The defending champions didn’t quite open their title defense how they wanted to.
Thanks to goals from old talisman Federico Higuain and newcomer Gyasi Zardes Toronto FC’s first league game after lifting MLS Cup ended in a 2-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew.
Towards the end of a first half mostly devoid of scoring chances for either side, Higuain opened the scoring in the final two minutes of the frame. Milton Valenzuela picked out the Argentinian streaking into the penalty area, where he promptly half volleyed a ball through Alex Bono into the goal from about the penalty spot.
The Crew weren’t done after the break. Less than a minute after the restart, Pedro Santos threaded a perfect through pass to a rushing Zardes, who was able slot home past Bono with ease.
The Reds nearly got on the board at the 65 minute mark when Giovinco looked to curl a shot into the net, but he was slightly off target and it smacked the far post. Auro nearly put the rebound home, but a slew of Columbus defenders intervened and were able to clear the danger.
Jozy Altidore had another chance at a goal in the 79th minute when he slipped free of the Crew backline, but dragged his shot just wide of the target.
None of the other minor opportunities they had came to fruition and the match ended 2-0 in favor of the Crew.
Toronto will lick their wounds and head into a Champions League clash against Tigres UANL of Mexico on Wednesday at BMO Field with the second leg in Monterrey six days later. They have next weekend off and return to MLS action on March 17, with a 401 Derby at Montreal Impact on Saturday.
Columbus, meanwhile takes the triumph and heads back to Ohio for their home opener against the Impact next Saturday evening.
MAn of the match
Gonzalo Higuain was in vintage for for the Crew. He scored their first goal of the season and generally dictated play when he had the ball.
moment of the match
Toronto was still in the game at the break despite Higuain’s goal, but a through pass from Pedro Santos picking out Gyasi Zardes less than a minute after the restart shaped the second half in a way that made it very difficult for the Reds to construct a comeback.
match to forget
Victor Vazquez was poor during his 53 minutes of action. His passing was off, therefore he failed to set-up the two powerful attackers in front of him. He only took one wayard shot on the afternoon before he was subbed off with a minor injury shortly into the second half.