Columbus and Toronto FC are among the mystery teams in Major League Soccer’s ongoing preseason. We’ll define “mystery teams” loosely as clubs with significant roster turnover, several holes to fill or stocked with intriguing players and plans still in evolution.
Here’s what we can cull from Saturday’s match in the 2013 Disney Pro Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Columbus prevailed in the first match of the two-week preseason tournament, 1-0.
Obviously, coaches use preseason matches for experimentation and to study combinations in tandem and in groups. But it’s still fodder for conversation.
- Brazilian center back Gláuber, new to Columbus from Romania’s Rapid Bucuresti, made his first appearance, partnering with longtime Crew Stadium incumbent Chad Marshall.
- Dominic Oduro played along the right. In previous MLS stops, Oduro has more often been stationed closer to opposition goal as a striker, but he has lined up at different times as a flank midfielder.
- Danny O’Rourke, a utility knife for Robert Warzycha through the years, took over at center back for the second half.
- Debuting Crew midfielder Matias Sanchez got 58 minutes as a center midfielder (ahead of Tony Tchani, who played the final 32 minutes).
- For Toronto and new manager Ryan Nelsen, Jeremy Hall lined up as a central midfielder, an interesting choice for a guy who has always been on the outside. (He started ahead of Torsten Frings; that clearly won’t last, surely just a choice to best reflect preseason conditioning and such.)
- Heralded rookie Kyle Bekker, a Canadian international and the third player picked in last month’s MLS draft, played the final 26 minutes at forward.
The Starting lineups looked like this:
Columbus: Andy Gruenebaum; Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Gláuber, Tyson Wahl; Dominic Oduro, Agustín Viana, Matías Sánchez, Ben Speas; Federico Higuaín, Ryan Finley.
Toronto FC: Stefan Frei; Richard Eckersley, Gale Agbossoumonde, Darren O’Dea, Ashtone Morgan; Reggie Lambe, Jonathan Osorio, Jeremy Hall, Emery Welshman; Luis Silva, Justin Braun.