Toronto Soccer Fans to Relaunch

The more observant among you may have noticed that Toronto Soccer Fans has been dormant for some time.
Various work/life changes have meant that there was insufficient time to keep this site updated to the extent that it deserved.

The Home game on Saturday was an opener in more ways than one. An Eye Opener. The passion of the crowd was fanstastic to see, and was reflected by most of the team. I am shortly relaunching this site as a suitable complement to that.

Check back soon, and any suggestions can be sent via the contact form

Toronto Replica Home Jersey

The Home Opener saw a sea of scarves. Lets make BMO Field into a sea of red shirts, and show your support for the team.
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A Brief History of Pro Soccer in Toronto

Fri 15th Dec, 2006 2:34pm - articles

From the Falcons, Metro, Blizzard, Rockets, Lynx to Toronto FC. Professional Soccer in T.O.

North American professional soccer has a short but tempestuous history which largely began in the late sixties. The North American Soccer League (NASL) was started in 1968 as a merger of two leagues (NPSL, USA) which had formed in 1967, partly capitalising on the higher profile the game had seen in the English speaking world following England's World Cup win in '66. Debuting in the NPSL and carrying to NASL after the merger were the Toronto Falcons, playing in the multipurpose/CFL Varsity Stadium.

The Falcons only managed to pull gates of 5000 for the '68 season in the NASL, and despite a reasonable record in the league, coached by CF Barcenlona's impresario Lasidlau Kubala, they failed to make the playoffs and subsequently folded under financial pressures.

Following a brief hiatus from pro soccer, Toronto once again had a team in the NASL when the Toronto Metros debuted in 1971, once again at the Varsity. The Metros had limited success, winning the Northern Division of the NASL in '73, subsequently losing to the Philadelphia Atoms in the Semis.

In 1975 the Metros merged with Toronto Croatia from the semi-pro Canadian National Soccer League (CNSL) to form the catchily named Toronto Metros-Croatia. This was to an extent a golden era for Toronto soccer. For the '76 season they managed to secure the services of a 34 year old Eusebio. Helped in part by his mercurial if aging talent, they went on to win the NASL's second 'Soccer Bowl' against Minnesota Kicks. This was to be the high point of the club, and at the end of the '78 season the club was on the brink. A fledgling TV network - Global - purchased the franchise, and the two teams separated once again, leaving the Toronto Croatia back in the NSL. The 'Metros' part of the team was reborn as the Toronto Blizzard.

The Blizzard survived as a franchise, with defeats in the championship final in '83 and '84. This time it was the league itself that collapsed in 1984 due to a range of problems, largely financial. In fact it was Blizzard Chairman Clive Toye who acted as commissioner of NASL after the '84 season attempting to rally enough teams for a new year. But attendances had been dropping since their peak average of 14,201 in 1980, and he was unable to persuade anyone but the Minnessota Strikers to stay on. Among the reasons given for the collapse of NASL were overly rapid expansion, dependence on expensive aging foreign talent, and sharing vast stadia, usually with NFL clubs, making atmosphere hard to come by.

The Blizzard continued to play at a semi-pro level until the founding of the Canadian Soccer League in 1987. This was a short lived (5 year) attempt at pro soccer on a national level in Canada but in 1993 the Blizzard joined the American Professional Soccer League, with a view to it becoming a top-level division in North America. As it turned out though, the gamble to jump ship did not pay off. When the decision was taken to create a new league - Major League Soccer - as the upper tier of American soccer the Blizzard collapsed. They were replaced for one season by the ill-fated Toronto Rockets, who managed rock bottom and subsequently, once again, folded.

The APSL continued to exist, but in 1996 there was a concerted effort to create a stable tier 2 for American soccer (and a tier 1 for Canadian soccer), so a new 'A-league' was formed from the crop of amateur and pro teams in multiple leagues. Following some subsequent splits to 'development' divisions, and a renaming as the United Soccer Leagues (USL) in '04, this has now stabilised to an extent. In 1997 the Toronto Lynx joined the A-League (USL), and the city has seen pro soccer ever since. The Lynx played, once again, out of Varsity Stadium until it was demolished in 2002. They have since been playing in Centennial Park in Etobicoke but to very limited crowds. Although the franchise has survived it has never been taken under the wing of Toronto sports fans. Whether it is due to a lack of talent in the lower league, the stadium jinx at Varsity, or just that Torontonians do not like soccer remains to be seen.

So to 2006, and Major League Soccer announces an expansion franchise in Canada, Toronto FC. Whether this will turn out to be the dawn of a new soccer age in Canada, or another cow being led to the slaughter remains to be seen. But you can be sure that the turbulent history just described has not been ignored by the execs at both MLS and MLSE. Many of the problems previously faced were down to poor league management and over-reaching expectations. The MLS is better run league, designed with wide-ranging regulations in place to avoid the bubble effect suffered by NASL, ranging from stringent limits on foreign players, a tight salary cap and a desire for soccer-specific stadiums. MLSE for their part are extremely experienced in running sports franchises, the greater media interest in soccer over the past years will aid their promotional push and much of the money in sports these days comes from advertising and television, not crowds. That said, ticket sales have already surpassed expectations - 5800 at the time of writing - which already places likely attendance figures in the ballpark ranges not seen since Eusebio was with the Metros-Croatia, and with rumours of Beckham and Figo joining the league, a more sustainable form of glamourous Toronto soccer may be just around the corner.