April 28, 2007 MLS Toronto FC lose to Kansas City Wizards 1-0 (from TorontoFC.ca)

04/28/2007 5:16PM
Despite loss, home opener a success
By Mike Ulmer / TorontoFC.ca

TORONTO - They came -- 20,148 of them -- from all over Toronto, and by association, all over the world, to see the global game. And while Toronto FC would disappoint on the scoreboard, losing their Major League Soccer home opener 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday, the first game at BMO Field was as raucous and unique as any sporting event ever held here.

"The fans were absolutely fantastic, and right from the beginning of the game," said FC captain Jim Brennan. "We knew they would be great. Where we are disappointed is that we didn't get them a result."

"The fans were working out and rehearsing their chants before the game," marveled Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. "It was a great honor to be the first team to play here at BMO Field."

In retrospect, the melding of the city of Toronto, a place where nearly every second resident was born in another country, and the world's great global game was a masterstroke. But Saturday, the execution of the idea, as well as the idea itself, was finally put to the test.

It worked. BMO Field restored pro sports to the waterfront, one of the city's great gathering points and vistas.

There was a crammed supporters section behind the south goal that generated much of the noise all afternoon. Patrons found a rich and diverse menu. Four separate ethnic performing groups entertained at halftime.

"Fantastic field, fantastic show," said area man Greg Hammond. "It's wonderful to see soccer again. I remember soccer when the old (NASL) Blizzard were sliding around the artificial turf at Exhibition Place."

Flordeliza Capule of Toronto was buying an FC shirt for her son Edgar at a concession stand.

"I am from the Philippines," she said. "For us, soccer is the game that matters most but the noise and the stomping ... this building is being tested."

"We don't have too many stadiums that rock like this one," said MLS commissioner Don Garber. "We don't have too many teams that have a supporters group fill up an entire end zone. They want this team to be successful. They want soccer to be successful in this city and this country at the professional level."

Kansas City forward Eddie Johnson, who preened before the supporters section after scoring the game's only goal in the 81st minute, said between the cheering, heckling, drumming and chanting, playing at BMO Field was a unique experience.

"It was a European environment," he said. "Speaking as a young American, that's a dream, to be in a packed stadium, and deal with the different type of pressures and express yourself. The crowd was amazing."

"They were definitely like a 12th man," said FC forward Alecko Eskandarian. "They were so passionate, singing and chanting all game long. Hopefully they appreciated our effort."

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