A bad game can stay in the mind of a fan for a few days, but how will Toronto FC find support after the loss of Sebastian Giovinco?
That’s the big question that arises for the future of Toronto FC.
On March 17, TFC will play their first MLS home game of the season at BMO Field against the New England Revolution, after having the most difficult months in recent years, and the expectation of attendance is unknown.
Fans have many reasons to be upset; the Reds were eliminated on Feb. 26 from the Round-of-16 of the CONCACAF Champions League against Club Atletico Independiente de La Chorrera, the team finished in 9th place in the MLS Eastern Conference last season, and its top star player Sebastian Giovinco was sold.
On Jan. 30, Toronto FC announced that forward Giovinco, 32, was sold to Al-Hilal FC of the Saudi Professional League.
The transfer became effective when the Italian player accepted a three-year contract with an annual salary of USD $11.5 million.
Giovinco was the most important player in the club’s history, with 83 goals and 51 assists in 142 appearances.
In addition, in 2015 he was elected as MLS MVP, and named as the best transfer of the season in his first year with the club.
Ken Lickers worked for TFC from 2011 to 2015 and participated in the In-stadium program — the magazines that the team sells at the game. He said the attendance could be affected, especially from the big Italian community in Toronto.
“The Italian community really rallied around having their superstar come around, so you don’t know, like, would those people completely disappear now he’s gone? I think there is some degree in which they will, for sure,” Lickers said in a telephone interview Feb. 17.
Many fans have raised their voices through social media, showing their discontent over Giovinco’s departure.
Manuel Castro, 31, immigrated from Venezuela five years ago, and he has followed the Reds since then.
He said he tries to attend as many TFC games as he can, but the current situation of the team makes him doubt whether he will go as often now.
“To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s worth it to go and support TFC this season,” Castro said.
Toronto FC was founded in 2005, and joined MLS in 2007 as the first Canadian-based team in the league. Since the first year, they have had alot of support from fans.
Last season, Toronto FC had an average attendance at BMO Field of 26,628 people per game.
In fact, the Reds had the best home attendance after Atlanta United FC, and Seattle Sounders FC, which both play in larger NFL stadiums.
TFC finished last season at 9th place out of 11th in the Eastern Conference, with 10 wins, six ties, and 18 losses in 34 games. That means they lost more than half of the games they played.
Unfortunately for fans, BMO Field wasn’t as lucky as other years. The team had a record of eight wins, two ties, and seven losses.
The Toronto Observer repeatedly contacted MLSE for comments, but the company did not respond.
On March 2, Toronto FC went to Chester, Pennsylvania and played their first MLS away game of the year against Philadelphia Union. They won the game 3-1 in a great night for the captain, Michael Bradley, who scored twice.
The Reds will have play anything but a routine match against the New England Revolution: with star attacker Jozy Altidore still injured, the spotlight will be on Toronto’s new signings Terrence Boyd and Quentin Westberg, who were not included in the lineup in the CONCACAF loss against Club Atletico Independiente de la Chorrera.