Toronto FC may have left Kansas City with a point after a 2-2 draw on Friday, but they’ll be returning to league action without captain Steven Caldwell.
The Toronto FC skipper saw a straight red in the 62nd minute for a studs-up challenge on Sporting's Antonio Dovale, meaning he will be unavailable for selection in Toronto’s next league match against the Columbus Crew at BMO Field on May 31.
Caldwell argues that appearances may be deceiving in this case.
“I just saw it as a ball to be won,” Caldwell told reporters in Kansas City after the match. “I didn’t think I went in with any malicious attempt or excessive force. I won the ball clearly and felt he came into me. It always looks worse than what it was.
"I go, I see the ball and try and win it. I did win it and I felt it was very unfortunate and extremely disappointed to have let the team down and be sent off.”
The red card to Caldwell wasn’t the only controversial decision of the night; referee Baldomero Toledo also awarded a penalty to Sporting KC in the 84th minute for an alleged foul by Toronto centerback Doneil Henry, who had come on to fill in for Caldwell (WATCH the controversial play here). Toronto FC forward Jermain Defoe didn’t agree with that decision, either.
“From where I stand, I thought it was harsh, to be honest,” Defoe said. “It’s hard for the referees. But you’ve got to help us out, as difficult as it is on the road. Like I said, down to 10 men, it showed character to come back and get a point, which was really good.”
Luckily for Toronto, Bradley Orr and Luke Moore both managed to score equalizing efforts to give Toronto FC a 2-2 draw. It’s Moore’s second goal in as many games since he was traded to the club from Chivas USA via the Colorado Rapids. Moore’s goal tally has been a stark contrast to Gilberto’s – the Brazilian Designated Player has struggled to get going and TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen says he might just give Gilberto a chance from the spot simply to open his tally.
“We’ve got to pick [Gilberto] up,” Nelsen said. “We’ve all been through it as players and we’ve all been through it in jobs. And when you move to a new country like that it’s very difficult, and we forget he’s only 24. We know how good of a player he is and it’s our job to pick him up and obviously get his confidence up and get him going and it will. Maybe we could get a penalty one of these days and he can get on the scoreboard.”
Moore, on the other hand, has settled in right away with the group, according to captain Caldwell.
“He’s got the touch and he’s got presence,” Caldwell said. “So I’m just really pleased for him to get that goal. And to be down to 10 men; you always usually defend and to score two goals in those circumstances is a great achievement by us.”
Armen Bedakian covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.