BY ADAM SERRANO
TORONTO – The scenes from Toronto FC’s 2-2 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal were unmistakable and unforgettable.
The night began with Toronto fans' impressive march to the match down Bremmer Bolverard outside the Rogers Centre. As the game kicked off the 47,658 fans clad in red shook the dome and all but willed TFC to a pair of early goals.
But next week, the scene will be different –in the stands anyway– at the Home Depot Center as just 7,500 will attend the return leg of the quarterfinal match-up due to a attendance agreement with Cal-State Dominguez Hills over the usage of the university's parking lots during the school year.
When asked, Toronto forward Danny Koevermans was unaware of the issue, but after a quick refresher of the rules that will cap the HDC's attendance from its 27,000 capacity, the TFC striker was flabbergasted.
"That is stupid, that is stupid, LA Galaxy is a big club in LA and they showed it because they have three big name players," said Koevermans. "So when it’s the CONCACAF quarterfinals, I think that it’s a stupid call because you what happens here and I think they can do it too. Especially with the game 2-2, it’s an all or nothing game and I think that it can also be 40k but they made a change so I think that maybe it works to our advantage, you never know."
Never one to mince words, the candid Dutchman had a few choice words for Jamaican referee Courtney Campbell, who awarded Koevermans a yellow card in the 58th minute for starting a scuffle with Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders at the edge of the box. The play seemed innocent enough initially as the Saunders ran to the edge of the box towards a charging Koevermans, but after the goalkeeper scooped up the ball, Koevermans was left incensed.
"[Saunders] put his cleats on our upper leg, so when I bumped into him straight away, I can understand. I was on the side of him. He just put his cleats on my upper leg, and so I was mad at that," said Koevermans, who charged Saunders after the play. "But this referee, these CONCACAF referees are such a joke, so then he gave me a yellow card for my reaction. That's okay, but then he should give him a yellow card too but he didn't do that. Stupid."
Although the veteran striker admitted that his behavior was less than becoming, Koevermans was still not pleased with Campbell's decision.
"My reaction is also not good, but what happens, happens so he has to give me a yellow card, but the keeper also," Koevermans later added. "Then he just waved way and the linesman also said ‘it’s in the game, it’s in the game” so we can’t do anything about it. They’re the boss and even if they’re wrong then they’re right."
Following his feisty moments with Saunders, Koevermans shined in the second half, nearly scoring on two occasions, a shot from midfield that challenged Saunders in the 64th and a chance in the 77th from close range that nearly missed the mark.
For Toronto to pull off the upset against the Galaxy and advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals next week, the Reds will need their talented striker to place shots on frame rather than painfully wide. The job for TFC is simple enough — they must earn either a victory or a 3-3 draw, which will pull the Canadian side ahead on away goals against Galaxy side that went unbeaten at home last season.
Despite the long odds facing his club, the boisterous Dutchman is confident that TFC can pull through.
"I hope we’re going to win. Every game is different. What happens tonight doesn’t change anything for next week. You never know anything can happen," said Koevermans. "A guy can slip away in the second minute and you’re 1-nothing up or 1-nothing down. We’ll see next week, we’re still in the race for a semi-final spot so we need to go in next week to win the game and we’ll see what happens."