Azul in the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
However, Armas is not worried about his side's early-season slump ahead of quickfire games against MLS Cup holders Columbus and New York City FC.
"I see realness every day around here, even the way the players speak in the locker room. That's where I put my comfort," he said.
"We're heading in the right direction. We've just got to clean up some of the stuff on the field.
"It's disappointing but we are on to the next one. No one helps teams in tough times more than the team, all of us together. That's what we have talked about."
Whereas Toronto have yet to win a game, opponents Columbus are unbeaten in their first three outings, drawing two of those 0-0 before beating DC United 3-1 last time out.
The Crew also exited the Champions League last week with defeat to Monterrey, and like their opponents they face a quick turnaround in league games over the coming days.
Head coach Caleb Porter is aware of the need to make full use of his squad, with his side playing their third of six matches this month in Florida on Wednesday.
"We got the result we wanted against United. Now we have to circle the wagons ahead of our next game to freshen up so that we don't risk injuries," Porter said.
"My goal over the next three weeks is to stay healthy, not add any injuries and collect some points. We have to be smart with our rotations, but also name a strong team to win."
Toronto FC - Nick DeLeon
The Canadian club are without a number of key players through injury and illness, including reigning MVP Alejandro Pozuelo, so there is added pressure on others to step up.
DeLeon was moved into a central position for the loss to New York Red Bulls last time out and, while the experiment did not pay off, he is likely to get another chance here.
Columbus SC - Bradley Wright-Phillips
Wright-Phillips has yet to get off the mark in his three MLS games for the Crew this season, but he boasts an impressive record against Toronto.
The ex-New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles FC forward has 10 goals against Toronto in his MLS career - only Chris Wondolowski and Federico Higuain (11 each) have scored more against them.
- Toronto have lost just one of their last nine matches against Columbus (W5 D3, including the 2017 playoffs).
- The Reds have recorded back-to-back wins over the Crew and could make it three straight victories over them for the second time in the club's history (three straight in 2014-2015).
- Toronto's one point from their first three matches is their worst start since 2012 when losing their first nine, an MLS record. Toronto also lost the first four matches of their inaugural 2007 season.
- Including last season's playoffs, Columbus are unbeaten in eight straight matches (W6 D2), conceding only four goals in that time. Only one of those games was away from Historic Crew Stadium, however - a scoreless draw with CF Montreal in Fort Lauderdale on May 1.
- Two of Toronto's last three goals have been scored by Canadians (Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio) after just one of the club's previous 19 goals were scored by Canadians dating back to last season (Richie Laryea).
Updated May 11, 2021