CONCACAF Champions League - Toronto FC v Los Angeles Galaxy

The “March 14 massacre:” A night of CONCACAF Champions League surprise


Who could blame Toronto FC fans for carrying a little chip on their shoulders about CONCACAF Champions League? Who could blame the Red Patch Boys and other Toronto supporters for turning toward the soccer world and reminding everyone who proved No.1 in last night’s quarterfinal closer?

After all, the presumptive national narrative in the run-up to Wednesday’s second-leg was all about Los Angeles. About how the gleaming Galaxy, majestic conquerors of Major League Soccer, now out to claim greater lands, had prioritized Champions League and its potential riches this year.

Could Bruce Arena’s army, brave David Beckham at the helm and that stellar cast of Galacticos manning battle stations of support, get past the mighty Mexican clubs in their way? Could the Galaxy do what Real Salt Lake came so close to doing last year, become the first MLS club to claim ultimate honors in the regional tournament?

And perhaps a few even allowed themselves to dream about greater days ahead, about storming shore in the FIFA Club World Cup later this year. Just how would the Galaxy stack up against some ultimate Euro heavyweight, some soccer super power like FC Barcelona, should it come to that? Hmmmm.

Never mind that Toronto had, strictly speaking, the very chance to do any and all of the same.

Congratulations to Toronto FC for the biggest win in club history.

Los Angeles Galaxy: you may now begin sweeping up the pieces.

Around only since 2006 (TFC’s first MLS season was 2007), the club has never even found its way into the Major League Soccer’s playoffs. No, the “March 14 massacre” won’t shock the sports world. I’ve written before about the colossal juxtaposition at work here, this regional tournament that the players, coaches and organizations care so much about, but one that enjoys so precious little general market awareness.

But that’s neither here nor there as TFC players and coaches board a plane today at LAX, bound heroically for Ontario and feeling rightly fantastic about Wednesday’s 2-1 win (and 4-3 series triumph on aggregate). Now they face Mexico’s Santos, talented manufacturers of Wednesday’s other Champions League shocker.

Santos is a quality Mexican side, of course, currently atop the Mexican league table. Given the historical strength of Mexican sides against MLS competition, there’s little surprise that Santos advanced. But who predicted a 6-1 shellacking?

I’ll have more later on what these losses for Seattle and Los Angeles mean.

For now, let’s just salute Toronto for the job well done.

MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-1 Los Angeles Galaxy

Robbie Keane
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Los Angeles Galaxy became the second team in the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the playoffs following a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders. A terrible mistake from Seattle defender Zach Scott led to an easy goal for Robbie Keane, and it looked like that would be the winner until deep into stoppage time. In the 93rd minute, Chad Barrett got his knee on a corner kick to save a draw for Seattle, although the point was enough for LA. The Galaxy join FC Dallas as the two Western Conference teams headed to the postseason.

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Three moments that mattered

36′ — Robbie Keane capitalizes on Seattle’s mistake — Zach Scott misplayed a ball across the Sounders’ back line, as Robbie Keane intercepted the pass and finished one of the easiest goals he’s going to score. A true striker’s goal, Keane doesn’t miss ones like this.

64′ — Steven Gerrard denied by the woodwork — Los Angeles nearly made it 2-0 right after the hour mark, but Steven Gerrard was just inches off. Gerrard rose up to meet a corner kick from Juninho, but his header took a deflection and hit the crossbar before being cleared out of the box by Seattle.

90’+3′ — Chad Barrett finds a late, late equalizer — Just when it looked like LA was going to leave Seattle with a win, Chad Barrett stole a point for the Sounders. Marco Pappa whipped in a corner kick to the near post, which was flicked on by Brad Evans. Barrett surged into the box and got a knee on the ball as the match ended in a draw.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Steven Gerrard

Goalscorers: Keane (36′), Barrett (90’+3′)

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)