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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

THE STARTING 11: Side effects of hosting the 2010 MLS Cup

--"No it's not the NASL team... it's the November weather forecast"

“The Don” made Toronto an offer it couldn't refuse. Before the shiny new grass has even settled at BMO Field, MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited town to announce that T.O. will host the MLS Cup Final this year. Yes, on November 21st, as the tropical winter breeze blows in off Lake Ontario, 22 men in shorts will jump up and down ,desperately trying not to get frostbite on their Red Bulls. It's another good opportunity for TFC to show why they are the model "economic" franchise (as opposed to model winning club) as well as showcase the city, but there are a few other effects hosting the cup will have...
11. Landon Donovan gets to play an elf in Toronto's Santa Claus Parade
10. "Bitchy" the BMO Field Hawk to get tiny toque
9. MLSE to claim "they successfully brought a championship team to Toronto" - no one said it had to be TFC
8. Good chance a goalkeeper will get his tongue stuck to goalpost
7. Toronto newspapers forced to run full page articles explaining what "Championship Games" are to Torontonians.
6. Don Garber gets to live in the CN Tower for two weeks
5. Danny Dichio to be frozen in carbonite during halftime show
4. The game will mark the best opportunity Mo Johnston has to being that close to a trophy again
3. Finally, a chance to get Americans hooked on Chip Buttys
2. Football chants to be replaced by 21,000 rhythmic chattering teeth
1. $9 Frozen Beer

------------------------"Oooooh, Frozen Dich-io!"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New kit... same sh*t

---"These Canucks are mocking us in their new jerseys! Tase 'em!"

As if watching Toronto FC lose badly to "rival" Columbus 2-0 isn't bad enough, having to watch it on GOL-TV just twists the knife. When the game coverage is brought to you directly from the same boardroom that hired team "architect" Mo Johnston, you have to be regaled by MLSE-brand excuses and promotion for two hours. Having to sit through the mire that was 2010's opening match and then have to watch Dwayne De Rosario, Nick Garcia and Preki talk about "the positives" of the loss in post-match interviews is just insulting.

Yes, The Reds did hold their defensive shape for a good chunk of the first half. However, if Preki is planning to play a Bolton-esque grinding defence style all year he needs to realize two things: fans will only enjoy ugly football if you get points using it; and, like Bolton, you actually have to have talented defenders. Instead, TFC has Ty Harden who Tried Harden but looked like a Ken-doll in distress and the utter hot mess that is Nick Garcia. We semi-joked on this site for months that Garcia would start today. Our horrifying prediction was paid off with a defensive display so shockingly inept it is unworthy of a witty simile. Garcia isn't worthy of a MLS bench spot yet in Mo Johnston's 4 year plan is our main centreback. Great guy to have if you need a ball cleared directly into your keeper's back though!

Going forward has gone backward. While the 2nd half offered some spluttering sloppy opportunities at goal, the spinal combo of De Gu, De Ro and O'Brien "Montego Molasses" White is not going to bulge the onion bag too often. Makeshift wingers Gala, Cronin and sub LaBrocca did little as far as delivery into the box, so it looks as if Preki's hope is that long-range shots and messy scrambles will provide enough goals to get by. Surely he's not waiting on Chad Barret to change things. Yes Preki is a defensive minded coach but some ideas going forward need to arrive quickly.

At the final whistle, the scoreline was fair. Columbus was way under-par today and if they had capitalized on a number of goalmouth chances the score could have been worse. It is indeed the first match and due to Mo Johnston's ineptitude, new players are still coming into the system. There is time to get better for TFC but it cannot be with a display too much like today's. The post-match interviews are fine and dandy corporate talk on a corporate network but if there really are positives, they need to be built upon in a hurry. Otherwise, much like the misDirector of Football - it's all hot air. TFC 2010 looked a hell of a lot like TFC 2007 and there is no plus side to that.

