I’m now two weeks into my Major League Soccer journey and to be perfectly honest I feel cheated. I turned to MLS to watch some dull average football and I was reliably informed that my choice of team (Toronto FC) had been a safe one. Wrong. I witnessed my first full MLS game last night and all my presumptions and preconceptions were just that. Toronto, bottom at the start of play were away from home against top of the Eastern Conference table Columbus Crew. The Reds outplayed, outfought and most importantly outscored their fierce rivals in their own backyard, beating Columbus for the first time in their brief history.
I was expecting to see at least some negative tactics from Toronto but they came out passing the ball brilliantly and looking to get forward whenever possible. De Guzman completely ran the midfield and twenty year old Ashtone Morgan looked composed and assured. Toronto controlled the game from start to finish ending up 4-2 winners and few could blame Reds fans for getting carried away. One thing Major League Soccer teams unquestionably don’t have is a history. How could they? Most are no more than 16 years old and Toronto of course were founded just five years ago. That is why moments like Toronto’s victory over Columbus are so important for the club and for the league. I have come to realise that more so than in England, Spain or Italy the current crop of MLS players are making their own history. In twenty years time Toronto Fans can tell their children about Danny Koeverman’s breakaway goal to secure our first ever victory against Columbus Crew. I think the leagues lack of history is one of the reason European’s dismiss it so readily. However if you don’t have history all you can do is make it, and that is what players and clubs are doing. For me that is the most exciting thing about my decision to follow Major League Soccer; the chance to watch history being made.
Saying all of this I can’t of course write an article without having a moan. I had to chuckle despairingly when I noticed that only 4 of the 11 starters who faced San Jose Earthquakes had played more than 8 games for Toronto. And when you hear that 38 different players have appeared for Toronto this season it goes without saying such inconsistency will damage their (admittedly already below average) performances so far this season. How can any team have a half decent season when every time a player hints at showing any promise he is traded for two or three distinctly more average players. In fact I have been put off buying a shirt in case while they are printing Nick Soolsma’s name on the back he moves to DC United. I would argue the trading system favours the bigger MLS teams, if a player gets wind of a bigger club wanting him the likelihood is he will go. Yes you get a player or players in return but the chemistry of your team is completely different. As an outsider watching in, I can’t see the sense in it.
Finally it has been pointed out to me by a few individuals that there may have been geographical errors on my part, and it is conceivable that Toronto FC are perhaps not my local MLS side. However, the colour red now runs through my veins. I dream about Danny Dichio’s (scrappy) goal exactly 24 minutes into every night’s sleep. Would I switch allegiance to another extraordinarily mediocre MLS team? I would rather die, or at least break a bone or two. There is no question now that I am TFC through and through, I even have a novelty mug that proves it.