"I’m having a go at the referee today, because his performance was a disgrace."
To say that Toronto coach John Carver was frustrated by the 3-2 loss to FC Dallas would be an understatement.
For once, there was nothing TFC could have done after conceding yet another late goal, with referee Tim Leyland giving a controversial penalty to the home side six minutes from time.
MLS All-Star Kenny Cooper blasted the ball past Stefan Frei to secure Dallas’s first victory of the season.
The penalty was awarded after David Ferreira ventured into the area and flicked the ball onto the forearm of defender Marvell Wynne. The Reds fullback had no chance of getting out of the way. As Carver noted, "I’m sure the referee couldn’t change direction with his hands in his pockets."
The late goal offset the effort put in by the Reds, as they battled back impressively from a first half in which Dallas controlled the game to take a two-goal lead.
Drew Moor started the scoring in the 20th minute, after the Dallas defender lost his marker in the box to head home past Frei. Just minutes earlier, Moor had saved his team at the other end, blocking a Chad Barrett shot and clearing the ball after his goalkeeper, Ray Burse, fumbled a Sam Cronin cross in the area.
Dallas continued to dominate play and were rewarded with a second goal in the 44th minute. Dwayne De Rosario, playing despite being questionable with a hamstring pull, gave away the ball to Ferreira, deep in the Toronto half. The Columbian passed the ball to Cooper, who drilled a low shot home from 22 yards out.
Toronto appeared to be facing an uphill task. However, right on the stroke of halftime, they won a corner, which Amado Guevara played right over the penalty area to recent international retiree Carl Robinson. The Welshman, who was all alone, crossed the ball into the six-yard box for former Dallas player Adrian Serioux to bundle over the line.
TFC were boosted by the goal and came out firing in the second half. Their endeavour was rewarded just before the hour mark.
Fuad Ibrahim, another ex-Dallas player, who was making his second consecutive start, hit a deep diagonal ball into the opposition’s half. Midfielder Guevara was involved again, heading the ball onto Barrett, who raced towards goal after beating the offside trap. With only goalkeeper Burse in front of him, the American finally ended his goal-scoring slump, slotting home to level the game at two-a-piece.
The goal appeared to justify his coaches’ continued faith in him, especially after Barrett had wasted an opportunity earlier in the game to help give Toronto the lead. On eleven minutes, he was put through by another Guevara header. Unfortunately the striker decided to shoot for goal, blasting the ball into the side netting when two team-mates were better placed to score.
Ultimately though, it was the late penalty which resulted in Toronto’s first away defeat of the season. Further bad news came as Canadian international De Rosario went off with a re-occurrence of his hamstring injury, meaning he will miss the next match at home to Chivas USA.
It will be a tough game against the team with the best record so far in 2009. Toronto will need a similar fighting spirit to that displayed in this game if they are to gain anything from what has now become an important fixture.