The boys are back!
Toronto FC will kick-off its 14th season tonight in Mexico against Leon in the Concacaf Champions League. In many ways this is both the most anticipated and least anticipated TFC season in years.
I say most because there’s a new coach in charge and a feeling that a new era is beginning. Yet, there’s enough connection to the old (successful) era that many still believe that Toronto can be a championship contending team.
As far as least goes…well, there’s that nasty little virus hanging around that makes it difficult to get truly pumped up for things. As of right now, Toronto fans do not know when they will be able to see their Reds again. It’s going to depend on how fast Ontario can jab people’s arms.
I could take the time here to explain why it’s reasonable to hope that some degree of normality could be here by July, but it’s easy to understand how that message will be difficult to absorb on a day that sees Ontario enter its third stay-at-home order of the pandemic.
So, it’s understood if you can’t get fully excited until you know they are coming home.
As much as the overall season excitement is hard to peg down, the interest in the CCL is even more difficult.
That has to do with a total lack of belief that TFC can possibly get a result tonight. That might be true, but the last time the Reds went into a CCL game with this low of expectations David Beckham was in town.
That turned out ok.
For the record, I share the general pessimism about TFC’s chances in this one. There’s just too many strikes against them. They are in pre-season form, playing one of the most talented teams in the region and there are injury concerns for at least two of your biggest pieces – Pozuelo and Akinola are both out tonight.
And Jozy is always a worry.
So, yeah, it’s also fair to be pessimistic about tonight.
One thing we don’t know is what the team is thinking about any of this. Publicly, they are always going to say the right things, but internally you have to think that they are at least partially reluctant to fully buy in.
They remember what happened to the season in 2018, after all. I know some fans don’t want to hear this -- or insist on denying reality – but, the season is more important than the CCL. It just is. No one remembers TFC’s 2018 season as a success and if you are about to post in the comments that you do then, sorry, you’re trying too hard.
TFC’s run to the 2018 final was an extension of the 2017 season, not the start of the 2018 year. The moment the last penalty was missed was the moment that the debt from the championship run had to be paid back.
It was worth it then because TFC had a legit chance to win the competition. Can you say the same thing about this year? Can you really?
If you can’t then would it be a bad thing to treat these two games as good preparation opportunities to start the 2021 MLS season off right?
Can you tell where I stand by the questions I’m asking?
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