TORONTO - Ryan Nelsen said Toronto FC has moved on from its 2-1 loss to Sporting KC over the weekend, but the state of officiating in Major League Soccer still seems to be weighing on the mind of the head coach.
On the eve of Toronto's road game against D.C. United, Nelsen was still quite vocal on perceived officiating mistakes in the game against Sporting. Particularly irksome to the coach was an incident in the 23rd minute where Toronto striker Gilberto was taken down from behind by defender Aurelien Collin.
"How on earth the right back didn't get a yellow card in front of the bench on the tackle on Gilberto is astonishing," Nelsen said after practice Tuesday. "By the letter of the law, you could've had the whole back line sent off."
Toronto failed to pick up points for the first time since July 5 in the match, which saw referee Ted Unkel hand out five eight cards (five to Toronto) and send off Kansas City captain Matt Besler in the 75th minute.
Nelsen said that he hadn't yet heard from the league regarding a fine for his post-match tirade on Saturday, but he also wouldn't be surprised if he has to write a cheque.
"My comments? I thought I was pretty good, wasn't I? I'm probably going to get (fined)," said Nelsen, who admitted to taking time to cool off prior to meeting reporters following the game. "I've heard rumours that a few of the boys might have lost their cool, and I can't really blame them to tell you the truth."
Nelsen believes the lack of infrastructure within the game of soccer in North America is part of the reason he believes there are discrepancies in officiating between the MLS and leagues overseas.
"Overseas, (officials) get experience in the lower leagues … they grow up and they get a feel for the game," he said. "(In North America), they're learning the game as they're officiating at the top level.
"They're trying to get better and better. I take my hat off to them when I know they're trying to get better. You can't ask for anything more from them."
Toronto (7-6-5) hopes for a better result Wednesday, when it begins a stretch at D.C. (10-5-4) that will see them play four straight away from BMO Field. TFC has been effective on the road this season, having gone 2-2-4 and failing to pick up points just twice.
"I think teams open up a bit more when they're at home trying to be a bit more expansive," said Nelsen of the team's road success. "The way we're set up, we're pretty tight and pretty organized and then we can catch them in certain areas when they over play or they go with numbers forward."
D.C. currently sits in seconds place in the Eastern Conference standings and won the only other meeting between the two sides — 2-1 on July 5.
"It was quite harsh. Lesson learned," said defender, Bradley Orr of the previous meeting. "I thought we'd done well in the game. It was unfortunate there to come away there with the defeat, but take nothing away from them, they've come in and done well. We're going to try and replicate what they've done to us. If we can get the three points, that'd be great."
Toronto will be without defenders Doneil Henry (suspended), Steven Caldwell (quad) and Mark Bloom (MCL strain). As a result, Warren Creavalle, who was acquired from the Houston Dynamo on July 23, will likely make his TFC debut Wednesday.
D.C. United has won three straight at home and are 6-2-3 at RFK Stadium this season.
Ben Olsen's side received some good news on the injury front this week as Argentine forward Fabian Espindola (knee) returned to training this week for the first time since suffering the injury July 11. Espindola still leads the Black-and-Red in both goals (7) and assists (8).
Additionally, Chris Pontius (hamstring) has begun light jogging for the first time since undergoing surgery in late April. Neither will be available against the Reds.
Toronto continues its road trip against the Montreal Impact Saturday. The Impact (3-12-5), sit 10th in the Eastern Conference with 14 points. Montreal defeated Toronto 1-0 in their last meeting, the Amway Canadian Championship final.