Carver hits out at officials - Toronto Star

Morgan Campbell

TFC coach wants his top players 'protected' against the Whitecaps

Toronto FC hasn't even kicked off with the Vancouver Whitecaps yet, and TFC head coach John Carver is already beefing with officials.

Eight days ago at BMO Field Carver remained silent while his players ripped officials for questionable calls at crucial moments in TFC's 1-0 loss to Vancouver.

But yesterday Carver used the team's website to issue some pre-emptive criticism toward officials before tonight's Canadian Championship tournament match.

"I just hope we get some protection for our quality players," Carver told the website. "Their game plan when we played at home was obvious to everybody. Our flair players were eliminated from the game, and didn't get any protection. I just hope that the officials are strong enough to deal with that and see what is happening."

A foul called against TFC's Jim Brennan set up the penalty kick that Vancouver's Martin Nash converted for the game's only goal. Afterward, Brennan said the referee allowed a diving Whitecaps player to dupe him into calling the foul.

Later the referee's assistant disallowed an apparent goal by Jeff Cunningham when he ruled the play offside.

Carver also blamed himself for fielding an unmotivated team that was outhustled and outplayed by the Whitecaps in the first half.

Injuries and suspensions have combined to ensure that TFC fields fresh faces in Vancouver tonight.

Striker Danny Dichio is still in Toronto, suffering from concussion symptoms, while Brennan's Canada Day yellow card means he'll sit out tonight.

With two games remaining in the three-team Canadian Championship, TFC trails Montreal by three points. A Toronto loss tonight only enhances Montreal's chances of earning a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League when the Impact visits BMO Field July 22.