TORONTO - A pair of mistakes after halftime gifted the Columbus Crew the game’s only goal in Toronto Saturday, allowing the visitors to remain unbeaten at BMO Field.
“If you’re going to compare us to Columbus, they didn’t have a real chance (today),” Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter said. “I think we deserved more. Much more.”
The Crew’s Bernardo Anor punished back-to-back mistakes from TFC’s Julian de Guzman and Logan Emory just before the hour mark to cap a quick counter that started with a turnover from de Guzman in midfield.
Anor finished from 10 metres out when Emory’s failed clearance saw the Columbus midfielder calmly finish on the half-volley past a helpless Milos Kocic.
“You expect when you make a penalty save to give the club a boost,” Kocic said of Toronto’s failure to capitalize on his spectacular first-half PK stop. “Julian (de Guzman) lost the ball in a crucial part of the field and after that … Logan (Emory) should clear the ball.”
Referee Geoff Gamble’s decision to point to the spot in the 42nd minute went unpunished when Kocic guessed to his right to deny Milovan Mirosevic’s attempt and give Ty Harden a reprieve heading into the half after controlling the opening 45 minutes.
“I tried to give the team a chance to continue, but it didn’t work out,” Kocic concluded.
The game’s only goal held up when Toronto failed to convert on a number of first-half chances and couldn’t find a way through a Crew defence that dropped 10 men to protect its single-goal lead.
Danny Koevermans had TFC’s best chance when a miss-clearance dropped at the top of the box 10 minutes in. Still searching for the clinical touch that saw him lead the club in scoring in 2011, the Dutchman scuffed his attempt straight at the Crew’s Andy Gruenebaum.
“I was in a position to score three times and of course I want to score,” Koevermans said. “It’s the worst-case scenario and we didn’t deserve this loss.”
Lacking creativeness in the offensive third to reward the fluent possession the Reds enjoyed throughout Saturday, Winter replaced Terry Dunfield with Luis Silva after the break — a switch that saw TFC’s draft pick orchestrate a number of second-half chances.
Collecting a pass from Joao Plata in the 50th minute, Silva nearly helped Koevermans open his account when he latched onto a through-pass from the first-year player just outside the area. Failing to make good contact, the Dutchman’s effort was claimed by on on-rushing Gruenebaum.
Toronto had a final opportunity 15 minutes from time when Ryan Johnson split a pair of Crew defenders on the left before whipping in a cross to the back stick. Koevermans’ head across goal fell perfectly to Silva whose header missed just over goal.
“The only thing is that we have played three games in the league and we have zero points,” Winter said. “In all the games we’ve played well.”
Replays showed Gamble’s decision to whistle a penalty against Harden at the close of the half was poor. The Crew’s Olman Vargas went down with the slightest of touches … Toronto will remember similar issues with the very same official at BMO Field last year. Gamble issued former TFC midfielder Tony Tchani a second caution for a harmless first-half goal celebration — a decision that changed the complexion and allowed the Crew to exit Toronto with its unblemished record intact … Beginning with the Santos Lugana match last week, the Reds have implemented a box formation through their spine. De Guzman and Dunfield have been instructed to sit-in on defence just in front of the club’s two central defenders — tactics that stopped a talented Mexican attack and the Crew on Saturday … Dunfield has played an under-appreciated role early in the season and seems to be forming a good partnership with de Guzman in midfield … Both were solid until a de Guzman’s costly turnover in the middle third allowed the Crew to steal the momentum and open the scoring. Which begs the question: Why bring Dunfield off during the second half every match?