SPORTS

Toronto FC plays D.C. United to 0-0 on blustery afternoon at BMO Field

06/27/2015 07:08 EDT | Updated 06/27/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Toronto FC capped a three-game homestand with a 0-0 scoreless draw against D.C. United on Saturday.

And as they prepared to head out on the road minus four key players, coach Greg Vanney couldn't help but think his team missed an opportunity.

"I think we could've taken more points out of the week, for sure," Vanney said. "But. . . today by the third game, you start to feel it in the legs a little bit and we needed to be a little sharper. And between tough conditions and maybe a lack of that final action, that final touch, we just didn't take the points.

"For me it wasn't a step back, maybe a couple of points lost on the week that I think we should have taken."

For the next two games at least, Toronto (7-6-2) will missing captain Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, who will be with the U.S. squad in Gold Cup action. Starters Jonathan Osorio and Ashtone Morgan, plus backup goalkeeper Quillan Roberts, will be with the Canadian squad in the Gold Cup.

"I've been pretty candid about the idea that MLS and U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF and FIFA and the CSA (Canadian Soccer Association) really need to try to figure out ways so that guys are not missing games," Bradley said.

"As the league continues to get better and as there continues to be more international players, you can't have games where teams are missing two, three, four players because of international duty. It's not fair to anybody, players, coaches, fans, the league."

Toronto had opened the homestand a week earlier with a 2-0 loss to New York City FC, then thumped Montreal in a thrilling 3-1 win on Wednesday.

But three days after that victory — what had to have been one of the team's most entertaining performances ever — Saturday was anything but entertaining.

The combination of horrible weather, sloppy play and the blank scoreline made for a miserable afternoon for the announced crowd of 16,382 fans that braved the blustery conditions at BMO Field.

"It was a hard-fought game in tough conditions," Vanney said. "The wind was definitely playing tricks on the ball, so it was hard to read it, and the field was definitely really quick."

Players on both sides had trouble stringing together passes in the relentless rain, and wind gusts that had the players' shorts flapping like flags.

But a victory was Toronto's for the taking, as they outshot D.C. United (10-5-5), the Eastern Conference leaders, 18-4, and controlled the play for much of the game.

"I prefer a good draw than losing the game at 90 minutes, but I think we could do better tonight," said defender Damien Perquis.

Sebastian Giovinco, once again, created numerous scoring opportunities. Over the course of the game, he launched crosses to Altidore, who headed the ball over the net, Osorio, whose left-footed shot rolled just inches wide of the post, and Bradley, who lunged at the ball and missed. Bradley lay on the pitch, frustrated, for several seconds after the miss.

Now, nearing the midway point in the season, Bradley said the team is feeling confident.

"We all know that this league is very often not about how you start but how you finish and so given everything that's been thrown at us through 15 games, I believe, we're in a good spot," he said. "We feel like we're just scratching the surface in terms of who we are, what we can be about. There's real optimism inside this group that we can have a team that is going to be there in the end."

Toronto had defeated D.C. United earlier this month in a 2-1 win that ended United's 16-game unbeaten streak at home.

Toronto plays the next two games on the road, against the Galaxy in L.A. next Saturday, then at expansion New York City FC on July 12.

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