Kick Off: All the reactions from a shocking night of CCL
All hail Toronto FC.
There were three MLS clubs in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and only one was left standing. Watch the highlights of TFC’s 2-1 triumph against the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy which put the Canadian side through 4-3 on aggregate. (VIDEO)
TFC manager Aron Winter was reveling in the victory: “If you watch both games we’ve played, we earned to go further.” However, game-winning goal scorer Nick Soolsma believes “LA was the better team” last night. (VIDEO)
While Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic was shaking after the match, Julian de Guzman, who returned from suspension, was equally emotional: “Especially as a Torontonian and a Canadian, this is definitely a dream come true for myself.” (VIDEO)
Toronto’s Jamaican international forward Ryan Johnson had a goal and an assist on the night by beating LA rookie defender Tommy Meyer on both occasions. He says it was part of the gameplan to go after Meyer: “[Andrew] Boyens is physically 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 so he’s a hard guy to jump with. When I saw that they made that switch, we kind of thought that we could win those head balls and get some chances that way."
Winter didn’t shy away from also pointing out the Galaxy’s Achilles heel: "We knew from the midfield in the front they play a lot of quality balls, but they have some difficulty in the back. They lost one of their best defenders and we knew the problem was there."
LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena doesn’t necessarily disagree. "He got caught on a couple of plays," Arena said of Meyer. "Inexperienced player. He's got to do a little better. He's got to learn from it."
Although there was a Mike Magee goal called back for a phantom offside, it also hurt the LA Galaxy to see Designated Player Robbie Keane fail to finish good opportunities on goal against an inspired Kocic: “He's lost a little confidence,” Arena said about Keane. “He's had some chances in these past three games. You lose your confidence a little bit. He's going to have to get it back real quick.”
Watch this interview with LA center back A.J. DeLaGarza as he gives his take on what’s ailing the Galaxy: “I don’t think we’re making plays on either side of the ball,” he told LAGalaxy.com. “We’re giving up easy goals that are free headers or free bodies in the box. We have to correct both sides of the ball.” (VIDEO)
Listen to former LA coach Ralph Perez break down the result in this podcast, in which he points out how the Galaxy had 14 shots but only three on frame: “You conceded seven goals and that isn’t going to get it done for you in the long run giving up seven goals in three games.” (PODCAST)
The other Western Conference power in action, the Seattle Sounders, were humbled 6-1 by Santos Laguna (watch all the lowlights here) and eliminated 7-3 on aggregate. It was the most goals given up by the Sounders in a competitive match.
The headline of the article in Mexican sports daily Esto: “No Mercy.” American forward Herculez Gomez was partly responsible for that rout with two goals for Santos.
"It's just a matter of us showing our character right now and standing back up," said Sounders manager Sigi Schmid, who also rued the missed scoring opportunities and the deadly counters that followed. "It's easy to go hide after a loss like this."
Apparently, Schmid gave the following comparison to Spanish-language media at the event: “If this was a boxing match, they would have knocked us out.” (SPANISH)
Sounders star Fredy Montero wasn’t hiding. He took to Twitter for this message to Sounders fans: “Looking forward to starting our season on Saturday with a victory. It’s just the beginning.”
Although he is a relative newcomer, Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning realizes the missed opportunity in the CCL: “It's a pity for us and for the fans because we wanted this so much and this result is not a good sign from us to the fans and the MLS, but this game is over and we have to look forward to Saturday.”
Sounders captain Mauro Rosales stood up to the mike as well: "It was painful because we didn't expect that. We had lots of confidence before the game and there was confidence at the half. It was a pity that we made the mistakes and they could score. They made us pay for every single mistake we had in the game." (VIDEO)
Ahead of the Sounders’ home opener this weekend, Schmid says that fans can expect a new lineup: “Certainly there are probably some changes we need to make in our team because of fatigue and maybe performance, as well.”
The fallen MLS powers are already thinking about the future. This article from Italy says that LA star David Beckham is recruiting his former teammate at AC Milan Clarence Seedorf to join the Galaxy this summer. (ITALIAN)
There’s one more CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal to go. Salvadoran side Isidro Metapán will hope they can hold their 2-1 aggregate goal lead heading into Mexico City against Pumas UNAM (10 pm ET, Galavision).
In international action, the drama is guaranteed in a host of Europa League second legs. GolTV will have both Manchester clubs, who are in must-win situations: Athletic Bilbao vs. Manchester United (2 pm ET and Manchester City vs. Sporting CP (4 pm ET). Also later tonight there’s a Copa Libertadores doubleheader on Fox Deportes kicking off at 6:30 pm ET.
In case you missed it, Grantland.com’s soccer podcast had MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Timber Joey on the show. Harleys and chainsaw circumcision were among the topics.
The attendance at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal is one of the topics of the week in MLS. Media are estimating a new soccer attendance record to be set for the Montreal Impact’s first MLS home game and local product Patrice Bernier is feeling the pressure of the occasion: “It's now up to us as players to make sure there's a good product on the field.”
A good product on the field is important but the stage on which it is showcased is critical. Just ask Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson: “To be in heart of the city on the west side, with light rail everywhere, that’s something I wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China. If you build me a Livestrong Sporting Park in Hillsboro, about 20 minutes outside Portland, I wouldn’t take the trade.”
Staying with Portland, MLS Player of the Week Kalif Alhassan says that his goal against the Philadelphia Union from this past weekend was intentional: “I was trying to score,” he says.
The Union are back home preparing for the Colorado Rapids, a team which Peter Nowak says are even more physical than Portland. In the meantime, he’s hoping that next year he has his wish granted by MLS: “We’ve asked [the league] for three years now to open our season at home. It hasn’t happened, I hope next year we get the chance to play at home for the players and our fans.”
The New England Revolution were hoping for the chance to sign a Swedish forward they brought in for preseason, but the news does not sound good on that front.
Lastly, NPR did a story on Egyptian national team manager Bob Bradley and what he plans to do to maintain a competitive side in the face of the domestic league shutdown.
Power Rankings: Did RSL’s win push them to the top of the list?
Red Bulls star Thierry Henry issues stern warning to his teammates
Watch: Who’s on the medal stand after the first week of MLS regular season action?
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