Toronto FC: A decade of highs and lows

A decade after their debut in Major League Soccer, and a lot of ups and downs, Toronto FC has the opportunity to hoist the MLS Cup on home soil on Saturday night.

A look back at the franchise's most notable moments ahead of MLS Cup final

TFC's victory against the Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference finals is without doubt the best moment in franchise history. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

A decade after their debut in Major League Soccer, and a lot of ups and downs, Toronto FC has the opportunity to hoist the MLS Cup on home soil on Saturday night.

TFC defeated the rival Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference final to become the first Canadian franchise to reach the league's championship game.

At the beginning of the season, such a scenario seemed like a pipe dream. Toronto had eight consecutive losing seasons under eight different head coaches and zero playoff appearances until last year's quick exit against the Montreal Impact. 

As the team looks to exorcise those demons in the MLS Cup final against the Seattle Sounders at BMO Field, here's a look back at TFC's best and worst moments.

24th minute

After being shut out four straight times to begin its inaugural MLS season, Toronto FC finally scored its first-ever goal in league play on May 12, 2007 against Chicago.

Danny Dichio slotted home a cross from Edson Buddle in the 24th minute to send the sellout crowd at BMO Field into a frenzy.

Seat cushions given to fans at the entrance were thrown and scattered all over the pitch, delaying the match several minutes.

It's a goal forever etched in the minds of TFC fans. During the 24th minute of each home game, fans pay tribute to the iconic moment with a song in the Englishman's name.

Droughts like no other

Toronto set a pair of dubious MLS records in its inaugural season.

The time it took the franchise to score its first goal — 384 minutes plus stoppage time — marked the longest goalless streak to begin a season in MLS history.

TFC followed that up by smashing the previous league record of 557 consecutive minutes without a goal as their drought reached 824 minutes after being shutout in nine consecutive matches.

Prodigal son comes home

Dwayne De Rosario, left, was acquired via trade by TFC director of Soccer Mo Johnston. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Entering the franchise's third season, Toronto needed some offensive punch. Manager Mo Johnston did more than that in the 2008 off-season by acquiring one of the league's most decorated and lethal offensive players, who just happened to be Canadian.

Dwayne De Rosario was acquired via trade from Houston, where he captured two MLS Cup titles and a finals MVP.

The Scarborough, Ont., native made an instant impact, scoring 11 goals and leading his hometown club to within a point of their first playoff berth.

De Rosario's 27 goals in 57 appearances is second on the club's all-time goal-scoring list.

A Bloody Big Deal

"A Bloody Big Deal" was supposed to turn around the fortunes of the franchise. (Jag Gundu/Getty Images)

With newly appointed MLSE president Tim Leiweke in the fold, the sports and entertainment company flexed its financial muscles during the transfer market in January 2014.

In what the team marketed as "A Bloody Big Deal," Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe were sold by their European clubs to TFC for approximately $10 million US apiece, a new MLS record for transfer fees.

The investment translated into early success with Bradley providing stability in the midfield and Defoe finding the back of the net 11 times in his first 16 league matches.

But a poor stretch of games following the World Cup break resulted in the firing of head coach Ryan Nelsen, who was instrumental in bringing Defoe, his ex-Tottenham teammate, to Toronto.

The "Bloody Big Deal" quickly turned into a bloody big mess as Defoe was dealt just nine months into his four-year contract to Premier League club Sunderland in exchange for Jozy Altidore.

The Atomic Ant

In January 2015, MLSE opened the chequebook for a second consecutive off-season and showed Sebastian Giovinco the money — four years and $7 million US per season to be exact.

The move injected excitement once again into the fan base in anticipation of "the Atomic Ant," a nickname given to Giovinco for his playmaking skills and scoring prowess despite only standing five-foot-four.

In just his first season with TFC, the Italian proved not only to be the best player to ever suit up for the Reds but possibly the best player MLS has ever seen.

In the 2015 season, Giovinco won the MLS Golden Boot, Newcomer of the Year, and MVP while breaking the single-season points record and leading TFC to their first playoff appearance.

The Italian became the club's all-time leading goal scorer this season and now has Toronto a win away from its first MLS Cup.


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