Toronto FC ties Bulls at Carolina Challenge Cup

Toronto FC played the New York Red Bulls to a 1-1 draw at the Carolina Challenge Cup on Wednesday night.

Toronto FC coach John Carver was bitterly disappointed in the effort from his players this past weekend and let them know about it. Apparently, they got the message.

After a lacklustre performance in its last outing, Toronto FC rebounded with a solid effort by earning a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C., in its second game of the Carolina Challenge Cup.

The Canadian team is 0-1-1 at the four-team, round robin tournament.

Toronto dropped a 1-0 decision to the MLS expansion San Jose Earthquakes in its opening contest on Saturday in game that was halted in the 76th minute after a big bolt of lightning flashed over Blackbaud Stadium.

There were no cracks of lightning this time around, although strong, blustery winds did make it difficult for the players to accurately thread long passes.

Toronto is trying to improve on its second-place showing in last year's Carolina Challenge Cup, an exhibition tournament hosted by the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League First Division.

San Jose leads this year's competition with six points. New York is second with two points, while Charleston and Toronto are tied for third (one point each).

Toronto was missing four players Wednesday — Americans Marvell Wynne and Maurice Edu (last year's MLS rookie of the year), and Canadians Andrea Lombardo and Tyler Hemming — who are away on national team duty at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.

Rookie Pat Edwards started in goal for Toronto, but the rookie goalkeeper wasn't called upon to make too many saves. Also in the starting lineup was Puerto Rican defender Marco Velez who, after training with the team for the past week, officially signed with Toronto on Wednesday.

Toronto notched its first goal of the tournament when striker Jeff Cunningham found the back of the net after only 10 minutes. Defender Kevin Harmse fed a defence-splitting pass to Cunningham who beat the offside trap and then rounded New York goalkeeper Jon Conway before slotting the ball home.

Defender Julius James, Toronto's first-round pick (ninth overall) in this year's MLS draft, started the game but was forced to leave after receiving an elbow to the head in 23rd minute.

Toronto nearly added a second goal just before halftime when Collin Samuel's powerful shot from outside the box just whispered past the far post.

New York pressed for the equalizer and was rewarded for its persistence in the 74th minute when substitute John Wolyniec's shot from inside the box flew into top right corner of the net.

Toronto faces Charleston on March 22 (6 p.m. ET, streamed live on in its final game of the Carolina Challenge Cup.

The Canadian club begins the MLS regular season on March 29 on the road against the Columbus Crew. The team's first home game is April 19 against Real Salt Lake.