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. "

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64 Responses to Toronto FC eliminate LA Galaxy from CCL

  1. MrTuktoyaktuk says:

    We TFC fans sing about supporting the club through all the highs and lows. There has been a lot of lows but tonight was one of the highs.

  2. Darthspud says:

    So much for making CCL a priority. Two of the top MLS teams laid massive eggs.

  3. Wow…I just read the news about both games. I caught most of the Seattle/Santos game and was sure that Seattle would score a second goal and advance when it was 3-1. I was shocked to read that they lost 6-1, glad to hear Gomez keeps scoring though, I hope Klinsman is watching.

    Then to read that LA lost to Toronto, I was shocked. Not that I thought it would be an easy win for LA, but I thought they would go through by a goal, or with a draw. LA is really missing Omar Gonzalez. I think we all see how important he really is to this team. All this talk about LA getting stronger in the off season really isn’t showing with their recent games.

    As with the last CCL cycle when I was rooting for RSL. I am now rooting for TFC. I hope they get it done against Santos. I really want to see an MLS team in the Club World Cup.

  4. wilyboy says:

    Delagarza showed how much he feeds off of Gonzalez. That CB pairing is a chasm.

    DC is still trying to gain chemistry, but if they can’t score against this defense right now, I’m concerned.

  5. Ossington Mental Youth says:


  6. SLR says:

    So how many excuses did Bruce Arena come up with after tonight’s game?

  7. Indigo Montoya says:

    Galaxy = weak.

  8. CRR says:

    I know TFC won fair and square, but as a neutral I can’t help but think the galaxy would still have a better chance against the other clubs, which is why I’m upset that they didnt go through. No one to blame but themselves and the excellent play of TFC. Well done and deserved TFC, I’m fully begin you now.

  9. epablo says:

    how the heck did keane not score that last oppurtunity? Beckham should be yelling at him for his hesitation.

  10. dgoshilla says:

    Let’s be clear. We lost tonight. However, if you look at the stats from all of the Galaxy games thusfar in 2012 we dominate every stat with the exception of the scoreline. Teams are fouling the Galaxy disproportionately and the officials will catch on. It is only a matter of time before we start clicking and start dominating. Losing Omar was huge and we need to adjust to that. Rest assured Galaxy will be on top of the league before you know it.

  11. mowe says:

    Not when LA’s defense has given up 7 goals in the last three games. Santos would rip them to shreds just like they did to Seattle and likely will to Toronto.

    LA wouldn’t have had the better chance because they couldn’t even close the deal tonight. The team with the best chance is the one still standing. And that’s TFC.

  12. KungFuSoccer says:

    I am a Bruce Arena fan. However, not resting most of the A team vs. RSL for an insignificant league match was a monumental blunder that stinks of front office (“hey it’s the season opener”) intervention. Sure we’ll never know if it would have made a difference, but I was stunned when the lineup was announced for the RSL game.

  13. Neruda says:

    What’s clear is that LA crashed out of CCL against a TFC team that lacks big name stars (TFC’s DP’s are only known by hard-core soccer fans). TFC was more precise in their finishing and hungrier than LA.

    Fouls and injuries are no excuse for the mighty Gals.

  14. FulhamPete says:

    Just HOW badly does the Galaxy miss Gonzo? He marshalled the back line like a boss, and gave opposing defenses another big body to worry about on corners & set pieces.

    I REALLY like DeLaGarza in the center, but not as much without Gonzo along side him.

  15. Casey says:

    Frings is only known to hardcore fans? Then I feel the same way about Keane lol. At least Frings is known for his infamous 2002 handball. Ironically he was calling for card on a handball tonight.

  16. simon B says:

    I know no one is talking about it, which sort of surprises me, but…. Saunders is doing LA no favors in net. Yeah he hasn’t made big mistakes, but he also hasn’t made a big save once this season. Look at how big Kocic came up for TFC and compare that to Saunders.

