TFC, Crew set to battle in Trilium Cup clash

Columbus, OH ( - Star-studded Toronto FC will shoot for its second straight win of 2015 on Saturday when the club travels to Mapfre Stadium to face Columbus Crew SC in the latest edition of the Trilium Cup.

It's safe to say that Toronto FC won the offseason this winter with the high- profile signings of U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore as well as former Juventus midfielder Sebastian Giovinco. Pair them with Michael Bradley and it looked as if Toronto would have an excellent squad.

But money spent does not always equal success, so the question remained as to how all the new pieces would fit together.

The club's opening match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC seemed to dispel those lingering questions as Altidore netted a pair of goals to go with one from Robbie Findley in a 3-1 win.

Vancouver struck first through Octavio Rivero on 19 minutes, but TFC was level in the 32nd minute when Giovinco did well to free himself from his mark before sliding a cutting through ball to the feet of Altidore, who rounded Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted and fired it into the empty net.

Another high-profile signing, former Marseille star Benoit Cheyrou, put his mark on the match in the 59th minute when he played an excellent ball down the left wing to Justin Morrow. Morrow got to the ball at the end line and whipped it across the face of goal where Findley was in the right place at the right time to smash it into the roof of the net.

Altidore completed his double two minutes from time when he beat Ousted with a penalty kick in stoppage time after bring brought down in the box.

"Jozy played like a monster out there," TFC head coach Greg Vanney told the league's official website. "The ball he took down and how he took it down and protected it when he got brought down for a penalty kick was a world-class play. I think the people who were questioning Jozy probably got a real quick image, now, of what he is capable of and what they're going to see a lot more of in this league."

Things didn't quite get off to a great start for Columbus, which retained a strong core of players from last season and made smart additions to the roster in forward Kei Kamara and defender Hernan Grana.

Columbus traveled to BBVA Compass for a season-opening date with the Houston Dynamo and fell to a 1-0 defeat.

Houston grabbed the lone tally in the 66th minute as defender Kofi Sarkodie got to the end line, cut inside and squared it to Giles Barnes, who made no mistake from close range, ripping it into the roof of the net, leaving Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark with no chance to make a save.

Despite the loss, Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter took away plenty of positives.

"Well I think that was just it, the finishing touch. We did a lot good in the game and unfortunately scoring wasn't one of those things," Berhalter said. "Because I think overall, I'm pretty pleased with the performance. But one moment of lax defending, and then not being able to finish off some chances -- and to credit their goalkeeper, he did a really good job."