Losing can lower expectations, this is no revelation, just human nature.
So when Toronto FC sat tied at 2-2 late in its game against Los Angeles on Sunday, most TFC fans were rejoicing in seeing the team do something other than lose after starting the season 0-2. It would have been more than enough with the team preparing to play in BMO Field for the first time this season.
The late win was even better.
Now, TFC fans are brimming with confidence again. The recent arrivals of Amado Guevara, Laurent Robert and Rohan Ricketts have fans talking about a playoff push and about attacking soccer that will make last year’s putrid attack a thing of the past.
SBI Correspondent Duane G. Rollins is one of those fans. He took in Toronto FC’s 3-2 win against Los Angeles and gives us his take on the proceedings (Share your own thoughts below):
First win means the season has finally begun for TFC
By Duane G. Rollins
It was as I sat idling in the parking lot known as Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway that I first noticed it. Sometime over the previous 12-hours the familiar bubble that had covered BMO Field during the long off-season was suddenly gone. Instead of staring at the ugly, white blob that had for months loudly reminded us that there was no soccer game to go to next Saturday, we were treated to the magnificent sight of BMO’s plastic green glory (a four-month off-season makes even a plastic pitch seem like our own private Anfield).
The new MLS season had started, it was understood. But, the season didn’t feel fully real yet. It wouldn’t until we walked through the BMO gates, paid way too much for a beer and screamed at the moon from the place that had come to mean so much to us in such a short time.
But, as I stared at the pitch from the busy highway it was beginning to dawn on me that the season really was here.
Over the next few days more signs appeared.
Our season’s tickets arrived, complete with a full size scarf to be worn on opening day.
Red signs lined the streets surrounding the stadium. Their message was cliched and predictable, but inspiring none-the-less—The Beautiful Game is Back.
No doubt, it almost was.
But, first there was another road game to play. One more opportunity to gather with friends and hope against hope that our football heroes could steal a result away from home.
The road has not been kind to Toronto FC in its brief history. Only once—an uninspiring 2-1 win over Salt Lake midway through 2007—had the Reds returned home with three points in their pocket. So, hopes were not high as we gathered to watch our boys take on the LA Galaxy and the overpaid (for what he does on the pitch, not off) British dude.
Even the changes that the team had made—add Amado Guevara and Rohan Ricketts, subtract underachieving Collin Samuel—couldn’t nip the nagging feeling of doom as the game kicked off. Especially after it was learned that the desperate attempt to get Ricketts paperwork in place to get him on the pitch had fallen short.
No, it would be a lie to suggest that anyone other than the most wide-eyed optimist was predicting a Toronto victory on the day.
Instead the prevailing hope was that Toronto’s new players could gel a bit more and be ready for the home opener where we could give them that extra boost needed to grab a win.
Early on, there wasn’t much to convince us that our doubts were unfounded. The previously mentioned British dude was earning (some) of his money by providing penetrating service to the enigma that is Landon Donovan. If it wasn’t for keeper Greg Sutton—and Donovan’s remarkable ability to miss open nets—the game could have been out of reach by the quarter pole.
Guevara sends a ball to Dichio. The big man clinically finishes with the left foot and…
The rest of the game is an up and down blur of emotions.
Donovan levels it. Lauren Robert’s free kick finds the rookie Jarrod Smith’s head. Marco Velez’s bizarre handball puts Donovan on the spot. 2-2, late. It seems like a fair result. Something for the team to build on as it prepares for the home opener.
Then it happens. Jeff Cunningham, who has not been a fan favorite early, finds his way in alone—off another nice ball from Robert, it should be noted—and suddenly, unexpectedly, unbelievably the Reds are poised to win.
The grown men that surround me smile and giggle and clap like schoolgirls at a Barbie convention. This isn’t a time for dignity. It’s a time to rejoice. We’ve won. Yes, damn it, we’ve won!
It took three weeks, but there was no doubt about it. The game was back and it most certainly was beautiful.