Two chances were all TFC needed to dump the reigning MLS champions out of the CONCACAF Champions League. Goals by Ryan Johnson and Nick Soolsma on just three genuine chances took care of a fatigued and sluggish Galaxy side that could not make its dominance in possession count in the home leg.
For me the Galaxy already had an uphill climb before the starting whistle even with the slight advantage on the away goals rule. Bruce Arena’s decision to start 10 of his 11 regulars in the MLS opener was always a head scratcher considering the C-C-L was “the Galaxy’s top priority” and Saturday’s game was the first of a 34 game season. Add to that the fact that this is the Galaxy’s third of four games in 12 days and you have to ask where was the squad rotation? Fatigue definitly played a huge factor in tonight’s match as the Galaxy were anything but sharp, could barely connect their passes, and the finishing became more and more wayward deep into the match. A fresher side might have been able to convert one of those last gasp chances but the Galaxy just didn’t have the legs.
The Galaxy were dominant in the first half possessing the ball well, but lacked ideas in the final third. A sharper side would have taken better advantage of a disjointed Toronto back-line that could not step up in unison.
Instead it was the Galaxy who were punished in the 33rd minute as Ryan Johnson scored his second of the tie with a brilliantly measured header from a XX cross.
The Galaxy continued to poke and prod and had shouts for a penalty when Landon Donovan went down in the box, but to be fair, Donovan should have finished his chance if he had just used his left foot before the contact was made.
Toronto FC head coach Aaron Winter made a very curious substitution at half-time, taking out the speedy Joao Plata in favor of the more defensive Terry Dunfield.
The Galaxy were now able to push further forward with the knowledge that Plata could no longer torment them down the flank. The home side maintained possession while Toronto continued to let Beckham sit deep and ping balls down field without any pressure.
The TFC back-line finally paid for its inability to function as a unit and it was a long ball down the right that unlocked the defense. Donovan raced in on goal and squared for Robbie Keen. Ty Harden got back in time, but turned the ball into his own net.
The goal woke the Canadians and with the Galaxy leading on the away goals rule, TFC pressed forward. They scored with just their second chance of the game. Johnson turned provider just after the hour mark as he broke free on the left and sent in a pinpoint cross which was met perfectly by Nick Soolsma. It was just rewards for the dutchmen, who timed late breaking run to perfection.
All of a sudden, a tired Galaxy side needed a goal not jut to even the score, but to send the match into OT. As the home side pressed forward, substitute Luis Silva had a golden opportunity to ice the match, but he slid his effort wide of Josh Saunder’s left post.
Keane should have scored in the 74th when he was sent through on goal but Milos Kocic refused to go down first, and batted the ball away as Keane tried to chip him when a more conventional finish might have done the trick.
Toronto sat back into a defensive shell and invited the Galaxy to attack, but a tired and rather sloppy side never looked like threatening, meaning the USA no longer has any representation in this year’s CONCACAF Champions League
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