By: Ed Hitchins
Toronto FC heads into hostile territory tonight, after a regular season where they established a new record for points and captured the MLS Supporters Shield.
The first leg of the Eastern Conference final takes place at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio against the Columbus Crew.
Managing Editor of the Toronto FC blog “Waking the Red,” Oliver Platt, said that one of the other players needs to take charge with the clubs two biggest scorers unavailable.
“They’ve had a couple of good results away from BMO,” Platt said. “Obviously a 4-0 result in L.A. in September was a good result. Forwards Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts will be key for them.”
Platt said they will play a tighter type of game plan to try to ensure a tie heading back to Toronto for the Eastern Conference final’s second leg, scheduled for November 28.
“It will be a kind of strategy to play to get the draw and head back to Toronto. With their defence and the bulk of their lineup available, they can play disciplined and grind out results.”
Platt expects about 1,000 fans to make the trip to Ohio to cheer the team on, and said that disciplined play will help quite a lot.
“The key is to slow it down the first 20 or 30 minutes, take the crowd out of it.”
For some, including journalist and diehard Reds fan Ian Harvey, it’s been a long time coming.
“I’d say we’re right where we need to be,” said Harvey. “I’ve been a season ticket supporter since 2006, when tickets first went on sale. We don’t need a win, we just need to get an away goal.”
“A draw or a 2-1 loss would be fine. We just need an away goal heading back home,” he said.
In getting one of those possibilities, TFC will have to do so without their biggest stars: Forwards Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore are sitting out, each suspended after card violations in previous games.
A brief infographic regarding Toronto FC’s season is featured below.