Toronto FC's affinity for letting in late goals is apparently still around, with Landon bloody Donovan's 89th minute equaliser being a real heartbreaker in such a big game, giving L.A Galaxy a big advantage and meaning that TFC will have to win in L.A to advance (well, a 3-3 or higher tie would also get the job done, but it's unlikely). Some people are taking the view that it cruelly robbed TFC of a famous victory, and that 2-2 is still a good result against such a star studded team. That they played as good a game as we could have hoped for, that came very close to working.
An easy parallel to draw is with the home game against Pumas last year, where TFC came away with a hard fought 1-1 tie. After that game, I couldn't have been prouder of them for going up against a team that was better than them, and hanging on by their fingernails to get an important point. Given the talent that L.A has and the fact that they're the reigning MLS champions whichever way you think such things should be crowned, maybe I should be feeling the same way about last night's game, a moral victory (and agonisingly almost an actual one) for the plucky underdogs.
I just can't though. I think this game was there for the taking, and especially after going 2-0 up, TFC wasted a massive opportunity and made things unnecessarily difficult for themselves.
That Pumas game was against a team much better than us on paper, in the middle of their season, who'd hammered us 4-0 just a month or so ago. Respect was due, we were the underdog, we knew it and played a smart game that worked very well. Last night, it didn't need to be that way.
Yes the Galaxy have Donovan, Beckham, Keane, Buddle, Juninho, the underrated and prolific Mike Magee, and Chad Barrett wasting away on the bench. But Donovan and Keane had been away, the first team hadn't played together all pre season, and that preseason had included a lot of very so-so results. And who else was in that lineup? Andy Boyens! Yes, that Andy Boyens! Right there in the middle of the defence! They were there for the taking, no need for fear or respect, go at them, see what happens and don't let up.
That's how it started. Urged on by the big and noisy crowd (I presume the south end was noisy, it certainly looked like they were but the sound didn't carry to my midfield 200 seats at all, wierd) they were up 2-0 within 20 minutes on two lethal finishes from Ryan Johnson and Luis Silva. Keep going and they could have surprised everyone in MLS and killed the tie off.
Instead, they took their foot off the gas, and from then on in, it was almost all L.A. I spoke with Ignirtoq of the Yorkies at half time and though happy to be ahead, we were both concerned, agreeing that there was a serious hairdryer treatment needed in the dressing room to refocus and get TFC back on the front foot. Whatever was said at half time, nothing changed, L.A kept pressing and creating chances, TFC were very much playing on the counter attack. Despite Keane's repeated misses, give a team with that talent too many chances, eventually they'll score, and eventually they did, right at the end. A heartbreaker, and a real waste. We had a real chance to get a genuine advantage going in to the second leg. Instead, we got what we deserved.