If you like wild midweek MLS games, Wednesday’s 2-2 draw between the LA Galaxy and Toronto FC at BMO Field had it all: Goals from stars on both sides, lead changes, a dramatic equalizer and pushing. Lots of pushing.
But Riqui Puig’s 89th minute rocket to tie up the game will be the headline, as the young Catalan saved his team after a stellar performance, extending LA’s unbeaten run to four games.
To kick off the game, Greg Vanney made some changes to the LA lineup and formation from Sunday’s 2-1 win in New England, reintroducing a four-man backline with Nick DePuy going to the bench, and Douglas Costa and Samuel Grandsir starting in attack to support Chicharito.
The teams traded decent, not great, chances in the opening 10 minutes. The teams were cagey, and then LA drew first blood, in the 24th minute, as Chicharito drew a free kick in a favorable position, and Costa scored his third free kick of the season to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
From there, it was a battle for the rest of the 1st half, but the Galaxy played well, holding off TFC and being good value for the one-goal lead when the teams went into the locker room. Riqui Puig in particular was a sparkplug for LA in the first 45.
Toronto started the 2nd half with renewed effort, and things got testy after Victor Vazquez got clocked with an unnecessary from kick out of bounds by Toronto defender Lucas MacNaughton. The teams started to scuffle, while LA appealed to referee Ted Unkel to upgrade his yellow card, but after a VAR look, the sanction stood as it was.
TFC scored in the 55th minute, but Federico Bernardeschi’s strike was called back for offside, saving the Galaxy’s blushes, as they pushed for a second goal.
But TFC struck first, as Jesus Jimenez came off the bench and immediately got the equalizer, in the 62nd minute.
LA made their first lineup changes in the 67th minute, with Costa, Samuel Grandsir and Chase Gasper making way for Kevin Cabral, Efrain Alvarez and Raheem Edwards, respectively. The newcomers immediately got int he action to push for another go-ahead goal.
The teams continued to alternate half-chances at both ends with further scuffles. This felt like a rivalry game, even though it wasn’t, as both teams were looking for an edge on their opponent.
TFC got it in the 80th minute, when Edwards fouled Bernardeschi after the Italian beat him on a 50-50 ball. Even though Jonathan Bond got a hand to the penalty, Bernardeschi got his shot into the net and Toronto had the late 2-1 lead.
Dejan Joveljic came off the bench in the 84th minute, replacing Vazquez as LA tried to surge for an equalizer.
When it looked like LA would limp to a loss, Puig stepped up and scored an absolute screamer in the 89th minute to make it 2-2. Golazo!
OMG RIQUI PUIG!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 1, 2022
His first MLS goal is a screamer! pic.twitter.com/snQq2ty5yJ
Sacha Kljestan entered the game in stoppage time, with Chicharito making way.
The teams battled to the final whistle, but in the end, a draw was a fair result. It looked like the Galaxy were on their way to a loss, which would have soured opinion on the night far more, but credit to the Galaxy for playing pretty well, minus the two breakdowns (on Toronto’s only shots on target all night). In particular, Costa and Puig were very good throughout, and Puig in particular looks like he’s settled in the team and can be tasked with changing games. He’s already doing it.
The Galaxy are back in action on Sunday, when they’ll host Sporting Kansas City in the teams’ second meeting of the season. SKC got the first round, so LA will look to even up the series and keep going as they push for a playoff berth this season.
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