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Monday, February 28, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC Disney films

Cheque signing motions are hard with fins

Toronto FC fans can be forgiven for not looking too fondly upon the club's recent trip to Disney World. A pair of lacklustre friendlies, a mixed bag of trialists and whispers from behind the scenes about lack of "passion" are hardly the stuff of Magic Kingdom dreams. Maybe football wasn't the only reason TFC returned to Main Street USA though. Disney does put out a ton of films and MLSE has never shied away from being a "Mickey Mouse" operation - could these new Disney/TFC films be coming soon to theatre near you?
11. "Trialists of the Caribbean: The Curse of Collin Samuel's Lunch"
10. "Race to Bitchy Mountain"
9. "Honey, I Shrunk the Roster"
8. "Funding DeRo"
7. "Snow White and 7 Joao Platas"
6. ""High School Musical 4: TFC Academy Rocks!"
5. "101 Formations"
4. "Operation Dumbo Drop: The Release of Nick Garcia"
3. "Sleeping Butty"
2. Mo Johnston in "The Lying King"
1. Nana Attatouille

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Letters from Camp: Lions King at Disney

From Austin to Orlando... The Circle of Life

Well, if there is a such thing as "The Circle of Life" in preseason then Toronto FC's tactical training and integration of new players is still emerging from its infancy. While it's fair to expect that a massive overhaul in football theory, which Winter and Co. are attempting, will take a while to happen, the progress has been incremental.
The birthing pangs of "Total" Toronto FC were well on display during much of tonight's friendly against USL Second Division newcomers Orlando City (formerly Austin Aztex). In a match, admittedly a meaningless one, where most fans would expect an MLS side to dominate, The Reds struggled to create any quality offensive chances out of their quick passing 4-3-3 system. For you sick little monkeys (like us) who want the briefest of MLS v USL 2 preseason recaps, here goes... For the rest of you, go watch The Lion King, it will make you feel better.
TORONTO FC 1st Half Line-up: Milos Kocic, Dan Gargan, Chris Hunter, Adrian Cann, Mikael Yourassowsky, Matt Stinson, Ivo de Heus, Dwayne De Rosario, Nick Soolsma, Jamal Gay, Javier Martina
6' - Toronto defence undone early with Yourassowsky the goat. A man with that name needs to be more careful. Kocic with a good save
10' - ESPN3 announcers are just precious. At least no "free kick pieces" or "half court sets"
22' - Orlando has had at least 3 free kicks from dangerous areas. TFC still trying to find an offensive outlet
32' - Walt Disney's frozen head not in attendance tonight
38' - TFC getting a little closer to the Orlando goal with Javier Martina looking like the only one with a goal in his boots tonight
42' - Does anyone else remember "Sport Goofy"?
45' - Stinson goes close but finish is a let down as is the half which mercifully ends
TORONTO FC 2nd Half Subs In: Ashtone Morgan for Yourassowsky, Nick LaBrocca for Cann, Jacob Peterson for Gay (It doesn't get old)
48' - Second half starts the way the first ended for TFC. A bit like watching a plumber try to paint the Mona Lisa
54' - Toronto owning possession but still unable to crack Orlando's final third
59' - Just realized Disney World's tiny football stadium has a better roof than BMO Field
67' - Keith "Booyah" Makubuya and Maicon Santos in for De Rosario and Martina
70' - Mouse Butty anyone?
76' - GOAL: Not only does Orlando City sub in their Assistant Coach Ian Fuller but he decides to cut through the TFC "defence" like the proverbial knife through butter. Some very poor defending. ORLANDO CITY 1 - TORONTO FC 0
80' - Why does it seem more embarrassing when a USL 2 side's fans sing the "Na na na Goodbye" song?
85' - Makubuya tries to make something happen in the Orlando box but results in nothing more than a goalmouth scramble
90' - Match descends to time wasting. Disney’s head is giggling in its brine.
Unlike any number of animated Disney films, the heroes didn't come out on top today. In fact the whole trip to the "Magic Kingdom" was far from magical for The Reds who come in last in the Mickey Mouse Cup.
Despite being a preseason friendly, losing to a club two divisions lesser than you never feels good. While Toronto continues to build its new system from the ground up, Reds supporters may now be getting the feeling that early season patience will be needed. The passing game has improved, the style is better but the defensive shape and offensive output is definitely not there yet. Good outing for youngsters Demetrious Omphroy and Javier Martina but the defensive lead feet from the likes of Dan Gargan and Mikael Yourassowsky will stand out tonight. As Toronto move on to non-Disney pastures, "work in progress" is most apt.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Letters from Camp: Dinamo, Dynamo... discuss.

