Fans say it’s MLS Cup or bust for Toronto FC

Supporters celebrate after earning Shield in win over New York Red Bulls

Toronto FC fans were thrilled Saturday night when their club defeated New York Red Bulls and clinched the Supporters’ Shield for best league record.

But this isn’t European soccer, where having the best record means you’re the best team. There’s still an MLS Cup to be won.

And for Toronto FC fans, there’s no excuse for losing it this time.

Alex has been a Toronto FC supporter since Day 1. (David Rouben/Toronto Observer)

“I think that Toronto’s better than everybody on their best day, so I’m not worried,” said Alex, a TFC supporter who fashioned a custom belt for his beloved Reds.

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t [make it all the way] given their potential, but that’s why you play the game.”

Toronto FC’s 2016 playoff run was a magical one that saw them finish with the third best team in the Eastern Conference, and very few expected them to make it to the Final. Even when they lost that game, it was still considered a hugely successful season.

This time around, it feels like the only acceptable outcome is winning the MLS Cup.

“Given what they’ve done in the league this year, and the history of this league, they’re definitely probably the best team this league’s ever produced,” said Alex.

With two games left in the regular season, some feel that Toronto FC’s work still isn’t done. They need at least a win and a draw against Montreal Impact and Atlanta United to break LA Galaxy’s hallowed points record of 68 set in 1998.

“We have a great group of players, and I think that going for some sort of record, regardless of what it is, is always important,” said Sanjay.

But be careful what you wish for. Being the best team of all time comes with a heavy burden, and fans don’t wish to see Toronto FC become the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games but lost in the NBA Finals.

One overlooked detail surrounding that Galaxy team — they were eliminated in the Conference Final.

That doesn’t mean fans that like Sanjay aren’t cautiously optimistic. Asked if there was a team he didn’t want to face in the playoffs, he gave a telling answer.

“I would say Montreal just because it’s a derby, you never know how those are going to go. It always brings intensity and those kinds of things. And I just feel they’re the team that could eliminate us.”