Sports

A New Shade of Red

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While some would question the wow-factor of a 3-4 starting record for Toronto FC’s 2015 campaign, consider that’s a win-loss ratio reflective of games away from home only. Ask any die-hard from the bunkers of BMO Field and they’d have gladly accepted it prior to the season start.

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That’s good enough for a 5th place spot in the MLS Eastern Conference, lofty heights indeed considering what fans have grown used to after the dreaded perennial start on the road (usually due to northern weather concerns, but this year a result of off-season stadium expansion). Now, let’s not start chanting about cup runs just yet; however, there are things going on in the Reds’ camp that strongly hint at the promise this franchise has touted for nearly a decade. With nary a post-season appearance since inception, the miscalculations, gaffs and “big deals” continue to sting because nothing has ever been given a proper chance to heal. Well, if it’s going to happen, now is the time.

Captain Michael Bradley is a known commodity to be sure. His pedigree is elite and his infectious fight-for-every-inch play has spread through the team like a virus. But let’s face it; this we already knew and sheer will needs promise of execution.

A straight swap with England’s Sunderland sent the disinterested and self-entitled Jermaine Defoe for hulking American international Jozy Altidore. On paper, the move was underwhelming at best, but the striker is putting naysayers to rest with an explosive five goals so far (as compared to Defoe’s four BPL goals in twice as many games) and he’s showing an impressive adaptability combined with some slick improvisational finish. Altidore’s stock in trade was cultivated in the MLS many years ago before stops in England, Spain and Turkey, so perhaps his immediate gelling shouldn’t come as too much of a jaw dropper.

The linchpin for the 2015 season is unquestionably the acquisition and presence of former Juventus man Sebastian Giovinco. The diminutive midfielder has rightly garnered the undying love of the Toronto faithful, his signing being no overblown shell game like the city has seen too many times. Four goals already notwithstanding and a league challenging shot-leader to boot, his thirty-yard dipping free kick against the Philadelphia Union on May 2nd was world class and only shows promise of more to come at home.

The time to go from ‘maybe’ to ‘certainly’ is now. The anti-climactic home opener 2-1 loss to Houston on May 10th was a result of Toronto still being too deeply entrenched in the on-the-road/stranger-in-a-strange-land mindset. Once the equilibrium of finally playing on friendly ground is absorbed, this team with all its useful cogs has nowhere to go but further up the standings and perhaps even on to post-season glory.

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