TFC v Benfica
Ronne O'Brien and TFC played Benfica in 2007

I liked them once, at least for a while, but not anymore I don’t.

Back when TFC was new and back when my season ticket package contained a blank ticket for the “Carlsberg Cup” with the opponent listed as TBD (To Be Determined) and back when results did not matter as much as they do now after five seasons of relative futility, it was exciting to see Aston Villa rather than just on TV! It was great seeing Bolton too and it felt kind of exotic to see Independiente. And I have to confess that it was especially cool seeing one of my footy favourites (Rui Costa of Benfica) in the flesh before he hung up his cleats. And not getting dinged extra for the privilege certainly had to be a factor in our collective enjoyment of those matches as well.

But the Real Madrid thing soured it for me. Not only were many thousands of supporters priced out of the building for the Madrid Friendly (face value seats of well over $100 per person were the average if I recall) and not only that the team decided to move a competitive league match to accommodate the Galacticos that eventually led to the team essentially choosing to put spectacle over success in the league on that specific occasion.

Previously Ronnie O’Brien (an early favourite of mine) had his promising season snuffed out back in 2007 when he injured himself  in a friendly. I was willing to forgive and forget that unecessary accident considering that I did not expect much from an expansion side in year one results wise. But ask yourselves this question, would you forgive and forget a Joao Plata or a Torsten Frings for example getting injured against Liverpool this summer in another meaningless friendly?

Because if reports are to be believed Toronto FC is going to play another friendly against Premier League side Liverpool later this summer reportedly at the Rogers Centre. And the move earlier this season to reschedule a home game to September is now likely being done to accommodate Liverpool’s schedule.

And even if the club take the business lessons learned from the excellent job they did with the LA Galaxy Champions League game at the Dome (low enough prices to fill the stadium, good promotion of the event, giving the supporters groups/season ticket holders an advance window to purchase) I for one do not intend to go and I would encourage you all to join me in not giving this type of thing any support or further encouragement.

And the old argument that these types of events/spectacles increase the number of TFC supporters and may even increase the TFC fan base over the long term is a load of tired crap as well. Seeing the Real Madrid or Liverpool scrubs demolish our club only perpetuates the stereotypes that many fans of European clubs and the European club game have about TFC and about the league over here, namely that is it a second class team in a crappy little league not worthy of anything more than their collective snobbery.

Anything that gets in the way of the results for this team in the league after five seasons of the dreck we as paying customers have had to endure should be vigorously shouted down.

If TFC wants to bring Liverpool here to play another team from Europe or South America then I am fine with that, but having the Reds involved in nothing more than a cash grab that actually has the ability to impact negatively on what we all want for this club, namely SUCCESS IN THE LEAGUE, would be a huge mistake and a gross misjudgement of what the die hards that have been there since the start and who will be there when the winning eventually comes, actually want.

I get that Toronto FC is a business and that they need to turn a profit, but grabbing for extra dollars in such a callous way against the wishes of your most dedicated customers would only make what has been a bad period for this team much much worse.

8 comments

  1. mike parkdale

    Very much agreed. Right now the only ‘extra’ game that should matter is the first round of the playoffs.

    The best thing to come out of the Real Madrid game was Gabe Gala scoring. The kid deserved at least one highlight, and that was it for him from TFC

  2. Well said.
    Club surely will make profit from selling HG/Academy player, one day?

  3. @emigre, One sweet day, far, far away…

    I typically enjoy the enthusiasm friendlies contribute to the soccer environment not just for TFC fans but for the the “GTA/Ontario” catchment area that I am sure is the business priority (the sell out, sell up model) BUT I have to wholeheartedly agree with you here.

    I did NOT go to the Real Madrid match, did I want to see them – yes, did I want to pay $100 for the privilege…. forget about it. Moreover it crammed the business end of the season to the point where we wrongly had to choose between post-season league playoff success or CCL. *the decision made for us through dubious team selection and match tactics in the league anyway *note congested schedule.

    Will they want to make a buck/ increase exposure with their new Rogers Centre formula??? We all know the answer to that!

    The question is at what risk to the teams overarching goals will they allow such a game to happen? Injuries and fatigue are huge down the stretch with us. The margins for league success are so tight it will most certainly impact the schedule and preparedness for games that count.

    It will all come down to the timing – and they had best know it before putting our team to pen and paper.

  4. Dave Henderson

    Sure it ain’t looking like TFC will even make the playoffs once again! Even as a very logical TFC supporter, I can see having played 5 and lost 5 already the team ain’t going anywhere very soon. If anything, some injuries would force the team to get some new players in which is obviously needed at this point or a change of game plan.

