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  • Looking back: goals, Goals, GOALS!



    Toronto FC, as we who love it know, has never been much of a goal-scoring juggernaut.

    Sure, we had a 4-0 win over Dallas back in 2007, and that lovely 6-1 hammer job against Montreal Impact Reserves in 2009. But one of the biggest frustrations in the ongoing "come-onning" of these Reds is waiting for actual goals.

    So I thought I’d take you back to a brief, fleeting time in Toronto’s soccer history when goals – emphatically – were not a problem.

    I give you Toronto Metros-Croatia of the old NASL, in the blistering summer of 1978:


    This team didn’t win a whole lot – 16 games out of 31, including playoffs. But they had a happy, happy habit of winning big.

    Seven different times that year, the MetCros crushed their opposition by three goals or more.

    In the home opener on May 7, they abolished the Philadelphia Fury 3-0. The game was at old Varsity Stadium – and yes, there were cheerleaders. Four weeks later, on the road in Washington, they again rang up a 3-0 triumph.

    And then, from mid-June till late July, these Torontos absolutely exploded. In a ringing seven-game stretch, they blew five different opponents to bits.

    It started on June 24, when they downed the great George Best and the Los Angeles Aztecs 4-0. In the following two home games, they destroyed the Oakland Stompers 8-2, and performed an embarrassing 4-1 de-tusking on the sagging, overmatched Memphis Rogues. (Oakland soon became the Edmonton Drillers. Memphis joined them in Alberta, as the Calgary Boomers.)

    Toronto then stormed onto the road, burying the leather-fringed Caribous of Colorado 3-0, before gutting L.A. (without George Best this time) 5-2. Yugoslavian striker Ivan Lukacevic scored 11 goals in those five splendid victories.

    But this was not, of course, Metros-Croatia’s Soccer Bowl year. That had come two summers previously.

    This group not only won by the blowout, they lost big as well. The New York Cosmos rang them up 5-1 on June 1. Right in the middle of the hot streak, they were trashed 4-0 in Fort Lauderdale. In their last road game of the regular season, they absorbed a less-than-encouraging 5-1 stomp job from the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

    When the playoffs came, the season ended. In the finest tradition of dying by the sword you live by, Toronto Metros-Croatia ’78 were iced, on the road, by the Vancouver Whitecaps – 4-0. (Current Whitecaps’ president Bob Lenarduzzi twanged twine in that match.)

    The final tally – including playoffs – 58 goals scored, 51 conceded … in just 31 games.

    I wonder if we’ll ever see Toronto FC blow people out (opponents, not roster spots) at anywhere near that rate?

    (Thanks to hall-of-fame historian Colin Jose, for his deeply addictive book NASL: A Complete Record of the North American Soccer League.)


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