By Evan Ream
“I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.”
-Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch
It’s Wednesday night and Toronto FC, the worst team in the league, is playing Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a likely playoff team. Up 2-1, the fourth official announces that there will be four minutes of stoppage time. He is met with a chorus boos from U-Sector.
A harmless long ball is floated into the box from a Vancouver player. Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic will easily grab the ball, waste a few seconds and send it back into play; Kocic is an experienced goalkeeper, and this is an easy play.
The ball gets closer and closer and closer. Kocic jumps up, but out of nowhere, Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks literally leaps over his defender and in front of Kocic, heading the ball into the empty net in an awe-inspiring feat of athleticism. Typical Toronto.
Mattocks sprints over to the supporters section and raises up both his hands and put them together, making a heart shape. Thirteen-dollar beers rain down on Mattocks who stands there, stoic, knowing that once again, the entire city of Toronto has been deflated because of their soccer team.
Toronto has only had a team since 2007. Several of their fans define themselves as “fake” or “plastic” because of their lack of history. But this is their history. Toronto doesn’t win games that they’re supposed to win. The fans just show up in overpriced seats to watch a consistently terrible product.
This is mentioned to me by at halftime by Mike Doran, a member of U-Sector who has missed just four home games in the history of TFC.
“Think of how bad this team is, and look at how many people are here,” he says, pointing to the near capacity crowd (on a Wednesday night no less).
The team, not the support group, controls U-Sector tickets as per usual. Doran has tickets that are scalped every game on either side of him. Families can get tickets in the front row and sit down. Their complaints of standing, singing and cursing are heard by the front office, the same front office that markets the team based on fan support.
Fans begin to leave the stadium. This draw is as disappointing as the rest. There will be no singing on the way home tonight. The air has been taken out of the crowd when Toronto wins a corner kick in the 94th minute. They won’t score. In their history, TFC has scored just two goals in stoppage time of a game.
Two-time World Cup veteran Torsten Frings trots over to take the corner. He swings a perfect ball in to the box. Terry Dunfield, a Whitecaps castoff leaps for the header.
What happens next is a blur; the fans can’t believe it. Several fans double-check the scoreboard to make sure that the 3-2 scoreline is correct. They have just won their third game in the season.
U-Sector marches out of the stadium ironically singing, “I just can’t get enough.” Their voices echo throughout the warm Toronto night. As they march under the train tracks to go home, not a single fan is quiet.
They have only gotten to do this a few times in their lives, and for a group that has dealt with so much crap from the front office, they deserve it.
Toronto will undoubtedly disappoint for the sixth year in a row, but U-Sector will always be there, riding the highs and lows that come with being in love.