Toronto blue over Reds fate

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

The below freezing temperatures could not diminish the spirit of the crazy TFC fans on Saturday night, but losing the MLS Cup on penalty shots (5-4) to the visiting Seattle Sounders certainly did. Penalty kicks are a fun way to win, but a horrible way to lose and it is unfortunate that in all these years, no one has come up with any plausible alternative. Until that happens we just have to accept it no matter how unfair it may seem now. The loss completely sucked the life out of the 36,000 at BMO field leaving them shaking their heads in disbelief. That’s not how anyone imagined the story ending. For a few moments there was a general numbness as if anesthesia had made its way through the crowd. You didn’t feel the cold, you didn’t have any emotion and you were unaware of your surroundings. All you did was recheck the facts in your head over and over again.

The fact is the Reds beat Philadelphia for their first playoff win in franchise history this year. The fact is they crushed New York FC 7-0 on aggregate. The fact is TFC then came out on top of the most thrilling series in MLS history with the Montreal Impact. The fact is… they lost the MLS Cup. As heartbreaking as that result is, the fans were in no way disappointed in their team or how they played. While the Seattle players continued to celebrate on the pitch after Torres’ successful kick, Toronto FC supporters awoke from their momentarily, debilitating shock and began proudly chanting “TFC” as they walked out of the stadium. Thankfully this long, extended nine month MLS season means that the “wait till next year” threat is only three months. But before looking towards the 2017 season let’s take one last look at this last glorious day and the last game.

We knew the day was going to be cold, but unless you have done it before, you are never really prepared for staying out 8 hours in that kind of weather. But that’s what most of us did. Loaded up on long johns, hoodies, hats and gloves we headed to Liberty Village for the afternoon street party. Hundreds and hundreds of people decked out in their TFC garb, gathered for the festivities of music, drink and those timely hand warmers that were being handed out. There were games, prizes and for some reason, barbequed meat always tastes better in below freezing temperatures. There were even a few dressed in Seattle green and from the looks of things seemed to have mixed in well. The end of the street party led to the March to the Match. A procession of people lined the streets walking from Liberty Village to BMO Field (about 10 minutes) filled with chanting, singing and of course flares and red smoke for good measure. For those of you that might not be aware, the March to the Match is not a new occurrence just done for this MLS Cup appearance, this is done on a regular basis. You just have to love TFC fans and their loyalty to the team and having a good time. Obviously, there was a lot more people for the march than normal, but that just made the atmosphere better as they hoped to be witness to history and see the first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup and bring a championship home to Toronto after 23 years.

The stadium filled up fast as the lineups were announced. Once the anthems concluded, all that was left was that momentary heart-pounding, chest reverberating feeling that only a jet plane fly-by can provide. For those that haven’t experienced it before, oh my goodness is it exhilarating. Then the whistle blew, the ball was passed and it was game on. As expected, TFC came out pressuring Seattle and within the first two minutes had the first scoring opportunity. A quick touch from Giovinco led Altidore to a low shot that caught just enough of a deflection and the stadium watched anxiously as it rolled just a few inches on the wrong side of the post. Little did we know at that time that it was a microcosm of the game itself. Seattle did little in terms of attacking, happy to keep numbers back and just plug up the middle. In fact, Seattle is the first team to win the MLS Cup without even having registered a single shot on goal… go figure. Defensively they abused Sebastian Giovinco all night and made life difficult for Altidore. The Reds would occassional find a crack in that wall but even then a bad bounce here, or a spectacular Stefan Frei save there, prevented a goal. Now many people may be upset with Seattle for their strategy but when playing against a more talented team in their home pitch, there really is no alternative. They did what they needed to do to win and with a little luck, they executed their plan flawlessly.

So without any bitterness or any angst, I do wish to congratulate the Seattle Sounders and their fans for being the 2016 MLS Cup Champions. I hope you have frostbitten extremities and know that we’ll get you next year you #@&*#%! Hmm, how very un-Canadian of me.

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