You say Dinamo we say Dynamo

Despite leaving Turkey two weeks ago, Toronto FC kept with the Balkan opponent theme by playing Dynamo this evening in Orlando. Okay, it wasn't Dinamo Anyone or even a Dynamo followed by a wacky Cyrillic alphabet-spelled city - it was our old orange pals Houston Dynamo.
TFC's opening match at one of North America's finest theme park related football tournaments was mostly newsworthy due to MLS streaming live video for the fans. That of course meant that hundreds of Reds supporters and well over seven Houston supporters were glued to their computer screens enjoying the "top-notch" commentary from ESPN3. In case you missed the online action (or you just love text updates... weirdo) here's what went down in Mouse Town...
TORONTO FC 1st Half Line-up: Stefan Frei, Demetrius Omphroy, Nana Attakora, Adrian Cann, Mikael Yourassowsky, Ivo De Heus, Dwayne De Rosario, Nick LaBrocca, Jacob Peterson, Jamal Gay, Javier Martina
HOUSTON DYNAMO 1st Half Line-up: Brian Ching and a bunch of dudes we'll see later this year
1' - Aron Winter instantly upset that Houston line-up didn't include one Disney character
4' - TFC playing their very sharp 4-3-3 short pass style and controlling possession
5' - ESPN3 announcers are truly "fantastic"... Nick LaBrocca is forever now referred to as "Nick LaBroker". Okay, he looks like an H&R Block rep but a broker?
7' - GOAL: The Broker himself shakes off the ESPN butchering of his name and feeds Jacob Peterson who shows great control and blasts the ball past the out of position Houston GK Tally Hall. Tally Ho! HOUSTON DYNAMO 0 - TORONTO FC 1
9' - Sparse crowd at Disney due to long lines at Space Mountain. Few in attendance are big fans of the Argos-esque foghorn.
11' - GOAL: Right up Yourassowsky! TFC's defence is broken down too easily as Houston's Geoff Cameron hits a laser off of a great inswinging cross. HOUSTON DYNAMO 1 - TORONTO FC 1
13' - ESPN3 classic as announcers call a Houston corner a "free kick piece". Simply wonderful.
19'- Houston controlling the play as TFC fail to break into Dynamo final third
22' - Ivo "In" De Heus flattened like a Dutch pancake but manages to get back on his clogs
25' - Dynamo continue to control the possession with physical play
26' - ESPN3 informs us that TFC's Head Coach "Mark Winter" is bringing the Dutch influence. Good to know. Good luck Mark.
28' - PENALTY: Gay bashing! Houston defender hauls down Jamal Gay in the box and the ref points to the spot. De Ro to take the PK and... GOAL! HOUSTON DYNAMO 1 - TORONTO FC 2
37' - ESPN3 feeling the "wrath" as they refer to TFC defender as Adrian "Kaaahn"
42' - GOAL: Dynamo's Brad Davis hits a bullet on a free kick from just outside of the box. HOUSTON DYNAMO 2 - TORONTO FC 2
44' - Demetrious Omphroy threads a great cross onto a charging De Ro who collides with Tally Hall. Tally Ho!
TORONTO FC 2nd Half Line-up: Who really knows? TFC Twitter and ESPN3 feed equally useless. Dan Gargan, Matt Stinson, Nick Soolsma and Gianluca Zavarise in. Martina, Attakora, Omphroy and somebody else out... unless TFC is playing with 12.
HOUSTON DYNAMO 2nd Half Line-up: Really?
45' - Best part of ESPN3 Half Time was on-field reporter Michael Caine. Loved him in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Jaws 4
48' - Second stringers for both teams slowing down play as they feel each other out
50' - Announcers mention twice that Toronto hasn't had a winning season since being founded. Thanks.
55' - Game far choppier and recklessly physical compared with 1st half
58' - De Ro goes down a bit hard but gingerly gets up
59' - Double substitution - De Ro and Gay out (stop that); Oscar Cordon and Maicon Santos in
62' - Rowdy fans playing some kind of samba beat on their seats. Just waiting for that Disney Electric Parade thingy to start
64' - ESPN3 announce that the game has fallen into a "half court set". Priceless.
67' - The only thing you can hear on the broadcast is the wacky Dutch accent of the screaming Bob de Klerk. Like an angry Rotterdam pimp.
68' - GOAL: Houston's Cam Weaver wiggles past a lead-footed Dan Gargan and heads it past Stefan Frei. HOUSTON DYNAMO 3 - TORONTO FC 2
69' - Sub - Jacob Peterson out, Joao Plata let out of his shoebox and comes in
71' - Maicon Santos goes close from 20 yards but just over the bar
74' - If this half had a Disney dwarf he would be named "Sloppy"
79' - Handful of fans start the classic "USA! USA!" chant. Really? Where's Nikolai Volkoff when you need him?
80' - Houston go close as Frei caught out of position then get a second attempt but Frei makes a great diving stop
84' - ESPN3 announcer genuinely refers to himself as amazing. When I say it I use giant quotation marks
89' - Zavarise hits a great long range free-kick into Houston area - sadly Joao Plata's 5 foot 2 head was the target and the ball was at least 5 foot 7 in the air
91' - Referee being pressured to end the game before Goofy stabs Pluto out of frustration
Let's go down to Get Carter's Michael Caine...
And so ends Toronto's opening match of the Walt Disney Pro Soc... blah, blah, blah. TFC showed some first half signs of good technical football but often looked bullied in defensive situations. However, it's still early days and this match did involve a number of trialists and featured a second half that was stiffer than Walt Disney's cryogenically frozen head. With the loss, TFC cannot win the Mouse Cup (how will I sleep?) and are forced to play Orlando City in this weekend's 3rd Place match. Let's see, ESPN3 announcers, a USL side... yeah, Saturday's recap may be shorter folks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Letters from Camp: “More trialists? You bet Yourassowsky!”

Sweet Yourassed fashion scarf there Mikael!

