Oh, it’s getting real now!
Adrian Serioux is now a member of Toronto FC, and the Voyageurs Cup schedule is out.
Many, many stories – but today I want to talk about the schedule.
With an international friendly still to be announced, Toronto FC is now committed to 18 home games – with fully half of them in April and May. TFC’s roaring red fanatics will be seeing lots of their rebuilt team, and that’s going to be good for everyone.
The USL-1 defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps roll into BMO Field for the V-Cup opener on Wednesday, May 6. The arch-rival Montreal Impact breeze in a week later. TFC visits Vancouver on June 2, and the whole shooting match comes down to a Stade Saputo grudge match between the Reds and the seven-time champions in Montreal on June 17.
If Honduras can get 7,000 fans to Montreal, what will the TFC support be able to pull off? Expect tight ticket restrictions favouring the Impact. Expect them to be – overcome.
The downside of this front-loaded Toronto schedule is some big gaps later. TFC plays only one home match in July, two in August and just one in September. There will be more, however, if the Reds finally win the Voyageurs Cup.
But if ever a team needed a quick start, with whomploads of passionate fan support, it’s this Toronto roster, right now. Assuming it all fits under the salary cap – and no one’s saying it doesn’t – TFC GM Mo Johnston has bolstered every part of his side.
Pablo Vitti up front. Dwayne DeRosario in the midfield, Serioux at the back and increased goaltending depth with the arrival of hot prospect Stephan Frei. A huge commitment to youth through the drafting of Frei, striker O’Brian White and midfielder Sam Cronin.
No Designated Player, but thank the stars for that one, Reds fans, because there’s no way this level of roster depth is possible with a DP gobbling back a full fifth of the cap room.
With Canada eliminated from World Cup qualifying, there won’t be as many international call-ups. When the Gold Cup is unfolding in July, TFC plays only three games. The days of half the roster gone and Rick Titus being called out of the bus leagues to start against Chivas USA seem, for now, to be behind us.
Those nine early home games are going to be so crucial. This is pretty much THE roster, and they have to click early. Spending that much time in front of the home support – who will ecstatically cheer all progress, and won’t settle for half effort – should give the lads the launch they are going to need.
A third year out of the playoffs will not be acceptable. And while the more open-minded among the Red Army are likely wishing the Impact well in this week’s CONCACAF quarterfinal match with Santos Laguna of Mexico, they all want to be playing a similar match at SkyDome a year from now.
If Toronto’s fans truly are the twelfth man, these nine games in April and May are when they are really going to prove it. They need to be a big, loud, hammering, intimidating, cheering, uplifting, over-the-top force – and the players need to know they’re in for a long, long summer if they don’t translate all that support into wins.
Tomorrow: the roster.