Friday, March 26, 2010

THE MATCHUP: MLS First Kick... in the pants

----------------Have your Crew Cats spayed or neutered


Columbus Crew Stadium - Saturday 4:00PM EST
TV: GOL-TV ---RADIO: The Fan 590
The World Cup. The Champions League Trophy. The Trillium Cup. Footballing awards that will stand the test of time. Literally half-dozens of children in Ohio and Ontario dream of lifting the Trillium Cup one day. The glorious competition, which is ranked as one of football's "Top 500 Floral-Themed Fake Rivalry Trophies", has belonged to Columbus since its inception all those two years ago. 2010 however, could be Toronto's year - if Crew gets food poisoning before every match against TFC that is.
Yes, the 2010 season has arrived and once again TFC opens in exotic Central Ohio. Columbus was actually named by Men's Health Magazine as the USA's # 2 "Most Sexually Satisfied City" in 2008. Then they won the MLS Cup - coincidence? The Crew are as solid as ever (no pun intended) with TFC killers Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Chad Marshall and Steven Lenhart now aided by the draft's best name Dilly Duka. Crew Cat and the Columbus Soccer Dirty Dancers will be there too just to add to the fun in what could be a long day for new manager Preki's undermanned and under-talented TFC.
Preki, the increasingly surly Serb, apparently finds all this media negativity annoying so "go get em Reds - it's not how you play the game, it's how...". Oh eff-word that, Nick Garcia's our main defender, we're allowed to be negative.
PESSIMIST SAYS: 3-0 Columbus

Two economy tickets for Columbus: Saric and Conway sign on

-------------------Saric. Best Argentine-Croat we've had

Late Friday, Toronto FC announced some further additions to "Mo Johnston's Last Minute Club". As reported here yesterday, GK Brian Edwards was released and in his place comes former Chivas USA back-up keeper Jon Conway.

Also in the final boarding call was trialist Martin Saric. The 30 year old midfielder has bounced around the Argentine and various Balkan lower leagues and will likely provide bench strength and little else. Putting high hopes on his shoulders is a recipe for disappointment.

Read more at TFC's Official site.

UPDATE: On Saturday morning, TFC signed midfielder/ sometime defender and latest Re-Rapid Dan "Tuan" Gargan (get it Gargan-Tuan? Never mind.) He is rushing to Columbus on an economy flight at press time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wynne out of our sails

In the end, Marvell Wynne's explosive speed ran him right out of town. The jovial American wing-back, who became a quick fan favourite after his 2007 arrival, seems to be the latest victim of the "Mo Johnston Last Minute Club". Wynne has been shipped off to Colorado Rapids in exchange for versatile midfielder Nick "La Rock" LaBrocca and a low draft pick thrown in for fun.
Wynne will always be the "should've been" superstar for Toronto. His blinding runs down the flank and ability to backtrack on defence like a bullet were met with awe when he arrived but the inevitable development seemed to stall over the last year. Despite flirtations with the US Men's National Team the swift Californian couldn't raise his game, especially in regards to first touches and crosses. Many TFC observers had grown tired of waiting for Wynne to expand on his obvious raw skills and it seems as if Preki was in that camp too.
Nick LaBrocca comes as a relatively unknown commodity in these parts but seems to be highly regarded by Rapids supporters - all 17 of them. He has played the majority of minutes for the Mountain Men and has played at every midfield position and also in a pinch at left-back. He seems like a workhorse and fits in with the other Re-Rapids TFC has picked up - Ty Harden and Jacob Peterson. Of course, a midfielder doesn't exactly fill The Reds' emergency holes in the defence and up front but that's not LaBrocca's fault and depth is of course an issue too.
Further movement rumoured today, but not confirmed officially, has TFC moving GK Brian Edwards either by trade or in a release. If this comes to fruition it would be a move to open up cap room, likely to pay for the signatures of trialists Adrian "Yes We" Cann and Martin Saric. Former Chivas USA backup keeper Jon Conway is reportedly in camp so there may be flame to this smoke. The fact that Mo Johnston looked up from his winter solstice and realized that the season starts in two days is just further proof of the phenomenal work this true Hall of Famer does. Now... which button on the keyboard denotes sarcasm?

