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TFC, fans head south for Trillium Cup
March 27, 2009, 7:25 AM
Filed under: Columbus Crew, Toronto FC, Trillium Cup

COLUMBUS CREW vs TORONTO FC
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
March 28, 2009 (WEEK 2) / MLS Game #8
4 p.m. ET (ONN; Gol TV Canada)

The Columbus Crew and Toronto FC resume their Trillium Cup rivalry when the two meet in Columbus on Saturday, in what is expected to be a tremendous atmosphere with the invasion of thousands of TFC supporters from Canada. The Crew began defense of their MLS title last weekend with a late 1-1 draw in Houston, while Toronto FC opened a season with a victory for the first time, defeating the Kansas City Wizards 3-2 on the road.

REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Sean Hurd; JAR (opposite): Peter Balciunas; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 107 games; FC/gm: 31.3; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 19; pens: 41

INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW — OUT: MF Pat Noonan (lower back strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Robbie Rogers (L hamstring strain) … TORONTO FC – OUT: FW O’Brian White (knee); QUESTIONABLE: DF Nana Attakora-Gyan (hip flexor)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: Frankie Hejduk (USA; vs El Salvador, March 28); Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela; vs Argentina, March 28); Duncan Oughton (New Zealand; vs Thailand, March 28) … TOR: Amado Guevara (Honduras; vs Trinidad & Tobago, March 28); Carl Robinson (Wales; vs Finland, March 28)
SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Crew 3 wins, 9 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 4 goals … Ties 3
AT COLUMBUS (3 meetings): Crew 2 wins, 6 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
RETURN MATCHES: 5/2: Columbus Crew at Toronto FC, 4 p.m.; 7/25: Toronto FC at Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/29: CLB 2, TOR 0 (Moffat 26; Moreno 76)
5/17: TOR 0, CLB 0
9/13: TOR 1, CLB 1 (Robinson 6 – Noonan 40)

• Toronto FC have never defeated the Columbus Crew in six all-time meetings.

• After drawing in their first-ever meeting, the Crew won the next three meetings, before the teams played to draws in their final two encounters last season.

• The teams are playing for the Trillium Cup, awarded by the supporters’ groups of both clubs.

• Coaches record: Robert Warzycha v TOR: first game … John Carver vs. CLB: P3 W0 L1 T2

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew opened their title defense by coming from behind for a late 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo last Saturday at Robertson Stadium. The Crew are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with D.C. United, behind first-week winners Chicago, Toronto and New England.

LAST MATCH
• The Crew came to town to open their title defense against the club that had won the previous titles in the Dynamo, 2006 and ’07 champions.

• Brian Ching opened up a midfield struggle eight minutes into the first half, racing into the area to get onto the end of a return pass from Chris Wondolowski on a one-two and poking it inside the far post.

• But 2008 MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto showed his class in hitting for the equalizer nine minutes from the end, taking a knocked-down cross from Jason Garey and coolly thumping home from the top of the box.

• Crew coach Robert Warzycha ran out a familiar lineup for the season opener, with only change from the team that started the MLS Cup Final last November, as Emmanuel Ekpo took the place of the departed Brad Evans.

• Here’s Warzycha’s team (4-1-3-1-1): William Hesmer – Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Danny O’Rourke, Gino Padula (Jason Garey 79) – Brian Carroll – Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo (Duncan Oughton 87), Robbie Rogers (Alex Grendi 46) – Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Alejandro Moreno

• “They played a little different than we did, and then they made the goal, which of course we figured would happen,” Warzycha said. “We were pushing for the goal and yes, things could have been different, but overall, I’m happy with the team performance. They showed a lot of character and made big changes.”

TEAM NEWS
• The Crew will be missing three players to international duty this weekend. Right back Frankie Hejduk will be the U.S. national team for its World Cup qualifier at El Salvador on Saturday night and home to Trinidad & Tobago next Wednesday in Nashville.

• Forward Alejandro Moreno will join Venezuela for its World Cup qualifier on Saturday against Argentina in Buenos Aires, then at home against Colombia in Puerto Ordaz. Reserve midfielder Duncan Oughton has been called into New Zealand’s national team for friendlies against Thailand and a Thailand “A” selection in Bangkok.

• “I have no problem (with it) because it reflects well on us,” Warzycha said to the Columbus Dispatch. “Some coaches get upset: ‘They’re taking all my players.’ I want them to take my players because it shows we are doing well.”

• In addition to the two starters missing through international duty from the opener, wide midfielder Robbie Rogers is questionable with a hamstring strain. Midfielders Adam Moffat and Pat Noonan will also not be available.

• “Depth was our strong point last year,” Danny O’Rourke said. “We had a consistent team but when injuries struck we were able to not miss a beat. We’ll be all right. Everyone will be amped up for the home opener so I don’t think it will be too much of a problem.”