  17. Chav Bollocks says:

    the Galaxy are playing well offensively and will start to convert some of the easy chances that they are making a mess of right now…scoring goals I’m not overly concerned about

    the defense has just been atrocious though; not that I underrated Omar but his value is clear even this early in the season..AJD is just not the same player with a different partner in central defense

    Juninho has been poor by his standards as well

  18. On Ree says:

    “They scored 2. We scored 1″, I think a famous Frenchman once said on a team with a similar problem. Big talent. Big stats. But big losses. Sorry to Galaxy fans. What a bummer. And, now, yet again a Mexican team will likely go to FIFA CWC. As fan of MLS, I’m bummed. We’ll see though. Come on you boys in Red. MLS4TFC

  19. Seriously says:

    Yeah pretty much MLS worst case scenario last night. Both of the best options are out with TFC left. Maybe by some miracle the reds can get to the final, but I don’t like their chances.

  20. Seriously says:

    That is not even remotely true. The better team does not always advance in soccer. MLS lost its best chances this year for CCL glory. TFC needs a miracle to keep going.

  21. Vic says:

    I wouldn’t be too upset with this result as an MLS fan. Granted Galaxy are a better team. However, Toronto will be a much tougher venue for any Mexican team. They had 47k screaming fans in the first leg against LA. If the Galaxy had progressed there would have been alot of Santos fans at the game in LA. A good home field advantage is crucial in these type of competitions.

  22. ____ says:

    how will toronto weather be end of march? that could’ve been a great advantage

  23. jb says:

    LA really let down MLS last night. They are the one MLS club with the firepower to maybe compete at the club world cup. Congrats to Toronto, glad for them to be showing huge signs of improvement. Hard to see them making much further though.

  24. Brad says:

    the high today in Toronto is 70….and pretty much the same for the next 7 days…

  25. BSU SC says:

    Dunivant played one of the most horrendus games I’ve ever seen in professional soccer. He did nothing but turn the ball over to Toronto every time he touched it. The exact same can be said of Chad Barrett. He was on the field for less than 10 minutes and struggled to complete a single pass. I counted at least 4 turnovers while he was on the field. Edson Buddle looked very rusty and Robbie Keane couldn’t have kicked a ball into the ocean last night. Landon Donovan seemed to be the only person on his A game last night. Very disappointing performance for the Galaxy over all. Congrats to Toronto…although I can’t see them giving Santos much of a challenge.

  26. John says:

    So is ten years not enough time to let the man ask for a handball without it being ironic?

  27. JRP says:

    Really? The only club? Seems to me like RSL is the only club to make it to the finals of this tournament. We still have 10 of those starters on the squad. And to all the people talking about firepower….Soccer is a defensive sport. You don’t play four forwards. You play four fullbacks. Firepower doesn’t mean anything against a decent back line. I am cheering for anyone but NY and LA.

  28. PD says:

    Great news for Toronto. It would be great for them and MLS for them to have a breakout year, but I hope that they treat this opportunity as their MLS CUP, Hunt Cup and Supporters Cup, I mean Shield combined.

    As for LA… I feel bad that any hopes of them adding silverware has been dashed so quickly, but I also cannot wait to hear what Arena will have to say about all this… probably ask for a replay once his supergroup has more rest… wingeing sissymary

    It’s why it’s called the Champions League. Nut Up.

  29. MLSfan says:

    LOVE TFC! …and I do hope they beat Santos Laguna… but the slope just got steeper. MUCH steeper.

  30. PolishPete says:

    But LA did add silverware already Tuscan cup……we had similar problem for years , takes one game and your done . I still strongly believe that in 2010 if we past the SJ in the playoffs (0-1, 3-1) we would win the cup, as there wasn’t a team that could challange us then . Unfortunetly every shot that SJ had was a goal ….TFC’s deffence is very weak , and plays with fire a lot . For some strange reason LA players thought that they are in after they score the goal( kean reaction to it was a class act, never would think that he had it in him)

  31. Charles says:

    Well, it doesn’t really matter who the “better” teams are. It matters who plays well enough to win.

    I am very happy for the Toronto fans. There were so many of them, it just seems fair that their team would go far. Good luck.

    In a way, as a Sounders fan, it will just be that much sweeter when they do well. Like beating Monterrey in Monterrey last fall.

  32. Charles says:

    BTW, LA gave up 2 goals or more in a game at home once last year ( MLS play )

    Twice this year.

  33. Judging Amy says:

    LA played horribly today for a team with so much marquee talent.

