Draw pushes TFC up a little

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

Last night's result wasn't good for either team involved.

Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire played to a 0-0 draw at Toyota Park on Wednesday -- and the single point each team got will do little to aid their scrambles to get back into the playoff race.

The result allowed the Reds to edge one point ahead of Kansas City for third in the Eastern Conference. Chicago remains two behind, but has two games in hand on the Reds.

"We'll take the point, the result pushes us up a little bit," Dwayne De Rosario, just back from Canadian national team, told Sportsnet.

But TFC is still four points behind the San Jose Earthquakes in the chase for the eighth and final playoff spot in MLS, and the Reds have just seven games left on the schedule.

You can look at coming matches with D.C. United, the worst team in the East, and Houston, second-worst in the West, and think that the Reds can get back into the race with a couple of wins. But, when you can't score, when your team has no cutting edge -- there is no such thing as an easy game.

Toronto FC misses striker Chad Barrett, out with a bad hamstring desperately.

Even though the game finished scoreless, both teams will be lamenting their missed chances.

The best of the game fell to Freddie Ljungberg, one of Chicago's two designated players. Three minutes into the second half, he found himself alone behind the TFC defenders, closing in on keeper Stefan Frei. He eased a side-footed attempt, trying to place it inside the post. It rolled harmlessly wide, a real let off.

While Toronto did well to press the Chicago back line early, Chicago got the first big chance of the game on a counterattack. Former Fulham striker Collins John got in behind the Reds' backline and was able to get a wicked, low drive on the Toronto goal. TFC keeper Stefan Frei beat away the shot; John got the rebound, but his second attempt never made it to goal thanks to a diving block from centre back Adrian Cann, who hustled to get back in the play.

But, despite Toronto's pressure, the only two meaningful moments the Reds had in front of Chicago keeper Sean Johnson came in the form of penalty claims.

After the ball was scrambled about the Chicago penalty area, it struck Chicago defender C.J. Brown on the arm. But, because Brown was facing the play -- and the ball was on its way harmlessly into touch, a penalty would not have been just.

Toronto's second claim for a penalty, which came right before half time, was more valid. After a good spell of TFC pressure, the ball was launched into the box where it went off defender Dasan Robinson and then struck defender Steve Kinney's arm. While Kinney wasn't looking at the play, the ball was clearly swept away by his motion. While it wasn't intentional, it was hand-to-ball.

When Preki took over this club, he preached that hard work would get the team results. And it did.

But, as the season wears on, the need for skill is becoming more apparent. You can preach about hard work all you want; but if that alone won championships, Bolton would be counting all its Premiership titles.

Toronto's best chances of the second half came off the set play that's been the most effective for the club of late -- the Dan Gargan throw.

Gargan's long throw into the Chicago penalty area careened off the heads of striker O'Brian White and defender Robinson, and glanced just wide.

Then, with 15 minutes left in the second, another throw fell to White, who had his point-blank chance stopped by Chicago keeper Johnson.

But Toronto needs to create more from open play. Or the Reds will have to be satisfied with being the hardest working team to ever miss the MLS playoffs.


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