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Toronto FC's Jim Brennan (right) slides into a challenge with Columbus Crew's Jed Zayner during the first half of their MLS game on Saturday. ((Chris Young/Canadian Press) )

This is a point Toronto FC will happily take.

Despite being well down on the run of play, the home side pulled off a 1-1 draw with the visiting Columbus Crew on Saturday thanks to a goal by Chad Barrett at 64 minutes and strong goalkeeping by rookie Stefan Frei.

Toronto is now 3-2-3 overall and will be lucky to maintain its lead atop the Eastern Conference once later games are played on the weekend.

Columbus, the MLS defending champions, is still without a win on the new season, dropping to 0-2-5.

The Crew dominated the proceedings most of the way and opened the scoring on 54 minutes after a breakdown by the Toronto defence.

Nigerian midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo nicely put down a high ball that came to him about 25 yards out.

He then forced his way past Jim Brennan, with the TFC captain's defensive mate Marco Velez looking on helplessly, deked Frei and put the ball into a gaping goal as Marvell Wynne arrived late to try to help.

The injury-riddled Crew were again without star defender Frankie Hejduk, who had been out five full games with a leg problem.

Crew officials said before the game he could have come back Saturday, if not for the artificial turf used in Toronto.

Toronto's interim head coach Chris Cummins, who took over after John Carver resigned last Monday, saw the tie as just.

"I thought a draw was probably a fair result. They probably think they might have nicked it [a win], but I think a draw is probably a fair result."

Columbus coach Robert Warzycha disagreed.

"If you'd ask me before the game if I'd be happy with the point, probably I would have said yes," he said. "But knowing what I know right now after the game, I would love to have three points because we deserved it."

Rain dampens proceedings

This game kicked off in a heavy rain that seemed to do more to dampen the attack of TFC than that of the visitors.

By the 20-minute mark, the Crew had earned four corners, though only one came from a close-in chance.

Best chance of the half was by Robbie Rogers on a long ball into the box off a free kick that Toronto goalkeeper Frei went up for, only to see it bounce down to the front of the six-yard box where the Columbus forward chipped it over the bar and into the flag-waving home fans.

There were two yellow cards in the first half. Guillermo Barros Schelotto of Columbus picked up one at nine minutes and Toronto's Brennan the other at 39 minutes.