If things continue like this Toronto FC are going to have to spend even more money: compensating fans for all the water they will have spewed over expensive electronics. After one game, at least, a bloody big deal is an understatement.
Jermaine Defoe beat Stefan Frei twice in Toronto FC's season opening 2-1 win against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. Clint Dempsey had the lone goal for the home side. The 31-year-old Englishman put his finishing abilities on full display, scoring both in the first 25 minutes of the match.
In fact, 31 might be the number of the game for Toronto FC. Aside from the age of their newly beloved striker it was also the measly amount of position they carried during the game, 31.8% to be exact. Furthermore, it was about the amount of minutes in this game in which Seattle did not completely dominate them.
From the outset it looked like this would be the game most were expecting: a disorganized Toronto FC side being dominated by a Sounders team with many advantages: turf, home field and having already played a regular season game together. Seattle's midfield controlled the game right from the start, showing flashes of brilliance as they created attack after attack.
But there was one common theme in these attacks: very few of them reached the net. That was the difference in the game, and one that has rarely favoured Toronto in the past. TFC made the absolute most of their chances, Seattle did not.
During those 31 or so minutes in which Toronto were in the driver's seat it was some of the most exciting football the team has ever played. The reds went straight for goal on almost every occasion, rarely bothering with sideways or backward passing.
Alvaro Rey was crucial in driving the ball forward, once again proving that he can take on just about any defender in the league. Jonathan Osorio played a fantastic ball to Jermaine Defoe for the first goal goal and was otherwise very sturdy. The only player who didn't shine in the midfield was Jackson who seemed to have accidentally put steel toes in his boots as every touch was way too heavy. But even in his play the potential was evident, and his feistiness certainly added something.
Then came Michael Bradley, the player of the game if not for the two goal heroics Defoe provided. At both ends of the pitch Bradley was in form, challenging players all over the pitch and distributing the ball confidently. He played his part in Defoe's second goal: forcing the horrid back-pass from Marco Pappa. He won't make the headlines, but this is exactly why the supporters were so excited when he was brought in. He was subtly sensational.
The backline, the biggest question before the season, was fairly solid. Obafemi Martins exposed them on more than a few occasions, and Mark Bloom and Bradley Orr's right side provided Dylan Remick with plenty of space to make crosses, especially in the second half when the Sounders were pressing. But ultimately for the amount of possession Seattle had they reached the goal very rarely. Caldwell, Henry and especially Morrow all had fantastic games. When the ball did get through Julio Cesar looked world class.
Even Dwayne De Rosario played his role well, and didn't try to do too much, before being substituted in the 63rd minute. So far, so good on that front.
Toronto may have been dominated in almost every aspect by Seattle but it hardly matters. What does matter is that they earned three points away from home at one of the hardest stadiums to win at in the league.
It's the start they wanted, now comes the marathon to the finish they require.