TORONTO – When Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter was asked to name his player of the game on Wednesday night vs. the LA Galaxy, the answer he gave was in the plural.
“I think the whole team,” Winter said. “And the crowd, of course.”
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When the bitterness of a giving up the tying goal in the 88th minute finally subsides, TFC’s first game under the roof and on the artificial turf at Rogers Centre will be remembered for the atmosphere of the night.
“We’ll focus on the positives,” TFC midfielder Terry Dunfield said. “There were [nearly] 50,000 people here, it was fantastic.”
If the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal lived up to the hype with some pulsating play up and down the pitch, so did the Toronto supporters.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made frequent mention of the crowd after the game, and so did the players from both teams.
The attendance was 47,658, a club record for Toronto FC, who usually play at BMO Field with a capacity of about 22,000. And as forward Danny Koevermans said they would, the TFC fans turned the home of baseball’s Blue Jays into a soccer stadium for a night.
Streamers floated from the stands before and during the game and when Galaxy midfielder David Beckham took corner kicks he had to push them out of the way. The noise when Toronto went up by two goals after 17 minutes was deafening.
“The atmosphere was fantastic,” Winter said. “The crowd was amazing. Compliments to the crowd.”
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei agreed wholeheartedly.
“Nothing but love for the crowd, obviously,” he said. “It’s great to see all the support we’re getting. We always knew we had the best fans in the league. It’s great to see a packed house and we want to pay them back with a good season, and obviously, it continues with the next game in LA.”