By Shirley Zhu
A year after a devastating loss in the 2016 Major League Soccer (MLS) Championships, Toronto Football Club, commonly known as Toronto FC or TFC, took their first-ever MLS title on Saturday, December 9, 2017 in a 2 – 0 win against the Seattle Sounders.
On home turf in Toronto’s BMO stadium, TFC took to the pitch in nervous anticipation, looking to redeem themselves after last year’s loss to Seattle in shootout. For a tense 66 minutes, the Toronto Reds dominated the field in their 4-4-2 diamond formation, won possession of the ball countless times and made numerous shots on net, yet the game still remained scoreless.
Then, relief. Through a gaping hole in Seattle’s defence, TFC’s forward Sebastian Giovinco passed the ball to teammate Jozy Altidore, who planted the ball deep into the Sounder’s net with a left-footed kick. With a deafening roar of the crowd, the stadium jumped to its feet.
Later, in injury time, substitute Armando Cooper took a shot in the 94th minute that rebounded off the side post right into Victor Vazquez’s feet, who tapped it into the open net and secured the championship game win, sending the red sea of 30, 584 fans into another frenzied celebration. When the final whistle blew in the 96th minute, red fireworks exploded, confetti rained down and TFC became the first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup, finishing the game with 22 shots to Seattle’s seven.
In celebration, Toronto held a parade the following Monday. Open-air double-decker buses departed from Maple Leaf Square and carried both Toronto’s soccer champions and the MLS Cup. In a bet with Toronto Mayor John Tory over the outcome of the game, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wore a Toronto FC scarf and lit up Seattle city hall red on Wednesday to settle her debt.
When asked the difference between this year and last year, TFC defender Drew Moor said, “We just continued to press them. We continued to find good spots. We won the ball high up the field. We played with confidence.”
According to TFC captain Michael Bradley, taking the MLS Cup became an obsession after last year’s loss to the Sounders. Saturday’s game was not only sweet revenge on their rivals, but also a welcome triumph that followed a difficult history. After joining MLS in 2007, TFC did not make playoffs until 2015; however, their rise has been rapid ever since. For fans who have suffered alongside the team in its early years, the recent win is more than just a trophy and $250,000 in bonus cash. It is a symbol of the strength, determination and perseverance of their city.