Saturday, March 18, 2017

West coast road victory Whitecaps 0 Toronto FC 2

Although TFC came back west to my winter time zone, I did not travel to this one. If travelling from Tucson to Salt Lake City put me into the lunatic fringe, travelling from Southern California to Vancouver would have put me under observation. Or at least have bent both travel plans and matrimonial harmony.
So this weekend found me watching the game on my iPhone, from some mystery stream, while in a lawn chair at my camp site in Morro Bay State Park. Just for the weather envy crowd, high today was 19 C, down a bit to 18 C at time of writing. The sun has been making steady afternoon appearances after a mostly cloudy morning.
Now I am usually hesitant to share much when going off of a televised game. Amplify the hesitation when squinting at a phone screen.
It was wonderful to witness Toronto FC take advantage of a player being sent off. 2016 seemed to be the year where other teams laughed about going down in numbers against Toronto. Let's hope we have killed that for the new season.
Jozy Altidore continues to be a scoring star. Both his assist on the Vasquez goal and his own goal where examples of his making the most of the smallest of opportunities. No wonder defenders spend so much of their time wrestling with him.
So the three game road trip prior to the home opener ends with Toronto FC holding onto FIVE points and rolls into the end of March undefeated.

Plus a road victory grabbed while Giovinco recovers and rests up for BMO.

So I end with a shout out to some of the wonderful ladies in my life. To Sadie Tess, daughter extrodinaire, who will be sitting in the Kennedy seats in section 220 come the last Friday night in March (her being there cheers me up when I get gloomy about missing my first home opener) and Hindy, travelling superstar and Jozy fan who understands that devoted fan and blogger is not something I can turn off just because the California sun is shining.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A continent span away - Philadelphia 2 TFC 2

From the blogger/fan perspective, it was a week's journey from the heights to the depths.
Week 1 had me in the stands at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Week 2 found me in greater Los Angeles, fiddling with my ipad and finding wonky streams of the telecast out of Philadelphia. I understand that it was cold in Philadelphia. That might explain why my screen kept freezing.
So my usual hesitation to blog and expound upon a team's or player's performance from watching a televised game is amplified by the technical glitches.
It was good to see TFC score again. I felt that the first Philly goal was a moment of skill from the Union's Simpson. Getting his head onto a low cross was a surprising move. The second goal seemed to be a combo disaster. Not thrilled with Cooper's giveaways, he tries to dribble through impossible scenarios and expects too many calls. In the sequence prior to Philly scoring that second goal I felt that perhaps too many TFC players were expecting the foul call that never came. Then Sapong was allowed to saunter and Irwin came out towards the ball and then hesitated. Better to dive, attempting to get your hands onto the ball and miss, than not dive at all
The Giovinco injury has me thinking the TFC needs an enforcer. Cheyrou and Perquis in recent years have provided that grit. Now you can wipeout Toronto's star and play on with impunity. 

Early days in the season and TFC have a point from both road games. I am not hitting the panic button and the Giovinco injury could have been worse.
Rays of hope, but points to worry about.

Next weekend I am still in California and to make watching the Vancouver game (and blogging) a greater challenge, we are tent camping in a state park. Morro Bay is right on the Pacific Ocean in central California.
Stay tuned, the whitecaps I encounter may not be in uniform.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tiny, first steps on the long road RSL 0 TFC 0

It was great to be basking in the sunshine at a Toronto FC game today. We may have been skipping out on much of Ontario's winter this season with our trek through the southwest, but an offseason is still an offseason and it felt great to see the team take the field.
The stadium was Real Salt Lake's and the sunshine was beaming through the Utah air, but the season was on.

First half corner from Seba

Coach Vanney has been quoted musing about the process the players have to go through, the adjustments that must be made when playing your new season games while your head is still wrapped up in bouncing back from that Cup loss. Might be fair to say that fans and bloggers have their own process.
TFC took a point on the road today against a historically tough western conference opponent. Many a year such a result from the first game on the road would have been embraced as good news. I think instead fans (and players?) want a resounding smash victory. A game that will be the one that we wish had been presented as what TFC could achieve on that December Cup Final night.

Today was not that game.
Jozy Altidore and Seba Giovinco more concerned with pleading for calls that just weren't going to come than combining and creating.
Michael Bradley sitting back as Drew Moor's wall, shutting Toronto's door instead of destroying RSL's. 
Wrestling a point from RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium was efficiency, not banishing the wounds left from December.
I was impressed with Victor Vazquez's 30 minutes of play after coming on as a substitute. Still hard to decide what is TFC's best midfield alignment or starters, but Osorio is going to have a battle for playing time.

Let me sleep. I leave Utah in the morning, heading back to California via Nevada. Not sure if I can blog about the next games as it could be difficult to find them. Stay tuned.

On the brink of a new season and in the shadows of mountains

I'm in Utah!
driving north on Interstate 15,  for hours...

Tomorrow is the first game of Toronto FC's 2017 season and as usual Toronto begins the year with road games. Game 1 vs Real Salt Lake Saturday March 4th at 14:30 Mountain Standard time.
We have tickets and will be in the stands. The East Stands upper deck. Probably not on camera during the broadcast, but what else in new?

This was not part of some master plan. My wonderful wife and I have long been fans of the American Southwest and left Ontario in December to spend our first snowbird winter in Arizona and California.

Then the MLS schedule is released and that TFC season opener in Sandy, Utah looks attainable. We knew that we would be in Tucson, Arizona for the final days of February, so the March 4th date worked. Arizona is the next state south of Utah, so just hop over and see our TFC in action.

