It was a dark and stormy eve down by the lake on a fierce Saturday, the first Saturday of October. Where did the summer go? Only minutes ago I was sitting in my seat and the CNE was swirling around us. The Philadelphia game felt as if it were played in November weather.
The HMS Toronto FC had all hands on deck and Captain Bradley, on every t-shirt, was on patrol.
Forgive the nautical theme, but the strong winds and bouts of rain were enough to tip my account into watery tale territory. Lake Ontario was providing winds that made travelling with poutine across the south end platform an adventure. All the beer booth staff in that area looked like they were going to be dislodged and hurled into the seating. It was perhaps (crossing of fingers inserted here) a sneak preview of playoff weather.
I admit that I was nervous at the start of the game. The consequences for losing this one was just too staggering for my little brain to take. The Seba Giovinco goal (his 21st) came early enough that you could see the confidence build for the Reds. Toronto always seemed to have the possession advantage and the shot advantage too (off target though they may have been).
It was satisfying to watch TFC take care of business. Yes, the Union staggered into town, exhausted from their loss in the US Cup and many of their starters resting. Yet, TFC got the job done with room to spare.
Jackson had a solid game. I like the way he uses his speed and anticipation to break up plays. That alone does not ensure you a spot on the TFC roster, Warren Creavalle was quite good at that too. Jackson was paired with Findley in the first half and Delgado in the second. A Delgado cross created the Altidore goal. Jozy Altidore gets credit for a fine finish, but we also have to note the foolish defending by Philadelphia on that series.
I am often griping that Osorio is not a true winger, but he shut me up, especially late into the second half when he was a terror down the left. The Marquez own goal was just the reward for Osorio's determination and skill getting the ball into the box. May this late game strength trend continue.
Cheyrou was his silky smooth self on the ball and sneaky tough in his tackling. Michael Bradley, on General Bradley t-shirt day, gave a spotlight worthy performance. Cheyrou is the secret ingredient in the Bradley success. Cheyrou gives Bradley the confidence to go forward and make a difference.
The Philly Union goal was scored by Steven Vitoria. I know it is a knee-jerk reaction to see every MLS player with a Canadian passport as a future acquisition... but I was impressed. In the first half it seemed that TFC were attempting to get Giovinco away from Vitoria's side of the field.
I don't want to head into the critical last three games of TFC season 2015 with my fan meter twisted far closer to faith over reason. Yet questions, those questions that seem to dance around the cranium of the seasoned TFC supporter, still hang in the air...
Can TFC find the one point needed to best Orlando for a playoff spot?
Can TFC make a true run at finishing 3rd or 4th spot to host their first playoff game?
Can Toronto FC find another gear when faced with teams above them in the standings?
NYRB, Crew and Montreal is a tough trio of opponents to finish off the schedule with. The Red Bulls will have the Supporter's Shield to play for, Columbus could prove to be the qualifying game to determine whether TFC hosts or visits for their historical first playoff game and the Montreal game could be do or die. At least a point from each game would be an accomplishment, nine points from these last games could qualify as a miracle.
If I were an Orlando fan, (facing NYCFC at home and then Philly on the road) I would be betting that six points is theirs for the taking. Toronto has two traditions, being completely out of playoff contention and having a chance but letting it slip through their fingers. Time for a new tradition and the October 14th game vs Red Bulls will be the clearest indication of which way TFC are heading. Until then...