By: Toronto FC Report






Scoring Summary


CCSC – Federico Higuaín 44’ (Milton Valenzuela, Artur)


CCSC – Gyasi Zardes 46’ (Pedro Santos)




Misconduct Summary


CCSC – Cristian Martínez 24’ (caution)






Toronto FC:  0-1-0     0 pts.


Columbus Crew SC: 1-0-0     3 pts.






TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Gregory Van der Wiel, Eriq Zavaleta, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow; Michael Bradley ©, Ager Aketxe (Nicolas Hasler 79’), Jonathan Osorio (Marco Delgado 71’), Victor Vazquez (Auro JR 53’); Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco


Substitutes Not Used: Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Jay Chapman, Tosaint Ricketts




COLUMBUS CREW SC – Zack Steffen; Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar, Milton Valenzuela; Artur, Wil Trapp, Cristian Martínez, Federico Higuaín (Alex Crognale 88’), Pedro Santos (Luis Argudo 77’); Gyasi Zardes


Substitutes Not Used: Logan Ketterer, Ricardo Clark, Héctor Jiménez, Eduardo Sosa, Adam Jahn




Media Notes:


  • Toronto FC is 4-7-1 all-time in season openers
  • Toronto FC is now 6-5-1 all-time in home openers








Can you identify where that game got away from you a little bit?


I think the first half was clearly not in the vision of what we wanted. We wanted to have more of the ball in the shape we were playing. When we don’t then it’s not necessarily the most efficient defending system. The point of it and the way we set up is to be able to have more midfielders, have more possession of the ball, to be able to get the ball up the field and create chances. To get numbers up the field so we can oppose defensively up the field. Between just lack of execution and not really being able to expose the space behind him because the wind knocks the ball down. Lack of execution just in A, sharpness and B, bouncy, little things like that, meant that the first half we spent a fair amount of it like they did in the second half and they spent a fair amount of it in our half the field. It’s hard to get into the space behind which then backs up their back line and creates the pockets underneath when you want to try to possess or play out of things. Then we gave up a goal at the tail end of the first half, so now you’re going into halftime with a different feeling. We needed to make some adjustments and then we don’t even get into the second half before we given up the goal that really makes you have to chase the game more. In the last 2-3 minutes of the first half and then last 2-3 minutes of the second half obviously defined the result, they don’t define the game but they do define the result. The second half we made an adjustment to press the game a bit higher, change our shape and went way more aggressive on the defensive end. Took more risk at the back but the net result of that was in far better places. We started to attack up the field, we were in and around their goal and box a lot more, probably 2 or 3 clear cut chances that we need to punish them for those opportunities, they punished us for our mistakes and we needed to punish them for theirs. We didn’t and when that happens you don’t come away with a win. I think there’s a lot of takeaways throughout the course of the day, things that we are going to, obviously, have to build on.  I think that there are lessons learned, we move forward and it’s all a part of the process. It’s also a reminder that every year is a new year and you’ve got to start again and build. It’s a good reminder that we already knew but it’s a quick reminder.




Greg, did you get more clarity tonight or more confusion given that you want to play with the 4 back or 3 back, do you want to start a certain one guy over the other guy ahead of the big game?


For me it’s clarity, to be fair I’m not over the moon disappointed because I think there is a lot of information that is usable for me and for us as a team coming out of this and going into a series where we’ve got to be a little sharper than we were today for sure, but there’s a lot of information deemed after these last few games that we will utilize as we move into another series.




What did you think of van der Wiel today?


Yeah, I think he was feeling everything out, to me it seemed like he was getting a sense of how high should I be, how deep should I be, getting a feel for the league, getting a feel for the opposition. Tactics, I think at times and as he goes I think we will see a more aggressive Vander Weil. Again, it’s hard as an outside back to be aggressive when the team is losing the ball quickly, especially in a diamond. Therefore, he’s taking on positions that are very responsible to help us in the transition defensively. Therefore, you become a little less aggressive, in the second half we changed his role, and I thought he did a solid job in that role given what we needed in the second half. But again, I think some of his qualities show out, some of the things we want to see from him came out and his overall mentality going forward will continue to evolve.








