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TFC, Dynamo Play To Dirty 1-1 Draw

  Photo By Nick Turchiaro,


A trio of ejections, two second-half goals and a brawl culminated in arguably the most action packed 1-1 draw in Major League Soccer's short season. 

An otherwise tame opening hour turned into a massive second-half scuffle when Houston's Joseph Ngwenya and Toronto's Nana Attakora exchanged choke holds following an altercation deep in TFC's half. 

In the 61st minute referee Jair Marrufo whistled a foul against Ngwenya on TFC's Dan Gargan. It appeared Ngwenya had not heard the whistle over the 21,374 in attendance and continued despite play being stopped. As Ngwenya approached the penalty area TFC's Attakora slid over and appeared to kick the Houston attacker after the play. 

The pair began to grapple and the teams came together in Toronto's box, setting off a sequence of pushing, grabbing and jawing. The play resulted in ejections for Ngwenya and Toronto's Julian de Guzman. Replays showed Toronto's designated player had made contact with Ngwenya's face multiple times during the scuffle. 

"I'm very disappointed in our discipline with getting the red cards," TFC's Preki said following the 1-1 draw. "They started it and we retaliated and we got punished for it. From where I stood, Julian was just holding the guy."

The events appeared to be the spark the game needed as it set off an exciting late-game finish at BMO Field. 

In the 73rd minute, Houston's U.S. youth international Danny Cruz swung in a corner kick that was met by Brian Ching six yards from goal. Houston's target striker left TFC keeper Stefan Frei little chance placing it to the Swiss keeper's left and giving Houston a 1-0 lead. 

"I'm a little disappointed we didn't come away with the three points because we had the lead," Ching said. "When things aren't going well you have to go out there and fight and that's what we did tonight. It wasn't pretty, but we got a point out of it."

Just a minute later Toronto's second-year keeper was forced into action once again when Houston's Lovel Palmer unleashed a screamer from 25 yards that saw Frei extend horizontally to parry the ball over the bar and keep the home side in it.

Frei's sure bet save-of-the-week candidate was upstaged at the other end by Houston's Pat Onstad moments later when the Dynamo failed to clear a corner. The ball fell to Dwayne De Rosario at the edge of the penalty area who controlled it and faced up on goal. The league's second leading scorer cut to his left before bending a shot to the far post that saw Onstad better Frei's save minutes earlier.  

Late game heroics were in store however when TFC's Dan Gargan rose to meet a flighted corner in the 84th minute to bring the score to 1-1. The Toronto defender rose between two Houston defenders to level things and send the capacity crowd into a late-game frenzy setting up a wild final 10 minutes of play. 

"I think we were unfortunate not to get the three (points)," Gargan told reporters. "Sometimes you just have to battle those out. We're still undefeated in 10 games and we're hoping to keep it going."

TFC appeared to be pushing for a late winner until deep into stoppage time when Amadou Sanyang was issued a second caution for a dangerous kick to Bobby Boswell's face. The teams came together with pushing and words once again which ended in Sanyang being given his marching orders in the 94th minute.

Toronto will look ahead to next weekend when they host the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field. The Dynamo host Chivas USA next Tuesday in Open Cup play, followed by the Crew at Robertson Stadium next Saturday. 

TFC continue to keep pace in the east but will need to start securing maximum points at home if they hope to stay up with New York and Columbus. Toronto will need to manage without the services of de Guzman and Sanyang while the Dynamo will be without Ngwenya next Saturday against Columbus. The draw saw Houston move into a tie for fourth in the west with San Jose and Dallas. 


  1. Thanks RedLine55,

    I work in Toronto for a large newspaper. I work online at that publication and just happen to love the game. Been following MLS since 1996 in Kansas City where I grew up.


  2. You are bashing the League. Its absurd to compare almost ANY league or competition with the World Cup Finals.

    Please provide evidence that MLS Ratings are down.

    In every measure I can see MLS is significantly up this year.

  3. Hey kurtis,

    that’s some damn fine writing. I really enjoyed the flow and style of it. Do you write elsewhere, as well?

  4. This is why MLS ratings are down. Bad soccer. The guys should be ashamed of themselves. It isn’t rugby, it’s soccer. MLS needs some serious growing up. And I am a wizards fan, not bashing the league.

    But those players we don’t need. I’d rather see skilled players not thugs.

  5. I didn’t see the whole game but the few minutes before and after the Houston goal, I thought Ching looked like a beast and I was thinking the same thing.

  6. The game was just bad soccer. I watched 15 while at the gym, and it paled in comparison to the World Cup. Just a bunch of unintelligent passes.

  7. It was clear that neither player really started anything. Obviously this was on ongoing scrap throughout the game that eventually ended in a fight. There is not other explanation because both player’s first instinct was to go for blood.

  8. Nick was never good. He has always been fit and physical, but without talent. The fact that he’s a big trash-talker drops him a few more notches in my book.

  9. I also liked Preki’s “They started it [when they let Attakora choke Ngwenya]”.

    A Ching-Donovan combination up top would have helped on a few occasions in South Africa.

  10. Nick Garcia’s tackle (pictured) just shows how he has to resort to nasty tackles to slow down faster players. It’s a shame really….he was good when he played for KC. Maybe it’s time for Nick to hang them up.

  11. That was huge. I can’t believe it wasn’t included in the write up. Not to mention that there is no quote from Dom about the scuffle, only Preki… Attackora had Ngwenya by the throat first, then Ngwenya retaliated. Preki must have thought his guys were wearing orange.

  12. It was Mullan with the goal called offside. It was a bull call and I can’t believe it wasn’t included. Dynamo should have won that game.

  13. Yeah I loved that part from Martino. That’s exactly what this league needs–fights–just in case the play on the field isn’t entertaining the fans enough.

  14. LOL @ Preki – “He was just holding him.”

    Yes, Preki. Holding someone BY THE THROAT, EYE OR NOSTRILS is generally frowned upon, in almost every social circle.

    First half was slow, second half had better intensity, fight notwithstanding.

    And I’m happy to see that hack Ching show how terrible he is.

    Oh, wait.

  15. “maybe (players choking each other is) exactly what this game needs… some emotion” stupid commentator.
    u mean professional players need to choke each other to make a game exciting? wow.

  16. How come it is Houston that always seems to be involved in stupid incidents like this? It was a pathetic show of sportsmanship by both sides.

  17. De Guzman continues to struggle. Had a decent first half but the guy is constantly hurt and now will miss games because of a pointless fight. Missed points for Toronto.


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