Lower-tier team triumphs
TORONTO - The Toronto FC faithful at BMO Field are creative. Sometimes, they are even witty. Tuesday, they had their words shoved back in their mouths.
About halfway though TFC's Nutrilite Canadian Championship game against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the fans started to chant, "U-S-L, U-S-L." It was a reference to the Whitecaps' league, USL First Division, which is a step below TFC's Major League Soccer.
Well, score one for the little guy. Vancouver, on the strength of a controversial penalty kick, earned a 1-0 win over TFC on Tuesday, marking the first time TFC has lost at BMO Field all year.
"That's the way it looked to me today: that we could just go out there and go through the motions," an irate TFC coach John Carver said after the game.
"Nobody is safe at this football club. Nobody is safe. They better realize that."
The winner of the three-team tournament will go on to play a Nicaraguan team in the CONCACAF Champions League. Montreal has earned six points through three games. TFC has three points through two games, while Vancouver earned its first win to go with two losses.
Vancouver hosts the return match next Wednesday.
Tuesday, TFC players were left to complain about a result many of them felt was unjust.
Vancouver's lone goal came after TFC's Jim Brennan was called for hauling down Jeff Clarke in the box away from the ball on a corner kick. Martin Nash converted from the penalty spot in the 36th minute.
"These are days a professional athlete lives for," said Nash, a Canadian international. "That's why you do it. It's a treat for us. It was an amazing crowd and an amazing atmosphere."
Although Carver was reluctant to use the goal as an excuse, he did joke that the last time he saw an obstruction call on a corner kick away from the box was in 1945.
His players were a bit harsher of the official's call.
"[Clarke] went down awfully easy," Brennan said. "I was marking him, he was grabbing my arm and he's falling down and that's why [I] was frustrated because of the way he went down. I don't think it was a penalty at all. I don't think anybody thought it was a penalty. I didn't think it was a fair game."
Brennan also felt that Jeff Cunningham's would-be tying marker in the 81st minute should have counted. Instead, it was called offside.
Cunningham celebrated the apparent goal by taking his shirt off and jumping into the crowd.
"It's a bit embarrassing, eh?" Cunningham said, agreeing with Brennan that the goal should have counted.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008