Saturday, March 31, 2012

Crew-sing For A Losing

Mood: Excited
Weather Report: Not rain! 
Location: Behind a cup of coffee

It's game day boys and girls! Time to refocus on MLS play and that team that we all love to hate; no not the Impact (that's next week) but our hated (mildly disliked?) rivals the Columbus Crew. While the bloom may be off the rose of rivaldom between the two teams it is still frustrating as a fan that TFC have never defeated them here on our home pitch - I say that changes today! Those 3 points are TFC's for the taking - our boys need to start capitalizing on the relatively easy start to the season and not only rack up some points but as previously stated, turn BMO back into that intimidating fortress it once was (it was, really).  I for one don't care about the Trillium Cup as it was never anything more than a mostly meaningless bit of silverware; I care about our team getting that first win of this young MLS season and what better team to get that win against? 

The Crew is not exactly a team to fear and even with a tired and potentially depleted TFC side (expect Winter to rest some players) our Reds have more than enough talent to take this game.  Danny Koevermans will be looking to score his first goal of the season and as he can't play in Torreon due to YC accumulation he'll be fired up. Danny has looked sharper the last couple of games and has hopefully put that match fitness question to rest. Eric Avila will also certainly get some time today being cup tied for CCL competition and will be looking to impress. There are some defensive questions with both Ecks and Aceval suffering various knocks in Wednesday's match - look for Logan Emory and perhaps Junior Burgos to see some time today. And I know that everyone (myself included) is excited about the imminent return of Adrian Cann but I do not expect to see him this afternoon in anything other than the reserve match that follows the MLS match - let's not rush this; we need him back and fully fit - it's a long season for our boys, let's not lose more players.

Yes Tony Tchani (still complaining about the weather, still looking for someone to go get wings with) will possibly be out there today. I know many that bemoaned his loss and that there were many "that's what we got for DeRo" comments once he was traded away (hey Andy Iro, hope all is well), but I for one was not that sad to see him go. He's just OK in my book even if he had a couple of nice performances while wearing red. And no, I'm not looking to reopen the DeRo book; it's done, it's over - move on.  

Today I'm looking forward to not sitting in the rain while watching my team. I am expecting a more timely crowd arrival as everyone has an extra hour to get their butts to BMO - kickoff is at 2pm people - be in your damn seats!  I know it's been a tough go for us fans in regards to MLS play, but that is no reason to not be there to cheer on our team. This is why we're fans right? Right, that's what I thought - so be there or, well I don't know all of you so there aren't any tangible consequences except one - how ticked will you be to have missed their first MLS win of the season? Thought so, see you there.


Link It Up Baby: For all your pre-match needs hit up the usual suspects - Waking the Red (James, Duncan & Dave), The Yorkies and Red Nation Online

Post CCL Thoughts - Better Late Than Never

Mood: Happy
State of Mind: Tired but proud of the team
Location: Finally home and back in TFC land

Better late than never - I know you've been wondering (you have been wondering, right?) where my post CCL blog was - why hadn't I posted my delight and joy at the fantastic game our boys played on Wednesday?  Sadly work commitments have prevented me from sharing my elation at their performance on Wednesday night. As you know I was unable to attend the match and while I've moved past that for the most part I'm still a little sad that I missed such a momentous occasion in our team's history. But results trump everything so I'll get on with it.

I'll keep this brief as you already know what happened (because you were there or watching at home) and you've likely read many other post-game wrap-ups by many of my fellow blogging brethren so I won't get into analysis but I have to say something!  I am so proud of our beloved Reds.  Once again they proved the naysayers wrong and put in a complete, well-played match against a very good opponent in Santos Laguna. Did they get the win? No, but a draw against a team that many (and you know who you are) predicted they would be trounced by is an excellent result.  Besides, this bodes well for TFC if you look at their recent CCL performances; draw at home to Dallas - 3-1 win in Dallas. Draw at home to LA; 2-1 win in LA. Draw at home to Santos Laguna...well, you see where I'm going with this. 

I am so proud of our team and proud to be a supporter of this team. Through all of the various highs and lows of the past five years (and the past few weeks) it is wonderful to have your team play such a great game, on their home pitch, in front of a great turnout of supporters. That's it; I love my team, can't wait for Wednesday's game in Torreon and watching them once again prove the naysayers wrong.

TFC Til I Die

Learned Links: Waking the Red, The YorkiesRed Nation Online and Mistake By The Lake

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time To Make A Little (More) History

Mood: Hopeful, excited, nervous
State of Mind: Envious of my fellow supporters
Location: Currently; TFC Supporter Couch. Later; Sadly, tragically - work

Here we go everyone - tonight's the night that our boys in red have the chance to make history - they've already made history you say? It's true; our beloved TFC are the first Canadian team to progress this far in CCL competition - but the history I'm referring to is beating Santos Laguna (a team that has never won here in Canada) and heading down to the unfriendly locale of Torreon next week with a win.  

If you're shaking your head at me thinking "foolish girl" then you a) never read this blog, b) are far too pessimistic for your own good and c) might be a Santos supporter - b) I can handle (I collect pessimists) but a) & c)? Shoo - off you go; I have better things to do than spar with unbelievers.

We've had a couple of disappointing weeks after the dizzying high of beating Becks and the boys but need I remind you that no one thought they'd win? The same way no one thought they'd beat Dallas last year to advance?  Tonight TFC face possibly their most difficult challenge in all competitions when they take on the Santos Laguna Warriors (or Los Guerreros), the table topping team of the Mexican Primera Division. 

While this is by no means an easy game for our boys it is still a winnable game. Historically TFC have shown well in the home leg in matches like these and I see no reason for tonight to be any different. I'm not going to get into a lot of analysis or doom and gloom talk - there's been enough of that over the past few days. Unfortunately I can't be with you, my fellow supporters tonight - what? I'm not going? Avid supporter that I am? - sadly a work commitment prevents me from attending and cheering my team on.  But I will be cheering my team on while at work (keep those twitter updates coming!) and I know that the rest of you will be there (regardless of weather), decked out in your best TFC gear, in full voice, supporting that team that we love. 

Let's make this happen boys; let's make history again.


