April 29, 2007 Toronto FC lose 1-0 in home opener (from Toronto Star)

No goals, but TFC still scores big with home debut

Toronto FC by the numbers
0 Goals in four games this season
10 Goals against 
81 Minutes for the first MLS goal in Toronto, by Eddie Johnson
209 Pounds, the weight of new forward Danny Dicchio, who threw it around with abandon
20,148 Fans at BMO Field
11 Degrees C at game time
$62.9M To build BMO Field
$8.50 Large beer
4-4-2 Formation favoured by coach Mo Johnson
13 Days off until Toronto's next game vs. Chicago 
Lack of offence didn't matter yesterday; there were plenty of other promising signs for Toronto's fledgling 
soccer team, not the least of which was happy fans

Apr 29, 2007 04:30 AM
Cathal Kelly
No, they didn't score. Toronto FC's futility at finding the space between the posts now reaches record levels. And yes, a goal would have been a nice way to begin.

But there were so many wonderful things about this city's new soccer dawn that it seems churlish to dwell on statistics.

There was the enormous red-and-white scarf clad crowd making the long walk down Ontario St. to BMO Field on an unfairly chilly morning in late-April.

There was the way they started the game fifteen minutes late to accommodate stragglers and no one seemed to care.

There was the sell-out crowd of 20,148 showing a fervour not often seen in this city outside of the hockey playoffs.

There was the way that same crowd charitably took up the tune of "The Star Spangled Banner" when the anthem singer forgot the words.

There was the awesomely powerful pair of confetti blasters in the south end. Well, they were fun for those of us not being hit by them.

There were the Red Patch Boys in the southeast corner bringing a boisterous European atmosphere to the match that spread infectiously through the other stands. Afterward, coach Mo Johnston said he got goosebumps.

There was a team that leaped into this game after looking lackadaisical and/or hapless in their previous three losses.

With a little more luck, Maurice Edu or Andy Welsh or Alecko Eskandarian might have snapped that goalless streak in the first half.

There was the announcement of an immediate cult hero in the person of lanky forward Danny Dichio. In his first match with the team, the Englishman launched himself at opponents like a 6-foot-4 torpedo.

"Someone told me the Maple Leafs are looking for a front man who nails goalkeepers, but that's not my job," Dichio said afterward. "I'm a physical player. I like getting involved."

By ``getting involved,'' Dichio means ``nailing goalkeepers.'' He nearly decapitated Kansas City netminder Kevin Hartman on one tackle. Then he drove his spikes into the side of Wizard Jose Burciaga when the defender ventured in too close. On another occasion, Dichio cut off his downfield chase for the ball to turn upfield and clothesline an opponent. After the game, he accused the referee of being "picky."

In between, Dichio looked dangerous on crosses into the box and did a ploughman's work helping out in midfield. Look for a run on Dichio's No. 9 jersey starting yesterday.

There was a more rigid defence with the deployment of Kiwi Andrew Boyens and the strong play of fullback Marvell Wynne.

TFC may not yet be scoring goals, but they looked like they've finally stopped bleeding them.

There was the way the crowd showered Kansas City goal scorer Eddie Johnson with $10 beer and water bottles when he tried to preen in front of them at the touchline.

All TFC opponents should be warned celebrate your goals at midfield.

There was the sense that TFC was still in this game with only seconds to go, the first time that can be said of them.

There was the crowd's full 90 minutes of aural assault on the Wizards.

"I think they were scared," Eskandarian said, almost apologetically, of his opponents.

There was the finishing roar, as the fans rightly celebrated their own performance as much as the team's.

There was the honest astonishment in the dressing room at the greeting the team received.

"It was such a loud noise, I couldn't hear a thing," Dichio said. "It was just a fantastic atmosphere, a lot like what we get back home in England."

There was the sense that BMO Field immediately becomes the most intimidating venue in Major League Soccer.

There was a little hope when it was learned that Ronnie O'Brien, the man expected to supply badly needed service to Dichio and Eskandarian, will finally be fit in time for the team's next match against Chicago.

Yes, they lost. Yes, they will continue to lose more than they win. But Toronto FC and their fans showed yesterday that this city is ready for soccer. And that matters far more than any story told by a scoresheet.

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