Raise a little hell

Dallas' Pablo Ricchetti and Toronto Rohan Ricketts battle for the ball in the first half of action...

Dallas' Pablo Ricchetti and Toronto Rohan Ricketts battle for the ball in the first half of action between Toronto FC and FC Dallas at BMO Field Aug 3rd, 2008. (Dave Abel/ Sun Media)

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Holy Toledo!

Referee Baldomero Toledo emerged from yesterday's bedlam at BMO as public enemy No. 1 when he committed the cardinal sin of officiating.

Rather than let the players decide the game's outcome, Toledo became the story in the most bizarre of fashions that likely will reach Major League Soccer's executive level.

When the day had ended, Toronto FC was left to reflect on yet another frustrating defeat, this time a 2-0 setback to FC Dallas that pushed the Reds' winless streak to six games.

When the final whistle had been blown, TFC was reduced to nine players.

The team's newest addition, striker Chad Barrett, couldn't even finish the game after his fickle right leg cramped up in the second half.

"The game got spoiled," TFC captain Jim Brennan said.

It got spoiled because Toledo and his crew lost control and lost sight of their primary duties.

Typical of its recent run, TFC played well enough in the opening half to be leading, but a lack of finish kept the game scoreless at intermission.

The visitors seized control early in the second half, but to its credit TFC responded and seemed poised in reasserting itself.

Then came the silliness, triggered when the Reds' Amado Guevara retaliated by striking Pablo Ricchetti to the nose in the 78th minute.

Toledo awarded a penalty kick, even though it appeared that Guevara's infraction took place outside the box.

Guevara, who basically speaks no English, told an interpreter afterward that he heard a referee's assistant say the penalty occurred outside the penalty area.

Kenny Cooper would score on the ensuing penalty kick, his first of two on the day that moved the MLS all-star into a tie for the lead league with 13.

Guevara was given a red flag, which carries an immediate ejection and a mandatory one-game suspension.

Six minutes later, Marco Velez picked up his second yellow on a dubious play, meaning the Reds were down two men.

Fans began to hurl beer cans, water bottles and obscenities on to the pitch, where a TFC official, believed to be athletic trainer Carmelo Lobue, was ejected by Toledo.

It's customary to shake the hands of an officiating crew after the game, but none was to be had, as far as TFC was concerned.

"I've never, ever in my life not shook the hands of an official," TFC head coach John Carver said. "That's the first time I didn't thank an official.

"The fourth official (Jorge Gonzalez) was level-headed and sensible because it could have gotten out of hand.

"For me, the other guys on the pitch let us down."

Carver ran on to the field and got between Brennan and Carl Robinson as the two players closed in on Toledo.

"I've had problems with him (Toledo) before," Barrett said. "He's a referee and you have to play by his words.

"He was calling touch fouls and wasn't allowing us to talk to him. Sometimes you have to shut up and play and we tried, but when you give up a questionable P.K., it's tough.

"When you get down a man, it gets even tougher."

Just when one thought TFC's plight couldn't possibly get worse, it just might as it prepares for this Saturday's away game against Colorado.

Carver said the team is "quite close" to signing a striker, but is now in the market for a centre-half.

Guevara, who has history of losing his cool, and Velez will not play against the Rapids and TFC isn't exactly a road warrior.

"We're all frustrated," Brennan said.


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