TORONTO – It took barely ten minutes for the action at BMO Field to boil over.
Being two of the top teams in the league over the last three years, whenever Toronto FC and New York City FC meet there is a tendency for fireworks to go off. More often than not, they are of the goalscoring variety, but on Sunday afternoon, as NYCFC won 3-2 to solidify their candidacy for the top of the Eastern Conference, it was a red card that provided the spark.
Neither coach saw it from the opposite side of the field, at least not well enough to have an opinion, and Altidore himself was unavailable for comment, but the NYCFC defender voiced his view post-match.
“I didn't do anything,” said Callens through a translator. “We had a few encounters [throughout] the game. It was all body though, nothing with the legs until he reacted. Obviously, he didn't like [it] and reacted as such, but I didn't do anything.”
Instant Analysis: A closer look at Jozy Altidore's red card vs. NYCFC
Toronto captain Michael Bradley, admitted it was “probably a red card,” but thought the play should never have reached that point.
“It's also a foul before the red card. Jozy gets fouled,” said Bradley. “The way things are that is going to be a red card ten out of ten times. For me, the bigger issue is it's a foul three, four, five seconds beforehand. The referee's ability to manage the game, some of these situations, isn't good enough.”
“Attacking players on both teams are on the end of physical plays from defenders,” explained Bradley. “If the balance goes off, you let a few too many go, give a few too many one way then not the other, then things get thrown out of whack. Yes, it's a red card, but it shouldn't even get to that point. Whistle should have blown before to call the foul on Callens and that would have been that.”
The loss leaves TFC seven points below the playoff line with 11 matches to play and pushes their record at home in 2018 below the .500 mark. Toronto head coach Greg Vanney called the loss “self-inflicted.”
“Results are about making good decisions and good plays for 90 minutes,” continued Vanney. “It's a concern for me generally when guys are getting caught up in things that don't matter. We don't have time for things that don't matter. We have to get points, we have to get results. That's about discipline.”
“These things are so irrelevant in our mission to get ourselves back into the playoffs, it's unnecessary and all it does is undo our ability to take steps forward,” lamented Vanney. “We were on six unbeaten, moving in a good direction and this is not the moment we needed.”