By Avry Lewis-McDougall
Absence makes the heart grow fonder as someone once said many moons ago (I know, I know, this is 2nd article in a row where I’m horribly mangling old sayings) and for Toronto FC and their home fans this is true.
For the 2nd season in a row due to renovations to BMO Field which by the way looks spectacular and will also now play host to the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts the Reds have had to start the season with a lengthy road trip but the 2016 opening has been just a tad bit different to 2015’s results and point wise….how exactly? Let’s take a little bit of a look into things.
The 2015 start
Roster wise Toronto FC made the most noise in terms of major moves by bringing in USMNT vets Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley with the most stunning splash coming in the form of 28 year old Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco coming across the pond from Juventus.
-After winning their first game of the road trip in Vancouver they’d drop four straight games but finish with two wins over expansion side Orlando City SC and the Philadelphia Union.
-Sebastian Giovinco wouldn’t score until the fourth game of the road trip, a 3-2 loss in Chicago against the Fire but would end it leading the team in scoring with four goals.
-In terms of goals scored and goals conceded, Toronto allowed 11 while putting home 11 of their own.
The 2016 start
-Roster turnover once again was the theme of the off-season as the new #1 GK is Clint Irwin who came over from the Colorado Rapids, Canadian midfielder and two time MLS All Star Will Johnston was acquired via a trade with the Portland Timbers, and defenders Steven Beitashore and Drew Moor from Vancouver and Colorado respectively.
-In their eight games on the road TFC would fail to pick up a point in only three of those games.
-Giovinco would score six times on the road trip and currently sits second in league scoring as San Jose’s Chris Wondolski and Portland’s Fernando Adi are tied for the lead with 7 goals each.
-In net, and defensively in general Toronto is a much stronger team and they have given up the least amount of goals so far, only allowing seven in MLS play.
The start has shown that Greg Vaney’s bunch are on a mission to not just sneak in the backdoor of the playoffs but also make serious noise come playoff time. TFC sits in third in the Eastern Conference with only Philly and the Montreal Impact ahead of them.
Saturday night, BMO will be rocking there’s less than 10 seats available for Saturday night, not a bad sign that things probably will be hostile for FC Dallas. After finishing as the Western Conference’s best team, Dallas once again is off to a great start, currently sitting third in the conference and being led by Michael Barrios who has four goals on the year and Maximilano Urruti is 5th in the league with 33 shots and fifth in shots on target with 13.
Dallas leads the league in shots on target with 54 and only New York City FC shoots more than the squad from Frisco Texas as they have 154 compared to the 151 of Dallas. Expect Clint Irwin to be kept busy on Saturday.
There’s a different feeling around this TFC team among many. The page has turned on a team that struggled to get big results over the years, don’t believe me?Just head to Twitter and punch if the hashtag #ThatsSoTFC to dig deeper into that and check out how it’s usage has dropped. This weekend is going to be electric and what better way to say “welcome back” to your fanbase by picking up 3 big points in front of 30,991 strong?