What a great couple of days for soccer fans in our area. The sun was shining on Toronto FC today and they came through with their second solid performance at home, and this time with a much deserved win. Like I said in the preview, we were "due". All is well at the moment in TFC land, and the losing streak is behind us. Patience is required by all involved, it is an expansion year after all, with many hills and valleys yet to come. Everyone should be reminded to stay the course (including myself) because the season is young. As frustrating as it was to watch those first 4 matches, desperate times, sometimes don't require desperate measures to correct themselves.
A word to Mo Johnston. I hope you revisit your recent suggestions that there is an immediate need for a designated player. I thought your initial plan to wait out a DP, was brilliant. Don't let the pressure get to you. The Toronto audience, as soccer savvy as we may be, don't know MLS well enough yet. A DP player is not needed at this juncture in my opinion. Your group is starting to come along nicely. Let time take its course. Mo well understands, being in MLS since the inception, that "high profile" players don't necessarily win championships in MLS. Most MLS fans had never heard of the likes of Christian Gomez, Piotr Nowak, Carlos Ruiz, even Dwayne De Rosario, yet these are the type of players I would honestly much prefer Mo bring in - Champions.
What can be said about Toronto's performance today. They played much better, held positive possession,were entertaining, and looked even hungrier than two weekends ago. What else can we ask for?
After watching young Andrea Lombardo's performance against Argentina on Friday night, and how hard he worked, basically by himself up top, when Toronto bunkered up at the back late in the second half, I have to wonder how the heck he hasn't played yet.
The referee was a total disaster in my opinion. It took him nearly 30 seconds to notice the brawl in the first half. How the hell he issued two red cards without actually viewing the altercation - his head was clearly turned the other way from my vantage point (and as far as a few of us in my area thought- he did not consult the linesman either) is beyond me. It felt as if Toronto were playing short handed all day (though I've yet to watch my tape). He was as guilty as anyone for letting the game slip out of control.
I hope the Chicago Fire fans in attendance were taking some notes. BMO field isn't exactly filled with screaming girls youth soccer teams like other MLS venues. Toronto soccer fans have many years of pent up emotion. American soccer players and fans no longer need to head to Europe to get a true soccer atmosphere. Not sure if it was caught on television, yet a Chicago player continued sprinting up the field with the ball well after the whistle had gone, as the noise level was crazy. He must of thought he was in heaven as the Toronto players had stopped.
To that end, if MLS thinks of placing sanctions on the team for the behaviour of fans (the BMO seat cushions being thrown on the field) they are truly hypocrites. The experience at BMO is being created by fans. There is no canned noise, few announcements, and no music blaring over the public address system, and no silly mascots causing a distraction - its simply the game and the fans as it should be. If they want Toronto to struggle at the gate, and discourage the passion they proclaim in their very own advertising - I'll point to the problems that occurred with fan groups during the formative years in Miami (Ft. Lauderdale) and New York. Look where those organizations are now. Blame the marketing genius behind the promotion, not the fans. Chicago have little to complain about in my opinion. As the delays actually worked to their advantage. They occurred when Toronto was doing well and stalled some of TFC's momentum to some extent.
I can't recall the Toronto FC players who approached the fans that invaded the pitch in front of the southeast corner, but they should be commended for trying to calm the situation and the over reaction from the police officers. The hug between the fan and the Toronto FC player was wonderful. I also credit Mo, for keeping his players on the field after the match in order to salute the crowd. Excellent.
I stuck around to watch the first half of the reserve game (actually sat right in front of Dale Mitchell, Kevin Muldoon, Nick Dasovic and a couple of others from the team Canada U-20 staff. It was very interesting listening to their comments. Adam Braz scored a great goal and Miguel Canizalez was tearing apart the Chicago wingers (Woolard & Franks) in the first half. Toronto's reserves were far superior.
My major disappointment of the weekend, occurred on Friday. A policy in place at BMO does not allow large flags (of a normal size I thought) in most sections of the stadium. I was baffled when security asked my 11 year old niece not to enter BMO on Friday night with her Canadian flag. I laughed at first, as I thought they were joking. Here is an enthusiastic young fan, proudly displaying our country's flag and she is asked to put it away. I'm not the type that gets upset easily (far from it), but this really ticked a nerve. Although I voiced my displeasure, I understand security at the gate were simply doing their job (probably for minimum wage no less - and they eventually allowed us to bring it in anyway after they provided a reasonable solution). This is surely a policy that should be revisited with future National team games and the U-20 tournament in the cards. Perhaps readers can let the folks over at MLSE/BMO know what they can do about this silly policy.
On a personal note, after 3 matches at BMO, my throat - what's left of it, is killing me (it took me 4 days to recover after the home opener). Not sure what I'm going to do on Wednesday night.