July 1 is a day to celebrate from British Columbia to Newfoundland, as it’s Canada Day, the marking of the establishment of Canada in 1867.
While celebrations went on all over the city of Toronto, there were fireworks of a different kind on display at BMO Field. The evening’s match between Toronto FC and the visiting Houston Dynamo ended up being a war of attrition, with three players seeing red in the 1-1 draw.
Hometown boy Julian de Guzman and Houston’s Joseph Ngwenya were each sent off in the 62nd, when the two became involved after Ngwenya had begun to scuffle with Nana Attakora.
Ngwenya felt aggrieved over a hard tackle from Attakora and immediately reached for the Canadian international’s throat. When Attakora responded in kind, de Guzman rushed to his teammate’s defense and started shouting at and shoving Ngwenya and, for a second, it appeared that a brawl might break out. Cooler heads prevailed, but not before the red
It is unknown if, during their encounter, the two midfielders debated the merits of Ngwenya’s Bacary Sagna-inspired braids versus de Guzman’s Maxwell-like afro.
TFC manager Preki took umbrage with the evening’s officiating, venting on the field and after the game. When asked about his conversation with referee Jair Maruffo after the match, Preki made one slight correction.
“I tried to talk to the referee after the game, but he told me to get away,” explained the former American international.
“He said he was going to report me. I asked him, “What am I doing?” and he said, “because of [approaching him after the match]” Report me? What am I doing wrong? I’m not yelling. I’m not cussing at you.”
While still angry about the post-match encounter, Preki was still able to laugh at the incident:
“[Maruffo] didn’t have a good game, but hey, he’ll probably say the same thing: I didn’t have a good game either.”
Admittedly, the Yugoslavian-born manager was too far away to really see the Ngwenya-de Guzman encounter, but he was peeved by both his club’s indiscipline and what he felt was inconsistent officiating.
“I think [Dynamo substitute] Cam Weaver should have been red-carded right away, as soon as he came on the field. He elbowed [TFC defender] Adrian Cann. To me that’s an offence, because [Maruffo] keeps preaching that [that type of play] is a red card and my player was bleeding and had to come off of the field."
"Obviously, that went unpunished. Every time we retaliated, we got punished. It’s
The manager did have praise for his club in coming back to level the match for the eventual draw on Dan Gargan’s 84th-minute header from a Fuad Ibrahim corner.
“We showed a lot of character and the mentality to come back. In the end, we would have won if there were five more minutes, but we have to be smarter and better in the final third [of the match], I think.”
The aforementioned Gargan goal was a momentous one and not because it extended TFC’s home unbeaten streak to 14 matches and pushed their franchise-best unbeaten streak to seven games. The goal was the Philly-born defender’s first ever MLS goal, one that fellow defender Nick Garcia says Gargan promised to score earlier in the week.
Gargan was modest about his accomplishment.
“I just slid in the back and was calling for it from Ibby and he sent in a fantastic ball and hit a great spot. I was just trying to get a head on it.”
In a match that seemed destined to end in heartbreak for TFC, Gargan gave the fans something to cheer about. He celebrated wildly, tearing off his shirt and swinging it while running down the field.
“You know, we had tons of chances and it was one of those where you keep pushing and it finally comes. And that was my first career goal in MLS, so that was a sweet one”.
On a day meant for partying in Canada, Gargan’s goal kicked off the final one of the evening.