[MLS] Ninety minutes of work and sweat went unrewarded for Chicago and Toronto Wednesday night as neither could break free of the malaise that is gripping most of the Eastern Conference. Their 0-0 tie at Toyota Park leaves both well short of the eighth and final playoff place.
Chicago (6-7-8, 26 points) remains six points out of the playoffs and fifth in the conference, and Toronto (7-9-7, 28 points) is four points shy and in third place. Western Conference teams San Jose and Seattle, both with 32 points, occupy the last two slots.
Dwayne De Rosario, Nana Attakora and Julian de Guzman returned to the Toronto starting lineup after missing last weekend’s league match to play for Canada and all played 90 minutes. The Fire started Designated Players Freddie Ljungberg and Nery Castillo but were unable to get its fourth win in 11 home matches (3-2-6).
TFC twice appealed for handballs that weren’t whistled by referee Ramon Hernandez when balls cleared by teammates struck Steve Kinney and C.J. Brown. Castillo sent Ljungberg through on a breakaway but TFC keeper Stefan Frei came out to challenge and Ljungberg steered his shot just wide. Nick LaBrocca tested Johnson with a curling shot that the keeper initially juggled before gaining control.
In the second half Fire goalie Sean Johnson repelled a fierce blast off the foot of O’Brian White to snuff Toronto’s best opportunity. Castillo tried twice more to break the deadlock with free kicks, but Frei tipped his dipping shot over the crossbar, and in stoppage time a Castillo free kick went straight into TFC’s defensive wall.
Both teams make a quick turnaround to continue their schedules against Eastern foes Saturday. Toronto hosts D.C. United and Chicago plays at Philadelphia.
Sept. 8 in Bridgeview, Ill.
Chicago 0, Toronto FC 0.
Chicago -- Johnson, Kinney, Brown, Robinson, Nyarko, Pause , Thorrington (Conde 46), Banner, Ljungberg ( Carr 76), John (McBride 82), Nery Castillo.
Toronto FC -- Frei, Usanov (Garcia 79), Ty Harden , Cann, Attakora, Peterson ( Maicon Santos 56), de Guzman, Gargan, LaBrocca, De Rosario, White (Nane 83).
Referee: R. Hernandez.