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MLS Match Preview: Toronto FC vs. LA Galaxy

TORONTO FC vs LA GALAXY 
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
March 30, 2013 (WEEK 5, MLS Game #35)
2 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS; TWCSN-LA/TWCD) 

Toronto FC play their first match this season at their BMO Field when they play host to the undefeated LA Galaxy on Saturday afternoon. Toronto FC are returning to action following a weekend off, their last contest a 2-1 loss at arch-rival Montréal. The Galaxy are hitting the road for the first time in league play this season, winning their third match of the year last weekend with a 1-0 victory against the Colorado Rapids. 

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Bill Dittmar; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Sorin Stoica MLS Career: 78 games; FC/gm: 24.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 14; pens: 11 

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DISABLED LIST: none 
SUSPENDED: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none  

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (11 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 11 goals … Galaxy 4 wins, 14 goals … Ties 5
AT TORONTO (5 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 3 goals … Galaxy 1 win, 2 goals … Ties 3 
LAST YEAR (MLS):

9/22: LA 4, TOR 2 (Juninho 11, 33; Keane 36, 92+ -- Dunfield 38; Silva 86)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Toronto FC have not defeated the LA Galaxy in league play since 2008, when they swept the season series. But the teams met in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals a year ago, TFC winning the series with a 2-1 win in Carson, following a 2-2 draw in Toronto.
  • When the Galaxy defeated TFC 4-2 last Sept. 22 at The Home Depot Center, it was the first time since 2009 a team had won in the regular season series. They had played to four consecutive draws in between.
  • Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. TOR: P10 W5 L1 D4 … Ryan Nelsen vs. LA: first game 

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC return to action following a week off, their last match a 2-1 loss to the Montréal Impact on March 16 at Olympic Stadium. TFC sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 3 points from 3 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Impact took the lead in the 34th minute. Andres Romero was into space on the right side of the area, and after he and TFC fullback Ashtone Morgan, the assistant referee flagged for a foul. Patrice Bernier converted the resulting penalty.
  • Montreal doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time. Davy Arnaud sent a through ball for Marco Di Vaio, and he put home a composed finish from an angle on the right side of the box after rounding TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
  • TFC were given a lifeline in the 67th minute as Impact left back Dennis Iapichino was whistled for an off-the-ball foul in the penalty area on Toronto's Terry Dunfield. For the second consecutive week, Robert Earnshaw coolly slotted the penalty kick home, but the visitors could draw no closer.
  • TFC boss Ryan Nelsen made no changes to the team that defeated Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at Rogers Centre.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Darren O'Dea, Danny Califf (Jonathan Osorio 84), Ashtone Morgan (Darel Russell 65) - John Bostock, Jeremy Hall (Kyle Bekker 60), Terry Dunfield, Reggie Lambe - Robert Earnshaw, Hogan Ephraim

TEAM NEWS

  • It was the second loss in two away matches to start the season for Toronto FC. The club is now winless in its last nine league games outside of Ontario, dating back to last August.
  • “Credit to the guys in the second half, they worked hard, put a lot of pressure and deserved the goal. The majority of the team really stood up tonight.,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. Added defender Darren O’Dea: “We didn’t really start well, we started OK. We certainly didn’t play well in the first half. It wasn’t good enough. We put right in the second half, but there was a lot to decline by then.”
  • Robert Earnshaw netted his third goal of the season, all coming in the last two matches. He converted a second penalty on the campaign.
  • “When I’m playing up top, I have to set the tempo for the team. If I start to close down the opposition, then my teammates have to follow me,” said Earnshaw. “For me, I’ve got to try and do my best. I have to get myself scoring chances, but I also have to try and create for my teammates. If I can close someone down and put someone under pressure so my team will get a chance, that’s the biggest thing for me. It’s controlled energy because I have to be thinking out there. Sometimes it is 4-v-1 and it’s hard work.”
  • Jeremy Hall continued to fill the role as a holding central midfielder, after playing primarily as a right back since coming to the club at the start of the 2012 season.
  • “He fit the bill in what we look for in a central midfielder. He has done fantastically well since the start of preseason. As soon as we went in (to preseason), we thought he would be fantastic for that position – his skillset, his mental attributes and how he reads the game. He just fit the bill,” Nelsen said. “ … Unfortunately, I had to take him out in Montreal just because of the scoreline and the fact we had to push the game a bit. It was no fault of his.”
  • Toronto FC allowed multiple goals in a game for the first time this season. They had allowed two goals over their first two matches, before conceding the two in Montréal.
  • “We are learning a lot about each other. We are learning about players, about different situations. ... We’ve got to put together 90 minute performances. Playing well during 45 minutes is not good enough. But, we’ll get there. We’ll keep working hard and get mentally stronger,” said Nelsen.
  • Nelsen said midfielder Luis Silva and goalkeeper Stefan Frei could be ready to return to the TFC lineup after returning to full training during the bye week.
  • “They are really close. Luis is looking really good and Stefan is back out there (in training),” said Nelsen. “We have to watch (defender) Julio (César) because the artificial turf is not kind to him. It’s not kind to anybody who is over the age of 30. We have given him a couple of days off, but hopefully he will be back when we get on the grass.” 

