Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Saturday will mark the third Trillium Cup
contest of the season as the Columbus Crew get set to host Toronto FC.
The Crew have lost both league matches to TFC thus far, falling to the
Canadian side in a 2-0 home loss on April 5 before squandering a late lead in
a 3-2 loss at BMO Field on May 31.
But Columbus enters Saturday's clash in good stead having taken seven points
from its last three outings.
The club claimed back-to-back 2-1 wins over the Montreal Impact and New
England Revolution before coming from behind to get a point from its meeting
with the Chicago Fire last time out.
"In the first half, we lacked the desire, pure and simple," Crew head coach
Gregg Berhalter said. "In the second half, when we started playing, there was
combination and desire all across the board, the defensive side and offensive
Federico Higuain scored a goal for a second consecutive match, his first goals
since May 17.
"We needed to be patient and find those gaps between the midfield line and the
defensive line, more towards the inside, then we can turn and play from there.
I think we did that," said Berhalter. "But besides tactics, to me it was the
will, it was the will of the guys, the belief in the guys, and I missed that
in the first half. That's what we communicated to the guys at halftime. We
said you have to show more. It's not good enough."
Columbus will need to show the same effort against a Toronto side that has
claimed just one league win in its last five outings.
The Reds earned a 2-0 victory over the Impact last weekend, their first win
since July 12.
"We walked off the field for the past two games without the results we wanted,
so we really wanted this game and we gave a good performance and came out with
those three points," Michael Bradley said. "We have a lot of games against
Eastern Conference teams coming up and they're all 6-point swings, so we have
to go on a good run and be consistent and come away with wins."
The victory over Montreal marked Toronto's first league shutout in nine games,
and head coach Ryan Nelsen was full of praise for his young defenders.
"Warren (Creavalle), Doneil (Henry) and Nick (Hagglund) are in their early
20s, Justin (Morrow) and (goalkeeper) Joe (Bendik) are still young and it was
a very experienced and composed performance in the back," Nelsen said. "We
possessed the ball with control and with purpose instead of just for
possession's sake. In the end, the performance was fantastic."
Despite recent results, Toronto enters the weekend in a formidable position,
occupying third place in the Eastern Conference table with 29 points.
Columbus, which has played two more matches than the Reds, sit in fifth place
on 27 points.