Learned Links: The Yorkies; Waking The Red (JamesDuncan and Dave) and Red Nation Online

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It Was A Rainy Day At BMO

Mood: *SIGH*
State Of Mind: *SIGH*
Location: Hiding under a pile of TFC SSH scarves 

Well that was fun, wasn't it? Seriously - didn't you enjoy sitting in the gusting winds, the rain, the half-full stadium at kickoff - all to watch our team put in a listless, disorganized performance? You didn't? Good. Neither did I.

I am (as it says at the top) relentlessly optimistic when it comes to TFC, but oh they do make it difficult to maintain that optimism when they put in performances like yesterday.

However, first I'd like to mention (read: rant about) the poor attendance for kick-off.  Here is what the East Stands and part of the South Stands looked like right before kick-off yesterday.

Does this look like a supportive, excited, here for our team kind of crowd to you? I know it was an early start. I know that there was limited parking and that part of the Yonge Subway line was closed. And I know that the weather was not what you would call optimal. The early start - get the hell out of bed an hour early, have some coffee and deal with it. The parking & transit issues had been well publicized by the team and was all over twitter, facebook as well as email reminders - there are numerous ways to get to BMO; it was easy to avoid the shutdown between Yonge and Union, the GO Train is a great option; etc. etc...The weather - you know as well as I do that the weather is going to be crap at BMO 50-75% off the time - are you really telling me that you're literally a fair weather fan? If so, please sell your tickets and only come to matches during the two or three nice days we get at BMO each year. For just one game I would like to see a full house BEFORE KICKOFF. Why? Because that's what passionate fans who care about their team do! They show up and are present for their team!

The performance - well, I certainly expected a much more umm, how shall I put it - cohesive, competitive, ah hell; just plain good performance.  I realize that our defense has struggled this year (and the year before and the one before that, and so on and so on) but the loss of Frings should not mean that it turns into a free for all out there. That admonishment about leaving Wondolowkie unmarked? Remember, dangerous striker and all that? Ignored. That fear (that we all share) about Ty Harden stepping onto the pitch - completely realized. The hope that Aceval would step up? Actually, some of that hope was realized as I felt that most of the time Miguel put in a decent performance in the middle. He made more right moves than not. Ecks (although I continue to enjoy his all out effort every match) and Morgan weren't terrible but the entire back four once again lacked any sort of communication and organization that lasted for any length of time.  Poor man marking and communication is what cost the team the game tonight.

Hey midfielders and strikers - don't think you've escaped my ire - not all of you mind but...Danny K...what is with the fitness thing? How many months does it take to get match fit? I like Danny, celebrated his amazing strike rate last year and had hoped that the pairing of he and RJ9 would lead to great things; but he has been lukewarm at best so far this season. Granted he looked a little sharper yesterday but we need him to be razor sharp going forward. Ryan Johnson was oh so close several times but didn't seem to have his usual finesse and was definitely not on his game. And Joao...that sophomore slump is hitting pretty hard isn't it?  Reggie Lambe proved me wrong (I was not happy to see him in the S11) with a pretty solid performance - he was fast, focused and had some nice movement. Terry Dunfield also had a decent performance - more of that calm thoughtful play please, but JDG seemingly reverted back to type with a lacklustre passing game (shocking) and poor presence in the midfield. 

I don't like being down on my team - I wouldn't have missed the home opener (or most matches actually) for anything, but oh it would be lovely if the joy and excitement that we felt less than two weeks ago, could continue for longer than a few days at a time.  I know that they're struggling with the loss of Frings and Frei and that has to weigh on a team.  The conditions were not ideal to play in but hey, San Jose played in those exact same conditions. And there were some good stretches where the team played well and seemed to be righting the ship but then that lack of organization at the back and in the midfield came roaring back to bite them in the ass. The team needs to come together while missing Frings - there needs to be a voice on the pitch game in game out keeping them on track.  Who that is remains to be seen; perhaps Julian will step up on Wednesday and keep the team focused - I certainly hope he does. 

Again, I don't think this is the end of the season - there should be no calls to fire everyone and start over - this is a team that can win. This is a team that can still have the breakout season that we've all been waiting for. I expect to see them fired up on Wednesday night, ready to put in that complete effort that we have seen from them more than once this year. Boys you've got three days to get focused, get pumped and get ready to show us that you want this. We'll be there cheering you on every step of the way; just give us something to cheer about.


Note: Dear Ref - why did you not card Leinhart after numerous infractions?  He certainly earned them time and time again. Just a thought for next time. Thanks.

Links-A-Lot: Here are your usual suspects for added analysis and post-match breakdowns: Waking The Red, The Yorkies , Partially Obstructed View and Red Nation Online

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Home Opener Bitches!

Mood: Super, crazy excited!!
State of Mind: Optimistic, hell super optimistic! And wide awake!
Weather Report: What do you think? Do you even go to games? It's raining; as always. 

All right boys and girls it's home opener time!! This is the day we've waited for - the day when we all march down to BMO to cheer our Reds onto victory!! You know the drill - get up, grab coffee (or your favourite form of caffeine), get kitted out in your best TFC gear (or at the very least something red!) and get your butt to BMO! And by get your butt to BMO I mean BEFORE the match starts!!  Let's start Season 6 (or SIXual Healing as per The Yorkies) off right and actually be in your seats before kickoff. I know, I know; it's an early start - 1pm is not the best starting time - but that's no damn excuse!! We are fans; we are supporters; we love our team - we should be there to you know, actually cheer them on when they take the field. Not ten minutes into the bloody game. So be there on time, in red, in full voice and ready to cheer for TFC!

What am I expecting today? I'm expecting TFC to shake off the loss to Seattle last week; to put behind them the distractions from the injuries to Frings & Frei (check out WTR's story) and to show that they are a different team. One that can overcome their defensive issues; keep possession and score goals.  San Jose is by no means an unbeatable opponent even if they are one of the clubs that that TFC has been supplying players to over the years (TFC; the MLS feeder club!). Former Red favourite Alan Gordon is unlikely to play, but perennially missed midfielder Sam Cronin (oh Sam, we do miss you) is likely to be out there frustrating our players and attempting to set-up Chris Wondolowski (or Wondo if you prefer), one of the most dangerous strikers in the MLS - Do not leave this man unmarked!!  OK - that's my lazy attempt at analysis for today. For far more thorough check out the links at the bottom.

