CCL Quarter Finals:Breaking down the Build up to the Big Game

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 22: Ashtone Morgan #5 of Toronto FC shakes hands with fans after a tie to New England Revolution during MLS action at BMO Field October 22, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Well the big day has finally arrived. We’ve been counting down the days every since that epic night against FC Dallas, and although it’s been a pretty quiet offseason for the Reds, it all starts back up again tonight.

Now the diehards and lifers have been breaking down the possibilities of this match for months. Where will it be played? Who will LA have back? Who will Toronto bring in? But another question that must be answered is if Toronto’s mainstream media provided a good enough build up for the game? Below the jump, I tackle several questions on how the build up to Toronto FC’s biggest game has been covered from a variety of angles.

Was there enough promotion done by the club leading up to the game?

I’d have to say no. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Toronto FC has always carried itself with a certain bit of confidence in the self promotion side of things. They understand that they have a solid group of loyal fans that search the internet daily on all the latest news for the club. So they know they can get away with not plastering the TTC with ads about the big game and still sell out the Rogers Centre. It still would have been nice to see them try to sell this game to the casual hockey/ basketball fans in Toronto that still complain about the lack of playoff games in the city.

As for the ads they did put out onto the radio, TV, and Print (Paper and Online), I would have to say they came across a tad cheesy. The Print ads were okay, as they took a rough, cut and paste look with Frings and Donovan at the centre of it. It was great to see ads for the tickets on ESPN.com, and other major soccer sites.

Unfortunately, the TV ads were really lacking. It looked like it was quickly thrown together by a TV station that covers TFC extensively (not naming names..), and consisted many of footage of the FC Dallas game, and random LA regular season games. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I was expecting some epic HD teaser. The ad that got me on board with TFC early on, was the intense BMO commercial of the supporters going crazy in slow motion. It had almost a 300 like feel to it, and it added to what it meant to be a supporter early on for the club.

It would have been great for MLSE to dip into their pocket a wee little bit, and produce at least one well done pump up advertisement.

The Big 3

Sportsnet has been crowned the clear cut winner for coverage by the mainstream sports media in the city for the game. Today, the big CCL clash is second in their top stories on the front page, which is pretty good (Guess who’s first? Hint he signed a new five year contract with Les Blues). Sportsnet has been publishing a great collection of video previews for the game, feature pieces, game previews, and they’re covering the game on radio and TV. They’re even going as far as including an interactive “Beckham camera” that you can follow along online during the broadcast. Now as cheesy as that sounds to the folks that could care less about Becks and more about Ecks, that still shows some major creativity and planning. Remember, we’re still trying to prove to the fence sitters that footy is cool, and this is a great way of targeting the newer soccer spectators.

There is a dramatic drop off in coverage once you get to TSN, who I put at second. TSN currently has no mention of the game anywhere on their front page, but they do have a TFC season preview in the links to the right of the top stories. Upon entering the soccer section of TSN, it gets a tad better, with a couple stories previewing the game. Unfortunately, there are only 2 videos to prepare Toronto soccer fans for easily the biggest soccer game in this city’s history.

And lastly, as much as it pains me to say this, TheScore finishes last in build-up and coverage of the game. As of 9:30 am this morning there is no mention of the clash at the Rogers Centre anyways on their front page. And if you scroll through the Footy Blog (easily my favourite soccer blog to go to in the morning), there’s only one post on TFC vs LA, and it’s at the very bottom of the page.

Now things could change, maybe TSN and TheScore are waiting until around noon to put up articles on tonight’s game, as that’s usually the case. But it still would have been nice for them to let fans know in advance, instead of having it on their mind for a day, and then moving on to puck and basket again.

MLSsoccer.com’s coverage

The League’s official site didn’t really start talking about Seattle or LA and Toronto’s games until Monday morning. Most of their attention went to over analyzing pre-season results that mean nothing. There’s not much more I can say about their coverage. It should have started a week before the games, and had a sort of countdown with features, video, and build up to some of the biggest game for their teams this season.

Real Sports Bar vs Croc Rock?

I’ll keep this section short. Real Sports Bar will be cool. It’s big, it will be packed, and MLSE will put on a show. I’m looking forward to the march to the match. Here’s hoping some supporters are at Real Sports Bar because it could be a very quiet march down Bremner. I’m hoping it’s not like the tail end of a RPB march where there’s casuals that want to be marching with the crowd but just quietly walk way behind so they don’t get verbally abused for not knowing simple chants.

My suggestion? Go to Croc Rock if you want to have a more authentic TFC pre game experience.

Extra Media Attention

And finally of note, there are some interesting little bonuses that are being added onto tonight’s game coverage.

Toronto FC is installing a 360 Fan Camera for the game, much like the one used during Oscar Cordon and Eric Avila’s keep up session. I think this is a super cool idea, and is another way to add to the hype of the game. It’s a great way to engage the fans, whose stomachs aren’t in knots after every TFC pass.

Also, it was great to see Stephen Brunt do a one on one sit 3 minute sit down with David Beckham. Brunt’s a great journalist, and it’s great to see him talking to Hazel Mae and others about why this game should matter to our city.

So what do you think of the coverage and build up for today’s game? Anything I missed? And where is everyone planning on going before hand? RSB or Croc Rock?

Whatever your answers are, make sure you really take a step back and savour the moment tonight. Think about it, TFC vs LA, sold out Rogers Centre, new season, Champions League Quarter Finals. That’s pretty cool.

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