Toronto FC nearly mustered the upset of the defending MLS champions on Saturday, taking a 2-1 lead into stoppage time despite the plethora of firepower on the pitch for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Focusing on containing league goals leader Mike Magee and newly returned Landon Donovan — back from his offseason hiatus and in his first competitive action since last autumn’s MLS Cup triumph as a second-half substitute — the home side overlooked the true assassin of their upset bid.
Toronto left 19-year-old Jose Villarreal unmarked for a 92nd-minute bicycle kick equalizer that would neutralize their go-ahead efforts in the second half. Darel Russell, trying to head away the cross into the box, instead knocked the ball directly into the middle of the area. There Villarreal was waiting seven or eight yards from the goal, ready to contort his body for the pinpoint blast that left Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik reeling and the home crowd shocked.
The game had begun with a trade-off of goals from two of the league’s leaders. First it was Magee beating Bendik for his fifth of the year, redirecting Marcelo Sarvas’ curling effort in the 16th minute to give the visitors the lead. Thirteen minutes later, Robert Earnshaw pounced on a bad back pass by Leonardo. Galaxy keeper Carlo Cudicini, way outside his area, was easily sidestepped by the striker, and Earnshaw chipped over Leonardo and Omar Gonzalez for the leveler and his fourth goal of 2013.
It appeared as though Toronto had won the match for itself in the 78th minute as Luis Silva worked the ball up the left side and then slotted in a pass from a tight angle. Cudicini moved to intercept the ball, but rookie midfielder Jonathan Osorio got there first for the redirection. But just as the veterans had negated one another on the scoreboard, so too did Villarreal match his fellow youngster’s strike and the two sides were left to split the points.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY @ TORONTO FC
March 30, 2013
- 16′ — LA/Mike Magee (Marcelo Sarvas)
- 29′ — TOR/Robert Earnshaw (unassisted)
- 78′ — TOR/Jonathan Osorio (Luis Silva)
- 92′ — CHV/Jose Villarreal (unassisted)
- TOR (4-4-1-1): Joe Bendik; Richard Eckersley, Darren O’Dea, Danny Califf, Darel Russell; Reggie Lambe, Jeremy Hall, Terry Dunfield (Jonathan Osorio/64′), John Bostock; Hogan Ephraim (Luis Silva/72′); Robert Earnshaw
- LA (4-4-2): Carlo Cudicini; Todd Dunivant, Leonardo (Colin Clark/85′), Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza; Michael Stephens (Jose Villarreal/70′), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas, Sean Franklin; Jack McBean (Landon Donovan/61′), Mike Magee