Former Canada national team coach John Herdman made a positive start to his new role as head coach of Major League Soccer's Toronto FC with a well-deserved point at FC Cincinnati on Sunday.

Toronto finished last in the 29-team MLS last season, with just four wins all year, while Cincinnati won the Supporters Shield for the team with the best regular season record.

But there was little to choose between Herdman's revamped Toronto team and a Cincinnati side who have lost their centre-forward Brandon Vazquez, who was sold to Mexico's Monterrey.

Irish defender Kevin Long, signed from Birmingham City, made a solid debut in the centre of defence while another debutant Honduran Deiby Flores gave a strong showing as the anchor of the midfield.

Herdman, who won many admirers as coach of the Canada women's team before leading the men's team to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, earned a reputation as a motivator and he gathered his players in a huddle on the field at the end of the game.

Toronto had invested heavily in Italian internationals Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne in 2022 but the pair appeared unhappy last season under American coach Bob Bradley.

But Bernardeschi worked hard in a right wing-back role and Insigne, returning from injury put in 62 minutes and returned to the field from the bench to speak to the players in the huddle at the end.

"Cincinnati was killing it in MLS last season, so we knew it was going to be tough coming here for the home opener, the energy of their fans. More importantly, Lorenzo spoke, and it's just the start. It's the right step forward. We're fighting together now," said Englishman Herdman.

"All in all, that huddle was just a symbol of the first step. We showed that fighting spirit. We stayed connected right until the end. So for me it was a good start to the season, but still work to be done. A lot," he said.

The woodwork denied New York Red Bulls a winning start for new German coach Sandro Schwarz as they were held to a goalless draw at Nashville.

The former Mainz and Hertha Berlin coach handed a debut to Swedish midfielder Emil Forsberg, brought in from sister club RB Leipzig and he went close to opening the scoring, with a long range effort that crashed out off the bar.

Moments earlier Frankie Amaya had also struck the bar with a fine shot from outside the box but Red Bulls had goalkeeper Carlos Coronel to thank for their point after he denied Tyler Boyd in the final moments.

Later on Sunday, Lionel Messi is in action as Inter Miami face Los Angeles Galaxy in California.