The Kansas City Wizards became just the third team to leave BMO Field with a point this season, yet still saw their winless streak reach seven games in a 0-0 draw with Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon.
Both teams had their share of chances, but never took command of a foul-filled and sometimes listless contest. Still, the result could be considered somewhat of a moral victory for the Wizards, as TFC hasn't lost on their home field since Sept. 22, 2007.
The two sides were even in the opening minutes, as TFC held the edge in ball possession while K.C. had the better actual chances. Forward Scott Sealy collected the Wizards' first two shots, the second a strike off of a Davy Arnaud cross that appeared to surprise Reds goalkeeper Brian Edwards, but the ball flew left of the Toronto net.
It was the typical slow start for both clubs, each of which had scored just two goals in the opening 20 minutes of any match this season. Toronto attempted a number of long passes downfield to striker Jeff Cunningham, none of which were successful due to either good coverage by the Wizards' back line, or Cunningham holding up to avoid a blatant offside call.
The Reds' best early chance came in the 26th minute when Cunningham and TFC scoring leader Danny Dichio joined on a two-man rush into the K.C. penalty area. Dichio found some space in front of the net and was able to accept Cunningham's pass, but Dichio's shot was easily handled by Wizards 'keeper Kevin Hartman.
The Wizards made a few changes to the lineup that suffered a 3-0 defeat last Saturday against Columbus. Sasha Victorine and Roger Espinoza replaced Carlos Marinelli and Jonathan Leathers in the midfield, while Jack Jewsbury moved from the middle to the back line.
TFC, meanwhile, kept the same starting XI that defeated Colorado 3-1 last Saturday. Even with the likes of Amado Guevara, Maurice Edu, Jim Brennan and Greg Sutton back from international duty and available for selection, the stable lineup reflected coach John Carver's policy of rewarding players who perform well when called into the lineup.
This holdover lineup, however, was finding far fewer opportunities than they did against the Rapids. The Wizards held TFC in check with some tight central defending, and seemed to create a decent scoring chance whenever they had extended possession of the ball A Claudio Lopez corner kick in the 31st minute found the front of the net and rolled dangerously through the goal area, but the ball went out of bounds before a player could get a foot on it.
As in the last match between the two sides on April 26, the score was 0-0 after 45 minutes. The difference was that the Reds kept up a strong attack in the April meeting, while on this day they sabotaged their own efforts with a number of careless fouls. Toronto accumulated 13 fouls in the first half, an unusually undisciplined performance for a club whose season-high in fouls for an entire game was 17. The Wizards only committed two fouls, but both (from Jewsbury and Kerry Zavagnin) were severe enough to merit bookings from referee Michael Kennedy.
In spite of all the notable names on his bench, Carver didn't make any halftime substitutions, and in fact the Reds showed a bit more life on attack to open the second half. Toronto had a solid spell possession, starting with a Laurent Robert direct free kick in the 52nd minute, though the club's series of passes led to just one chance. Olivier Tebily made a short centering pass from within the penalty area that found midfielder Todd Dunivant, but Dunivant muffed on the shooting attempt.
The substitutions finally came a few minutes later for TFC, as Guevara, Brennan and Edu replaced Cunningham, Dunivant and Kevin Harmse, respectively. Guevara was perhaps the most notable entry, as the attacking midfielder had missed Toronto's previous three league games playing for his native Honduras.
Guevara scored both goals against K.C. in Toronto's victory on April 26, and nearly added his third of the season against the Wizards in the 62nd minute. The midfielder found some room with the ball inside the Kansas City penalty area and sent a hard shot towards the top of the net. Hartman had to jump to knock the ball over the crossbar.
Though the return of the regular starters seemed to spark the Reds' attack, the sloppy play continued for Toronto. Fouls and offside calls short-circuited a number of good-looking drives for TFC before they could properly develop.
The Wizards, meanwhile, kept threatening and creating chances when none seemed possible. In the 76th minute, Victorine carried the ball down the Toronto end line and managed a cross past Edwards that required Reds defender Marvell Wynne to clear the ball away in front of the open net. A similar play occurred nine minutes later, when substitute forward Ryan Pore sent a last-gasp cross while falling out of bounds behind the TFC net that almost found Lopez, but Marco Velez was in place to kick the ball away.
Controversy erupted during extra time, when Dichio found the back of the net, volleying home a Guevara free kick. The referee's assistant immediately went up for offside, however, drawing a heated response from the BMO Field crowd and the Toronto players, particularly Laurent Robert, who was booked for dissent.
The Reds got an added opportunity when Roger Espinoza was sent off in the 93rd minute, but TFC couldn't capitalize in the short amount of time remaining.
The Reds will try to turn around their road woes (1-4 away from BMO Field this season) next Saturday night at New England, while Kansas City heads home for just their second league game at CommunityAmerica Ballpark since April 12 when the Wizards play host to Real Salt Lake next Saturday.
Mark Polishuk is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.