• Alex Grendi, a third-round pick from the University of Pennsylvania, entered in the 46th minute, coming on for Rogers, and assisted on the Columbus goal with a long ball to Jason Garey, also a second-half substitute.

• “He needs to get some games and get some confidence. He was a little nervous but he contributed,” Warzycha said of Grendi.

• Guillermo Barros Schelotto followed up his MVP season by hitting for the equalizer in the season opener. Schelotto had seven goals and 19 assists in league play, following that with six assists in the MLS Cup Playoffs, in 2008. Of Schelotto’s seven goals last season, three came in the final 10 games.

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC opened the season with a victory for the first time in club history, Amado Guevara scoring a pair of goals in a 3-2 win against the Kansas City Wizards at CommunityAmerica Ballpark last Saturday. TFC is tied atop the Eastern Conference along with first-week winners Chicago and New England.

LAST MATCH
• Another sellout crowd was on hand in a meeting of Eastern Conference rivals. The visitors were up by two goals early in the second half, Jim Brennan capping off a quick counter by lashing home an angled shot inside the near post (33), then Amado Guevara taking a pass at the top of the area, spinning around and hooking a perfectly placed shot inside the right post in the 53rd minute.

• Wizards midfielder Davy Arnaud pulled the home side back just three minutes with a stunning blast from outside the area that rattled off the inside of the goal and thundered back onto the field.

• But TFC were back ahead by two in the 62nd minute, Guevara coming in to sweep home his second goal on a rebound of a saved shot from Dwayne De Rosario.

• Arnaud hit for his second goal of the game in the 76th minute — another stunning blast from outside the area (this time with his right foot). De Rosario had a chance to put the game away in the 80th minute, but sent a penalty kick over the goal, yet the Reds held out for their first win ever to open the season and just their fifth ever away from BMO Field.

• TFC head coach John Carver had some surprises in his opening day lineup, with Stefan Frei selected ahead of incumbent Greg Sutton to start in goal, and Sam Cronin given a start in a wide midfield role as Dwayne De Rosario partnered Chad Barrett in attack.

• Here’s Carver’s team (4-1-3-2): Stefan Frei – Marvell Wynne, Kevin Harmse, Adrian Serioux, Jim Brennan – Carl Robinson – Sam Cronin, Amado Guevara, Rohan Ricketts – Chad Barrett (Danny Dichio 89), Dwayne De Rosario

• “You can tell by the smile on my face I’m absolutely delighted,” said Carver. “Our away record last season wasn’t great, and it was important we came into the first game of the season and got something from it. I’m delighted with the three points, delighted with the performance.”

TEAM NEWS
• TFC will be without a pair of internationals for the week. Midfielder Amado Guevara is with Honduras for a pair of World Cup qualifiers, against Trinidad & Tobago on March 28 and Mexico on April 1, while midfielder Carl Robinson is with the Wales national team for its World Cup qualifiers against Finland (March 28) and Germany (April 1). Guevara and Robinson formed the central midfield partnership in the opening match.

• “We have to deal with it and get on with it,” said Carver. “They’ve got a couple of guys missing as well so we should be evenly matched. The fact that we’re missing two guys from the heart of our midfield is a little bit concerning, but it will give the opportunity to other players to come into the team and make an impact. I’ve got to look at one or two positions because of Carl and Amado being away on international duty but most of the guys that played last weekend will play again. I don’t like changing the side if I don’t have to.”

• Missing Guevara could cause a hiccup in the TFC attack, one that scored three goals in a game just four times in 2008.

• “I wish [Guevara] wasn’t going away next week with the Honduran national team,” said Carver. “He’s very technical; he’s a clever player. I wanted him to play higher up the field today, because when we came here last year, he played too deep, and they gave us all sorts of problems. He’s going to be more effective in that final third. Now he has guys to play with and combine with.”

• Carver ran out goalkeeper Stefan Frei for his professional debut, and while he was beaten by the two wonder strikes from Arnaud, he made two saves is being credited with the win.

• “I am almost certain that Stefan will start in goal,” said Carver. “I looked at the three goalkeepers very closely ahead of the opening match. Stefan stood out in preseason and he was ahead of Greg Sutton because Greg picked up a groin strain and also had a dislocated finger so that knocked him back about 10 days in training. The pleasing thing is that … the competiton is very healthy.”

• In its first season, TFC lost the first four games in club history, before reeling off back-to-back victories. A year ago, it took the Reds until the third game for a victory – though that started a six-game unbeaten run.

• “It’s night and day from the first game we ever played until now. The squad is strong. We have good depth now, and we have guys here who want to win,” Brennan said. “To win the first game is something that we wanted to do … to get the three points was great for us.”

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