Nick Rosano is still salty.
I have successfully riled him up here in the office, simply by reminding him the Golden State Warriors blew it in 2016. Even now, a Kevin Durant signing and a(nother) championship later, Rosy still says they should've eased off the gas instead of gunning for that NBA-record 73rd win.
Even after relegating the 1996 Chicago Bulls to second-best. Quick quiz: Who held the previous mark?*
*1972 LA Lakers (69-13)
In isolation, that year aside from all others, he could be right. But in terms of the historical team of legend into which this Warriors group will develop, two championships (and counting?) and the regular-season wins record, that's a difference-maker in those "best of" discussions that pop up among the sports cognoscenti.
Which is to say, it's time for the MLS single-season points record to fall. And Toronto FC is the team to do it.
After clinching the 2017 Supporters' Shield against the Red Bulls, TFC captain Michael Bradley penned a letter to fans that outlined the team's approach following last year's crushing MLS Cup loss to Seattle:
Now the challenge was to do it all season long. Week in and week out. No nights off. No tossing points away. No coasting through the hot summer months.
They didn't. And they won't for these final two games in fall.
Jozy Altidore was recently working through a hamstring issue, left at home for a match in LA, before gradually working back into the XI against RBNY. And yet, his on-field expectation remained full throttle.
“I wouldn't call it rest, but you get a few days, a few games where you don't have to travel. Those things help,” said Altidore. “It doesn't mean anything if we don't come back, really assert ourselves, and show again why everybody talks so much about our team.
“There is still a lot of work to be done. We can't rest on our laurels. There are some big games to play and we need to make sure that we approach [them] with the right attitude.”
That work, if it continues apace will involve at least a top-3 showing in points (68 | LA, 1998), points per game (2.13 | LA), the post-shootout-era wins mark (20 | Seattle, 2014), goals (85 | LA), goal differential (+41 | LA).
A little context on LA's 68, which incidentally was achieved with current head coach Greg Vanney and assistants Robin Fraser and Dan Calichman playing under now-Canada boss Octavio Zambrano. The Galaxy finished that season 24-8 – full stop. As did D.C. United ... who ended on 58 points.
Under the existing rules, a match ending tied went to a shootout, with a win or loss added to the ledger, but only a single point earned with a shootout "W". The '98 Galaxy were 2-2 in such games, while D.C. went 7-3, explaining away the 10-point differential between their identical W-L records. Scored by the current mark, LA's 22-6-4 showing would've reached the ol' 7-0.
Win twice, and Toronto (Currently: 65 points) sets a no-question, all-era standard. Win and draw, then we've got a sports-talk special. Whoo!
These things matter. Challenges – true challenges – are rare, and new marks, often generational. That NBA mark Nick is hung on? That's changed hands twice in 45 years. In baseball, even with an extra 10 games, no one has been able to top the Chicago Cubs' 116 ... from 1906. Heck, the NFL's 1972 Miami Dolphins are still popping champagne. (Sorry, Pats fans! Go Blue.)
Playoffs are ephemeral. Just last year, Toronto blew by Montreal on the comeback and then dominated MLS Cup before Stefan Frei happened and penalty kicks turned the title Rave Green. TFC wants the trophy. Craves it. Might well get there.
But there are no participation trophies here. Not anymore. Just the record and the Cup. They should grab 'em both.