'We get to take on the big boys': HFX Wanderers set to host Toronto FC

Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC is in Halifax to play the Wanderers as part of the ongoing playoff for the Canadian Championship.

“It is one of the really unique things about the sport of soccer, outside of your regular league play,” said Wanderers founder and president Derek Martin. “We get to take on the big boys from MLS and welcome Toronto FC into Halifax.”

The Canadian Championship is actually a tournament-style format, featuring professional teams from several levels as well as semi-pro teams. The Wanderers Grounds is sold out, with more than 6500 tickets sold.

“I think we could’ve sold 8000 or 9000 tickets tonight if we have the proper facilities,” said Martin.

Denton Froese is a super fan, who has only missed two games since the Wanderers was founded three years ago. Froese said the level of support for this team has already surpassed his expectations.

“I didn’t see it coming at all and I know we have a good community spirit in Halifax,” said Froese. “For us to get so excited for soccer, was just a wonderful surprise.”

Froese also said Tuesday’s game against Toronto FC is an opportunity to showcase the team, the stadium and the Wanderers fan base to the rest of Canada.

“We want to show what Halifax can do and celebrate the whole city here,” said Froese.

According to elite soccer coach and former professional player Costa Elles, the passion for the Wanderers is directly related to what’s happening for the sport nationally in Canada with soccer’s popularity now at an all-time high.

“Right now everything is lined up perfectly,” said Elles. “With the national team’s success -- with the women, their success.”

As for the Wanderers’ in-game experience, Elles said fans need to see it for themselves in person to fully comprehend the passion.

“I think people would be shocked once they walk in there,” said Elles. “It’s a total party atmosphere.”

That atmosphere is expected to reach new levels Tuesday night versus Toronto FC.