Leading into Saturday's Major League Soccer regular-season opener, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney warned of Columbus midfielder Federico Higuain's abilities with the ball.
Vanney concerns proved valid, as Higuain scored the winning goal as the Crew beat Toronto 2-0 at BMO Field.
Gyasi Zardes had the other Columbus goal while Zack Steffen made two saves to help provide the clean sheet for Columbus (1-0-0).
"(Higuain) is very clever in terms of manipulating space and final passes," Vanney said on Thursday.
Higuain one-timed a Milton Valenzuela cross past a diving Alex Bono in the 44th minute. Bono dove to get his hand on the shot, but couldn't get enough to keep it out. Higuain now has 49 goals and 49 assists in 150 career MLS appearances.
Bono finished with two saves in the loss.
Toronto, which (0-1-0) lost just once at BMO Field all of the last regular season, drops to 4-5-6 against Columbus all-time at home.
The win gives Columbus a measure of revenge. It was the Reds who ended the Crew's 2017 season advancing 1-0 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference final before getting past Seattle in the MLS Cup. TFC also took two of three regular-season meetings between the teams.
Zardes doubled the Crew lead just a minute into the second half, getting his foot on a Pedro Santos through ball and putting it past Bono. It was Zardes' first goal as a member of the Crew after being acquired from the L.A. Galaxy in the off-season.
The Reds had a couple excellent chances to cut into Columbus' lead in half in the 65th minute.
Sebastian Giovinco's left-footed shot from a Michael Bradley feed from outside the area went off the post. Then Jozy Altidore had excellent chance off an Auro cross, but Zardes was there to block the shot off his face keeping the Reds off the board.
In the 78th minute Ager Aketxe, making his Reds MLS debut, had his shot hit the top of the crossbar.