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WTR Mailbag: On Uncertain Ground

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Waking the Red's weekly call for your questions – Post-Chicago, Pre-New York Red Bulls Edition

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC
Giovinco dangles the Red Bull defense
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's a little hard to breathe up in this rarefied air.

Toronto FC and their fans are in new territory... and it's difficult to know how to feel about it.

For the past nine seasons, the mere thought that TFC could be a contender, let alone a favourite, heading into the business end of the season was unthinkable.

But now, on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth for the second straight season, it is a thought that both club and supporters must somehow come to terms with.

Last season required some dramatics.

On an unforgettable night in Toronto, with the Blue Jays and the Bat Flip stealing the headlines, TFC needed a moment of magic to seal up their first-ever entrance to the MLS Cup tournament.

It was a strange night. The air was electric with everyone keeping an ear glued to the goings-on elsewhere in the city. Little did those in attendance know that they were in store for something so special.

The first half was cagey, neither side willing to open up, less the opponent get the better of them. The only noteworthy event was when Jozy Altidore was shown a straight red card for some unknown vocalizations from the bench. Strangeness continued.

TFC would also lose Damien Perquis in the first-half when he overstretched in a challenge with Gonzalo Veron, doing his hamstring in the process. Hard to know then what an impact that injury would have a few weeks later in Montreal.

The second half began better for Toronto, who took the lead in the 51st minute when Jackson tore up the right before flinging a relatively-harmless ball into the area. Ronald Zubar, however, whiffed on his clearance, allowing Herculez Gomez to slip a neat finish past Luis Robles – a single act that regardless of what preceded or followed will have him amongst a pantheon of unheralded heroes in the history of the club. Up there with Gabe Gala, who scored that goal against Real Madrid.

But as happened so many times before and after, it was Sebastian Giovinco who stole the show. The Italian maestro, who had arrived mere hours earlier from international duty, got on the ball in midfield with running space and a few men to beat.

Giovinco surged past one defender, then another, before leaving two more in the lurch with a devastating cut to the outside, finding space for a shot across Robles and into the far-side of goal.

Glorious!

New York would pull one back late, but it would not ruin the party.

Everyone knew it was possible, but when that long-awaited playoff spot came, it was still a surprise, coming as it did in the third to last match of the season.

This season all is so very different.

TFC has been on the radar all year, and after a midseason swoon, the club has rattled off win after win, albeit with the slight hiccup along the way.

And now, with just six matches remaining, five of which will be at home, top of the East and the Supporters Shield are not out of the question.

Once more TFC can clinch with a result against the Red Bulls.

There is much work to be done, no doubt. A lot can happen over the coming five-plus weeks.

But until then, even the most vocal minorities are at a loss for negative things to say. It's down right odd.

Top of the East, havin' a laugh?

Not so fast, but enjoy it while it lasts.

Please leave your comments and questions below and the WTR staff will respond in kind