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Toronto FC lose hard-fought home opener 1-0
A boisterous sold-out crowd draped in red cheered on the Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday, but a late goal by the Kansas City Wizards spoiled the inaugural home opener.
The estimated 20,148 fans watched with excitement as the city's newest professional sports team took to the soccer pitch for the first time as part of the U.S.-based Major League Soccer.
The afternoon match followed months of anticipation from footie fans, especially those who bought the team's 14,000 season tickets months ago.
Click here to see a photo gallery of fans.
The cool and overcast conditions didn't dampen their spirits, as spectators of all ages painted their face, waved flags, banged drums and danced and chanted as they tried to rally the home team.
But TFC fans were silenced when Wizards forward Eddie Johnson put a shot past goalie Greg Sutton with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Toronto fell 1-0.
The loss put the expansion Toronto team at 0-4-0 on the season, and the squad has yet to score a goal while allowing 10.
Fans applauded the effort of TFC, who played a hard-fought game against the league's most offensive team. Kansas City handed Toronto a 3-0 loss on Wednesday night.
"It's pretty exciting," young fan Josh Hersh said of the city's newest sports venue. "Usually we have to watch soccer on TV, but now we have our own team to cheer for."
"I love soccer. I've been playing it all my life," added Sean Keay. "I love this atmosphere. I enjoy releasing my stress for the weekend at a soccer game!"
League officials also noticed the passion among spectators.
''Boy I tell you, they're into the game,'' MLS commissioner Don Garber said at halftime. ''We don't have too many stadiums that rock like this one.''
The $62-million stadium features a beer garden in the north stand, while food stands around the arena offer exotic foods such as sushi, Jamaican patties and roasted corn.
TFC is expected to finish near the bottom of the league or as high as the middle of the pack this year. Soccer analysts say it will take years to build a competitive team.
Captain Jim Brennan, however, told CTV.ca recently the team's goal is to reach the playoffs.
The most-anticipated game of the season takes place Aug. 5 when international superstar David Beckham and his Los Angeles Galaxy visits Toronto.
The club plays their next game May 12 at home against the Chicago Fire.
TFC, which becomes the first international team to join Major League Soccer, is the latest addition to the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment empire that already includes the NHL's Maple Leafs and the NBA's Raptors.
TFC organization officials say the team will thrive in Toronto, partly because of its multicultural diversity.
With a report from CTV's Alex Mihailovich