Toronto, ON – A pair of struggling sides get together at BMO Field on Saturday as Trillium Cup rivals Columbus Crew and Toronto FC square off.
Columbus enters the match having lost three of its last four games, while Toronto sits just three points from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and is riding an eight-game winless streak.
Toronto's record might not indicate how competitive the club has been this season, but Ryan Nelsen's side has yet to concede more than two goals in a game, while none of TFC's five defeats has come by more than a goal.
But Toronto is one of just two teams in MLS that has yet to keep a clean sheet this season, and Nelsen feels it is toughness more than anything that is preventing his team from getting the type of result it needs.
"We haven't had a clean sheet yet. No team has played through us or broken through us or stretched us or won any one on ones or scored from outside the box," Nelsen said. "We are just too soft and we have to be hard. We have to change that and we will change that. We're bringing in players who will know how to defend and who will have the confidence to get on the ball when the pressure is on."
If the Reds want to reverse their current run of poor form, the club will also have to overcome some recent history against Columbus that is not too favorable.
The Crew has lost just once in 15 all-time meetings with TFC, while Columbus is unbeaten at BMO Field.
Columbus has struggled over the past few weeks because the club is not scoring goals.
But head coach Robert Warzycha isn't worried about his team creating chances, rather it is the lack of finishing that has been the problem.
"I think we created chances but we need to score goals, simple as that, Warzycha said. "I think we played good enough to win the games. You score the goals you get the points, [if] you don't, then obviously it's very difficult. We scored three [goals] against D.C. and we got the points, and we didn't score against New York and we didn't score today. Like I said before, I think we created enough chances, but whoever is supposed to put the ball in the net misses."
After a 12-game home unbeaten streak dating back to last season, the Crew lost two of their three games during a three-game homestand, so maybe a trip away from Crew Stadium will do Warzycha's men some good.