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Toronto FC gave up some time in midsummer, but you don’t get paid for playing half a year so it finished its season on Sunday.

Some endings are fitting. This was not that. Toronto FC beat the hell out of the best team in Major League Soccer and managed to commit very few preposterous errors while doing so. Quelle surprise!

Toronto (10-18-6) beat Atlanta (21-7-6) 4-1.

Maybe someone in group sales got a hold of the TFC players before the game for a little scream therapy – “These tickets are not getting any cheaper. So you need to try a little bit harder.”

Of course, it didn’t matter in the least. The MLS defending champions had long ago decided to simplify their logo design by turning it into a white flag.

Most sporting turnarounds are the three-point variety – they take a little planning and require a few turns to get all the angles right.

Toronto FC’s 2018 season was a Fast and Furious job – pulling the emergency brake at highway speeds, resulting in a cartwheel down the road that went on for several months.

This team has had more than its share of abysmal campaigns. But this one was Toronto’s season without end.

Last December, TFC was arguably the best team in league history. By April, it already looked exhausted. Three months later, without major personnel or management changes, it was close to the worst team in MLS. It finished with 10 wins – half of last year’s total.

How exactly does one manage that?

First, one puts all of one’s eggs in one basket, and then trips down a flight of stairs while holding said basket.

The club’s off-season lasted about as long as a German civil servant’s summer holidays. Then the team went directly into a grinding CONCACAF Champions League campaign.

Winning that tournament became Toronto’s (and MLS’s) finish line.

TFC almost got there, losing the final on a penalty shootout. That was back in spring, when there was still hope.

The defeat hobbled the team mentally. Coach Greg Vanney has repeatedly said as much. They were never quite the same after that.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

You don’t build the Taj Mahal of MLS clubs – Toronto’s payroll is half-again what the second most lavish roster is paid – so that only the locals get to admire it. You spend this kind of money because you want to establish a legacy.

Champions of North America would have been that. But having taken a header over the final hurdle, the team went utterly sideways.

In Toronto’s defence, it feels as though it hadn’t stopped playing for the better part of three years. There’s always the old “injuries got us” excuse – which Vanney was dishing liberally after Sunday’s game.

But it’s a results business, and no one here has to give back any of their money on the basis of performance, or lack thereof.

The problem was effort. The only person who seemed completely committed throughout the year was team captain Michael Bradley. He always plays as though he’s been told his feet are being chopped off after the game, so he might as well give it his best.

As it got near the end, Bradley began cashing in receipts without mentioning any names. He didn’t need to – everybody else should feel in some way implicated.

On the team’s only consistent habit – losing games in which it had gone behind – Bradley used the ugliest word in soccer.

“It speaks to a mentality that in too many cases is too fragile,” he told reporters in September.

In soccer terms, mentality means something more than your outlook. It speaks to your general disposition, your quality as a human and whether you are the sort of person one could count on to help a stranger. There is no lower sort than a person with a fragile mentality.

Toronto FC is currently full of them. The emblematic one – largely because of the size of his salary – is forward Jozy Altidore.

Toronto is now paying him somewhere in the neighbourhood of a million dollars a goal. When he isn’t scoring (so, the vast majority of his time), he’s busy taking a red card 10 minutes into a game you would very badly like to win for no other reason than he’s having a bad day. He’s also the guy who dared the team to get rid of him after a bad loss earlier this month – “I’ve done what I can at this point.”

Oh, have you?

Altidore’s aura of constant frustration typified the team’s 2018 attitude. This was a group who had gone squirrelly after too much time spent at work and in each other’s company.

The good news is they all get to leave now. The bad news is they have to be back in a week. Vanney spoke about “a couple of weeks” of exit interviews that will include “some work on the field.”

Adding to the misery of the year, Toronto cursed itself by winning the Canadian championship – meaning it will be back in the Champions League come late winter. So the rest will not be long.

The roster problems – if that’s what this is – aren’t easily fixable. Everyone is under contract and makes a ton of money.

So this is your team for the next year at least. It’s probably worth running them out for one more season to see if some R’n’R did the trick. It’s probably even more advisable to encourage the players to stop thinking about soccer for a while. They don’t look as if they’re enjoying it.

As Sunday’s game ended, Toronto did the usual rounds of the field, thanking fans. The last time it performed this season-ending ritual at BMO Field, they played We Are The Champions.

This time around, it was Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough.

No, no, you can. You can definitely get enough. We have. All of us.

Time to give it a break for a good long while and then try again once everyone’s forgotten 2018 happened.

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