Toronto FC had a one-two punch on Wednesday. They were named Nick Soolsma and Ryan Johnson.
The duo combined for both goals in a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy, putting TFC into the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League with a 4-3 aggregate win. The Reds are the first Canadian team to advance this far in the CCL, and the last MLS team standing in the 2011-12 tournament.
The winning goal, midway through the second half, was Johnson-to-Soolsma. The big Jamaican fought off defender Tommy Meyer as he worked the ball to the end line, then whipped a cross toward the penalty spot.
It was met by an onrushing Soolsma, who hammered it in with his left foot.
“It was a good cross from Ryan and I finished good, I think,” the Dutch attacker said. “After that we didn’t play any tactics any more, just work hard and hope for the 2-1.”
Johnson was merely returning the favor on that particular play. In the first half it was Soolsma with the telling cross, curling the ball over from the right side for Johnson to head back across the goal and just inside the back post.
Toronto’s one-two combination was needed against a heavily favored Galaxy side that had fought down from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 in the first leg at the Rogers Centre. This time, of course, TFC managed to hang on.
“Of course, it was difficult,” Soolsma said. “But we said to each other just play the same game, keep the 1-1 and hope for a second chance. And finally the second chance came and we scored for 2-1.”
Even playing for the result, it still took some heroics from goalkeeper Milos Kocic. The big man had a pair of stops on Robbie Keane, twice denying the DP striker at point blank range in the second half.
And that, as it turned out, was enough. TFC’s one-two punch cold-cocked the MLS champions, and now the Reds find themselves in uncharted territory.