Carver makes absence official

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:24 PM ET

When Toronto FC coach John Carver ended Tuesday's formal press conference with an off-the-cuff harangue about the strains of working in Major League Soccer, it was the first warning sign.

Then came confirmation the same day of a league fine for harsh comments on the officiating in TFC's 3-2 loss to Dallas last Sunday.

A decision to stay away from the sidelines Wednesday night against Chivas USA followed, when Carver left assistant Chris Cummins to execute the game plan in a 1-0 victory that ended a four-game winless streak, speaking to players at halftime and post-game.

When he spent a sunny Friday morning practice in BMO Field's dark player tunnel conversing with manager Mo Johnston -- and asked Cummins to address the media a second straight day -- something was definitely amiss with the 44-year-old coach.

Whether it's his health, difference of opinion with the league or his own team or the less likely lure of a job elsewhere in soccer, TFC announced yesterday that Carver has resigned for personal reasons.

He had an 11-15-10 record since arriving last season, with this year's 2-2-2 team challenging for first place.

"There will be a press conference after the game (tonight's 5 p.m. match at BMO against the Kansas City Wizards) and we'll speak then," Johnston told Sun Media yesterday.

On Friday, Johnston had refused to talk about Carver and the team unless he knew the nature of the questions beforehand.

The team statement said Cummins and fellow assistant Nick Dasovic will coach today and that a decision on the full-time position will be made early next week. Cummins arrived with Carver last year from Luton Town where Cummins headed that English team's youth program. Dansovic is a former Canadian national.

"The team is in great hands," Carver said in the release. "I have worked with some top international players in my time, and we've got some here in Toronto, but this group is the best bunch of guys I've ever worked with.

"I also want to thank the fans. They are some of the best, without a doubt."

After getting four points in the first two road games, the Reds failed to win the next three and Carver was harsh on them when the team lost its much-hyped home opener to Seattle, 2-0. But one of the primary sources of Carver's anger this week was a hand-ball call on Marvell Wynne that led to Dallas winning 3-2 on a penalty kick.

On Tuesday, Carver wondered aloud if the U.S.-based MLS might be biased against him or its lone Canadian team.

For the second time in less than a year, he complained that field officials unfairly targeted him and was fined.

"I'm a very passionate guy and I love the game," he told reporters last year. "And, apparently, they don't want that in the MLS.

"They want me to sit down on the chair, in the dugout with my arms folded, my legs crossed and just be a nice little boy and get a suntan. Well, no. If that's what they want to get, I'll get on a plane and fly home again."

Carver twice has denied rumours he was going to return to a post with his hometown Newcastle United team and a TFC source said there was no anticipation he planned to take a high-profile job elsewhere.


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