    In directly, allowing players to play against the best players in the world educates them and allows them to learn and perform better in the future. Success in the league seems like a hard thing to come by, our expectations are based on watching other quality European teams hence the reason for our heightened expectations of how the team should perform. There again, loosing 5 from the start is hardly playoff form. Hopefully Winter will turn it around, Toronto deserves a playoff and championship competing team.

    Lets please remember that one of the reasons we supporter TFC is based on supporting other from places of our birth, Liverpool has a huge fan base in North America, friendlies are a logical path to show young and old supporters their favourite teams outside of North America. Bring on the Pool at BMO Field even if it’s against an Academy team. I doubt they’ll field an inexperienced team. YNWA

  5. This brings the total number of blogs on this topic from Toronto-based writers to 5. Not bad for a completely unfounded “news” story.

    I can’t wait until the day our writers have something real to write about rather than constantly weighing in on rumours.

  6. Friendlies always remind me of that day in highschool when the Toronto Argos came to embarrass our teachers at a game of basketball. It was a self-deprecating fund raiser for the school.

  7. I gotta say, the comments from the fans and facebook superstars regarding this friendly are hilarious in a “I don’t believe you people” kind of way.

    First of all, lets get the pink elephant out of the room. Whether many of us have realized it or not, we are frustrated due to TFC’s horrid start this season.
    In light of our Champions League success, fans were hopeful that this momentum would carry us through the season. Instead, we saw our fifth loss against a team that we could have and should have beaten.
    It’s not because Liverpool is coming to town, its not because we’re not playing at Rogers Centre, it’s not due to ticket prices. It’s because we suck, it hurts and we need scapegoats, because bringing our frustration to the team feels somehow wrong.

    From facebook conversations it’s pretty clear that the south stands are full of hypocrites. I say that because whenever some disgruntled fan says “omg I can’t believe we lost again, never coming out to a tfc game again”, there are those who jump on that and say “we don’t need you anyways”, “you were never a real supporter”, etc. Then these same ‘real supporters’ lament “zomg I hope no one goes to this friendly, it means nothing and we don’t need it”. It seems some of us want to appear super loyal and idealistic, but really appear hypocritical and inconsistent.

    True fans should be forever loyal, yes, but the team is not untouchable. It is OK to demand better performance, heckle players, coaches, managers and owners when they deserve it. That doesn’t seem to be the attitude in Toronto where it’s ok to suck because there’s always next season (that’s why ACC is packed whenever Leafs play, despite permanent mediocrity). I hate MLSE as much as the next guy, but MLSE hasn’t changed between last season and this one, so I think we should realize we can’t pin crappy season start on them.

    This statement I find in particularly interesting: “Seeing the Real Madrid or Liverpool scrubs demolish our club only perpetuates the stereotypes that many fans of European clubs and the European club game have about TFC and about the league over here, namely that is it a second class team in a crappy little league not worthy of anything more than their collective snobbery.” Stereotype? Do you mean they’re wrong? Looking at what TFC has accomplished and how they’re playing this season, I would say that is not a stereotype, it’s a fact. It saddens me as much as it does you, I just tend to call things by their proper name despite the humiliation. European clubs play AT LEAST cup(they’re cup is not like voyageur cup where the whole tournament is 4 games long) and league during a normal season. Those participating in continental tournaments often play every three days on the fourth at the height of the season. All those games mean something, all those games require that team puts out. We can’t pick up an extra friendly in the middle of our season, and you don’t want to perpetuate the image that we’re second-class? Seriously?

    SUCCESS IN THE LEAGUE? Wishful thinking, I also hold it dear. We went into a five-game losing streak, do you think we’re going to rebound in some sort of 80-s college sports movie fashion and start winning all our games? I’d love that. However miracles do not commonly occur, and more likely we’ll gradually even out the game by winning some home games, tying some away games, arriving at some sort of decent shape by September. We are not, at this point competing for anything other than our first win of the season. Had we been point-to-point for the first place in our conference, the argument about extra goals would stand, otherwise it does not. We’re extremely lucky there is no second league to be relegated to, because we’d be ‘competing’ to stay in this one.

    By the way, how about pulling morgan, de Guzman and whatever other tfc callups from Team Canada’s matches against US and Honduras in June? How come no one is exploring that idea under the banner of “thou shall not hurt our club goals”?(last statement is intended as mockery, I’m not actually seriously proposing this)

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