So this is how the season ends - yet again with a whimper instead of anything even approaching a bang. Unless you're looking into the future when the club gets blown up again.
So what to write about this particular match? I wish I was writing about the excitement of our last home game of the regular season; about facing our rivals from la belle province; about our upcoming playoff game - honestly I just wish that I was writing about a game that didn't feel like a (yet another) death march to the end of a demoralising season. For a true tactical breakdown, please read James' excellent piece here - as for me, I'm going to ramble my way through some thoughts - basically my usual preview.
Eight years I've stood in those stands with many of you and had my emotions turned inside out as our Toronto FC time and again briefly convince us that this time it will be different; until the annual crumbling to pieces. And where will I be today? Same place I always am - standing with my friends in the stands, using gallows humour to get through another game. Even though at my core I am still an optimistic soul (really, I swear), certain that one day they'll be the team that we all want - it is all too easy to give into the cynicism that quite frankly makes it easier to endure a season with TFC.
So what is there to be optimistic about for today's match? Other than it's the last home match until next May? Umm - well, that's a tough one. I won't go on about how the team is still mathematically in the hunt for the playoffs or how the team has improved itself this year (although amidst all the nonsense they are a better team, really) - because there's little point to focusing on that today. Honestly I'd settle for watching some effort from the entire team instead of what we've had to watch for much of the last month or two.
Instead we have our Reds playing their final home game in front of bitterly disappointed fans without two of their high priced DPs - Michael Bradley of course is out for yellow card accumulation and then yesterday came the news that Jermain Defoe had reaggravated (never fully recovered from?) his groin injury and also would not play (and likely never will again in a TFC kit). That my friends is a bloody big disappointment; yet another failed attempt to make the sizzle more important than the steak by MLSE and the TFC braintrust (using that loosely).
So we've got a thousand or so Impact fans expected to be packed into the west stands as the return favour of the huge travelling support that Toronto sent to Montreal last year. Boy I hope no one wrecks my seats that I'm never in *waves to old seats* but are also right above the Kings In The North - could be all sorts of rivalry laden fun to be had! See, a positive!
Regardless it's a much larger group of Impact supporters on hand to potentially watch their team bring Toronto's season to an end. Cause that'll be super fun. But we'll all be watching a team missing three starters, the leading goal scorer, the guy that controls the midfield and well it'll be a starting eleven full of guys that don't normally play together. Fun!
What I am looking forward to today is getting to see Gilberto play - possibly for the last time if some twitter rumours are to be believed. But I've enjoyed watching him play all season (even when he's being Gil instead of Gilberto), and he's obviously starting in the absence of Defoe and will be paired up with Luke Moore. The duo has done well together this year so if goals are to come for the Reds it's likely to be from these two.
As for the rest of the line up? Well other than Doneil Henry (stepping in for the suspended Nick Hagglund) starting next to Steven Caldwell, there's the question of the midfield - who's out there? Is it Collen Warner and Kyle Bekker? *shudder* Does Dwayne De Rosario get a (likely last) chance to start in front of the hometown crowd? Maybe.
So what's going to happen? If you strip away all the drama, the circus, the ridiculous nature of our club and this season and well it actually is a winnable game for Toronto. Montreal doesn't have a very good team, Marco Di Vaio has been a shadow of himself from last season and coach Frank Klopas has been treading on thin ice for pretty much the entire season.
Toronto is probably going to win (and Columbus will lose), just to keep our hopes - tragically, agonisingly - up for one more week. After Di Vaio and Issey Nakajima-Farran have scored, Gil will bag a brace and DeRo will score the winner. We'll all go off into the evening to celebrate and have a few drinks and try to not think about the tear down that's likely coming in the off season.
So when I say it's been fun seeing you all before, during and after games I am sincere. It's one of the reasons many of us still go - not to watch our nightmare of a team - but to watch them with our friends and share the nightmare together. Here's to one more go round - see you in the stands; happy, angry, bitter, sarcastic or still hopeful. One last time at home - Come On You Reds.