Toronto had been eyeing a second straight win to open their Major League Soccer campaign but those hopes were dashed after referee David Gantar ruled Morrow's sliding tackle on Ethan Finlay had denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Toronto were in no doubt the referee had made the wrong decision and that it had cost them the match.

"It changed the game," Toronto's Italian international Sebastian Giovinco said. "They are very good at playing with the ball and from that moment on, down a man, it was hard work.

"Until the dismissal, we were playing well and then it changed, that's the way it is," he added. Toronto coach Greg Vanney said he felt the referee had made the wrong decision.

"I saw the ball rolling like he got the ball and the next thing I know the guy is falling over," he said.

"It was one of those last-man plays for sure, but from my perspective and everything I've seen, I didn't see a foul so I don't know what the whole call is (about)," added Vanney, who said he would not be surprised if the red card was rescinded after review by the league.

Goals from Justin Meram and Kei Kamara after the break gave Columbus the win and the Crew's possession play helped them dominate with the extra man.

Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said his side gained the upper hand when they began to increase the tempo of their passing. "Once we started moving the ball quicker you saw how we were able to create chances," he said.

"I'm proud of the way the guys played the whole 90 minutes, but especially to overcome that period in the second half when we started increasing the tempo and we started becoming dangerous."

Berhalter suggested the sending off had thrown Crew off their game. "In a way it made us a little bit complacent to start the second half," he added.

"It certainly had an effect on the game, but I thought the first half was strong - we had enough chances, we created a lot and we had good movements, I'm pleased.

"The second half was a little bit tougher, to be honest, to move the ball, but once we did we were fine."

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