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TFC 2010 | Week#8

No Friendlies For TFC?

Nobody Wants Us

It's the waiting that hurts...

Manchester United and Celtic are playing in Toronto this summer, but neither team is lining up against Toronto FC. They’re not even going to play at BMO field. Such is the draw of Man U that grass will be laid at the Rogers Centre and the Red Devils alone would probably pull in enough fans to fill the joint. The same plan to install grass at the dome will bring in Italy’s Juventus to play Serie A rivals Fiorentina as well. Not surprisingly, the Man U announcement this past week generated lots of buzz, and both matches are unquestionably good news for the game in our town.

It started me worrying, though, because I can’t help but think about how there hasn’t been any mention of Toronto FC’s international friendlies this season. Some big name clubs are visiting North America this year in addition to the four named above. From South America, Brazil’s Cruzeiro and Argentina’s Boca Juniors are touring. From Europe, the EPL’s Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur will play here, along with stoppovers from Italy’s AC Milan, France’s Paris Saint-Germain, Poland’s Legia Warsaw,  Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade and Scotland’s Rangers. None of them, however, are playing against TFC.

Well, we can’t blame SARS. That’s so 2003. I just can’t come up with any other plausible explanation for holding out for so long on these announcements. The pessimist’s view is that we are booking games against such unknown opponents that we’re embarrassed to issue the press releases. Possibly, it’s a case of waiting for a deal to be done with another really big name side. Bring on Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter Milan or Barcelona! However, as the roster of such games gets filled out for MLS teams this summer, it starts to seem strange that we haven’t heard anything. Surely, there’s a South American side coming our way for one of the games this year. TFC could be fishing farther afield for something outside our hemisphere and outside of Europe, like a team from Asia. South Korea’s Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma? It’s also possible they blew this year’s budget on bringing Real Madrid here last year.

I know the friendlies are ultimately insignificant and inconsequential, but for me they’ve always symbolized the power of professional soccer to connect Toronto with the wider world. There isn’t another pro sport in our city that can call on such diverse and far reaching connections across the globe. For that reason alone, I look forward to seeing these games and communing with the fans drawn to watch them. I could care less about outcome.

The worst case would be if Toronto FC can’t find any friends willing to play an exhibition match in Toronto. That would be a disappointment and a shame. I presume this is just a matter of waiting for deals to be signed before PR jumps in. And so, day in day out, I struggle with giving TFC the benefit of the doubt on this process. Of course, I also check Toronto FC’s breaking news almost constantly.

Perhaps today, with DC United calling off their friendly with the Rangers, Mo could make a few phone calls to his old employers and bring them north for a short dance. Surely, they owe him that much.

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