Twice the Columbus Crew took the lead on Saturday afternoon, but the team were ultimately undone by their defense in a 3-2 loss to Toronto FC. Goals from Justin Meram and Agustin Viana were nullified by a double from Jermain Defoe, while Doneil Henry headed in the winner in second half stoppage time.
The Crew - which have now won just one of their last ten games - were forced to shuffle their lineup again. They had to replace two of their three central midfielders because of a suspension to Federico Higuain and an injury to Wil Trapp. Dan Paladini and Agustin Viana were the replacements, but it was Tchani who took the reins. The back line was similarly scrambled, as Michael Parkhurst returned to the center alongside Tyson Wahl while Josh Williams and Chad Barson played out wide.
Toronto, likewise, had some continuity issues to address. Steven Caldwell was suspended after his ejection in Kansas City, while central midfielder Bradley Orr was forced to withdraw in the 19th minute with an injury. Coach Ryan Nelsen also shuffled his attack, turning to Luke Moore in place of Brazilian forward Gilberto.
Columbus struck first in the 18th minute. Moments after Jermain Defoe flubbed an open header in front of goal, the Crew countered quickly through the efforts of Tony Tchani, Jairo Arrieta, and Ethan Finlay. The latter found Justin Meram on a run from the left flank, and the former Michigan forward cut inside his marker and struck confidently past goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
The visitors' celebration was short-lived, however. Jermain Defoe snuck into position between Wahl and Parkhurst, fluidly receiving a pass and turning into space behind the defense. Wahl tugged on Defoe's arm in desperation, and the Englishman twisted to the ground. The penalty was inevitable, and although Steve Clark got a hand to Defoe's attempt it was struck so powerfully that it still found the back of the net.
Columbus found its way back into the lead, but not until an hour into the game. Substitute Ben Speas' corner kick in the 65th minute was met by Agustin Viana, and his header inside the far post gave the visitors a deserved lead.
Falling behind a second time sparked Toronto into a pair of changes that paid off significantly for the home team. Forwards Gilberto and Dwayne De Rosario came into the game within six minutes of the second Columbus goal. Gregg Berhalter countered by replacing holding midfielder Agustin Viana with rookie Fifi Baiden in his first professional appearance.
Toronto's offensive gamble paid off in the 81st minute with a rocket from Jermain Defoe. Gilberto hassled Michael Parkhurst into misplaying a clearance, and poked the ball forward to Defoe in enough space to shoot with his first touch past Clark.
The closing minutes were increasingly desperate for the Crew, and the dam finally broke in stoppage time. Following a free kick earned by Dwayne De Rosario, the winning goal came from Doneil Henry battling past Bernardo Anor and Chad Barson for a headed shot that caromed in off the far post.
The loss gives Toronto FC the Trillium Cup for just the second time in its seven-year history, and drops the Crew to a 4-5-4 (W-L-T) record. Their 16 points from 13 games played leaves them in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of New York.
Columbus will return to action this Wednesday as the team hosts Real Salt Lake at Crew Stadium. Their busy week then continues with a trip to play DC United next Saturday.
Timeline of events
5' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - short, header saved)
7' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - headed out)
18' 1-0 Justin Meram (Ethan Finlay)
19' Daniel Lovitz replaces Bradley Orr
21' Penalty kick, Jermaine Defoe fouled by Tyson Wahl
21' 1-1 Jermaine Defoe (penalty kick)
39' Caution, Michael Parkhurst (professional foul on Jackson Goncalves)
60' Caution, Agustin Viana (dangerous tackle on Daniel Lovitz)
61' Ben Speas replaces Dan Paladini
65' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - goal)
65' 2-1 Agustin Viana (Ben Speas)
66' Caution, Joe Bendik (dissent)
66' Gilberto replaces Jackson Goncalves
71' Dwayne De Rosario replaces Jonathan Osorio
73' Fifi Baiden replaces Agustin Viana
77' Caution, Gilberto (late tackle on Michael Parkhurst)
80' Caution, Kyle Bekker (dissent)
81' 2-2 Jermaine Defoe (Gilberto)
83' Caution, Tyson Wahl (professional foul on Jermaine Defoe)
89' Corner kick, Toronto (left side - punched by Clark)
89' Corner kick, Toronto (right side - headed clear)
90' Bernardo Anor replaces Ethan Finlay
91+ Corner kick, Toronto (left side - headed clear)
92+ 2-3 Doneil Henry (Daniel Lovitz)
93+ Caution, Doneil Henry (removing shirt)
Steve Clark, Josh Williams, Tyson Wahl, Michael Parkhurst, Chad Barson, Agustin Viana (Fifi Baiden 73'), Tony Tchani, Ethan Finlay (Bernardo Anor 90'), Dan Paladini (Ben Speas 61'), Justin Meram, Jairo Arrieta
Matt Lampson, Eric Gehrig, Hector Jimenez, Dominic Oduro
Joe Bendik, Doneil Henry, Justin Morrow, Mark Bloom, Nick Hagglund, Bradley Orr (Daniel Lovitz 18'), Jackson Goncalves (Gilberto 66'), Jonathan Osorio (Dwayne De Rosario 71'), Kyle Bekker, Jermain Defoe, Luke Moore
Chris Konopka, Jeremy Hall, Alvaro Rey, Andrew Wiedeman