TFC's winless streak stretches to 13 after 0-0 tie with Montreal in home finale
TORONTO - Toronto FC's winless streak stretched to 13 games with a drab 0-0 tie against the Montreal Impact in its home finale Saturday afternoon.
Toronto (5-20-8) has not won in MLS play since July 18 when it defeated Colorado 2-1, a miserable run that has seen the team go 0-9-4 and earn just four of a possible 39 points. Combined with a league record nine-game losing streak to start the season, it also makes for an 0-18-4 start-and-finish to the 34-game campaign for the league's worst team.
Montreal's winless run now stands at five after its third straight draw, having gone 0-2-3 since defeating D.C. United on Aug. 25. The Impact (12-15-6) controlled most of the play Saturday but could not convert that edge into goals.
Marco Di Vaio had two glorious chances to win it for Montreal in stoppage time but his close-range shot hit a defender before a volley bounced high over the Toronto goal.
The game came two days after Toronto FC, in a bid to retain disgruntled fans, announced it was reducing season ticket prices to match those of its 2007 expansion campaign, when the team went 6-17-7.
The news from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment did not placate some fans. One sign in the supporters' section read "MLSE are crooks."
The game drew an announced crowd of 16,151, which thinned considerable after grey clouds gave way to rain as the first half wore on. A phalanx of travelling Montreal supporters stayed put, wedged into the top corner of the east stand at BMO Field.
Assistant coach Mike Sorber directed Montreal from the sidelines with head coach Jesse Marsch serving a suspension for being ejected last time out in Houston. Star defender Alessandro Nesta started on the bench but was not missed as stylish fellow Italian Matteo Ferrari anchored the backline.
The sun came out as the first half ended scoreless with Toronto hanging tough against a well organized Montreal side. There wasn't much offence to speak off, with an Eric Hassli header straight to Perkins the only shot on target for both teams in the first 45 minutes.
The wayward shooting continued in the second half as Sanna Nyassi hammered a shot well wide after getting the ball from Di Vaio off a Montreal free kick outside the box.
Hassli, returning from an ankle injury, did his bit up front but had almost no support during his 80-minute shift.
Troy Perkins, dressed like an orange pylon in the Impact goal, had little work to do.
Montreal opened with a patient passing game, waiting for the right moment to thread a through ball. The Impact almost opened up the Toronto defence several times before freeing up striker Andrew Wenger, whose shot went just wide in the 13th minute.
In a half that saw some questionable tackles, Impact defender Hassoun Camara escaped punishment after going through Luis Silva on the 17th minute.
Montreal had a chance to go ahead in the 34th but Davey Arnaud's shot was cleared by a defender and Patrice Bernier's attempt went wide on the ensuing corner.
The visitors seemed to target fullback Jeremy Hall and the right side of Toronto's defence.
Toronto's Reggie Lambe almost dribbled through the Montreal defence in the 43rd but Ferrari's sliding tackle ended the threat. Perkins then stopped Eric Avila's long-range shot.
Aaron Maund and Hassli came close for Toronto late in the half on headers but could not find the target.
Wenger, a threat all afternoon, poked the ball wide after a sloppy pass from Richard Eckersley off a Toronto free kick triggered a Montreal counter-attack early in the second half.
Some nice work in the penalty box by Di Vaio required a close-range stop from Freddy Hall in the 76th minute.
Toronto manager Paul Mariner abandoned his normal sideline apparel of shorts and training gear in favour of a suit and topcoat in honour of his father who passed away during the international break.
Mariner had just 18 players at his disposal with injuries to defender Darren O'Dea (thigh), forward Quincy Amarikwa (hamstring) and midfielder Matt Stinson (quad). Goalkeeper Stefan Frei and designated players Danny Koevermans and Torsten Frings all have longterm injuries.
Forward Ryan Johnson was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Terry Dunfield captained the team in the absence of O'Dea and Frings.
Mariner had to rejig his defence further after an injured Logan Emory was forced to leave in the 30th minute. Adrian Cann replaced him.
The Houston tie officially eliminated the Impact from the post-season. But their expansion season has been a success with 12 wins already. In contrast, Toronto has just 45 in its six seasons.
Montreal is bidding to surpass Vancouver (11-12-9 going in to Sunday's game against Portland) in the standings to earn first seed in next season's Amway Canadian Championship. The Impact also had revenge on their mind, having lost 3-0 at home to Toronto in June.
Notes: Toronto midfielder Nic Lindsay was on the bench after missing most of two seasons because of a snowmobile injury. ... Toronto wraps up the season in Columbus next week after a midweek CONCACAF Champions League game in Mexico against Santos Laguna. Montreal's finale is at home to New England.