It was a cup final alright.
Wednesday’s second leg of the Canadian Championship final between Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps was scrappy, tight defensively and, at times, controversial.
Toronto FC won 1-0 on the night, and 2-1 on aggregate, but it wasn’t the scoreline that Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie focused on after the game -- it was the man in the middle, referee Silviu Petrescu.
The Romanian-born referee calls Waterloo, Ontario, his hometown – and Rennie suggested that may have influenced some of the refereeing decisions.
“I feel we were very hard done by tonight,” Rennie told Sportsnet immediately following the match. “It’s a situation where someone throws someone to the ground, punches someone in the face – a red card as well – we didn’t get anything from a situation that was clearly wrong.
“They put a lot of pressure on the official by putting a Toronto official against a cup final in Toronto, and that’s what happens.”
Rennie was talking of the double ejection in the 56th minute, as Petrescu sent off Julian de Guzman with a straight red for slapping Jun Marques Davidson in the face, before dismissing Sébastien Le Toux with a second yellow card for apparently stamping on a Toronto player.
The Scottish coach was also irate on the touchline after a late foul on Hassli, who was dragged down in the box after initially appearing to be fouled outside the area.
“I don’t know it was inside the box or outside the box, but that has to be an infringement,” Rennie said. “It would be anywhere else on the field and it should have been in the box as well. Everybody knows it didn’t help us tonight – the officiating – but at the same time we always need to do look on what we can do to get better and I’m sure there’s plenty we can improve on.”
As for the match itself, Rennie was quick to acknowledge his team’s inability to get any sort of flow going, and the team’s struggles finishing in front of goal from the few chances they were able to generate.
“We didn’t necessarily move the ball as quickly as we would have wanted to tonight,” Rennie said in the postmatch press conference. “When you don’t move it fast, it’s hard to create openings and opportunities. In a game like tonight, Alain Rochat has a header from six yards. If that goes in, it makes a difference to the game.
“Those are the incidents in a game like this, in a cup final, you have to make the most of, and unfortunately we didn’t, and ultimately that cost us the game.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.