On FieldTurf whipped by wind and rain, keeping your footing can be harder than keeping the ball, and neither the Red Bulls nor Toronto FC gained much traction as they battled to a 1-1 tie Thursday night at BMO Field.
A game of 11 shots offered little dazzling play yet difficult though the conditions were, only 20 fouls were called and three cautions issued.
Both goals, unsurprisingly, came on set plays amid defensive miscues. An utterly unmarked Marco Velez headed TFC into the lead midway through the first half on a quickly taken Laurent Robert free kick, and Dave van den Bergh equalized six minutes before halftime with a low free kick that New York defended poorly.
New York, accustomed to playing on artificial turf in poor weather at the Meadowlands, took the game to TFC in the first 20 minutes, but lapsed as Hunter Freeman argued a foul call with referee Abby Okulaja and Velez nailed Robert's excellent service past Jon Conway.
TFC lined up a five-man wall after a handball by Tyrone Marshall near the middle of the field, which is always a tough spot to defend a set play. It takes too many players in the defensive wall to cover most of the goal, so one side or both posts must be left exposed.
Neither the wall nor keeper Greg Sutton covered his right post and that's where Van den Bergh drilled his shot.
The treacherous conditions and scrappy play took their toll on Red Bull midfielder Claudio Reyna, who left the game at halftime to be replaced by Sinisa Ubiparipovic. A lower left leg injury sidelined Reyna, according to the team.
Midfield scuffles broke out early in the second half. Jozy Altidore pushed Robert, and when Freeman interceded, Robert shoved him. After a few seconds of players jawing at each other, Okulaja carded Robert.
Amado Guevara, whose game was rather quiet as he and his mates struggled to break down his former team, picked up a caution shortly thereafter for crashing into Mike Magee.
Play deteriorated as conditions worsened and the teams settled into a rigid regimen of trying to force mistakes without taking risks. Red Bull brought on Dane Richards, injured during preseason, in the 65th minute but he made little headway in the wind and rain.
Not many ties have been played in MLS so far this season but for both teams, given the conditions and hazards, a point apiece seemed good enough.May 1 in Toronto
Toronto FC 1 New York 1.
Goals:Velez 1 (Robert) 22; van den Bergh 39.
Toronto FC --Greg Sutton, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, Rohan Ricketts (Jarrod Smith 74), Maurice Edu, Carl Robinson, Laurent Robert, Amado Guevara, Danny Dichio (Jeff Cunningham 83).
New York --Jon Conway, Kevin Goldthwaite, Jeff Parke, Hunter Freeman, Danleigh Borman (Dane Richards 55), Mike Magee, Claudio Reyna (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 46), Seth Stammler, Dave van den Bergh, Jozy Altidore (John Wolyniec 91+), Juan Pablo Angel.