Ryan Nelsen defends critical comments of officiating following Toronto FC's loss to Sporting KC

TORONTO – With just more than two weeks remaing before another showdown with Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen is doing his best to move on from what he and his players deemed were some controversial calls in this past Saturday’s 2-1 home loss against the defending MLS Cup champs.

Nelsen was asked at training Tuesday whether he thought he might receive another fine for his post-match comments after Saturday’s game. He was also fined earlier in the year for post-match comments critical of the officiating following a 2-2 draw in Kansas City.

“My comments? I thought I was pretty good,” Nelsen said. “I’m probably going to get hit [with a fine], I don’t know. I actually thought I didn’t say anything, but I’ve heard rumors that the boys might have lost their cool.”

Those comments included a few words of criticism from Michael Bradley as well as Brazilian forward Gilberto, who was upset with referee Ted Unkel’s non-call on what he considered a foul committed by Aurelien Collin that could have denied him a clean break on goal.

“I can’t really blame them, to tell you the truth,” Nelsen said. “I had to put my head in the ice tub before I went and spoke to you guys.”

But, it’s all in the past, Nelsen said, as his team gets set to take on D.C. United on Wednesday (7 pm ET, MLS Live) in the first game of a four-game road trip, which includes trips to Montreal, Columbus and finally the rematch with SKC on Aug. 16.

The trip to D.C. is a match that the TFC boss said his side is looking forward to, especially with the return of Jermain Defoe following his suspension for the SKC matchup for caution accumulation. On the other end of the park, however, the Reds will be without defender Doneil Henry, who picked up his own one-game suspension for caution accumulation.

It provides Nelsen with a perfect opportunity to test out his side’s newest acquisition, Warren Creavalle, who was acquired last week from the Houston Dynamo.

“We’ve got to get Warren in and that’s the advantage of when Doneil Henry goes down, now you’ve got a guy you can put in straight away and can play at right back, left back or even in midfield” Nelsen said. “He fits in really well with most of the guys just because he’s got a bit of a dodgy hair cut, so that helps.

"It’s a big thing when you come to a new team and sometimes the more you say, the harder it is, so we’re just easing him in and letting him learn day by day without flooding him with info.”

With Steven Caldwell and Mark Bloom still out with injuries, Toronto’s makeshift backline will be tested, but Nelsen has confidence that his team’s depth and shape can see them churn out positive results on the road in August. 

“The way we’re set up is quite nice,” Nelsen said. “I think teams open up a bit more when they’re at home, trying to be expansive. The way we’re set up, we’re pretty tight and organized and we can catch them in certain areas when they play or go with numbers forward.

“We enjoy playing on the road,” Nelsen added. “Not that we’re saying we don’t enjoy home, but we’ve been better and better on the road. And it’s a nice little challenge, isn’t it?”