Why Toronto FC?
For some time, I have tried to get into MLS* without much luck, not because I do not love the sport – I have been a lifelong football and Tottenham Hotspur fan (those two are not always mutually exclusive, I assure you) – but rather as I lacked any affiliation to a team. This was not an easy process however, I could not force the issue to pick any club, there had to be a compelling reason for me to support them. Of my other rooting interests, I have been a Tottenham fan as long as I can remember; picked the Green Bay Packers when I started following the NFL in the early 1990s as they seemed a good alternative to the star-studded Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers; and started watching baseball during the 1996 World Series, chose the Yankees as my team rather than the Braves, since New York was the city I wanted to live in one day. In all three cases, however I have come to support a club, once I am a fan I will not change my team, so I did not just want to pick a franchise randomly.
*One thing I have learned early on is not to refer to it as “the MLS” which makes sense as that would be “the Major League Soccer”.
Geographically, supporting NY Red Bulls made the most sense, but then they went and signed Thierry Henry as their star player, eliminating them as a contender for my support as I could not root for someone who was such a legend at Spurs’ most hated rivals, Arsenal. Inevitably, the connection had to come from Spurs and, during my time as a season ticket holder at Tottenham – from January 2002 until my move to Brooklyn in April 2007 – there were two diminutive strikers who ranked as the top two scorers I had seen in person for Spurs, Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe. Keane was the first of these two to move to Major League Soccer, but he joined the L.A. Galaxy who had become a super-popular team when David Beckham moved to them in 2007, so that felt like a full bandwagon on which to attempt to jump. There was a supposed theory that many Tottenham managers had that the two short strikers could not play together up front – a fact that I always disagreed with considering the regularity with which they banged in the goals when they first partnered each other in 2003 – but of the pair, I was always a bigger fan of Defoe and wanted him to start every match. When it was announced this January that the England forward would be moving to Toronto FC, I was gutted that he would no longer be a Spurs player – even though he was hardly getting a game in the league this season, I still felt confident in his ability to get goals whenever he made it onto the pitch. However, Defoe’s arrival in MLS meant that finally I had an allegiance to a team in the league – starting with the 2014 season I would be Toronto FC’s newest fan.
Grasping the Basics
I am completely aware that new fans to a club can be welcomed, but also treated with disdain by those who have been there for a while, which in the case of Toronto FC, can be since the start since the franchise was founded in 2006. However, for any die-hard U-sectors or Red Patch Boys, let me assure you that I am not taking this lightly and henceforth will be rooting for
your our team, even if Defoe ends up being traded or sold. I would recommend a reciprocal deal where Toronto FC fans could start supporting Tottenham Hotspur, but I am not sure you would thank me in the long run.
While I know the sport of football/soccer inside out, in order not to sound like an idiot when talking about MLS I needed to learn a few things about the league and in particular, Toronto FC. My first panic came when I realized I could not remember what their nickname was, thinking that it was going to be something like the Toronto Moose, so I was somewhat relieved when I search-engined it and found out that I had not forgotten it, rather they did not have one and it was simply Toronto FC. While this is classy and separates them from clubs that are named after an energy drink, it did get me wondering what nickname they could have used – my suggestions: Toronto Rob Fords (when you have a memorable Mayor you might as well use it); or the Toronto Floods (mainly because my one trip to the city last summer coincided with the heaviest storms in a century that led to a deluge of rain and provided the worst driving conditions I’ve ever experienced). The other thing I learned was that the team’s primary color is red, which gave me pause since that aligns them in my mind with Arsenal and, as I have already covered, any connection to them is not something that will endear me to a club. However, their home strip includes a Maple Leaf worked into the front which actually looks cool, so I will just try to forgo my negative feelings towards red and will only consider an away kit should I want to back up my newfound support with a purchase. Continue reading