Soccer

Toronto FC still can't solve Columbus

Toronto FC battled to a 1-1 draw against the first place Columbus Crew on a rainy Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.

The Columbus Crew continue to be the bane of Toronto FC's existence.

Toronto battled to a hard-fought 1-1 tie against visiting Columbus on a rainy Saturday afternoon at BMO Field, a result that does little to help the Canadian club's playoff chances.

Toronto has never defeated Columbus in six meetings between the teams since the Canadian club joined Major League Soccer in 2007.

With the tie against the first-place Crew, Toronto improved its record to 7-11-6 but dropped into last place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points. Toronto trails D.C. United (33 points) for the final wild-card playoff berth with six regular-season games left on the schedule.

Toronto has just one win in 12 contests, and its winless skid now stands at five consecutive games.

"This is a game we felt we could have won," Toronto captain Jim Brennan told CBC Sports after the game.

"We only ended up with one point [instead of three for a win] and it's going to be a tough end to the season for us."

Coach John Carver welcomed back all eight players who missed last Saturday's 3-1 loss to Chivas USA due to national team call-ups: defenders Jim Brennan (Canada), Marvell Wynne (United States), Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica) and Julius James (Trinidad and Tobago), midfielders Amado Guevara (Honduras) and Carl Robinson (Wales), and forwards Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala) and Jarrod Smith (New Zealand).

Canadian goalkeeper Greg Sutton also returned after missing the Chivas game so that he could be with his wife who gave birth to the couple's first child.

A bit of a break

American Hunter Freeman, acquired in a trade with the Red Bulls on Friday, made his debut for the Canadian team.

Toronto also caught a bit of break in that Columbus coach Sigi Schmidt decided not to play star forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The Argentine leads MLS in assists with 18 and is an early candidate to win the league's MVP award, but he pulled a hamstring in practice earlier this week and Schmidt wanted to give him the day off so as not aggravate the injury.

Toronto FC jumped out to a quick start and took a 1-0 lead after only six minutes.

Amado Guevara caught the Crew defence napping and made a slide-rule pass to Robinson off a free kick, and the Welshman beat Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer with a perfectly executed chipped shot from 20 yards out to score his first goal of the season.

Disaster struck Toronto six minutes later when defender Marvell Wynne was called for a foul inside the penalty box after he was judged to have pulled down Robbie Rogers. It was questionable call, but Sutton came to Toronto's rescue and saved Alejandro Moreno's penalty attempt.

Columbus tied things up with four minutes left in the half when Pat Noonan waltzed through the Toronto defence before beating Sutton with a pile driver of a shot from just outside the box.

After a chippy first 20 minutes of the second half, Guevara nearly restored Toronto's lead, but his free kick attempt just whispered past the post.

Both teams tried to carve out scoring opportunities on the slick field during the final 25 minutes, but the defences held tight and no goals were forthcoming.

"We tried to get forward and had some chances. Obviously, not enough to get the result today," Brennan said.

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