The L.A. Galaxy kicked off the opening away leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal match up against Toronto FC in dramatic fashion as Landon Donovan scored an 88th minute equalizer to send the series back to LA even.
The night was electric, as a Toronto FC club record 47,568 fans packed into Rogers Centre. The home side jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead 17 minutes in powered by goals from Ryan Johnson and Luis Silva. The defending MLS Cup Champions were not rattled, and played the rest of the game poised and determined to cut away at the Toronto lead. L.A. dominated most of possession, looking shaky on defense at times, but managed to create plenty of opportunities. The Galaxy attack was finally rewarded in the 29th minute as Mike Magee scored on a shot from a Sean Franklin cross to trip the Toronto FC lead to 1.
The second half was as entertaining as the first, with several near miss shots by the Galaxy. The game got chippy with an altercation between Toronto striker Koevermans and Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders as the latter made a save near the edge of the penalty box and continued throughout the night.
David Beckham looked dangerous as ever on corners and set pieces despite being bombarded with streamers all night. In the 88th minute as Beckham was setting up a corner he became visibly annoyed when a beer canned was thrown in his direction from the Toronto faithful. Beckham showed the can to the crowd and the officials in disgust but Beckham would have the final say as his corner sailed into the six yard box, followed by a clutch shot into the left side of the net by Galaxy Captain Landon Donovan sealing the draw.
The Galaxy will play the home leg next Wednesday, March 14 at the Home Depot Center where they will no doubt welcome the natural grass surface and the home crowd. The Galaxy had several misfires early on due to the artificial surface, and seemed to grow accustomed to the surface as the game wore on.
My Three Takeaways
1. The L.A. Galaxy are far superior to Toronto FC and should win the home leg. The key word is SHOULD. The Galaxy have a tendency to start slow and allow goals early. They cannot fall behind at home in an elimination game. If they can jump out to an early lead, they should find themselves in the CONCACAF Champions League Semis.
2. The defense looked shaky at times and will have to play better. Losing Omar Gonzalez will hurt, but the Galaxy are deep enough to get past it. This is A.J. Delagarza's time to shine.
3. Keane and Buddle are going to be scary good together. Buddle's touch looked great and Keane will make some amazing shots. If this tandem stays healthy we are in for something special this year.