Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy will be coming into the second leg of the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League against Toronto FC gasping for air. After a 3-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake to open the Major League Soccer season, the G's are left searching for answers.
Bleacher Report will provide some of those...in the form of 10 bold predictions.
1. The match will end in a draw
I have consigned myself to a reality as cold and hard as the frozen North: nine times out of 10 a match between Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy will end in a draw. But just exactly what draw that will be...well, you will have to read on to find out.
2. A scoreless first half
That's right, both teams are going to struggle in the first half. Mostly the Galaxy, as seen in their lack of finishing tough and their inaccuracy. This is where Toronto will have to make the Galaxy pay for their lack of finishing touch.
3. Toronto will score first
This should not be a surprise. I predict that Luis Silva will have a bit of a happy homecoming by scoring the first goal of the match if all goes to plan for Aron Winter. Look for the first goal coming in the second half.
4. At least 10 set piece chances for David Beckham
As I have said from the start of this season, David Beckham's set pieces are a slot machine on the pitch. The delivery is the lever, and the rotating panels are the numbers on the receiving end. Becks should have at least 10 swings of the leg on Wednesday, mostly from corners.
5. Buddle on a hotstreak
Edson Buddle proved to be the best player on the pitch for Los Angeles on Saturday night against RSL, and I expect him to create chances and finish at least one of them.
6. If Quick Silva doesn't strike, take your pick between Danny and Ryan
Danny Koevermans was Toronto FC's top goal scorer, but Ryan Johnson got on the sheet first for Toronto in the first leg. Either of the two plays can finish, and I expect either Silva, Koevermans or Johnson to lead the charge for the visitors.
7. Galaxy will play on tired legs
Speaking of gambling off set pieces, I have to question why Bruce Arena didn't field a B-team against Real Salt Lake. If RSL were to get their payback, it would have been better off at the expense of the reserves, but to field the starters was a costly mistake. I expect LA to struggle to find their fitness on Wednesday.
8. Not all the 7,500 seats will be filled.
The attendance cap will be 7,500 due to the game being held on a school day at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Having said that, I don't think every seat will be filled tonight. But if it does, I will conclude that the loss on Saturday never happened, and that the season really begins next Sunday against D.C. United.
9. At least 35 shots from both teams combined
We are going to see a lot of firepower, but mostly a lot of misses from both teams. Look for at least 35 attempts on goal from both Toronto and Los Angeles. It's all hands on deck for both teams, but it's going to be a frustrating outing in terms of scoring.
10. Los Angeles goes through on away goals...and faces Seattle next
This has been a difficult last few days for the Los Angeles Galaxy. A draw away to Toronto, a blowout defeat at home to Real Salt Lake, and now this contest. Look for LA to punch their ticket against agsainst a Seattle team destined to fly the flag for the States in the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Toronto FC 1
(Aggregate score, Los Angeles 3, Toronto 3, Los Angeles advances on away goals)
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.