The Lead

When Danny Dichio finally scored for Toronto FC in the 24th minute of their fifth game of the MLS season and their second at BMO Field, the crowd was ecstatic. Seat cushions were hurled onto the field in wild abandon, people hugged and cheered for at least ten minutes afterward. The moment would be commemorated by the South Stand at BMO for years, a symbol of the first shoots of growth and hope for the club. And in the end, Toronto went on to finish with a 6-17-11 record, dead last in the table across both conferences.

To be fair, Vancouverites were far more restrained in their response to post-season play, knowing that defeating LA in the first hurdle was a tall order. And indeed, last night the Whitecaps lost to the Galaxy 2-1 in a spirited game that should leave Whitecaps fans hopeful ahead of next season. Massey himself said quite rightly he has nothing to complain about.

And that’s the real lesson in all this: Toronto FC fans have almost fetishized qualifying for post-season play, much in the same way they ached for Dichio to score after four games of no goals. Yet in Vancouver’s case, the reality of the post-season meant a single, added game to the season. And while they made a good case for adding a few more, in some ways they already exceeded expectations heading into last night.

I know in MLS the real attraction of the playoffs is possibility, particularly when one thinks of the 2009 when Real Salt Lake made the playoffs by picking up the final spot on goal difference and then went and won the MLS Cup. But moreover, as in Vancouver’s case, it means progress. Consistency of approach in team philosophy is progress. Better team unity is progress. Steady improvement in year-over-year results, even with a seasons’ dip or two, is progress. And eventually making the playoffs with a chance to win it all is progress.

Vancouver has it, Montreal might (see you next year!), and Toronto doesn’t. And I think that, far more than Vancouver’s accomplishment in adding their extra game this year, gives them reason to gloat.

Links

Canadian Soccer News’ Ben Rycroft with a very even-handed defense of the use of unnamed sources in soccer media, which I have complaints with whatsoever [CSN].

The Guardian reports that Roberto Mancini was in talks to join Monaco last summer before extending his contract with Manchester City (although this apparently isn’t a scoop as such) [the Guardian].

Sir Alex Ferguson decides in lieu of evidence he knows Mark Clattenburg is innocent [the Independent].

Concern over Landon Donovan’s retirement remarks still dominates US soccer headlines [Fox Soccer].

Weekend previews care of Tim Stannard; Malaga are in serious financial trouble [La Liga Loca].

Inter didn’t sign Paul Pogba because they had a “gentlemans agreement” with Man United. Massimo Moratti also has some weird things to say about Barcelona [Football Italia].

This video’s making the rounds. Pretty appropriate considering recent events [YouTube].