For the majority of the second half between Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first leg of the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, it seemed as if the most unexpected of heroes would be the difference for the Reds.
However, Luis Silva's 17th minute goal failed to hold up late, and the Galaxy now lead the aggregate on away goals with a 2-2 draw at Rogers Centre at Toronto, ON.
With that said, here are six things we learned from the match.
1. LA is going to find their title defenses to be a tough nut to crack
Even though the MLS season does not start until this weekend, the Los Angeles Galaxy did not convince anybody—at least not this columnist—that they are a club that can defend their MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield. They stumbled out of the gates in front of a hostile crowd and needed all of 89 minutes to regain their form from last year.
2. The long days without Omar Gonzalez...begin
Omar Gonzalez's lack of presence on defense has made things difficult for the Galaxy back line, and it showed against a team that had an entire nation on its back. Andrew Boyens did not particularly impress, nor did he overwhelmingly disappoint, but whether or not he can be counted on to pick up the weight remains to be seen. The jury is still out.
3. The plastic pitch did its part
As a beat writer for the Galaxy, I feel rather proud to be witnessing matches on an honest surface like natural grass. So when fans watched the ball move on a surface more fit for CFL football than associated football, it was cringe-worthy with the way it cost the Galaxy some chances to break open the contest.
4. Luis Silva could be the revelation for Toronto
For young Luis Silva to score on the team he grew up watching, it has to be an honor to earn his first ever CONCACAF Champions League goal. A great finish, a fantastic delivery, and Silva was minutes away—just minutes away—from being hailed a hero in T.O.
Expect to see a little bit more from Silva this season, and then some, in MLS play.
5. The Galaxy's finishing woes continue
For a majority of the match, the Galaxy showed their preseason rust, with Edson Buddle, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan failing to make the most of their chances. Keane and Donovan have not had much time to work with Buddle, so it will be interesting to see if the chemistry will be put to work this weekend against Real Salt Lake.
6. Torontonians love their streamers
You have to give Toronto's fans credit. They made the most of what will likely be the Galaxy's only appearance at Rogers Centre for a while by hurling streamers, and even flashlights, every time David Beckham prepared a corner. The Red Patch Boys, U Section and other Toronto supporter clubs were ready for this match.
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