Columbus Crew picked up all three points in the first game of the 2018 MLS season at BMO Field against the reigning champions.
Toronto looked rusty in the opening stages of the game as they allowed Columbus to dominate large periods of the first half.
The Crew’s pressure paid dividends just before the half-time interval when the ever-reliable Federico Higuain popped up to give Crew a 0-1 lead going into the break.
Toronto will have come out in the second half in the hope of being much improved from the first where they were very lacklustre. Although, that hope was quickly dented when Crew doubled their lead just a minute into the second period. Pedro Santos played a delicious inch perfect pass into the feet of Gyasi Zardes who finished brilliantly.
I have been a critic of Zardes in the past, but to his credit, he played brilliantly leading the line for Columbus and he worked hard. If he can continue to finish like that and build a tally of goals, he will be a great replacement for Ola Kamara who joined LA Galaxy during the off-season.
Midway through the second half when Toronto were chasing the game, Sebastian Giovinco struck the post with a curling effort and somehow the Crew managed to clear their lines.
The Crew had a penalty shout in the second half which would have given them a chance to make it three but the referee didn’t give it. It was a clumsy challenge from Gregory van der Wiel on Santos, I thought it was a clear penalty as there was no attempt to win the ball.
In the end, Columbus saw out the game and claimed the victory while also keeping a clean sheet. Crew will be buoyed by the result as it’s one of the toughest games in the MLS calendar. Toronto were disappointing today but they will bounce back for sure.