Thursday, August 2, 2012

If TFC Wins And There's No One There To See It, Did It Really Happen?

Mood: Stunned happiness
State of Mind: That happened right? You're not messing with me?
Location: My happy place - which last night was BMO

A decisive win, FIVE goals, a beautiful night and Ryan Johnson got a rest! I swear I'm not making this stuff up - I understand why you wouldn't believe me as no one actually went to the game last night - but the 5,324 of us that were there will swear on a stack of TFC scarves that this did indeed occur.

I got to BMO insanely early - I was perhaps a little bit excited for the game - and was a bit worried as I saw an awful lot of orange CD Aguila kits as well as El Salvadoran kits and flags.  And while I did see lots of TFC gear by the time I got to my seat in the South Stands (yes, I abandoned my West Stand seats again) I wasn't worried about which kits I saw; I was worried about the sea of empty seats.
The East Stands about 5 minutes before kickoff - everyone dressed up as a seat tonight!
I wish I could say that everyone was fashionably late but it seems as though the TFC faithful chose last night of all nights to stay away.  I don't get it; if there was ever a match to come to this season, this was it. The weather was pretty much perfect, it was an 8pm start (everyone has been clamoring for a later start time for the midweek games), if you bought the package for your tix it was actually quite inexpensive and this was a chance to see our Reds compete in the tournament outside of the Voyageurs Cup that could actually mean something.  Not to mention it was against the weakest side in our group so the chance of a victory was pretty damn solid. So it is disheartening to see that so many TFC fans stayed away last evening - the announced attendance of 5,324 comprised of at least 1,000 CDA/El Salvador fans which means that at best around 4,000 TFC fans came out to cheer on our Reds. I know that this has been a difficult season and that supporter apathy has been growing and I knew it would be a smaller crowd last night but I had mentally ball-parked 10,000 people - disappointed and mildly flummoxed is what I am.

But for those of us that did make it down to BMO we were treated to something that's never been seen before - FIVE goals and RJ getting a rest! It was a rout plain and simple and not even learning that the Aguila team had to spend the night in the Miami airport and only got to town this afternoon could take away from the very good game our Reds played.

The game started off with TFC looking energetic and much more awake than they did on Saturday - I took this as a good sign. And they came out firing; what we thought was the first goal was waved off as offside but that didn't matter as only minutes later Luis Silva unleashed a textbook header from a Frings corner kick into the left corner of the net - this was a seriously gorgeous goal - early happiness!  But they didn't let up - in what was his finest performance as a red Luis Silva (MOTM by a landslide) had a lovely little give and take with Reggie Lambe who easily slotted a perfect pass from Silva past the Salvadoran keeper - 2-0! Jubilation!

But our Reds sometimes just can't let go of old habits; in one of the evening's few miscues Milos misplayed - and by misplayed I mean completely failed - on a CDA free kick when he didn't control the initial kick allowing Yaikel Perez to easily put the rebound into the net. Much looking around and groaning amongst everyone; was this where the rails were going to fall off? Was TFC going to revert to their old tricks and fall to pieces?  Not on this night - mere minutes later Terry Dunfield (really, not making this up) used his knee to deflect a ball from Ashtone Morgan past the keeper. Game on! Celebrations everywhere as you could just feel that this was going to go well - Have I mentioned how much I love CCL games? - and after a minute of added time, it was time for a break.

Half time was spent discussing, OK more like thoroughly enjoying what had happened on the pitch.  We tried for some serious analysis which resulted in more talk of how we were dumbfounded by the lack of butts in the seats; getting a first hand account of the Milos miss from @wakingthered and @redwineroz who decided to come join us (abandoning the six people in their section) in the south stands for some silly fun and my thoughts on Wiedeman - has some speed, obviously wants to do well but he's trying to do too much. It was kind of like watching a puppy; he's not quite sure what to do with his feet at all times - this is where my ire at Avi's non-inclusion in the lineup begins to rise again...I don't understand why Mariner will not play him; surely he could have been one of the second half subs? 

Second half! We were all giddily predicting some crazy final scores at this point (I was hoping for 7-1) and almost immediately our Reds added to our glee.  As they continued to run around the hapless Salvadoran team Ashtone Morgan sent a long ball into the box that Lambe deftly sent just inside the left post - 4-1!  When was the last time you saw four goals at BMO; from the home team that is?  And then it happened - no, the heavens didn't open up; no one fell to injury - no, Ryan Johnson scored!  Seriously. And he did by keeping control of the ball and dancing around the fallen keeper and coolly slotting it into the right hand corner - have to admit that we all thought it was going to go wide but no, he kept his head and score! 5-1!!  FIVE goals; five. .a feat that has never been accomplished by our Reds at BMO. Just fantastic.

The rest of the half had us all hoping for a Reggie Lambe hat trick (and coming up with many, many sheep puns - see The Yorkies post-game in the links), getting into the Ole spirit of things as TFC strung together several (more than three is several) passes in a row and just being silly and giddy. Did I mention that RJ actually got subbed off?  RJ got a rest - must be one of the signs of the apocalypse.  I've said it many times; CCL play is just different - the vibe and the crowd (tiny but enthusiastic) make for an unforgettable experience.  The team played some very nice football and did not fall into old habits. And then there's Luis Silva; what a game he had. Just fantastic throughout the entire night - great movement, perfect passes, his influence was everywhere - Man Of The Match with no exception.  

This game should be a huge confidence builder for our Reds going into Chicago this weekend. They need to take their uncanny ability to do well in CCL play and translate it to MLS. It will be a sterner challenge but if Silva and Co. can come close to replicating the intelligent play that they showed last night then the Fire should be worried.  One final note from last night:

               Managed to get pretty much the entire song - we're enthusiastic if nothing else

You'll see in the video that a few more fans did trickle in but it does illustrate what 5000 people at BMO look like...sigh.  Oh and here's a few pictures too!

Link It Up Baby: The Yorkies, Waking The Red and Red Nation Online

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