  Today all that matters is that we get to see our team, in OUR HOME for the first time this season!!  This is what we wait for, this is where we want to be for the next 7 months, our Fortress BMO.  Remember - we are the 12th man; we have a job to do - support (wear red, clap, chant, yell, sing) and make it clear to opposing teams that this is not a place where you stroll in and steal 3 points.

So wake up everyone!!  Get ready (and get your rain gear; I did warn you about the rain) to cheer our boys onto victory!!


Lazy Links: The Yorkies and Waking The Red (James and Dave).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh Captain, My Captain!

Mood: Sad, resigned, but not ready to jump off the ledge.

Today came the devastating news that TFC captain Torsten Frings would be out for 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury that he suffered executing a perfect (and goal preventing) tackle in their loss to Seattle on Saturday. The screams and cries of dismay could be heard throughout the twittersphere as everyone reacted to the news that we were all hoping not to hear.  The reaction is perhaps best illustrated by the always brilliant comic strip East Side Stand Up by Paul Marhue.  There is no way to find the silver lining in this announcement - as I've said many times Torsten Frings is simply the best player to every put on a TFC kit - there is no way to replace a player of his caliber.

However; as upset as we all are by his injury, losing him for the next several weeks and even the turf that played a huge part in causing the injury (likely would not have happened on a grass pitch) we have to move past it. Dwelling and moaning and saying "if only" isn't going to make him heal any faster - this is football; players get hurt; teams still have to play week in and week out.

Of course the big questions are who will bolster the back line? Who will step up and take charge of the still shaky defense? And who will wear the captain's armband in Frings' absence?  A bit of twitter silliness (see we can still laugh) this afternoon had us speculating that perhaps Ty would be "the man"...we were kidding, geez relax...didn't you laugh just a little? After crying out in horror that is...not even a giggle? Okay, okay,  back to the issue at hand.  

Again, these questions have no easy answers - can Aceval become the commanding presence in the centre? Will one of the fullbacks be asked to move over and take on one of the central roles? Will JDG finally play like a DP and be that link that controls the play and the midfield? Will there be a last minute signing or just do we just hope that Adrian Cann really is only a couple of weeks away from rejoining the team on the field? Those questions won't even begin to be answered until Saturday when the first sans-Frings S11 gets announced.

To me as a fan what's been heartening has been the response of the rest of the team - they've all been stating not just their willingness to fight but they've acknowledged that the entire team cannot rest on the talents of just one player.  The always straight talking Ecks likely said it best in an interview at training by simply stating "Get on with it - everyone has to step up in Frings' absence".  Get on with it - best response ever.

I'm not saying that we as fans shouldn't be nervous or concerned about the next month and a half; at the same time this shouldn't be the cue to sound the death knell on the season. If our team is that reliant on one player then why bother playing at all? I for one am very interested; even a little excited to see how the team reacts over these next few weeks - and it is only a few weeks; not the entire season. I want to see them fight and come together and show that this season is indeed different; that they're a different team who won't crumple at the first sign of adversity.  

This Saturday come rain (it's probably going to be rain, sorry) or shine I will be in my seat ready to cheer on the boys in red at our home opener. I won't be thinking "oh man please don't let them lose" - no, I'm going to be confident that they will be fired up, focused and that they will win.

Come On You Reds - All Of You.

Lamenting Links: Waking the Red, The Yorkies

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's Just One Game

Mood: Down but not out

Saturday night's visit to Seattle was not exactly how I had hoped TFC would start their season; OK, it wasn't at all how I hoped they'd start the season. But if you've think this is going to be a doom and gloom, "all is lost" sort of post well then you've obviously never read this blog before - you may want to move along as there won't be much wallowing done here.

Post-match observations in no particular order:

  1. Frings is the best thing to have ever happened to TFC; period. Witness what happened without him out there.  The thought that he may be seriously injured is a frightening one as the team is not consistently strong enough at the back without him.
  2. Ryan Johnson can do no wrong - even with being subjected to cheap fouls over and over, he kept enough of his cool to score what is possibly the goal of the week. He just does not stop and is proving to be the consistent scorer that the team needs to compliment Danny Koevermans (once he gets rolling again).
  3. Ty Harden is not a starting CB - yes, this is not news but bears repeating
  4. Kocic looks good in pink; oh and is likely the #1 keeper going forward - tell me I'm wrong. 
  5. Playing a flat four is a bad idea - watching that high line get exposed over and over again the past two games should hopefully put it to rest - there is not enough speed back there to make it work. And why no Morgan?
  6. Silva had an off night in the midfield - this kid has a huge future - keep him out there Aron.
  7. Dunfield had a less than stellar night - more JDG please.
  8. Emory has a good future with the club - he held his own out there; especially before Frings left injured - wonder if he plays CB? Either way he deserves to be out there again.
  9. While the defensive woes (or growing pains) that cost TFC continue - there was some nice work to be seen when the team was going forward - this is a TFC team that is going to score goals. And more often than not, goals win games.  And yes, I do believe that the best offense is a good defense; but useless without the offense part.
  10. It's just one game. Just. One. Game. Against one of the best teams in the league, at their home, looking for redemption after a nightmare performance in Mexico.

OK, so there was a little doom and gloom in that list. I may be passionate and optimistic but it doesn't mean that I'm blind. Did I swear and rant and despair occasionally during the match? Of course I did; I'm passionate about my team and it upsets me when they don't succeed. Do I think the season is over or that they've regressed again? No, pure and simple, no. Errors and poor luck aside this was not a team that gave up; they continued to fight and at least competed to the end.  

Other than the loss (of the game and Frings), what upset me most on Saturday night was the incredibly biased commentary by Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller - I expect a little bias from a home town crew but this was beyond the pale. From the sporting of Sounders scarves to the continual use of "we" the ongoing Sounders perfect (delicious ball anyone?), TFC "cynical" and bad it was enough to make me want to throw things at my TV.  At least make the attempt at professionalism guys - you insult your fans as much as our own with that sort of blatant homerism. Knock it off.

This Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes will be a true test of how far our Reds have come - and you had better be there in red, in full voice and prepared to passionately and loudly support our team. Because the 12th man does make a difference; this year let's turn BMO back into the fortress it was, when opposing teams were uncomfortable because they were faced with a sea of red that would not be quiet. I know it's an early start on Saturday folks but get up, have some coffee and be in your seats before kick-off!  So, see you Saturday? 

