Toronto FC, Crew optimistic ahead of 2nd leg of East Final (Nov 29, 2017)
Which team has the advantage in Wednesday's decisive second leg of the Eastern Conference Final may depend on which side of the border you're on.
The first leg between Toronto FC and Columbus Crew went to a scoreless draw in Ohio on Nov. 21. Wednesday's match will be played at BMO Field in Toronto.
For Toronto FC, it was a good result because the team is back home where it lost once this season (13-1-3). The club played the Crew even last week despite missing suspended star forwards Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, who will play Wednesday.
The duo combined for 31 of Toronto's 74 goals (41.9 percent) and will spark an offense that did not register a shot on goal in the first leg.
"They're a completely different dynamic than any other team has," Toronto defender Drew Moor said.
The match will be the first for Altidore and Giovinco in 24 days.
"I'm excited to get back on the field," Altidore said. "You've got to look forward and take advantage of the opportunity."
There is some trepidation for Toronto because the total-goal series includes the away-goal rule. The Crew can advance to the MLS Cup with a win or a tie as long as goals are scored. If the Crew scores once, TFC must score twice to win; two Columbus goals mean TFC needs three and so on.
Another scoreless match would result in 30 minutes of extra time and, if necessary, a penalty-kick shootout. The onus, according to the Crew, is on Toronto to blank Columbus.
"I think they'll be under pressure because it's like they have two things to consider: To score and to not concede a goal," Crew midfielder Mohammed Abu said. "It's something that we have to know."
That's why Columbus feels it has the advantage.
"I kind of have that mentality that if we score a goal they have to score two, so it's very tough for (Toronto)," Crew forward Ola Kamara said.
Columbus will be handicapped by not having Brazilian midfielder Artur because of yellow card accumulation. Abu is expected to replace him.
The matchup pits the past two Eastern Conference champions. Columbus lost the 2015 MLS Cup at home to the Portland Timbers while Toronto FC was beaten by the Seattle Sounders FC on penalty kicks in last season's title match.
Either Columbus or Toronto on Dec. 9 will host the winner of the Western Conference Final between Seattle and Houston.