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Fans will be allowed to watch Toronto’s final regular season game on Nov. 1 – The Collinsville Press
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Fans will be allowed to watch Toronto’s final regular season game on Nov. 1

Toronto FC spent a day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford earlier this week to practice. Toronto currently has the best record in MLS and is 5-0-1 in their last six games.  (Photo courtesy Hartford Yard Goats)

EAST HARTFORD, Oct. 16, 2020 – Connecticut soccer fans will have the opportunity to see the top team in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference at least once in person.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and the MLS’ Toronto FC announced on Friday that 5,000 tickets will be available beginning Monday for Toronto’s final regular season home game of the season on Sunday, Nov. 1 against InterMiami FC at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

Toronto has been playing their home games at Rentschler Field since Sept. 27. Toronto and two other Canadian teams in MLS (Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps) are playing their home games in the U.S. this fall.

Toronto has played three games before no fans at Rentschler Field and will play another two games against Atlanta on Sunday and against New York City on Oct. 28 before opening the gates against InterMiami.

Following guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, attendance will be capped at 5,000 in the 38,000 seat stadium, and all patrons in attendance will be required to wear a mask or face covering and adhere to social distancing within the stadium. Select seating at two price points will be available in both the lower and upper bowls.

“We’ve consulted with state and local public health officials and as long as certain health protocols are met, we believe that having a limited audience can safely be done, especially considering that this is an outdoor stadium, “Lamont said.

The Hartford Athletic, which plays in the United Soccer League’s Championship Division, played nine home games at Dillon Stadium before 1,375 fans throughout this summer with COVID-19 rules that required fans to wear masks in the stadium and no tailgating before or after the contest. The facility seats 5,500 fans. Capacity was increased to 2,200 fans for last week’s USL Championship playoff game at Dillon Stadium.

Toronto did put out a tweet urging their fans in Canada to stay home and that the tickets are designed for fans here in Connecticut.

The border between Canada and the United States has been closed since March for non-essential travel with the COVID-19 pandemic raging in the U.S. forcing Canadian teams to seek alternatives to participating in professional sports leagues here in the United States.

Montreal is playing their home games at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. while Vancouver is playing at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.

Each of MLS’s 28 teams will play 23 regular season games this season before the playoffs begin in November. Ten of the 14 teams in the Eastern Conference will make the playoffs. A team official told the Globe and Mail in Toronto that the club has not decided yet if they will allow fans in for a playoff game.

Toronto, the first team to clinch an MLS playoff berth this season, is 5-0-1 in their last six games. The Reds battled to a 1-1 tie with New York Red Bulls on Wednesday at Rentschler Field. Toronto (11-2-5) holds a three-point lead over Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference.

The Reds beat Columbus, 3-1, in their debut at Rentschler Field on Sept. 27 and beat Philadelphia, 2-1 on Oct. 3, in East Hartford.

Tickets for the November 1 game will go on sale on Monday, October 19, at 10:00 a.m. ET and can be purchased at www.rentschlerfield.com.

Toronto’s MLS games will be available through ESPN’s streaming service (ESPN+).

Remaining Toronto Reds schedule
Sun. Oct. 18: ATLANTA UNITED, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 24: at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Oct. 28: NEW YORK CITY FC, 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 1: INTERMIAMI FC, 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 8: at New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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