TFC and its Homeland Connection

Why Toronto may not be as much of a mess as you might think
by Sonja Missio   |   Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Red Dawn Rising - column on Toronto FC (TFC) & the Toronto Ontario soccer scene

Toronto FC is a lot like an episode of the TV show “Homeland.”

Now, to be fair, I am only halfway done with the first season of the show. Bravo is replaying the show from the beginning and I am diligently PVR’ing each episode to watch at my own convenience.

I realize that come season 3 – or whatever season they’re on, I don’t actually watch any shows as they run in real time – this whole point I am trying to make may be completely moot.

Heck, come season 2 this whole point may be completely moot!

But I am not on season 2 or 3, and so I refuse to be moot.

Or mute.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Toronto FC is a lot like this show because, simply, nothing worthwhile happens all game/episode until the very last 10 minutes when all hell breaks out.

In these moments, I do my best Carrie Mathison (protagonist of the show, played by Claire Danes) impression and stare wide-eyed in disbelief, as everything I knew to be good and true shatters around me in a huge cluster****.

Like Carrie, I stand there, wondering how everyone around me – even myself – could be so wrong and how we all could have missed something.

Of course, during a Toronto FC game, that “missed something” is usually an unmarked man, in the box, who scores a winning or equalizing goal for the opposing team.

And, usually, it is those last 10 minutes that change the whole plot.

However, it may not be as much as a “cluster****” as you may think. Yes, those last 10 minutes may seem vital. But the episode/game is not just those final minutes. Rather, there are the series of other minutes that happen leading up to those final 10 that are equally, if not more so, important.

Those minutes just all happen to be boring.

Or, so I used to think.

You see, all those minutes (the first 79, I mean) are extremely important for the overall story arc of the game, if viewed as a linear series of events.

Take “Homeland” again for example: The overall plot and character development – little pieces played out scene by scene – are pointless as single entities. However, if you were to combine them into one collected amalgamation, all those single entities would create a masterpiece that can only be erected once the viewer is able to visually conceptualize the sum of all its parts.

Each individual piece is pointless, yet completely crucial.

Now before I get carried away (that would be a “Homeland” pun), let us apply this idea to the plot of the TV show and consequently, TFC.

Like I said, everything but the final 10 minutes of “Homeland” and TFC games are completely pointless as individual moments. But they are entirely crucial to the overall season.

Stand-alone and throw-away moments that often seem monotonous and boring – another fight between Jess and Dana, a philosophical moment from Saul – mean very little in that one episode. However, as a collective these once “solo moments” help the viewer understand the significance of the rest of the season.

The same can be said for TFC.

Single games in the season (so far) have a similar feel to the Showtime program, and I don’t just mean of monotony or boredom.

On the surface,  games have become acts and motions to get the viewer to the 80th minute, until what we are lead to believe is the real action; the cliffhanger that pulls you back the next week and leaves you wondering, “why do I keep watching this stupid team?”

However, looking back over time, minutes 1 to 79 become vital to understanding why we care so much about minutes 80 through 90 .

What doesn’t seem significant then, is actually extremely crucial.

Toronto FC is getting increasingly – but subtly – better. The Reds are improving on corners, set pieces and positions. Small insignificant-at-the-time plays grouped together become a series of progression, of a building story arc and of increasingly complex character development.

There is no minute-to-minute sweeping change; this is not a basketball game where the score changes every 3 seconds. Nor is it an episode of “24,” where the plot changes every 3 seconds.

No. Rather, it is slow and often at times boring. But once you see the whole picture, everything in one place, you see why each tedious, excruciating slow part is actually significant and vital.

You need to understand those slow parts to truly appreciate those heart-pumping last 10 minutes. You wouldn’t care about the last 10 if you weren’t already emotionally invested in the first 79.

No matter how monotonous and boring they seem to be.

Both “Homeland” and Toronto FC need you to stick through for the whole season; they will make it worth your while. You just need to remind yourself that you’ll only drive yourself crazy if you focus only on the final moments. Instead, look at the whole picture, because it’s more vital than you think.

As for me, I’m going to try to be more of a Saul (Carrie's mentor), rather than a Carrie.

And remember, I’m only half way done season one: no spoilers.

NEXT UP: May 1 – Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact, Stade Saputo, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 7:30 p.m. Sportsnet One, TVA Sports.

May 4 – Toronto FC vs. Colorado Rapids, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo., 9 p.m. Sportsnet, MLS LIVE.


Univ. of Guelph, Univ. of W. Ontario, Brock University
Club Domestic:
Toronto FC
Club Foreign:
Supported Udinese since birth, TFC was her own stupid decision; writing on her masochistic relationship with soccer started after. Doomed as a Canadian - Friulano - Swiss - Filipina. Searching for Juventini actually from Turin and running for FIFA Prez.