It has been quite a distasteful eight years for the players and the fans of Toronto FC. When the franchise first entered Major League Soccer back in 2007, many people in and around Toronto were excited at the prospect.
It was obvious that soccer was one of the more lovable sports around the Greater Toronto Area and it is the most popular sport around the world. People come together, or in some cases battle against each other when the FIFA World Cup begins, so it seemed obvious that an MLS team in Toronto would draw in a solid fan base.
Unfortunately, there really hasn’t been much to cheer about since the team started playing. FC has missed the playoffs every year. There’s also been news circulating that the Toronto Argonauts, members of the Canadian Football League, will move into BMO Field – home of Toronto FC. This has been a point of major contention for soccer fans, as a football team would only ruin the soccer turf field. The team is now on its ninth head coach in eight years, which makes it tough to establish a winning culture.
Fans understood that the first years would be difficult as it always is for an expansion franchise. Still, for the first five seasons, FC had an average attendance of 20,261, a number that has quickly dropped over the last two years to the 18,000s.
Last year was supposed to be the big breakout for the franchise. They brought in big-name players such as Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley. For Defoe, his time in Toronto didn’t last. Some off-the-pitch drama led to Defoe leaving FC and heading back to his native England. Then came the firing of head coach Ryan Nelsen.
The 2015 season, however, has had a different vibe. FC is one of four teams in the Eastern Conference with positive goal differentials (+1). As of Monday night they sit fifth place with 37 points. First place D.C. United has 44 points, but have played two more games than Toronto.
Toronto has also replaced Defoe with arguably the best player in the MLS, Sebastian Giovinco. The midfielder has 17 goals (second in the league) and 13 assists (fourth in the league) in 25 games.
Recently, Giovinco suffered an adductor injury but the team doesn’t expect him to miss any time. He was already set to join Italy’s national team this past weekend. Jozy Altidore, who also had 10 goals has joined the USA national team for a short-period. The team expects to have all their players back in a short period of time.
There are eight games left on the 2015 schedule. The only thing is the Toronto Blue Jays are also on a quest for the playoffs and most of Toronto is focused on the baseball team. It has allowed FC’s season to fly under the radar but sometimes that’s for the best.
If both FC and the Blue Jays do make the playoffs, in addition to the Raptors who did so earlier this year, it’ll be the first time in history that three Toronto teams make the playoffs in one year. More importantly, if Toronto FC wants to gain fans back this is the most important stretch in the franchise’s history.