Columbus Crew SC and Toronto FC played out an entertaining 0-0 draw in the first leg of their MLS Eastern Conference final at MAPFRE Stadium on Tuesday night.
Toronto came into the match without two suspended star players as Jozy Altidore sat out after receiving a red card in the team's second leg against New York Red Bulls and Sebastian Giovinco also out due to card accumulation in the semifinal tie.
Columbus and Toronto traded chances from distance just past the 10-minute mark, with Justin Meram shooting a low line drive right at Alex Bono in the Toronto goal before Victor Vazquez fired just wide from a free kick for the visitors.
Despite the wide-open nature of the opening 45 minutes neither team fashioned many legitimate chances, with Tosaint Ricketts heading over the Columbus crossbar and Ola Kamara doing the same at the other end just before half-time.
Columbus had a penalty shout waved off to start the second half after Pedro Santo went down in the area from a Bono challenge when played in by Federico Higuain, but replays showed the tackle was clean.
Artur followed up a hard-charging run from midfield with a thunderous swerving shot from 20 yards that whistled just wide of the Toronto net as the goalless draw rolled on.
The hosts turned up the heat in the closing minutes and spurned a golden chance when a Higuain cross fell right to Harrison Afful in the Toronto area, but his strike from close range was palmed away by Bono and Kekuta Manneh's shot from the rebound didn't get through the Reds' defense.
Toronto hosts Columbus for the decisive second leg at BMO Field on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. ET.