TFC’s next opponent, Columbus, ‘riding a little wave of emotional destiny’ ... Reds stand by Altidore ... Would Giovinco have made a difference in Italy’s World Cup bid?
TORONTO — The Columbus Crew have been more lucky than good in these playoffs.
You need to be a bit of both to advance in Major League Soccer’s post-season.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” coach Greg Vanney said of TFC’s next playoff opponent. “I think they’re a good team. I think they create problems with the ball. I think they’re pretty organized defensively, but have made a few mistakes here and there that have cost them in moments.”
Both Atlanta and New York City squandered chances to change the complexion of playoff fixtures that eventually went the Crew’s way.
“The opposition (Columbus) has played against hasn’t executed in key moments of games,” Vanney added.
Atlanta’s Josef Martinez struck a post from point-blank range during a first round game that Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen eventually won for his team in penalties. New York City’s David Villa struck the opposite post in a conference semifinal that easily could have gone the other way.
“Steffan has had a good playoff run so far. That always helps,” Vanney explained. “But I think they’ve had a combination of everything. You need some breaks in the playoffs. And you have to do your job.”
Despite conceding 59 shots over three games and scoring three of their four playoff goals against 10-man City, fifth-seeded Columbus has found a way to survive during these playoffs.
“I think they’re riding a little wave of emotional destiny that maybe this team is going to get something accomplished,” Vanney said. “It’s up to us to execute when we do get the moments and see if we can’t come back to Toronto in a good position to try and close out the series.”
ALTIDORE DECISION LOOMS
Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore was red carded for “violent conduct” during halftime of the return leg against New York Red Bulls.
In filing their appeal to the league late last week, Toronto FC insisted there’s no evidence to back up a fourth official’s claim that Altidore and Sacha Kljestan exchanged more than a few shoves.
“I would love for what both players have said and for what witness accounts are and what we’ve seen on video to be enough evidence for the appeal to carry,” Vanney said. “That’s what I would like to have happen but I’m not sure if that’s what’s going to happen.”
One of Italy’s most gifted attacking players wasn’t called upon throughout World Cup qualifying.
Sebastian Giovinco could only watch as his Azzurri teammates crashed out of World Cup qualifying this week after falling 1-0 on aggregate to the resolute Swedes.
In failing to score in back-toback UEFA playoff games against the Scandinavians, Italy conjured up just three goals through its final five qualifiers, leaving some to ponder if the Atomic Ant could have saved his country.
“What I know is that he’s extraordinarily talented,” Vanney said of Giovinco. “I don’t know the details of Italy’s player pool enough to say that he should be in, but I think over the course of the last couple of years his not being involved is probably something of an oversight on their side because given their recent dearth of goals they need guys who can score goals in different ways.
“(Giovinco) can do it on a set piece he can set up other guys, he can find little crafty areas and put things in the back of the net. I think his omission from the team for the last couple of years means they’ve lost a guy who can be an incredible boost when you need something on the attack side.
“He’s been so far removed because of that that it’s ultimately their loss.”
Giovinco has appeared 23 times for Italy, scoring once.
“Would he have made a difference? It’s impossible to say,” Vanney added. “But what I know is he has and incredible amount of talent on the attacking side. It’s very likely he could have helped them in this situation.”
Italy, which failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958, didn’t call TFC striker Sebastian Giovinco to join the team.