MLS- Toronto FC

Toronto FC eliminate LA Galaxy from CCL




CARSON, Calif. — Toronto FC made Canadian soccer history on Wednesday, knocking off the LA Galaxy, 2-1 to become the first Canadian side to advance to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. TFC will take on Mexican side Santos Laguna in the CCL semifinals. 

Three key saves by goalkeeper Milos Kocic and a pair of goals from Ryan Johnson and Nick Soolsma proved the difference as Toronto FC advanced to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League with a 4-3 aggregate advantage. The Galaxy were able to get on board by virtue of a Ty Harden own goal in the 55th minute.  

After developing a habit of surrendering late goals last season — including one to Landon Donovan in the 89th minute of the first leg — TFC was able to buckle down and hold on to defeat the defending MLS Cup champions.

 "The way we started the season last week playing football, we want to play football and every day, every training, every game we are playing we are growing in the game," said Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter. "It’s still early in the season but we are on the right track and to win away is good, especially in LA against the champion."

After promising to make substitutions after two taxing matches in less than a week, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made just a single substitution on Wednesday, swapping Juninho for the cap-tied Marcelo Sarvas. Meanwhile, Winter made three changes from the first leg. One was Soolsma, who set up the opening goal and scored the series-winning goal. Another was replacing goalkeeper Stefan Frei with Kocic, who responded with an outstanding performance.

Kocic's swap paid immediate dividends as Kocic quickly turned away a Mike Magee chance in the 17th minute that nearly put the Galaxy up 1-0. Following the same script from a week earlier, Toronto got on the board first, scoring in the  34th minute when Nick Soolsma fired a cross into the box that found Johnson, who out lept rookie defender Tommy Meyer and headed it past Saunders to put TFC up 1-0.

Los Angeles found the equalizer in the 55th minute of play when Donovan sent in a cross to Keane that found the foot of ex-Galaxy defender Ty Harden, beating Kocic. As the half wore on, Toronto began to create pressure against the Galaxy and in 67th minute they broke through. Returning the favor for his earlier goal, it was Johnson,who out worked Meyer yet again to send in a cross to Soolsma, who headed the ball past Saunders for a 2-1 TFC advantage. 

After exposing him twice during the match, Johnson admitted during the postgame that Toronto actively targeted the rookie defender.

“Yeah, when I heard that he was starting  besides Boyens," said Johnson. "Boyens is physically 6’4, 6’5 so he’s a hard guy to jump with, when I saw that they made that switch, we kind of thought that we could win those head balls and get some chances that way." 

Down a goal and needing one to level the aggregate, the Galaxy pressed ahead, but poor finishing and clutch saves from Kocic proved to be the Galaxy's downfall. This was no more apparent than in the 74th minute when Keane found himself alone on Kocic, but rather than fire off a shot immediately, the Irish forward hesitated and launched a shot directly into the body of the TFC goalkeeper. 

"They definitely packed the back," said Magee. "They sat back but we had some good chances, and it's kind of been the story of our season so far, not finishing chances and give up soft goals. Hopefully that changes soon."

In order to correct those mistakes, the Galaxy admit that they simply need time to gel. 

"I think the biggest thing that we need is time to get on the practice field and work on things, because when your playing game after game, you don't have time to train," said Donovan. "As disappointing as this is, at least after this weekend we have two full weeks to get back on the field, watch tape, work on things that we need to get better at, so that we can all start gelling better."

Now after an emotional two-game series, both teams must change gears for a grueling MLS season that has only just begun. TFC open their MLS season on Saturday at CenturyLink Field against the Seattle Sounders while the Galaxy host DC United on Sunday. 

But before changing their focus to the MLS season, Johnson admitted that TFC will be savoring their historic victory. 

"I feel happy for Toronto, this is something that I’ve personally always wanted for Toronto, since coming here and seeing the passion of the fans," said Johnson. "They’re really passionate up there and I’m happy to bring them farther than they’ve ever been.  I really hope that we keep on going. "

  • Goalscorer24

    Something is not clicking with the Galaxy. It is not just about the lose of Gonzalez. Too many players guarnateed a starting spot on the team. Even if the Galaxy had won, they would have lost to Santos. The Mexican club teams have the MLS teams’ numbers.


  • PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo

    Buddle should have been pulled early, he was not good, could not hold the ball and had zero runs off the ball…a little tough to make any space without runs.
    With the high-line that TFC was playing, I thought Arena should have brought in Stephens for Buddle and moved Beckham to the right.

    Beckham for all his bombs away played right into the hands of the TFC defense.

    Congrats to TFC, they played a smart/efficient game.


  • Barca1

    Mexican league teams are still a level above MLS teams, but it won’t be long before MLS teams become the dominant force in Concacaf.


  • Emigre

    All I can say is that TFC fans are extremely excited, many had doubts that we’d beat LAG, but we did it. :)
    Have no doubt, we will give Santos Laguna quite the reception @ BMO on the 28th! COYR!


  • Jim

    TFC is 1W-2D-1L against Mexican opposition in the CCL. While it will be a tough task against Santos (as it would be for any MLS team), it is by no means impossible.

    This TFC side has improved dramatically over the past incarnations. Time will tell, but they don’t look like the whipping boys of the MLS anymore.


  • Vic

    I can definatley see LA underperforming this year. Keane, Buddle and Donovan haven’t had a significant break in a long time.


  • Neruda

    Good one. I knew something wasn’t right with the assertion that LA dominates in stats and is getting fouled more. What fans of MLS woul like to see is an evenhanded approach to all players. No more special exceptions to t league star beckham.


  • marco

    Galaxy’s defense is poor and bench minor league. Why should this be glossed over? Will they score 4 goals per game?


  • The Truth

    So who will Arena blame for this loss? The Galaxy are old and slow. Enjoy your mediocrity.


  • bryan

    Buddle was terrible last night. He looked lost and couldn’t finish at all. Gonzo is sorely missed, the CBs just didn’t look good. Barrett, per usual, did nothing once he came in.

    Also, Magee scored a goal that was counted as offsides even though he wasn’t. Buddle was offside and played no part in the play. That would have put LA up 1-0, but that’s soccer.


  • bryan

    Buddle has had plenty of time ot rest. He basically got kicked off his team in Germany, went to do some trials, didn’t work out and so he came back to MLS. Compared to Keane and LD, they guy has been on vacation.


  • Fernando the Kit Man

    Need time to train and gel Landon? It’s called preseason. Maybe you should be here for it next year.


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