Cruz Azul came at Toronto FC in blue wave after blue wave.
The current top team in the Mexican league — a team that had scored 11 times in its previous two CONCACAF Champions League games — attacked down the left, down the right, through the middle.
But, despite applying 95 minutes of hellacious pressure, Cruz Azul couldn’t break down Toronto FC, and the Reds earned a heroic 0-0 draw in Mexico City Tuesday night.
Make no mistake, earning a draw in Mexico was a more impressive feat than the Reds’ 2-1 win over Cruz Azul in Toronto last month.
\With two home games left on TFC’s Champions League schedule, the Reds can emerge into the quarterfinals if they can take both of them.
When the final standings in Group A are tallied, that one point earned in Mexico, a country where no MLS team has ever won in CCL action, could be massive.
The Reds allowed Cruz Azul acres of space throughout the pitch, choosing to pack the penalty area with defenders, forcing the Mexican shooters to fire through a virtual wall. Adrian Cann, marshalling the back line, may have played his finest game in red.
So, despite all the possession, Cruz Azul only had two massive chances.
Five minutes into the second half, left winger Alejandro Vela delivered a cross that found an unmarked Javier Orozco in the Toronto penalty area. But, the top goal scorer in the history of the CCL headed the best chance of the game over the target.
With 15 minutes left, after a scramble in the TFC penalty area, the ball fell to Vela, the brother of Arsenal’s Carlos Vela. But, from point-blank range, he fired wide.
TFC got a break when Cruz Azul defender Fausto Pinto was sent off with 10 minutes to go, after he shoved Julian de Guzman to the turf. Pinto earned his second yellow of the game.
Toronto FC coach Nick Dasovic made seven changes to the Reds’ starting lineup from the team that beat Houston 2-1 on Saturday. The biggest moves? Dwayne De Rosario, who scored twice Saturday, was placed on the bench, as was regular No. 1 keeper Stefan Frei.
Jon Conway started in Frei’s place.
De Rosario, though, had to come on within a half-hour because of two freakish injuries that forced Dasovic to make changes he didn’t want to make so early in a 0-0 match.
Orozco’s most notable contribution was an early shoulder challenge on Toronto’s Joseph Nane, which threw off the Reds’ midfielder as he was about to strike the ball. His foot drove into the ground, and he had to be subbed off before the game was 10 minutes old. Martin Saric, who came on for Nane, had to leave minutes later with a hamstring problem.