LA GALAXY
The LA Galaxy returned to their winning ways, defeating the Colorado Rapids 1-0 on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are in a tie for second place in the Western Conference with 7 points from 3 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The turning point came early in the second half, after Colorado defender Drew Moor was ejected for an off-the-ball backhand to Marcelo Sarvas' face inside the penalty area. Mike Magee converted from the spot in the 50th minute for the eventual match-winner.
  • Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin was credited with seven saves in his first professional start as the Galaxy held a 21-5 edge in attempts at goal. Galaxy 'keeper Carlo Cudicini made three saves.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Leonardo came into the back four and Jack McBean started up top, with Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane both away on international duty.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Carlo Cudicini - Sean Franklin, Leonardo, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Mike Magee, Marcelo Sarvas (Rafael Garcia 84), Juninho, Colin Clark (Hector Jimenez 71) - Jose Villarreal (Michael Stephens 67), Jack McBean.

TEAM NEWS

  • • It was a second clean sheet in three league matches for the Galaxy this season, all of which have been played at The Home Depot Center.
  • • “It was a good performance. They have been pretty good all year, I think we have conceded two goals, in five competitive matches now, so for the most part we have been pretty good,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.
  • With Robbie Keane away on international duty, Arena opted to start an all-teenage strike pair of Jose Villarreal (19) and Jack McBean (18).
  • “They were all over the field. They had a great game and were unlucky not to score,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “Maybe the youngest forward duo that I've ever played with, but they were great. They were fearless. That’s probably what makes them as good as they are because they don’t even know what they’re doing, which is a good thing. There is brashness there, and it works for them. Jose is taking shots and he’s aggressive, and Jack is holding up the ball there for us, and that stuff is going to add up. Those guys are going to be big for us.”
  • Said Villarreal: “It brings back some memories when we played together with the Academy, and I had a lot of fun with him. I think that me and Jack did a good job. We just went at the defenders. We didn't care if they were veterans in the league or not. It's a matter of us implementing our style of play and our aggressiveness.”
  • Mike Magee converted the penalty kick for the game’s lone goal and took over sole leadership in the MLS Golden Boot standings with four goals.
  • There is a question mark surrounding Keane after he suffered a calf strain in the World Cup qualifier vs. Sweden, which ruled out of Ireland’s qualifier on Tuesday against Austria in Dublin.
  • “It will be great to get Robbie Keane back, I don't know if he will be ready to play against Toronto after this international spell. We will have to see how he is,” said Arena.
  • With Omar Gonzalez on international duty, Leonardo returned to the center of defense, and the Galaxy kept a second clean sheet with him in the first XI.
  • “Leonardo is playing very well. His comeback, if you want to call it that, from some serious injuries over the last couple years has been remarkable and it looks to me as he is jumping very well as you could see tonight with the number of headers he won. He is getting his speed back; we are really pleased with it,” said Arena. “Throughout the year we are going to need to have a lot of depth in our back line and he has certainly only made us stronger by the way he has been able to come back.
  • During the week, the Galaxy traveled to The White House to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.
  • “The champions didn't look all that good. An injury bug plagued the team; it seemed like it might be a rebuilding year,” said Obama during the East Room ceremony. “But right after that visit [here], they turned things around. You can call it coincidence, but I'd like to point out that right after they visited with me, the Galaxy built the best record in the league.”