Remember how excited everyone was for the Toronto Blue Jays playoff run? Or a few months before that for the Raptors playoff run? Toronto FC has made it just as far as the Raptors and Jays did and are favoured to move on to the Championship Final.

If you aren’t already on it, now is a good time to hop on the TFC bandwagon and this article provides a beginners guide to help.

A Brief History
Ugly Start:
-The Toronto Football Club (TFC) joined Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2007.
-For the next 7 years, the team ranged between bad and extremely bad, never once making the playoffs.
-We don’t need to talk about this anymore.

The Turning Point:
-TFC signed 3 players in 2014 and 2015 that have completely turned the team around.

Sebastian Giovinco
The Atomic Ant, as he is affectionately referred to, was signed from Juventus (the best club team in Italy) for $7 Million in 2015, the highest contract in the league at the time. The Italian striker has been worth every penny as he captured the MVP trophy last year and would have been in the running again this year if not for an injury that forced him to miss a few games towards the end of the regular season.
giovinco2

Michael Bradley
Bradley’s nickname is “The General”. He plays a defensive central midfield position for both TFC and the U.S. International Team. He also serves as the captain of both teams. He is a punishing defender and controls the middle of the field on offense. Basically think of him as the quarterback of the team. Bradley makes $6.5 Million, just less than Giovinco.

Michael Bradley, Amobi Okugo

Jozy Altidore
While he isn’t quite as good as the two above (Altidore makes $2.2 million by comparison), the American striker is a good compliment to Giovinco. He is big and strong and good in the air. He’s also been on a tear recently, scoring 11 goals in his last 14 MLS games.
jozy-altidore
bit of a size difference between the two strikers

With these 3 players on the roster, TFC made the playoffs for the first time in 2015, but lost in the first round, struggling with a leaky defense that tied for the highest goals-against in the eastern conference.

2016 Season
The defense that hindered TFC in 2015 was drastically improved in 2016, going from the highest goals-against to the lowest goals-against in the Eastern Conference in just one year. TFC jumped up the standings even further, finishing with the third best record in the East, and could have been even better if not for an injury to Giovinco during the year. That strong season has set up TFC for their playoff run.

2016 Playoffs so far:
The 2016 MLS playoffs have been full of upsets so far and has effectively played out like this: (note the hilarious team names)

mls-playoffs

Toronto didn’t just beat Philadelphia and New York, they DOMINATED them. The single elimination game vs. Philadelphia was a 3-1 victory and the 2-game playoff against New York (will explain this in a bit) combined for a 7-0 win for TFC!

With the 5th seed Montreal Impact upsetting New York in the other Eastern Conference Semifinal, Toronto is favoured to win the Eastern Conference and move on to the finals.

How the playoff matchup works:
Toronto and Montreal will play two games against each other. The first game is scheduled for Tue Nov 22nd in Montreal and the second game will be Wed Nov 30th in Toronto (BMO Field). Tickets for the game in Toronto on stubhub are currently $50USD but I expect that to come way down closer to the game (it’s pretty damn cold out).

The scores for the two games are added up and whoever has the best combined score wins. If it’s a tie, the tiebreaker is whoever scored the most goals in their away game, and if those are the same, it goes to a shootout.

If Toronto beats Montreal, they will move onto the Championship game, which unlike the semi-final is a single game that will take place on December 10th, hosted by the highest remaining seed.

If you’re wondering why there is this weird 2 game quarterfinal and semifinal and then a single game championship, that’s how many soccer playoffs work (eg. The European Champions League).

Time to Jump on the Bandwagon
1. The atmosphere at a TFC game is fantastic. I go to about 3 TFC games per year and not only are they generally cheaper than Leafs, Raptors and Jays (depending were you sit) games, the crowd is 100x better. The south end of the stadium is full of die-hard crazy fans that make you feel like you’re in Europe. Here they are doing that cool Icelandic clap thing after the latest home playoff win.

2. For those of you that think soccer is boring, this soccer is not nearly as high quality as European or World Cup soccer, which is actually better for the casual fan. There are a lot more mistakes which means more scoring chances and more goals.

3. Sebastian Giovinco is a legit star. He’s the Sidney Crosby of the MLS right now and every time he touches the ball, a pulse of energy goes into the Stadium. It’s great to watch him play. Here are the highlights from the last game vs. NYC FC where he scored a hat-trick.

Hope you watch the game on Tuesday! Share this post around to get people into it!

clapclapclap TFC! clapclapclap TFC!

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