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Montero, DeLeon score as Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC battle to 1-1 draw


VANCOUVER — It wasn't easy, but Toronto FC emerged from a Canadian clash with a crucial point Friday night.

Despite out playing the Vancouver Whitecaps through much of the game, the Reds settled for a 1-1 draw thanks to a late goal from midfielder Nick Leon.

"I think we deserved three points but we'll take the one. We've been in a rut and it's a positive result away from home for us," said Toronto's Jozy Altidore.

TFC (5-6-3) are on a six-game winless streak and haven't posted a victory since May 4. But there were moments on Friday that will give the team hope.

"We definitely can build off of this. There's a lot of good characteristics, a lot of good play overall for our guys," said DeLeon. "It's definitely a stepping stone for us to move in the right direction and get three points next week at home.

"A loss really would have deflated a lot of guys. Just to fight back with how much time was on the clock I think was big for us."

Toronto 'keeper Quentin Westberg was tested several times but didn't register a single save for the Reds.

Vancouver's Maxime Crepeau stopped four of Toronto's five on-target shots.

Coach Marc Dos Santos called the result fair, but said he didn't like how his Whitecaps (4-6-6) played for the first 45 minutes of the game.

"Once we got possession in their half, especially in the first half, it was sloppy, bad decision making on the ball, missed passes. It wasn't good," he said. "In my opinion, I think it was probably our worst first half this year."

Offence has been a work in progress for the 'Caps this year and Dos Santos has repeatedly said that the club will look to add some fire power when the international transfer window opens in July.

That doesn't mean, though, that the coach doesn't trust the players he has currently. After all, his squad is on a four-game undefeated streak.

"The run they've made is fantastic this month," Dos Santos said. "Seven games in 25 days, 17 points in our last 11 games, there's a lot of positive, but it's obvious that you need to reinforce what's here already."

On Friday, Vancouver's offence was finally sparked late in the second half when striker Yordy Reyna picked off a Toronto pass midfield and powered towards the net. He wound up for a shot in the centre of the box but was tripped up by TFC's Drew Moor, drawing a penalty kick.

Whitecaps striker Fredy Montero took the shot, putting away his fifth goal of the season.

TFC coach Greg Vanney put the onus for the goal on his own side.

"We were the architects of our own demise on their goal, giving the ball away in a bad spot. And obviously a very fast player in transition puts us in a tough situation," he said.

Toronto responded six minutes later following a nice passing sequence between Jozy Altidore and Marco Delgado.

Delgado got the ball off to DeLeon and the midfielder sent a long shot bouncing past a diving Crepeau.

"It was a nice little combo between (Delgado and Altidore) and I just tried to rip in a dangerous ball. And it took a fortunate deflection and went in," DeLeon said.

Crepeau said the ball "kissed the post" on its way in.

"It's difficult to end up the game like that. It's heartbreaking," the 'keeper said.

Goals have been hard to come by for Toronto lately, but Vanney is convinced the team's fortunes will change.

"We've got to stick with it and I do believe that the goal tide is going to come," Vanney said. "It's going to come if we keep working, keep pushing the tempo."

Friday's game was the 'Caps last contest before the FIFA international break. Vancouver won't play again until June 22, when they fact the visiting Colorado Rapids.

TFC will be back in action on June 7 when they host Sporting Kansas City.

Toronto FC moved the game's start time so fans can also cheer on the Toronto Raptors. Kickoff will now happen at 7 p.m. local time and the stadium stay open after the matchup so the crowd can watch Toronto take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

NOTES: The Whitecaps celebrated the 40th anniversary of the club's North American Soccer League championship. Tony Waiters, coach of the 1979 squad, was inducted into the 'Caps "ring of honour." ... Reyna returned to Vancouver's lineup for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury against the Philadelphia Union on April 27. ... Toronto's Chris Mavinga and Richie Laryea both left the game with apparent injuries. TFC already has a number of notable pieces out hurt, including midfielders Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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