Stepping on the throat

on September 2017 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

There is a new mentality that is embedding itself within Toronto sports teams over the last few years and it is quite un-Torontonian. We are not talking about Toronto teams just winning, which for the most part they have been doing recently. Blue Jays, Raptors, Toronto FC and even the Toronto Maple Leafs have been winning and making the playoffs. The mentality has already shifted from “hey we might win” to “hey, we should and can win.”

There is however, another level that these teams need to get too and some of them have already done so. Winning teams may find ways to win, but championship teams don’t just beat you, they beat you up. Knocking you down isn’t good enough, they then step on your throat so there is no chance of getting back up again.

A number of Toronto teams have been good, even great but they have lacked that killer instinct. The Toronto Raptors fall into that category for example. Full credit to the team for their accomplishments as they have taken the Raptors further in the playoffs than they have ever been before. But even their series wins have been in 7 games and a nail biting affair throughout.

Recently though, there have been two teams that have elevated their play to that no nonsense level. The Toronto Wolfpack and Toronto FC have delivered knockout after knockout this year and this kind of victory is a lot more sadistic… umm, I mean fun.

The Wolfpack ended their season this past weekend with a 26-14 victory over Doncaster. The Dons were fighting for that last playoff spot and gave the home team one heck of a battle but came up short against a Toronto team, that really had nothing to play for. The victory though did ensure the Wolfpack remained a perfect 11-0 at the Den and 20-1-1 overall.

It is well understood that the players Toronto had signed at the beginning of the season were better suited for play in higher divisions. So it isn’t too much of a surprise that they had a near perfect record; that they finished first overall and that they earned promotion to the next higher tier. But it isn’t their record that provides this devastating attitude, it is how they achieved that record. Toronto scored 1164 points in those 22 games and only gave up 243 in the process. The point difference is 921 points (for those of you mathematically challenged) and that means 2 things. The first is that this 921 point difference is nearly 200 points more than any other team had even scored. Secondly, it means that the average Toronto Wolfpack score this season was 53-11. Now THAT is stepping on your opponent’s throat and never letting up.

Another Toronto team that is showing similar behaviour is Toronto FC. Anyone familiar with the team realizes that they have been historically bad… maybe really, really bad is more appropriate. They went through what seemed like 500 coaches (actually 8) in their first 8 years of existence. They then became respectable in making the playoffs for the past two years including losing in last year’s MLS Cup Finals without even giving up a shot. Yes, it is still a very painful memory.

Something is different though this year. Additions Chris Mavinga and MVP candidate Victor Vazquez have fortified this team into an absolute juggernaut. Here are some of the numbers that display how TFC has been dominating the league with absolute ferocity. The last time Toronto tasted defeat was a 3-1 loss in Dallas back on July 1, 2017. That was 11 games ago. More recently, they are on a 6 game winning streak in which they have outscored their opponents 21-3 which means they have scored 3 goals per game more than their opponents. In soccer, that is massive!

I had mentioned in my last TFC article that they are rewriting history. Yes, they are shattering Toronto records with each game but also closing in on a few MLS ones as well. With 5 games left they are 6 points away from having the most pts in a single season. Remember a victory is 3 points. They have a goal differential so far of 37 and are 4 away of tying the record of 41. They have an opportunity of clinching the Supporters Shield during their next game which will be the earliest any team has ever done so.

Following TFC over their last 5 games of the season should be a lot of fun and interesting. In North America, winning Cups is more important than winning a league. Therefore Coach Greg Vanney will have to juggle going for the jugular in this historical season or giving his players some needed rest before the playoffs. In all honesty, that may not even be a concern with how deep this team is. This past weekend saw TFC go to Los Angeles and beat the Galaxy 4-0. Oh… I forgot to mention, they did that without Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, their 2 best scorers. It has become apparent that it does not matter who is in the lineup, they all take pleasure in stepping on their opponent’s throat.

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