The first match of the Trillium Cup belongs to the Black & Gold, along with all three points from Week 7 of the Major League Soccer regular season. Columbus Crew SC continued their four-game unbeaten streak at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night against Toronto FC. The Reds opened the scoring in the first half but, the Black & Gold emerged on top when the final whistle blew thanks to first-half goals by forward Ola Kamara and Justin Meram.
Columbus (4-2-1, 13 points) came into the match sitting at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference, whereas Toronto FC (1-1-4, 7 points) was resting in ninth.
The Reds opened the scoring with a Jozy Altidore header off a Victor Vazquez corner kick in the 21st minute, but Kamara equalized with a 37th minute tap in off an assist by the rookie midfielder Niko Hansen.
The Black & Gold kept the Reds at bay the remainder of the match with 28 clearances and 40 duels won. They also had an overall 80 percent passing accuracy.
The game-winner came in the 44th minute when midfielder Justin Meram cleverly placed the ball in the bottom corner of the net after Homegrown Player Alex Crognale headed a corner kick into the 6-yard box.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen and defender Nicolai Naess have played every minute for the Black & Gold so far this season, the only two players to do so. Steffen made three saves from inside the box and two diving saves. Naess connected on 26 successful passes in Crew SC’s half and made four clearances.
Midfielder Federico Higuain also returned to action in style after being sidelined for a week due to injury. He made a pair of assists to both of the Crew SC goals scored. The Argentine also made 32 successful passes in Toronto’s half.
Saturday night’s victory over Toronto FC marked the fifth straight match for Crew SC without a goal given up in the second 45 minutes.
Columbus Crew SC next visits the New York Red Bulls on April 22 for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The Black & Gold return to MAPFRE Stadium on April 29 for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and New York City FC.