TFC & Toronto: Another 2016 success story

on November 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

Toronto FC’s 5-0 victory over New York FC (7-0 on aggregate) was the most significant, decisive, crushing (throw in all the adjectives you want) victory in their much maligned history. Well, unless they beat the Montreal Impact in the MLS Eastern Conference Final and then I reserve the right to re-use those adjectives again. That’s correct my friends, it will be an all Canadian conference final and it should be a dandy as these two teams don’t like each other very much. But since we have a couple of weeks to discuss what lies ahead for the Reds, let’s take this moment and reflect on this team and this city as 2016 has been quite the rewarding year. Through it all though, we will find that one forgotten person may have been instrumental in many of Toronto’s recent successes.

As I mentioned in my previous post (Cubs win, Cubs win, Cubs win!) this is a brand new universe we are living in. But it isn’t just the ending of the 108 year-old drought that has ushered in this new era; there have been other achievements as well. Earlier this year, Leicester City (took me forever to realize it is pronounced LESS-ter) did the absolute unfathomable. Two years ago they narrowly escaped relegation to Football League Championship or Division 2. This past year despite being 5000-1 long shots, they won the 2016 Premier League Title in what many are calling the most unlikely feat in the history of team sports. A few months later and the city of Cleveland won its first championship (of any kind) in over 50 years as the Cavaliers came back from 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Championships. Throw in the Cubs victory later on and you can see that 2016 has been an incredible year in sports. Weirder still though is how the sporting landscape has been in the GTA and as you undoubtedly know, it has been something phenomenal.

First and foremost, Toronto teams have been winning! Now, yes we haven’t won a championship as of yet but some teams need some time to get there and others are right on the doorstep. There hasn’t been that kind of success or hope in these parts for quite some time and one person that had a lot to do with; Tim Lieweke. One of the best things a leader can do, is surround himself with great people. Let’s see who Lieweke surrounded himself before he left MLSE.

In April of 2014, he hired Brendan Shanahan as president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Shanahan is given approval to do an entire organizational tear-down of the organization or “scorched earth” as it was called. The Leafs are nowhere close to winning the Stanley Cup, but for 2016 they have a fantastic core of young players that have not only given fans hope for the first time in like… forever, but they play exciting hockey that is fun to watch. Yes, I am talking about those same Toronto Maple Leafs we always joked about being a respectable team with a great opportunity to being a consistently good team.

May 2013 – Lieweke hires Masai Ujiri as the new general manager of the Toronto Raptors. For three straight years they win more games than the year before and in 2016 make it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. The Raptors have a dynamic duo in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, two all-stars who want to play in Toronto. They are the third youngest team in the conference and have an excellent chance of once again challenging the Cavs for supremacy in the East.

September 2013 – He hires Tim Bezbatchenko as general manager of Toronto FC to right an organization that was poorly managed since its inception. With 9 managers in the first 8 years or something similarly disgusting, it was a difficult team for one of the best fan bases in the world to get excited about. But with Lieweke’s help, Bezbatchenko brought this team to a level they have never experienced before. They brought in designated players like Michael Bradley and James Dafoe. They brought back Dwayne De Rosario, who was previously mistreated, and provided him with the respect he deserved. When Dafoe didn’t work out, in came Jozy Altidore and then the best player in the MLS, Sebastian Giovinco.

With Giovinco’s hat trick on Sunday, his fifth hat-trick in two years in MLS, Toronto FC have reached the same level of success that the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays have had. Lieweke did not have anything to do with the Blue Jays, that’s true but seriously Toronto… in 3 of the major sports in North America, teams from Toronto have made it to the final four. We are no longer the Maple Laughs, the Blue Jokes or the Craptors, instead we have teams that are successful and teams that we, as fans, can finally be proud of.

It’s a brand new world!

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