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.
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