TORONTO – It’s been that kind of year at BMO Field.
Toronto FC closed out their 2012 home campaign on Saturday afternoon with a 0-0 draw against rivals Montreal Impact, who were making their first-ever visit to Toronto in MLS regular season play.
Goalkeeper Freddy Hall helped TFC hold on to their first league shutout since July 14 with a couple of key stops during a hectic series of stoppage time assaults on the Toronto goal. TFC were also helped by a lack of sharpness from Montreal’s attackers, a common theme that afflicted both sides in the scoreless match.
While Toronto’s winless run reaches 13 matches, the expansion Impact moved closer to registering the best record by a Canadian team in MLS this year, which would give them the No. 1 seed in next year’s Canadian Championship. Despite their current five-game winless run, the Impact’s 42 points are on par with Vancouver, who are still battling for a playoff spot in the West.
Montreal, who generated the best build-ups throughout the match, started out on the offensive and their rookie forward Andrew Wenger had three different looks at goal in the opening 15 minutes. The closest he came to scoring was in the 13th minute when he latched onto a through ball up the gut of the Toronto defense and touched the ball wide right of the goal.
A shorthanded TFC side, already missing injured defender Darren O’Dea and suspended starter Ryan Johnson, had just 18 available players, but they were forced to make an early substitution at the half-hour mark when central defender Logan Emory came off with an apparent right shoulder injury. Veteran Adrian Cann filled in for his first appearance since August 25.
Toronto labored in the attack but still had their fair share of chances. In the 41st minute Eric Avila’s long-distance shot was easily stopped by Montreal ‘keeper Troy Perkins. A few minutes later fellow midfielder Aaron Maund was the target of a TFC set piece, but his close-range header finished high.
Montreal's Wenger was again dangerous to start the second half, connecting with a cross from right midfielder Collen Warner, but his sliding deflection finished wide. The enterprising forward fired off another shot in the 62nd minute in his final salvo before coming off nine minutes later.
Forward Eric Hassli, who was making his first start since September 15, was the most aggressive of the Toronto attackers. But his attempts, as well as the those by midfielders Terry Dunfield (68th minute) and Reggie Lambe (51st minute), finished right at Perkins, who made seven saves for the shutout.
Montreal were coached by assistant Mike Sorber on the day with suspended manager Jesse Marsch watching from the stands.
TFC, who close out their 2012 MLS home schedule with a 3-9-5 record, will hope to end the season on a good note when they travel to Mexico to face Santos Laguna in a must-win CONCACAF Champions League group match on Wednesday (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer and GolTV Canada). They close out their MLS regular season on Sunday, October 28 at Columbus (4 pm ET, TSN and RDS2).
Meanwhile, Montreal will get a chance to salute their home crowd after a strong opening MLS season when they host the New England Revolution next Saturday (2 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sanna Nyassi||A yellow card and subsequent suspension for the season finale tarnished an otherwise active and effective performance for Nyassi, who was a thorn in Toronto's side throughout the entire match.|
|2||Marco Di Vaio||The Montreal DP kept plugging away until the very end, and he could have sealed all three points in stoppage time. Although he'll be disappointed in his finishing and perhaps in a few of the passing choices by his teammates, it was an overall good day for Di Vaio.|
|3||Matteo Ferrari||When Toronto weren't busy telegraphing their shots at Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins, they were being stuffed by the Italian center back, who made a handful of timely interventions in dangerous spots to foil TFC.|