Quarter finals of the Champions League. Words that many Toronto FC fans probably thought they wouldn’t hear for quite some time. Remarkably however that is the reality. Sadly I have only seen highlights of Toronto’s destruction of FC Dallas but I am reliably informed it was one of their most complete performances to date. I am told the Reds were “head and shoulders” above their opposition which is apt considering the shampoo company were also sponsoring the highlights I watched. One of my biggest concerns before the match was Danny Koevermans being distracted whilst playing in the world’s biggest Pizza Hut branch, but yet again he didn’t disappoint. He might be slightly porky but he is an MLS goal machine.
Huge credit must go to the often maligned Aron Winter. Perhaps one of the reasons Toronto won so well in Dallas is because Winter managed to rest the right players on Saturday whilst still managing to get a positive result in Philadelphia. I for one questioned whether giving the players a week off during international weekend was the right decision but the performance and results speaks for themselves. The gradual reintroduction of Joao Plata certainly paid dividends and he took his goals like he had never been away.
It is matches and performances like Tuesdays that vindicate my decision to follow MLS and certainly Toronto FC. Living away from a team you feel passionate about means there are many negatives. Not being able to watch your team live or with fellow fans makes it difficult to really see how much it means to the city of Toronto. However I have spoken many times before about repeatedly watching history being made and it is fantastic to witness the club make such progress.
I was slightly disappointed to find out I now have to wait until March of 2012 to see Toronto in the quarter finals. I’m sure I will be criticised for again questioning the format of another non European competition but by March of next year the tournament will have lost all momentum. Perhaps I’m wrong and the anticipation of it will make it a great spectacle. However like many football fans I’m grumpy and impatient so can’t CONCACAF just ruddy well get on with it?! It’s like ordering a Pizza at Pizza Hut Park and then having to wait 5 months for it.
Finally, since my last article one thing in particular caught my eye in Major League Soccer. The fact that Kasey Keller is only just retiring will probably shock some of my English readers but I can confirm the veteran is finally hanging up his gloves. Keller now 41 has had a quite remarkable 20 year career. As a seven year old I started my fleeting football career as a goalkeeper and Keller was playing for nearby Millwall at the time. I enjoyed watching him on a couple of occasions and remember him being a real fans favourite at the Den. Of course he went on to bigger and (much) better things and when 64,000 people turn up to watch your final home game you know you have done something right. As well as celebrating Keller’s career the game undoubtedly proves there is a huge appetite for Major League Soccer. Although obviously a one off that sort of attendance can only be matched by some of Europe’s elite and must excite MLS fans. I’m disappointed to say my retirement drew less of a crowd but congratulations to Kasey Keller and of course Toronto FC.