Canadian clubs desperate for results as winless streaks continue for Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver
Fullback limps off pitch; Montreal allows 4 goals to defending champions NYCFC
Lucas Zelarayan scored one goal and helped set up the other as the Columbus Crew rallied to defeat an understrength Toronto FC side 2-1 in Major League Soccer play Saturday in Ohio.
Goals by Zelarayan in the 56th minute and Derek Etienne Jr. in the 65th negated a 14th-minute strike by Spanish forward Jesus Jimenez with Columbus (2-0-1) coming on strong in the second half to overcome a bright start by Toronto (0-2-1).
The margin of victory could have been larger had substitutes Gyasi Zardes, in the 70th minute, and Luis Diaz, in the 80th, not misfired on excellent scoring chances.
It was a fast-paced, end-to-end game on a chilly afternoon at Lower.com Feld that saw snowflakes falling at times.
WATCH l Toronto FC falls to Columbus:
Jimenez's early goal, his second in as many games, gave Toronto its first lead of the young season as Columbus failed to deal with a Luca Petrasso corner. Jonathan Osorio found Alejandro Pozuelo on the left edge of the penalty box and the Spaniard's cross found an unmarked Jimenez, who headed it home from in front of goal.
Toronto 'keeper Alex Bono made a magnificent reflex save in the 54th minute to deny a Jonathan Mensah header off a Columbus corner.
But two minutes later, Zelarayan beat Bono with a low shot from just outside the penalty box for his fourth goal in three games. And Columbus began to take control.
The Argentine star midfielder played provider in the 65th minute with a free kick that Mensah headed back across goal, where an unmarked Etienne fired a shot that pinged off a defender and past Bono. Toronto may well feel hard done by the foul call against Jayden Nelson on Pedro Santos that provided the set-piece opportunity.
Undermanned Reds switch to back 3
Zelarayan has scored in his last six matches dating back to Oct. 27, a stretch that has produced eight goals, including three game-winners, as well as three assists.
With star centre back Carlos Salcedo suspended, and fullback Jacob Shaffelburg sidelined by a leg injury, Toronto switched to a back three.
Chris Mavinga, who started the season opener alongside Salcedo, was unavailable after taking a knock to the knee in training. Fellow centre back Shane O'Neill, who started last week, was also dealing with a knock but made it on a seven-man bench that included two goalkeepers.
In contrast, Columbus fielded the same starting 11 for the third straight game.
Toronto coach Bob Bradley dropped captain Michael Bradley, his son, into the backline alongside Lukas MacNaughton and Kadin Chung, who were making their first TFC starts. The two Canadian Premier League alumni had fine games.
The Toronto starting 11 featured seven Canadians with Noble Okello, making his first start of the season, slotting into the midfield.
TFC's injury woes continued when distraught fullback Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty limped off in the 12th minute.
Teenager midfielder Kosi Thompson made his TFC debut, coming off the bench in the 82nd minute along with striker Jordan Perruzza, who made his first appearance of the season.
Toronto was coming off a 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls in its home opener. TFC kicked off the season with a 1-1 tie at FC Dallas.
New York City FC 4, CF Montreal 1
Santiago Rodriguez delivered a pivotal goal in a 4-1 win for defending champion New York City FC over visiting CF Montreal.
Rodriguez's goal put NYCFC (1-1-1) ahead for good at 2-0 in the 20th minute.
NYCFC also got one goal from Alexander Callens, one more from Talles Magno and another one from Thiago.
Zachary Brault Guillard scored for Montreal (0-3-0).
NYCFC outshot Montreal 13-9, with nine shots on goal to one for Montreal.
Sebastian Breza made five saves for Montreal.
These teams take to the pitch again Saturday, with NYCFC hosting the Philadelphia Union while Montreal visits Atlanta United.
WATCH l Callens opens scoring on beautiful play in NYCFC's win over CF Montreal:
Houston Dynamo 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 1
Darwin Quintero scored a goal in each half to spark the Houston Dynamo to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS action on Saturday.
Canadian international Lucas Cavallini notched a goal — Vancouver's first of the season — in the 14th minute to stake the Whitecaps (0-2-1) to a 1-0 lead.
"I think we showed a lot of attitude and character today," Cavallini said post-match. "You can lose a game, but you can't give up. We didn't, we were constantly trying to attack, had some great chances and unfortunately, couldn't get the tie."
WATCH | Darwin Quintero scores twice as Dynamo blast Whitecaps:
Quintero pulled the Dynamo (1-1-1) even in the 33rd minute when he caught Vancouver goalkeeper Thomas Hasal out of postion and scored on a tap-in.
Quintero scored the game-winner on a kick from outside the box in the 50th minute. It was the Dynamo's first win under new manager Paolo Nagamura.
Houston was held scoreless in its first two matches.
The Dynamo outshot the Whitecaps 8-4 and had a 4-1 edge in shots on goal.
With files from The Associated Press