TORONTO – Ricky Pegg opened his MLS scoring tally with an 89th-minute rocket of a shot as the Los Angeles Galaxy drew 2-2 with Toronto FC on Wednesday in the return of former TFC coach Greg Viney to BMO Field. called in
Federico Bernardeschi was looking for a comeback win for Toronto with his penalty in the 81st minute. Former Toronto star Raheem Edwards conceded a penalty and cut down Bernardeschi as the Italian winger made a chop in the box. Bernardeschi took advantage, slotting home his sixth goal in eight league games for Toronto.
But Puig, a former Barcelona product making his second start for the Galaxy, beat goalkeeper Alex Bono with a shot to secure a single point for the visitors. Galaxy’s goal was offside seven minutes into stoppage time
Jes Jimenez ended an 11-game goal drought in the 62nd minute to bring Toronto even after Douglas Costa’s 24th-minute strike for Los Angeles.
There was plenty of emotion on the night in front of a crowd of 29,130, as two teams battled for a playoff spot.
Costa opened the scoring for LA with a stunning free kick, curling the ball past Toronto’s four-man wall and out of reach of a diving Bono for his third of the season. Defender Chris Mawenga wins a free kick against Galaxy captain Javier Hernandez.
With Victor Vazquez also standing behind the ball for a free kick, Bono had to position himself too much in the middle of the goal not knowing whether to see Costa’s left foot or Vazquez’s right.
Costa, who has had spells with Brazil’s Gremio, Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk, Germany’s Bayern Munich and Italy’s Juventus, tallied the MLS score with a free kick from the same spot against Seattle in March. opened The Brazilian became the second Galaxy player to score most direct free kick goals in a season, joining Romain Alessandrini who did it in 2017.
Toronto tied it in the 62nd minute, a minute after a three-way turnover by coach Bob Bradley. Captain Michael Bradley found Ifunanyachi Achara in the Galaxy penalty box and he fed fellow substitute Jimenez, who found a pocket between three defenders in front of goal.
It was the Spanish striker’s ninth goal of the season and his first since June 29.
Toronto (9-13-7) entered midweek play in 10th place in the tight Eastern Conference, three spots and three points out of the playoffs. TFC has five games left in the regular season, all against Eastern rivals starting with the visit of CF Montreal on Saturday.
The Galaxy (11-11-5) hold the seventh and final playoff spot in the West, one point ahead of Portland with two games to play.
Los Angeles had lost just one of its last five games (3-1-1) and was coming off a 2-1 win at New England that snapped a four-game losing streak away from home. The Galaxy haven’t won back-to-back since June 2021.
Viney, who became the ninth head coach in TFC history in August 2014, resigned in December 2020 after leading Toronto from the league gates to the championship. Vinny holds the franchise coaching records for games (250) and wins (112) and has led the team to three MLS Cup Finals, winning the title in 2017, and three Canadian championships.
Vinny’s technical staff in LA is filled with former TFC staff in Dan Kalichman, Nick Thesloff, Jason Bennett, Mike Munoz. Jim Liston, Michael Rabasca and Tom Williams, not to mention former Toronto players Vazquez, Mark Delgado, Raheem Edwards and Eric Zavalta.
Toronto has fallen on hard times in the wake of Vinny’s departure with Bob Bradley, TFC’s third coach since Vinny’s departure, axing the roster.
After a somewhat sluggish start to the season, Toronto came into Wednesday’s game having lost just one of seven (4-1-2) since the arrivals of Italian stars Lorenzo Insigne and Bernardeschi.
Insigne and Bernardeschi have both scored in those three games and, along with fellow Italian Domenico Cristo, have been involved in TFC’s last 13 goals, including the last seven before Wednesday.
In the 56th minute on Wednesday, Insigne set up Bernardeschi for a goal, but the match was ruled illegal.
Toronto had recorded three shutouts in their last seven games after failing to keep a clean sheet in their previous 27 league games (5-15-7).
It was a thrilling start to the game that featured quality in possession from both teams. But while Toronto were missing injured Jonathan Osorio and Marc-Anthony Kaye in midfield, Los Angeles boasted former Barcelona products Puig and Vazquez.
Puig showed his vision, spraying across the pitch. Then he showed his full touch.
Toronto had a good chance in the eighth minute, but Bernardeschi’s header was off target on a good Ensign cross. Cristo opened the game with a well-timed challenge that set up a rush by Jayden Nelson.
A minute later, Toronto’s Casey Thompson shot wide.
Costa was on target in the 11th, but the shot was just wide of Bono. Five minutes later, Ayo Akinola fired a shot just over the Galaxy crossbar.
Toronto had eight shots in the first half but none on target.
Tenora started the second half when the ball bounced into contact and Toronto defender Lucas McNaughton drove it back into play, catching Vazquez in the stomach. Referee Ted Yunkle reviewed the play on the sidelines but stood by his first yellow card for McNaughton.
Insigne showed his skills in the 66th minute with an acrobatic bicycle kick that went wide for a corner.
Bradley and Richie Laria tangled with Hernandez in a heated argument in the Toronto penalty box in the 74th minute.
Toronto was also without injured forward Deander Kerr. Mawenga made his 150th appearance for the club in all competitions.
Los Angeles had lost Delgado (health and safety protocol).
History was on Toronto’s side on Wednesday as TFC lost just one (3-1-4) of eight home games against the Galaxy. Los Angeles’ last point in Toronto came in a 2-2 draw in March 2013.
The Galaxy’s only win at BMO Field was a 2-1 decision in June 2009. Still, LA held a 7-5-6 lead in the overall series before Wednesday’s matchup.