Coming into Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg between Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy, a lot of the talk was about the sold out crowd of 45,000 that would be on hand for the match. Well, that crowd got their fair share of entertainment in the first half and then some as the two sides flew up and down the pitch with chances both ways. They also got to head into halftime with a smile on their face because Toronto struck twice early on and hold a 2-1 lead over the defending MLS Cup champions at the break.
LA was the brighter side early on as they grabbed possession and started to work on breaking down the Toronto defense, but they couldn't do it and even without possession, Toronto were dangerous. Their speed up front with Joao Plata, Danny Koevermans and Ryan Johnson gave LA's defense problems and it turned into a goal after 11 minutes.
A quick break freed Plata, who got down the right. Eventually, the ball went off of his thigh and over the endline for what should have been a goal kick, but the referee awarded a corner kick. Toronto took advantage of the referee's mistake when LA couldn't clear Torsten Frings' corner kick and it fell to Johnson, who finished well with a left-footed volley and Toronto were in front.
Five minutes later, Toronto doubled their lead with another quick break. This time they found Koevermans in space on the right and the Dutchmen didn't hesitate in getting his head up for a man in front. He spotted Luis Silva and put the cross right on his head. The TFC rookie nodded the ball right into the bottom corner of the goal, leaving Josh Saunders without a chance and Rogers Centre exploded as the home side grabbed a 2-0 lead.
LA did managed to pull a goal back and of course it was through Mike Magee. The Galaxy midfielder showed up when the team needed it most with three goals in the playoffs last season and did it again when Sean Franklin's cross found him at the back post. Stefan Frei tried to grab the cross, but it was over his head so when the ball got to Magee, Frei was well out of position and it was an easy finish.
As exciting a start as it might have been for the Reds, they now lead by just one and LA has the all-important away goal, but with the way this match has gone, it is a long ways from being over. The second half should have plemty more chances for both sides to tip this tie.
For more on Toronto FC and their Champions League run, check out Waking The Red.