July 25th, 2024

Columbus Crew cruises to 4-0 win, hands slumping Toronto FC a sixth straight loss

By The Canadian Press on July 6, 2024.

Toronto FC forward Federico Bernardeschi (10) chases down a ball during the second half of their MLS soccer match against Orlando City SC in Toronto, Wednesday, July 3, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Diego Rossi had a goal and two assists and Cucho Hernandez and Christian Ramirez each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Crew extended Toronto FC’s losing streak to six games in embarrassing fashion with a 4-0 win Saturday.

Canadian Mo Farsi also scored for the defending Major League Soccer champions. Columbus (11-3-6) has won four straight, outscoring their opposition 15-1, and eight of their last nine league games, by a 27-7 margin.

In contrast, a depleted Toronto (7-13-3) is now winless in nine games (0-7-2) and has just one victory in its last 12 league outings (1-9-2). TFC’s last league win was May 18, a 5-1 decision over visiting CF Montreal.

Toronto has been outscored 17-4 during the losing streak.

And after picking up 10 of a possible 15 points from its first five games of the campaign (3-1-1), John Herdman’s team has collected just 14 of a possible 54 in the 18 games since (4-12-2).

Hernandez put Columbus ahead in the 15th minute, rising above Derrick Etienne Jr. to head home a Rossi corner for his 11th goal of the season. It was the seventh goal in six games for the Colombian forward.

The goal came three minutes after Toronto defender Kevin Long put the ball in the Columbus net, heading home a Federico Bernardeschi corner, only to have the play blown dead by referee Ted Unkel. The infraction appeared to be the corner bending into touch en route to the goal.

Hernandez and Rossi hit the repeat button off a corner in the 29th minute. But the goal was disallowed after video review for a pick play on Etienne, who was blocked by Columbus’s Steven Moreira from marking Hernandez on his run.

Columbus almost made it 2-0 in stoppage time with Long, under pressure from a Columbus player, almost knocking the ball into his own goal before goalkeeper Sean Johnson came to the rescue.

Ramirez doubled the lead in the 52nd minute, taking a pass from Hernandez though a static Toronto defence before swivelling and firing a shot that deflected in off a defender for his fifth of the season.

The pain grew for Toronto in the 81st minute as its defence was breached too easily again. Ramirez found Rossi in the penalty box and he headed the ball over to Farsi to head home.

Rossi made it 4-0 in the 85th as the Toronto defence was carved open on a counter attack with a trio of defenders failing to clear the ball, leaving Rossi to knock it home.

Columbus went into weekend play in third place in the Eastern Conference, five places and 12 points ahead of Toronto – and with three games in hand.

Columbus had lost just one of its previous 21 regular-season home matches (14-1-6). And Toronto had not won in the Ohio capital since May 2017.

Herdman made three changes to the starting 11 that lost 2-1 to visiting Orlando – with the Toronto coach saying the mid-week defeat had to be a “turning point.”

It wasn’t. Instead there was more of the same.

Bernardeschi captained Toronto with fellow Italian Lorenzo Insigne, who had looked short on energy in the dying stages of recent matches and was dealing with a knock to the ribs, starting on the bench. Insigne came on in the 60th minute.

Long, back from suspension, and fellow defender Shane O’Neill slotted in, as did wingback Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, who delivered some dangerous crosses. Wingback/centre back Raoul Petretta shifted to central midfield to fill in for the hard-nosed Honduran Deybi Flores, suspended for yellow card accumulation.

Toronto’s injury list included wingback Tyrese Spicer and midfielders Alonso Coello and Brandon Servania.

Captain/midfielder Jonathan Osorio and fullback/wingback Richie Laryea are with Canada at Copa America, as is Columbus forward Jacen Russell-Rowe.

Canadian wingback Mo Farsi, a former Cavalry FC player, started for Columbus.

The Crew had a chance to go ahead early when Christian Ramírez was put behind the defence in the eighth minute, but shot high. And the home side dominated the first half with 61.5 per cent possession, outshooting Toronto 6-2 (3-1 in shots in target) and holding a 5-1 edge in corners.

Toronto’s current run was summed up early in the second half when the ball rolled into touch where Herman was stationed in the coaching box. Herdman bent down to retrieve it, only to see it go though his legs, to the delight of the fans behind him.

UP NEXT

Toronto’s next game is Wednesday at CPL champion Forge FC in the first leg of their Canadian Championship semifinal.

Columbus visits Western Conference-leading Los Angeles FC on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2024.

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