Redemption is red. At least that is what Toronto FC are telling their fans. Winter is here in Toronto but the footballing atmosphere in the city is red hot. Last season Seattle Sounders won MLS Cup right here in the Great White North. If not for a wonderful save from former-TFC keeper Sebastian Frei, MLS Cup would have been in Toronto’s hands. Now it’s time for Toronto to take back their cup.
The build up to MLS Cup has been intense. It’s very clear that the club wants to build more bridges with their already incredible fanbase. There have been a number of fan events all over the city. We were lucky enough to attend an event organized by XTSC and Steve Gennaro with special guests Jozy Altidore and Tosaint Ricketts.
We were particularly excited to see how Jozy’s ankle was doing after he went off injured in the Eastern conference final vs Columbus Crew. That performance was indeed heroic. A few minutes earlier, Altidore had almost gone off with an ankle injury but instead soldiered on to score the winner. Altidore redeemed himself in this match after losing his cool in a confrontation with Sasha Kleijstan in the Eastern Conference semi-final vs New York Red Bulls.
Last year, Toronto FC’s players were restricted in terms of interviews and fan events they could attend. Maybe that created an environment of pressure. Here, the openness was appreciated by all parties. Fans were delighted that they could get face time and interact with their heroes. 10 years ago such an event would not have been as well-attended – hell, it probably wouldn’t have even happened.
It’s further proof that the city of Toronto is now a football city and Canada is very close to becoming a football country. Toronto FC’s success is beneficial to the upcoming Canadian Premier League (CPL) and local interest will only continue to grow if the Reds bring the trophy home. That caused us to ask Canadian star Tosaint Ricketts if he’d be interested in playing in the CPL in the future, and Ricketts gave an encouraging response:
“As a player you want to play at the highest level as long as you can. Maybe there will be a day where that level is suitable for me and I would love to play there.”
Photo credit: Amara Nwaroh-Uche
Jozy Altidore has gone through a lot this year with the failure of the US Men’s national team to qualify for World Cup 2018 and his red card against New York Red Bulls. There’s no way that the classless race and religion-based chanting from the Red Bulls fans wouldn’t have affected his mindset leading up to the sending-off. So, it was no surprise when we asked Altidore what his favorite goal for Toronto FC was and he responded:
“The one against the Red Bulls in the 3-3, that goal. Nothing to do with the Red Bulls fans, we were 3-1 and it was a good goal to help us come back.”
By that goal he meant the free kick he scored to make it 3-2 before scoring his second and TFC’s third to equalize.
It should be noted that Altidore was visibly in discomfort due to his ankle injury but he assured fans that he would be ready for MLS Cup. As will Tosaint Ricketts, Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Victor Vazquez.
We had a great night with the players and everyone is hoping that the next time the fans and players get together like that it’s to party and celebrate an MLS Cup victory.