TORONTO (AP) — U.S. World Cup player Michael Bradley took dead at the Major League Soccer and its referees Saturday night after Toronto FC's 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
"It's by no means an excuse, it was the same for both teams, but the referee was absolutely awful," the Toronto player said. "The people at the MLS office in New York, when they talk about wanting to improve the league, the first thing that needs to be improved is the refereeing, bottom line.
"That shouldn't come across as sour grapes because that's just the reality. And it was bad for both teams and I'm sure they're sitting in their locker room saying the same thing to themselves, but they've got three points with them and that certainly makes it a little easier to swallo
Referee Ted Unkel issued eight yellow cards, including five to Toronto. Kansas City was reduced to 10 men in the 75th minute when captain Matt Besler got a second yellow.
Despite that, substitute Jacob Peterson scored five minutes for defending MLS champions Kansas City.
Foremost on Toronto's list of complaints was a no-call in the 23rd minute when Unkel waved play on after Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin, chasing Brazilian striker Gilberto after a deft through ball from Bradley, appeared to clip the Brazilian's leg.
Gilberto, who had a clear path on goal, went down and Bradley went after the referee imploring for a call, which should have garnered Collin a red card. The French defender went unpunished and Toronto got the first four yellows of the night.
Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen was appalled by the no-call.
"Collin should have been sent off. I mean an under-12 ref can pick that one," Nelsen said. "That's pretty basic."
Nelsen said he was left wondering what was going on with the referee, whose decisions he said had mystified his players.
"You tell them to forget about all the decisions that went against you, forget about all that, forget about the ridiculous yellow cards that we got and they got nothing," Nelson said. "Just try and focus on the game. But they're human."
Kansas City coach Peter Vermes had a different view of the officiating.
"I thought the referee did a good job tonight, that is my personal opinion," Vermes said. "I don't think it was an easy game to ref. I really liked his management of the game."
On the tiebreaking goal, Peterson — a former Toronto midfielder — took advantage of Toronto's inability to clear a deflected cross and poked the ball past goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Graham Zusi tied it for Kansas City (11-5-5) in the 48th minute.
Kansas City has won four straight and is 6-0-1 in its last seven games. It also extended its club-record road winning streak to five games.
Jackson scored for Toronto (7-6-5) in the 16th minute.