There will be time, as there always is, to dissect this roller coaster of a season for Toronto FC in the coming days and weeks. There will only be a single National Team game next month in Toronto to distract us and of course whichever brand of overseas footy we prefer to watch until the preparations begin in earnest for TFC 2012. There will be a lot of time for all the post mortems that will inevitably come considering that there will be roughly 135+ days before we see TFC in the flesh again in a meaningful match after this weekend.
So in the coming days and weeks there will be all the time in the world to to weigh in on who to protect in the expansion draft, who to release, who needs a raise, can we sign our loan players, which injured player(s) can find their way back to the first team, and so on. Whether the Champions League Quarter Final first leg should be played at the Rogers Centre or BMO Field is another question for another day. Who to draft in the SuperDraft is yet another.
Questions questions questions.
But this weekend all that stuff can wait.
Early Saturday afternoon history will be repeating itself. And maybe without sounding too maudlin here, hope and thoughts of good things to come for this franchise will be renewed for those of us who have not completely lost everything to five seasons of generally less than stellar results or to cynicism because of disappointment.
When Danny Dichio scored that wonder goal in the last seconds of the Reds inaugural season thousands of us invaded the pitch scant seconds later to celebrate. We did not go to celebrate that goal per se (special though it was), nor did we invade the pitch to celebrate what was just a meaningless draw. We went because we felt that yes it was going to take time, but there was a genuine sense of hope of much better things to come from TFC, and that wonder goal almost instantly came to represent that very feeling.
The odds of seeing something as special as what Danny Dichio was able to do that day are probably slim this Saturday. That kind of thing just does not happen all the time. So what makes that season finale versus New England in 2007 and this season finale versus New England in 2011 truly similar (other than the opponent of course) is the fact that the supporters and the team will be able to collectively celebrate what might be considered as a renewal of that sense of hope that drove us past the cops and the stewards in our thousands on that Saturday afternoon five years ago.
Saturday those of us in attendance get to celebrate the historic win in Dallas in person. We get to thank what is essentially our new team (at most three or four players in the starting XI in March versus Portland might feature Saturday) for achieving what is the most significant victory for the club ever. And we get to celebrate what I truly believe is a renewed sense of optimism for the future of this team.
This time a year ago that future looked anything but bright. I think Saturday however many of the thousands in attendance are going to feel that the hope that sustained them in those first couple of seasons is finally back after three dark years where their faith ws probably seriously tested at one time or another.
There are of course no guarantees in sport. But I truly feel that this team will be a playoff contender next season. They showed that to me on Tuesday in Dallas. Tomorrow we get to thank the team for the win and to celebrate what I truly feel are better things to come.
There is all the time in the world to do the post mortems. Saturday is not the time to do so.