Toronto FC released the names of more trialists joining the club in Florida today and they are... well... projects. Think more "new in camp" than "Nou Camp". The four players added to Florida’s Camp Wananfooty are:
MIKAEL YOURASSOWSKY: This 5 foot 11 Belgian defender had a bright start to his career, apprenticing with both Anderlecht and Argentine powerhouse Boca Juniors. However, the 27-year-old's professional record has been spotty and nomadic at best since with stops in Greece, Mexico and most recently a spell in Croatia's top division at NK Rijeka - ironically the most solid stretch of his career.
IVO "IN" DE HEUS: It's never a good sign if the most online research you can find on a player is his personal resume. Little is known about this Dutch midfielder apart from a lengthy stretch spent in the Ajax youth system (surprise!) and short professional stints with Dutch clubs Willem II and AGOVV Apeldoorn (Like Apple Jacks – just more footbally). Apparently caught the eye of TFC Assistant Bob de Klerk during his Ajax youth days.
JAMAL GAY: In an effort to help opposing supporters with their offensive chants, TFC invited Trinidad & Tobago International Gay to camp. Apart from his 6 foot 2 frame, there is little to get excited about over the 22-year-old striker. Came up through the Joe Public system before moving on to a lacklustre spell with Rot-Weiss Oberhausen in the German second division. Most recently loaned out to Turkish third division side Dardanel Spor A.S. who are apparently named after a popular brand of tuna - so that's something. Gay has scored 3 goals with the T&T National team but is always last in jersey sales.
JOEVIN JONES: Another Trinidad & Tobago International prospect. 19-year-old defender who has little professional record and emerged from the W Connection club. Despite 6 appearances with the T&T Nats he recently failed to make an impression at the Colorado Rapids camp and was released by The Maroons. First name is French for “Joe’s wine”.
While the club has yet to make an official announcement, club legend Danny Dichio let it slip on Twitter yesterday evening that he was indeed taking Jason Bent's place as Head Coach of the TFC Academy U-19 squad. Dichio, who by all accounts has taken his education as a young coach very seriously (since being forced into retirement), is a natural choice and the second good homegrown coaching move made by TFC after the recent Bent promotion to the 1st Team. There is word also that fellow "Wall of Honour" (barf) recipient Jim Brennan will be involved in a coaching role with the Academy leaving a massive hole in the club's Auto Show, cartoon narration and coffee retrieval departments.
Club owners MLSE released a report today slapping there own backs loudly and proudly over the profit that BMO Field has managed to make during its management by the sports, entertainment and panda meat juggernaut. The 2010 profit of $641,000 was in fact 3 times higher than projected and as part of their profit-sharing agreement, MLSE has provided the City of Toronto with $1.2 Million over the last 4 years. Mayor Rob Ford likely commented "Gravy Train. Union fat cats. KFC Double-Down. Argos." TFC supporters commented in unison "Ummm... roof?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Letters from Camp: "Bent it like Jason"

Jason: On staff

Aron Winter added some bench strength on the coaching side by promoting Jason Bent from the Academy ranks to 1st Team Assistant Coach. It's a solid move on the club's part as the 33-year-old Bent is a decent, young Canadian coaching prospect and his three years as Academy Head Coach gives him a strong bond with the crop of Academy youngsters moving to the 1st Team. For the Toronto native, whose playing career with the likes of Colorado and Plymouth Argyle was cut short by injury, it is a chance to learn the ropes of professional level coaching under some solid Dutch professors. No word yet from the club regarding who will fill the position of Academy Head Coach with possibilities including Danny Dichio, Mr. Coffee (Jim Brennan) or a professional poached from The Netherlands.
It seems like Aron Winter may have got caught out as an MLS rookie manager when he announced the signings last week of Javier Martina, Elkebay Bouchiba and Nick Soolsma. While all signs point to the probability that the Dutch trio will indeed be signed, their contracts may well be stuck in the world of visas and MLS head office red tape. Toronto FC is being very careful in press releases to never refer to the three players as "signed" before any kind of official confirmation. Winter may have indeed had his first foray into the wacky world of Major League Soccer contracts.
TFC had their first training session at their new Orlando-based camp on Tuesday which saw Aron Winter himself kitted out and looking fit enough to roam the midfield! All members of the 1st Team squad are on hand in Florida and so far the following players are also confirmed:
TRIALISTS: Javier Martina, Nick Soolsma, Chris Hunter, David Monsalve and Gianluca Zavarise
TFC ACADEMY: Ashtone Morgan, Matt Stinson, Oscar Cordon and Keith "Booyah" Makubuya
DRAFT PICKS: Demetrius Omphroy and Joao Plata
There is yet to be any confirmed word about would-be signing Elkebay Bouchiba or draft picks Matt Gold and Efrain Burgos Jr. While Bouchiba and Burgos may be held up by American work visas, the omission of Gold as well as the unknown status of trialist Eddy Sidra are mysterious. The club is expected to release its full list of camp participants shortly.

Monday, February 21, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Features on the new Toronto FC SUV

"Suck it Toronto Transit Commission"

Before we get to our usual Monday silliness, we just want to thank our readers, both new and old, who helped us crack the 50,000 hit mark. Hope you enjoy the site as much as we enjoy creating it - thanks for being a Yorkie too! Now, if we were MLSE we would sell a range of "We Hit 50K" scarves (damn, that's a good idea) but unlike Toronto FC's owners we don't have that cross-promotional clout. Recently, MLSE has taken TFC promo products to a new level - forget scarves, kits, hats and ponchos... you need the TFC car! Yes, at this year's Toronto Auto Show the 2011 KIA Sportage "Toronto FC Edition" was unveiled with some very unique Reds-centric features...
11. Rack-and-Peterson steering
10. Optional spoiler / hawk
9. Winter Ty Hardens
8. Jim Brennan drives you wherever you want
7. Extra large Butty holders
6. Special washer fluid that costs $9 dollars a pint
5. "Check Engine" light / "Cheque Signing" light
4. Interior carpets replaced with real grass
3. The "Mo Johnston 5 Year Plan" Warranty
2. The seats cost more every year
1. Dichiometer

Friday, February 18, 2011

Letters from Camp: Grade A Florida Oranje

"Orlando, Florida... The Grammar Interesting"