Thoughts on the game?


We had a good preseason, mentally we are in a good way. When you play a game on a day like today, obviously wind plays a big factor and, look, these are aren’t excuses, they are realities in terms of things that factor into the game. We gave away bad goals at bad times, and you put yourself behind the 8 ball in a big way, on a difficult day. I thought our response after going down 2-0 was excellent, we pushed and played more or less the entire second half in their half of the field. We are able to press and play, re-press and get after them. I think if we can get to 2-1, I think the likelihood is that we are going to have a few big chances to make it 2-2. But we couldn’t do it today. There is no place else to look other than ourselves, we understand we have to be better, we have to continue to get better, get sharper and grow into the season in a big way because this is the what a lot of days will be like. In the moment, we put this behind us quickly and get ready for a huge game on Wednesday night.




What was it like before the game, sharing last year’s win with the fans again?


It is important for our fans and everybody connected to the club to be able to look back on last year and everything that went into it. It is our job now to make sure that we put ourselves in a position to do it again. We couldn't hold up our end of the bargain in that regard today and ultimately that doesn’t leave a good taste in anyone’s mouth. But it is game one, or game three and it is a long season. So even with the frustration we don’t lose sight of that and now we got a huge game on Wednesday that we are going to get ready to really go after it in a big way.








Thoughts on the match …


First half was tough with the wind, they kept us pinned in our half more than we are used to and more than we wanted to. To be fair to them, they had a fairly organized press that they had been working on in the off season, they got a couple chances out of it and were able to capitalize on it at the end of the first half, which is something we don’t want to happen. Obviously early in the second half we get into a position where we should have ended the play earlier and now they get a good chance and score a goal. Credit to them and the pressure that they had and I think a lot of the factors played into it but we just weren’t ourselves today.




Why do you say that?


We are a team that likes to dictate the game, enough stretches of the game we did not do that the way we wanted to. We weren’t good enough in both boxes, whether that be us finishing chances or preventing them from scoring goals. I think that is what the game comes down to, it is all about what happens in execution in both boxes and some of that we have been really good at over the course of the last couple of years. We weren’t today but we look forward to Wednesday.








How did you view your performance today?


I thought it was good. Our guys were confident and overall it was a good game. They had an edge on us from a fitness standpoint and you saw that from the 70th minute on they kind of took over but overall the guys were poised and we played well.  




How important was that first goal in the 44th minute to get into halftime with the lead?


Yeah because we had some chances and it was nice to go into halftime with the lead and the guys got confidence from that and we carries it over to the 2nd half.




You said a few times this week that come 3:00 this Saturday you’d have a better idea of where you stand so where do you stand?


What I noticed from the group was that they were calm. They were calm about the performance and that’s good. We know were not a finished product and we’re gonna get better so that’s good.








Thoughts on the game.


I thought we played really good. From a possession standpoint from creating chances and defensively playing agile I thought was excellent. Then we got that goals to end the first half and start the second half and we lost a little bit after that but the ability to see it through in this tough environment was key.




1st half it was evident that you guys weren’t gonna sit back today. How important was it to be aggressive not only in the first half but at the start of the second as well?


We had the wind to start the game and that helped us a lot to build out of the back. Defensively we won some balls in good spots and we transitioned well but I thought our collective defending and attacking was really on point.




This is the first time you’ve started the season with a win since 2014, does having 3 points to start the season put you ahead from previous years.


It’s hard to win games, it’s hard to win games on the road especially against the def ending champs. Being better away is something we’re trying to focus on this year. Being away and scoring 2 goals and getting the shutout, and a win is a great start.








How do you think you did today?


We did a great job, everybody knew what to do today and I’m very happy with this first win and to start the season this way.




On Zardes’ goal to start the 2nd half, what did you see on that play?


We saw on video that when he’s 1 on 1 with the centre back I know where he’ll go so I put the ball there and he went and got it.




Coach said that at halftime he told you guys to press and get that second goal. How important was that goal right after halftime for you?

We knew that Toronto would press and try to score a goal so I think the second goal almost killed the game and for us it gave us more confidence for the final 45 minute