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A TFC Christmas Carol: Part 3

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The final installment in Sven87's holiday epic.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Writer's note: I know it's almost a month after Christmas, but I wanted to wrap this up for those who have enjoyed the fun little parody. You can find part 1 here and part 2 at this link. Thanks to those who have been following along, and I'll try to get an earlier start next holiday season!

TFC’s new president, Presideezer Scrooge, stood outside gate 1 at BMO Field. Two ghosts had visited him earlier that day, in what appeared to be an orchestrated effort to re-ignite the spirit of "winning" within the new MLSE executive. The Ghost of Jim Brennan, and the Spirit of Jermain Defoe’s mother, had both imparted wisdom and advice that was slowly sinking into Pres’ muddled mind. The latter had returned Pres to the street just outside the main entrance of BMO Field, before disappearing into the murky evening gloom that was setting down upon the stadium.

As Pres slowly tried to re-gain his focus and recall exactly what time it was and where he was supposed to be headed, a sharp nudge just behind his shoulder distracted him from his thoughts. He quickly turned around, and let out a startled gasp, as he gazed upon a tall, dark, cloaked figure, whose face was concealed in the mysterious shadow of his hooded garment.

"Spirit…" began Pres, "You… you must be the ghost of TFC yet-to come! Please believe me spirit… I wish to see no more! I understand now, the damage and destruction that MLSE causes when we disregard the warm, and happy… and of course no less profitable, spirit of winning!"

The Ghost ignored Pres’ plea, and pointed a long, gaunt, bony finger toward gate 1 of the stadium. The two strode silently toward the entrance, and as they approached, Pres started to hear faint sounds of applause. As they tread even closer, the unmistakeable noise of thunderous ovation and chanting emanated from within the walls of BMO!

Pres and the Spirit entered the stadium, and headed for a tunnel, and set of stairs, leading to the bleachers. As they emerged and finally caught full sight of the field, Pres gazed down upon… the Toronto Argonauts, leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders in riveting Grey Cup playoff action! At least, he assumed it was a playoff game- it was tough to tell as the post-season wasn’t exactly a familiar sight for the TFC executive…

"I think we’ve got a shot at repeating as Grey Cup champs!" shouted a slightly overweight fan, just a couple feet from where Pres was standing, "and isn’t it amazing that we’ve been able to break the record for most sell-outs in a row in this league?!"

Prez snatched a program from out of a fan's hands. He read the date: November 18, 2018. He slowly looked up, and took in his surroundings. The stadium was packed to the roof (which was now complete, and surprisingly effective considering it wasn't fully attached to the stands). The fans were giddy with excitement, chanting the Argos name, and praising their star players and management. But something even more glaring came to Pres’ attention- something different, beyond simple renovations and CFL mania. Every seat in the stadium… was now blue.

"Spirit…" began Pres, "I don’t see any sign of…" and before he could even finish his sentence, the Ghost of TFC yet-to-come took hold of his sleeve, and Pres felt the familiar whirling sensation.

When Pres and the Ghost came to rest, it didn’t take long for Prez to realize that they hadn’t travelled far. They were in the Toronto FC dressing room, just a couple floors below the stands they had just vacated. "Well we COULD have just walked…" scoffed Pres. But the Ghost was again silent in reply, pointing to one cubicle in particular. Pres cautiously approached it, fearing what he might discover as he drew closer. The cubicle was old and appeared to be neglected. Pres pushed aside a thick curtain of cobwebs and blew the dust off the name plate to reveal… #9 Gilberto.

"Oh come on, Spirit… I knew he was gonna go. Big deal… I mean, did you SEE who we were working on picking up instead of him? It was- the Atomic Ant! And… well, Jozy Altidore! JOZY! I mean don’t get me wrong- I know Gilly B tried hard, was a fan favourite and had the right attitude- but you gotta get rid of a guy if another opportunity that.. well, MAY be a little better than him comes along! I mean, Jozy played in EPL! Didn’t really score much, but he… started, on a mid-table team! Look, when you let me get back to the present time, I’d be happy to host you- we can sit in a Club section together, have a drink or two on the house… and watch Jozy score loads of goals! Plus, our main man Bradley was so pumped to…" and again the Spirit silently cut off Pres’ sentence, pointing to a cubby just three away from Gilberto’s discarded area.

Pres shuffled over to the target of the Spirit’s direction, terrified of what he may come across. He peered into the cubicle, which seemed mostly empty, and saw a single, abandoned boot, carelessly hung by its lace around a nail just below the player’s nameplate- #4 Bradley. "Nooo! Spirit- tell me this isn’t true, tell me he hasn’t left us…" the Spirit extended his emaciated hand, but not in consolation- no, instead, Pres again found himself experiencing the dizzying sensation of soaring through haziness, until he firmly hit the ground at…

A vast, and desolate, cemetery. The chill in the air and the melancholy sensation presiding over their visit haunted Pres to the core. The Spirit again extended its fleshless appendage, pointing to a headstone not ten feet from where they were standing. Pres slowly paced toward the stone, terrified of what he would see. He finally edged close enough to make out the words chiseled into the stone- Here lies Chivas USA. 2004-2014.

A wave of relief flooded over the MLSE executive, but only until he noticed… a large, empty, dug-out hole, just beside the tomb of California’s former #2 MLS franchise. He glanced up toward the head of the empty plot, but was able to make out only part of the tombstone. 2006 – 2018.

"But… tell me… spirit, whose final resting place is that??" The same long, bony finger protruded from the sleeve of the cloak and pointed at the headstone, illuminating the name at the top: TORONTO FC. "NOOO!!! Tell me it’s not true! But… I can change it! Tell me it can still be changed! I WILL change it!" The Spirit shook his head, and slowly pulled down the hood of his cloak, revealing his identity…

Pres woke with a jolt. He was sitting in the driver’s seat of his car- and it was still in the parking garage under his office! He immediately got out his phone and called Cratchitenko. "You BETTER not come into the office tomorrow, Timmy, after all- it’s Christmas Eve... there are soccer games going on all over the world! So you get your ass on that plane to South America, or wherever you were going to find our next promising young player, and sign our future star! I don't care what his name is, find someone who can help us win!"

Pres hung the phone up, and a smile unlike any he had ever felt before spread from one ear to the other. He thought of the upcoming season opener, and how he would leave his executive seat vacant to stand, side-by-side, with the true supporters of the club, and fully experience the sweet sensation of victory. He pondered how he would go about making TFC a true success on the pitch, and now realized that winning would be reflected positively off of it (particularly on the balance sheet), as well. He wanted TFC to be a success, and couldn’t wait to join in the enthusiasm and passion of the greatest fans (nice try, Sounders) in MLS…

And by the way, it was Tom Anslemi, in case you were wondering. The final Spirit. Ghost of Tom Anselmi. Yep, kind of an anti-climactic way to end, but hey… we should all be used to anti-climactic season endings by now, being TFC fans.

THE END