As Aron Winter gets used to life in the weird and wonderful world of North American football he will stumble across continental oddities that get under his skin. During a media scrum at TFC's Oakville training facility this week, the manager was grumbling about upcoming friendlies against other MLS clubs and mentioning he wouldn't have allowed it if he had it his way. It is of course nearly unheard of in Europe to play preseason matches against clubs in your own division but MLS of course tries to mimic other North American pro loops and their "exhibition season". Unfortunately for Winter, this will likely remain the norm unless he can talk MLSE into funding a month and a half camp somewhere distant like Turkey next year, or alternatively, only schedule friendlies versus CONCACAF clubs outside of MLS.
Supplemental draft pick Steven Beattie announced via Twitter today that he was leaving Toronto FC with his university being the most likely destination. The young Dublin native had been extraordinarily excited only weeks ago about joining TFC's camp but felt that his opportunities had been limited with The Reds. While not divulging too much of what led to his decision, he did tweet that he "wasn't getting a fair shot here". A "fair shot" for an unproven NCAA Division II player may be different in Beattie's eyes to TFC management's.
After enjoying a long weekend off (I wonder what Ty Harden got for Family Day?) The Reds will travel down to the Orlando area of Central Florida to continue training camp. When not drinking fresh OJ, riding on the teacups or watching the Space Shuttle take-off, TFC will take part in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic(?). The Reds will face Houston on Thursday at 8PM and two days later play either FC Dallas or USL's Orlando City. The league is trying to promote the tourney by streaming the matches online via sources such as ESPN3's website but north of the border TFC-TV seems the most likely destination for footy starved Reds' support.
Aron Winter wants to pack lightly for spring break. No, not tiny orange Speedos but rather a trimmed down squad that can concentrate on game tactics. Reports out of Toronto whisper that TFC will invite 3 or 4 South and/or Central American trialists while some of the out-of-contract players who were with TFC in Turkey may still return but no more than that. With just about a month to go before the season starts, Winter wants to start putting his 1st Team squad together. Wasn't it more fun when Mo was signing players 2 hours before the first game of the season?
Toronto captain Dwayne De Rosario is claiming to be at his happiest in Toronto since the day he signed and it‘s not due to Toronto‘s natty new kit. While the mercurial midfielder claims that Aron Winter's tactics are suited to his game and that it will pay dividends on the field there may be other reasons for the Scarberian's smile. When asked about his contract situation, De Ro answered pleasantly and optimistically, while some news outlets in the city hinted generously that a DP offer could be in the pipe for the formerly corn-rowed goal-scorer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Letters from Camp: TFC wraps up some Turkey leftovers

"Mmm, you can really taste the Soolsma!"

From our Dutch horshe's mouth came word today that Toronto FC had snapped up its first new signings of 2011. During today's media scrum, manager Aron Winter informed the press that three of the players who were on trial with the club in Turkey are now indeed fully signed-on members of the Red-Oranje Army. The newest Reds are:
JAVIER MARTINA: The 23-year-old Dutch forward originally from the Netherlands Antilles impressed onlookers during all three of TFC's friendly matches. Usually the talisman when The Reds moved forward against their Balkan foes, Martina will have every chance to carve himself a place in the fairly barren Toronto front-line. The very technical former Jong Ajax prospect is the type of two-way forward Winter will need in his 4-3-3.
ELKEBAY BOUCHIBA: The versatile Dutch journeyman can play in the central and holding midfield roles and isn't afraid to spread his game to the flanks. Once again the two-way style Dutch player comes into the mix and the 32-year-old Bouchiba will be able to offer depth in a number of positions. With stops at clubs like AZ, FC Twente and Sparta Rotterdam, the sturdy midfielder will offer a Carl Robinson-like presence off the bench. Made a good impression despite only attending the second half of camp.
NICK SOOLSMA: Most definitely the most surprising of the signings. Going into camp, Soolsma was the least known of the trialists only having spent short spells in the Dutch lower divisions with clubs like HFC Haarlem and VV Young Boys. Considered the dark horse going in but impressed with hard training and a very good showing against a tough Dinamo Zagreb defence. The 23-year-old seems to have a burgeoning partnership with Martina.
There is yet to be any formal word out of TFC about the fates of the remaining Turkey-based (not turkey baste) trialists but there may still be a chance for some return appearances when the club travels to Florida next week. The most interesting prospect remaining would be talented Ghanaian midfielder King Osei Gyan but whispers are percolating that his asking price may be a bit steep for The Reds. With a new Americas-based group of trialists expected next week, the club isn't likely to pull the trigger on an expensive contract just yet.
One last potential player acquisition today sees TFC in a weighted MLS player lottery for the rights to USA U-20 defensive prospect Korey "Darth" Veeder. The young American has spent time with the US program's U-17 residency program as well as spending time with the USL's Crystal Palace Baltimore. TFC have a 45.52% chance of landing Veeder's rights. If The Reds feel the power of the force we will update below.
UPDATE: Columbus Crew beat the odds and won the rights to “Darth” Vedder. He has indeed fallen to the dark side.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Red Hot Reds' Supporters' Romance Quiz

"You'll never leave me, will you footballs?"

It's Valentine's Day today, the one day of the year where you really shouldn't spend the night watching Sky Sports News, sit around catching up on the latest Champions League updates (no Gareth Bale? Yikes!) nor dare I say it - surfing your favourite Toronto FC blog! But hey, you're here now so why not make the most of your break from romance and test your libido as a virulent, healthy Reds supporting male. Sorry to disappoint our female readers - but the ladies' version isn't up to scratch... our apologies to all three of you.

Much in the vein of your significant other's Cosmopolitan magazine "great sex" quizzes, we bring you The Yorkies very own "Are You A Hot TFC Supporter Or Not" test - 14 hot questions on February 14th. Since it's based in the world of North American football, just consider it a “Cosmos“-politan quiz. So, sit back in your sexiest TFC manties and take this very scientific analysis to see if you are indeed smouldering like BMO on an August Saturday...

