Toronto FC settles for draw against Kansas in home opener
Toronto FC's Raheem Edwards, right, turns around Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi during first half MLS action in Toronto on Friday, March 31, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, March 31, 2017 10:10PM EDT
Toronto FC had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Sporting Kansas City in their home opener in a battle of unbeaten MLS team Friday.
Toronto (1-0-3) had more chances on a wet, windy night -- with temperatures around four degrees Celsius at kickoff -- but was unable to finish off a resilient Sporting Kansas City (1-0-3) before a BMO Field crowd of 27,909.
Sebastian Giovinco, yet to score this season, almost broke the deadlock in the 59th minute but his free kick hit the crossbar. The Italian star deserved a goal, deftly pulling the Toronto strings as the game wore on.
Toronto manager Greg Vanney brought on Jozy Altidore in the 62nd minute and Armando Cooper in the 76th in a bid to beef up the offence.
But it was Kansas City that came close in the dying minutes when a corner flashed through the Toronto penalty box before it was headed away.
It was the third clean sheet of the season for both sides. Kansas City is now unbeaten in its last eight games against Toronto.
Kansas City's mix of pressing and compact defending gave Toronto some early problems, with Giovinco roving all over the field in an attempt to kickstart the home offence. But as the half wore on, Toronto began to make inroads in the Kansas City defence.
Kansas City came forward early but Toronto had the best scoring chance in the 10th minute. Giovinco, in front of goal, could not get a foot on a Steven Beitashour cross after a nice buildup.
Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio hammered the ball wide in the 20th minute after Raheem Edwards beat Graham Zusi down the flank.
Toronto had another chance in the 27th minute when Giovinco found Beitashour racing in from the right. But Beitashour was unable to connect with an unmarked Victor Vazquez.
Toronto 'keeper Clint Irwin went down clutching his knee in the 37th minute when his left foot appeared to get stuck in the turf as he came out to make a save. Irwin, who was able to walk off gingerly, was replaced by Alex Bono.
Osorio had another chance in the 43rd, neatly controlling a Nick Hagglund cross with his right foot but then ballooning the shot with his left foot. Osorio threw his hands in the air and looked to the skies.
Bono had to be sharp in the 53rd minute to turn aside a Dom Dwyer shot after a giveaway by Michael Bradley. And he made another good reflex save in the 70th to deny Gerso Fernandes.
Altidore and Cooper, who faced off Tuesday in a World Cup qualifier in Panama, started on the bench. Canadians Tosaint Ricketts and Edwards, in his first start for the club, took their places.
Bradley started despite leading the U.S. in Panama.
The visitors had only scored two goals in their three previous matches, one of which was an own goal. Influential midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who scored the other one, was sidelined by a thigh strain that ended a string of 22 straight regular-season starts. Soony Said came into the lineup.
The changes meant the only starter to have scored this season was Toronto's Vazquez.
All three Kansas City players involved in international play this week started: Americans Matt Besler and Zusi and Honduran Roger Espinoza.
The game was Toronto's first at BMO Field since the penalty shootout loss to Seattle in the MLS Cup final on Dec. 10.
"With heartbreak comes a new beginning, a new opportunity," read a giant supporters' sign unfurled behind the south goal prior to the game.