Ailsa Blair

The positives of LFC’s friendly in Toronto

Ailsa Blair, who recently moved to Toronto from the UK, discusses the Reds’ next match – a friendly against MLS side FC Toronto in July.

Foreword: Last week I was asked by the Roger’s Centre here in Toronto, Canada, what I thought of the Liverpool FC v Toronto FC friendly to be played here on July 21. After some research, it turns out a lot of the TFC fans are pretty against the idea, and not a lot of LFC fans even know the game is taking place. With this in mind I decided to compose this article to discuss why I think that this pre-season friendly is hugely important for both sides, and the changes it could bring about for each team.

Toronto's Rogers Centre

This summer Liverpool are heading to my new home, Toronto, on July 21. I, for one, am very excited about this. Others over here, most particularly TFC fans, are not.

After moving to Toronto in August 2011, and after spending 3 months in the States, there are two things I desperately miss about back home; my family, and watching Liverpool play at Anfield. We all know that nothing beats being part of the Kop on a European night, and now we, as Toronto based LFC fans, have the ability to bring that atmosphere to North America. That is pretty exciting.

What I believe to be more exciting is the opportunity that lies before us. Let’s face it, Liverpool FC is a shambles right now. I am writing this article four days after Kenny’s departure, when we have no idea who our next manager will be, and with endless rumours circling the internet about how we are likely to lose most of our top players. The coming months are vital to Liverpool Football Club. Not only do we have to find the missing jigsaw puzzle managerial wise, but we also have an uphill battle to assure the players that LFC will continue to grow into a club that will be challenging for top success.

Every LFC fan I have talked to over the last few days has a different idea who would be the best fit for us going forward, and most of them also have varying ideas of what we need as a club. Right now, we have no idea whether we are going to end up with Pep Guardiola, Andre Villa Boas, Rafa Benitez, or one of the many other names being linked with the vacant position. So let’s stop worrying about it. In all honesty, we have no control over whom FSG decide to put in charge of our beloved club. What we do have control over is showing our support to a club that many of us have supported since we were children. For me, the best way that we can do that is to spend the next two months focusing on the fact that we are the ones who get to see this new generation of LFC play for the first time. Most importantly, as North American based fans, we get to show every single person that is connected to LFC and the world of football, that we are still a massive club. We are a club who can sell out stadiums in Europe, Asia AND North America. We are a club that has the best fans in the world behind them.

Now, I know that a lot of the Toronto FC fans are less than happy with the fact that their (so far troublesome) season is being disturbed by a friendly with a team that most of them couldn’t care less about. I get that, I really do. If this game was being played in the middle of October and one of LFC’s games had to be rescheduled, I would probably be less than pleased. However, I would also try to see the upside of the situation – because in truth, there’s nothing you can do to change it at this point. Let’s perhaps think of it in a more positive way, if TFC beat Liverpool on July 21, the kind of confidence that would come from beating a team that has won 18 league titles and 5 European cups would transfer to future MLS games. It would help restore some of the belief that many may feel TFC have been missing so far this season.

Liverpool choosing to play TFC is huge. From my experience back in the UK, many fans of the beautiful game do not have the first clue what the MLS even is. After telling many of my friends of my first Major League Soccer game in 2010, a total of one of them even knew that North America had a soccer league. It is games like these that change that. Having games like this is going to help not only the development of the MLS as a whole, but also in gaining more exposure for future European based players to want to come here. Yes, players in the twilight of their careers such as Beckham, Keane, Henry and Frings are currently playing in the MLS, but continued exposure and growth could one day help attract top class young talent to the North American market. That really is something the MLS should and seems to be aspiring to.

Furthermore, to explore a slightly different avenue of my previous point; On many tours of North America, Premier League teams often choose to play against European opposition who are also touring, or US All-Star teams. This is the perfect time, and is a huge boost for Canada’s recent attempts to grow in their MLS presence. Do we not want to see more Canadian teams in the MLS? And the development of more Canadian talent? When families take their children to games like these, it will be a memory that will live on with many of them forever. Is that not what we all want as soccer fans? For the game to continue to grow and develop into new, exciting avenues.

This game has endless opportunities for both sides, which are looking for growth and exposure in different ways. So why waste time focusing on the negativity when there are so many positives to be taken away from this game? We could have a chance to watch history in the making.