HOW TO SCORE: 1 Point for every A; 2 Points for every B; 3 points for every C; and 4 points for every D

1. If you were buying your partner a sexy item of clothing, what would it be?
A) A comfy plush robe B) A pair of sexy high heels C) Some red lingerie D) A red & grey bar scarf

2. How long do you wait before trying to go to bed with a new lady-friend?
A) After 3 or 4 nice dates B) Try to seduce her on the 2nd date C) Nothing like a one-night stand! D) I use Mo Johnston's 5 Year Plan

3. What kind of hairstyle do you find most attractive on a lady?
A) Long blonde hair B) A sexy short brunette do C) Anything red D) Scarborough Corn Rows

4. What do you think is the sexiest animal?
A) A dolphin B) A black panther C) A beaver D) "Bitchy" The Hawk

5. If you were making a romantic dinner, what would be your specialty?
A) A steak dinner B) A pasta dish C) Chocolate Lava Cake D) Chip Butty

6. If you were to put some drinks on ice for the evening, what would you serve?
A) Some Ginger Ale B) Champagne C) An expensive red wine D) $9 Dollar pint of Carlsberg

7. What term do you use for "love-making"?
A) "The relations" B) "Getting lucky" C) "Scoring" D) "Drilling one into the box"

8. How would you best describe your technique in bed?
A) "Sweet & tender" B) "Masculine and assured" C) "Exotic and adventurous" D) Like a Dan Gargan tackle from behind"

9. If you could get your lady to "dress up" for you, what costume would you choose?
A) French maid B) A naughty nurse C) The "Scotts' Turf Girl" D) Stefan Frei

10. What is your favourite postion?
A) Classic missionary B) Her in control C) Something in the Kama Sutra D) Defensive Midfielder

11. What's your wildest experience?
A) A night in a fancy hotel B) A very public adventure C) Hooking up with a total stranger D) a 4-3-3

12. What name would you like your partner to call you in bed?
A) "Sweetheart" B) "Stud" C) "An animal" D) Danny Dichio

13. If you could choose a fantasy name for yourself - which would it be?
A) McDreamy B) Fabio C) Romeo D) Commissioner Dong Garber

14. If you videotaped your lovemaking it would most resemble...
A) A couples "how-to" video B) scenes from the Playboy Mansion C) a XXX DVD D) GOL-TV

If you scored:
14-20 points you are a TRIALIST: You've got a long way to go before you're ready for the big-time. Time to put down FIFA 11 and meet a real girl - watching the Women's World Cup doesn't count.
21-34 points you are in the ACADEMY: You've got a little bit of potential but there's lots like you out there. Work on your romance or end up in a USL-type relationship... or alone with your own Rochester Raging Rhino.
35-48 you are on the 1ST TEAM: You are definitely a Major Leaguer in the old football shorts department. However, there is still room for improvement so don't get too cocky or you'll end up like Jeff Cunningham - a chance to drive a Toronto-like lady wild but instead spend the rest of your days stuck with a Columbus-type wife.
49 points and higher you are a DP: No not that kind of DP (but your thinking is commended!) - the MLS kind! You are on top of your game and could have the pick of the litter at BMO Field. You've got the physique of a Dichio, the charm of a Ricketts, the accent of Laurent Robert and the animal magnetism of Raivis Hscanovics. Reds' lovin' ladies would love some of your support! "There's only one Valentine's!"

Like Cosmo, just more "S"... and Beckenbauer

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Letters from Camp: "Toronto Meet-ros Croatia"

C'mon you Reds... and Blues... and Checkerboards!

What can we say - we'll take any pun too far just to have an excuse to put an old NASL shield up. However, Toronto did indeed meet a Croatian side today - and not just any Croatian side - THE Croatian side in the form of UEFA stalwarts Dinamo Zagreb. Today's friendly marked the end of TFC's Turkish triumvirate versus Balkan opponents and hopes were high after good results against two Serb sides.
As with all of the match reports from Turkey, we rely on text info coming down the wire like an Old West morse code operator so details are often few and far between. But, since you're here we thought we'd sprinkle some fun (or not) facts about Croatia into the mix. Enjoy Dinamo Zagreb vs. Toronto FC... and learning about the "Jewel of the Adriatic". If this site is anything - it’s an educational resource! For instance... did you know part of Croatia's Adriatic peninsula is called the "Dalmatian Coast"? Woof!
TORONTO FC 1st Half Line-up: Stefan Frei, Demetrius Omphroy, Doneil Henry, Ty Harden, Kevin Westmaas, King Osei Gyan, Elbekay Bouchiba, Oscar Cordon, Javier Martina, Nick Soolsma, Maicon Santos
DINAMO ZAGREB 1st Half Line-up: Sadly, not a Dalmatian in sight
1' - Dinamo Zagreb kick-off, wonder if Croat Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor is watching?
2' - GOAL: Who's not watching? TFC's defence. The Harden-Henry connection bumble badly allowing Dinamo to punch home an early goal. DINAMO ZAGREB 1 - TORONTO FC 0
5' - Dinamo joining together passes like when Croatia joined the Hapsburg Empire in 1527 AD!
8' - GOAL: Collapsing much like the aforementioned Empire is TFC's defence. The hard-luck duo in the middle fail to clear and the Dalmatianless Dinamo strike force find their spots... and the net. DINAMO ZAGREB 2 - TORONTO FC 0
10' - Preki leftover/ immobility aficionado Ty Harden being eaten up by Dinamo attackers
15' - Toronto defence covering less of Dinamo than water does over the entire Croatian landscape... 1.09% to be exact
21' - Only signs of offensive output for TFC coming from trialists Soolsma and Martina who are switching wings much like when Croatia switched to a kingdom under King Tomislav in 925 AD
28' - Soolsma making a nuisance of himself and sets up Maicon Santos but the finish is weak
35' - Soolsma is playing hard for a contract and forces a good save with a blast from a distance shorter than Croatia's 56,594 square kilometre land mass
41' - RED CARD: Dinamo gets a bit snappy, like an angry Dalmatian, and gets a random Croat sent-off. Due to friendly rules, they are allowed to replace him and keep 101... we mean 11 men on the pitch
44' - Half ends quietly, not unlike the 9th Century Christianization of the Croats
TORONTO FC 2nd Half Line-up: Stefan Frei, Eddy Sidra, Nana Attakora, Chris Hunter, Kevin Westmaas, Nick LaBrocca, Matt Stinson, Nathan Sturgis, Jacob Peterson, Joao Plata, Gianluca Zavarise
DINAMO ZAGREB 2nd Half Line-up: Still no Dalmatians... nor Hapsburgs
46' - TFC try to crowd players in the Dinamo box, similar to Croatia's population density of 81 persons per square km
47' - GOAL: It works! Jacob Peterson zips down the wing and drives in a low cross which Gianluca Zavarise holds and spins on, banging it into the net. Zavarisian Spin-O-Rama! DINAMO ZAGREB 2 - TORONTO FC 1
55' - Dinamo playing a counter attacking game much like they had to counter threats to their language from the Austro-Hungarian 18th Century influence
56' - Zavarise passes nicely to Plata who almost chips one over the Dinamo keeper
59' - RED CARD: Once Dinamo realized that they can't lose a man with red cards they have been throwing around tackles with abandon. Should be down to 9 men. Still at 11
61' - Zavarise free kick blocked, Nick LaBrocca hits rebound over the net... learns something about Croatian tax reforms in the post-Yugoslav era
65' - LaBrocca feeds Peterson who also chips the ball high over the Dinamo cross bar. Rumours of the pair missing Chad Barrett's striking style unproven
70' - Stefan Frei standing strong in goal like the maritime ramparts of Dubrovnik's Old Town
75' - TFC controlling the play but failing to find a through ball. Dinamo holding on like they are defending a draw. Or tie. Croats claim to have invented the necktie via the modern cravat
77' - RED CARD: Toronto's Gianluca Zavarise makes it 2-1 in red cards with a high kung-fu style challenge. He's off and replaced by TFC Academy prospect Keith "Booyah" Makubuya
81' - PENALTY: Matt Stinson brings down a Dinamo attacker like Tito's partisans brought down Nazi occupiers during World War II. GOAL on penalty kick. DINAMO ZAGREB 3 - TORONTO FC 1
89' - Game quietly petering out like the last days of the Croatian-Hungarian Union of the 14th Century.
So there you have it, the end of Toronto's Turkish-based friendlies against their Balkan cousins (not Cousin Balki from Perfect Strangers). TFC will head home Cold Turkey on Saturday with a respectable 1-1-1 record and some quality trialist performances to boot. With many holes still to fill, the next stage of camp may be even more interesting. Much like Croatian history and geography.

