Joe Bendik made four saves on Saturday night as Toronto played the Houston Dynamo to a scoreless draw that extended the Reds' unbeaten streak to three games.
In a contest that saw few good scoring chances, Bendik helped Toronto secure its first clean sheet since Oct. 20, 2012, against Montreal, which also ended in a scoreless tie.
"We have been very close six or seven times and conceded late," Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen said of the clean sheet. "We have had a bit of bad luck, but it was always going to come. It is something to grow from. We notch that one, and we try to get as many more as we can."
Bendik said before this season, Toronto would either make a mistake or the opposition would catch a break and get a goal late. That did not happen Saturday night.
"We finished the game out today as we did last week (a 2-1 victory at D.C. United)," Bendik said. "It is hopefully the first of many (shutouts). It was a pretty good team effort. 0-0 in Houston is a pretty good mental challenge."
In extending its unbeaten streak, Toronto (2-7-6, 12 points) stretched Houston's (6-5-5, 23 points) winless streak to six.
Toronto had a chance to notch the game-winner late, but Jeremy Brockie's shot in the 85th minute from outside the box saved by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, and Danny Koevermans' rebound attempt was also saved by Hall, who also finished with four stops.
Toronto's Doneil Henry had a header off a corner kick in the 16th minute saved by Hall as well.
Brockie said Toronto will take the result.
"At this stage we will take one point over no points. Over the 90 minutes, we had the better opportunities than they did," he said. "It is a little disappointing to not get one on the board, but the boys worked very hard for the result."
Will Bruin had Houston's best chances — three headers in the first half — with one cleared, a second go high and a third saved by Bendik.
"I thought it was a very sufficient performance," Nelsen said. "Obviously, it is one of the most difficult places to play, especially this time of year. (Houston head coach) Dominic (Kinnear) has them so well-rounded. June, July, August this is such a hard place to come. The guys had to stand up and all of them did. Unfortunately we couldn't pinch it at the end."
Nelsen said the two games upcoming at home are key, and if Toronto came get two positive results, then things would start to look a bit different as the club tries to climb the Eastern Conference table.
"Guys from day one to now are improving," Nelsen said. "The team as a whole is improving. I think the performances have been there, and we haven't gotten the results we deserve, but I think now the hard work they have put in has paid off."Suggest a correction