TFC -V- Salt Lake : Reds come up short!
The stats show another entry in the loss column, but as strange as it may sound, and as far as TFC losses go, this one was easier to take than most given that we battled hard and just came up short after failing to take our chances.
[singlepic id=11841 w=320 h=240 float=right]Ryan Nelsen can blame the referee – who did seem to have a second half brain fart – for a blown penalty call, and he did! However, in all honesty, it has to be said that both teams had chances, and RSL took advantage of the hardest of the lot to score an excellent goal just on the stroke of half-time. TFC on the other hand came up short, partly due to some acrobatics from Nick Rimando on the few occasions he was called into play, and partly because of poor finishing.
This was the 7th time TFC have taken on Salt Lake at BMO field (6 times in MLS, once in CCL) and was the first time RSL had secured a victory, as well as the first time they have scored an MLS goal in Toronto !! Previous to this match it had been three 1-0 wins for TFC in MLS, two 0-0 draws in MLS and a 1-1 CCL tie. (away from home it is a different story with RSL securing 6 wins from 7 games and outscoring the reds 18-8).
[singlepic id=11891 w=320 h=240 float=left]This tie normally throws up a lot of bookings, but perhaps surprisingly, until this match there had been no red cards between the sides in MLS play. Although both teams have tallied 26 yellows apiece in their 14 games, only ‘Mista’ had been shown red up until now, and that was in the CCL game between the sides in Salt Lake in 2010. Doneil Henry and Tony Beltran are now added to the list for a bit of a scuffle late in the second half. This was Doneil’s second red of the season and he now tops the MLS ‘bad boy’ charts, ahead of 35 other players who each have a single red. This card also ties him with 6 other TFC players who have received two reds during their TFC career (Boyens, DeGuzman, Eckersley, Emory, Sanyang, Velez).
[singlepic id=11867 w=320 h=240 float=right]As mentioned above, coach Ryan Nelsen has commented on referee Chris Penso blowing a call on what he thought was a ‘stonewall’ penalty for a foul on Brockie. Putting aside my TFC bias for just a moment, which would of course see me agree wholeheartedly with Nelsen, I would go as far as to say that “I have seen them given for less” rather than say it was a stonewaller, and that Brockie himself was a little fortunate not to be carded for a few little nudges and trips of his own, especially one on Rimando in the first half. However, looking at Penso’s stats going into this game, it also seems he is not afraid to point to the spot – he has done is 14 times in 39 games – so maybe Nelsen is being a little unfair on the man in the middle! In general, I thought Penso, refereeing TFC for the second time in his MLS career, seemed to have a decent first half then blew it big style in the second. His stats going into this game were 39 games officiated, an average of 23.1 fouls called per game, 2.8 yellows per game, a total of 8 reds in 39 games, and those 14 penalties. In his 2 TFC games, he has called 50 fouls, issued 10 yellows, shown 2 red cards, and awarded 0 penalties. His totals from Saturday were a lot higher in terms of yellow cards (6), Red Cards (2) and Fouls (27) than his average.
[singlepic id=11856 w=320 h=240 float=left]A couple of bright spots for this game – again, the performance of Jonathan Osorio continues to impress. The young man seems to be a bit of a star in the making and some (but not all) of his play shows a maturity beyond his years. He has the odd lapse, which is expected of a youngster, but overall he has been an excellent addition to the first team squad. The other plus from this game, and at the other end of the age scale, is Danny Koevermans making his first start since suffering his ACL injury on July 14th 2012. He still has to get his eye in, score that goal, and dispense with the “ring-rust”, but he does look fitter and more “up for it” than he did prior to his injury.
And so it is onward to a meeting with Montreal on Wednesday night at BMO. Montreal suffered a ‘TFC like’ loss at home on Saturday, going down 3-4 to Colorado who scored through Tony Cascio in the 5th minute of second half injury time but they still sit atop the Eastern standings 17 points ahead of TFC. A tough game indeed, but TFC should need no further motivation than it being against Montreal !