Balki opposition.

MLS releases 2011 schedule... wives and girlfriends will be missed

"Honey, I found a Tuesday in November..."

For some wacky reason known only to Don Garber and his band of merry New York execs, it seems to take Major League Soccer longer every year to release the regular season schedule. But alas, after much waiting, supporters' patience was rewarded today with the release of the full fixture list.
For the first time, MLS will go with a balanced schedule meaning every team will play each other twice home-and-away. Why this can't translate into a single table we'll never know but apparently us Eastern Conferences are supposed to feel hatred towards the Western Conference. "Ooh you nasty Westerners with your Pacific Ocean and such! Grr!"
Anyhoo, Toronto FC's rabid support were nonetheless made aware of their plans for the next eight months. To our wives, girlfriends, children and pets... we're sorry. See you in October... unless there are playoffs... then see you in November. Highlights of TFC's 2011 include:
· The season opens away to Vancouver Whitecaps on March 19th at 7PM
· One week later on March 26th, BMO Field welcomes MLS newcomers Portland Timbers for its fifth home opener
· A very heavy April sees TFC play 4 out of its 6 matches at home including an April 13th visit from Los Angeles with Beckham, Donovan and a guy named Barrett in tow
· A very balanced home-and-home schedule throughout May and June
· No break or even minor rest period during this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup
· Vancouver makes its first MLS visit to BMO Field on June 29th followed the next week by Toronto's away fixture at New York Red Bull's excellent Red Bull Arena on July 6th
· Schedule returns to a majority balanced schedule through to the end of the season with the regular season culminating with a visit from New England on October 22nd
· Still to be shoe-horned into the schedule are Canadian Cup fixtures and hopefully a run in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying round and group stage.
To see the complete schedule and break the news to your family visually follow link to official site...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Letters from Camp: "Of Men and Mice"

Times are tough for Preki & Mo... er... Lennie and George

With a couple of good preseason results against quality Belgrade sides Partizan and Red Star out of the way, Toronto FC started to look ahead to the next few chapters of training camp. With announcements both on and off the pitch today, Aron Winter and Paul Mariner (or Team WinNer!) and the gang are moving forward.
· The club will embark on its first "gruelling" away fixture against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday as they have to travel to the Croatian side's practice ground. Okay, by gruelling we actually mean a 10 minute ride on a luxury air conditioned coach. Almost like having an away match at Lamport and travelling from BMO. Just less hot dog stands... and no GO Train tunnel.
· Two names will no longer be seen in preseason line-ups as TFC cut loose Dutch winger Bas Ent and young Uruguayan forward Santiago Gonzalez Acero. For Ent, this marks the end of a 7 month flirtation with The Reds which sees his career highlight with Toronto a halftime sub appearance in last summer's Bolton Wanderers friendly. Unfortunately for the not-so-quick, blind-cross happy Ent, TFC wasn't in the market for the next Dutch Andy Welsh. For the young Gonzalez Acero it seems as if his frail physicality and lack of ball control when faced with strong defenders (which MLS has a few) caught up with him - and with Joao Plata filling the "little man" quota, he was a long-shot at best.
· A new face was added to the trialist list as Team WinNer invited 23-year-old Dutch leftback Kevin Westmaas to camp. The sturdy defender doesn't have much of a professional record to his name but has had a history with Jong Ajax (Ajax Academy) and was no doubt familiar to Aron Winter. Westmaas won't have too long to impress the coaching staff and will have to be big in training to garner an invite back to Toronto at the end of the week.
· The club firmed up their travel schedule for the next few weeks, announcing that the next phase will see them return to the GTA with practices all of next week at their Oakville indoor facility. Anything to avoid the (minus-whatever-the-F-it-is) weather and also a chance to integrate the supplemental players who didn't make the trek to Turkey. After their Toronto stop, The Reds head to Orlando, Florida on the 21st where they will take part in the lengthy named Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic with matches against Houston on the 24th and either FC Dallas or the USL's Orlando City on the 26th. Aron Winter no doubt covets that famous mouse-eared trophy at a tourney that is rated as one of the Top 10 "Theme Park/ Cartoon-related Pro Soccer Tournaments in Central Florida". Goofy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

