Feeling defenceless

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Toronto FC started yesterday's Major League Soccer match against Chivas USA at BMO Field with just one defender and nine other regulars missing due to international duty.

At the 45-minute mark, a collection of reserves, loaned players and even a callup of TFC's chief scout Tim Regan, had held its own -- the score was 1-1.

But by the time the second half had begun, TFC was down to no defenders after Marco Velez was red carded in stoppage time for retaliating to an elbow from Chivas forward Alecko Eskandarian, who was also sent off.

Just 12 minutes later, Chivas's Jonathon Bornstein had scored the go-ahead goal from inside the penalty area, beating 'keeper Brian Edwards.

Chivas then scored a goal in added time from Ante Razov to make the final 3-1.

The result, however, was not a true measure of the play, as TFC outshot the visitors 14-11 overall and held a 10-6 edge in the all-important shots on goal.

TFC coach John Carver was not about to complain about the effort from his subs.

"Look, I had three players out there who I didn't even know until (Friday)," he said.

The three -- 39-year-old Ricky Titus, 19-year-old Derek Gaudet and Vancouver Whitecaps defender Diaz Kambere -- were given special permission to play by MLS.

TFC's predicament came as a result of World Cup qualifying matches this weekend and the national teams callups of Jim Brennan and Greg Sutton (Canada), Marvell Wynne (USA), Amado Guevara (Honduras), Julius James (Trinidad & Tobago), Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica), Jarrod Smith (New Zealand) and Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala).

"This is absolutely the worst week I've had in 25 years of professional football," Carver said. "When (MLS) is the only league still playing games during World Cup qualifying, you know something must be done."

MLS bosses in New York already have agreed that next season they will not make the same scheduling mistakes, but for Carver that is water already under the bridge.

"You know we gave ourselves a chance to win (yesterday)," Carver said. "But given our situation sometimes even that is not enough as we proved against Chivas."

TFC struck first in the 30th minute on Tyler Rosenlund's first career MLS goal on perfect passes from Chad Barrett to Rohan Ricketts and back to Rosenlund.

BLUNDER

But Chivas responded with a goal of its own in the 41st minute by Daniel Paladini, who took advantage of a blunder by Kambere.

When the second half began without Velez it was only a matter of time before Chivas went ahead, which it did on Bornstein's goal in the 58th minute.

Carver expressed his displeasure at the retaliatory nature of the Velez red card.

"Plain and simple, (Velez) let his teammates down," the coach said. "Eskandarian was going to get a red card and we would have been one man up going into the second half. Instead, Velez retaliates and we lose our only defender."

Carver was also blunt in his assessment of the team's play under his stewardship.

"When I came here, I wanted to give the fans the best side possible," he said. "I don't think I've done that. Yet look out there and the fans are still cheering. It's fantastic.

"All I can do is guarantee those fans that just as this team is better than last year, it will be even better next year."


Videos

Photos