Toronto FC's run good for Canadian soccer
On May 25, 2010, then-Vancouver Whitecaps FC coach Teitur Thordarson stood in disbelief on a rained-soaked BMO Field in Toronto as Soccer Canada postponed the second leg of the Canadian Championships due to weather.
The 'Caps 1-0 lead in the match was nullified. At the time, who could have known that the weather that day would eventually benefit the Canadian men's national team and Canadian soccer in general?
That's exactly what happened when Toronto FC went on to win the replayed game and are currently representing not only Major League Soccer, but also Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final on Monday against Mexican side Santos Laguna.
The benefits that will filter through the soccer landscape in Canada begins at the men's national team and float all the way through the grassroots level in a variety of ways.
TFC have more Canadians on their roster compared to any other MLS team. In fact, the Reds have three times as many Canadians than either Montreal and Vancouver, and more Canucks than those two teams combined.
It should also be taken into account that TFC will likely play at least two Canadians in the match and the benefit is already noticeable. Experience in such matches, both on the field and the atmosphere, is beneficial.
"It's terrific for our Canadian players any time they can replicate a national team experience, particularly away from home in those challenging environments," said Canadian men's national team goalkeeping coach Paul Dolan, "Experiences those players get gives them a bigger comfort level".
Having a chance to play for the national team, sometimes under bizarre conditions, always plays a factor in World Cup qualifying. Having these Canadian players, some of them newcomers, like Ashtone Morgan, wearing the maple leaf on their chest will earn valuable exposure about what to expect.
"Sometimes fear of the unknown can intimidate players but playing these top teams and showing well benefits the national team, especially the youngsters," Dolan said.
There is also something to be said for TFC playing in front of more than 45,000 fans at Rogers Centre and countless others on TV.
"Many were likely youngsters who may have only tuned in to see a 'big event' with David Beckham et al, but having won this phase is very aspirational," said the former Canadian 'keeper. "I'm sure many young players and new players will be inspired to want to play the game at the highest level and maybe play in front of huge crowds in their own country or their hometown."
While Vancouver and Montreal fans may not be cheering for Toronto FC, they should applaud the potential benefits to the Canadian national team.
Listen to Tyler Green on TEAM 1040 every Sunday at 9 p.m. He also co-hosts the Whitecaps pre- and post-game shows. Follow him on Twitter @tylergreen1040.