Patrice Bernier (PK) 34', Marco Di Vaio 45'+1
|TORONTO FC||0||1||1||Robert Earnshaw (PK) 68'|
|Cautions||Patrice Bernier 64'
Dennis Iapichino 67'
Jeremy Hall 21'
Richard Eckersley 90'+2
|Substitutions||Dennis Iapichino for Alessandro Nesta 12'
Collen Warner for Andreas Pisanu 72'
Sanna Nyassi for Andres Romero 85'
Kyle Bekker for Jeremy Hall 60'
Darel Russell for Ashtone Morgan 65'
Jonathan Osorio for Danny Califf 84'
Going in, many thought it wasn't going to be a pretty game, and turns out we were right. Two penalties, one to each team followed by a barely onside goal by Marco Di Vaio means that Montreal wins their third straight game, 2-1 in front of just under 38,000 at the Stade Olympique. It could have been an epic struggle for the ages, another glorious chapter in the illustrious history of the 401 Derby...except it turned out to be another episode of the should-have-been-cancelled-but-saved-by-some-unknown-force Baldomero Toledo Show.
Both teams opened with a bit of fire, likely incited by the heat of the Toronto-Montreal rivalry. Di Vaio would open hostilities with two angry shots at Joe Bendik within the first seven minutes, but then the tide turned and TFC began to pour on the pressure. Darren O'Dea would come close in the 15th minute on a cross from Hogan Ephraim, but that was as close as TFC would get in their period of sustained pressure, helped by the loss of Alessandro Nesta in the 12th minute, who was subbed out after an apparent injury.
Then, it all went to heck in a handbasket: Jeremy Hall would be called for a yellow for a questionable foul on Andrea Pisanu in the 21st minute. The pressure evened out for a little bit, until Andres Romero was taken down by Ashtone Morgan in the box in the 32nd minute. The referee was far from the action, and the linesman would be the one to point to the spot. Patrice Bernier would step up to convert it, and all the pressure from TFC collapsed.
Montreal would take that loss of pressure, and at the death of the first half Di Vaio would shake off two defenders to slot the second past Bendik. There was some debate as to if the Italian was to be ruled offside, but later replays showed that it wasn't. It was the only lapse in the Toronto back line (and probably one of the few calls Toledo got correct), Danny Califf losing track of Di Vaio along with Richard Eckersley and Jeremy Hall, and just like that it would be an 0-2 hole for the Reds to climb back out in the final 45.
But unlike the past, climb they did; Hall was taken out shortly after the half, replaced by Kyle Bekker. TFC continued to pour on the pressure, once again taking advantage of the absence of Nesta to try to find some way back. John Bostock would have a number of chances, but they would all be blocked. Ephraim would come the closest of all in 52nd minute with a shot that beat Troy Perkins, but only found the bar instead of the netting, and Earnshaw again pounced on a mistake, this time one of many poor clearances from Perkins, but the goalie recovered in time to just palm the ball wide of the post. In the end, it would fall to Toledo to make a difference, calling a very soft Dennis Iapichino foul on Terry Dunfield in the box for a spot kick. Robert Earnshaw would step up to convert, and the game was on at 2-1. But try as they might, TFC couldn't break through as the Montreal backline stubbornly clung on for the win.
It was a harsh loss, as this was one of the rare times that the Reds put together a full 90 minute effort. Granted, it is different when you are leading by two, but like Sporting Kansas City in the week before, TFC dug deep and fought back, and ultimately fell short. The attack could have definitely been a lot more potent, Bostock was absent for large parts of the first half, and Earnshaw was largely silenced. The defense was extremely solid, and besides the Di Vaio goal, gave nary an inch. As for the refereeing, there is little more we could say other than it was an atrocity, something that was capped off by the final whistle in the 94th minute, when the Reds had a throw in deep in Montreal territory. Even with the four extra minutes up, it made little sense -- kind of like most of Toledo's calls.
But bad refereeing or not, it will be the attack that Ryan Nelsen will be looking to tweak (or improve via signings) as the Reds enter their bye week, as TFC will need to find ways to make better advantage of their chances; especially as it will be the high powered LA Galaxy that will be visiting BMO Field on March 30th. The bye week will also be an excellent opportunity to rest some weary bones, especially after three consecutive weeks of playing on artificial surfaces. Plus, given the fact that Jay DeMerit has been lost to Vancouver and Nesta lost to Montreal, both on fake grass, this break is a godsend from the MLS schedule makers.
So take heart, TFC supporters. It may not have been the result that we may be looking for, but at least for the first time in recent memory, we were treated to a full 90 minute effort. If this is what we can expect from Ryan Nelsen's outfit, then to quote Oliver Twist, "please sir, may we have some more?"
* * *
WAKING THE RED'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/KICKS TO THE GROIN...
|Golden Trophy: Traveling Supporters||A new traveling supporter record!|
|Kick to the Groin: Baldomero Toledo||You call yourself a referee?|
|Golden Trophy: Terry Dunfield
||Won the penalty, got team back in it.|
|Kick to the Groin: Jeremy Hall||A bad day at the office, AGAIN.|
|Kick to the Groin: Defensive Corps
||It only takes one brain fart, guys.
|Kick to the Groin: John Bostock
||Johnny Bo, where were you?
|Shots on Goal||9||12|
|Shots on Target||7||5|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||81||76|