2012 was not kind to TFC and its fans - hell the last 6 years haven't been kind - but as we've all spent ample time going over and over all of the errors, mistakes and screw-ups of football past, now it's well past time to move on.
As the resident optimist here at Waking The Red - seriously, I'm the optimistic one, which among our crew isn't saying much but I at least owned rose coloured glasses at one point - I want to suggest that everyone operate on the "it was all a dream (or nightmare), it was just a dream" concept for last year. While there is merit in the adage "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", there is also merit in the wise words of Monty Python:
Because there is a bright side to be looked at in the coming 2013 season for TFC and its fans; we still have a team. Hardly a revelation but it can't be discounted - we have a team that we get to go see on a regular basis. And based on the renewal numbers there are still a lot of us that are willing (happily or not) to head down to our windy home by the lake and watch whichever combination of players they come up with this year. Whether that has to do with the SSH price rollback to 2007 or an unwillingness to give up on your team (and I suspect it's a lot of the former with some of the latter mixed in) it's a positive sign nonetheless.
We finally have a president in Kevin Payne with MLS connections and profile; one that has years of involvement and respect within the league; a president that will hopefully be able to continue to draw players of a potentially higher calibre to our team. Whatever your thoughts on either of them, both Danny Califf and Arnold Peralta (still unconfirmed) represent a shift in the players this team goes after. And a president who presents himself well to the fans; who doesn't sneer at the media, who shows up to seat relocation events and who has an MLS championship ring or two (OK four) to call his own. See? We've got some pedigree now!
We've got a set starting backline with Ashtone Morgan, Darren O'Dea, Danny Califf and Richard Eckersley - is it an all-star defense? Probably not; is it an improvement over last year? Honestly how could it not be? With Milos Kocic off to the Timbers we know that Stefan Frei is back as our #1 keeper - after a year away he's going to be out to prove that he hasn't lost a step and can prevent our team from being the porous joke that is was.
What about the midfield and the forward line you ask? OK, fair question - those aren't exactly rock solid as of yet - but we've yet to go through the Super Draft and with Toronto FC holding the 1st and 3rd picks expect help to come either in the form of a trade for one (or both) of those picks or through the draft itself. If you haven't yet please read through Dave's excellent scouting series to find out what players TFC should be looking at.
This season may not be starting the way many had hoped in terms of personnel (both on and off the field) but I'm choosing to shelve my new found cynicism until MLS First Kick on March 2nd at the very least. Until then we've got the rest of the off season for more signings (Ryan Nelsen anyone?), the SuperDraft in less than two weeks, training camp and then everyone's favourite preseason tournament in Orlando to get through.
So deep breaths everyone - find your happy place, do meditation, drink to forget (oh wait, save that for the actual season), watch CCL highlight reels, start working on those chants for the new players - I'm serious about this one folks, we need some new songs! - remember what you used to feel like before each season started. I know that I'm asking a lot but what good does it do any of us to go into the season angry, cynical and disbelieving? I'm not saying you need to enter the realm of Stepford supporter (everything is AWESOME!) but the occasional smile or hand clap really won't kill you. And I can think of no better way to say goodbye to 2012 than this, from the always awesome East Side Stand Up: