Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter isn't revealing who will replace Federico Higuain, though forwards Ethan Finlay and Jairo Arrieta may help pick up the scoring slack.
With Higuain serving a one-game suspension, visiting Columbus looks to stay alive in the race for the Trillium Cup while denying Toronto FC its longest unbeaten streak of the season Saturday night.
Following a season-worst three-game losing streak, the Crew (4-4-4) have turned things around with a 3-all draw at Portland on May 17 and a 2-0 home victory over Chicago on Saturday.
Higuain led the attack with two goals and an assist against the Timbers before adding two more assists Saturday. The team's designated player has six goals and five assists, but won't be available after accumulating too many yellow cards.
The short-handed Crew will try to record consecutive wins for the first time since a three-game run to open 2014.
Berhalter told the team's official website there is no one person who can replace Higuain, though Justin Meram, Bernardo Anor, Ben Speas and Daniel Paladini could help fill in for the playmaking midfielder.
With Higuain sidelined, the Crew hope Arrieta and Finlay can continue their strong play after both scored against the Fire. Arrieta is second on the team with three goals, while Finlay has scored in each of the last two matches.
"It's hard to replace the MVP of the team right now, and you could put him up as the MVP of the league with how he's playing," Finlay said. "We'll do our best."
Columbus couldn't convert any of its five shots on goal versus keeper Julio Cesar in a 2-0 home loss to the Reds (4-4-1) on April 5. The Crew are likely to face Joe Bendik in this contest with Cesar playing for Brazil in the World Cup.
Columbus will need a positive result if its hopes to claim the Trillium Cup for the sixth time in seven seasons.
"It's a big game," Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen told the team's official website. "It's the Trillium Cup and we want to win that just as bad as the Amway Cup."
Michael Bradley and Issey Nakajima-Farran scored in Columbus to help Toronto to its second win in three meetings following a four-game losing streak in the series. Bradley, however, is away with the U.S. World Cup team and Nakajima-Farran has since been traded to Montreal.
Jermain Defoe and Luke Moore are expected to play after sitting out Wednesday's 1-all draw with the Impact in the Canadian Championship. Kyle Bekker, Justin Morrow and Mark Bloom also should retake their spots against the Crew.
Defoe leads the team with four goals, while Moore has scored in each of the last two matches.
They could have a tougher time against Columbus' Steve Clark, who earned his second shutout last Saturday and is second in save percentage (74) among MLS keepers with 11 or more starts.
Following Friday's 2-all draw at Sporting Kansas City, the Reds will try to extend their unbeaten streak to three games for the first time since July 20-Aug. 4. They snapped an eight-game home winless streak against the Crew during that stretch with a 2-1 victory July 27.
- Sports & Recreation
- Federico Higuain
- Columbus Crew
- Ethan Finlay
- Jairo Arrieta