Angel haunts TFC's effort

Toronto FC's Danny Dichio goes up for the ball against New York Red Bulls' Carlos Mendes in MLS...

Toronto FC's Danny Dichio goes up for the ball against New York Red Bulls' Carlos Mendes in MLS action last night. (Sun Media/Craig Robertson)

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

Seagulls flapped about BMO Field the entire game, but the Angel of Death needed just two minutes to spread his wings and sweep up Toronto FC.

What had been a solid first half against the New York Red Bulls, with a whiff of upset in the air, was ruined by Juan Pablo Angel's goals in the 69th and 71st minutes last night.

The high-priced Bulls emerged 2-1 winners, getting the last laugh on the rowdy sellout off 20,113 fans, tossing some rubbish back into the stands, while Toronto coach Mo Johnston said there had been a "scuffle" between a few players in the tunnel after the whistle.

"Handbags," Johnston said of the seriousness of the incident. "But we held our own."

But he and captain Carl Robinson were less forthcoming about their take on referee Tim Weyland's work. Without going into details, they felt New York defender Markus Schopp should have been given a red card instead of yellow for a first half tackle on Andy Welsh. There also was a question of whether the Bulls' Jozy Altidore had stumbled or was knocked down by Andrew Boyens, resulting in Angel's free kick.

But the difference between TFC (3-6-1) and New York (6-2-2) was evident from that point, as Angel expertly curved his shot over the Toronto wall and completely fooled goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic who was lined up on the opposite post.

"You see the class ... you can't teach that," Johnston said of Angel. "He was hard to control even on corner kicks. That team has a lot of stars."

Two minutes later, some miscommunication in front of the TFC net resulted in Angel's shot glancing off Jim Brennan, who has ceded the captaincy to Robinson on a rotating basis.

"Jim went to clear it and it hit the bottom of his foot," Robinson said. "Two goals in quick succession like that took us 10 to 15 minutes to recover from. But for the last 20 minutes we played well and almost scored."

The day before, Johnston implored his players to make the most of their chances, believing Saturday's 2-1 win over Colorado could've been a three-goal margin had their been some better finish.

"This game was a learning curve for us," Johnston said.

"The last three weeks or so, we were on the up. You're asking me why we couldn't hold a lead against them, but (the question alone) is encouraging."

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA

The early part of last night's match followed the same plot, as Toronto ran down many loose balls and demonstrated some fancy dribbling to spring attacks.

But attempts to find forwards Danny Dichio or Jeff Cunningham were thwarted, until the 22nd minute. Welsh came down the left side with an angle on goalie Jon Conway. Anticipating a shot, the Bulls momentarily forgot about Cunningham, who buried the pass for his fourth of the year and first for Toronto in his third game since a trade.

Johnston continues to work around the absence of Canadian nationals Adam Braz and keeper Greg Sutton and the suspended Kevin Goldthwaite. Johnston revealed after the game that Sutton suffered a mild concussion when hit by a ball in practice at the Gold Cup in Miami.

TFC plays again a week Sunday at BMO , an afternoon match against FC Dallas.

"This game was a learning curve for us," Johnston said. "The last three weeks or so, we were on the up. You're asking me why we couldn't hold a lead against them, but (the question alone) is encouraging. I felt we created a bunch of chances and the guys hung in there."


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