Ever since Toronto FC debuted back in April 2007, its supporters have been referred to by local media as a "sophisticated soccer base." It's patronizing that adult MLS fans with a committed stake in the outcome of matches and a working knowledge of the league table are suddenly pipe-carrying, elbow patched Lobanovskyi's ready with our doctoral theses on the coming of 4-6-0.
Anyway, the notion goes, most recently articulated by Paul James the Globe and Mail, that barring significant changes at the managerial level, the "sophisticated" fans in the south stand at BMO Field will empty out until Mo Johnston leaves and is replaced by MLSE brass with a competent manager capable of working the MLS player market and transforming the club into a winning venture.
Maybe, but these "sophisticated fans" supposedly schooled in Euro soccer history have already had to overcome the hump of supporting what is essentially a expansion franchise in a centrally administered, egalitarian soccer league based in the USA, owned by an extraordinarily wealthy corporation that owns a hockey club that is the best supported in the world and has failed to win the Stanley Cup since 1967. These are supporters whose little tidbits of fan culture have been appropriated as marketing tools, luring "unsophisticated" fans in with the prospect of authentic "atmosphere" to go along with the eight dollar chip buttys. Hell, the scarves raised in two thirds of the stadium are corporate give aways.
And we're now on year three of no playoffs, and no significant progression, and more importantly, no concrete improvement on the quality of play. But we'll still show up because Toronto FC is all we have; it exists to fill a club football sized hole in the centre of the city. Don't think MLSE you've done anything truly special yet other than getting the club here. "Sophisticated" fans that we are, we know it's the only show in town. All we can do is ask that, as we continue to aid your marketing strategy with our songs and banners and the rest, you give back a little by making some hard decisions about how this club is run.