TORONTO -- It was a day of significant contrasts at BMO Field.
On the bright side, home team Toronto FC earned a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo, extending their two-month long unbeaten run to seven MLS matches, 10 in all competitions if you throw in their successful defense of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
There were also sunny skies, and a big happy mob of 21,374 on hand to joyously celebrate Canada's 143rd birthday.
On the not-so-bright side, the match twice degenerated into pushing and shoving. TFC designated player Julian de Guzman hurled himself physically into a grappling match between Toronto defender Nana Attakora and Dynamo midfielder Joseph Ngwenya. After the scuffle, both de Guzman and Ngwenya were shown red cards by referee Jair Maruffo, meaning the home team can likely look forward to a multi-game suspension to its most expensive player.
Also, it's the third consecutive home draw for Toronto, and head coach Preki was clearly frustrated after the match.
“[It was] a crazy game,” Preki said. “I thought we created enough in the first half and the second half to get a goal. We got a goal down, but we showed a lot of character and mentality to come back. I thought we were going to win it if there were one more minute.”
Though he tried to downplay his comments, Preki was also clearly frustrated with Maruffo's officiating.
“Every time we did something, we got punished,” he said. “I tried to talk to him [after the game], but he told me to get away. He didn't have a good game, but he'd probably say the same thing -- that I didn't have a good game either.”
Preki said the de Guzman-Ngwenya incident was too far away for him to clearly see what happened, but he clearly had a strong opinion about it.
“Once again, they started it, we retaliated, and we got punished,” he said.
Preki then mentioned the last-minute red card issued to Toronto's Amadou Sanyang after a second round of shoving erupted.
“[Ryan] Cochrane starts everything,” said the Toronto coach. “He grabs [Sanyang] by the throat. [Sanyang] retaliates and gets the card, and Cochrane walks away free. [But] we cannot use that as an excuse. We had our chances -- we had better chances -- just no shots in front of the goal.”
De Guzman was not available to speak to the press in the locker room. Although his street clothes were in his locker, reporters were advised that the player would have no comment.
One player who did talk -- and very happily, at that -- was Toronto fullback Dan Gargan, who headed home Fuad Ibrahim's corner kick in the 84th minute to give his side the draw.
“I was calling for it from Ibby, and luckily he saw me,” said Gargan. “He put a fantastic ball in a really great spot. I was just trying to get it back-post because I saw [Houston keeper Pat] Onstad coming across. We had tons of chances, and it's one of those where you're pushing and pushing and it finally comes.”
And there was an extra reason for Gargan to be pleased.
“It was my first career goal in MLS,” he joyously said. “That was a sweet time to get one.”
Gargan also noted that de Guzman's imminent absence will weaken Toronto's lineup.
“At this time of the year, we need to put points on the board,” he noted. “We need everybody to be willing to sacrifice and be out there for us.”