Links a lot: The Yorkies, Waking The Red, Red Nation Online and Partially Obstructed View - visit these guys for the rest of your recap needs.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

First Kick - TFC Style

Mood: Optimistic (shocking I know)
Location: Not Seattle - secret TFC fan bunker

It's First Kick for TFC and I for one am as excited if not more than I was for the CCL matches - this is where our season begins and our beloved Reds really get to show us what they're made of!  Now is the time to put away CCL dreams and concentrate on the real business at hand - wiping that grin off of Drew Carey's face.  And what's with this St. Patrick guy and his blatant bias towards the Sounders? No I'm not green with envy - you couldn't pay me to wear green today - I'll be proudly sporting my TFC gear and will not guarantee I won't hurt the first (or 10th) person to say "why aren't you wearing green today?".

It would seem that most pundits, analysts, talking heads etc. have viewed TFC's win on Wednesday as some kind of fluke and declared that they will of course fall to the boys in the glowing, nay retina burning, green kits tonight.  We will also have to endure endless babble about the "great fans in Seattle" - as though Sounders fans are the only ones who support their team loudly and in numbers. Wonder how many Sounders fans have ever traveled to Toronto to support their team? I'd wager you count them on one hand.

Both teams start their MLS seasons tonight after playing their quarter-final CCL matches and we all know which team emerged as the only MLS club still standing.  It's not unfair to worry that the Sounders will be out to redeem themselves after being destroyed by Santos Laguna on Wednesday; that sort of drubbing does not rest easy with any team. Despite that 6-1 final score, Seattle is a good team that should do very well this year. However you cannot discount the momentum that TFC have been building prior to the start of their MLS season. While certainly not perfect the Reds played well against Becks and the boys; not just in results - we are the (quarter-final) champions! - but in a huge road win against a better team, in closing out the final game; scoring goals, defending to the last minute and Kocic with the monster saves. Granted CenturyLink Field will have a few more fans out to watch than in LA and you can never discount the effect of the 12th man.

On the upside the Sounders will be feeling the effects of travel while TFC have had a fairly easy journey up the coast and do not have to adjust to the time difference. On the downside the Reds have historically not done well on the road (oh those road woes!), at CenturyLink Field (zero wins) or against the Sounders period (posting a 1-4-1 record) - I'm not being all that positive you say? I'm just setting the stage before saying the past is the past.  I strongly believe that TFC have the advantage in that this is not the team that their MLS opposition have been kicking around for the past 5 years - I think they're going to surprise a lot of people; not just tonight but all season long.

What do TFC have to do tonight (Score goals? Yes, you're very funny, now pay attention) to win?   Look for Ryan Johnson to continue to use his field sense and service to score and set up his teammates (Danny - keep your eye on RJ9). Frings will keep being the boss on the field, anchoring the backline and setting up the plays through the midfield. Harden and Aceval will need to be much stronger in the middle and maintain better communication with (Frei? Kocic?) as well as with Ecks and Morgan. And Soolsma will (hopefully) keep baffling well all of us with his slow but effective style of play. The Reds will need to focus on shutting down forward Fredy Montero (I have such a dislike for that brat) and midfielder Maura Rosales; both can easily change the face of a game with their speed, playmaking and goal scoring abilities. TFC should also be looking to exploit a Seattle defense that is anything but rock solid.  

This is a winnable game folks - I'm not just saying that because I think they'll win every game (even though I do) - I truly feel this is an opportunity for TFC to open their season with 3 points.  Make sure that come 10pm you're at the pub, or in front of the TV and that you're ready to cheer our team on - it's First Kick TFC style people - let's do this!

Link It Up Baby: For all your game preview and more technical pre-match needs hit up the usual suspects: The Yorkies, Waking The Red <--this one from James & another one here from Duncan and Red Nation Online

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tilting At Windmills Or Finally A Step Forward?

Mood: Still ecstatic. Tired but ecstatic
State of Mind: Still Blown

Was that, or was that not the best night you have ever spent as a TFC fan?  Yes the Dallas win was amazing and I can still remember how it felt watching it and the amazed happiness when they won; but this - this was something special.  Last night's win was a huge step in the right direction for our club. No more pretenders, no more running around in the desert tilting at those windmills - this changed things. We've heard for the past year (or pre-season Season 6 as most of us called it) that this year we would finally see the team that we've been asking for since 2007. And boy did we ever.  Was it perfect? No. But did they focus and get it done? Hell yes.

If you're at all like me you spent yesterday pretty much freaking out; twitchy, nervous and unable to sit still waiting for it to 10pm.  Even though I spent the day with my mom it was hard to not check twitter a million times to see what everyone else was doing - as an illustration of my obsession with my team and the game I wore the exact same clothes as I did last week at the Skydome - from head to toe. TMI you say? You'll survive.

Game time found me in front of the TV (sadly had to stay home so as to pretend to be responsible as I worked at 7am this morning) trying to sit still but more often than not pacing around my living room.  Wherever you were - because you did watch, right? I mean really, you HAD to have watched; if not I'm not sure we can still be friends - whether at home, in a bar, on PVR later, you were pumped and you were watching your (our!) team!

Now I'm not going to give you a blow by blow of the match (and I'll include the usual helpful links in a bit) but there are a few things I'd like to mention. Side note: if I had proposed a drinking game around the number of offsides that would be called we'd have all been in a stupor before the first half ended! 

The game itself was full of beautiful moments and well,some pretty scary ones.  RJ9's goal sent me (and the rest of you of course) into spasms of joy - I really must apologize to my neighbours - but then it started to get a little nervy as LA kept pressing and exploiting that high line the TFC defense were employing.  Then that moment (you know what I'm about to say) when Ty scored...the own goal...and then Robbie bloody Keane with one of the douchiest moves ever gave him that little pat? Ugh. Despair - was this where it was all going to end? Were the wheels on the bus coming off?  I was losing my mind until that beautiful, wonderful moment when Soolsma slotted that lovely pass from Johnson past Saunders!!!  If my neighbours weren't ticked before I'm sure my screaming, jumping & clapping at that point sent them over the edge - do I care? Umm, no!  And Milos - what can be said about the play of Kocic other than MOTM - he was a Monster in net last night and they would not have won without him. 

