Analysis: Jacen Russell-Rowe Helps Columbus Crew to Victory

MLS: Toronto FC at Columbus Crew SC With Jacen Russell-Rowe Scoring

Jacen Russell-Rowe, former TFC II and TFC III player was there when his team needed it. He scored the second goal for Columbus as Toronto now has lost eight straight games in MLS play and ten straight games in all competitions. TFC also concedes the Trillium Cup to the Crew for a second straight year.

Jacen Russell-Rowe Helps Columbus to a Well-Earned Victory

Columbus Crew SC Had the Better Scoring Chances

With 31 shots and eight on target, the Crew had the majority of the scoring chances. A lot of the chances created by the Crew were wasted. However, credit should be given for the amount of chances they were able to earn in the game. They found a way to get to dangerous areas to put themselves in good positions to score. The Crew was also more hungry for a goal as seen with the first goal. Darlington Nagbe’s shot was stopped, but Diego Rossi was there to put the rebound into the back of the net.

  • For example, after a TFC giveaway, Christian Ramirez got himself in a good position to score but was unable to capitalize.
  • Aidan Morris’ shot went straight to the TFC goalkeeper, Tomás Romero.

Columbus definitely deserved the win. The question is can they be more clinical on offence. Stronger teams in MLS are probably not going to give Columbus the same scoring opportunities. What can be said though was their ability to get into TFC’s box consistently and put pressure on TFC’s defence.

READ MORE: Three Takeaways: Trillium Cup Rivals Draw at BMO Field

Toronto FC Did Not Trouble the Columbus Crew SC Goalkeeper, Patrick Schulte, Enough

Once again, TFC did not start the game well as they did not get a shot on goal until the second half of the game. The trend of not scoring first now is unfortunately been a characteristic of the Toronto team as of late. That is not to say they did not have chances, as Lorenzo Insigne’s shot hit the post. However, it does show that Toronto still has trouble scoring goals, despite the Italians, specifically Federico Bernardeschi, creating some fantastic scoring opportunities for teammates. There were some chances including:

  • Bernardeschi’s shot in the 74-minute was saved.
  • Cassius Mailula’s header from the centre of the box was saved.

Mailula’s header was set up by Bernardeschi and Jonathan Osorio should be credited with the header pass to Mailula. However, in all the shots TFC fired most goalkeepers are expected to save. It also failed in comparison to the chances Columbus was able to create on the other end of the field.

Toronto FC’s Defence Was Not Sharp Enough

It felt like Toronto FC’s defence had trouble in a few different areas. One is to defend crosses coming into the box. The biggest concern though is the turnovers that led to dangerous scoring chances in their end of the field. A few examples include:

  • Bernardeschi gave up the ball in the 16-minute, Martinez had a scoring chance, but his shot was saved.
  • Michael Bradley gave away the ball in the 21-minute.

Yes, one can say that the Columbus Crew SC were wasteful with possession and TFC was not punished. However, Toronto played around with fire too many times giving free headers from corners and/or headers that need to be improved on. Also, on that second goal, Aimé Mabika needs to do better tracking Russell-Rowe, who got behind TFC’s defence to score the goal.

Other Factors: Toronto FC Had Some Good Defensive Moments and Jacen Russell-Rowe Steps Up

While TFC overall was not sharp overall, they did have some good moments in the game. Most notable, was Kobe Franklin’s fantastic tackle that prevented Columbus from having a very good scoring chance to score very early on. However, even with these good moments, Toronto did not defend nearly strong enough and gave Columbus too many scoring opportunities.

Also, this is the eighth-straight game in all competitions and the sixth-straight game in MLS play that Toronto gave up the first goal of the game. This was something that was not a problem earlier in the year for the team, but it looks like everything is falling apart for the Ontario capital city in MLS. What makes it worse is they lost back-to-back games to rival teams, as they lost to CF Montreal 3-2 at BMO Field the week prior.

As for Russell-Rowe, the former TFC II and TFC III player, showed what Toronto FC was missing as the former TFC product scored for Columbus. Also, the game saw Bradley make his 300th appearance for his club with Toronto.

This is what TFC head coach Terry Dunfield said after the game (source: James Grossi of Toronto FC):

“It was another difficult result,” said Dunfield post-match. “A similar story to our previous matches that the goals we conceded were unnecessary – we’re better than that in those moments. Tonight, against a very good side in Columbus, we created five or six very good opportunities and we should score one or two.”

Yes, offence is an issue with TFC, but the defence is the one that needs improvement sooner rather than later. If they can do that, regardless of the result, they could start from a better place when the 2024 MLS season kicks off.

Games Coming Up For Both Teams

READ MORE: Three Takeaways: Trillium Cup Rivals Draw at BMO Field

When including the 1-1 draw earlier this year, Columbus, as a result, wins their second-straight Trillium Cup over Toronto.

Both teams will play one more game in August. For TFC, they get to host the Philadelphia Union at BMO Field on August 30 at 7:30 p.m. ET. They will then also host their Canadian rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, at BMO Field on August September 16, also at 7:30 p.m. ET. This is while in this time period, Columbus will play three games on the road. They will face the Houston Dynamo on August 30 at 8:30 p.m. ET, before travelling to face CF Montreal on September 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET. They will then play at Exploria Stadium to face Orlando City SC at 7:30 p.m. ET on September 16. All games will be shown live on Apple TV.


Photo Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports, Cucho Hernandez Headshot on the left and Jacen Russell-Rowe Headshot on the right, on August 26, 2023.