Own goal and out

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

A 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo at BMO Field yesterday has all but eliminated Toronto FC from Major League Soccer playoff contention for the second consecutive season.

To add insult to injury, it was an own goal off the noggin of TFC defender Hunter Freeman past goalkeeper Greg Sutton in the 23rd minute that drove the final nail into the post-season coffin.

The most unfortunate part of the result is that TFC played its best soccer in months in the second half of the game, out-chancing the two-time defending MLS champion by a wide margin.

Only the superb goaltending of Vancouver native Pat Onstad kept the Reds off the board until the 73rd minute, when Marvell Wynne blasted his first MLS goal into the far left corner of the net from outside the penalty area.

TFC kept the pressure on, outshooting Houston by 14-12 in the match, but could not come up with the winner.

For TFC coach John Carver the only satisfaction to come from the game was that for the second home match the team played against a top team and came away with a point.

Two weeks ago, TFC held the league-leading Columbus Crew to another 1-1 draw.

But even the ever optimistic Carver admitted after the match that playoff hopes for the club pretty much ended with the 1-1 result.

"I told the lads that we have showed we can play with the best teams in the MLS," he said. "Now if our playoff chances disappear, we need to concentrate these next four games finishing up in the standings."

Carver said he feels that TFC has the players to move up from the league basement.

The coach spent the game in an upper-level box at BMO serving a suspension from a red card he received during last week's 2-0 away game against the Kansas City Wizards.

But he saw enough in the first half -- especially the own goal -- to rip into the team at halftime.

"It was the most violent I have been with them," Carver said. "I'll tell you paint was peeling in that dressing room. But I won't point fingers at who was to blame for the own goal because it was a series of errors."

Whatever he told the club, it was a different squad that played the second half, continually pressing Houston in its own end and creating some good chances.

"What disappoints me even more so was when I see how we played in the second half, that is the real Toronto FC you saw in the second half. That's the side I've been preparing and putting on the field."

A pair of TFC players -- midfielder Amado Guevrarro and forward Chad Barrett -- both had their best games at home this season, but neither could find the back of the net.

Barrett was as frustrated as his coach at the loss, especially because TFC held such an advantage on the pitch.

"We just keep findings ways to beat ourselves," he said.

TFC captain Jim Brennan said that foolish mistakes led to the own goal, and that the mistakes have to stop.

"We know we can play with any team in the league," he said. "We showed that (yesterday). We just have to re-group."

There was also lots of speculation that Houston star midfielder and Toronto native Dwayne De Rosario would be open to a deal that would bring him home next season.

But Carver said he couldn't comment on any such speculation because of MLS tampering rules.


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