Those 25 minutes after Soolsma's goal were some of the most stressful of my life - could barely force myself to watch, hiding behind my scarf, hardly daring to breathe and then, oh then the ref blew the whistle and bedlam!!  Ok, maybe not bedlam as I am only one person but as close to bedlam as I could manage. To the few people I talked to on the phone after than wonderful moment - sorry if I blew out your eardrums; but you understand because you were watching too. 

Folks, this was the moment; the moment when our team, our beloved Reds really moved out of from under the shadow of the past 5 years and became the team that gets it done. Because you & I both know that a year ago they would not have pulled this out. But this is a new chapter; this is the beginning of what I know is going to be the most amazing year we have ever had supporting (loving, living for) this team.  Will they win them all? Of course not. Will they frustrate us to no end at some point? Of course they will. But this moment, this game, this was the step forward we've been waiting for. Welcome to the next chapter - enjoy.

Link it up baby: As usual check out The Yorkies After 90 & their post-game thoughts today.  Then hit Waking the Red for the most active game thread ever, several post-game write-ups and more great video and in game reports from their Western Correspondent John Leung and finally head over to Red Nation Online for Steve Bottjer's match report.



They won, they won, they won, they won!!!  So happy, joyful, delirious, hyper, delighted, proud and just plain giddy with glee that I can barely sit still!!

That is all for now - too deliriously happy to sit still long enough to write anything coherent!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Oh Look - A Poll!

Mood: In need of distraction - hence the poll

Alright everyone; time for a little reader participation.  As we're all fidgety, anxious, nervous, excited - pick your adjective - I thought hey, let's have a poll!  What's the poll about you ask?  Not what you think; unless you think it's about TFC SSH scarves, then you'd be 100% correct!

If you read my post about the tickets for this year you know that I'm not super impressed with this year's scarf (nor was I last year's) so here's the question: Which is your favourite TFC SSH Scarf? Which is your least favourite? And why.  Leave your answers in the comments section.  Just in case you're a new SSH here is a reminider of what they all look like:

Sweet SSH Scarf Swag - Year 1 to Year 6
My favourite is probably Year 2 - although the colours on the Year 1 scarf are the best. As for my least favourite? Tie between last year and this year - last year because I just did not like the white - kind of a dinner scarf sort of look - and this year's; which I would like just fine if the badge were not red & white.  So there you have it folks; my very first, completely unscientific poll with no purpose other than to distract everyone from what will happen 6 hours from now!  Enjoy!

Biggest Game Ever - Escape from LA

Mood: Nervous, fidgety, yet optimistic

OK boys and girls this is it; the BIG one.  Do our beloved Reds come back from Cali with a berth in the Semis or do we have to watch Becks and the boys be smug and insufferable as they take their (self-bestowed rightful) place in the next round? 

I say NO!  Our team is more than capable of taking it to the Galaxy and coming home with that place in the semis. Becks and the boys proved themselves ready for the taking with that weak defensive line and the poor things are just plain worn out from that drubbing that RSL handed to them on Saturday. If you didn't get to see that, then I am sorry - it was delicious to watch them scrambling helplessly, running around the pitch, wearing themselves out. Thanks RSL, we owe you a beer!

The team will have JDG and Soolsma back in the mix after both were unable to play last week due to suspension over yellow card accumulation. So what you say?  The team did pretty well without them? Trust me; the Reds will be in much better shape with JDG in the midfield and Soolsma either as a sub for Plata or vice versa - that extra quality could be what seals the win.

The really important question is what are you doing today to ensure that they win tonight? What do you mean you have no influence?  Are we or are we not the 12th man? Just because we're not there doesn't mean we don't support with all our heart!  Whether you are heading to your local pub, having a viewing party at home or just watching on your own (and you had better be watching!) make sure you are kitted out in your TFC red - wear your scarf, hell chant at your TV (or laptop), be loud!!  

To get you really pumped up for tonight - as though you needed that, I'm so twitchy & excited I can barely sit still to write this - visit my friends over at The Yorkies for their patented Match-up and then head over to Waking The Red for their exhaustive work on this match - they even have a reporter on the ground in LA! 

In the meantime I'll leave you with this video from last week - get excited, get pumped, get loud!!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Woo - A new signing! Wait, who is this guy?

Mood: Umm, yay?

Word spread throughout the interwebs this morning that TFC had signed 24 year old trialist Logan Emory - The Board, Chairman of the Board or, thanks to the handy pronunciation guide on the Toronto FC site, Low-gan Em-or-ee - love the pronunciation guide.  The American defender most recently played for two seasons with the Puerto Rico Islanders of the USL and apparently impressed Winter and Co. during the preseason in Orlando. Emory looks to be a depth signing at centre back and is doubtful to be a starter. Head over to Waking The Red and The Yorkies for more thorough and detailed reports.

Hey - I never promised analysis, but you do want to know who's playing for the team right? Oh just click on the links and get reading. Now excuse me, I think I chipped a nail...where's that nail file?

They're Heeerrre!!

Mood 5:30am - 5:30pm: Grumpy & tired
Mood 5:30pm onward: Fantastic!

What's here? Really, did you just ask that?  Do you even read this blog - shoo; go on, no blog for you!  OK, the rest of you who didn't ask that silly question know what I'm talking about - my TFC SSH Tickets are here!  Finally, after seeing picture after picture and reading tweet after tweet as seemingly everyone else received their's - I have my very own!!

Happy, happy, joy, joy!  I wait for this day every year - there are few things in this world that make me happier than getting my tickets for the upcoming season - it means the season is really here and that I get to watch my beloved Reds play week in, week out - happiness!  I have to give a shout out to the awesome Purolator guy that agreed to come back later on this afternoon (after showing up this morning while I was working) when I was home from work - when I got home a good two hours late imagine my surprise when he showed up minutes later; said "he decided to try on his way home in case I was there". Saved me an expensive cab ride or having to beg a ride from a friend to the Purolator Depot my tickets always end up at (i.e. nowhere near where I live).

