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].

Comments (6)

  1. umm…I’m a TFC fan and hate the arrogance and petulance exhibited by Vancouver at every level (not just footy). I hate that their team is made up of so few Canadians that they couldn’t find one whitecap player signing the national anthem last night.

    that being said John while you are right that they got their tactics wrong I’m not sure the whitecap fans and media can be chastised for the love being shown. The have constructed a decent team under the rules of the league. They have some quality but I think they were buoyed by excellent fans this year to overachieve. Last night they played a team with immensely more quality and showed quite well. I’m not sure that with keane/landycakes/beckham on the pitch that charging forward with abandon is going to get the job done.
    .
    So in short they have the right to celebrate.
    .
    and yes they should learn from the TFC tactical mistakes.

    congrats Vancouver on your team doing decently well.

    and in conclusion Ben Massey is still a tw@t.

  2. This is the folly of short-term assessments, though.

    So what if Vancouver improved in year 2? So did Toronto. Actually, Toronto got better in points each season of three… and didn’t have a 10-team playoff system to back into the playoffs (it was 8 teams back then….).

    Same with Montreal — they got 42 points but didn’t make the playoffs. Maybe Marsch isn’t the man to lead them, maybe they’ll get worse. But because they got 42 points, he sticks on.

    Another way of looking at it is this: what if Vancouver and Montreal’s seasons are the best they’ll have in the next five years? Nobody will be praising them or even thinking about TFC…

    So let’s assess these teams over the long haul, as people have with TFC.

  3. “Sir Alex Ferguson decides in lieu of evidence he knows Mark Clattenburg is innocent”

    This reminds me of “Sir Alex Ferguson decides in lieu of evidence he knows Luis Suarez is guilty” and “Kenny Dalglish decides in lieu of evidence he knows Luis Suarez is innocent”, and others along those lines.

    What I don’t understand is why people don’t shut up when they don’t have evidence for something? Oh wait, then nobody would ever be able to talk about religion, ever again (whether for or against).

  4. Vancouver and Montreal are more desperate than TFC, because they are not owned by a rich corporation. The reality in Vancouver and Montreal is that they have to fight for the attention of their fans. Both cities still have the ghosts of the failed franchises in the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Montreal Expos so a winning record and playoffs is a priority.

    The only way that TFC ever improves is if there’s competition in Canada making the franchise look bad and detracting attention from the franchise.

    IMO, from here on out it will be Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact and than some bland group in Toronto called “The FC”.

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