THE STARTING 11: New Dutch names for Toronto FC players

TFC unveil their new "Oranje" kit... and players

One of the hardest things for a new coach is getting to know his new charges on a personal level. Building those bonds between management and players can be the difference between early success and failure. For Aron Winter, it's that extra bit hard, what with having a foreign background to most of the established Toronto FC squad. However, it looks like there may be an easy solution for the blossoming relationship between The Reds and their new boss. Instead of Winter wrapping his head and tongue around a bunch of new names, wouldn't it be easier for the players to take on a new "Dutch-ier" persona?
11. Jools de Goozey
10. Nathin Van Sturgsie
9. Jimmy Ty Hardenbaink
8. Maijkon Saantdorf
7. Duuanje Der Roosarijo
6. Jacob Petersoon of Hesselink
5. Naanja Attacocu
4. Nick Van Brokkel
3. Adriuun Cann Nistoolroy
2. Gargo Dan Basten
1. Stefan Van Der Frei

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Letters from Camp: "Red Star in morning... ankle bone's warning"

Del Boy's got loads of TFC clobber back there! Lovely Jubbly!

There are so many glaring differences between the 2011 TFC training camp and those that were held under the old regime. The current "Oranje Revolution" management are open with information, invite seemingly qualified trialists to camp and schedule challenging friendlies. Under old boss, the dictatorial Hosni Mobollocks (see what I did there? Topical!), it was all completely in reverse, done under a cloak of secrecy with very few, very canned, puff press releases.
Since the friendly victory over Partizan this week, the news from Antalya has included, happy players, motivated players, players learning actual tactics, players being selected for Canada and a general sense of optimism. The only minor story which is bubbling under the surface is the limbo-ish status of former interim head coach Nick Dasovic and the rumour that he has been offered, or has already become, the club's head Canadian scout. Either way, it's hardly a distraction to the players.
Speaking of players, TFC added a couple of triialists to the Dutch Pot this weekend in defensive midfilder Elbekay Bouchiba and young defender Chris Hunter. Bouchiba is a 32-year-old Dutch journeyman whose career has been spent almost entirely in the Dutch Eredivisie with quality clubs such as AZ, Sparta Rotterdam and FC Twente before moving to Qatar's Al-Wakrah club in 2008. Hunter is a strong 23-year-old centreback from northern England who decided to take the NCAA route with the UCSB "Gauchos" and lesser known junior Yavapai College. Favourite TV show is listed as "Only Fools and Horses" so he's already good in our books! Go on Del Boy!
The real reason we got up at 8AM on a Sunday morning of course was to fire up Twitter and various websites to follow The Reds through their second friendly of 2011. Today's match wasn't originally scheduled but added after arriving in Turkey when Aron Winter seemingly said "who can we play who is even meaner than Partizan?" And thus we bring you textual highlights of Toronto FC vs. Europe's angriest team... Red Star Belgrade.
TORONTO FC 1st Half Line-up: David Monsalve, Demitrius Omphroy, Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora, Ashtone Morgan, Matt Stinson, Elbekay Bouchiba, Oscar Cordon, Nick Soolsma, Maicon, Javier Martina
RED STAR BELGRADE 1st Half Line-up: 11 very angry looking unshaven Serbs, possibly a lead pipe...
1' - Club captain Dwayne De Rosario not with club as he left for Greece to prepare for Canada friendly and learn about Greek currency
9' - Red Star dictate the early play with aggressive wing play. TFC regretting salami, kebab and Turkish Delight breakfast buffet
12' - Maicon looking lively in the box when not having Red Star cleats imprinted into his thighs
15' - TFC Academy captain Matt Stinson brought down hard by Red Star defender. Apparently for "looking at him funny"
25' - Handful of travelling Red Star supporters start a running battle with a flock of seabirds who stupidly had Partizan-coloured feathers
31' - Monsalve makes solid saves on increasingly powerful Red Star shots
35' - Ashtone Morgan impresses with some tough 1-on-1 defending. He better watch his back at the hotel later
39' - Demetrius Omphroy shows off his new tattoo. A Serbian elbow imprint on his cheek
41' GOAL: Matt Stinson showing some Eastern Promise by finding himself on the end of a sweet Maicon Santon-Javier Martina set-up and cross. TORONTO FC 1 - RED STAR BELGRADE 0
44' - Coach Danny Dichio starts roasting the half-time goat

