Toronto advance to Champions League semi
finalsToronto FC will play Santos Laguna of Mexico
in the semi final of the
CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) after
defeating LA Galaxy 2-1 at the Home Depot
Centre. TFC advanced 4-3 on aggregate after
the teams played to a 2-2 draw at the Roger
Centre in Toronto last Wednesday. Ryan Johnson opened the
game scoring for a second time in the series
to give Toronto the lead in the 34th minute
while Nick Soolsma scored
the winner in the 67th minute to give
Toronto the win. Toronto FC became the first Canadian
team to reach the CONCACAF Champions League semi final
allows win to slip away against
Champions League quarter final clash between
Toronto FC and LA Galaxy was played before a
sold out crowd of 47,658 at Rogers Centre,
in downtown Toronto on Wednesday. It was an
electrifying atmosphere and the Reds
responded with an early goal in the 12th
minute of play to get the already pumped up
Ryan Johnson released a crashing left footed
roofer as the finishing touches to a rebound
from a melee in front of the Galaxy
goalmouth. Johnson jump-kicked the corner flag
as part of his goal celebration
being mobbed by his teammates.
The crowd was hardly settled from Johnsonís
goal when Luis Silva doubled Toronto FC's
lead in the 18th minute. Silva goal was from
a right side cross by Torten Frings which he
redirected with his head into the far post.
The goal was one of those which goalkeeper Josh Saunders would have liked to
have back after diving late and over the
ball on a clear header.
majority of TFC fans were overjoyed and I'm
sure also a bit
surprised. No one (in their right mind)
catered for Toronto to be leading the Galaxy
2-0 with less than a half of the match played. I
thought the Reds would have won going into
the match but the they took their feet
off the pedal and it gave Galaxy the room in
which they can operate effectively.
added space was deadly since LA was already having a
lot of offensive success down their left
side from the opening whistle and that had
nothing to do with a few unforced errors in TFCís defense in the early part of the
match. Surprisingly no noticeable adjustment
was made to solidify TFC soft spot.
Los Angeles players were reaching the edge
of Toronto FC's 18 yard line with options to
dribble or pass, but to the right side
defenders Richard Eckersley and Ty Harden's
credit they did not allow a clear shot to be
taken. However, it was just a matter of time
before LA broke the shutout.
Needless to say Mike Magee scored in the
28th minute to cut the Reds lead
in half and the score remained unchanged to
the half. It is safe to say that defensive
coverage was the main topic of conversation
in the dressing rooms since both teams
scored rather easy in the first half.
To the coaches credit both teams played
close to their best defensively in the
second half but the trade-off seemed to be a
disinterested in scoring. Maybe Coach Bruce
Arena did not want to give up early goals
like the start of the game and on the other
hand Coach Aron Winter was pleased with the
Reds lead, either way, most of the second
half game was played in the center of the
a result Toronto FC supporters provided most
of the entertainment in the second half.
Every time David Beckham went to take a
corner kick, the fans would throw streamers
in an attempt to break his concentration.
Other than the supporters, the Galaxy began
to take control of the midfield. In the last
10 minutes of the game David Beckham and
Landon Donovan were creating space and
getting most of the touches on the ball and
it seemed like Toronto had resigned to hold
on for time and time was not on their side
on this day.
Beckham was bending it on every set play and
was a little more than Toronto fans would
have liked since Galaxy finished with an
advantage of 11 to Toronto's 2 in free kicks
and 9 to 6 in corner kicks. Toronto FC and
goalkeeper Stephan Frei got a heavy dosage
of in-swingers and out-swingers in the late
going until Captain Landon
Donovan found a way to pounce on a loose
ball from in close to tie the game 2-2.
It was a game that the home team was in the
best position to win and should have won.
But Toronto FC has beaten FC Dallas
in Dallas to
reach the quarter finals and can beat the
Galaxy in Los Angeles next Wednesday in the
rematch, providing that they can maintain
the lead for the full 90 minutes.