Toronto FC-Crew Preview

After two straight draws to start a very busy stretch, the

Columbus Crew know that won’t be enough in their bid to reach the

playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.

Federico Higuain will make his home debut for the Crew on

Wednesday night when they face league-worst Toronto FC.

Columbus (8-8-6) began a stretch of seven games in 22 days last

Wednesday in its first action following the passing of 22-year-old

midfielder Kirk Urso, who was pronounced dead in the early hours

Aug. 5 after collapsing at a downtown Columbus bar and

restaurant.

This game against Toronto FC (5-14-5) was pushed back from its

original Aug. 11 date, with Columbus attending Urso’s funeral that

day.

The Crew returned and drew 1-1 at home against Los Angeles last

Wednesday and 2-2 at Houston on Sunday, blowing second-half leads

both times.

Columbus is in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 30

points. D.C. holds the East’s fifth and final playoff spot with

37.

“We felt we should have six (points) for sure,” coach Robert

Warzycha told the Crew’s official website. “We feel like we let

these games get away from us.”

Higuain played the entire second half Sunday in his club debut,

and the Argentine forward assisted on Eddie Gaven’s go-ahead goal

in the 58th minute. The Crew’s newest designated player signed July

27 before immigration issues delayed his arrival.

“My first game went very well,” Higuain said. “I felt very

comfortable on the field.”

Higuain could receive his first start for Columbus, which was on

course for the victory before allowing a tying goal in the 82nd

minute.

“From those 45 minutes, it’s pretty obvious he can play,”

midfielder Cole Grossman said. “When you have a guy who can combine

like that and has really good vision it adds another

dimension.”

Toronto FC interim coach Paul Mariner is unsure who he will have

available Wednesday as his squad will play its third match of seven

in 18 days.

“The schedule is crazy because we just don’t have to time to

work on stuff because we have to rest the legs, we don’t want them

to be on the legs too much,” Mariner said. “You say, you want to

play a possession game, well how much passing do you do? Well we

don’t do enough, we don’t do enough practice because we can’t, and

that’s frustrating.”

It’s been a challenging season for Toronto FC, which has been at

or near the bottom of the league throughout with coach Aron Winter

resigning June 7. The club has seen numerous players come and

go.

The latest Toronto player to debut was Irish defender Darren

O’Dea, who played the entire game Sunday in a 1-0 home loss to

Sporting Kansas City. O’Dea flew to Toronto after being with

Ireland’s national team in mid-week.

Nineteen-year-old defender Doneil Henry is likely out after

leaving Sunday with a leg injury for Toronto, which is 0-3-1 in its

last four.

Columbus won 1-0 in Toronto on March 31 in the first 2012

meeting.