I know setting up side-projects for a sports team never seems to be a good idea, and creating objectives that can be failed right before the playoffs seems like a recipe for disaster; especially for a Toronto team. But, as both a fan and an amateur sports-writer, I can’t help but feel that setting the all-time points record should absolutely be a priority for the Reds.
Now wait, hear me out; I’m not one of those people that is going to argue about the importance of the regular season and the Supporter’s Shield over the playoffs. I know there are many people that wish there were no playoffs, and everyone would be only playing for the shield. But this is North America, and playoffs are a part of our sports culture. This is not something to be ashamed of; I see no reason why we need to try to emulate Europe in every way when we have a proud sports culture that is actually just as old as European sports (remember, organized sports leagues is a relatively new phenomenon in the world). In other words, I fully believe that winning the playoffs is an absolute must for this destructive team that calls BMO field home. Yet, I would like to argue that claiming the record is just as important, if not more important, for the team.
The record is important for two significant reasons: the fans, and the future. For the first, my reasoning is simple; the fans of this team have brought dedication to a new level. Not only did they stay with this team through rough times (which is an understatement), the fans stuck with the team before good times had even been experienced. When I look around and see dedicated fans in various sports, I see a great deal of reminiscing about the past glories. For this team, there have been no past glories. For that reason, this team owes the fans more than just a winning season; they owe the many supporters a season that goes above and beyond. Winning the triple will be a huge step in this direction, but remember that the Voyageur’s Cup is a lot easier to win than the US Cup, and it is going to become more difficult in future years with the advent of the Canadian Premier League, not to mention the inclusion of League1 Ontario and the PLSQ. This fact means that, as time goes on; the Voyageur’s Cup victory will lose significance for the year 2017 as the Cup grows into a more expansive tournament.
Winning the Supporter’s Shield will also grow in difficulty, as more teams join the league and contest for the trophy. This fact exists as a double-edged sword in creating a legacy. On the one hand, the increased difficulty of achieving the triple in the future makes now a perfect time to accomplish the feat and enter what will inevitably become an incredibly exclusive club. On the other hand, future generations may look at this early success as having been too easy given the relative newness of the league, and the growing difficulty of the Voyageur’s Cup.
I believe that setting the record for the most points in a season, paired with winning the triple; will fully establish the 2017 iteration of Toronto FC in the history-books of the MLS as one of, if not the greatest team in MLS history. In addition to the reasons already stated, I believe achieving the record will create a lasting legacy for the team simply because in decades from now, fans will not bother to look up who won the 2017 playoffs or Supporter’s Shield. What they will look at is the record for most points. If that record is paired with the triple, a legend is born. Both are important, but it is the record, not the playoffs, Supporter’s Shield, or Voyageur’s Cup, that will have the longest-lasting story. Why is this important? Why do we in 2017 care about how fans will feel about our team 20 or 30 years from now? The answer is simple; how people look at this league in the future is exactly what makes this league, and soccer as a sport in this continent so exciting right now. In hockey, baseball, basketball, football; the legends have already been created. For soccer, we are in the age of legends right now, the age of firsts for North America. It is these seasons, these players that will be spoken of in the far future. It is the same reason why I have thrown myself into the Canadian Premier League with such enthusiasm, and it is one of the many reasons why this great Canadian nation is brimming with enthusiasm for the sport.
Come on You Reds: be legendary!