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Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco moves past Seattle Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam during Wednesday's game.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

For the second time in Toronto FC’s last three games, Major League Soccer’s video review system cost the team points, in the opinion of head coach Greg Vanney, and this time the price was a win.

Vanney felt so strongly the winning goal in the Seattle Sounders’ 2-1 victory on Wednesday night was offside, he brought the photographic evidence to his postgame press conference. Vanney pulled out his phone with a still image of Handwalla Bwana seemingly offside on his goal early in the second half and invited the assembled reporters to look at it.

“You can have your own opinion, I won’t share mine,” Vanney said.

Then, of course, he proceeded to share his opinion of game referee Ted Unkel’s decision not to use the VAR (video-assistant referee) to check if Bwana was offside. So, you thought it was offside?

“I don’t think, I know it’s offside,” Vanney said. “I’m looking at it right here. It’s just inexplicable, two of our last three games, to me is inexplicable. I just don’t know the point of what we are doing. If this isn’t offside, it’s pretty clear.”

On April 28, also at BMO Field, one of the Chicago Fire’s goals was thought to be offside by TFC but the game referee also declined to consult the replay and the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Under the MLS system, referees are notified via an ear piece by the VAR if a goal might require a second look, but it is up to them to consult the video before the ball is put back in play.

Vanney was upset not only because he felt the goal was clearly offside but that Unkel was not interested in reviewing it.

“We got multiple looks at this,” Vanney said. “I just don’t understand. And we don’t even take a real look. That ball is back in play about as quick as it can get back in play on a goal. It’s incomprehensible. I’m not sure if in four years I’ve ever sat up here and talked about a refereeing job. This is frustrating.

“You have a team and credit to them, they had a game plan and executed. In these moments, things need to go the way they’re supposed to go. That’s the frustrating part. At the end of the day, it comes down to making the calls. We can talk forever and it comes down to humans making the call given all the information they have.”​

TFC is not the only MLS team complaining about the VAR system, although it does not appear the league is about to make any changes.

The Sounders indeed executed a masterful game plan against the Reds, sitting back in a defensive shell and waiting to strike on the counterattack when a Toronto scoring chance stalled. It was how they scored the first goal of the game, quickly turning the ball up-field when TFC striker Sebastian Giovinco fell and lost the ball. Striker Will Bruin scored in the 25th minute.

TFC managed to tie the score 15 minutes later when midfielder Victor Vazquez started a nifty sequence with Giovinco that ended with Jonathan Osorio heading the ball past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who had an otherwise outstanding game. But when Bwana managed to get behind the entire Reds back line in the 54th minute for the winning goal it was not only the edge the Seattle defenders needed, it exposed the growing TFC weakness in the face of a ceaseless run of injuries.

The game may have been a rematch of last season’s MLS Cup but the fortunes of both teams, thanks to injuries, took a 180-degree turn since TFC beat Seattle 2-0 in the championship game last December. The Sounders came into the game in last place in the Western Conference with a 1-4-2 record while the Reds sat second from the bottom in the Eastern Conference with a 2-4-1 mark.

Two more players were added to the TFC injured list on Wednesday, as midfielder Nicolas Haser was unable to play due to a strained quadriceps muscle sustained in last Friday’s win over the Philadelphia Union. Even worse, Vazquez had to leave Wednesday’s game at halftime when he took a bump while making a pass.

Vanney said he did not know if the injury was related to the nerve trouble in his lower back Vazquez has been struggling with all season. Nor did he know if the Spanish star will be able to play in Saturday’s away game against the New England Revolution.

Also missing for TFC are striker Jozy Altidore, out four to six weeks after foot surgery, defenders Drew Moor (torn quadriceps), Chris Mavinga (lower body), Eriq Zavaleta (quad), Nick Hagglund (hamstring) and Justin Morrow (calf).

While Altidore and Moor are out for the long term, Vanney said earlier this week he hopes to get at least one or two of Mavinga, Zavaleta or Hagglund back for the Revolution game.

The problem now is the wear and tear on the remaining healthy players with so many of their teammates on the sidelines.

“My concern is we are running the guys we have into the ground because we don’t have the depth to continue to give guys an opportunity and games are coming fast and furious,” Vanney said. “We’re asking a lot of your guys physically right now because we’re thin. That to me is more of the current concern, it’s not the play [of the team].”

The coach also pointed a finger at the BMO Field turf. A long, wet and cold winter combined with a large number of games early in the season thanks to the Reds making the CONCACAF Champions League tournament, made the grass pitch unstable. It will be replaced in late May when the Reds take an extended break in their home schedule.

Vanney said the loose turf is hurting the team in two ways. One is that offensive stars like Giovinco are taking more time to shoot the ball because they are not sure how it will react and the other is by helping cause injuries.

“My concern more is guys like [Hasler] going down,” he said. “We keep losing guys because those issues are also a product of [the pitch].”

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