(image, courtesy Toronto FC)
This is the third in what I hope will become a long-running series of lame attempts to turn my latest sporting obsession into something resembling a Canadian political discussion. So, with that it mind, please choose the angle you wish to use to discuss Toronto FC’s historic first game ever played — a loss (2-0) to Chivas USA in Carson, California (we were robbed, but that’s a discussion for another day…):
1) Sportsnet play-by-play guy Gerry Dobson couldn’t quite get his head around the idea that this was a Toronto soccer team, and kept referring to them as “Canada.” Now, being a Toronto boy, I hardly even noticed. Toronto, Canada, what’s the difference?
2) Toronto lost to Club Deportivo Chivas USA, sister team to Mexico’s most popular futbol club Club Deportivo Guadalajara. Chivas entered the all-American MLS league three years ago with the express purpose of appealing to the game’s many Mexican and Latin American fans in the USA. From their website:
Chivas USA proudly celebrates its Mexican tradition, bringing a new language, culture and approach to the world of professional sport in the United States. The team is a diverse mix of stars of the future from Mexico and the United States, as well as veteran players with experience on the world’s greatest stage.
Chivas USA set an MLS record in their first year for jersey sales. That record will almost certainly be challenged this season by Toronto. Toronto already is the MLS leader in season ticket sales for 2007, and their entry into the MLS made the league the ONLY professional soccer league in the world with teams in more than one country — so, is soccer the glue that holds all of North America together? When Chivas comes to Toronto later this summer to get a taste of their own medicine, it will almost be like that large swath of geography between here and the Mexican border doesn’t even exist. Add to that the official international friendlies the club will play this year, and we may be witnessing a Canadian introduction to world culture unseen since 1972.
3) Along the same lines, no professional sports team in Canada can claim a greater cultural diversity of players, not even the Euro-heavy Raptors. Toronto FC, living the Canadian ideal?
Finally, the Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night in a pointless play-off drive of their own. The result, both of these Canadian teams are now polishing their golf clubs when, really, Montreal should be taking another of their vaunted Cup runs. This has nothing to do with soccer, but I’m writing it on the off-chance Andrew Potter has read this far. Feel the burn, Potter.