Just plane scary for TFC

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

It would be safe to conclude that Toronto FC was floating on air after its first victory of the season Sunday in Los Angeles.

But, about 30,000 feet somewhere over Nebraska on the flight home Monday, the team fell off its Cloud 9.

The team's plane had to make a forced landing at the Omaha airport.

"We panicked a bit. We had a lady sitting next to us and she actually starting crying she was so petrified," coach John Carver said yesterday.

It marked an eventful 48 hours for the franchise. It began with Jeff Cunningham scoring to give Carver his first MLS victory -- 3-2 over the L.A. Galaxy.

The addition of Amado Guevara saw dividends as he assisted on a goal in his first appearance in an FC uniform. Three games into its second season, FC showed, finally, more than just a glimmer of offence. Then, there was confirmation yesterday, as the team practised at BMO stadium, that defender Andrew Boyens had been released.

Meantime, general manager Mo Johnston will have to get his cellphone surgically removed from his ear, as he worked to find another striker before yesterday's 5 p.m. deadline for transfers of international players. After a morning practice in preparation for Saturday's home opener against Real Salt Lake, Carver checked his watch and said jokingly: "He'll have to get his (butt) in gear."

As opposed to a day earlier when they thought they might be kissing their backsides goodbye.

"I've never had anything that serious happen," Carver said of the plane taking them to Toronto developing hydraulic problems.

"As we came in to land everybody went quiet. Not much conversation and, I think Mo looked out the window and the police had stopped traffic on the motorway. When that happens you know it's serious. I could see the fire engines, ambulances but we hit the runway nice and smooth. Everybody starts applauding and the fire engine starts chasing us. Everything was okay, but those few minutes seemed like hours.

"(Media relations officer) Michelle (Lissel) was sitting next to a mechanic and he said he was petrified once they mentioned hydraulics. When you start thinking hydraulics you start thinking about a lot of bad things like are the wheels going to come down."

For Boyens, there had been early signs that the wheels were coming off his tenure with the Reds. The first-round pick in the 2007 SuperDraft started 21 games last year but became the victim of the franchise's growing pains. Tyrone Marshall and Marco Velez started the first three games.

"We're looking to improve and bring players in," Carver said. "You can keep only so many. I saw on the weekend that we're moving in the right direction. If we're bringing players in and raising the standard then players who are at the bottom of the standard will fall by the wayside. I know he played a lot last year but it's a sign of where we want to go."

Boyens, 24, didn't even make the L.A. trip.

"We got (2008 drafts) Julius James and Pat Phelan and, to me, both were ahead of Boyens," Carver said. "We have two replacements there. We've also got Olivier Tebily here and he has impressed me."

Meantime, the start of a five-game home stretch has Carver slightly conflicted. He's happy to be home. "Because of the fanatical fans here we can make this a fortress."

But, he also is wary of complacency. This is a young team that still must learn how to win, not just one game, but consistently.

"We've got to get back to business because it's easy for young players to get carried away with themselves ... start thinking they'll win just stepping on the field because it's our home game. We have to make sure we don't get that mind-set," Carver said. "Don't start thinking that you've cracked it. That's the worst thing you can do in this business. When you do think you've cracked it (the game) will kick you in the teeth. We can't afford to ease up."


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