Play-by-Play Plus: Observations from a positive result in Columbus and a look ahead to Toronto
Manager John Hackworth called Columbus one of the better MLS teams he has seen so far this year, and the fact that the Crew didn't win the game might say more about the Union than it does about Columbus.
Hackworth felt his club could have won the game with the number of good chances that they created, but the finishing touch just wasn't there, especially in the first half.
Once again it was Jack McInerney supplying the offense with his third goal of the season, helped by the play of Danny Cruz and Conor Casey.
Casey was a handful for Columbus and will only get better as he gets more familiar with his teammates. I like the fact that he is an unselfish player and should you be open and in a good spot, he's looking for you.
On the plus side, the Union got the road point, and limited the Crew to one goal. On the down side, the Union still does not generate enough possession, and have scored just one goal in every game with the exception of a two-goal game in Colorado.
Another plus for the team is Antoine Hoppenot off the bench. It's not just his work rate that makes him a factor, although that certainly helps. It's the timing of his runs, and his ability to find open spaces that must be of concern to opposing defenses, especially when a defender could be tiring later in the game when Hoppenot is fresh. He has excelled in a sub role.
We also saw Sebastien Le Toux enter as a substitute, which we had not seen before. Had this been a home game, he most likely would have been in the starting 11. For this road game, John Hackworth wanted two strikers, and surely wanted the physical Conor Casey in there versus two big Crew central defenders in Chad Marshall and Glauber. Hackworth also wanted and needed to keep Jack McInerney in the starting lineup because of the young forward’s recent form.
Saturday’s lineup against Toronto FC should be interesting…
Do the Union go with three attackers, putting Le Toux back in with McInerney and Casey, or will Hackworth have to decide to sit one out?
How healthy are Michael Farfan and Danny Cruz?
Will we see Kleberson make his MLS debut on Saturday?
This is a much better Toronto team than in previous years. Head Coach Ryan Nelsen has done his part to change the culture of the team, north of the border.
Bringing in better players has helped, with the best one so far being Robert Earnshaw. The Welsh international already has four goals in his first five games. Toronto is coming off a 2-2 draw at home against Dallas where they scored two late goals to preserve the point.
For sure it's a game they would have lost one year ago.
Former Union captain Danny Califf is now with Toronto. Califf missed the last game with a stomach virus, but was a starter in Toronto's first four games.
At one point when a team would play Toronto at home, you might figure on an easy three points. That is clearly not the case with this year’s club. The Union can't and won't take Toronto lightly.
See you at PPL Park on Saturday.