Now as happy as I am (tickets!) with the majority of the package - cheers to the tin, like the tickets themselves (especially the focus on the kids, although why so many duplicates of players?) - I am not as chuffed with the scarf itself.  Although according to Paul B. from TFC I am in the minority; I do not like the red and white badge - where's the grey! Greycism! Seriously, are they suddenly changing the badge?  However, this evening Paul assuaged my fears in stating that they are NOT changing the badge that we all love - this is merely a nod to the design/kit that the fans voted (not me, I voted for the black kit) for last season. So bullet dodged and worries of some sort of terrible logo (de)volution wiped away.  Otherwise I actually quite like the scarf - love the Toronto Football Club spelled out across it (felt that was missing the past two years) and the vibrant red is great. Enough dissecting the scarf you say? Alright, alright moving on...

All that matters (Yes, I know, CCL match - be patient) is that in 11 days I will get to hold my scarf aloft from my seat, loudly (and hopefully in tune) sing the national anthem and cheer TFC on to victory at the home opener.  Be there or sell your Season Tickets to someone who will be. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Tickets Are Coming, The Tickets Are Coming!

State of Mind: Excited yet anxious
Location: Not at home - hence the anxious

So what am I going on about today? Tickets! Specifically TFC 2012 Season Tickets!  The word is out all over Twitter that our tickets are being delivered today and tomorrow!  For a TFC fan (and season ticket holder) this is on an excitement level akin to Christmas. Yes we've all already been to a match but this is different - these are your tickets for the entire season!  Sorry, I'm a little excited; alright a lot excited; OK going crazy that I'm not home to receive them!  But you know what I'm talking about; getting to open the package, check out this season's scarf (which looks quite natty btw); look through your tickets (snicker at the players on the tickets that are no longer with the team) - it reverts you to a kidlike state of excitement and joy - what, just me? I don't believe you - you know that you're bouncing up & down in your seat at work all in a twitter (or on twitter) knowing that they're waiting for you!

This year's offering come in a nifty canister that to me (without having seen it in person yet) is an improvement over the box we usually get; or maybe that's just because I like to display them on my bookshelves every season - just me again? Hmm, perhaps a little obsessed.  Thanks to @Yagbod here is a picture of the entire package!  Looks good doesn't it?  Now if only I could duck out of work, I'm mean oh my suddenly I don't feel so well...

Season Six SSH Scarf Swag

Keep tweeting those pictures and I'll be sure to add mine once I have my hot little hands on them.  *Cough, cough*...really not feeling well...perhaps a scarf to keep me warm...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

First Kick, Or How I Learned To Love The MLS

MLS First Kick is tonight and well what does that mean? As a fan of TFC I should be a fan of the league itself, right?  I admit, until recently I only paid peripheral attention to what was happening in the rest of the league. Of course I was aware of the other teams but unless it was a game against TFC I didn't usually bother to watch a match, let alone learn much about the other teams. But this past year or so it occurred to me that I wasn't doing myself any favours by maintaining my ignorance. And quite frankly I enjoy watching much more now that I have a clue as to who some of the other players are - crazy, right? Knowledge is power, the more you know, know thy enemy, etc., etc...

While there isn't a single other team that I would actively cheer for, there is good football to be watched around the league. The past several years has seen the style and quality of play in the MLS improve noticeably. While still a very physical style of footy, the skill level and professionalism on display has increased dramatically. You no longer see 90 minutes of the punt and chase style of football (yes TFC, I'm looking at you - see? I can be unbiased, a little), more and more you see lovely movement through the middle, speedy overlapping runs and deadly set pieces. The quality is there and well worth even a little of your time. Besides, it is on us as fans to support the league in which our team plays. 

I have even found myself watching MLS matches in which my beloved Reds aren't (gasp!) playing - madness you say - I say get over it and watch a game.  If you're a fan of the beautiful game you watch - don't tell me that you don't get up at 8am on a Saturday to watch EPL (or Bundesliga, or La Liga, or Seria A) games - you know that you do. Why? Because you want to watch our favourite sport being played, no matter who's playing. I for one will be glued to my computer this evening watching the many First Kick matches; is TFC playing? No, but that doesn't matter - I'm excited that MLS is back!  This is why we're fans; embrace it!

And now the big question; will I be watching the Whitecaps/Impact match and what is my hope for the outcome? Of course I'm going to watch - both of our hated Canadian rivals playing one another - how could I not? I waffle between wanting to see a total mess of a match with tons of goals scored and hoping it's a boring, life-sucking, stultifying draw; still can't decide. I want neither of these teams to succeed this season (see, complete bias!) - but I'm Canadian; shouldn't I support Canadian teams - Hell no; this all about Club and has nothing to do with Country.  But I'll watch and so should you.

End-note: To get yourself truly up to speed on the upcoming season before 6pm tonight I highly recommend that you check out the following previews penned (typed?) by some rather knowledgeable fellows: The Yorkies' Eastern and Western Conference Previews, Waking The Red's Eastern and Western Conference Previews and Partially Obstructed View's MLS preview First Kick Weekend preview.

Friday, March 9, 2012

So Long Spoon, Hello Spork

Today came the shocking - OK, not really - news that centre back Geovanny "Spoon" Caicedo had been released by TFC. When I first heard that the 45 minute man was no longer with the club my immediate thought was "oh no, why does this feel like TFC the early years" all over again. My second was that we were all being robbed of various "Spoon" related puns - no Spoon dishes off to the Silva Plata...ah well, what could have been; no use crying over wasted puns...*sob*...sorry, got a little emotional there.

One angle that I realize pretty much every other blogger and footy journo here in Toronto has covered is that why did Caicedo agree to come to the MLS? You would think that he'd perhaps research the league he was headed to...and on paper the imposing 6' 2" defender seemed to be a good fit.  Stranger things have happened however and better to have it dealt with early I say - and the freed up international spot and salary doesn't hurt either (hello summer transfer window?). 

However, upon hearing the news, my chief concern as a long-time fan was that the dreaded (and seemingly patented) TFC revolving door had returned. These quick in and out signings (shoud they stay or should they go now?) have long plagued the team and caused myself and my fellow fans to fly into fits of rage and despair. And I do not want to spend the next seven months watching Frei and Kocic glaring at the defense or watch TFC keep claim on that worst ever goals against record. However, the press release from Toronto FC made it clear that the parting of ways was mutual and had more to do with Caicedo's difficulties in adjusting to the style of play in the MLS as well as missing his family back in Ecuador; rather than that poor 45 minute performance we saw via a shaky online stream.  

