Toronto FC, Impact battle to scoreless draw
Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – Goalkeeper Freddy Hall made two key stops in stoppage time as Toronto FC ended its regular-season home campaign with a scoreless draw against rival Montreal Impact Saturday at BMO Field.
The shutout was the first for Toronto since July 14 but it also extended their winless run to 13 matches, relegating it to the East cellar with just 23 points.
The Impact, for their part, moved closer to registering the best record by a Canadian team in MLS this year, which would them the No. 1 seed in next year’s Canadian Championship.
Despite a five-game winless run, the Impact’s 42 points are at par with Vancouver, which is battling for a playoff spot in the West.
Aside from Hall’s outstanding defense, Toronto was also aided by lack of sharpness by Montreal attackers.
The Impact started the game in attack mode with rookie forward Andrew Wenger spearheading the charge.
Wenger had three different looks at goal in the opening 15 minutes. The closest he came to scoring was in the 13th minute but his kick went wide right.
Already without injured defender Darren O’Dea and suspended starter Ryan Johnson, Toronto was forced to make an early substitution at the 30-minute mark when central defender Logan Emory suffered an apparent right shoulder injury.
Amid the Impact’s attack, Toronto had its fair share of scoring chances. In the 41st minute Eric Avila’s long-distance shot was easily stopped by Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
A few minutes later, midfielder Aaron Maund led Toronto’s charge but his close-range header finished high.
In the second half, Wenger was again at the forefront of the Impact’s attack, connecting with a cross from right midfielder Collen Warner, but his sliding deflection finished wide.
Forward Eric Hassli, who was making his first start since September 15, was the most aggressive of the Toronto attackers but his attempts ended in the hands of Perkins, who made seven saves for the shutout.
Montreal was coached by assistant Mike Sorber during the game with suspended manager Jesse Marsch watching from the stands.
Toronto tries to end the season on a good note when it travels to Mexico to face Santos Laguna in a must-win CONCACAF Champions League group match Wednesday. Toronto will close its MLS regular season Sunday at Columbus.
Meanwhile, Montreal will get a chance to salute its home crowd after a strong opening MLS season when the Impact host the New England Revolution next Saturday.