Toronto FCís home date with the Los Angeles Galaxy is a little less than two months away ó but itís already one you need to circle on the calendar.
Not necessarily because of the match-up on the field; the Galaxy will be without at least Landon Donovan for the June 26 date, as heíll be off with the U.S. team at the World Cup. And Edson Buddle, the former TFC forward who has nine goals in his first six games of the season for the Galaxy and won his second Player of the Week honour of 2010 on Monday, may have impressed U.S. national coach Bob Bradley enough to also get the call.
No, itís whatís happening away from the field that has fans concerned.
The game falls on the same day the city will have the downtown core locked down because of the security needed to make sure the G20 conference runs as smoothly as possible. Protesters will be at Trinity-Bellwoods Park, at Strachan and Queen, just a few blocks from the King Street pubs where the Toronto FC rowdies gather before home games. And the world media covering the game will be using the Direct Energy Centre, on the CNE grounds, as its base. Thatís just steps from BMO Field.
There are more than a few supporters who would like to see either Toronto FC make a pitch for the game to be moved to another date ó or have MLS step in and switch it. Last season, TFC moved a game with the New York Red Bulls in order to make room for the lucrative friendly with Real Madrid. So itís not like MLS is overly rigid when it comes to sane rescheduling requests.
But, MLS has condensed its schedule so it can take a break during the first round of the World Cup and the latter stage of the tournament. So, there arenít as many off-days to play with for a scheduling issue as there would be in a regular, non-World Cup year.
With traffic problems and hassles ó mixed with the reality the opposition will be without its stars for the game ó well, the June 26 date is a recipe for lots of no-shows. Is it worth the hassle to run the gauntlet to see a Galaxy team without Donovan and possibly Buddle? And itís not like there wonít be wall-to-wall World Cup action on the TVs to give the supporters their footy fixes.
Boris Aguilar, president of the Red Patch Boys, TFCís largest supportersí group, said the issue of G20 vs. TFC has been a topic of conversation amongst the members. He said heís been told by BMO staff to expect tighter security measures on that day.
ďItís going to ruin the atmosphere for that one game,Ē said Aguilar.
And he is worried about protesters being placed so close to the Liberty Village spots where the TFC fans like to gather.
ďThatís going to be a great mix,Ē he said grimly.
But Paul Beirne, Toronto FCís senior director of business operations, said TFC fans wonít need to worry about extra security measures. He said the big headaches will be traffic and lack of parking.
With the downtown core being shut down to traffic, there will be spill on to the major highways, so a trip down the Gardiner to the stadium might be a bad idea.
ďThere has been no discussion of moving the game,Ē wrote Beirne in an e-mail to QMI.
ďWeíre in constant touch with the security people and the sense is it will be no worse than many other events at the Ex ó limited parking, etc.Ē
In fact, the biggest headache so far for TFC was finding ample hotel rooms for the visiting Galaxy coaches and players ó a place to stay for the visitors was just secured after a heck of a lot of scrounging around.