Fireworks during TFC's draw

TFC’s Julian de Guzman battles with Houston’s Joseph Ngwenya during their game on July 1, 2010....

TFC’s Julian de Guzman battles with Houston’s Joseph Ngwenya during their game on July 1, 2010. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:30 PM ET

Toronto FC and the Houston Dynamo played 60 minutes of uninspiring soccer.

Then, on Canada Day no less, the fireworks began. A good old-fashioned dust-up that saw two players ejected. Another was thrown out later.

It began when Dynamo midfieder Joseph Ngwenya and TFC defender Nana Attakora got into a shoving match; both teams came together, punches were thrown. Ngwenya and TFC midfielder Julian de Guzman, who threw some punches into the fray, were sent off.

Attakora got a yellow card.

The fisticuffs fired up both teams, as they traded late goals in a 1-1 draw.

Soon after the scrap, Brian Ching rose to meet Danny Cruz’s corner kick to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead.

But, with seven minutes left, after Houston keeper Pat Onstad deflected a wicked shot from Dwayne De Rosario over the bar, Dan Gargan got his first goal as a Red, heading home the ensuing corner kick. The ball went off his head and was lofted over a helpless Onstad before nestling into the far corner of the goal.

Gargan got a yellow card for taking his shirt off and celebrating in front of the BMO Field crowd of 21,374.

“I think it’s obvious, we’re all fighting for one another,” Gargan said.

For the first 60 minutes, the fans witnessed two teams that couldn’t establish any kind of flow and, for the viewers of the game on ESPN2 whose interest in MLS might have been piqued by World Cup fever, it was a sorry advertisement for the league. Hopefully, they didn’t flip away from the game before it exploded to life after the fight.

But, despite the scrap, despite the late equalizer, the picture isn’t rosy for the Reds. For the third straight MLS game — all at home — TFC didn’t win. The Reds came away with one point against a team that came into Toronto on a four-game winless streak.

That’s three consecutive MLS home games with only three total points to show for their efforts. And, if the draws keep coming, TFC will slide down the standings. Toronto is just two points ahead of Chicago, which has been charging. And the Fire has a game in hand.

And, de Guzman is looking at what will certainly be a lengthy suspension. Midfielder Amadou Sanyang got sent off in time added on, as he earned his second yellow of the night for dangerous play. He will also be suspended.

TFC coach Preki felt that referee Jair Maruffo had a bad game, and was shooed away when he approached the official after the final whistle.

“They started it, we retaliated, we got punished,” Preki said.

TFC’s boss was perturbed that Sanyang got a yellow when he felt the Red was defending himself after the Dynamo’s Ryan Cochrane grabbed him by the throat. And he felt that the Dynamo’s Cam Weaver should have seen red for elbowing TFC defender Adrian Cann in the kisser.

“My player’s bleeding and had to come off the field,” Preki said.

But he admitted he was “very disappointed” with TFC’s lack of discipline and poor finishing.

“We’ve got to be smarter, we’ve got to be better again in the final third.”

A TFC official said that de Guzman would not be available to comment on the red card.

After Ching’s opener in the 73nd minute, Houston came very close to making it 2-0. Jamaican midfielder Lovel Palmer unleashed a wicked drive from well outside the box that TFC keeper Stefan Frei was able to get his fingertips on and direct away from goal.

That save set the stage for Gargan’s equalizer.


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