Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Thoughts, Pictures

On Saturday, May 21 myself and fifteen other friends and acquaintances were at BMO Field to see TFC take on Columbus. I figured it would be an even match and I wasn’t disappointed. There were close calls, a few breakaways, some silly defending decisions and late attempts to get the W. Ultimately it ended in a 0 – 0 draw, but it was fun times all around.

In 2012 when I watched TFC play for the first time, the quality was awful. No sense of possession play, no creativity, bad decision-making, no cohesiveness. I was left with a bad impression of Major League Soccer (MLS) from both teams as neither could produce smart, professional soccer. Fast forward to 2016 and things are so much better. TFC has a consistent coach, players who fit the culture of MLS and better defending. The upgrades to the stadium are also dynamite, seeing a grass soccer field of such calibre makes me giddy.

However, the thing I wish for more than anything is a National Women’s Soccer League expansion team in Toronto to complement the men’s side. It feels like it’s the right time especially considering one of the best players in the world – Christine Sinclair – is Canadian. I just want to see women’s soccer live with the same frequency and access as men’s … is that too much to ask?

All pictures © Cristina Murano

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Groundswell: A Sport Movement is Happening in Toronto and the Feeling is Good

Last night I was driving back from the Niagara Region, having spent a couple of days out of town for celebratory reasons, and as per usual I was listening to sports on AM radio. I’m not sure how many folks across Canada, let alone in Toronto, would rather listen to sports on the radio then watch live, but I’ve found it less anxiety provoking. Moreover, the commentators are AWESOME!

At the beginning of the NBA playoffs, the few times I watched the Raptors-Pacers series I felt nauseous at what I was witnessing: terrible shooting, sloppy plays, bad decision-making, etc. The Raptors were getting their jinx/demons out but as a fan it made me ambivalent about being so committed to the franchise. However, after listening to their second half dismantling of the Miami Heat in Game 7 of Round 2, my ambivalence has subsided and I feel good about whatever happens here on in. This team has broken a number of major franchise records, and they are making the rest of the NBA (and the broadcasting landscape of the USA) pay attention and take them seriously.

There is a bigger sport movement going on in Toronto right now that is pushing all teams to be better, expect better, win Championships and rally their fans. When I was listening to the Raptors-Heat game last night, I took a few moments here and there to switch over the Toronto Blue Jays-Texas Rangers game, which was ridiculous (full coverage is here and a great Sportsnet analysis here). At the heart of what happened was Texas crying over spilled milk from last years Blue Jays playoff win. They didn’t, and still don’t like how the Jays play with pride, guts, big bats and no apologies. Well, too bad … that’s the kind of competitive edge you need at the professional level.

As the owner of the majority of professional sport franchises in the city (the Blue Jays are owned by Rogers), Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment has done a good job of investing in better leadership, coaching and talent over the last few years, and this is part of the reason why Toronto’s expectations and the appetite for sport has become insatiable. As Toronto FC continues to gel and improve, as the Toronto Argos settle into their new home at BMO Field, and as the Toronto Maple Leafs rebuild with one of the best coaches in the NHL, Toronto will be experiencing more thrilling games and successes, not to mention a Championship or two or three. I’m excited … how about you?

PS: Tomorrow, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – honour, educate and celebrate accordingly!

PPS: Round 3 of the NBA playoffs begins tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. where the Raptors take on the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Woohoo!

 

Where Were You When the Bat Flip Happened?

Tonight, the Toronto Blue Jays played the Texas Rangers in the final game of the American League Division Series, and after three and a half tense hours of baseball, the Jays were victorious, winning 6-3 in a sometimes random, sometimes ugly, but entirely exciting and ridiculous game of baseball.

The first half of the game was plain-Jane baseball with the Rangers scoring first and the Jays soon following. By the top of the 7th inning, things were starting to get nerve-wrecking. A bizarre go ahead run gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead, and then just when things seemed lost, the Rangers made three unforced errors, which led to the tying run scoring. At 3-3, the Jays, the fans, hell the entire city needed more, which is when Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer featuring his epic “how do you like me now?” bat flip to give the Jays a 6-3 lead.

The Jays are set to play in the American League Championship, which starts on Friday, against either the Kansas City Royals or the Houston Astros. As of right now, the Royals are leading 4-2 in the top of the seventh. The Jays haven’t been to the post-season since 1993, the year they won the World Series for the second time in two seasons. Could that be on the horizon?

In other epic sport news, Toronto FC has clinched a playoff berth with their win over the New York Red Bulls tonight at BMO Stadium. Good news all around for Toronto sports fans. I love our energy, I love our devotion, I love our pride, and I had the BEST time watching Game 5 at a packed bar in Downtown Toronto … the city, and players, will be partying tonight!