Toronto FC lost two precious home points Saturday afternoon thanks to a disappointing 0-0 draw with the Kansas City Wizards.
Toronto, playing the first 65 minutes without its regular lineup, was unable to solve the defence of the Wizards, who hold down last place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference.
Defender Jim Brennan and midfielders Maurice Edu and Amado Guevara, just back from international duties, did not start the game and once inserted with 30 minutes left were unable to break through.
Both teams earned one of the three available points on a day Toronto extended its home unbeaten string to 10 games, stretching back to Sept. 22 of last season.
Toronto is now 6-4-3 for 21 points while Kansas City is 3-5-3 for 12.
"I think it was a strange day at the office, wasn't it?" coach John Carver told CBC Sports. "It was very frustrating, especially there at the end when we almost snatched it."
Toronto had three good chances in the final minutes.
Rohan Ricketts, who scored twice in Toronto's last game, delivered a strong run down the right sideline but he finished poorly by firing the ball wide to the far left at 88 minutes.
A minute into injury time, midfielder Laurent Robert put a beautiful ball in off a set piece that Danny Dichio deposited into the goal, but he was judged just offside and the replay showed the call justified.
Following a red card to Kansas City's Roger Espinoza for punching Toronto's Carl Robinson in the back of the head, Toronto had one more try as Robert lofted one for Dichio who just couldn't get his head on it.
"It's obvious what we need to do and need to invest in," said Carver, who has been looking for some offensive help for Dichio, Robert and the other attackers. "That's someone who can put the ball into the net on a regular basis."
Carver set some tongues wagging before the game by not starting his five returnees from international duty — goalkeeper Greg Sutton and defender Brennan (Canada), midfielder Guevara (Honduras), midfielder Edu (United States) and defender Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica).
"Let's not forget, some of these guys have been away for us for a month, and it would be unfair to our guys who have been here working very hard for Toronto FC [not to play]," Carver said.
That didn't keep him from bringing in Edu, Guevara and Brennan with half an hour left.
First half to the Wizards
Former Argentina international Claudio Lopez fed a nice little ball into Scott Sealy in the sixth minute but the resulting shot went just wide of the net, having beaten goalkeeper Brian Edwards.
A minute later, Lopez left footed a corner that Edwards easily handled.
But Kansas City began using a simple strategy of lofting long balls into the penalty area and hoping one of their talented forwards could do something with it.
The Wizards tried that a number of times to little effect, but it did serve as a warning to Toronto's central defenders to keep their eyes open.
Toronto's best chance of the opening 45 minutes came from a two-on-two started by Cunningham with Danny Dichio keeping pace.
But Cunningham's pass was just slightly behind the right foot of his teammate and a weak dribble went right to keeper Kevin Hartman.
The visitors had a nice opportunity late in the half courtesy a long ball from the left of the box that found Kansas City's Arnaud open but his header went over the bar.