TFC aims to spoil party

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Toronto FC is in Columbus, Ohio, today, needing to take a lesson from the brethren Maple Leafs on being rude home opener guests.

The hockey team had to watch the Detroit Red Wings raise the Stanley Cup banner back in Game 1 in October and responded with a win. This afternoon, TFC will watch the Crew presented with the 2008 MLS championship shield.

"It's their first home game, it's a big deal for them, but hopefully we can go in there and spoil the party," coach John Carver said prior to departing for Crew Stadium.

"The fact we have two guys in the heart of our midfield out (Carl Robinson and last Saturday's two-goal man Amado Guevera have FIFA international commitments) is a little bit concerning, but (other) guys have a chance to prove themselves."

Columbus also has three players off on World Cup qualifying missions, but sadly for TFC, league MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto isn't among them. He had the Crew's lone goal in a come-from-behind 1-1 tie in Houston last week.

"A great player and he's proved it many times," Toronto midfielder Dwayne De Rosario said. "His confidence is high right now and we have to be very mindful of him. Most of their goals come off his playmaking or off his foot, but Columbus isn't made up of Schelotto, it's made up of several great players.

"It will be a real step up from Kansas City and playing away again."

TFC beat the K.C. Wizards 3-2 and Carver spent much of this week trying to keep heads from swelling.

"This is where the hard work starts," he warned. "I watched their game against Houston, they were down one nil, got their back into it and actually could have won it. Schelotto we all know about and it's more or less the same side they had out last year. The coach (Robert Warzycha) was the assistant there last year and they play exactly the same way, with energy and ability."

De Rosario, TFC's hometown star, caused the whole bench to shudder when he turned awkwardly over on his ankle early in K.C., but that he muddled through and nearly scored on a penalty kick was just the kind of gumption Carver hopes will rub off.

"He never stopped chasing the ball, he caused (K.C.) all sorts of problems by running in behind them," Carver said. "They weren't sure how to handle him."

In a light moment, Carver was asked if he'd settle for a point today, considering the calibre of opposition.

"After last year's record (1-7 in the first eight road games), absolutely."

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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