In the end, it was left to the big man to put a fairytale ending on Toronto FC's inaugural Major League Soccer season.
Danny Dichio scored a picture goal in extra time to give TFC a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution yesterday at BMO Field in the final match of the season.
Yesterday's goal set off a celebration among the announced crowd of 20,374 that took on a life of its own and ended only when the last fan left the pitch singing the praises of the 33-year-old striker who provided hope when, for most of the season, there was none.
"It was like winning the game," Dichio said of his goal that he booted into the top corner behind Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis after picking up a Marvell Wynne rebound off the near post.
Before that, TFC looked as if it would be leaving its fans with another disappointment after dominating play for most of the game.
TFC 'keeper Kenny Stamatopoulos could do nothing but watch as Michael Parkhurst's perfect shot from midfield sailed over his head at the end of the first half. He then was victimized again when Taylor Twellman, New England's top scorer, inexplicably was left alone in the box at the 47-minute mark.
Collin Samuel, in his best game with TFC, made it 2-1 on an unassisted effort in the 59th minute.
"From that point in the game, we were completely in charge," TFC manager Mo Johnston said.
But like many games this season, the finish wasn't there and, with time winding down, it appeared a loss was inevitable until Dichio took over.
He had been substituted into the game after the first half in place of Jeff Cunningham, who may have played his way off next year's roster.
It was Dichio's first game since being hit with a string of injuries and Johnston had hinted he planned to use him for only maybe five or 10 minutes against New England.
"I never thought I was going to play 45 minutes," Dichio said. "In fact, I wasn't playing very well. My game conditioning wasn't there. I was just trying to be in the right place."
He found the right place when he pounced on Wynne's rebound.
"That's the thing with Danny," Johnston said. "Whenever he is out there, the opposition is on their heels because they don't know how to handle his style of play."
Johnston now has to sit down with other club officials over the next few weeks and decide who will be back for 2008.
"There will be cuts," he said. "We need more depth at all positions and, in order to get that, we'll have to cut players. It's not a part of the job I like. But if we are going to become a playoff team, we have to make changes."
TORONTO FC - 2
REVOLUTION - 2