Liverpool play Toronto at 4pm on Saturday July 21 at the Rogers Centre. More information and tickets can be found at www.lfctour.com

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Ailsa is a Liverpool fan from the Wirral, currently working for William Hill. After graduating with a BA degree in Communication and Film from The University of Liverpool, she began writing for This Is Anfield in 2011.
All posts are reactively-moderated and must obey the comment policy.
  • http://twitter.com/FC_phil phil

    nice one. i’m coming down from ottawa with 6 of my friends for the game – looking forward to a cracking atmosphere.

  • RobC

    I hope the opening paragraph doesn’t give a false impression of how the upcoming friendly in Toronto is viewed by most of us fans (TFC and LFC) who live in this area. Speaking personally, every LFC fan I know is totally excited by the upcoming game!
    I’m going, my wife’s going, my brother and brother in law and their wives are also going, and I have friends at work who have also bought tickets for the game. We’ll be in Toronto all afternoon paying our respects to some of the area’s Scouse pubs (see you at Scallywags!) and many TFC fans, (Toronto has a very diverse and footie-educated population) are excited about the game. TFC is known here in North America for their raucous and enthusiastic fans – NOT the stereotypical mildly disinterested “soccer fans”.
    It’ll be a great game!

  • prizby

    1. “a friendly against MLS side FC Toronto in July.” – its Toronto FC

    2. “I think that this pre-season friendly is hugely
    important for both sides” – Last time I checked, its not a pre-season
    friendly for both sides.

    3. “if TFC beat Liverpool” – you need to stop right there…beating
    them or not is nothing. Beating Liverpool’s first XI might be
    somthing, but the likelihood that Liverpool play the first XI for 90
    mins or that even half the first XI are even there (if they get an
    extended vacation after euro 2012) is next to nil. Oh wow TFC beat
    LFC’s u16 academy, big whoop.

    4. “Liverpool choosing to play TFC is huge.” – They chose to play
    TFC…are you nuts? They choose to play wherever they were going to get
    paid for appearing. If there appearance fee was met by some rich guy
    in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, they’d be playing there
    too, but to think they actually chose to play TFC is entirely false;
    they went where the $$$$$$ was.

    5. “It is games like these that change that.” – No its not…find me a
    designated player that came to MLS because of a friendly they played
    against an MLS side

    6. “This is the perfect time, and is a huge boost for Canada’s recent
    attempts to grow in their MLS presence.” – Because when we played an
    even bigger club (Real Madrid) in 2009, this really boosted ‘MLS
    presence’ (for those looking for an answer…it did absolutely nothing
    but piss off Toronto FC supporters and was seen as a money grab)

    7. “When families take their children to games like these, it will
    be a
    memory that will live on with many of them forever. Is that not what we
    all want as soccer fans?” – Really? Watching the Liverpool reserves or
    academy is going to be a memory for these children…are you that
    delusional?

    8. “the MLS” – its not ‘The Major League Soccer'; its Major League Soccer.

    Finally “I get that, I really do.” – You don’t SEEM to get it.

    You say you’d be upset if they moved a game; you wouldn’t be up in arms
    if that game was moved to during the middle of an international break
    where world cup qualifying games were being played knowing you’d be
    missing important pieces of your squad for the that premier league game
    as they would be away for international duty.

    Or how what if an important players, say Steven Gerrard picked up a
    career ending injury playing in a meaningless friendly as what pretty
    much happened to Ronnie O’Brian in the 2007 friendly with Aston Villa
    (he never fully recovered from his knee injury afterwards and retired a
    year later).

    I wonder how you’d feel or fans in the Kop would feel if the prices for
    the equivalent tickets were Four and half times more expensive than a
    premier league game. I pay about $20 a game in the Toronto FC
    supporters section. After fees and everything, it will cost me $89 in
    the Toronto FC supporters section to watch a mid-table EPL side…no
    thank you.

    • Joseph Collins

      Jeez….and here i thought Canadians were all welcoming and warm and cuddly/funny. you seem to be none of those things. you do, however, get a pass, considering yours is the worst side to ever grace an MLS pitch. so youre probably a bit rankled over that sad fact. but honestly you should be thanking LFC for gracing the grass of your baseball stadium, not bashing them as a mid level EPL side.
      i mean really, at least the real REDS have won a cup in the last 5 years. what has your team done besides getting bounced out of a joke of the CONCACAF CL tourney?…nothing.
      go toss your seat cushions….its the only thing you guys are good at.

