One game, 100 words (or less): For the second time this season, Toronto visited Crew Stadium without Jermain Defoe, and for the second time this season, the Reds leave Ohio with a victory. Thanks to goals Gilberto, Jonathan Osorio, and Luke Moore, TFC never trailed, answering equalizers from Federico Higuaín and Justin Meram with Moore’s 84th minute winner. In game which saw both sides with stretches of control, Toronto’s execution (and some Crew failings) in front of goal was the difference, allowing the Reds to claim their third win of the year over Columbus, 3-2.
Columbus: Higuaín (p.k.) 47′, Meram 81′
Toronto: Gilberto 43′, Osorio 59′, Moore 84′
Three moments that mattered:
45+2′ – The Comeback, Part I – After a lazy giveaway and a lack of urgency in the 43rd minute, the Crew allowed Gilberto to put Toronto in front, and edge that only lasted four minutes. After Justin Morrow was whistled for a handball in the first minute of stoppage time, Higuaín buried his ninth goal of the season, wiping his team’s slate clean after a poorly conceded goal.
81′ – The Comeback, Part II – After more suspect Crew defending allowed Jonathan Osorio to finish into an empty net just before the hour, the Crew received a blessing: A cross from Justin Meram that left Joe Bendik in no man’s land. Electing to stay on his line as the ball came in from his right, Bendik was frozen as the cross flew over Aaron Schoenfeld’s head six yards from goal and inside the far post, giving Meram an unlikely equalizer.
84′ – The final response – When a team responds to two equalizers by finding a way to claim full points, it’s easy to say something like “they wouldn’t be denied,” but on Luke Moore’s winning tally, the cliché applied. Jumping to the ground and away from goal on an 84th minute corner, the former Chivas USA man headed in the winner from just over five years out, shrugging off his mark to deliver Toronto’s 3-2 win.
Columbus: Steve Clark; Eric Gehrig (Aaron Schoenfield 79′), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp, Tony Tchiani, Ben Speas (Justin Meram 64′); Federico Higuaín; Adam Bedell (Jairo Arrieta 63′)
Toronto: Joe Bednik; Warren Creavalle, Nick Hagglund, Doniel Henry, Justin Morrow; Dominic Oduro (Jackson 61′), Michael Bradley, Collen Warner, Jonanthan Osario; Luke Moore (Kyle Bekker 92′), Gilberto
Three lessons going forward:
1. Lines of delineation – As we saw with Toronto’s recent struggles against D.C. United, the results leave no doubt about the different in quality between the Reds and Columbus. Ryan Nelsen’s team has took all nine points from the Crew this season, securing eight goals in three games. Just as there’s a clear difference in quality between the East’s second and third place teams, Columbus have shown themselves to be on a lower level than Toronto.
2. Life alright without Defoe – When it was announced Toronto’s leading scorer would be out for 2-3 weeks, we ran the numbers. On Saturday, the Reds defied those results. This was the first time this year Toronto has scored more than two without Defoe in the team.
3. Lack of … something, from the Crew – After the game, Gregg Berhalter said there were “four or five” sub-par performances from his team, and when you see the nature of the Crew’s goals, you see a game that could have been worse. For all its quality in some places on the field, Columbus only generated four shots on target. Toronto had eight.
Where this leaves them:
- The loss means Columbus drops one place in the East, with Philadelphia’s win pushing the Union into the top five.
- Toronto firms up its grip on third place, now sitting four points clear of the fourth place Red Bulls.