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Tuesday 27 March 2012

Beyond POV-FS – Know Your Enemy: Santos Laguna – CCL Edition Leg One at Waking the Red Plus FPV Supplement

Match preview of what Toronto FC can expect to encounter when Santos Laguna visits for Wednesday night’s first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal is up over at Waking the Red.

    There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Toronto FC and these first few weeks of the season. Granted there have been a fair share of poor results to feed such a tempest, but take a step back for a second.

    Toronto was not supposed to win in Los Angeles, beating the Galaxy and moving on to this round in the first place.

    Toronto was not supposed to come out on fire at the Rogers Centre – SkyDome – and score those two goals in the first twenty-odd minutes.

    Toronto was not supposed to go down to Dallas in that final group stage match and come home with the three points and perhaps the best performance the club has put together in its dismal history.

    Some would claim Toronto was not supposed to be Canada’s representative in the tournament at all; that regardless of player and fan safety due to lightning and the actual written and agreed upon rules of the competition Vancouver should have progressed.

    It would be bold to say that Toronto is going to beat Santos Laguna. But that’s not to say it can’t happen.

    Part of the reason we all love the game, and sports in general, is that unpredictability; the oft used saying of “that’s why they play the games” comes to mind at times such as these.

    Cup competitions, by their very nature, are unpredictable; though reason will often go with the sensible odds, the real money - and the real glory - comes in the unexpected.

    Despite miserable results in MLS play, Toronto is the last team standing. Those two unbearable losses to Seattle and San Jose, they don’t matter tomorrow night.

    At the heart of every professional athlete is a child for hasn’t yet given up that dream of winning; hasn’t yet learned that the impossible is undoable.

    These players have known that these chances don’t come along too often. It would be erroneous to think that this impending semifinal was not weighing on their minds through the first weeks of the season.

    They played two emotionless matches that mattered for very little in the grand scheme of things. Do not mistake those results for this.

    Toronto FC takes the pitch tomorrow night against Santos Laguna, not as a lowly MLS club, one derided and scorned for their lack of success, not as another MLSE property doomed to fail, but as Canadian Champions - eighteen men, several coaches and a few hundred real fans, with the belief that the trophy is theirs, they need only claim it.

    So you can take your results, you can make your predictions, and you can study your tactics (please do read the preview), but they won’t determine the outcome; that remains the domain of the men on the pitch.

    And I have faith in ours.

    Tomorrow night is going to be fun, it’s going to be special, and I don’t have to spend twelve hours on the bus to experience it.

    To all you empty seats, and naysayers, I say; you should have been there.

    To be a part of something; to live and cheer in hope.

    Remember when Toronto went to Montreal and corrected the necessary goal deficit to move on in 2009?

    That wasn’t supposed to happen; but it did. I bet those rain-drenched few who made the trek will spend their days happy that they did.

    Remember when Canada beat the mighty USA in Olympic Qualifying?

    Nobody foresaw that happening; but it did. Those of us who sat there biting their nails for the last twenty minutes will not soon forget the feeling.

    Strange things can happen; I’m glad to be a part of them; hope to see you at the field tomorrow.

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