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?

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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.”

ATOMIC CAN’T

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.”

ERNEST DOROSZUK/TORONTO SUN

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.

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