Toronto FC

The fans rock like Rush. The team still needs some help.

Trophies: 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship, 2010 Nutrilite Canadian Championship, 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship, 2012 Amway Canadian Championship

Fan personality: Rowdy. Don Garber loves these fans to death, though BigSoccer’s Bill Archer has kept up a pretty good battle of words with them. They neither invented nor perfected the MLS supporters culture, and those of us in metro areas with complex real estate are sick of being lectured about urban-core stadiums (particularly when we then hear traffic excuses when the stands are nowhere near full at kickoff). But really, it’s a terrific, enthusiastic group. Now can we ease up on the streamers, please?


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Stadium situation: BMO Field is nice and cozy, and it has a great view of the Toronto skyline. Little reason to complain, particularly since they installed grass a couple of years ago. The club is also investing in a large training facility with several fields for its pros and Academy teams.

History

In 2007, Toronto fell in love with its new soccer team, particularly English veteran Danny Dichio, who has since retired but remains with the team’s Academy. Dichio scored the team’s first goal in the 24th minute of the team’s fifth game. Yes, fans remember the minute.

Fiery Scotsman and MLS veteran Mo Johnston was the hard-nosed coach in that first season (6-17-7), highlighted by Maurice Edu‘s rookie of the year performance. He moved upstairs to the front office for the 2008 season, with John Carver brought in.

Carver lasted two seasons in which the biggest accomplishment was winning the Nutrilite Canadian Championship over Vancouver and Montreal, which were then second-division teams. That earned TFC a CONCACAF Champions League bid. TFC did at least reach 10 wins for the season in 2009 but still failed to reach the playoffs.

By 2010, Johnston’s former teammate Preki was in charge on the field, with Johnston still in the front office. Longtime fan favorite Jim Brennan retired and handed the captaincy to favorite Canadian son Dwayne De Rosario, and TFC won another Canadian title. That wasn’t enough, and Preki and Johnston both departed.

Under new coach Aron Winter, TFC still did little in MLS. But they three-peated as Canadian champion and leveraged that for a bigger accomplishment — reaching the CONCACAF semifinals. Yes, TFC reached the final four in CONCACAF before qualifying for the MLS playoffs, which are now at 10 teams. Go figure. And nothing else went right in 2012. Winter was ousted, and Paul Mariner was named interim coach. Now they’re restarting from the top down — longtime D.C. United executive Kevin Payne is the new president, and former D.C. United player (with a few years in the EPL since then) Ryan Nelsen is the new coach.

2013 previews: MLSSoccer.com, ESPN, Soccer America, SB Nation

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