So what does this mean for TFC's oft beleagured backline? Well, it looks like until (at the very least) Adrian Cann regains full fitness, that newcomer Miguel Aceval will continue to be joined by Ty Harden or "The Spork" as he's now to be known thanks to those master punsters/nickname givers over at Waking The Red and The Yorkies. And I'm completely on board with my blogging brethren (ooh, alliteration!) - Ty is a serviceable tool (did I just call Ty Harden a tool? Yes, yes I did) - he's not your first choice but he'll do the job more or less until better more complete ones come along.  With Ecks and Morgan on the wings expect to see Frings spending a LOT of time as the fifth defender (or CB in charge) - not a terrible thing, but I would much rather see our captain in the midfield coolly and calmly distributing the ball and well, running the show - JDG, this is your moment to step up; take it!

The main point of this? All hail The Spork!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Post-Game Reflection

Mood: Somewhat despondent yet happy, oh and tired.
Irish Boys that sang to me: One
Irish Boys whose hearts I broke: One
Streamers Thrown: Three
Beers Drank: Umm...
Voice Left: 30%

A beautiful day led into a beautiful night - perfect for some football.  Pre-game at Crocodile Rock was ridiculous fun - packed with red clad supporters all geared up for an exciting night down at the Dome. A mini tweet-up took place - finally got to meet CyberMercy, Michelllllllle & IAmSairax - with many introductions being made using twitter handles (oh hi, I'm kzknowles on twitter; you know the Left Wing Pinko and you are?), made for a festive atmosphere and promises for future gatherings - social media is fun boys & girls; get on it! 

Surprising item number one was that there were actually people at the Dome (47, 658 according to official reports) and that most of them were there before that match started. If only those people would come to matches at BMO...but that's for another post - likely the home opener when I will once again be irritated beyond all belief by the lollygaggers - get to the game on time people! Sorry, straggler rage got the best of me...

Highlights of the Night: Being in the supporter section was a great deal of fun - everyone was excited, singing, chanting and (at least those near me) were focused on the game at hand. My thanks to @demonscootergirl and CB for allowing me to abandon them while I obsessed over watching my team. Being covered in streamers (oh how I've missed the streamers), seeing the flags, singing and yelling my head off all night while surrounded by thousands doing the same? Awesome. Although we did miss the first minute of play as we passed the GIANT tifo over our heads (how did it look? still haven't seen it).

TFC started the game completely on the front foot - pressing hard, creating space and in the 12th minute Ryan Johnson (or RJ9 as we like to call him) took advantage of a defensive breakdown by LA and a bouncing ball off of a Frings corner kick - jubilation ensued amongst the faithful in red. And award for best goal celebration of the new season has to go to Johnson's spin move and kick at the corner flag.

Then not six minutes later Luis Silva scored his first professional goal (this kid is going to be a force!) placing a gorgeous header past a diving Josh Saunders off of a lovely ball into the box from Frings - although I still maintain he is not allowed to take free kicks; this does give him a bit of leeway with me until the next match.  The entire stadium went completely insane and I almost knocked the guy next to me over in my excited jumping and celebrating.  

I wish we could just freeze the game there - TFC were playing like we know they can - using space, great use of the midfield, Frei seemed in control and Torsten was doing; well everything - can we please clone him? Please? 

And uber awesome highlight of the night - other than the amazing turnout, the fantastic atmosphere and the fact that TFC held what is arguably the best team in the MLS to a draw - was getting my very own set (in their own case even!) of the YorkiesSet from @ignirtoq - the creator of the amazing cards - of The Yorkies at the half. It's all in who you know or who you pester; whatever works. Again, my thanks - the cards are amazing!

Lowlights: Then it started to come apart. Instead of pressing the advantage the boys let up; just enough to allow those openings that a team of LA's calibre know how to exploit.  You don't let any team take it to you like that - especially when their backline is just as exploitable as ours (yes I'm looking at you Harden & you too Ecks - you were not perfect last night). That last goal was preventable - a sea of red shirts yet no one clears the ball? And what happened to Frei? The confident, in total command of his area Frei from pre-season - we didn't see nearly enough of him last night. Yes, he kept them in the game and he's still the #1 keeper in my eyes but he cannot backslide in this regard. 

 Not helping at all was the "NBA star" refereeing that was seen throughout the vast remainder of the match - far too much of the "oh well, you're the experienced Cup holders - you've earned the right to push players around and hey, you want to handle the ball outside of the box and kick the opposing striker? Go ahead" with some "hey rookies, you haven't earned your stripes yet, take your lumps and move on" mixed in for good measure. Do I disagree with Danny K. getting a YC for his actions? No, it was warranted but there should have been another handed to Saunders at the same time. And the card for Frei? Ridiculous - why the hell was Ecks kept off the pitch for that long? Because he wears red, that's why. 

To the idiot that threw the beer can; you are a wanker in every sense of the word. There is NO place in football for that kind of jerky behaviour.  Please do not come to another match ever again; supporters like you we don't need.

Overall this was a good match - the team acquitted itself fairly well, they didn't lose, Silva got his goal, Danny got fired up (take that fire and score!), no one got injured on the plastic pitch and they're not heading into LA next week with no goals scored. Did I expect them to win? Yes. Should they have won? Yes. Will they win on Wednesday? No reason why they shouldn't, so I say YES!  To me this was a great start to TFC's season and they're going to keep building on this and will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

And in case you didn't go or even worse didn't watch the match last night (and why not? No excuses!) - here are a few poor quality pics from my phone.

Tifo awesomeness

Post-Game Post-Script: Ok, so I've rewatched the match in the light of day (or late afternoon) without my sight and memory being clouded by streamers and confetti. I offer the following follow-up opinions: The ref was not quite as bad as I thought but there were a lot of things not called and/or called incorrectly; but we've seen worse (really, we have). And I stand by my NBA star ref analogy.

 TFC really let up in the second half and weren't pushing and using space the way they had in the first; the back line started to unravel and Frings was forced to do far too much (Man of the Match - needs to be cloned).  The lack of man marking on both goals makes me grind my teeth - you do NOT leave Donavan unmarked!  And the inability of the team to get that last crucial goal speaks to the continuing issue with closing out games.

