(Toronto, ON) — Always wanted to write that. Unfortunately this will not be a standard match report.
Toronto FC’s home opener was a smashing success against all odds. While that’s overly dramatic the fact was the Reds hadn’t won a game since July 18th, 2012 — a 15 game span.
I went to the game rather than watch on the TV’s at theScore towers. I had been to several games over the years but this one was different in the sense that I brought a notepad and pen to document the key moments. Almost as if I was an actual reporter. Unlike most writers commissioned by their newspapers, I spent the game in the supporters section surrounded by the people that have made this club what it is.
Outside of a few clowns who found it necessary to chant ‘put the flag down’ while fans cheered on a blistering start, the opening 25 minutes could not have been better. Robert Earnshaw’s goal in the third minute–accompanied by a perfectly executed back flip–sent the Rogers Centre into frenzy.Earnshaw said it would take him three to four games to get match fit. Try two.
John Bostock was fantastic, endearing himself as a fan favorite in his first game as a member of Toronto FC. Bostock’s run in the 20th minute drew a clumsy challenge from Sporting KC’s Paulo Nagamura, setting up Earnshaw’s second goal, this one from the spot.
Aurélien Collin played role of villain, getting away with two hand balls in the first half with only a yellow to show for it. Other observations include patrons of the Renaissance hotel throwing rolls of toilet paper down from the windows. A flare was lit, only to draw the ire of the most typical group of security guards ever assembled. Overly gelled hair and a slight gut have to be included in the resumé.
Toronto nursed a two goal lead until Claudio Bieler reduced the deficit to one in the 77th minute. Like so many times before, the Reds willingness to sit back and let the play come to them was nearly their undoing. Playing kick and run against one of the better sides in MLS will not end well most of the time. The final 13 (plus five minutes of extra time) saw some changes from failure’s past. Darren O’Dea and Danny Califf performed admirably under duress. Though Califf’s needless yellow for getting into it with the referee was followed by Bieler’s goal.
The positives bear repeating. Sporting KC talisman Graham Zusi was a non-factor. Off the ball Ryan Nelsen’s squad was tactically sound for most of the game, closing windows, pressing and sticking to their formation.
Bostock was good, Earnshaw was what they needed and the defense, more than adequate. Hell, a home opening win is pretty damn huge considering the treacherous past this club has enjoyed.
Onward to Montreal. It should be noted the ‘put the flag down’ chants were led by a dude in a Barcelona jersey. That pretty much says it all.