For the second time in six matches, Toronto FC failed to break down a short-handed opponent, drawing 1-1 with a ten-man Houston Dynamo.
Jozy Altidore's goal, his third of the season, cancelled out Cristian Maidana's opener for the Dynamo. Toronto FC still has not won at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
In a game delayed a day because of inclement weather in Houston, Toronto FC came slowly out of the gates. Perhaps it was having to stay an extra day on the road, but they did not look overly ready for the start of the match. The club hardly touched the ball in the opening ten minutes of the match.
It cost them in the eight minute, when Houston split open their backline with a clever move. Mauro Manotas and Maidana connected well on a flick over the top, and Maidana's perfectly placed volley put the Dynamo up 1-0. It was the first time in five matches that Toronto FC has conceded the first goal of a match.
Things got even worse when Mark Bloom went down to injury moments later. Bloom, who has been filling in for the injured Steven Beitashour, took a tough tackle and had to leave the game. The Toronto FC defender became a father just yesterday, so it was extra unfortunate to see that good news coupled with this.
The injury forced Greg Vanney to switch up his lineup, and bring on Jay Chapman, switching the formation from a 5-3-2 to move of a 4-4-2. Chapman's insertion, and the tactical swap, had an instant impact as the reds finally found their footing in the match.
A well-worked corner routine provided the equaliser. Sebastian Giovinco's corner kick curled out to Altidore at the top of the box. The American striker buried the ball into the upper half of the net, a difficult finish that he took expertly. His tally tied the match 1-1.
More injury trouble caught up with Toronto shortly after, however, as Justin Morrow landed poorly on his backside after a clearing attempt in his own box. He also had to be replaced, this time by Canadian Ashtone Morgan who just recently returned from injury himself.
Houston was next to lose a man as the first half ended, but under different circumstances. Defender Abdoulie Mansally was caught out by Sebastian Giovinco, and forced to bring him down from behind. He was given a deserved straight red card as the last defender back.
As a result, Toronto FC was on the front foot for most of the season half. They dominated possession as they looked to find holes in the Dynamo backline. However, very few were forthcoming as Toronto looked out of ideas as they tried to find some way through a well-organized Houston backline.
Will Bruin came close to giving the Dynamo a shocking late goal from a set piece in the 81st minute. His chance drifted just wide of the post, however, although he made quite the impression on the match coming off of the bench.
Toronto FC came within inches in the final minutes of the match when Tosaint Ricketts couldn't put the ball in the back of the net on a cross from Morgan. The ball was cleared acrobatically off the line by Houston defender Jalil Anibaba.
The reds had a chance to move up into first place in the Eastern Conference with a win tonight, but instead remain a point behind New York City FC. They continue their road trip against the Philadelphia Union next Saturday.