TORONTO — Since joining Major League Soccer, Toronto FC have had many things go right. A rabid fan base turned up right away, and BMO Field has been site of an MLS Cup and an MLS All-Star Game.
The only thing missing is success. TFC have never made won a league trophy or even made the MLS Cup Playoffs.
However, all that could be forgotten if they can succeed in the CONCACAF Champions League, starting with Wednesday’s quarterfinal first leg against the LA Galaxy here at the Rogers Centre (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
“This is the biggest game [Toronto] has ever had,” Galaxy forward Chad Barrett said on Tuesday.
Barrett would know. He played for Toronto from 2008 to 2010, a three-season stretch of futility that saw the club put up a combined record of 28-37-25.
Now entering their sixth year of existence, TFC start off with brimming with potential. They were one of the hottest teams in MLS down the stretch in 2011, and they have reached the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time.
“The thing I liked the most about Toronto was the fans,” Barrett said. “They’re not fair-weather fans. They’ve stuck with their team through thick and thin. At the start of every new season they’re back and they want to see their team succeed. This city is still begging for a champion, for a team to do really well and I know they’re going to jump on the backs of all these players and they’re going to show them their full support.”
Because of weather concerns, the match was moved from BMO Field to Rogers Centre, where some 45,000 supporters will hope to witness a giant leap forward for the club.
That the match would attract so much attention and so much crowd support is not exactly shocking.
“Not surprised one bit,” said Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, who was with TFC in 2007 and 2008. “This city loves soccer. They’ve always had a passionate fan base and unfortunately the team hasn’t given them the result they’ve been longing for. [Success] is a goal this year for them, and this tournament is a huge opportunity for that.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.
WATCH: Toronto FC 2011 goals