The 2nd Home Opener
Thinking ahead to the game Wednesday evening at BMO Field versus FC Dallas made me realize that more than anything else, this matchup feels to me like a second home opener. The first game versus Portland was one hundred & sixteen days ago. More than 30 degrees in temperature separate both days. Yet there are just about two completely different teams on the pitch that are suiting up for Toronto FC.
Each of the five home openers I have experienced up to now supporting this club have been days filled with hope and with rapt interest towards the new players on the field. Whether it was Carl Robinson whipping in balls to Danny Dichio, or Laurent Robert scoring a great free kick, or DeRo popping a brace against Philly, or yes Javier Martina scoring his brace versus Portland, they were all memories that filled me with what was possible more than anything else.
And with five years now of no playoffs and not much overall success to call our own it is the feeling of what was possible that makes games like home openers feel just a bit more special than just another run of the mill weekday evening game in the sweltering heat of late July.
Six new players may feature at some point Wednesday evening, including for the first time perhaps the two most highly paid players in the history of the club. And in Torsten Frings the Reds have a player with arguably the best pedigree of any of the hundred odd players that have already worn the TFC kit. Danny Koevermans is being billed, to use a TFC friendly analogy, as a faster stronger more skilled Danny Dichio type who might be just the type of player to score bunches of goals in this league. And I have not even mentioned the new striker from San Jose, the journeyman from Vancouver or the centre back & midfielder from Columbus, who all might feature this evening. The starting XI on display today is far better than what it was ten days ago in Houston.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Not every home opener has had a good outcome for TFC. Seattle and their Swedish DP ruined my day back in 2009 as did Eddie Johnson way back in 2007 with Kansas City. And tonight in FC Dallas the Reds face one of the very best clubs in all of MLS. Dallas have not lost at BMO Field since their 4-0 drubbing back in July 2007. In the last ten games they have played Dallas have only lost twice. They have scored nine more and conceded seventeen less goals then TFC have. They have a solid 3-3-2 away record which is one of the best in the league and Dallas of course came within a whisker of winning the MLS Cup last season.
So as I don my gear and head to the south stands tonight I go there with really not a lot of expectations for a result. What I do go there with are thoughts of what is possible. Perhaps this is finally after five long season the real beginning for this club. Perhaps this game is the game that sees TFC finally turn the corner towards respectability in MLS.
Or it might turn out to be nothing more than just another game.
But I am hopeful that Frings, Koevermans, Iro, Dunfield or Johnson might surprise us tonight with a moment that will last in our collective memories long after the actual result of the game does.