Protect our flair players, Carver says - National Post

Mark Masters

Call To Officials
 
TORONTO - A war of words has emerged between Toronto FC coach John Carver and Vancouver Whitecaps coach Teitur Thordarson ahead of their crucial CONCACAF Champions League qualification match.

Carver said the Whitecaps took liberties with his team's top players during the 1-0 Vancouver victory at BMO Field last week.

"The game plan when we played at home against them was pretty obvious to everybody," Carver said. "Our flair players were eliminated as soon as they got in possession of the ball so I felt like we didn't get any protection" from the referee.

The first-year Toronto FC coach said he wants the officials to handle tomorrow night's rematch in Burnaby, B. C., differently.

"I just hope whoever the official is will be strong enough to deal with that and give us an opportunity to show teams what we can do."

Carver made the comments yesterday afternoon following his team's final training session before heading to Vancouver. When word of Carver's criticism reached Vancouver later in the day, Thordarson hit back.

"I think that's bulls---talk. I can't understand it," Thordarson said. "I think he should just focus on his own way of playing instead of blaming others."

The Iceland native, who is in his first season as the Whitecaps coach, said Carver's routine of protesting about the officiating is getting old.

"He [complained] all the game through when we were playing there, and I can't stand it. We play a high-pressure game, and I know they're not very comfortable with that. And that's not our problem, that's their problem."

The rising tensions between the two sides may have a lot to do with the closeness of the competition, one that many expected Toronto, the only Major League Soccer team taking part, to waltz through. The Whitecaps and Montreal Impact are both in the United Soccer Leagues, a tier below MLS.

The Impact (2-1) sit atop the three-team group with two wins against Vancouver (1-2) and one home defeat at the hands of Toronto (1-1).

In the final round robin game, Montreal visits Toronto on July 22.

Defender Tyrone Marshall may have given the Whitecaps more locker-room fodder when he said his teammates were eager to show why they belong in the continent's elite league.

"There's a sense of urgency seeing as they came in and got a good result," Marshall said. "Just a sense to go out and show who's in the higher league and basically bring our expertise in and take care of business."

Toronto FC may be in tough tomorrow, especially after it was disclosed the club will be without leading scorer Danny Dichio. The striker suffered what the team believes to be a concussion during the game against Vancouver last week.

Defenders Olivier Tebily and Todd Dunivant will sit out, both with ankle injuries.