TORONTO – A match that looked headed for a storybook ending for Toronto FC on Friday ultimately became yet another result in which Reds head coach Ryan Nelsen felt his squad came away with less than they deserved, in this case a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution.
After falling behind in the second minute of play to the New England Revolution on a play in which TFC’s entire starting eleven looked like they had fallen asleep, Nelsen’s charges battled back and appeared to have earned a dramatic winner on an 88th minute header by Toronto captain Steven Caldwell.
Unfortunately, for Nelsen, his players and the TFC supporters in attendance, referee Fotis Bazakos whistle Caldwell for a foul on the play.
Following the match, Nelsen and Caldwell both expressed their disappointment with what they perceived to be an incorrect call, as well as some sympathy for the official who made the contentious decision.
“I didn’t get an explanation for the call and I don’t think I am going to get one,” Nelsen said. “I think the referee knows he has made a mistake. Unfortunately, it has cost us a really well deserved win. We’ve have to live with it. That’s life. People make mistakes. We all make mistakes.”
Caldwell, the veteran Scottish defender who has made big contributions in shoring up Toronto's backline since arriving from England's Birmingham City, shared his coach's sentiments about the goal.
“I think it was the wrong decision by the referee,” Caldwell stated after the game. “It certainly wasn’t a foul. It was a great ball by Bobby [Convey] … I think [the referee] knew he made the wrong decision but we are all human and we all make mistakes and wrong decisions. It is just bitterly disappointing when it comes in such a tight and important game. These things happen in football. We have to be adult about it and move on."
While Nelsen was sensible in his discussion of the referee’s call, he was also quick to credit his players for the character and fight that they showed in fighting back after falling behind early against a very good New England Revolution side.
“We’ve seen improvements in the team and we are getting close to being a 90-minute team,” Nelsen said. “It wasn’t good enough [on the New England goal] and the guys know it. But the reaction after that is what is most important for me.
“For eighty minutes of the game I thought the passing was fantastic. The guys up front were smart and their movement was intelligent,” Nelsen added. “Everybody did really well and I feel awful for them because three points were taken away from them.”