Alas, but the celebrations were not to be. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
Well let's just say we could have had it so much better. After two stunning strikes from Ryan Johnson in the 12th minute and then Luis Silva on his professional debut in the 19th, they were both canceled by poor defending, allowing Mike Magee (29') and Landon Donovan at the death (88') to tie up the match, and giving the Galaxy two important away goals heading into next week's return leg in LA-LA Land.
So in the spirit of the late night, in the fashion of Stephen Colbert's Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger -- I present to you Waking the Red's first ever post game segment: Golden Trophies and Groin Shots.
A golden trophy to...Luis Silva. Welcome to the world, baby! Scoring the first goal of what is clearly going to be a long, glorious career, Luis Silva has made many friends in Toronto this evening with his antics. While he should have had a second (and put the game pretty much out of reach of the Galaxy), it's still early days for this young dynamo, if tonight is to be believed. Heck, he could even make me eat my words about the Superdraft. But not yet...
A groin shot to...the TFC defence. Caught napping twice, it's the same old problems all over again. Granted, the LA defense was suffering from almost the same problem (they were down to A.J. de la Garza and Andy Boyens for crying out loud) but it's sort of a facepalm moment when you see the same thing that has haunted supporters' dreams for the last five seasons.
If we expect to have ANY hope of a positive result next week, this cannot happen again. On the plus side, when we had the chances to exploit the brittle LA defense, we took full advantage. So that's at least an encouraging sign there.
A golden trophy to...the almost 48,000 people who packed the Rogers Centre this evening. You all deserve a gold star for the consistent energy you brought to the game. It'll be a huge shame that the LA crowd won't be able to answer with such a display, since the crowd is limited to 7,500 due to an agreement with the university that hosts the Home Depot Centre. But you made the point, and you supported the team. It's all we could ask for!
A groin shot to...the CONCACAF refereeing. Again, lots of missed calls that went both ways. Some things that were missed should have been admitted to like Frei's complaint that Richard Eckersley was being kept off the field, and let it be -- instead Courtney Campbell rained down the card on the GK for dissent. But then again, it's CONCACAF refereeing. I know I sound like a broken record, but for the record...you know.
A groin shot to...the turf. Wow did that turf look terrible. If we were able to spend a quarter of a million dollars on a pitch for Real Madrid (which was a friendly), then why on Earth did we not spend a similar amount on a match that will actually matter in the grand scheme of things? I get it -- hindsight is 20/20. But this is one of those nights that counted!
A golden trophy (and a medal) to...Stefan Frei. If legendary cricket commentator Henry Blofeld had seem some of those catches, he'd be like "deary me, that was one stupendous catch from midair from Stefan Frei to keep the ball out." -- we may never know if the result may have been different if Milos Kocic was in net (that's all academic now), but without Stefan Frei in net, I can pretty much say with certainty this match could have been a whole lot worse.
A golden trophy to...Torsten Frings. Same as above. Dropped back to the rearguard, the German man performed marvelously. Has he proven that he's the stabilizing force that our midfield and back needs? In a way, yes.
A groin shot to...Rogers Sportsnet's David Beckham Cam. For the love of everything sacred and holy, what happened to objectivity in coverage? Not a single TFC voice was heard during the pre-game show. It was all Beckham. Boring!
And there you have it. Off to LA we go next week for the return leg, with the aggregate series tied 2-2 but the Galaxy holding onto two away goals. A win of 1-0 by TFC will be good enough to secure passage, but any home goals by the Galaxy and the formula gets a little weirder (and likely tougher.)