Perhaps I should go away more often. Hang on! Before you ignore the rest of this blog and rush to the comment section to add "And don't bother coming back!" let me first confirm it's a rhetorical suggestion.
My sporadic absences, though, seem to have had a positive effect on Toronto FC. In the summer of 2007, the Reds hammered FC Dallas 4-0, a result which still stands as the team's biggest margin of victory in Major League Soccer. I missed the match due to a family vacation.
Last Tuesday I was also in the UK winding down my annual dash round the old country. When I returned 24 hours later I heard stories of the best night in the club's history, accompanied by details of the most complete performance ever seen at BMO Field.
Mere coincidence I'm sure, but it was sad to miss a memorable night for Canadian soccer. The special atmosphere of evening games, combined with a strong team display, are few and far between. One can only hope Preki's team can recapture that form on a consistent basis.
Four days later it was gone again. Sometimes your team is beaten by a better one - pure and simple. Judging by the weekend's evidence, New York is a better team than most in MLS, but gifting your opponent three goals in one game is careless, to put it mildly.
In the space of 10 days, Toronto FC has fallen badly off the pace in the race for the playoffs. Back to back losses against the Red Bulls leave them staring at a yawning eight point chasm to their star-studded Eastern Conference rivals. Home fortress crumbled
The apparent invincibility of the home fortress crumbled in front of our eyes. Toronto's progress has been built, almost exclusively, on its ability to accrue points in front of its own fans. New York came, saw, and conquered in relative comfort.
With a third of the season remaining, Preki's team is no closer to the post-season than it was 12 months ago. Despite a catalogue of roster changes, not to mention a new coach in year four, Canada's only active MLS franchise is facing an all too familiar uphill battle.
Toronto's incredibly loyal, yet hugely frustrated fans know how this ends. Preki may refuse to discuss events before his time, but the supporters have been this way before. Suffice to say, the omens are not promising based on recent history.
The coach may scoff at questions from the media that the season is all but over. There are indeed 30 points to play for. Earning just half of them would probably be enough for Toronto FC to claim a playoff berth. Of course it's doable and my glass, for the time being, remains half full-ish.
There's no denying home games are running short. Only four of the final 10 matches are at BMO Field, where maximum points are pretty much essential. Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel and Rafael Marquez are gone for the year but any more individual errors will be fatal.
There's also no denying Toronto remains a poor road team. It always has been, and Preki's influence has done little to cure the travel sickness. That said, TFC were unlucky not to win in Seattle last year, and round off the campaign at woeful DC United.
I have never been, nor attempted to be, an apologist for this franchise. At the end of the season you finish where you are meant to finish and at this rate Toronto FC is on course to miss the post-season again. All I am suggesting is there is still hope.
And where there's hope, there's life. It is not yet a lost cause and TFC doesn't have to play New York every week. If it's any consolation -- which it probably isn't -- I believe the Red Bulls may well be back in Toronto to contest the MLS Cup in November.
And that is probably the way it should be. If a team is prepared to invest in higher quality players, it should pay dividends sooner or later. Thierry Henry has had more than his fair share of criticism in 2010. Perhaps he'll round off the year back in the winner's circle.
It would never admit it, but MLS is an organisation which craves global credibility. It came close last year when David Beckham and Landon Donovan made it to the championship game. Beckham will be back in time for the playoffs while Henry is just settling in to his new surroundings.
New York versus Los Angeles in the final with the Toronto skyline providing the backdrop? Donovan against Marquez, and Beckham facing Henry, to say nothing of Juan Pablo Angel - in my estimation the league's deadliest striker.
The dream final? Don't bet against it.
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