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Donovan equalizer helps Galaxy earn draw in Toronto

  GalaxyEqualizer (Getty)


TORONTO — Led by a raucous crowd of 47,658 Toronto FC showed the Los Angeles Galaxy that there would be no easy passage to the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals, but a fast start and two early goals for the home team wasn't enough to beat the defending MLS Cup champions.

Landon Donovan netted an 88th-minute equalizer after tapping home a loose ball off a David Beckham corner to complete a two-goal rally and help the Galaxy earn a 2-2 draw against TFC at Rogers Center in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series.

TFC jumped out to an early lead, exploiting errors in the Galaxy defense to score two goals in the first 20 minutes of play from forward Ryan Johnson and rookie midfielder Luis Silva.

Mike Magee pulled one back for the Galaxy, giving the defending MLS Cup champions a key away goal in the 29th minute.  With just a minute left in regulation, Donovan equalized off a Beckham corner kick.

"We certainly didn't do ourselves any favors early on, but our response was very good," said Donovan. "Given everything that we've had, we've probably had two full training sessions together against a team that has had eight weeks together. We had to do some figuring out on the field and I think that when we settle down and do some training then it'll help, but all in all it's a good result."

Eager to push ahead of gain an early advantage and lifted by the enormous crowd, TFC sought to press the Galaxy's nervy backline. Toronto broke out of the gate with an in the 12th minute when a failed clearance by Magee off a corner kick fell to the foot of Johnson, who blasted a shot past goalkeeper Josh Saunders.

Six minutes later, TFC doubled their lead when Torsten Frings fired a looping cross over the Galaxy defense, which fell to Silva. Alone on the goalkeeper, the rookie midfielder — and Los Angeles native — easily headed the ball past a outstretched Saunders. 

"We played well, not only in the first 25 minutes," said Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter. "Because at the moment we played went up two goals, but if you watch the entire game, then you can see that we played very well." 

After Toronto's early flurry, the defending MLS Cup champions quickly regained their composure and began to control possession while Toronto bunkered trying to hold the result. 

As the Galaxy pushed for their equalizer, both teams struggled with haggard surface– that was spongy in the center and hard around the edges with seams throughout that routinely affected passes and shots from both sides. The boisterous crowd played their own role causing numerous delays in the action during Galaxy corner kicks as the Toronto supporters pelted David Beckham with streamers — and in one instance beer cans — on corner kicks. 

"That was terrific support of their team," said head coach Bruce Arena of the support. "The fans deserve a lot of credit for coming out and supporting their team. it's a huge statement for this franchise. I give them a lot of credit and wish them a heck of a lot of good luck after next Wednesday."

Arena did point to the difficult time the Galaxy had playing on the artificial turf as an issue the team had to deal with.

"These artificial fields, indoors, its difficult and then on top of it you cant put water on them, it's really tough," Arena said. "They did a very good job getting this facility ready for this but it is what it is."

But it was Donovan, who had the last laugh. After a mostly anonymous performance in the early stages of the match battling the symptoms of bronchitis, Donovan silenced the crowd in the 89th minute. Off a Beckham corner kick, the ball appeared to bounce off Toronto rookie Aaron Maund to Donovan, who easily finished from close range. 

Donovan's late goal changed the entire complexion of the match as Los Angeles will now advance to the semifinals with a 0-0 or 1-1 draw at home in the second leg which takes place next Wednesday in the second leg at the Home Depot Center. In stark contrast to the match in Toronto, the second leg will be played in front of just 7,500 fans due to a previous agreement with Cal-State Dominguez Hills.  

After a dreadful start, the Galaxy are positive heading into a decisive second leg at home. 

"Obviously for us, it was a good come back,"said defender Todd Dunivant.  "And we got two away goals which is big, but we feel good about this result."


  1. toronto fans are great, but seriously, the streamers during corner kicks is a disgrace. let the game flow. you are hurting your own team.

  2. Well its’ Toronto in March. You can play indoors with turf and 40,000+ fans, or you can play on a frozen, grassless field with probably about 5,000 fans. Seems like a no-brainer to me…

  3. Every year, MLS improves markedly. The level of play yesterday from LA (especially for a first game) was impressive. First touches were consistently excellent, which is not easy on a plastic-over-cement field. Beckham’s long balls were (mostly) accurate and dangerous. And fine combination play. I’ve been skeptical about those who say the best MLS teams are similar in quality to bottom-of-the-table EPL teams. LA sure is getting close …

  4. Let me put this to you in stark practical terms. LA did not lose a MLS regular season or playoff home game last year. LA also did not lose a CCL contest at home last year. I believe LA’s home losses last year came in friendlies versus the likes of Man U or such. In that context treating this like “any given Sunday” might be viewed as naive, since TFC would basically need to be the first road team to win a meaningful HDC game since something like November 2010.

    I’m sorry but in a 2-game series the inability to build a home lead is an effective loss, because you have failed to hold serve on your own advantage.

  5. preseason injury, he played very little in the preseason games. Wasnt even on the bench for this game.

  6. I was going to give credit to Toronto for the great crowd, but then I read that they keep throwing stuff at corner-kick-takers. Absolute idiots.

  7. I think Omar’s absence was really apparent. More than I expected. The back line is a much bigger hole than I anticipated, LA are going to struggle more than expected this year.

    Every ball in the air was dangerous for LA, Omar would have cleaned up a lot of the garbage that created chances for Toronto.

  8. I totally agree. Having a plastic pitch is horrid to say the least. MLS needs to do something about this. The quality suffered.

  9. So what is the reason for the 7500 fan limit. This week is test week, just before spring break in lots of places. Is it that CSUDH want quiet for test taking students?

  10. As a L.A Galaxy fan the HDC is a JOKE. The galaxy should leave that place to other team aka Chivas USA. They should move to L.A. It’s ashame only 7500 people are allow for CCL.

  11. As a Galaxy fan, it’s completely pathetic the arrangement HDC has with mid-week games. AEG should’ve built that exact same stadium elsewhere

  12. This is a home and away tournament, and home and away goals are vital. Letting an away team score even once is a problem.

    If the score is 0-0, or 1-1 in the next game LA wins. Toronto now has to go and try to beat LA in the Home Depot Center, something they failed to do with a sizeable lead.

    Look at the faces of Toronto after the game. They needed a win.

  13. Two goal lead 17 minutes in, lost without contest, and now LA has two away goals to bring back to the Home Depot Center. How is that not a loss?

  14. As a fan of another Eastern Conference team, I was intrigued when Toronto took an impressive lead. I wondered, “is this going to be a new Toronto?” Got an answer in the second half.

    You can argue that they were playing LA, that this was a good result over all. Bogus. If you want to make the playoffs, you hold that lead with all the discipline you can muster. And it wasn’t like LA was spectacular, they just were the only team playing the second half.

  15. At least we won’t be playing on indoor/outdoor carpet, can not believe MLS allows this type of pitch.

    Classy fans up in Toronto throwing cans at players.

  16. Where is Giovanny Caicedo? He is a much better defender than Ty Harden.

    At least Toronto wont have to deal with a big home advantage in LA. A big club like the Galaxy should have been able to work out an arrangement for more than 7500 fans.

    TFC still has a chance with De Guzman and Soolsma returning. Hopefully Caicedo will be inserted into the lineup if he isn’t hurt.


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