The last time Toronto and Columbus squared off, the Reds earned a dominant 5-0 victory on May 29 at BMO Field, also minus the availability of Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore – the club’s top two goal scorers this year with 16 and 15 regular-season goals, respectively. Víctor Vázquez, the top assists man in 2017 with 16, stepped up in that meeting with a brace. Vázquez and forward Tosaint Ricketts (7 goals, 1 assist during the regular season) will be key focal points offensively in Tuesday’s opener.
In this battle between Greg and Gregg – TFC head coach Greg Vanney and Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter – Toronto holds the regular-season series lead in 2017 with a 2-1-0 record. Berhalter’s side has peaked at the right moment, entering the MLS Cup Playoffs as a No. 5 seed and posting a pair of upsets. Crew SC eliminated MLS newcomers Atlanta United in the Knockout Round, highlighted by a strong goalkeeping performance by rookie Zack Steffen, and then tallied four goals to oust No. 2 seeds New York City FC in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Can Toronto continue to add to its record-breaking season or will Crew SC’s momentum carry over and put a damper on No. 1 seed TFC’s accomplishments?