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Notes from the Stands – Toronto FC v Philadelphia Union

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Waking the Red's forum for discussing the off-field events from the latest Toronto FC home match - a dispiriting loss to Philadelphia

Gilberto was displeased; how about you?
Gilberto was displeased; how about you?
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Well that sucked.

There have been some bleak times in supporting TFC – that 6-0 Voyageurs Cup loss in Montreal last year or the rain-soaked 5-0 capitulation in New York on the final day of the season in 2009 come immediately to mind, not to mention the nine-game losing streak to start 2012 – but rarely has it felt so discouraging.

Perhaps that is because this season was supposed to be different.

Before getting overly maudlin about the whole thing, the season is far from over and this team could turn it around, but the lack of energy, urgency, and communication out there was very discouraging; a dream unraveling before one’s eyes.

But Notes from the Stands is not about what went wrong on the pitch, that dissection will come later, this is about events off the pitch.

Streamers

Albeit briefly, the joyous streamers made their return as Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux strode towards the loud-corner of the pitch in the first half. Though few in their number – and largely affected by a fierce wind from reaching their target - the memory of the raucous celebration that a match at BMO Field used to be was a much welcomed, if a slightly sad, remembrance of the past.

It used to be fun to go to a match; that initial energy dried up long ago – most folks can barely be bothered to show up before kickoff these days – and that the throwing of a few streamers was a highlight of the match speaks volumes about the effort on the pitch.

Heavy sigh.

Wiedeman and the Timbits

The only other bright spot of the opening hour was a comical interaction between Andrew Wiedeman and one of the Timbit players in their half-time exhibition – that the best ball-skills from a Toronto-based player was from a tiny dude in a white jersey who scored two goals inside the opening moments of the Timbit match was depressing.

The TFC substitutes let a ball roll into the fray just as the Timbit ball left, causing confusion for one youngster, who approached Wiedeman as he prepared to continue with his warm-up – he, the youth, was unaware that a ball-switch had been made and looked to Wiedeman to return the ‘active’ ball.

The child looked somewhat perplexed as too did Wiedeman. It was an exemplary vignette of the confusion and surprise, as well as the resignation that pervaded the atmosphere all afternoon.

Rainbow Bright Needs a Shave

In one of the more bizarre sights all season, one male fan was done up in a Rainbow Bright dress, complete with bunny ears and a spiked-collar – cause that makes sense – over in the East Stand; presumably it was either a bachelor party or a lost bet, as Fan Expo was last weekend.

It provided one of the few moments of entertainment of the afternoon.

JUDAS!!!

Post-match, some of the fans in the South End held up a banner depicting Jermain Defoe, apparently playing for team money (with a $ as his crest) with the word ‘JUDAS’ stamped across the top.

Now fans have every right to be upset with how the last month has played out and they are more than welcome voice that displeasure, but the wisdom in taking steps that one cannot un-take must be questioned.

As much as this club and this game become a subject of passion, it is also a business. Decisions are made, and circumstances change – the whole story has yet to emerge and it likely never will, regardless of what transpires.

Media reports, especially around transfer time, should be taken with a grain of salt, though of course, there is some obvious disquiet swirling around the camp.

Will those same fans be cheering when Defoe returns and scores a goal?

And after all, it’s not like he’s kissed the badge or been here for ever… when one hires mercenaries, do not be surprised when they aren’t as loyal as ones raised at home.


PS – With this post at risk of only exacerbating any frustration with the club, one final note that should be remembered.

Yes, Toronto was terrible; yes, they have dropped out of the playoff positions; yes, it does not look like it will get better with any much-needed rapidity.

But, for all that, they struck the woodwork three times (Mark Bloom off the post, with Jackson’s header and Michael Bradley’s follow-up from his free-kick ringing the crossbar); inches away from possibly changing the result – one pundit had predicted a 3-2 win, only to be foiled by painted wood.

This is soccer; this is MLS; often even the best laid plans are undone by fortune. If one of those goes in, who knows what would have happened. In a match in which they were thoroughly outplayed, they still could have salvaged a result.

This is a club that needs to catch a break – an own-goal, a controversial red card, some good luck to fall their way.

It looks bad, but it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And this ain’t over; yet.

Please share any thoughts or observations from yet another disappointing day at BMO Field in the comments section below: Spot any unusual kits? Was Hairy Rainbow Bright the weirdest thing off the pitch? Boy, did Philadelphia waste some time today, eh? Looking forward to the Canada game on Tuesday?