There was no David Beckham on Sunday night in Toronto, and there were no goals either, as Toronto FC and Los Angeles Galaxy played to a scoreless draw.
In front of a record BMO Field crowd and a national TV audience that was hoping to see the English superstar make his official MLS debut, neither club could manage a go-ahead goal in spite of several chances in a spirited match.
Toronto fielded a reserve-heavy lineup with six regulars sidelined with injuries, but controlled the action throughout the first half. The TFC attack barely let thball out of the L.A. end in the first 15 minutes, and collected several good scoring chances.
A very close call came in the sixth minute, when Lombardo took a long pass and looped a soft shot that evaded L.A. goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who had run to the edge of the box to cut off Lombardo. The ball slowly bounced toward the empty net, but Galaxy defender Ty Harden's last-second dive kicked the ball clear just as it was about to cross the goal line.
Lombardo nearly struck again in the 30th minute, after he collected a pass from defender Chris Pozniak in the L.A. penalty area. The 20-year-old striker reacted quickly and launched a strong strike that sailed past a diving Cannon, but just wide of the left post.
The Galaxy looked out of sorts in their first league game in nearly a month. TFC's offensive prowess was aided in part by some sloppy passing from the L.A. midfield.
As for the Galaxy attack, there was barely any to speak of. The Galaxy didn't collect their first shot until the 48th minute and didn't manage a shot on goal until Kevin Harmse's innocuous attempt in the 68th minute. It was a far cry from the side that scored six goals against FC Dallas last Tuesday in SuperLiga play in Texas.
Despite the one-way traffic, however, the game remained scoreless through the half, as Toronto simply could not break through for the go-ahead goal. A direct free kick in the 52nd minute was blocked, but Jim Brennan's follow-up shot from the rebound was knocked away by another diving save from Cannon.
Pozniak made a strong run up the left side that included a clever evasion of an L.A. defender, but instead of shooting, he tried to center for Lombardo and had the ball knocked away by Galaxy defender Abel Xavier.
Perhaps TFC's best opportunity of the second half came when the club had three set-pieces in as many minutes. Brennan's direct free kick bounced off several bodies but veered wide right of the net, and two corner kicks also came up short. Toronto's Tyrone Marshall got his head on the second corner, but the ball was deflected.
Toronto had one final chance in stoppage time when substitute Andy Welsh out-paced Ante Jazic, racing into the L.A. area with the ball at his feet. But Cannon quickly came off his line to block Welsh's angled shot with his chest.
In the end, however, Toronto couldn't manage to break either their winless streak (0-3-2 in their last five) or their scoreless streak. The Reds have now gone 372 minutes without scoring a goal.
New Toronto loan signing Kenny Stamatopoulos had a quiet MLS debut with only two shots faced. Signed only on Thursday, he was one of three TFC players making their first MLS start, as Lombardo and Adam Braz also made their debuts in the Toronto first XI.
The match was scheduled to be Beckham's first official league game in Major League Soccer. Through the midfielder was capable of some light running during Saturday's training session, his injured ankle was still not healthy enough to allow him to play.
There was no chance for a surprise appearance late in the game, as Beckham wasn't in the 18-man game-day roster or even in uniform, sitting on the bench in the Galaxy team suit.
The next chance for Beckham to make his MLS debut will come Thursday as the Galaxy head to Washington for a match with D.C. United. Beckham said in a press conference on Saturday that though his ankle is progressing, he "will have to keep [his] fingers crossed" in order to play against United. Los Angeles are unbeaten (2-0-2) in its last four trips to Washington, a streak that dates back to 2004.
Toronto FC hit the road for their next match on Saturday in New York. TFC are looking to avenge a 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls on June 6 that saw Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel score twice in a three-minute span to erase a Toronto lead.