Sunday, April 29, 2007

All we are saying, is give us a goal...

That was the chant from the Toronto FC fans at their home opener on Saturday.

Unfortunately, it didn't work, as the only goal came from Eddie Johnson for the Kansas City Wizards. Toronto are still waiting to find the net for the first time this season. Johnson, meanwhile, made the mistake of celebrating in front of one of the rowdier bunches of Toronto fans (although, to be fair, I don't think there were any Kansas City supporters in the stadium). Whereupon they threw beer on him. Canadian fans = all class.

Toronto had looked like the better team for the first hour or so, but they weren't able to capitalize on any of their chances. The midfielders in particular worked hard but the final ball to the strikers was just horrible. I don't think I saw them put in a decent cross in the entire 90 minutes -- and this is especially useless if you're playing with Danny "bad touch for a big man" Dichio up front. It left Alecko Eskandarian -- who I think has been one of their better players so far -- foraging for scraps. At the back, the defence had some gaping holes, but they were able to cover reasonably well until the last quarter of the game, when their usual problem of lack of stamina caught up with them and they let Kansas City through.

Despite the result, it was Toronto's best game so far -- when you've been giving up three or four every time, a one-goal loss doesn't look so bad. And the experience of being at the game was fantastic. It was supposedly a sell-out crowd; I did see some empty seats in the stands across from us, but then again, maybe they were all just stuck waiting in line somewhere. (There were massive lineups for everything, with the fortuitous exception of the women's washrooms.) The crowd support was great: they kept up the noise level all game, and the stands were a sea of red. The club made a smart decision by giving out TFC scarves to season ticketholders along with their tickets to the first game -- so that's three-quarters of the crowd right there. Plus the vast majority of people were wearing red jerseys. Although not all of those were Toronto jerseys -- I saw a lot of Man United, Liverpool, England, Arsenal, as well as a smattering of random teams like Celtic and Inter.

The stadium set-up looks good, too. Our seats were near the 18-yard box and pretty high up, but it still felt like we were right on top of things. It seems like you'd have a good view of the action from just about anywhere in the stadium -- plus a cool view of downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario. The only drawback was that the seats feel kind of chintzy and the stands a bit rickety -- on the other hand, those metal bleachers make plenty of noise when you've got 20,000 people stomping on them. Also, somebody has to teach the stadium announcer how to do the pre-game lineup properly. But that's just a quibble. Overall, the team's prospects look good.

If only they could learn how to score.

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