Card game breaks out at BMO

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:18 AM ET

When Toronto FC and the Philadelphia Union get together, there needs to be an over-under on the amount of red and yellow cards.

In this young MLS season, both the Union and the Reds have earned reputations for not being the nicest teams in the world to play against. Late tackles, tackles from behind, punches, throw-downs.

All that is missing is a bench-clearing brawl.

In fact, the number of red cards the teams accumulated in the pre-season were enough to make MLS look hard at the conduct of its players in exhibition games. TFC had men sent off in four straight games. The Union had a game with FC Dallas in which three of its players were sent off.

And after Danny Califf was sent off Thursday for delivering a forearm shiver to the face of TFCs Julian De Guzman, the Union has finished two of its three games with only 10 men. Toronto FC won 2-1 on the scoreboard, but Philadelphia outdid the Reds in terms of cards two yellows and a red as opposed to two yellows for TFC.

So far, the only person apologizing for his actions was Califf.

It is what it is, said Califf. I take full responsibility for my actions. Tonights loss, its on my shoulders. As the captain, I should do a better job leading the team. I made a mistake tonight and the team paid for my mistake.

Califf, whose mohawk makes him look like he should have been a member of The Exploited, was yellow-carded for assaulting Seattle Sounders FC striker Fredy Montero less than a minute into the Unions first game.

But acting Union coach John Hackworth bit his tongue when asked if he thinks some of the cards are coming because of the teams new-found reputation.

I have a very strong opinion on this. Unfortunately Im not allowed to say it, he said.

TFC defender Raivis Hscanovics got a yellow card for a late, vicious challenge on Philly defender Christian Arrieta in the first half. There were a few in the press box that thought the colour of the card Baldomero Toledo was going to pull out of his pocket was going to be red, not yellow.

New Russian signing Maksim Usanov also made some, ahem, tasty tackles before being taken off at half.

Coach Preki was asked about the physical nature of his team, especially the new Russian and Latvian defenders.

We want to be a hard team to play against, he said. We dont want to be a bunch of softies.

He also asked the media if it would rather have a team filled with ballerinas. So, he does have a sense of humour.

But Preki did allow that there were some meetings held over the teams earlier conduct and that players were urged to stop taking silly cards, especially when well away from their own goal.


De Guzman, who came under scrutiny for a straight red card in the pre-season, agreed that the new TFC, while still being a work in progress, is definitely a tougher team to play against.

For sure. But its about being able to do it in a clever way. To be able to tackle and be aggressive without taking yellow cards.

TFC is not quite there yet.

But, of the three goals the team has scored this season, none have come in the run of play. So, because no one is going to mistaken the Reds for Barcelona, the team has got to have players willing to lay out all over the field. And if there are a few late tackles, so be it.

steven.sandor@sunmedia.ca


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