---------------------Good luck Marv. Enjoy the quiet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pre-Season Potpourri

---"It's called Scottish Offseason... it absolutely reeks of inactivity"

- The rumours are floating heavily that an announcement is imminent from MLS that Toronto will host the 2010 MLS Cup Final. The match would be played at BMO Field in late November. Brrr! Whoever kisses the cup at the end of the match better not use tongue. Well, there's one worry that TFC players won't have - very little chance of a hometown appearance. MLSE however, will no doubt use the event to mask another lacklustre season - a la Real Madrid 2009.
- More news from Don Garber's office (it likely has a tank of exotic carnivorous fish and a giant laser). The Don looks set to announce that Montreal will soon be named as the league's 19th club. Joey Saputo will be undoubtedly be preparing a special celebratory provolone ball as the Quebec government (via Toronto's tax transfer payments) will expand the stadium and bring Le Francophones to La League du Soccer Majorette. Hopefully he will ditch the completely lame-assed "Impact" nickname (FC Olympique du Montreal?) but unlikely. In other news, Columbus will no longer have a fake rival in TFC as the "401 Derby" will instantly be MLS's most heated match-up.
- As most TFC supporters already know, Toronto manager Preki has bluntly said that striker/ cake enthusiast Ali Gerba is not in the team's plans. Gerba has come out and said the club is muddying his good name in order to cut his contract but either way you slice it, the Gerba/ TFC era will be a mystery. How a player who has scored goals with every club he played for except one is strange. misDirector of Football Mo Johnston commented something close to "mumble, mumble, bullsh*t, lies, corporate speak..." then something in Scottish.
- More great successes from our Highland hierarchy/ truth avoidance specialist, Johnston. The deadline for opening day rosters closes at 5PM today and as of press time (I like to call myself press. No credentials, but I have a hat) TFC only has 15 eligible players. That’s right soccer fans - not even enough for a full bench! TFC's DP Julian De Guzman says he's never seen anything like it and really, neither has most of the football world. Johnston's astonishing year 4 of a 25 year plan, may see him sign trialists Martin Saric and Adrian Cann. Neither has ever played consistently at a level close to MLS standard. Hurray for soccer!
- Finally, in heart-warming news, Adrian Serioux (who TFC claimed was so injured his career may be in jeopardy) scored easily for new club Houston in their final friendly. "Too old for TFC" Carl Robinson played very well against Santos for NYRB. The classy Welshman played hard and placed a beautiful cross on Mike Petke's noggin for a goal. And, just in case you are curious - Amado Guevara has a goal in 10 appearances for his hometown club Motagua before captaining Honduras at the 2010 World Cup this summer. Thank goodness Mo cut all that dead weight! Phew! If only Nick Garcia was a quality international - then he'd be out for sure.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

THE STARTING 11: Surprising clauses in the new MLS CBA

The ink is still wet on the new Major League Soccer Collective Bargaining Agreement. The owners and the union wrangled for months and took the 2010 season to the brink of disaster before cooler heads prevailed. A lot of the details have been slow in being released but if you read the very fine print, there are some surprises in store for the next 5 years...
11. All new MLS SuperDraft picks must do housework around owners' mansions
10. Players to get "Streamer-Related" injury pay
9. Bronze statue of shirtless Don Garber riding a lion unveiled in front of every MLS ground
8. Philadelphia no longer allowed to use "inflammatory" Union nickname
7. Released players get freedom of movement: choice between Kansas City and San Jose
6. Mo Johnston must immediately stop using trialists to build extension on his home
5. League can sell a player's rights to billionaires who hunt humans for sport
4. New DP's must donate 10% of salary to "charity" that buys new golf equipment for suffering, low-income, multi-millionaire football club owners
3. Better working conditions for the three construction workers on Columbus Crew's logo
2. Owners get to shoot Joe Cannon out of a cannon
1. Illiterate players get huge increase in celery caps

Monday, March 22, 2010

One week left. One weak club.

