Photo: Oh no! Strips of red and white paper. (Paul Giamou/TorontoFC.ca)
In retrospect, that match Wednesday night could have been played at BMO Field but even before the opening whistle that no longer mattered.
Toronto FC supporters and fans took to Rogers Centre from the outset of the Champions League quarterfinal against LA Galaxy with the familiarity of a newborn to water. The pageantry, from supporters setting up their gorgeous banners and waving hand crafted flags to the less involved, but equally committed fans painting the other three corners of the stadium red with their presence, it was a sight that likely appeased the harshest cynics in Canadian soccer.
Football was celebrated properly at the Rogers Centre and it was the kind with a round ball. Every TFC fan should be proud.
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The pride was slightly dented in the final minutes though, when a beer can aimed at David Beckham seemed to charge the Englishman on to deliver a perfect corner kick into the area. The ball via Edson Buddle’s head, found the foot of Landon Donovan for the heartbreaking 2-2 equalizer that puts Toronto at an away goals disadvantage heading into the second leg next Wednesday in Carson.
Although I don’t believe the strike had anything to do with beer-can karma, I certainly hope the person who launched the projectile woke up Thursday morning feeling embarrassed. The action is thoroughly condemned. However, one regrettable act from a crowd of nearly 48,000 isn’t something that should make Torontonians hang their heads. Even Beckham admitted it was a singular "minority" inside great atmosphere.
And speaking of throwing, throughout the evening the @torontofc twitter account fielded complaints from mostly American and some local observers unaccustomed to TFC ways on streamers. Personally, I enjoyed them. Here is one area where CONCACAF has it over MLS in that fans have the right to use home field advantage in a mostly harmless fashion.
In Latin America, where streamers are commonplace, far more unsavoury (and imaginative) objects than dollar-store bought strips of paper are aimed at set-piece takers. If this match had been held in Central America where many CCL matches are staged, instead of streamers LA’s glamour might’ve had to encounter bodily fluids in plastic bags. Streamers are more sanitary. You are welcome, Los Angeles.
As for Toronto’s performance, much has been written about it (here, here, here and everywhere). It wasn’t perfect but the club is miles ahead of its March 2011 construct. The team knows where and when it lacked focus Wednesday night and will look to rectify it in next week’s return leg in California.
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