Toronto FC upstages Marco Di Vaio’s debut for Montreal

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When PST’s critical gaze turned to MLS this morning, we fully expected to talk about Major League Soccer’s newest Designated Player, Italian striker Marco Di Vaio, who debuted last night for Montreal just hours after the MLS international transfer window swung open.

But we won’t do that; Toronto made other arrangements for us. So instead, let’s talk about the job Paul Mariner is doing with TFC, a.k.a. the “foil” for last night’s talker at Stade Saputo in Montreal.

Instead of playing the punching bag for the home side and its DP debutante, Mariner’s team did a smash-and-grab, scurrying out of town with a resounding 3-0 win over the Impact, which had won two of its last three and was playing well under manager Jess Marsch.

But TFC has been on the incline, too – even if the results weren’t perhaps making that obvious.

Mariner’s time in charge began with a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. That one, like TFC’s next two, highlighted what everyone already knew about the team (and about Mariner’s most pressing need going forward): the defense was a shambles, one further enfeebled by some current injuries.

So TFC yielded five goals over the next two matches, and no surprise there. But the results were intriguing: two ties, one at Houston and another at home to New England; TFC faithful may detest the thought, but draws count as “success” currently around BMO Field.

Wednesday’s eye-opener (the 3-0 road win) puts this thing in a whole new light. Yes, as for victories, it’s just “one in a row” as I like to say. On the other hand, consider this:

Toronto has five points in four games under Mariner, which isn’t too bad. Especially when you consider …

Toronto collected just three points in 10 matches under former coach Aron Winter.

Things are definitely moving in the right direction for Mariner and his men.

Here are highlights of last night’s TFC triumph at Stade Saputo:

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STREAM LIVE: USMNT looks for 3 more points in Panama

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.

Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore

Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski

Reyes header gives Mexico three points in T&T (video)

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Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.

[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]

The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.

The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.

Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.

T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.

Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.

Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
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Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

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France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]

Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?