TORONTO – Carles Gil’s first career brace – bringing his league-leading total up to three goals in three games – should’ve been enough for the New England Revolution to take something from Sunday night’s visit to BMO Field.
But a controversial goal just before halftime spoiled the evening from the visitors’ perspective, as Jay Chapman – despite being several yards offside when he was played through by Ayo Akinola – was allowed to square for Jordan Hamilton to tap home Toronto FC’s second goal in an eventual 3-2 win.
The law, as interpreted by referee Ted Unkel, says that Revolution center back Antonio Delamea negated the offside by making a deliberate attempt to play the ball, which skimmed off his knee as it came through with pace and at an awkward height.
The decision, unsurprisingly, left the Revolution miffed, and left Revolution head coach Brad Friedel wondering aloud as to whether the law itself needs to be amended or clarified.
“He’s in an offside position when the pass is made to him, and that is why Toni had to lunge for the ball. That’s the play,” said Friedel. “I don’t agree with how they interpreted the rule. That is, I think, a common sense rule.
“I think if you ask anybody in the game, ‘Do you think that was offside?’ they would all say, ‘Yes, and we don’t agree with the rule.’ So why is the rule the way it is?”
Whether or not the law should be interpreted differently moving forward is a much larger debate, but on Sunday night, the goal stood, and there was nothing the Revs could do about it but react. And they did, coming out of the halftime break with fire and equalizing through Gil in the 52nd minute.
From there, New England felt the game was there to be won, and that perhaps left them a bit overanxious as Toronto FC substitute Jozy Altidore was left free at the back post to finish off what proved to be the game winner in the 80th minute.
It was a goal that frustrated the Revolution, but they were heartened by the fightback they showed under a difficult set of circumstances in the second half.
“I thought tonight we showed a lot of character,” said goalkeeper Brad Knighton. “We came back and we showed what this team is all about. Ultimately we didn’t get the three points and that’s the most important thing, but to see the fight, to see the determination from the group was good.”
“We got to 2-2, and then we shot our own selves in the foot from there,” added Friedel, calling Altidore’s winner a “silly” goal to concede. “But the players put in a real good effort tonight. If we do that, more times than not, we’ll come out on the right side.”
There have been positives to take from each of the Revolution’s first three matches, as Friedel called out the second-half performances in particular in Dallas, at home vs. Columbus, and in Toronto. But those positive performances have ultimately resulted in just a single point, in the season-opening draw at FCD.
That makes the Revolution’s upcoming stretch in which they’ll play five of the next six games at home absolutely vital, beginning next weekend against expansion side FC Cincinnati.
“It felt like we didn’t deserve to lose this game, but like I said, that’s football. It happens,” said captain Michael Mancienne. “We’ve got two massive home games coming up now and we’ve got to get points on the board.”