      • prizby

        actually we won our national cup the last 4 years…but a eurosnob like yourself would be completely oblivious to that

        come back in February during our pre-season; won’t have a problem then (except for outrageous prices).

        The only thing I’m rankled about is the my team not taking games that actually do matter

        last time I checked, TFC was the last MLS side to be eliminated in the last CCL competition and there result was the 2nd best an MLS side has ever done in this competition…not too bad for a last place team in MLS

        oh and one last thing, the whole “the reds” thing…not sure who started that, but I haven’t heard a TFC supporter call TFC “the reds”…its like those people who call Toronto FC “The FC”

        • prizby

          *The only thing I’m rankled about is the my team not taking games that actually do matter (seriously)

          slight omission

          • Joseph Collins

            any tournament that has 4 teams playing in it is NOT a tournament. its called a cash grab. and one that is infinitely more embarrassing than the cash grab that your pathetic side is engaging in against LFC.

            slight omission.

          • RussellsTeapot

            There’s a misconception here: it was Chicago who asked for their July 21st game against Toronto FC to be moved for a mid-season friendly against Aston Villa. This happened back in February. Toronto FC agreed. That left TFC with a gaping hole in their schedule.
            Secondly, the game was NOT organized by Toronto FC…it is being organized by CAA Sports as part of the World Football Challenge. I suspect that World Football Challenge could not find a European team to play Liverpool, and thus invited the local team for a kickabout. Toronto FC are not the only MLS team to play in this “tournament”. The MLS teams from Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington DC are involved as well.
            Part of the enmity being shown by Toronto FC supporters is because they want their owner (Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment) to concentrate on the “bread and butter” of the league…not the “circuses” of mid-season friendlies.

          • Ricky

            Well said. But don’t let the truth get in the way of a good opportunity to be outraged!!

            Part of the enmity being shown by Toronto FC supporters is because they hate the owner, which might have been understandable a year or so ago, but doesn’t really stand up anymore. I think it’s just because hating owners is the done thing these days and that it worked out pretty good for Liverpool when they really did have a legitimate case.

          • RussellsTeapot

            Toronto FC, prior to Saturday, had played 9 games in the league and lost them all. They actually went up by a goal in one game…a lead they held for about 90 seconds. Hate is perhaps too strong a word, but there is the perception that management is incompetent. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the game. The last time I saw LFC in Toronto, they played Porto in the same stadium. If I remember correctly, it was Michael Owens final game. Little did we know it at the time, but we were watching a game between the recently crowned 2004 UEFA Champions League Winners and the future 2005 UEFA Champions League Winners.

          • Ricky

            Management maybe, but ownership have spent to the cap, added DP players, built an extra stand, and the club has the highest collection of players being paid over $1m in the league. Winter deserves a chance to fix it but the clock probably is ticking

            Also can’t wait for the game in July.

          • Joseph Collins

            any tournament that has 4 teams playing in it is NOT a tournament. its called a cash grab. and one that is infinitely more embarrassing than the cash grab that your pathetic side is engaging in against LFC.

            slight omission.

          • prizby

            I didn’t know a tournament that qualifies a team for Champions League is more embarassing than a friendly…you are completely missing the point and way off base

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • prizby

            well because you said it 10 times, i must be. I hope Liverpool move a premier league game to during world cup qualifying for a meaningless midseason friendly then charge you an arm and a leg to see it…i wonder if you’ll shut your mouth or will you be up in arms over it

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Joseph Collins

            no. youre way off base.
            coming onto an LFC site and bashing them for visiting your podunk town is off base. be excited for the visit…or dont. either way, shut your mouth.

          • Krystle

            Toronto is much larger than Liverpool, just so you’re aware. Hardly a “podunk town.” ;)

          • Krystle

            Toronto is much larger than Liverpool, just so you’re aware. Hardly a “podunk town.” ;)

          • Joseph Collins

            Im aware.. its a beautiful city. really really love it the 3 times I’ve been. I just didn’t appreciate prizby’s tone. no offense meant to Toronto.