Back east, the state next door is a skip and a jump. The western "state onto the next state" drive, the leaving of Tucson on one morning - the Flagstaff to Salt Lake City the following is a scenic wonder (and a butt numbing marathon). Worry not, scenic fans, we took a break day and peeked at the Grand Canyon on our day off of the northern drift.

So here we sit in our hotel the night before Game 1 2017. 
Stay tuned. Will I change overnight from a travel geek and back into a TFC fan deluxe? As I said, stay tuned.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

MLS Cup morning after TFC 0 Seattle 0 - Seattle wins on penalty kicks

Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.

I would describe myself as more stunned about Toronto FC losing the Cup last night to Seattle than any other emotion. Frustrated and obsessed play their part too. This was not the way the season was supposed to end and it still hurts this morning.

I would congratulate and salute any Seattle player or fan today. I felt that way last night too. They did what needed to be done and Toronto could not score the goal required to put them away.

I will not say the better team won. The best headline I have encountered this morning was over on the MLS Soccer site
"Toronto FC left befuddled, shut out by "unspectacular" Seattle"

However, the extra time save by Frei, diving back and hand out to tip away Altidore's header from going in, has to be considered spectacular. It was the difference and kept Seattle alive.

I did say the night of the great victory over Montreal that should TFC win the Cup I would change the name of the blog to "By the Lake".

I was sorry to witness it, but mistakes were made last night. So the blog name stays.

What a season, what a playoff run.

TFC 2017 is just around the corner...

oh and thanks for reading.

May the holiday season lift your spirits and may a TFC related gift be under your tree...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

MLS Cup morning

Wow, baby, wow.
Until 2015, TFC had never had a post season playoff game.
Until 2016, TFC had never hosted a playoff game, nor won one, nor played any game in November.
So this morning I am wrestling with concepts that are boggling my little mind.
A TFC game in December.
Figuring out my ski clothes and my ski layers for- a game in December.

Working out a plan for Xmas shopping today that weaves around- a game in December.

Hoping I can send social media and email message reminders to all of my friends, acquaintances and family to remind them to watch on tv tonight- a game in December.
What is our parking strategy and travel plans for- a game in December.

Then if I try to take a further step and grasp just what this game in December is, the Cup Final. TFC in the Cup Final. Mind - boggled, but smile ever-present...
Reflecting upon the ten years cheering for this team, rooting for soccer to take it's rightful place in this part of the world. Knowing that the beautiful game, despite watching plenty of ugly TFC soccer over the years, can still make your dreams come true.
The first time I ever attended a sports event, we were living in south Parkdale and my father walked me over to the old Exhibition Stadium. It was so long ago, the stadium was considered new back then.
My dad has been gone for 24 years now. If I could have him back, magically, for just one day it would be today. I would say "Dad, soccer, the sport you loved, the sport of your childhood, the sport you taught me about, has taken off in Toronto like fireworks. And if you don't believe me, c'mon down to the CNE grounds."
Sure, I will worry about victory tonight and suffer/cheer as I always do. Yet by the fact that this Cup game exists, this December game exists, I feel that the gift has already been given and so gratefully received.

Go TFC...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

TFC's Cup ticket sale scatters the faithful

I know this is a classic first world problem.

But, I also feel that my section at BMO Field is more of my neighbourhood than my home neighbourhood. This might be partially due to having moved this past summer, but it rings true to me.

I have used this account as a reply to a blog post in the Vocal Minority and in a thread at the Red Patch Boys forum.

I felt there was little need to rewrite my tale of trying to buy tickets for the MLS Cup as a season seat holder since game 1....

Ok, here I am, able to testify to the bizarre day. 

Yes, Ticketmaster would not let me select my own seats or even my own section. 
I kept on trying to make the select again button reveal beloved Section 220 on their cursed best available tickets track. 

The site was suspecting I was a bot and I was selecting pictures with trees in them and getting nowhere. 

Yes, Ticketmaster shut me out.

 So when I logged in the fifth time and it gave me two seats in section 220 as my best available, I was in a panicked frenzy and grabbed them. Let me in, let me in, I’ll take anything I cried before I fell to the floor in front of my computer sobbing.

My dog came over to cheer me up.

So I have lost my section, row, seats. btw I think my seniority level amongst TFC season seats is awfully good, maybe in the double digits good. Put me amongst those first brave volunteers.

You would think that being a long timer would have saved me from this..

This banishment also cost me money – my 220 would have been 80 a seat, two sections over has me at 125 per seat.

The damned thing is that it was a huge Ticketmaster inability to deal with traffic (and, thinking about this Saturday morning, a total TFC/MLSE throwing thousands of loyal ticket buying fans to the relocation winds). 

Once I got on the phone to TFC and had the 45 minute wait I idly went back on to Ticketmaster and lo and behold now I could choose my section. I could not use my code anymore, could not buy another two tix at any price, but there were little buttons on my screen telling me that seats in the lower rows of 222 were available. Not my seats but close enough…

The trouble is bigger than just one ejection. I have been in email contact with a few section 220 neighbours and we have been spewed all over. So it not as if I can swap my pair with the folks who will find themselves amongst new faces.

 The aspect that I think TFC front office never grasps is that our section is our soccer neighbourhood. You could offer me the swankiest seats in the place and I would turn them down in an instant. Being at the game involves being with people who know my name, greet me with a smile. I send these wonderful people Xmas cards for heaven’s sake.

I should still be on a “reached the Cup Final” high. Not be feeling that I have been both evicted AND had my party shut down.