Aron Winter and Toronto FC are the last remaining MLS team in the CONCACAF Champions League (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
It started last year with a simple hashtag and grew into league-wide support for Real Salt Lake in their quest to win the CONCACAF Champions League. The Salt Lake side came close, but fell just short at home in the second leg of the Final. In the current cycle of the CCL there is only one MLS side left, Toronto FC, and while there's a movement it doesn't seem to be getting the support that RSL did.
Some of this is because of the whole "what are Canadian teams doing in our national league?" thing. Part of it has to be that very few think that Toronto can make a run to the Final after years of being awful and no without Torsten Frings and Stefan Frei. Part of it has to also be that Toronto fans, like Seattle, just aren't as liked around the league because we both raised the off-field bar so much. They also unseated the league darlings. Can you imagine how large the MLS4LAG movement would be?
But for all the reasons people got behind Real Salt Lake they should get behind Toronto FC. The Reds are the league's sole remaining representative. The hope of making a statement for Major League Soccer against the regional powerhouse of Mexico is still small, but there's hope.
Toronto's path was similar to the Seattle Sounders' path. They entered the tournament by being the best in their nation, not through MLS. They did better in their Preliminary Round than Seattle, but against slightly weaker opposition. They passed out of a tougher Group Stage than Seattle upending FC Dallas and Tauro, while holding their own against UNAM Pumas at home. They then beat the LA Galaxy.
While Toronto may be awful in league play (there's a lot of history showing they are), they do well in their Cup and CCL competitions. Tonight's match against Santos Laguna is an even bigger test for them. Seattle fans know exactly how good that team can be, and how bad TFC can look.
Santos Laguna is striving to claw up to that top tier in Mexican soccer. They are riding the hot boot of Herculez Gomez and even have a couple of Americans in their youth system. They aren't an America or Chivas in popularity, but like Monterrey they see success as their path to respect. Recent results seem to back their chosen path.
So do you root for TFC? Do you want to see Santos win it all so that the loss is a touch less painful? As a league should MLS root for one of its teams to take the CCL?
Absolutely. Mexican soccer is financially broken, but their on-field product is so much stronger. Every quality performance by an MLS side raises awareness that play here isn't awful and getting paid is pretty neat. MLS4TFC indeed.