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Thursday, March 31, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Total Football butts heads with Goat-al Futbol

TFC's scouting department is in-depth

Geographically and culturally, Toronto FC vs. Chivas USA is about as far apart as MLS matches get. Faux-Mexican / Canadian rivalries pretty much peaked when Tito Santana and Rick Martel's "Strike Force" tag-team broke up. But alas, The Goats arrive in Toronto this week and bring a bad start to 2011 under their ponchos.
The re-building Angelinos have lost their two opening MLS matches this season and were beaten 2-0 by Portland Timbers in US Open Cup action this past Tuesday. New coach Robin Fraser has yet to find the winning solution as Chivas still try to climb out of the "Post-Preki" era. Sound familiar? Defence is the glaring weakness for The Goats who bring three ex-Reds, Nick LaBrocca, Paolo Nagamura and Andrew Boyens, into BMO Field.
Of course, a winless opponent is always a potential banana skin and Aron Winter will be aware of that while trying to install his "Torontotal" football. With Julian de Guzman still out and Mikael Yourassowsky on suspension, Winter will have to juggle his line-up once again. Going consistently hard at a weak Chivas back four will be the key to a TFC victory.
GOAT-BUSTERS!: Maicon Santos, Alen Stevanovic, Adrian Cann
NOT BAAA-D: Mariano Trujillo, Jimmy Conrad, Justin Braun
- Accountant-looking Nick LaBrocca scoring a goal for Chivas USA and jumping into the crowd in celebration... then filing fans' taxes: 15-1
- Slightly inappropriate Mexican puns from the crowd numbering well into the hundreds: 20-1
- The BMO Field crowd being separated into two camps - The Pro Jazic and the Ante Jazic: 100-1
- Chivas USA weren't the first Mexican-partnered club side outside of Mexico. The old Canadian Soccer League was home to Club America Canada, Hamilton Tigres-Cats and Pachucanada
- TFC broadcasting partner TSN is getting on the Mexican-themed bandwagon by following The Reds v Chivas match with the final of the National Mexican Hockey League. The 2011 Sergio Cup Final pits Los Habitants dos Monterrey against Tijuana Mighty Chihuahuas
- TFC's halftime show will feature the presentation of the 2011 "Vinnie Jones Award for Excellence in Football Recklessness" to Mikael Yourassowsky. Former winners Adam Braz, Kevin Harmse and Maxim Usanov will be on hand
TITO SANTANA SAYS: "Ariba!" Then he said 0-1 Chivas USA
In lieu of a proper April Fools prank, enjoy this instead. April. Fools.

UPDATE: Late on Thursday, TFC announced the signing of Jamaican International defender Dicoy Williams who had been on trial with the club in preseason. More on the story here...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TFC's Totally total Total Football tally

That's the last time Dan Gargan uses Amazon

After two matches into Aron Winter's "Total Football" revolution, there has been much talk amongst media and supporters over what players fit into the new system. While only Winter and his staff fully know what they are looking for, and watch the players day in and day out, the template of the "Total Torontonian" footballer is becoming clearer.

To excel in the 4-3-3 Ajax-influenced style, Reds players need to be technically sound, comfortable in possession, able to keep the ball on the deck and have the football prowess to be constantly re-positioning themselves on the pitch. It will be a hard, long-term adjustment for some players while others will welcome the freedom to play attractively after a year in Preki's "anti-football" boot camp. We take a look at a few of The Reds and how totally total they seem so far...

TOTALLY READY...The players who have been relishing the chance to show their skills and will likely flourish in the Torontotal system:
- JULIAN DE GUZMAN: Preki's system usually saw the ball flying over JDG's head, giving many the feeling that the Scarborough native was a bust. His skills are for real though and he should shine as the anchor of the new system
- DWAYNE DE ROSARIO: The captain will have to learn not to be a one-man-gang but his ability to push the team forward will be key to TFC attacks
- JAVIER MARTINA: His two-goal home-debut aside, the young Curacao-native has a leg-up simply due to his years spent learning the system in the Ajax Academy
- ALEN STEVANOVIC: It may be a bit early to tell but there is no replacing naturally gifted technical skills which the Swiss-Serb has. Will have to cut-down on fancy footwork and concentrate on the play in the hard-nosed MLS

