What a great day for soccer fans in our city. Anyone down at BMO could have easily mistaken Toronto for any city in Europe or South America today. What a fantastic atmosphere, and finally some decent soccer out of Toronto FC to go with it.
Comments made by coach Mo Johnson on local radio, sums up the atmosphere in the stadium. He alluded moreover to how the BMO crowd resembled his experiences in England and Scotland, and brought shivers down his spine, which he hasn't felt since leaving Europe for America. Surely playing home games at Arrowhead Stadium as a player, and coaching at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, in front of a handful of diehards and sections of screaming youth soccer teams, in enormous American Football stadiums, will pail in comparison to what was on display in Toronto today. Another comment made by Maurice Edu on the radio made me chuckle - he said something along the lines of "the fans really know their stuff up here, they are very knowledgeable about soccer, it sounds like they are going to keep us accountable for our play." You can say that again Maurice. The crowd was comprised of a hard core and very knowledgeable fan base at BMO. We cheered when they deserved it, and let the players know when we were disappointed - as it should be. About the only thing the fans struggled with was who exactly was on the field as most fans are still clueless about who exactly is playing on both sides.
Having re-watched the match on the CBC Sports website, I can safely say television did not capture the true atmosphere and noise at BMO in my estimation. There were several occasions where the players, (nor the announcers on CBC) noticed the whistle had gone and continued playing. The one that sticks in my mind was a battle between Jimmy Conrad and Andy Welsh (I believe) towards the southeast corner of the stadium, that continued well after the whistle went. The Supporters Groups in behind the net were fantastic - they are a credit to our city. I'm not too far away so I can enjoy their passion, and my section was able to feed off them.
I would like to thank Toronto FC and MLSE for keeping things simple and authentic in the stadium, and for not trying to create a canned environment. Although some of the more fair weather fans may have been confused or even upset, it was awesome to see so many fans standing for the entire match. Entire sections throughout the stadium appeared to be standing - which was just a joy to see in this day and age of sports entertainment. My seats came in handy at half time, which was about the only time I used them.
I now understand why Frank Yallop traded Kevin Hartman away this winter. No self respecting Canadian would ever tolerate a cheating, whining, diving, complaining, cry baby like Hartman on his team. As a spectator I'd rather my team lose than have a bunch of whining, diving, fakers, represent my city. As good of a team as they appear to be, the antics displayed by Kansas City today were awful. They can take their 3 points home, but should be ashamed of the way they represented themselves, disrespected the officials, and MLS today.
A couple of things I'll whine about - the parking, and the Official Program. First off, exiting the parking lot was a total nightmare. It took me nearly 45 minutes to get onto Lakeshore Boulevard. Having an attendant or police officer direct traffic would be much appreciated for those of us that have to drive. Second, the official program had very little about the players themselves. Fans need to get acquainted with the players they are cheering for. The program was almost useless in that regard. Few write ups on the current players, and no real bios on the Toronto FC players. I mean they have an article about the guy who came from England to train the team (who btw obviously didn't do a good enough job - what can a cricket guy know about football fitness anyway?), and one on Jammal Smith, who survived the open tryouts but is no longer with the team. The team mugshots featured Conor Casey, Richard Asante, AJ Gray, Jose Cancela who are no longer with the team.I'm sure some may have mistaken Danny Dichio for Casey based on the jersey number and the mugshot. Missing were several starters including Andy Welsh, Danny Dichio, Kevin Goldthwaite, Marvell Wynne, as well as substitute Miguel Canizalez. The game day program has to be better. This is basic stuff a new team simply cannot afford to get wrong as they try to build the team's profile in the community, especially to a fan base largely unaware of MLS and the Toronto FC players.
One of Mo's post game comments indicated how upset he was for the Toronto fans to go home with nothing to show for it on the day. How wrong you are Sir Mo. Your team played with passion, intensity and showed tons of spirit and grit. This fan left BMO with evidence and hope of better days to come!!! All we ask as fans, is that your team put out similar efforts throughout the season.