TORONTO — Following a match in which his side fell by a single goal to the Eastern Conference’s first-place team, TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen pointed to the terrible weather conditions in which the fixture was contested as the real architect of his side’s defeat.
In Nelsen’s estimation, Toronto were not outplayed by a superior Sporting KC team. Instead, the 22 players and the officials overseeing the match all struggled while playing in a rainstorm on waterlogged pitch.
The result? A 2-1 victory for the visitors.
“It was one of those games in which it wasn’t going to be a performance game,” Nelsen said during his post-match press conference. “The conditions were atrocious and the water was horrible. It was a game where it was going to be a mistake game. Whoever turned the ball over and made the most mistakes was probably going to lose the game.”
“Unfortunately, we gave away two really soft goals,” Nelsen added. “Besides that, they didn’t have much. I felt bad for the guys because the referee had a tough time. I think he will reflect and look back and see that Toronto FC were on the wrong end of the equation on literally all of the critical calls.”
While his team once again conceded a pair of poor goals due to defensive breakdowns, Nelsen did not believe that those miscues while competing in challenging weather conditions were the ultimate determining factors in the defeat.
“Look at the goal we scored,” Nelsen said. “It was on an error by Kansas City that was even softer than the two goals we conceded. “It was a tough game for everybody in those conditions, including the referee and the linesmen. The referee has to make these judgement calls and Toronto was on the wrong end of every one.”
In Nelsen’s estimation, it was ultimately the officials who had the hardest day at the office, with multiple decisions by the referee and linesmen sealing TFC’s fate.
While Toronto FC saw team captain and key defender Steven Caldwell sent off late in the second half, Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin emerged unscathed after a first-half elbow to the face of Alvaro Rey that Nelsen felt should have resulted in his sending off and Toronto playing the majority of the match with the man advantage.
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“His explanation was that he elbowed him in the face,” Nelsen said, “but it wasn’t reckless elbow to the face.”
On a day in which he was ejected from a match for the first time as a head coach, the TFC gaffer pointed to that decision as only one of many that went against his team on the afternoon.
“Later when the ball came in and our guy was about to score, it hits their defender’s hand,” Nelsen added. “It was a blatant penalty. [In the second half], when Justin Braun is about to head the ball, Collin isn’t even looking at the ball and he grabs him and throws him over the end line. That’s another goal. And then we win the game.
“We conceded soft goals, but I really should be up here talking about two goals on two blatant penalties and how we have won the game. Then their coach will be talking about the soft goals that they gave up.”