TOTALLY WORTHY... These lads have got the chops to have a solid future under Winter & Co. but need to polish the skills first:
- NANA ATTAKORA: Could become the necessary CB rock that the 4-3-3 requires but needs to learn to walk the ball out of the back and find the pass as opposed to clearing deep
- MIKAEL YOURASSOWSKY: Has the strength and speed on the wing but will have to tame his rambunctious fouls and yappy Belgian mouth if he wants to stop hurting the team. The Belgians, geez.
- JACOB PETERSON: Still a Preki remnant on the outside looking in, Peterson has the skills to be a bridge between MLS and Torontotal Football. Needs to show a keener eye for the deadly ball and be less timid going at goal
- MAICON SANTOS: For a Brazilian, Maicon can look very un-Samba-like at times. However, as a very North American target man type, he seems to be finding his groove. Regular play may give him the clinical finishing the club needs

TOTALLY RIGID... Not everyone was going to grasp such a football-savvy system right away. These players have struggled early and need to improve
- DAN GARGAN: While admired for his great work ethic, Gargan may just lack the technical gifts for Winter's style. When depth arrives he will likely be relegated to the bench where his late-game energy could be helpful
- TY HARDEN: Getting minutes due to injuries and lack of depth, Harden is a very one-dimensional defender who while solid at shot-blocking does not look comfortable moving the ball out of the back. Days in Toronto likely limited
- NATHAN STURGIS: The strange signing of interim GM Earl Cochrane has done little to show his worth so far at TFC. Has started both matches but has also been subbed quickly. Looks doomed to the bench or the transfer market
- ADRIAN CANN: This will no doubt ruffle some feathers but the affable defender will have to really step up his game to fit in to Winter's system. A long-ball clearance specialist by nature, Cann has to improve his dribbling and awareness on the ball to match his quality blocking

TOTALLY GOT AWAY... Just a few what-if's to end things. Four former Reds who sure would have looked good in this system... thanks Mo/ Preki:
- CARL ROBINSON: Even as depth, the solid DM with his smart positioning, spray passing and leadership would have been an asset
- CHAD BARRETT: Take away his grossly bloated wages and The Chad's runs would have been useful in a forward-wing position. But, at no more than $120K
- AMADO GUEVARA: Run out of town by crooked Sheriff Preki, El Lobo's creative footwork, spot kick prowess and agility would have been very interesting
- MARVELL WYNNE: A big, very fast and physical wingback with the adaptability to play in the middle? Winter must kick the ghost of Preki in his sleep

Monday, March 28, 2011

THE STARTING 11: TFC-themed GolTV programming for 2011

You should see them shake down Huggy Bearsh!

It came as a surprise to some when Toronto FC decided to put most of its matches on the relatively small cable outfit GolTV. While the channel, which is of course owned by club owners/ human sport hunters MLSE, has carried TFC matches in the past, it has never broadcast such a big share. MLSE is aiming to boost the network, which currently reaches the same amount of homes as this blog, with live Reds action but they still need to fill a 24 hour schedule. Nothing to fear though with this new line-up of TFC-related programming - coming soon to a digital cable box near you...

11. A small squad in the age of reality TV? Vote early and vote often on... "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN PASS CANADA"

10. Keeping the beaches and pension funds of Toronto safe while Tom Anselmi runs slowly in red Speedos, stay tuned for... "BAYSTREETWATCH"

9. He's the man who can build a weapon from things found in his hair, it's... "MACGUZMAN"

8. Wholesome kids programming about a magical hourly train that always leaves too early on... "SHINING TIME GO STATION"

7. Broken by the evil GordonElbow 2000, he was put back together with male model good looks. We have the technology for the...

6. What happens when a tiny Ecuadorian moves into a swinging bachelor pad? Hilarity ensues as Joao Plata stars in the new sitcom... "ZERO AND A HALF MEN"

5. It's the motormouth high-stakes game show where you can risk it all! It's time to play... "YOU BET YOURASSOWSKY!"

4. A roundtable call-in show for all long time Reds supporters... "CURB YOUR TFC ENTHUSIASM"

3. Ballin'! Catch up with the antics of Snoolsy, The Cannituation, Jav-Woww and Zavarise on the next... "LAKEY SHORE"

2. He's signed air-cheques, he went to Scotland - will he use his "phone a friend"? It's time for... "DE RO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE"

1. Mild mannered coaches by day. Tough jive-talkin' detectives by night. Aron Winter and Bob de Klerk patrol the streets of Amsterdam in... "SHTARSHKY & DUTCH"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The South Stand Report : Toronto v Portland... or something something something

...........................I know, it's totally genius.

