New York City Football Club host Toronto FC tonight.
Hi Brendan, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering Toronto FC?
As a national TV broadcaster for the last 15 years I’ve been in a unique position to cover the team and work on a handful of match broadcasts, but not being on the daily beat or with a show dedicated to the club I’ve been able to keep a season ticket since day one. While I may get to less than half the home games in a season now, I’ve always had a working eye on the club.
What has been your highlight in that time?
Getting a MLS team in 2007 gave all the soccer fans in this incredibly multicultural city one club to support. The atmosphere at BMO Field in those early years was incredible, even if the stadium itself was a bit of a Lego project, it was the place to be on a Saturday. The team on the pitch though never matched the excitement or fervour in the stands. The arrival of Sebastián Giovinco brought a new era, one where winning actually became the expectation instead of just a hope. TFC’s historic 2017 season, enroute to winning MLS Cup on a frigid BMO Field by beating the team that broke their hearts the year before, was a moment that Toronto FC fans will never forget and one it feels like the universe owed them for all the pain and heartache. They lived through in the previous 10 years.
How would you evaluate Toronto's 2023 season so far?
2023 has been an absolute tire fire. All of the excitement and hope of last summer when Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi arrived, which truly did rival the excitement we see in MLS today for Messi’s MLS era, if I operate it before the spring. It has since been a soap opera with Bob Bradley driven out of town and the fanbase turning on two of the most exciting players to ever play in MLS because they have not played anywhere near their potential.
What are your hopes for the team in the off season?
There’s a lot of hope for the off-season with former Canadian men’s national team head coach John Herdman taking over. As a real motivator, who took both Canada’s women’s and men’s national teams to new heights after years of struggle and strife, there’s an expectation that he can assemble a more balanced squad and united squad that will want to run through a wall for him.
What do you think will be the deciding factor in the game on Saturday?
Fitness should be the deciding factor against NYCFC on Saturday. Both sides have been September schedules and it will be an endurance battle. New York should be able to exploit CFCs thin midfield given the mid-week injuries to Victor Vasquez and Brandon Servania, and with Michael Bradley deployed in central defense.
For any fans that might be in Toronto for a game in the near future, are there any pregame spots you suggest they check out?
Toronto makes for a really great away day. BMO Field is right in a popular neighborhood, called Liberty Village, with plenty of trendy restaurants and pubs. It has a very Brooklyn vibe, but with Canadian beers instead of Belgian Moon and Yeungling.