TORONTO - For the second game in a row, Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz was Philadelphia's weakest link.
But, unlike in the home-opening victory Saturday against D.C. United, this time his teammates couldn't bail him out. The Union lost, 2-1, to Toronto FC in the Reds' MLS home opener at BMO Field last night in front of 21,978.
Seitz was the culprit on both Toronto FC goals. He allowed what should have been a harmless grassburner of a free kick off the foot of Toronto FC striker Dwayne De Rosario to go right through him and cross the line 35 minutes into the game. Even though the Union tied it up at the stroke of halftime, Seitz' night of infamy wasn't done.
With 10 minutes left, he dived at the feet of Reds substitute O'Brian White and knocked over the striker, which opened the door for De Rosario to convert a penalty kick to win the game.
On Saturday, Seitz allowed himself to be stripped of the ball by United's veteran goal-poacher, Jaime Moreno, who scored the tying goal. But Sebastien Le Toux's hat-trick goal got Seitz out of jail.
John Hackworth, the Union's acting coach, gave Seitz a vote of confidence after the game. He said the team understands that Seitz, who played at BMO Field as part of the U.S. team that took part in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, will make rookie mistakes.
"There is no question about Chris Seitz," Hackworth said. "He is our goalie. He is extremely talented."
"It's just one of those things," Seitz said about the free-kick goal, but was careful not to say anything about the penalty call. "Jordan [defender Jordan Harvey] made a move and couldn't quite get to it, and I just caught it late."
But he was bolstered by Hackworth's vote of confidence. "Obviously, it means a lot," he said. "We have a team that sticks together. It's going to be a long season."
De Rosario's free-kick goal came after Union defender Danny Califf, the last man back, lost control of the ball, and then delivered a forearm shiver to the face of onrushing Toronto FC attacker Julian de Guzman. Referee Baldomero Toledo had little choice but to issue a red card.
Califf felt the blame for the loss was his, as the Union played down a man for 60 minutes.
"It is what it is," Califf said. "I take full responsibility for my actions. Tonight's loss, it's on my shoulders. As the captain, I should do a better job leading the team. I made a mistake tonight - and the team paid for my mistake."
Even though the Union was down a man, it was the better team for the remainder of the second half. And it got the equalizer when midfielder Roger Torres floated a perfect lofted pass over the head of Maksim Usanov, TFC's new Russian defender, making his MLS debut. Jordan Harvey ran onto the ball and slotted home the equalizer just before halftime.
Toronto FC coach Predrag "Preki" Radosavljevic said his team struggled with the opening-night jitters - and that he couldn't wait for the halftime whistle to try to settle his team down.
"We were nervous. It almost felt like we were scared to play," Radosavljevic said.
And the Union could have actually taken the lead 2 minutes into the second half; Le Toux was left wide open in the penalty area, but, with Toronto FC netminder Stefan Frei at his mercy, he pushed a header right at the goalkeeper.
For the second game in a row, Union manager Peter Nowak did not direct his team from the sideline, choosing to watch from the press box out of respect for the victims of the plane crash that claimed the life of Polish president Lech Kaczynski. Nowak is a former captain of the Polish national team.