One wonder strike from RSL seals Toronto FC’s fate By Mark Polishuk Posted on June 29, 2013 1 0 716 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Ryan Nelsen PHOTO: GREIG REEKIE Toronto FC threw everything it had at Real Salt Lake for 90 minutes (and beyond) but couldn’t buy a goal. Real’s only good scoring chance in the game came out of nowhere, off the foot of Yordany Alvarez, and struck paydirt. It all added up to a thoroughly frustrating 1-0 loss for the Reds that left the club asking “what if?” about a number of different instances that could’ve changed its fortunes. “It was just the bounce of the ball just didn’t quite roll into the back of the net,” said striker Jeremy Brockie. “It was one of those days when we had by far the more chances and we probably should’ve won there.” Brockie in particular had reason to feel hard done by as the forward was twice robbed of a potential equalizer during stoppage time. Justin Braun crossed from the left side in the 92nd minute and Brockie got a header on the ball, re-directing it towards goal and forcing RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make a quick point-blank save. Just two minutes later, a long pass downfield to Brockie was badly timed by Rimando, allowing the striker to get behind the keeper with the ball and almost convert, before defender Nat Borchers was there to clear the ball away. Those two chances, plus another mad scramble for the ball off a 95th minute corner, led to a wild ending to Saturday’s match but the Reds left with nothing to show for their efforts. It yet another close-but-no-cigar performance for Toronto, this time against the top team in the MLS league table. “Even when our performance is probably not as good as it has been in the past, we’re playing the best team in the West and the boys are completely gutted that we had our chances,” said head coach Ryan Nelsen. “I don’t think everybody played to their potential. Even saying that… it’s a travesty that we didn’t get anything out of that game.” With Danny Koevermans making his first start since July 11, 2012, TFC’s attack looked in good form early on as the club generated some good chances off crisp passing plays throughout the first half. Bobby Convey’s near-miss in the 13th minute highlighted an overall strong half for the Reds… until the 45th minute. While TFC relied on passing, Real just needed Alvarez to blast a laser of a shot from 32 yards out to get on the scoreboard. The spectacular attempt came from an unexpected source (it was Alvarez’s first goal in 32 career games with RSL) and there was little anyone could do against such a “wonder strike,” as Nelsen called it. The goal was Real’s first in six all-time league games at BMO Field. It was not only the Royals’ first win in Toronto, but their first victory in Canada altogether after going winless in their first 10 away matches against TFC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Montreal Impact. Alvarez’s brilliance was all the more painful to the Reds given that a possible game-changing chance of their own occurred just a few minutes earlier. Brockie went down in the box after apparently being clipped by Borchers, and while the TFC bench and the BMO Field fans demanded a penalty, referee Chris Penso was unmoved. Replays showed that the contact was minimal and, if anything, perhaps exaggerated by Brockie. The lack of a call in either direction, however, was what most irritated Nelsen about the play. “If you don’t give a penalty on that, when you have to give Jeremy Brockie a yellow card for diving. It’s as simple as that… But [the referee] doesn’t even have the confidence to do that,” Nelsen said. “By doing nothing, it’s completely the wrong call. That’s the frustrating thing, everyone in the stadium thought it was a stone-cold penalty. “I wonder if that was certain other individuals in this league running on goal or certain other teams running on goal, what the outcome would’ve been. I wonder if it would’ve been a wee bit different.” Another major official’s call came in the 79th minute during a small melee on the field that began when RSL’s Tony Beltran shoved Toronto striker Luis Silva. TFC defender Doneil Henry proceed to shove Beltran, which kicked off a wider fracas between the two sides. When the dust cleared, Beltran and Henry had both been shown red cards. It was a costly booking for Henry, who was already set to miss TFC’s next match due to a Gold Cup call-up and will now be suspended for his first match back to MLS. More directly, had Henry not retaliated, Beltran would have been the lone ejection and Toronto would’ve enjoyed a man advantage for the final 10-plus minutes of the game. It was an inexperienced show of emotion for the 20-year-old Henry, but his veteran backline mate Darren O’Dea felt both red cards were harsh given that only shoves were exchanged. “I was saying to Doneil I’ve been there before,” O’Dea said. “If that’s a sending off, football’s gone the wrong way… For a push, neither fellow should’ve gone off. “[Henry] is a good kid, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. There’s nothing wrong with having a temper, he just needs to learn how to manage it.” The Reds go from one league power to another in short order as they host the Montreal Impact on Wednesday. It will be another major test for TFC, especially with a roster lessened by Gold Cup call ups (Henry, Jonathan Osorio, Ashtone Morgan and Kyle Bekker have all been capped by Canada), striker Robert Earnshaw nursing a calf injury and Koevermans’ fitness still not 100 pe rcent following his recovery from a torn ACL.