        • Joseph Collins

          i know of your Canadian Cup trophies…but it means nothing. a semi pro American side could win that garbage trophy year in year out.
          as Eurosnobbery goes, its a canned response to anyone that threatens anyone elses footy knowledge online. see SoccerbyIves for an endless amount of examples.
          i love MLS. i love EPL. i also love the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, etc al. i am a football fan. my main love though is Liverpool.
          as for the REDS thing, watch Fox Soccer. they call your pitiful side the Reds constantly. Fox Soccer…which is produced in your country.

          • prizby

            a semi pro American side…give me some of whatever you are smoking; must be good.

            fox soccer? a Canadian channel? Thats like saying France is part of the United Kingdom.

            Since I go to actual Toronto games, I might know a bit more than Fox Soccer which is produced in Houston, which if you look on a map is in the United States…no Canada

          • Joseph Collins

            actually fox soccer report, which is the highlight show for FoxSoccer channel is produced in Canada. which is most likely where you live. which is why the anchors all speak in a slightly ( read sarcasm ) Canadian accent.

          • prizby

            let me know what channel i can watch these “reports” on

    • Krystle

      I don’t really understand why you are offloading your anger towards
      supporters or Liverpool FC. If you really disagree with this game, you
      should aim your frustrations towards those on the Toronto side who
      agreed to this game.

      You don’t seem to understand that Steven Gerrard has the same chance of
      getting injured as any of the TFC players do (knock on wood, this better
      not happen).

      Also, as younger players are sure to make an appearance at the game, so
      will the first team stars. This is a guarantee. As it is a friendly,
      there will be a lot of changes, which Toronto can also take advantage of
      so they don’t tire or injure players in the middle of the season.

      You seem to be really resisting the idea that this game can and probably
      will be really fun, and that’s quite a shame. Yes, there are definitely
      issues that are disheartening for Toronto FC fans, and it sucks to
      shelf out extra cash. But it’s at a big venue playing a big team, and
      that should be expected. It’s always fun to play a big team, and it’s
      good competition, even if the chances of winning are slight. Hell, if my
      recreational team somehow had the chance to play Barcelona, I’d
      absolutely relish the idea of playing against Messi, knowing there to be
      no even remote delusion of winning. And if I stole the ball from him or
      almost scored a goal? Dude. That would make my life. I’m not saying
      that the Toronto FC players are going to be starstruck or have as little
      chance at winning as I would playing Barcelona, but I bet they will
      enjoy it, and I’m absolutely sure everyone in the crowd will too,
      regardless of who they came to see.

      • prizby

        “offloading your anger towards supporters or Liverpool FC”

        its not towards the supporters, its towards the game itself.

        “you should aim your frustrations towards those on the Toronto side who agreed to this game.”

        This has already been done, plenty of times; in fact, we had a townhall
        meeting 2 years ago with the front office where mid-season friendlies
        were discussed and we left feeling, thinking, and with an understanding
        that the 2010 season was the last time we’d have a mid-season friendly.
        We were overjoyed when in 2011, we didn’t have a mid-season friendly
        and the same thing was repeated in last years town hall with the front
        office and manager who was present. In fact, at the beginning of last
        year, Winter said he was against mid-season distractions/friendlies.

        “You don’t seem to understand that Steven Gerrard..”

        I’d be shocked if Gerrard is even playing in this game…4 years ago, (I
        know England was in Euro), but Torres and other Spanish players didn’t
        start playing until the end of July in pre-season games; I’d expect the
        same with your players that are appearing at Euro 2012. I have
        absolutely no problem with pre-season friendlies, in fact, Toronto
        should have played more this year, pre-season friendlies are needed, but
        why take the risk during the mid-season?

        “Also, as younger players are sure to make an appearance at the game”

        So now we are paying four and half times more than the regular price to watch the B team?

        “even if the chances of winning are slight.”

        Its really now about winning…the game is meaningless and has no baring
        on how TFC do this season, the sacrifises that have had to be made to
        make this game happen, well those are disparaging.

        “but I bet they will enjoy it (the toronto fc players)”

        From the Toronto Sun: “Milos Kocic dropped an expletive following training Thursday after
        hearing of a potential TFC-Liverpool exhibition at the Rogers Centre in
        late July.”

        The question I have for Liverpool supporters is would you be okay with
        Liverpool moving an important premier league game to during the
        international break knowing you’ll be missing starters for that game in
        order to play a mid-season friendly in which your ticket prices have
        been increased by four and half times. Also the opponent you play 3
        days later will be coming off of 2 weeks rest, while you are coming off
        of 3 days rest. I cannot imagine many Liverpool supporters would be
        okay with that, so I am completely shocked that Liverpool supporters and
        fans wouldn’t join Toronto fans in their disappointment with the game.

