A winter storm is approaching Central New York, combined with a rare Friday off, allows me to stay home and just relax. So, what am I doing? I’ve decided to re-watch the game between the Mississauga MetroStars and Utica City FC. This game was memorable for several reasons. First of all, Utica City made a miraculous comeback with less than one minute left in the game to overcome a 4-3 MetroStars lead. The second one was I was there to witness it in person, and wanted to share my experience with MASL Nation.
Over the last few years, I’ve gone on road trips with the Syracuse Silver Knights, going to watch matches in Harrisburg, Florida, and most recently St. Louis. When the schedule came out this year, there was only one real “road trip”, and that was a two game Midwest to both St. Louis and Kansas City, and I’ve already been there. Another option was Mississauga. It’s the closest team to Utica City, and I hadn’t been to Canada in quite some time. So, this was definitely on my radar. I wanted to get the full experience of what the MetroStars had to offer, so I reached out to both supporter groups, the Rogue Street Elite and the Sauga City Collective, and wanted to meet up and have a great time. Both groups were very welcoming and ready to give me a peek into their game day rituals.
It took me around four hours to get to downtown Mississauga, with most of the drive being on highways. I had been in contact with Mike, one of the leaders of Rogue Street Elite, throughout my drive, and we decided to meet at a local bar, about 10 minutes from the arena. While I was having dinner, one of the other supporters, Raghav, met me at the bar. We sat and talked about soccer, mostly about our respective teams, and before we knew it, we were around an hour away from gametime. Dylan, another MetroStars supporter, was gracious enough to let us come over and hang out at his apartment before we all left for the game together. Mike met all of us at the apartment, along with James, another supporter. We all sat and talked about the state of the supporter groups, and how they are coming together to become one group. Time wasn’t on our side, as an hour already went by, and it was time for us to go. Before we left, we had a picture taken of the group, with both teams scarves represented.
The drive to the arena was not that far from the apartment, about 10 minutes through the streets of downtown Mississauga. We went our separate ways at that point, as they needed to set up for the game. I sat in my seat, and was welcomed by several Utica City FC fans, GM Tommy Tanner, captain Bo Jelovac, and his wife. It was good to see several familiar faces in the crowd. After a quick FaceTime conversation between Bo, and my daughter Hannah (his number one fan), the game was about to start. From the opening kickoff, you could hear the supporters of Mississauga throughout the arena. Their various chants did not stop until the final whistle, and then some.
At halftime, I went over to sit right in the middle of the action. Mike introduced me to everyone in the group. I am awful with names, so I don’t remember everyone, but I wanted to give a shout out to everyone I met, including several Matts (easy for me to remember that one), and Ed. This was a first for me, being at ground zero in an away arena. I’ve got to admit it was a great experience. The chants kept coming, and I kind of threw in my own chants for Utica as well, which were met with laughter. After Mississauga scored their fourth goal with 47 seconds left, my MetroStar supporter friends went crazy, along with all of the other fans in the arena. Now, we all know what happened after that. Two goals were scored in less than 30 seconds by Utica to give them the 5-4 win. At no point, did the supporter group stop their chants or their attempts to hype up the crowd.
After the game, I met up with my new MetroStar friends, and got a ride back to my car. But, before that, we went back up to Dylan’s apartment for a couple of minutes so I could charge my phone for the drive home, and watch more MASL soccer, the San Diego-Ontario game to be exact. About five hours later, I returned home and finally put my head on my pillow.
I wanted to write this article for several reasons: First of all, I wanted to thank everyone in Mississauga for an amazing experience you gave me. As I mentioned before, I’ve been to several arenas throughout the MASL, and you are the most passionate group of people I’ve ever met. Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m sure we will meet again this season. Second of all, to the people of Mississauga, go out and support this team. You have the ingredients for a successful MASL team: A great supporter group that can get a crowd going at any time, and Dwayne De Rosario, one of Canada’s most popular soccer players, which is definitely worth the price of admission. The key is getting the word out, and I know both the Rogue Street Elite and the Sauga City Collective are doing their best to do that.