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Toronto FC 0-0 New York Red Bulls: An exercise in spin

The good news is that Toronto FC managed to defend well and keep a clean sheet against one of the top attacks in the MLS. The bad news is that they never really looked like a team with the hope of taking all three points away from the match.

Robles denies Ecks what could have been a winning goal
Robles denies Ecks what could have been a winning goal

Toronto FC's 0-0 draw against the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field was a match of two contrasting stories. That is why you are going to get two different match reports to show how easily a game like this can be spun one way or the other.

The Good:

On a sunny Saturday at BMO Field, Toronto FC managed to keep a clean sheet in front of a good crowd of nearly 20,000 fans. They did not do it by the skin of their teeth either as they really restricted the impact of the Red Bull big money attackers. Over the course of 90 minutes they held their opponents to just one shot on goal which was dealt with by Joe Bendik. It was a good reaction save by the keeper to deny Henry's low shot which was thankfully struck close enough to Bendik to give him a chance to keep it out.

All the fans who came down to BMO hoping to see something special from Thierry Henry or Tim Cahill went home disappointed as neither player had much of an impact on the game. Toronto got one of their strongest defensive performances of the season from a back four of Richard Eckersley, Steven Caldwell, Doneil Henry, and Ashtone Morgan. The bright spot of the bunch was Morgan who actually looked like a MLS calibre defender for the first time this season while Ecks showed that he is recovering some of his form following that long injury layoff.

On the other end of the field Toronto managed to create some decent attacking moves despite Danny Koevermans and Robert Earnshaw being out injured. In the first half TFC's best chances came from low balls hit into the box by Eckersley and Jeremy Brockie but the first couldn't find a player in red and the second was too close to Luis Robles.

Toronto had some chances early in the second half from a Bobby Convey free kick and then a long range shot by Eckersley but neither effort was enough to really worry Robles. Eckersley created another good chance for himself in the 73rd minute when he bombed forward into the box and his shot took a slight deflection off the defender which nearly wrong footed Robles but the New York keeper still managed to get a hand on it and push it over the bar.

TFC got quality play all over the field and were the better team on the day but just lacked that little bit of quality needed in the final third to come away with all three points. If not for some solid work from Robles in goal the hosts would have taken their first win at BMO Field in nearly a year.

The Bad:

With Koevermans and Earnshaw on the sidelines with injury Toronto once again failed to find their way onto the scoresheet on Saturday at BMO Field. With New York looking like a team lacking motivation the host reds failed to take advantage of a team that seemed to be looking past this game.

The Red Bulls find themselves up near the top of the Eastern Conference standings and firmly in the playoff race while Toronto find themselves near the basement of the league so it is not a surprise that they would be looking past this match which was sandwiched between games against two top sides in the Montreal Impact and Real Salt Lake.

The door was open for Toronto to come away from this match with a much needed three points but they lacked any real quality in the final third with their best chance of the match coming from a shot by Richard Eckersley that took a deflection before being turned away by Luis Robles.

New York could have snatched the game away if not for a questionable offside call against Cahill in the first half. It looked like Doneil Henry was a bit slow to push up and held the Australian onside but as the ball made its way into the back of the net the assistant raised his flag and ruled it out. It was a close call at best and Toronto were probably lucky to dodge that bullet.

Despite some quality play from Matias Laba and Jonathan Osorio in the middle of the park TFC struggled to create much centrally. Instead they were forced to rely on coming down the wings with Morgan and Eckersley getting forward frequently. It led to TFC playing in 21 crosses from open play but lack of targets in the box and poor delivery meant that they created very little off of those crosses.

Things get really bleak though when you put the game into perspective of the season and the club's history. Toronto managed to keep a clean sheet in this match but were also held scoreless for the 8th time in 20 MLS matches. They now have just 17 goals in those 20 games which is not good enough.

Toronto continued their string of poor results against New York who are now on a nine match unbeaten run against TFC. All-time the energy drinks have 9 wins and 4 draws in 16 meetings between the two clubs including that game that all TFC fans prefer to pretend never happened.

Toronto are now winless in their last six games and have just win in their last 18 matches. Their last MLS win at BMO Field is now over a year ago, July 18, 2012 when they beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1. Fans have had only 2 wins to enjoy at BMO field since then, one in CCL play last August and a first leg victory over Montreal this April in Voyageurs Cup action that no-one can be happy about given what happened in the second leg, another game it's better to pretend never happened.

Despite the positives in this game it is just another piece of an increasingly dire looking puzzle. Unless the team brings in attacking reinforcements soon this historically bad run of results is likely to continue.

It is up to you which way you want to look at this match. If taken in isolation things are not that bad but when put into the bigger picture it is hard to feel to positive about a 0-0 draw even against a strong New York side.