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Canadian invasion 2.0 set for March 28
March 2, 2009, 8:31 AM
Filed under: Columbus Crew, North End Elite, Red Patch Boys, Toronto FC, Usector

The Columbus Crew’s F.O. gave the Toronto supporter’s groups a cut-off date of Feb 28 to request tickets for the March 28 game between the Crew and TFC.

Although not the season opener for Toronto, the game has been targeted to be the biggest organized road trip of the year for each of the major TFC groups. Although Toronto won’t match the 2,100 that travelled to C-bus last March, this year’s trip will still be the second largest self-financed trip by supporters for a MLS regular season game.

The known numbers are:

Red Patch Boys – 665
U-Sector – 183
North End Elite – 87

Total of SGs: 935

Additionally, a private company has been selling a bus package for the past couple weeks and there will be other smaller groups making the trip down. All total the estimated size of T.O.’s travel section will be about 1,200–enough to once again fill the entire south end of Crew Stadium.

Although I appreciate that many MLS fans are tired of hearing about Toronto’s support, it is significant that there are still that many fans willing to spend about $250 each to travel 7-hours by bus to watch a team that has yet to seriously challenge for the playoffs. So much for the novelty wearing off.

Last year the Toronto trip received some bad press, with one T.O. fan being arrested for urinating against a fence (that famously was facing a church–albeit a church 500-yards away). The game was the beginning of a nasty rivalry between the fans of the two teams. Spend 10 minutes on the Crew’s BigSoccer boards and you will read some of the most ill-informed, ignorant anti-Toronto/Canada stuff that you can imagine. You will also see a great deal of TFC fans making equally ignorant and ill-informed statements about Columbus/USA.

The simmering hate — which neither set of fans is willing to admit to. On both sides of the divide you’ll find people trying to pretend that they really don’t care about the other side. It’s a load of crap — boiled over last September when Columbus traveled to Toronto with about 100 supporters. There was an altercation in the parking lot after the game and at least one TFC fan was taken into custody.

No one is advocating violence. However, a little bit of nasty rivalry is good for the game–security at and around the stadiums just needs to know how to handle it.

For instance, at last year’s Columbus invasion” the TFC fans were not provided access to a bathroom. Simply anticipating the large crowd and putting out a couple port-a-potties would have gone a long way to preventing pee-gate.

In Toronto, security forced the Columbus fans out of the stadium while TFC fans were still exiting. Marching 100 people in yellow through the sea of red was bound to cause problems. And it did.

Traveling support is only going to increase in MLS. The league and its teams need to learn how to deal with it better. They need to find the right security balance that allows for the right amount of passion, but also gets everyone home in one piece after the game.

Source: Click Here

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