TFC's winless streak vs. Columbus continues

TFC's winless streak against the Columbus Crew lingers on, courtesy of a 1-1 draw Saturday at BMO Field. A 1-0 advantage for TFC was erased by a Emilio Renteria goal for Columbus in the second half, denying Toronto the chance to end five years worth of hurt against their bitter rivals.

Toronto FC draws Columbus Crew 1-1 on Saturday at BMO Field

Toronto FC's knack for shooting itself in the foot truly knows no limits.

The Reds' legendary winless streak against the Columbus Crew now stands at an amazing 12 games, courtesy of a 1-1 draw Saturday before an announced crowd of 20,145 fans at BMO Field.

A 1-0 TFC advantage was erased by an Emilio Renteria goal for Columbus early in the second half, denying Toronto the chance to end five years' worth of hurt against their bitter rivals.

It all could have been so different for Toronto (1-2-4), now winless in its last five matches — its lone victory this season coming a month ago against the expansion Portland Timbers.

The Reds jumped out in front in the 41st minute with a brilliant goal by midfielder Tony Tchani, just reward for a Toronto side that dominated play up until that point.

But Tchani earned his second yellow card of the match for unsporting behaviour when he hopped the advertising boards surrounding the field and went into the crowd to celebrate his goal.

Although TFC may feel a bit hard done by, they can hardly use Tchani's expulsion as an excuse. Questionable officiating is, sadly, too often the norm in Major League Soccer. It's a mark of a team's true character when it can overcome the poor decisions from the refs and still find a way to win.

Saturday's result was another setback for TFC in their five-year rivalry with the Crew. Toronto has never defeated Columbus, losing five of the 12 matches between the two sides since the Reds joined MLS in 2007.

Last season, it was a dramatic last-minute goal by Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer — of all people — that allowed the Crew to earn a 2-2 draw at BMO Field and compound Toronto's misery.

This time the Reds were the authors of their own downfall with Tchani's decision to celebrate excessively being the catalyst for another Toronto capitulation against Columbus.

To be sure, referee David Gantar should have used discretion and exercised a little more common sense, instead of following the letter of the law in giving Tchani his marching orders.

But to his great credit, TFC coach Aron Winter put the blame squarely on the shoulders on Tchani. . "It [was] stupid," stated Winter. "He had a yellow card, and you know when you're going to jump from the [field] into the crowd that you're going to get a second yellow.

"At that moment he was emotional because it was his first goal for TFC. But it was not clever."

Winter did say he felt the Reds deserved three points and that his team "threw the game away."

Tchani bravely faced the press horde gathered around his locker after the game, and said he felt he was unjustly sent off because his first yellow card should have gone to teammate Alan Gordon.

"My first one, it wasn't actually me. I didn't push [the Columbus player]. I didn't want to snitch on my teammate but it was my teammate who pushed the guy," Tchani explained.

Slow starts from the opening kickoff have been the trademark of Toronto this season, but the Reds dominated the opening half thanks to a packed five-man midfield that suffocated the Crew.

The payoff came in the 41st minute when Julian de Guzman played a gorgeous pass over the Columbus defence, allowing Tchani to run onto the end of it and slot it just inside the post.

But joy amongst the TFC players quickly turned to outrage when Gantar gave Tchani his marching orders.

That changed the complexion of the match.

Columbus wasted little time in making the most of their numeric advantage with Renteria nodding home a gorgeous cross played into the box in the 49th minute to level the score.

From there, it was all Columbus, as the Crew pinned TFC inside its half and forced the Reds to chase the ball.

NOTES: Toronto was without defenders Nana Attakora (groin injury) and Ty Harden (suspension) and midfielder Alen Stevanovic (abductor strain). Forward Alan Gordon returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the last two matches through injury.… English defender Richard Eckersley, acquired by Toronto earlier this month, made his MLS debut as a second-half substitute.... TFC's next game is in the Canadian club championship next Wednesday when it visits FC Edmonton. The Reds return to MLS action on April 30 against the hometown Seattle Sounders.