TFC dealt another blow

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

So how's it going, John Carver, other than losing your best player for three to four weeks, getting fined almost $1,000, struggling at home and facing undefeated Chivas USA tonight in a jam-packed schedule?

Good thing Toronto FC plays better with the odds against it, such as earning four points in two early away games and a rally that almost grabbed a point Sunday in Dallas.

"We came out the second half dead and buried and put on a better show," Carver said of the game in Dallas. "Maybe we do play better as the underdogs, yes."

The loss of attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario to a torn hamstring -- Carver is forecasting three to four weeks but won't know for certain until the results of a MRI reveal the extent of the tear -- is a costly setback. The physical Chivas side (4-0-1, with eight goals and just two against) is hard enough to handle if TFC can't create some scoring.

"We'll have to pick up the slack, because Dwayne's a big part of our offence," forward Chad Barrett said yesterday. "But we have big guys on the bench: Pablo Vitti, Rohan Ricketts, any of those guys can do a good job."

TFC believes it's due for some breaks, starting with the referees tonight against Chivas at BMO Field and again at home on Sunday against Kansas City (5 p.m.). The most egregious error in the minds of TFC in the Dallas game was defender Marvell Wynne being called for a handball that led to Kenny Cooper's game-winning penalty kick. That was just one of the handball interpretations Carver questioned, among other perceived injustices by referee Tim Weyland.

An earlier free kick on what seemed a fairly won ball by Adrian Serioux led to a Dallas goal and to an irate Carver calling Weyland's work in the game "a disgrace".

Late yesterday, he was hit with a $750 league fine, the first MLS coach or player to be penalized for such comments this season.

Publicly, Carver tip-toed around the subject, but Barrett, who repaid Carver's faith with his first goal of the season in Dallas, backed his boss.

"I think the first game against Dallas (a 1-1 tie April 11) was very well officiated by Terry Vaughn," Barrett said. "He let a lot of physical play go. The last game, I thought the guy did a terrible job, calling 20 fouls against us to their seven. That's ridiculous.

"Cooper is 200 pounds and can't stay on his feet? That's a problem there. (Weyland) was calling touch fouls. He has to let us play soccer. Send him over to watch the Scottish Premier League and send him back here."

But Barrett knows the team can't rely on the officials to determine a better outcome. TFC has been trying to live up to the energy and commitment of its first two results for the past three weeks and has failed to put 90 complete minutes together. The team has not won at home in its first two tries.

"It's not an automatic that just because we had a good record at home last year that it will happen again," Carver said. "Teams know how we play, how to set up against us and that the (crowd atmosphere) is a volatile situation. So they try to quiet us down and take the pace out of the game. We have to deal with it.

"The quality of players we have is ahead of last season (but) one thing we had was average players who worked extremely hard. (This year) I need that from good players."


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