TFC 2012

Bound For Glory?

Toronto FC’s 2012 campaign begins at home less than a week from now with a Champion’s League match against the LA Galaxy. The Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup winning Galaxy are determined to advance and prove themselves on the world stage. The winner of this home and away series enters the final rounds of the CONCACAF Champion’s League. The end goal, however, is a trip to the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup.

Some are claiming this is why David Beckham chose to stay on with the Galaxy. I’m sure the weather in Southern California didn’t hurt either.

Our home town side had a very different season in 2011. New management and a nearly wholesale restocking of players crushed our dreams of quick rebirth. Most of us won’t want to discuss how Toronto FC managed to earn league’s worst record for goals allowed. Yet, the season ended positively, with two new designated players from Europe and an undeniable improvement on the pitch.

While their MLS campaign faltered, the Reds still found a berth in the Champion’s League. Advancing from Canada was one thing, but graduating past the next stage was a definite achievement. Next week’s match was earned by surviving home and away series in Central America and, most importantly, by defeating a self-assured FC Dallas when all the chips were on the table.

Tonight, though the hoopla will be minimal, TFC again will face FC Dallas. It may be a meaningless pre-season competition hosted by Disney in Florida, but one has to imagine this one will be more of a real contest than the past few matches. If FC Dallas underestimated Toronto FC the last time the teams met, you can bet they’ll be entering this match a little wiser.

TFC supporters have already started the hand-wringing and blame blathering based on the two matches they’ve recently played in Florida. In my opinion, it’s a bit early for this hysteria. Yet, with a Champion’s League match looming and a steady rival across the pitch, who isn’t sizing up TFC’s 2012 moxy for real tonight.

It remains to be seen if Aron Winter will field an ‘A’ squad in Orlando. He may see the tournament more as live scrimmages. If there’s any further drama to stoke from tonight’s match, it has to be that the winner goes on to play an undefeated Vancouver Whitecaps side. Who wouldn’t want to see that final on Saturday?


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