A hated rival is never an easy thing to come by. Conference rivals? Piece of cake. Regional rivals? Dime a dozen. Crosstown rivals? Rare, but too accessible to be any fun.

For two teams to aspire to any kind of hated status, they must endure years of hard fought battles, devastating eliminations and humiliations.

Or, in the case of Columbus, cops can Taser a fan and call it a day.

The Columbus Crew are the closest thing Toronto FC have earned in that hated category.

Last year, Toronto fans endured watching the ‘sCrew’ win the Conference title, MLS Cup and Trillium Cup — but it’s an unmentionable the Reds have yet to earn better than a tie.

Columbus, for it’s part, has grown sick of the yearly Northern Invasion —where 2,000 Toronto fans make the trek down to chant “This is our house.”

The Crew will make their trip north to BMO Saturday and for the first time, it is Toronto, atop the Eastern Conference, who is in a real position to take three points from the ‘hated’ rival — now a basement-dwelling side.

Dwayne De Rosario, who has been out the past two games with a hamstring injury, appears close to returning — where he fits into a formation that is giving opposing sides fits, will be the first tough test for coach Chris Cummins.

But, even if he’s ready, don’t expect him to be rushed back.

Toronto has its focus squarely set on the Canadian Nutrilite Championships this year — which opens on Wednesday.

They were embarrassed last season when the lower division Montreal Impact advanced to represent Canada at the CONCACAF Champions League.

Expect DeRo to be ready and fit for that, because the only thing worse than losing to a hated rival is losing to the supposed underdog.

DeRo & Dichio

Dwayne De Rosario returned to training Thursday while veteran striker Danny Dichio left early. Dichio seemed to hurt a leg during a scrimmage. “We just pulled him out as a precaution,” interim coach Chris Cummins said. De Rosario was back in action after missing two games with an injured hamstring. “We’ll see how he is in the morning with regards to playing on the weekend,” Cummins said.

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