Columbus Crew boss Wilfried Nancy knows his side need to “manage the momentum” this season ahead of a home MLS encounter with Toronto FC at the weekend.
The Crew head into the clash on the back of a big win against D.C. United and are looking to assert their credentials as potential contenders this term under the former CF Montreal man.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Nancy has outlined the challenge his team can expect from their rivals over the border, and expects his side will need to discover how they can stay positive in the face of setbacks this year.
“To stay on task, the idea is to stay focused,” he said. “If we have the momentum, it can be good for us. It is not easy to play at home, because if everything goes bad, it can be really difficult.
“We have to manage the momentum. It’s one of the most difficult things to keep and coach. [Toronto] is a good team, with really good players. We’re going to have to do everything in order to win.
“We will focus on this, and correct two or three things. They’re not the same style. It’s going to be a difficult game. It will be good to see how we will be resilient against a good team.”
Opposite number Bob Bradley meanwhile hopes his side can show their resolve in eking out results after they took a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United in something of a lackluster encounter.
“The good part is where the football is not really good, where we struggled to connect, [and yet] pick up a point,” he added. “To take a point in that way is positive.
“It’s early in the year. It’s a team point that the group can feel good about and then we will keep working on the rest.”
The Crew did the double over Toronto last term, winning both fixtures 2-1.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Toronto – Federico Bernardeschi
The Italian scored the Reds’ lone goal in their 1-1 draw with Atlanta on Saturday, his second straight game with a goal.
Only one player has scored in each of his first three MLS appearances of a season for Toronto – Jozy Altidore with four in 2019, though he missed the team’s first game that year.
Columbus – Cucho Hernandez
Lucas Zelarayan may have scored both of the Crew’s goals in the 2-0 win over D.C. on Saturday but his team-mate led with six attempts.
Between them, Hernandez and Zelarayan have taken 17 of the 19 shots Columbus have attempted in their first two matches this year.
MATCH PREDICTION – TORONTO WIN
Columbus have won their last three matches against Toronto, all by 2-1 scorelines. Prior to this run, the Crew had managed just two wins in their previous 14 meetings with the Reds (including playoffs) going back to the start of 2016 (D5 L7).
Toronto FC ended a six-match losing streak that dated back to last season with a 1-1 draw at Atlanta on Saturday. The Reds, who lost their final two home matches last season, have not lost three straight home matches in all competitions in over a decade, since dropping five in a row at BMO Field in March-May 2012.
Columbus picked up their first win of the season on Saturday, beating D.C. United, 2-0, at home. The Crew went through all of 2022 without recording consecutive wins, collecting a draw in the match following each of the club’s 10 wins last season.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
Toronto: 38.2 percent
Columbus: 32.7 percent
Draw: 29.1 percent