Watching Toronto FC on television Wednesday night involved multiple stages of mental adjustment for the football saturated.
The first hurdle was grasping that this was not a World Cup game, an everything on the line, billions watching sort of contest. It was just a MLS regular season game played on a very rainy night in Illinois.
The second hurdle was figuring out the uniforms. I am a huge fan of the TFC third uniform this year, the onyx. However it takes awhile to understand that the flash of red uniform is Chicago, not Toronto. It was also confusing that the Fire were also looking just a little like the USA in colour scheme, although that could be just my Brasil 2014 brain going into overdrive.
Before I have had a chance to fully tuned into the game, Luke Moore is red carded for an elbow to the head of Fire midfielder Chris Ritter. Replays indicated that Moore was looking at the ball as he jumped and that Ritter came from behind and jumped late.
I am all for protecting the heads of players. Sure, when we wear our TFC fan hats, that elbow to the head of Ritter could have been a yellow card. I think that the ref was both listening to the chatter of Fire players and observing the extent of Ritter's injury before making his decision. I am comfortable with a ref who hesitates because he is getting information from the other refs, but player complaints should be background noise. The ref should be smart enough to know that not every injury is due to a foul, sometimes accidents happen
But once you establish that protection level, Mr Dodgy Ref, you can't be giving yellows for Amerikwa's kick to Caldwell's head and the late game elbow to the back of the head of Oduro. It just seemed that either ref scon was calling an unbalanced game or he was spending the rest of the night compensating for his rash red.
TFC looked adequate with 11 men, then functional with 10. A point on the road should always be valued, but TFC do not look cohesive. July needs to be spectacular. I can see reserving judgement on the midfield as Warner, Jackson and notably Oduro have not had a chance to play with Bradley. Solving and settling the midfield then creates more for the strikers, Defoe in particular.
TFC have two more MLS season games with Chicago. Here in Toronto on August 23 and back in Chicago on September 13. There is the possibility that Chicago will improve their team with a summer signing or two. The internet chatter surrounding bringing USMNT player Jermaine Jones to the MLS mentioned Chicago as a destination (not sure of chatter validity). Even with another player, the Fire are in trouble. They will not get another ref as friendly as they had last night. Toronto should be marking both of those games on their calendar as opportunities to recover from last night's confusion. See you Saturday at BMO Field.