TORONTO FC 2nd Half Line-up: Milos Kocic, Dan Gargan, Ty Harden, Doneil Henry, Chris Hunter, Matt Gold, King Osei Gyan, Gianluca Zavarise, Bas Ent, Keith Makubuya, Joao Plata
RED STAR BELGRADE 2nd Half Line-up: Even angrier Slav dudes, a mean looking African guy and possibly a German Shepherd
48' - Toronto GK Milos Kocic tries to confuse Red Star with his wacky Serbian-Canadian lingo
52' - Bas Ent getting knocked down and right back up numerous times. Like an inflatable 1970's Dutch toy punching bag
60' - 5 foot 2 Joao Plata making a nuisance of himself with darting runs, sweet little passes and running between the legs of giant Red Star defenders
63' - Jim Brennan having hard time keeping up with all the early morning coffee orders back at TFC head office
68' - Plata in 1-on-1 with Red Star keeper but slips on the pitch before getting shot off. Red Star coach with shovel says "yes... pitch very slippery"...
71' - Top-rated trialist, and if signed, best TFC name ever - King Osei Gyan, looking very solid in defensive mid role for second game in a row. Hopefully this isn't a showcase for a bigger European club to grab him first
73' - Chris Hunter not intimidated by aggressive Red Star forwards. He's been in Newcastle's city centre on a Saturday night.
77' - Dan Gargan tries one of his "poor-man's Rory Delap" long throws but it gets lost in Keith "Boo-yah" Makubuya's long name
82' - Ent flattened again like a Dutch pancake. Ishn't that shtrange?
85' - Red Star throwing everything but the kitchen sink now at TFC defence. Wait... they actually threw a kitchen sink.
89' - Doneil Henry with a game-saving double block from a Red Star thrown-in then corner - Oh Henry!
90' - Ref blows whistle for full time - immediately runs to car and is driven to safe house.
So there we have it, a momentum boosting victory for TFC over high-quality opposition. Yes, we all know that these Balkan bad boys are just coming off winter break but it was still another tough yet skilled performance for The Reds. If there is one thing we can say for certain... after drawing Partizan and beating Red Star, Toronto FC are the best team in the Serbian League. On to win the Croat title later this week! Have to run now, there is a Serbian Yorkiesovic website that wants a "friendly" word with us.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Letters from Camp: “My girl likes to Partizan all the time”

Partizan's lone away supporter managed to start a riot

The boys are back in town! Well ok, not this town, a town on Turkey's south coast... but hey - they're back! The new look, oranje-tinted Toronto FC 2.0 took to the field for their first match today, a 1st Round match-up against Partizan Belgrade in the CONCAUEFA Cup... or preseason for those without imaginations. But try telling that to the big Rochester v Banik Ostrava preliminary match!
Today marked the first chance for Aron Winter & Co. to see the 2011 Reds perform in match conditions and the new manager fielded two different line-ups (one in each half) to maximize the playing time. Partizan Belgrade, who mark a big step up from TFC's usual preseason opponents of Florida senior citizen's teams, provided stiff competition as they awaken from their winter break. We go to The Yorkies' International Bureau in Antalya, Turkey for the match report. Actually it's a guy named Ali who sells kebabs and carpets to tourists but hey... it beats Twitter!
TORONTO FC 1st Half Line-up: Stefan Frei GK, Dan Gargan D, Nana Attakora D, Adrian Cann D, Gianluca Zavarise D, Jacob Peterson M, Dwayne De Rosario M, Nick LaBrocca M, Nick Soolsma F, Javier Martina F, Santiago Gonzalez Acero F
PARTIZAN BELGRADE 1st Half Line-up: 11 Balkan guys, mostly Serbs. Likely a Marko.
1' - Aron Winter starts 2011 as he means to go on, with a wide 4-3-3 with pushing wing play
3' - Smell of flatbread and spiced meats fills the air
6' - GOAL: Nana Attakora attempts a cross but ball disagrees and slips past Partizan keeper. TORONTO 1 - PARTIZAN 0
11' - Trilaist Gianluca Zavarise looking very lively and dangerous on the wing
18' - Partizan brought along three away Ultras but they forgot their flares at hotel and wave a cured sausage at Stefan Frei menacingly
25' - Gargan and LaBrocca looking adept at Winter's new wide tactics
26' - Lone Toronto tourist shows up late for match
28' - LaBrocca warned by referee for offering tax advice to linesman
35' - PENALTY: Santiago Gonzalez Acero brought down in the box by Partizan defender who thought the TFC striker had too many names
36' - Dwayne De Rosario takes PK but hits the post. No goal. De Ro demands to be made a Turkish millionaire - MLSE immediately agrees.
39' - Bob de Klerk invites some attractive Serbian journalists back to his room for some "shekshy times in der hot tub"
41' - PENALTY: Zavarise pulls down a Partizan player (something --- ovic etc.) in the box. GOAL on PK... TORONTO 1 - PARTIZAN 1
43' - Visiting Toronto tourist runs for the exits before the half to use the washroom, buy a Kebab Butty and a 15 Turkish Lira pint of Efes Pilsen - just like BMO, but more moustaches.
TORONTO FC 2nd Half Line-up: Milos Kocic GK, Ty Harden D, Doneil Henry D, Emanuel Gomez D, Ashtone Morgan D, Oscar Cordon M, King Gyan Osei M, Nathan Sturgis M, Bas Ent F, Maicon Santos F, Joao Plata F
PARTIZAN BELGRADE 2nd Half Line-up: Random Serbs, a couple of South Americans
49' - Partizan defenders keep putting hands on Joao Plata's 5 foot 2 frame and saying "look at little Mexican" in Serbian
55' - Visiting Toronto tourist returns to seat
58' - Little action on the pitch as both sides feel each other out
62' - Partizan go close to taking lead after player with beard hits the post
65' - TFC reply with close call as Bas Ent goes just wide with shot after sweet pass from King Gyan Osei
71' - Jim Brennan struggles to get hang of making Turkish coffees back at TFC HQ
75' - Academy product Cordon almost gives TFC lead but rattles the post after receiving pass from Joao Plata
79' - Toronto tourist leaves to catch Turkish equivalent of GO Train
81' - Maicon Santos blasts just over the bar from 25 yards out
85' - Cordon off injured - De Ro back in the game as sub
87' - Goat on pitch
88' - Goat on menu for team dinner
90' - RED CARD: Doneil Henry picks up two yellow cards quickly and is sent off
And there you have it, a quality start to the 2011 CONCAUEFA Cup live from the Cured Meat Capital of Eurasia. Aron Winter will be pleased that 22 players got a run out and that TFC got their first match experience with TFC (Total Football Club) tactics. Up next is 2nd Round CONCAUEFA Cup (aka preseason for you normos) next week against Dinamo Zagreb with rumours of a Red Star Belgrade match in the middle. Stay tuned for coverage of CONCAUEFA action as Puerto Rico Islanders take on Switzerland's Neuchatel Xamax... but not here... try some Puerto Rican Yorkelitos.