You could hear the board of directors at MLS already bitching about Canadian weather. "See, THIS is exactly why we're not supposed to play games in Toronto at this time of year...". Bollocks to them, this time last year, it was 14C. Trust me, it was. Holy crap it's cold. If only there was something at halftime to look forward to to keep us warm in our hearts. Toronto, as you know, last week played 25 minutes of brilliant football against Vancouver. Sadly, it was the middle 55 that really did them in.

After the many months of stewing over being ticket gouged and still bitter about MoJo's involvement here, I am prepared to be a patient man. Winter can take is time. Seriously. A true system, with youth involvement, isn't a few months thing, it's a few years thing.


•Frostbite somewhere

•Coming up with a new punny nickname for Yourassowsky before halftime

•People overpaying for watered down beer (still)

•not a sell out crowd

•Toronto 2, Portland Forest Timbers 1

It was Victoria's birthday. Did you know it was her birthday? If I had a shot of Patron for every time she had mentioned it, I'd have been pissed out of my skull by the 38th minute. Would've been the best drinking game ever. There you go. Can't say we don't do anything for you. For the record, it was really damn cold. My fingers we ready to fall off after each note in the book, so I didn't write much.

14' - GOAL - Sweet little pass from DeRo in the box finds Javier Martina and slots it easy past Gleeson. Not too bad. 2 mins of extra time
Half-time mood: Optimistic yet cold. Toronto wasn't particularly amazing, but not bad either. A few weak moments in the back, but only saved by even more mediocre finishing from Portland. Nice to see that the team that is the expansion team is playing like one for once *grumble*Seattle, Philly and Vancouver*grumble* We were given a special treat. A "live" (as in he was there) performance of this new track by Kardinal Offishal. His lip syncing was passable.

Quote of the match: I haven't had this much fun all game! ~ Brandon

A close second was: Was that that rapper from Degrassi? ~ Tony

45 - SUB - "Like a" Sturgis out, Stefanovic in. 48 - Maicon in on goal after a blunder by the defence, has a run for 20 yards and slides a ball not quite far enough for a goal but was under no pressure. Suspicions that he's not really Brazilian surface.

56 - YELLOW - Yourassowsky is booked for something. Didn't see it.

68 - SUB - Zavarise in, Maicon Santos... or should we say, Mike Sanders?!

70 - GOAL - Wow. If you missed this, it should be goal of the week. Martina gets a long ball from Frei and chips Gleeson beautifully, over the right shoulder, off the post and in. Eredivisie calibre. Brilliant stuff.

79 - YELLOW - Gargan for two handing someone off the pitch like he wanted to ride his favourite swing at the playground.

83 - SUB (sorta) - Morgan was about to come in for Yourassowsky, then...

84 - RED - Yourassowsky gets a second yellow for taking his dear sweet f'ing time getting off the pitch and running his mouth. Thanks for the suspension idiot.
86 - SUB - Martina out for Morgan. Gets a well deserved round of applause.

Full-Time : Toronto 2, Portland 0

Man of the Match
: Martina for the brace and the classy goal
Goat of the game
: Yourassowsky for his giant WTF moment during substitution
Ref rating
: 2 out of 5. Can't wait to find out that he's local. Ugh.

Player ratings
: Frei 8, Gargan 5, Harden 6, Cann 7, Yourassowsky 5 Peterson 6, Sturgis 6 (Stevanovic 6), DeRo 7 Santos 5, Gordon 6, Martina 8

As a footnote, this victory puts us in second place for the Cascadia Cup with 3 points, Vancouver in first with 3 (advantage on goal difference) and Portland and Seattle with 0 points.

I'm only half kidding about the Cascadia Cup

Thursday, March 24, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Winter football greets Winter' s football

