TORONTO – Landon Donovan scored an 88th-minute equalizer to give the LA Galaxy a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC in front of 47,568 fans at Rogers Centre on Wednesday in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.
Donovan found the ball at his feet after it rebounded around the goalmouth off David Beckham's corner kick. Unmarked, the Galaxy captain put back a left-footed kick high into Stefan Frei's net came from close range and completed a comeback from a two-goal disadvantage by the MLS Cup champions.
In a game that lived up to the hype, Ryan Johnson and Luis Silva gave Toronto a 2-0 lead early in the first 17 minutes that had the club record crowd rocking. Festooned by red and white streamers hurled by the fans, the Galaxy kept their cool.
In the early minutes of the game, LA did the pressing but the Reds quickly became organized and effective on the attack.
Johnson sent the crowd into a frenzy in the 12th minute as he knocked home a rebound from the left side of the six-yard box after a corner kick by Torsten Frings.
TFC weren’t finished, pushing their lead to 2-0 five minutes later as impressive rookie Silva headed a looping pass from the right wing by Frings into the lower right corner past LA 'keeper Josh Saunders.
But the Galaxy’s experience began to show. They quickly went to the attack and forced a couple of saves from Frei off corner kicks.
LA were rewarded with a goal in the 29th minute by Mike Magee, who struck a right-footed shot left the side of the six-yard box into the center of the goal after Sean Franklin’s cross trickled off Frei’s hands.
The fireworks were only getting started. About 10 minutes into the second half, TFC striker Koevermans and Saunders were involved in a scuffle at the edge of the box after the ‘keeper seemed to come close to stepping out of the penalty area with the ball.
The Galaxy finally got their equalizer in the dying moments as Bruce Arena went to his bench and inserted Michael Stephens and Chad Barrett for Andrew Boyens and Juninho for a final offensive push. And it paid off as, two minutes from time, Donovan gave them the strike they needed to send them back to LA with a pair of crucial away goals.
The second leg is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, at The Home Depot Center at 10 pm ET.