It was a night of wasted opportunities as 10-man Toronto FC and Orlando City drew 0-0 at BMO Field on Wednesday night.
The scoreless draw wasn’t due to a lack of trying for both sides, as they combined for 23 shots during the match. TFC was especially inaccurate, registering 15 attempts but only hit the target four times.
The tie moves Toronto into first place in the Eastern Conference by one point over the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC. All three teams will be in action this weekend. The draw keeps Orlando five points adrift of a playoff spot.
The match was fast paced from the start, with Tosaint Ricketts hitting the side netting after just four minutes following a lovely flicked-on pass from Jonathan Osorio, who was wreaking havoc all night.
Toronto continued to bombard Orlando’s goal, with its best opportunity arriving in the 19th minute. Marky Delgado found some space on the right side of the box and fired a shot towards the far post, but defender Justin Morrow slid right past the ball as it rolled across the box.
Morrow, who became just the third player in TFC history to make his 100th appearance for the club, tried to return the favor shortly thereafter, but his cross just missed the head of Ricketts.
With Orlando unsettled, head coach Jason Kreis made an early change. The seemingly injured Carlos Rivas was hauled off for Cristian Higuita, changing the formation from a 4-4-2 diamond to a 4-2-3-1 with Cyle Larin as the lone striker.
The Canadian forward recorded a couple of decent chances of his own in the first half, forcing a diving save out of Alex Bono in the process. Larin then had a penalty shout waved away after defender Drew Moor shoved the 21-year-old from behind.
The second half was relatively quiet, apart from Jonathan Osorio’s header from point-blank range going over the bar. However, the tempo increased with around 25 minutes remaining, and the game turned on its head once Ricketts received a second booking for clipping Jose Aja in the face with his boot after an attempted bicycle kick.
Despite owning the man advantage, Orlando could not capitalize. Kaka had a decent chance, but Bono managed to snuff out any through ball that came through TFC’s penalty area.
TFC is unbeaten in four straight games, but it has also failed to win its last four matches at BMO Field, which is a worrying sign for Greg Vanney’s side down the stretch. Orlando did manage to pick up a clean sheet for the first time since Aug. 20, but it is winless since pummeling the Montreal Impact earlier in September.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Toronto’s midfield was solid throughout the game, but Michael Bradley was especially brilliant on Wednesday. He successfully shut down Kaka, snuffed out any potential threat and created plenty of attacking chances.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The biggest opportunity for either side fell to the head of Jonathan Osorio on 49 minutes. Bradley found Jozy Altidore on the left side of the box, the ball bounced off Altidore’s foot towards the center of the goal, but Osorio knocked the header over the bar from a couple of yards out.
MATCH TO FORGET
Tosaint Ricketts’ sending off may have been harsh, but he also wasted a few quality chances during the game. If even one of his shots goes in, TFC probably would have done enough to hold on for the victory.