It has been clear for a while now that Toronto FC was going to make the playoffs this season. There was no dramatic clinching moment like last year, and there was rarely any reason to doubt that when October rolled around Toronto FC was going to be in the thick of things.
Knowing that has led to a significant amount of anticipation for today’s game: the first home playoff game in club history. What a special day it will be for the long-suffering fan base of this club who have been waiting patiently (sometimes) for this moment since 2007.
What happens tonight will determine how they perceive this season. Here are three stories to look out for in today’s matchup.
A Cold October
Both Toronto FC, and their opponent in tonight’s knockout game, the Philadelphia Union, have had a cold October and it has had nothing to do with temperature. Toronto FC only has two wins in the past two months, and both of them came against league bottom-feeders, the Chicago Fire.
The Philadelphia Union, somehow, have been even worse. In fact, they might be the worst team in the playoffs this year. They went winless in their last seven games of the season, and have not recorded a victory since August 27.
Oh, and it is a cold October in a literal sense too so bundle up for tonight's match. Temperatures could feel like they are in the negatives tonight, and don’t expect the wind off the lake to help any in that regard.
Nothing to Lose
While, yes, objectively speaking the Union are the worst team in the Eastern Conference side of the playoff bracket they are still dangerous. Perhaps, mostly, because they have no pressure on their shoulders.
There are certainly not the same demands of the Union as Toronto FC going into this game, making the playoffs in itself was some than some expected them to do this season. With that off their backs they may just play freely enough tonight to get an unexpected result.
Big Game Mentality
Some of Toronto’s most disappointing performances this season have come in big games. Namely, their poor performance against the Montreal Impact when they hosted them after a seven-game undefeated streak.
They have no choice but to step up today, if they don’t their season, and all the progress that was seemingly made this season, goes out the window. That would be a real shame considering how the team has played at times this season.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Zavaleta, Moor, Hagglund; Morrow, Cooper, Bradley, Morrow, Osorio; Altidore, Giovinco
Subs: Bono, Bloom, Cheyrou, Delgado, Johnson, Ricketts, Williams
Philadelphia Union: Blake; Rosenberry, Tribbett, Marquez, Fabinho; Bedoya, Creavalle, Herbers, Barnetta, Pontius; Sapong
Venue: BMO Field Toronto, ON
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Eastern
SB Nation Opposition Blog: The Brotherly Game
TV: TSN 2
Streaming: TSN Go