By TRAVIS CLARK
TORONTO – Traveling a few thousands miles on short notice can be a bit of a drag. But when it's to support your respective home team in the MLS Cup final in a city you've never been to, it can sometimes be a whole new experience.
Both FC Dallas and Colorado supporters, coming from two of the smaller markets of Major League Soccer, were both well-represented Sunday evening. A few hundred from both sides hunkered down to brave the cold and cheer own their home side. The sea of Burgundy and Blue meshed with the sea of red and white, though any exchanges were good natured before the match.
Rapids fans appeared to be more receptive to the cold than their Dallas counterparts, having sat through last weekend's Eastern Conference Final in Commerce City. With kickoff temperatures hovering around the low 40s, and the wind whipping off the coast from Lake Ontario, it wasn't for the faint of heart. Crowds of supporters huddled under outdoor heaters to try and stay warm.
Fans of both sides arrived on Thursday, Friday and into the weekend, getting a chance to savor the sights and sounds of the Canadian host city. Both fans gushed with praise for their hosts, enjoying the feel of a new city.
"Toronto's been great," said Matt from Dallas, wearing an outfit complete with a small cowboy hat.
Different groups arrived in different ways — FC Dallas charted a flight for fans, providing match tickets, accommodation and covering every base. However, a number of fans coming from both Colorado and Texas set things up on their own.
Planes emerged from Dallas with 40 to 60 fans at a time heading north of the border. And it paid off to an extent — FC Dallas appeared to fill most of their section, clamoring in with banners, flags and drums to decorate the alloted sections.
On the Rapids side of things, a semblance of organization was more visible — song sheets distributed, and designated supporters leading the chants.
It wasn't all positive however. During Sunday morning's Supporters' Summit, fans of both sides lodged complaints of the match ticket price, having to lay out between $80-$200 for a ticket for the MLS Cup final.
For both Colorado and Dallas supporters, a long plane ride home awaits. For one set, it's a satisfying end to an exciting trip. For another, only a time to reflect and wait for a new season to being next year.