TFC still has life

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Toronto FC came close to stealing three points from Major League Soccer's best team, but in the end had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Columbus Crew at BMO Field yesterday.

The point TFC earned, however, keeps the team in the hunt for a playoff berth with six matches left to play in the regular season.

Going forward, TFC trails Real Salt Lake by five points for the final wild-card spot.

Coach John Carver came away from the game in good spirits saying that his team has lost only once at full strength to the Crew in three games, a feat no other MLS team has accomplished this season.

"We've now laid down a benchmark," Carver said. "I think that has told me that when I can get everybody together we can actually achieve something this season."

It's the first game in four where TFC has had all of its starting players -- with the exception of a suspended Marco Velez -- on the pitch since World Cup qualifying began earlier this month.

And it was one of those frequent flyers -- Wales international Carl Robinson -- who played the hero yesterday, putting a perfect shot behind Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer on a perfect cross from Amado Guevara in the game's sixth minute.

"Well, it's all on Amado. Amado is a great player, everyone sees it," Robinson said. "He's thinking one step ahead, and I knew every free kick we have he's always up to something, he's always thinking."

For Robinson, it was a fitting ending to two days of hopping around the globe just to make the game after playing Wednesday in Moscow for Wales against the Russian national team.

He said it was a nightmare:

" A four-hour flight, three-hour time difference back (to Cardiff); I missed the last flight to London from Cardiff so I had to fly back Friday -- so it was another three hours in the car (to London) and catch a seven-hour flight to Toronto," Robinson said.

In the 40th minute, however, a defensive miscue by Tyrone Marshall left TFC 'keeper Greg Sutton helpless on a goal from Pat Noonan -- who was filling in for the injured Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

But it was Sutton who would save the point for the Reds after Marvell Wynne was called for a foul in the penalty area. The foul resulted in a penalty shot, which was taken by Alejandro Moreno.

Moreno tried to fool the TFC 'keeper with a fake left and came back right but Sutton stretched his 6-foot-6 frame to grab the ball before it could cross the line.

Carver said that Sutton -- who added a baby daughter to his family last week -- has been playing like that all season.

"I think he's happy back playing football after a few rounds of feeding the new baby," Carver said.

TFC newcomer Hunter Freeman played his first match since being traded from the New York Red Bulls on Friday and came away impressed with the team and the fans.

"It was great, the fans were awesome, playing in that atmosphere -- even when you get tired you can feed off their energy," he said. "I think we're all disappointed because not only did we deserve to win, but it was there for us to win."


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