CCL: Rough Night for MLS Favorites as Galaxy, Sounders Crash Out

Having crossed “win an MLS Cup” off their to-do list this past fall, David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and the LA Galaxy turned their focus to the CONCACAF Champions League as the 2012 season approached.

Winning that competition would be an MLS first and constitute the next frontier for a club with lofty aspirations. A CCL crown would raise the international profile of the franchise and put the Galaxy in the FIFA Club World Cup, where LA could compete against some of the biggest sides in the world.

Last night, those visions of greater glory evaporated in the air of the Home Depot Center as Toronto FC, a team that has never qualified for the MLS playoffs in five years of existence, eliminated the Galaxy with a 2-1 victory. The win, behind goals from Ryan Johnson and Nick Soolsma, sealed a 4-3 aggregate triumph for the Reds and made them the first Canadian side ever to reach the semifinals of the CCL.

Johnson opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark, beating rookie Galaxy defender Tommy Myer to Soolsma’s cross at the far post and heading the ball back across Josh Saunders’ goal and into the side netting.

Los Angeles replied ten minutes into the second half when Toronto defender Ty Harden turned Donovan’s cross, which was bound for an onrushing Keane, into his own net. But Toronto found the winner in the 67th minute, when Johnson beat Myer again, on the left flank, and crossed for Soolsma at the top of the six-yard box.

Keane failed to finish two clear second-half chances to tie the game.

Toronto will face Mexican side Santos Laguna in the two-leg semifinal on March 28 and April 4.

•••

Santos Laguna entered their second leg against Seattle trailing 2-1 on aggregate, but made quick work of erasing that deficit in the 90-degree confines of Estadio Corona. The hosts bagged two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second leg to take a 3-2 aggregate lead.

When Seattle’s Fredy Montero found Alvaro Fernandez at the back post to make it 2-1 (and 3-3 on aggregate) it looked like we were in for a sizzling second half.

We were, except that it was all one-way traffic. Former Sounder and 2010 U.S. World Cup veteran Herculez Gomez scored for the hosts five minutes after the break, and added a second in the 68th minute to blow the game open. Gomez has seven goals in his last five games.

Santos would add two more as Seattle pushed forward to try make up the aggregate deficit. When the final whistle blew, it was 6-1 Santos and 7-3 in the aggregate.

Advertisements

Quote of the Day

Congrats Rafa. U look like an ass & ur team mates now hate you. At least u have killer apartment in NYC.”

Courtesy of Grant Wahl, the above hard-hitting tweet is by U.S. and Estudiantes Tecos striker Herculez Gomez (left),  in response to Rafa Marquez’s comments that his Red Bull teammates are not on the “same level” as he is.

After making his initial comments, Marquez, who earns $4.6 million per year, was asked if he was happy in New York.

He replied, “Me? I live very well.”

Yanks Abroad Weekend Roundup

The weekend was good to Amerkins plying their trade abroad as two Yanks went the full 90 in the Old Firm derby, Michael Bradley made his Serie A debut with Chievo, and several others got on the scoresheet. Let’s hop to it.

Edson Buddle bagged a brace for his Bundesliga 2 side Ingolstadt, helping them to a 4-2 win over Dynamo Dresden, and getting called a “Klinsmann boy” by the German announcer. Buddle hopes so. See his goals here:

Herculez Gomez is probably wondering if he, too, might be called a “Klinsmann boy” soon, after he continued his goal-scoring ways in Mexico, slotting home the second one in Estudiantes Tecos’s 2-0 win over Club Tijuana (and potential U.S. international Joe Corona) on Sunday:

While Buddle and Gomez hit the net, and Clint Dempsey set up a goal for Fulham against Manchester City, U.S. winger DaMarcus Beasley had a huge impact in Puebla’s 4-1 win over Chivas de Guadalajara without actually getting his name on the scoresheet.

The 29-year-old speedster from Fort Wayne, Ind., torched the Chivas backline twice, drawing two red cards and one penalty for his team (scroll to 2:27 mark for Beasley’s first great run):

In Scotland, Carlos Bocanegra and Maurice Edu both started and played 90 minutes in Rangers’ 4-2 win over archrivals Celtic, and in Italy, Bradley became just the second American in the modern era (after Alexi Lalas) to appear in a Serie A match when he came on for the last 18 minutes of Chievo’s 2-1 loss to Parma on Sunday.

Finally, from Sports Illustrated’s website comes the following quote out of Germany regarding potential U.S. international Timmy Chandler:

“I can tell you that [Germany coach Joachim] Loew neither phoned nor met with Timmy,” says the player’s agent, Thomas Kroth. “Nothing has changed, nothing at all. He’s still very happy to play for the U.S.”

For the latest MLS action, go check out our column at the league site.

Yanks Abroad Weekend Wrap: Altidore, Bedoya, and Gomez All Find the Net

Apart from Michael Bradley, who did not dress for Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Newcastle on Sunday, Americans abroad produced one of their better weekends of 2011 this past Saturday and Sunday.

Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Bedoya and Herculez Gomez all scored, while Eddie Johnson (Preston North End) and Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus) each produced key assists for their respective teams.

Altidore enjoyed his best performance of the season in Bursaspor’s 3-2 loss to 11th-place Antalyaspor. (See here for Altidore’s personal highlights.)

The 21-year-old New Jersey native repeatedly set up target forward Kenny Miller for golden opportunities (which the Scot failed to cash in) and scored his first goal for the Turkish side just before halftime:

Bursaspor stands third in the Super Lig table, 14 points behind leaders Trabzonspor with six games to play

Pachuca’s supersub Gomez came off the bench to score two goals in 28 minutes of action against Jaguares:

Gomez could be playing his way into a place on the U.S. team for this summer’s Gold Cup.

Orebro picked up its second win in two games in the young Swedish season, downing Syrianska 1-0 thanks to a goal by Boston College product Bedoya (about 1:30 into this clip; but note Syrianska defender just completely give up after being nutmegged at 1:00):

Other notable Yank performances from the weekend included Clint Dempsey going the full 90 in Fulham’s 2-0 loss to Manchester United; Jermaine Jones doing the same in Blackburn’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City; Brad Friedel making seven saves in Villa’s win over Newcastle; and Tim Howard stopping four shots in Everton’s 3-0 blanking of Wolves.

In Germany, Steve Cherundolo went the distance in Hannover 96’s 2-0 win over Mainz, while his potential understudy at right back for the U.S., Timmy Chandler, played the full 90 in Nurnberg’s 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich.