An incredible performance this afternoon by both the team and the fans.
First a report of what happened on the field.
A quick goal by Mo Edu early in the first half set the tone. It was a scramble in front of the Dallas net and Dichio's attempt at goal rebounded perfectly to Maurice Edu who fired it in. I thought that the recent Thursday night game against Real Salt Lake would take a toll on Dallas as the day wore on, but it seemed to play a part in the early going. Toronto was going forward with skilled passing and Dallas was going to exploit the counter-attack possibilities especially on the right side. The speed of Dallas wingers kept TFC honest in the back, but the back four stayed strong and the keeper Djekanovic had very little work to do.
The second Toronto goal was Danny Dichio on a beautifully timed header off of Carl Robinson's free kick. Dichio was a constant factor (why did it seem that every ball played to Dichio would result in a foul, roughly 50/50 for and against ??). He seemed to hurt his leg late in the half. He played out the half but did not have his usual speed and energy in the closing minutes.
So to start the second half Dichio was replaced by Lombardo and Dallas brought in Ruiz as a striker. I think that Ruiz's flying elbow to the head of Hastings in the Canada - Guatemala game in Gold Cup play yesterday meant that there was a cloud over his head in the eyes of the TFC defense (and the fans too). You had to wonder at the decision to play a player who had only played the day before, but it may reflect Dallas' injury woes. The ref had to keep his hand on the yellow card throughout the half as there was a steady parade of bookable, ill tempered fouls that fell a few steps below evil and dangerous.
It was easy to see that beating Dallas meant a lot to Ronnie O'Brien. He was dominant, elusive and played with an edge to his game. The third goal, the Carl Robinson goal seemed to signal the end. The ball was pushed out to the right, Ronnie O'Brien swung it out to the far left and Andy Welsh (or was it Goldthwaite?) crossed it in to Carl Robinson's head and into the back of the net. Robinson seemed to be two strides away from any Dallas defender. It was now Toronto's party and Dallas wanted to get away because they had both a long drive home and they were going to have to drive home the baby-sitter too!
TFC withstood a half-hearted attack from then on. There was a steady supply of counter-attacks from Welsh, Lombardo and Cunningham. Jeff Cunningham squandered a chance which found him alone with the keeper. The longer that Cunningham did not score, the more Andrea Lombardo seemed annoyed at his partner's selfish ways. Then Cunningham converted a cross from O'Brien with a diving header to bring him into the world of TFC scorers. Not a minute too soon it is easy to say. Even Mo was looking peeved on the sideline at those missed chances.
and now to the crowd....the TFC zeitgeist if you will....
You have to pull yourself back from this process of being a fan/blogger and give your head a shake on a day like this. I know there are dedicated folks across the USA who have supported soccer and the MLS for a decade who look upon Toronto as gate-crashers and johnny-come-latelies and I can understand much of that. I know that there are huge hordes of soccer snobs in Ontario and huger hordes of soccer haters who are happy to ignore what is happening. But I say it is a mistake to miss what is happening by the lake.
It is hard to think of TFC as an expansion team. Two and half months into the season and yes, the team looks solid enough, but more importantly the supporters are 100% behind the team and they expect all this and more. I have spent most of my life as a Toronto sports fan and I have never known this confidence and expectation before. Success for a Toronto team is usually viewed as a fluke and the usual incompetence is just around the corner. Forget all that now, this is a jubilant force and the team seems to rise to our roar. Chris Bosh of the Raptors was at the game today and I wish I knew his thoughts. He and the other Raptor players have always complimented the energy of the Toronto crowd, but so much of the ACC routine is pre-fab and seems to have little to do with the team and the game on the court. I could live a happy life never again seeing those Raptor ticket holders smile goofily and wave as they appear on the big screen even though the team has just blown a double digit lead. So Chris Bosh, this was different today, wasn't it? This was Toronto as it has never been before. Chris Bosh, do you want to play soccer this summer??