TFC ‘Blue Moon’ their supporters, announce friendly against Manchester City.

Tim Leiweke struggling out of his tight fitting leisure gear.

It’s a tough schedule Toronto FC have got this year, 7 road games to start the season is already putting them in a hole points wise. When the bigger and flashier BMO Field and all it’s associated money hoovering clubs, tunnel or otherwise finally opens, the games will come thick and fast. The Voyageurs Cup is a more than respectable reason to have midweek games, and they both take place in May, along with 5 league games.  That only leaves 2 midweek spots open for valuable rest and all that. So what’s a club to do?  That’s right, fill one of them with a friendly! That’ll help.

Yes, it wasn’t quite Kevin Payne going into little Italy levels of special announcement, but a press release was sent out this morning announcing that on May 27th, also known as smack dab in between games against Portland and San Jose, Manchester City are coming to town. Currently 2nd place in the BPL don’t you know (erm, not quite, but oh well)!  The timing of this, a season ending trip rather than the usual pre season trip, does leave that pre season time and space open so we’ll probably get another one in July too (in fact this Waking the Red article seems to confirm that’s the case, they expect this one to sell out, and the 2nd one to get about 22k fans in attendance, perhaps the much vaunted value packed game against Championship side Sunderland?), just the sort of thing to warm Tim Leiweke’s circus loving heart.

Despite the usual talk of players looking to test themselves against the world’s best, we can only hope that the first team doesn’t get played any more than they’re contractually obliged to, probably the first half if previous games are any indication. Either way, it won’t be helpful to what should be the proper goal of winning some MLS games to make up the ground in the standings. #TrophiesNotFriendlies and all that.

Tickets are already waiting for you in your account manager if you’re a season ticket holder, and woof, just look at those prices. $50 for a South end ticket, $60 for light greys and onwards and upwards, certainly looks like ‘supporter appreciation month’ to me.

Of course the cash is what this is all about, even more so than usual, generally at least the visiting team can say it’s about pre season and gaining fitness, this is just thrown on at the end of the season when City players are all going to be knackered and desperate to get away to wherever they go in the off season. No-one will be gaining fitness, or trying to impress the boss to win a place when the season starts, hell it’s a genuine question as to just who exactly will be ‘the boss’ for man City by the time this comes around.  It couldn’t be more brazenly ‘modern football’ if it tried.

As for TFC, well, that fancy new stadium wasn’t going to pay for itself was it? This is the sort of thing that will become very normal as MLSE tries to get back it’s investment as quickly as possible. Argos, winter classics, money grabbing friendlies, this is the new normal. Especially after their lease with the city was renegotiated so that they pay just a flat fee rather than a portion of the profits as was previously the case, MLSE will want as many events as possible to recoup their investment. Not to worry though regular TFC supporter, you’ll get a canopy waaaaay above your head, and a concourse all on one level now, totally worth it right?

The obvious rebuttal to that would be that part of the money MLSE are recouping is the money they spent on the squad, all those high priced DP’s. It’s a fair point, inarguable really, but another way to look at that would be that this the answer to the oft asked question ‘What does it matter how much they’re spending beyond the basic DP cap hit? It’s their money, it doesn’t affect you!’  Well here’s why it matters, this sort of thing is what we have to put up with to be able to wildly overspend on USMNT players like Bradley and Altidore, or European players like Giovinco rather than mildly overspend on South Americans like Gilberto or Laba.  For better or worse, this is what we are now, this is what we have, we’re a big spending team on the pitch with ‘world wide superclub’ pretensions and with all the obnoxious nonsense that comes with all that.

Maybe you like these games, maybe you don’t but you’re fine with the quid pro quo, the Faustian pact, the deal with the devil, after all pretty much all MLS clubs are doing it these days, football is what it is, why not sit back and enjoy the game, or at least just ignore it and let those who want to go see Man City players put in a half arsed effort overpay for the experience?

Or perhaps you think it’s just another sign of a club with it’s priorities all wrong, that makes a grand show of ‘appreciating it’s supporters’ while simultaneously charging them silly prices to a game that does nothing for their team.

Whatever your opinion, it doesn’t matter, this is how it’s going to continue to be. Now more than ever, get used to it Toronto.


Author: Duncan Fletcher

Blogging journeyman formerly of Cruel Geography and Waking the Red, also briefly with Sportsnet and every now and then with the Guardian. As a supporter of Darlington, TFC, England and Canada, football's been unfair and poking fun at Duncan for decades now, so it's only fair he does the same right back at it. Follow him on twitter @duncandfletcher

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