Decision Day. It was exciting on many different fronts and provided multiple storylines that were fun to track in real time… over 71,000 passionate fans in a single stadium watching a single MLS regular season match. For the record, the only EPL game with a higher attendance this weekend was the one at Wembley (80,827)… Sebastian Giovinco’s free-kick. That was the set-piece goal of the year… Jozy Altidore’s reaction after scoring TFC’s first goal. A bit of ‘crowd-goading’ was in order given what he endured… apparently, the beer at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It should have been easy for that fan to get another one. There are 1,264 draught taps at that place… Alex Bono’s two saves, late in the second half… the hearty coaches’ handshake after the match. It warmed my cockles… Chris Mavinga’s play. The footy gods’ sense of justice is marvellously poetic: Mavinga’s first game of the regular season was that howler against Atlanta, while his last game of the regular season, in Atlanta, was masterful… getting a result in the league’s most hostile environment. (There is a qualifier, though. Please see ‘Bad’ section, below)… sixty-nine points. Not the greatest MLS regular season performance of all time, but still the highest point total of all time… Greg Vanney playing four at the back and looking to hit on the counter. Same strategy that he used in Orlando and Chicago earlier this year… Toronto’s best starting XI played an entire game on artificial turf and no one turned into a pumpkin.
Only earning a draw, even though we fielded our best squad against a less-than-full-strength Atlanta team (no Gonzalez Pirez, no Garza, only 29 minutes of Almiron). Atlanta was also playing a new formation. So, while this was TFC’s best performance since September 16, there is still room for improvement… the chant that sounds like ‘Whapo, whapo, whapo, A-T-L’. I hate it. But I love it. Couldn’t stop repeating it. Drove my wife and kids crazy after the match… Steven Caldwell’s constant nattering. Endless chatter is his shtick. But this game was particularly annoying… Drew Moor resembling Slowpoke Rodriguez to Atlanta’s Speedy Gonzales. (Look it up – the resemblance to Josef Martinez is uncanny.) If the Reds face Atlanta in the playoffs, this shortcoming has to be addressed… it looked like the booing actually affected Michael Bradley’s play… hangin’ with Mr. Cooper for 10 minutes. Why?
The turf. It’s less than two months old and it already looks like crap… the picture quality from Fox Sports. I’ve seen games from Kerplakistan with more definition and clarity… corner flags with those plunger-like bases… Luke Wileman and Caldwell constantly trying to make us believe that they were actually in Atlanta… the ‘Biggest Losers’ banner, with pictures of Altidore and Bradley. That’s pretty ignorant. I submit that, over the past decade, the USMNT program would be in worse shape had they not had Jozy’s 41 goals and Bradley’s 140 appearances. How quickly they forget.