Let’s talk about hangovers.
In my golden years/salad days of drinking, where simply getting served was a coup in itself, I really thought I knew what a hangover was.
Spoiler Alert: I was wrong. I assumed those nights of tossing and turning in bed, fighting the spins, was the absolute worst it could get. That was a cakewalk compared to an actual dyed-in-the-wool hangover — a proper day wasted, priorities changed from interacting with the outside world to simply surviving it. I don’t get the spins anymore. I would trade for them in a heartbeat.
Safe to say that here at WTR HQ, we’re feeling some emotional whiplash. The week just past has seen us cheer for, it could be argued, two very different versions of Toronto FC.
We saw the TFC that went toe-to-toe against Tigres, the class of Liga MX, in their own house and come away the victors (on aggregate).
We saw the TFC that went out to the shag carpets of Olympic Stadium to get utterly pacified by Remi Garde and the Montreal Impact’s deep and compact defense, giving up another three points and adding another L to our MLS season. (Remi — Why no Edwards?)
Full Disclosure: I’m a bit hungover myself, and, I fear, so too are our beloved Reds.
This is, unfortunately, nothing new :
TFC are 0-10-2 in MLS matches following CONCACAF ties. It’s right there in cold, hard, numbers. There is a precedent here.
And yet, I feel the numbers above don’t tell the whole story. This year’s CONCACAF Champions League has a different feel to it, a different shape. This year’s TFC is not the same squad reflected in those numbers. This year’s TFC are defending MLS champions. There are no games in either league that aren’t meaningful. The two losses we’ve suffered thus far in MLS feel like they belong under a separate column.
What is going on here?
It’s important to remember this is still early days, so adopting a scorched earth policy based on two MLS games and four CCL games (plus all that preseason goodness if you’re a completist) is a bit of a stretch. The Internet would seem to support this, as no pundits are writing off the mighty TFC... yet. The clickbait “TFC in last place, bring out your dead!” articles, however, are legion.
Is this our (fandom’s) problem? Are our collective chests puffed so high that our expectations on the team are now equally unreasonable?
Is it TFC’s problem? Has the short offseason, influx of new players and new systems without the luxury of time to gel, and the heavy weight of expectation — to say nothing of individual egos and the locker room/front office morale in general — knocked our boys off their pace?
Do TFC have a CCL hangover? An MLS Cup hangover? A lil’ bit of both?
Conversely, are TFC fine, and I’m the only one nursing a hangover? Am I making a mountain out of a mole-hill? Or better yet, and bonus big boy writer points by using my earlier analogy, am I mistaking a bout of the spins for a full-tilt hangover?
I look forward to hashing this out below, in the comments, where the magic happens.
P.S. Here is the first of weekly TFC-themed playlists; just a bit of fun and hopefully a decent soundtrack to your week/the first quarter of Monday’s commute. I’ve structured it thusly; a starting XI, followed by a “Greg Vanney Special,” and finished with five subs on the “audio” bench — arranged in chronological order, for a total of 17 tracks. Rest assured that each and every track has at least one associative connection to the world of TFC. We had a blast putting this together, hopefully you’ll have as much fun listening and sleuthing out the TFC references. Some are obvious, some not so much.
I’m using Spotify (Username: Jeffrey P. Nesker) for now, but we are open to switching platforms if anyone can suggest a better mousetrap. Oh, and if you have some tunes you think belong on a future TFC Playlist, please, don’t be shy!