When Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew square off, strange things tend to happen.
Saturday's contest was no different as an incident almost as bizarre as what happened the last time the teams met at BMO Field prevented a much-improved Reds side from notching its first ever win against the Crew, instead the result was a 1-1 draw.
The banishment of Reds midfielder Tony Tchani for picking up his second yellow card of the day -- for jumping into the stands following his goal in the 41st minute -- turned around a game the Reds had dominated.
Tchani had previously picked up a yellow following a scuffle where he didn't really do much, unlike teammates Alan Gordon and Javier Martina who would have actually deserved to be carded for pushing and shoving.
Head coach Aron Winter called Tchani's actions "stupid" and "not clever," but like Tchani and frustrated midfielder Julian de Guzman, said some consistency needs to be shown by league officials.
"That was strange not only Alan Gordon (who mingled with the fans after a goal earlier this year), but D.C. United, all those guys were jumping into the crowd and didn't get a card (after a Charlie Davies goal against TFC last week)," Winter said.
"Either get everybody a card or nobody but not, 'yes,' 'no,' 'yes,' 'no' when you want to do it.
"I don't want to make this about the referee ... but it has to be better."
Added Tchani, who scored for the first time as a Red since coming over for Dwayne De Rosario: "(Winter) was mad, he said it was stupid but I don't think it was stupid because I saw the game before, people do it all the time, and I felt like my first one, I have to give that to the fans," Tchani said.
After a string of awful starts that had caused major problems for the home side, TFC came out strong, controlling the play and generating all of the pressure in the opening 25 minutes, directing three shots on goal to the Crew's goose egg.
Things started to change when the proceedings got a tad nasty in the 37th minute with the dustup.
Giving Tchani the yellow was the first of a host of mistakes by referee David Gantar, calling just the third league match of his career.
Gantar had a day to forget, letting players dive all over the place and allowing both keepers get savaged without a call while doling out silly yellow after silly yellow, along with the game-changing sending off of Tchani.
Major League Soccer is apparently angling to become mocked like the NFL, or No Fun League, which has taken a laughable stance on post-touchdown celebrations in recent years. Even worse, it is not being consistent with calls. Not a good look.
Superstar David Beckham went off on MLS referees when he was in town recently and he had a point. Saturday's match was an embarrassment.
TFC's performance was not. The team gutted out a result and after Tchani converted a beautiful pass from de Guzman, it looked like a few might get by Will Hesmer - who had conceded just a single goal in the Crew's past four outings.
The banishment of Tchani forced 10-man TFC to alter its game into he second half. Top forward Gordon was subbed out for defender Mikael Yourassowsky, other changes followed.
They couldn't prevent the inevitable.
Columbus forward Emilio Renteria headed in a set-up from Sebastian Miranda to square the game in the 49th minute as the Crew broke down the defence of short-handed TFC.
Toronto did not fold though and had chances to pull off the historic win.
Last year, TFC was about to taste victory for the first time against Columbus when keeper Hesmer scored an improbable equalizer in the dying seconds.
This time, the stunned crowd of 20,145 was probably a bit less disappointed, but still let Gantar and his crew know how they felt, booing the referees off of the field following the game.
The Reds received cheers, and more surely will follow if they can keep 11 men on the field and keep performing like they did on Saturday.