When Toronto FC ended the 2009 season by being destroyed 5-0 at the hands of a mediocre New York Red Bulls, the feelings of shock and anger looked destined to be the catalyst for real and significant change. Immediately, the interim manager was dispatched and surprisingly quickly was replaced with MLS stalwart Preki. The new coach's signing seemed to be the first step in The Reds' transformation but somewhere in the dead of winter, the transformation stopped as quickly as it had begun.
There have been some drastic changes to TFC in the off-season; unfortunately they have all gone the wrong direction. Dumbfounded (and handled with a shocking lack of class) transfers of gritty hardmen Adrian Serioux and Carl Robinson along with the inevitable release of Amado Guevara have subtracted three major players from the 2009 squad without a single suitable replacement.
Director (?) of Football Mo Johnston's only answer to the 4 year problem of a leaky defence and an impotent offence have been a defender who left football to do charity work in Africa and a winger who hasn't recovered from a major injury. Throw in two draft picks who won't figure into the starting 11 and the now unlikely possibility of signing an Egyptian defender best known for temper tantrums and there you have Johnston's transformation. Astounding work.
As it stands now, when TFC lines up later this week against Columbus, the starting 11 will not have one new face in it from 2009 apart from a possible surprise trialist’s inclusion. What it will have is even less depth than last year. TFC will most likely have Nick "The Human Pylon" Garcia anchoring the defence whilst surrounded by inexperienced youngsters; a front line that will most likely be without the disgraced Ali Gerba - leaving unproven sophomore O'Brian White and the injured (but how could you tell?) Chad Barrett as the only two natural strikers; and, a midfield with TFC's only two stars, De Ro and De Guzman, with no one to receive a pass from and no one to pass to. Rumours of the two stars' unhappiness are floating around and really, who could blame them?
There is one constant with this team. For four years now there has been one man who has overseen a process of building this club from scratch but somehow has only managed to build a glorified expansion team. His trigger happy deals for mediocre players; his dismissals of team heroes such as Dichio and Robinson with such a lack of class; his inability to fill holes in the defence and offence year after year; his resting on laurels of being a "master of the draft"; his promises of building a long-term winning club while only building a profitable earner for MLSE.
There is only one way to transform Toronto FC and that is getting rid of the one constant that epitomizes the utterly dreadful prospect of TFC 2010. Maurice Johnston, please leave us alone so we can start again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

MLS strike averted. Mo Johnston loses an excuse.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced today that the league and the players' union had agreed upon a new 5-year CBA. Details of the agreement have yet to be released but the announcement means that the 2010 season will begin as scheduled. As the details emerge it will most likely show much give and take on both sides but at least they have seemingly realized the damage that a strike could have done to the young league.

The sweat beads that can be audibly heard across the Toronto area would be those of Mo Johnston. The misDirector of Football has been quietly trotting out the potential strike as the reason that TFC currently has the smallest roster in the league. With this excuse gone, the wily Scot will now have to get back into the war room and come up with a new reason why he hasn't located a quality defender or striker in 4 years. Global warming maybe?

Check out the MLS website for updates of the new CBA's details.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

THE STARTING 11: Uncomfortable things to overhear at BMO Field

For those of us who have braved the cold/ braved the wet/ braved the searing heat/ braved the return of the cold in the same season at BMO Field, know that it is an intimate place to watch a football match. It's no prized pig and not going to win any architectural prizes but you are on top of the action and the sightlines are great. We'll take it over The Emirates Stadium any day. Part of being in the raucous crowd however is hearing the odd snippet of conversation that drifts across the crowd like a breeze... but with more swearing. Some of it can raise an eyebrow...

11. "What do you mean by Corn-Rows all over?”

10. "That streamer looks damp."

9. "It says Chip Butty but it tastes like feet."

8. "Yeah, my wife used to date Joe Cannon."

7. "Is this a boil or a mole?"

