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Crew cruise to home-opening win as controversial red card dooms TFC

Crew TFC 03142015 (USA TODAY Sports)


Michael Bradley found himself complaining about questionable referee’s decisions made against his Toronto FC squad quite a bit last year. On Saturday night, another referee gave the U.S. Men’s National Team star plenty of reason to complain.

A highly-questionable red card issued to Justin Morrow in first-half stoppage time paved the way for the Columbus Crew to dominate and eventually pull away from 10-man TFC as goals from Justin Meram and Kei Kamara sparked a 2-0 Crew victory at MAPFRE Stadium.

The Crew outplayed TFC for much of the first half, controlling possession and creating more chances after withstanding some heavy pressing from TFC in the first 25 minutes of the match. Columbus eventually took control, but TFC’s defense was standing firm before the tide-turning call from referee David Gantar.

Ethan Finlay raced in on goal when Morrow slid and appeared to deliver a clean tackle where he clearly reached the ball with ease. Finlay tumbled over Morrow in the process and Gantar, trailing the play, deemed Morrow’s tackle a foul. With Morrow being the last man between Finlay and goal, Ganter chose to stick by his initial call and issued a red card.

Toronto FC head coach Gregg Vanney tried to compensate for the man disadvantage by making a pair of defensive substitutions at haltime bringing in Nick Hagglund and Ashtone Morgan for Steven Caldwell and Jonathan Osorio. The moves were an attempt to give TFC a more mobile defense to cope with being a man down, but the moves hardly helped.

Columbus took full advantage of the red card in the second half, controlling play and eventually breaking through when Meram headed home a Finlay cross in the 57th minute. Just four minutes later, Kamara headed home a perfect cross from Francis that squeezed the life out of an already-fatigued TFC side. That goal also gave Kamara a chance to show off a new goal celebration as he handed out hard hats to a pair of fans and posed for pictures in an ode to the Crew’s old logo.

The match marked the Crew debut for Mohammed Saeid, who showed well playing in place of suspended starting midfielder Tony Tchani.

The victory marked the 13th straight season the Crew have won their home opener, and improved them to 1-1 on the season. Greg Berhalter’s side will have a week off before returning to action on March 28 against the New York Red Bulls at home.

Here are the match highlights:

Toronto FC will look to regroup with a bye week before returning to action on March 29 with a visit to Real Salt Lake.

What did you think of the match? Think the red card was a mistake, or think the referee got it right? See the Crew being a force in the East? Not sold on TFC yet?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Did anyone watch replays? Multiple angles?
    Definitely NOT a red card. Possibly not even a yellow.
    The card will be challenged and rescinded. Guaranteed.

  2. If u were paying attention, he gave the red card after the Crew players jumped on his ass….then he ran over to consult with his sideline ref.

    • exactly, had he actually made a real-time judgement call he would have made it immediately. instead, he had to confirm with Congress, Parliament and Buddha to decide…..

    • Actually, I think it was after the Crew supporters section started chanting, “Send him off, send him off.” So what?

  3. I can’t believe I’m defending the referee on this one. I was at the game and in real-time, the tackle looked reckless and deserving of a red card. Once you watch the replay in slow motion, it appears that Morrow may have got to the ball. But at full speed, I think the referee made a decent judgement call.

    • Getting to the ball first doesn’t matter when you have to go through the guy to get to it. Add to it that he was coming in from behind. If Finlay didn’t have a step on him it might have been a different story.

      • He didn’t. There are multiple replays showing he came in from the side, got the ball with both legs, and then Finlay tripped over him. It was just a bad call.

        On top of that, the article says “another referee” with respect to Bradley; nope, same ref. He also went to the wrong side judge to get a second opinion, as Morrow’s body would have been between the right side of the field and the ball.

        Truly awful officiating. Indefensible.

  4. I just left the game…..the red card was a bad call. Precourt had better figure out how to get some butt in the seat, sparce crowd of 15,000 was very disappointing

    • Columbus missed a HUGE chance of not going a different direction with a name and even worse, their fans like the stadium and the owner looks happy with the stadium.
      Why not go for a different name with the same colors and accept they need a rebrand and stadium. Columbus will never be bigger than ohio state and if Columbus crew wants to stay alive, then get a new stadium and be the new skc.

      • Keeping the name was the right call. A new stadium is definitely needed!! There needs to be a roof!!

    • The red card was a good call. The defender should have given his keeper a chance to make a save.

      The Crew are going to be tough. Berhalter knows what he is doing.


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