Been here at the site of MLS Cup 2010 for just over 24 hours. A few observations and comments.
1) Wow, I had no idea smoking was so popular in Toronto. I know, weird observation for a soccer blog, but seriously, the percentage of smokers in this city rivals Louisville, KY. Walking down the street buildings that look like they are having fire drills, because of the pure numbers standing outside, are actually all of the smokers who've been banished for their habit.
2) The weather is going to be an issue tonight. It may or may not snow/rain, but it is bitter cold. But the part that I fear is going to play the bigger part is the wind. BMO Field sits just off the water and the wind is a steady 10+mph and gusting over 20mph. If it starts to precipitate, it will stink.
3) The league is very aware and honest that the scenario of how the playoffs came together has not been ideal and they are looking to fix the playoffs, but Garber stated that probably will see an "evolution" next year and wont see a true "revolution" until the league is balanced again in a few years.
4) You get the sense that everyone agrees that Dallas should win this match, but because of the weather and Colorado's counterattack style, that this match could see the Rapids pull of the win. It is hard to get anyone pinned down (neutrals, that is) on a prediction. The fact that the Rapids have had Dallas' number historically in the playoffs surprisingly has a very low awareness factor.
5) MLS fans should thank their lucky stars the league has a commissioner like Don Garber. I have seen him speak several times and in the last 24 hours I have attended two group meetings where he held Q&A sessions and I find him refreshingly honest, forthright and willing to take blame/credit where it is due. He answers questions that I could never imagine the commish of NFL, NBA, etc answering publicly.
6) At the Supporter's Summit, there was a session with the people involved with heading up, assigning and policing the MLS referees. It, also, was a very honest and eye-opening discussion about the obstacles they face. Included was a presentation from them (with video examples!) of how they take what happens on the field very seriously and they know the officiating needs improvement. With the 2011 calendar looking to be very clogged, the idea of having foreign referees brought in for matches of different competitions has been looked at.
7) My flight yesterday was full, and I have to say just less than 50% were on the plane because of MLS Cup. I was shocked at the participation level. Very nice. Although one FCD fan's attempt to get some chanting, singing started was met with a high level of apathy and/or discomfort.
8 ) Toronto as a city seems to have a surprisingly low awareness of the match itself. There are very few signs promoting the event, and in fact the appears to be no signage at BMO Field that can been seen from the highway that passes by. This despite the fact there are several billboard sized signs in the immediate area.
9) At the supporter's soccer tournament yesterday, in the final between two different TFC fan groups a "scuffle" broke out during PK's. The referee was just some poor, untrained volunteer and word is that Edson Buddle grabbed a few guys to prevent it from getting worse... I saw no fighting at this morning's media tournament, although I did see Kyle Martino being a soccer bully/showoff.
10) Toronto is home of what has to be the biggest damned Midieval Times I've ever seen.