However, even with acknowledging all that I remain positive that this team will do very well this season and that the outcome of next week's match in LA is far from a forgone conclusion.  There were many positives - from the ongoing development of Silva, the dominance of Frings and for at least awhile a lovely display of how this team can play the game of football. Last night's match will not change where I will be week in, week out for the next 7 months - either in my seat at BMO or at the pub cheering on my team.

TFC Til I Die

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pre-Game Jitters

Current State: Barely contained excitement, much fidgeting and clock watching - is it time yet? Well, is it??

In a few short hours I and upwards of 40,000 of my fellow fans (because you are all fans, right?) will be making our way to the Skydome to cheer on our beloved TFC. What do you need to know for today? Here is a handy pre-game checklist:

Outfit: Consisting mostly of TFC gear or red & white clothing?
Ticket: You have one.
Mood: Fidgety, jittery excitement bordering on the extreme
Songs: Here is a handy cheat sheet courtesy of the guys and gals over at U-Sector
Passion: Off the charts in readiness to cheer on your team

This is the big one - the one we've been waiting four long months for. So if you're like me; right now you are twitchy, giddy, giggly and liking irritating the hell out of any non-footy fans around you. Fun isn't it?

As this game is at the Dome I will not be in my usual West Stand seats; instead I am sitting (well, standing) with the Supporter Groups in the South End. But wait you say - didn't I say you don't need to sit with the SGs to be a supporter? Absolutely true - doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being part of the incredible energy and passion that they bring to every match - it's where I sit for Canada matches - and as this match is larger than life in scope and importance; being with the SGs is what I wanted for this game. The SGs have gone all out and were up late last night decorating the Dome - I don't want to spoil it for you; you'll see it tonight.  I expect the entire stadium to be a loud, vocal, crazed sea of red anchored by the south end. I also expect to be partially deaf and to have no voice at this time tomorrow - happily so!

If you haven't already been voraciously reading all sorts of pre-game posts here are some links to get you caught up - actually, because all of the fine blogger folk I follow have been working around the clock to bring us a ton of coverage you'll be in good shape if you visit the guys over at Waking The Red, The Yorkies, and  Red Nation. There are many more and several others I could link to but like I said; this will put you in pretty good shape.

If you're not going tonight, you best be watching - get decked out in your best TFC gear, turn the TV up LOUD, chant and cheer along with the rest of us and be part of the biggest, game, ever!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Biggest Game Ever!

State of Mind: Barely contained excitement with much fidgeting and obsessing over the upcoming match.
What Match?: Go read a different blog...or read below — but seriously, shouldn't you know this already?
Preparedness: Jersey: check. Scarf: check. Streamers: check. Ticket: triple-check. Vocal cords: warmed up and ready to go.

In less than two days, TFC and its faithful (and loud) fans will fill Skydome —yes, I said Skydome, sue me—to the rafters to cheer our team on against the LA Galaxy in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions Leaque Quarter Finals.  Other than the fact that it is the first chance that we get to see our team LIVE since the fall and that this is only the second time a Canadian team has progressed this far in CCL competition, this is the first game that has had huge (well, for footy in Toronto) media coverage and promotion. There's been actual articles and previews written by just about every soccer journalist in the GTA.  Even though they insist (much to my and many others' chagrin) on focusing on Becks instead of OUR team - I'm looking at you Sportsnet - at least they're finally talking about the team.  I often despair at how football is covered in the Toronto media. (I won't even discuss national media. Bah.) From almost no coverage by most of the major outlets, to dismissive articles and lavishing all their attention on *that team* from the west coast. Which team? Hell, pick one! (The media has some unholy love for all things west). From LA to Seattle and Portland to Vancouver; put a 3 hour time difference on it and they're content. Never mind that there is a team right here they could be reporting about on a daily basis...

However, on occasions such as this, none of that matters to me. What matters is that the Skydome will be full of red-clad, singing, chanting and cheering TFC fans; all watching in joyful anticipation of the win that we know is coming. But LA's the better team you say? I say boo-urns to that; TFC has an excellent record (i.e. non-losing) against the LAG and have something that they've never had before — consistency. For the first time in club history, the off season was not fraught with firings, searches for coaches or managers and the core group of players actually came back. No one will be in a cab on his way to the Skydome getting dressed minutes before kickoff. This is a team that knows one another, that likes one another and that WANTS to win, game in and game out. So, am I worried about the result tomorrow night? Not a chance. This is our game and our team is going to be victorious! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

5 Years In the Making

The best way for me to introduce this blog is to send you to a post I did for my friends over at Waking The Red (great guys, read them!). As you can see (because you did just read it, right? If not I'll wait until you're done. Go on, I can wait all day...), I've been on a journey regarding my team, how I support them, participate in the community and of my love of the beautiful game. My non-footy friends refer to TFC as my obsession and I agree — this is a joyful obsession and one I will not give up.

Until TFC, I'd never felt this much passion for a sports team.  Sure, I support or cheer on other teams in different leagues and sports, but this is different. Maybe because I've been there from day one, in my seat in the West Stands (ooh, the blog title is explained!) cheering them on. West Stands you say? Why don't I sit in the south stands with the other supporters? Well, I don't believe you have to be part of an official SG to be a supporter — I support my team just as passionately as any member of U-Sector, NEE (although I sit near them) or RBP. And that is not a knock at the guys and girls of those groups; I appreciate and celebrate all that they do, match in and match out. However, I consider myself and call myself a supporter, because I am! Regardless of where I sit or the fans I spend time with. 

Among my friends in the blogger and TFC community, I'm the relentlessly optimistic one, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that pessimism and gloom are called for. This is not to say that I don't occasionally give in to the darker side and raise my voice in anger or dismay, but day in and day out, I'm sure that things will turn out in a positive way. (This is likely why I didn't win the "Smarter Than Mo" pool over at Waking The Red last season).

So what is the point of this blog? To offer a different perspective on TFC and footy fandom.  I'm not a walking encyclopedia of football history and facts, but neither am I without knowledge and opinions. I want to share my passion and my thoughts about the beautiful game and the team I love and well sometimes Twitter just isn't enough.  Expect a lot of blathering on about players, match reports (of a sort), the vibe in the section I sit in at BMO (or Skydome for March 7 - but more on that later), the people I watch matches with and well, everything TFC related.  Feel free to comment, ask questions, make suggestions and enjoy my meandering through the world of TFC and football.