For the second time in five days, the refereeing infuriated Frank Klopas. But while the Colorado Rapids’ emphatic 4-1 win on Saturday left few doubters, this one was different.
Montreal secured a favorable 1-1 draw away at Toronto FC, this Wednesday in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final, and Klopas clearly felt that referee Silviu Petrescu had denied his team a lead going into the second leg, next Wednesday, by not calling 34th- and 67th-minute handballs by Steven Caldwell.
“I thought it was a good game, but for me to come here again and complain with the referees – when I saw the plays again, two clear handballs in the box – for me, it’s just embarrassing,” Klopas told reporters after the game. “It’s embarrassing. So it was a good game played by both teams, two different halves, but for me to be talking again about two clear handballs, okay, I’m not going to say ‘Give two,’ but one that I just saw again – crystal clear.”
“If you’re going to have a final, at least let the players decide, not the referees making calls like this,” Klopas continued. “So for me, it’s an embarrassment.”
The Impact weren’t deciding much in the early goings, however, and Klopas admitted as much. So slow was the Impact’s start that a distraught Nelson Rivas limping off the field two minutes into his first game in seven months was the main talking point until Doneil Henry headed in TFC’s opener.
“We gave up, again, a set piece goal where we lose our man in the box,” Klopas said. “Other than that, the first half, they didn’t really create anything through combination play or this or that. I just felt that their intensity was better. They were beating us to every ball. But the second half, we came out, it was a different team. A different mentality. We competed better. Justin [Mapp] scored a great goal.”
A goal that will give Montreal hope ahead of the second leg, as will the second half performance. Mapp’s stunning effort was a just reward for a fine night’s work. Andres Romero, buoyed by his outstanding goal in Colorado, was perhaps the sharpest he’s ever been for Montreal, providing much needed second-half width.
Toronto may pose different problems next Wednesday – Montreal were expecting Jermain Defoe. But at least part of the solution is in their hands now.
“It’s a good result on the road,” Klopas said. “But nothing’s done yet.”