    It doesn’t matter what kind of team you have on paper if you don’t get it done on the field. Maybe they’ve just taken a step back this year. I say this as someone who wanted them to win.

  34. MTs says:

    galaxitives LOL!

  35. MTs says:

    they lost to f*cking canucks LOL.Stupid mls rules.

  36. MTs says:

    what talent are you talking about Barrett or Cristman lol.

  37. The Imperative Voice says:

    Let’s be real about it, LAG knew this fixture congestion was coming and yet elected to secure a squad that was more veteran than deep…..arguably with an eye more towards MLS playoffs. They also let Gonzo go on his loan and then didn’t make an effort to fill his spot when he did the knee. So now when they are complaining the schedule is too hot for their older desired 11, or their CBs can’t stop my late great-granddad, it can be traced back to personnel decisions.

    I don’t even see where the LA optimism is coming from, that’s 2 3 2 = 7 GA over the first 3 fixtures, not even a hint of their usual defensive airtightness. LA re-arrived as a team with Arena’s defense and in the absence of the Maryland partnership on which it is based LA becomes ordinary. The answer is not waiting for them to gel but correcting the Boyens/ Meyer/ Buddle mistakes they’ve made. I don’t get how someone as seemingly bright as Bruce could have missed how glacial his remaining CB options were.

  38. MTs says:

    they beat what dallas in semis

  39. MTs says:

    only hope they dont have a chance my friend

  40. The Imperative Voice says:

    They can fix some of this in the summer but my concern would be that if LA is going to try the 90s Crew approach of trying to simply score more than they allow — 6-4-style (they once had a KC game like that) — the age of LA seems ill-suited to doing that in a grinding manner week after week for a full season that will include CCL in the fall as well. The older LA team is simply better suited to grinding out close wins.

  41. The Imperative Voice says:

    You actually underline the problem with LAG’s CCL allocation which is that you can even try and play favorites and your favorite may trip over their own feet. You’re better off allowing organic reality to play out because sometimes “TFC wins,” so to speak.

  42. ld says:

    The Galaxy defence is horrid. And you think they could beat Santos. You are delusional

  43. ld says:

    LA compete with best from UEFA and chance

  44. Vince Clortho says:

    Bruce should have prioritized CCL and let his starters rest vs RSL….

    Nice to see Toronto experience something positive for once…

  45. Jason says:

    You have a very skewed view then. Please have a look at the LA vs. RSL stats and get back to us.

    link to

    LA had a 4 more shots and crosses but that’s about it. RSL had the edge in possession and passing while both teams had 4 shots on goal.

    Oh, and LA committed 14 fouls to RSL’s 10.

    So where is this “domination” you speak of?

  46. Tim says:

    Disappointed to see the Galaxy complain about needing practice time together. Perhaps next year the team won’t let players miss preseason practices to go on loan overseas for two months if practice time as a full team is so vital. The Galaxy are acting entitled. That sense of entitlement will prevent it from improving.

  47. Tfc says:

    If LA is so good, how come they couldn’t win even one of the two games?

    Beckham would absolutely wilt in Mexico. Stop looking at individuals on paper and look at the team.

    TFC gets no respect despite crushing FC Dallas to escape the group and now taking a two game series from LA. Maybe the teams are closer in talent now in 2012 than some people are willing to admit.

  48. Flashman says:

    Hmm…Dunivant…Barrett…Buddle, all TFC cast-offs…

    I get it now.

    Congrats TFC

  49. GreatBalls says:

    Its CONCACAF Rules not MLS tourney. Theres a village missing their idiot out there. I glad LA got kicked off. What they show up and its an auto win!! LOOSERS!!

  50. Barca1 says:

    TFC beat LA over 2 games.

    No luck there.

  51. titsmcgee says:

    because yelling always makes it better

  52. Goalscorer24 says:

    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.

  53. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    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.

  54. Barca1 says:

    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.

  55. Emigre says:

    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!

  56. Jim says:

    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.

  57. Vic says:

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

  58. epablo says:

    in this case it does. wake up! this is not a sunday league!

  59. Neruda says:

    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.

  60. marco says:

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

  61. The Truth says:

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

  62. bryan says:

    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.

  63. bryan says:

    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.

  64. Fernando the Kit Man says:

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