6. "Sorry Mr. Lombardo but that pass is expired."

5. "Daddy? What's a wanker?"

4. "The 50/50 draw girl gave me half of her phone number!"

3. "Security confiscated my underwear."

2. "We could do anything under this giant Dichio banner."

1. "What happens at BMO, stays at BMO."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC Homemade Ice Cream Flavours

If there is one thing no one can take away from MLSE (and believe us, we try) it's the corporation's eye for a good cross-promotion. The Bay Street Bankers love sticking their properties' logos over anything with a flat surface and TFC is no exception. It wouldn't be surprising then if locked somewhere, hundreds of feet below Air Canada Centre, a team of lab monkeys and marketing jocks weren't thinking of a deliciously frozen way of exploiting Toronto's new boys of summer. I scream, you scream, indeed we all scream... for TFC Ice Cream. Lick this...

11. Cherry Nick Garcia

10. Hamstring Ripple

9. Rocky Ricketts

8. Rookies & Cream

7. Carlsberg Crunch

6. MLSE Brand Lo-Cost Non-Dairy Iced Milk Product

5. Chocolate Chip Butty Dough

4. Rum & Rosario

3. Barrett Chips Over The Net

2. Chunky Gerba

1. Marvell Mynnt

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Editorial: And Then There Was One...

-------------------Classy player. Classless treatment.

I already miss him.

Carl Robinson was truly the engine who drove the midfield. All stop. His bad games still contained a positive value to the on-pitch performance. If only Guevara's "Polkaroo" act of disappearing and reappearing when no one is paying attention could be that noticeable.

Was the $300 000+ savings of salary cap really worth losing the one consistent outfield player that has shirted up since the game one? I hope so.

Preki has to be given some leeway here. He's the one steering the inherited ship, shifty patchwork, 5 year plans and all, so he needs to impose his imprint. Believing in Preki should be easy with his pedigree behind him so when the new talent shows up, some of those losses should become draws, draws become victories, etc.

One would have to think that it is solely a monetary issue. On a grossly underachieving team, it has to be. TFC, on paper, is good enough for a run in the post-season and to scare the hell out of a random Panamanian team in the Champions League instead of what we have before us. $300k is a solid amount of wiggle room on a team that could use a few capable players who will play 90 minutes a game. Honestly, if we can turn one Carl Robinson into two HALF-Carl Robinsons for the same price, it would be a gross improvement from 2009 on talent and work rate.

So this leaves our very own captain, Wee Jimmy Brennan, as the last of the originals. You have to speculate that the writing is on SOME wall for him with injuries and age taking their toll on the man.

So here's to you Mr. Robinson, may New York Harrison Extreme Beverage treat you well, and, if TFC supporters have an iota of class, applaud your return.

Monday, March 8, 2010

THE STARTING 11: 2010 Toronto FC Ad Slogans

Part keeping fans' expectations in check, which is a task that MLSE has mastered, is keeping the excitement up for a new season. Even if the upcoming year looks like it could fall flat on its face (just saying), the ownership must try to brand it with enthusiasm. You can't let a minor issue like no major player acquisitions or a long shot at a title get in the way. It's almost time to brand Season Four...

11. "Come smell the grass!"

10. "Now with 40% less Guevara"

9. "There's a good chance Mo might sign you!"

8. "Come for the butty - stay for the footy"

7. "$9 Dollar Beer + direct sun = Sweet High!"

6. "Toronto's Best Urinals: 2008/ 2009"

5. "Where else can you throw things at Americans?"

4. "Managing expectations since 2007"

3. "You might just see Craig Forrest!"

2. "Year 4 of the 20 Year Plan"

1. "MLSE: Please donate generously"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Carl Robinson released... no traded... no released...

TFC have released Carl Robinson and he is on trial with NY Red Bulls.
Surplus to requirements with the arrival of Julian de Guzman.
We wish Carl the best of luck and wish our club would have acted with some class towards a humble servant since day one.

Full story here