Landon Donovan’s 88th minute equalizer allowed LA to split the spoils with Toronto (2-2) and thanks to the away goals rule it also gave his squad the slightest advantage in this CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals match up.
It was a tremendous evening as over 47,000 fans created an overwhelming atmosphere at the Rogers Centre, but it was a similar story in Toronto. Incredible support from the TFC fans who walk away yet again with little to smile about.
It all seemed so different early on as after just 11 minutes in Ryan Johnson’s well measured volley punished the Galaxy defense for making a complete mess of a Torsten Frings corner kick.
An upset looked to be in the making just seven minutes later when rookie Luis Silva brilliantly measured his header from the top of the 18, as the Galaxy failed to deal with another high ball sent into the box.
One could only wonder how different the first 20 minutes might have been if Omar Gonzalez was marshaling the Galaxy back-line, but Joao Plata was running the Galaxy ragged down the left while Frings was carrying the ball out of the back to keep possession for the home side.
Despite going down two goals, the Galaxy always looked positive going forward. Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane looked dangerous in their movement up top. Buddle in particular had some deft touches in combination which led to chances for his strike partner.
It was no surprise really when the Galaxy grabbed an away goal just before the half-hour mark with Sean Franklin getting around Landon Donovan on the overlap, and sending in a cross which TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei flapped at, making it an easy finish for Mike Magee at the back post.
LA bossed the game in the second half with TFC backing up and giving too much space for David Beckham to ping passes around the field.
With Danny Koevermans neutralized for the most part by the Galaxy defense, TFC’s ability to create any attack of substance ended when Aaron Winter subbed Plata after just 57 minutes.
The visitors continued to push forward in search of an equalizer but a plastic pitch and a heroic effort by Frings (despite a back line that didn’t always look in sync) kept the Galaxy from a deserved second until Donovan popped up to stab home the all important tying goal. TFC finally succumbing to a Beckham delivery in the box and the strength of Buddle whose creation of the goal was just rewards for an excellent first display after a year’s absence in a Galaxy jersey.
The second leg will be next Wednesday at the Home Depot Center.
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