        • Krystle

          How can you possibly be shocked we aren’t disappointed? As supporters of Liverpool, especially those living overseas who don’t have the money or opportunity to attend many or any games in England, it’s absolutely thrilling that they are coming here. This could be the only time some people will get to see them in their lives. People are not going to boycott the game because Toronto FC supporters are upset. To be honest, I’m mostly disappointed we aren’t playing a better team.

          I understand the reasons you have for being disappointed. As I said in my last reply, I realize there are problems, but you are not going to stop this game. And for that reason alone, you should try to consider the positives. If you’re angry and you don’t want to go to the match, fair enough. But there are things to be gained from it for both sides. Last year, I went to the Columbus Crew vs Newcastle friendly. I can’t recall if there were fans upset by this game, but what I do remember are those who were excited by it. Crew lost inevitably, and even so, fans were in high spirits after the game. It was an enjoyable night, and other EPL fans in the area came out to watch even though Newcastle were not their team. And the same could happen from this match. I anticipate the possibility that there will be fans at this match donning Manchester United or Everton kits. Maybe some of these people will have been drawn to the game by Liverpool and will end up being Toronto FC fans. Soccer fans who may not have been to a TFC game for whatever reason might get their start from this game, and become season ticket holders from that day forward. This is a big opportunity.

          And whether or not one player has been said to have “dropped an expletive” about the game doesn’t negate the fact that others might revel in the excitement of this match.

          Also, your negativity about the “B team” playing is unsubstantiated. Liverpool will put out a strong team, regardless of age. Can you say the same for Toronto FC? I can’t say whether or not Steven Gerrard will be there, but I know they will bring a lot of top players, and the majority of them will make an appearance. You don’t have to worry about that.

          • prizby

            sorry, i wasn’t too clear…should be disappointed that they are playing Toronto.

            There really aren’t any positives…game should be played in February

            Toronto FC is going to be the “home” team by default played in front of 3000 quiet TFC fans and maybe 15-20 thousand liverpool fans…talk about embarassing

          • Krystle

            I don’t think it should be embarrassing, and I feel like more TFC fans will come than that. Your team deserves support. Although you might feel like not going is ACTUALLY supporting your team, I bet they’d be pleased to see a big following cheering them on. Plus, a lot of the Liverpool fans will either be TFC fans as well or at least from Toronto and I’m sure will be happy to see TFC do well in this match and graciously applaud their efforts, too.

          • Ricky

            I’m a TFC fan who lives in Toronto and who is also a Liverpool fan and I can’t wait for this game. Prizby aside, I think a lot of TFC fans are looking forward to it and I reckon some people will be surprised how many people go to support TFC.

            What a lot of TFC fans seem to forget is that if this game wasn’t taking place the team would be holding a training session within which a shortened game would take place. The alternative to a training session here is a friendly game against Liverpool. The name of the team alone should allow the TFC players to get more out of it than a training session. People talk about TFC players picking up injuries… you’ve as much chance of picking up an injury in this friendly as you would in a regularly scheduled training session.

            And I’d love to know how a few TFC fans (and I stress a few) seem to know the Liverpool lineup when the club itself hasn’t even got a manager yet. By my reckoning these clubs that go off on these pre-season tours are doing so because the owner wants to ‘expand the brand’ of the club. They won’t be doing that very well by playing the youth team. I’ll tell you something. Baring injuries, I’d be shocked if all the key players on LIverpool’s squad do not feature at some point in the game.

            In the end these few TFC fans need to wake up a little. We’re not an elite team in global football. When the likes of Liverpool come along to play a game, you take it. You don’t snuff it off because you might pick up an injury. Besides, one look at TFC’s season and I can’t think of any harm this game could do given we’re likely to remain rooted to the bottom of the table all summer anyway. It not only benefits the TFC players for experience, but it gives football fans in Toronto the chance to see their cities team take on a top Premier League side. You don’t hear fans of other small teams be it in England, the far east or other parts of North America complain if a Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, Barcelona, or Madrid come along to play a game.

            Let’s just enjoy it and have some fun. Life’s too short and football is there for entertainment purposes.