Finally a reason to use Aron's Oranje ball

For new management team Aron Winter and Paul Mariner, Saturday's Toronto FC home opener could have a chillier reception than expected. While sub-zero temperatures (likely hovering around -10C) won't be welcome, the usual warming embrace of the TFC faithful may be missing to some extent. It is terribly unfair to the new bosses, but the 2011 opening match will likely not be sold-out and many of the brave souls who do bundle up seem to have short fuses after four years of re-building. Hopefully the frustration, which should be directed at ownership and former management, will be overcome by optimism and BMO Field will show the new team what makes it a great home.
If a tonic is needed for the fans, it could come in the shape of the opposition Portland Timbers. Vancouver's Cascadia and expansion cousins looked far from sharp against Colorado last week and has a defence more suspect that TFC's. A win against the young Timbers and improved play could see some of the early venom pointed toward Aron Winter subside. Of course, it is a double-edged sword, or chainsaw in this case, as a second straight loss against an expansion team would have many cursing in Dutch at the new manager. With the often lethal Kenny Cooper up front, Timbers can't simply be passed over as a sure win..
Brrr-REDS: Dwayne De Rosario, Stefan Frei, Javier Martina
TIM-Brrrs: Kenny Cooper, Jack Jewsbury, Adam Moffat
- Announced 20,000 strong crowd looking very 15,000ish: 2-1
- Defensive errors caused by players literally frozen in place: 5-1
- Former Red Kevin Goldthwaite inducted onto Wall of Honour: 15-1
- Aron Winter failing to see irony of his name / the weather: 25-1
- The BMO Field match will actually be the 4th coldest match on Saturday's FIFA calendar behind: Antarctic Scientist XI vs. Greenland, Sheffield Frozen Food Supply Wednesday vs. Yeti Town FC and the Nunavut League Cup 4th Round replay
- Portland had to alter travel plans as team sponsor Alaskan Airlines deemed Toronto "too cold" to fly into
- TFC scrapped plans to counter the famous Timbers' lumberjack mascot "Timber Joey" with a local version named "Andrea Lumber-do"
- The cold weather has opened opportunity for BMO Field's concession stands as Saturday sees the debut of Scotch Egg Broth Soup, new "Carlsberg HOT Draft" and $9 dollar pints of coffee

NOTE: Toronto FC officially signed Joao Plata today as well as completing the loan signing of midfielder Alen Stevanovic from TFC Italia aka Torino FC. More here

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Empty seats at home opener the dying squawk of a “Golden Goose“?

Last one left... Golden Egg butty anyone?

With a few of days left before Toronto FC opens its 2011 home schedule, the local buzz around the club has reached a noticeably low ebb. Since its inception, TFC has been "the little team that could" in Toronto with its widely publicized game atmosphere drawing crowds from across Southern Ontario. However, it seems evident that the latest "Golden Goose" in MLSE's empire has been seriously wounded by the ownership’s follies.
Sell-out crowds and wild flag-waving "authentic football" supporters have been the norm at BMO Field since 2007. However, instead of nurturing the on-field product, MLSE decided to bask in the league-wide spotlight of this sudden marketing gem. A long list of mistakes began to mount, among them: annual ticket cost increases pricing out many "working class" holders; decisions regarding matches like the Real Madrid friendly and the MLS Cup Final which smacked of opportunism and greed; and, the worst mistake of all, allowing the woefully inept Mo Johnston to control the club for four years causing massive damage with his terrible record of player transactions, revolving managers and contract negotiations which harm the club even today. These, along with numerous other "customer service" blunders, have proven to be the "death by a thousand cuts" to the TFC Goose.
Despite these errors, TFC has an incredibly loyal and thick-skinned following. The problem for MLSE may be that the once wide-eyed and optimistic supporters have grown football savvy and lost that outlook after constant club soap operas. As 2011 opens, The Reds supporter, particularly the more casual type, sees another long rebuild ahead, a roster slightly better than an expansion team, a shiny new Vancouver club which looks so promising and delivered TFC a harsh blow last week and a potentially Arctic-style day ahead for BMO Field's Saturday opener. The sad fact that the home opener is not a sell-out for the first time is a great shame, but also a dire warning.
For those still rabidly loyal to the club, the sudden "unfashionable" TFC strikes as a shame. Under the new Aron Winter and Paul Mariner regime, the club has never had more capable tutelage. While the road ahead will indeed be long with a few tough bumps in it, there is a real reason for optimism for the first time. Unlike the former "Mis-Management" team, Winter & Co. have a plan, plus the minds and skills, to succeed. For their hiring, MLSE deserves to be lauded. For the club's sake, let's hope it isn't too little too late. The sell-out crowds will be missed in the short-term but we can hope that the "good times" will return... this time to watch "good football" and not just to wave flags.

Monday, March 21, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Rejected items for the TFC Season Ticket package

"Yourassowsky looks amazing in those"

For Toronto FC's loyal yet downtrodden season ticket holders, receiving the annual box full of tickets and assorted goodies has become a rite of Spring. Despite knowing that patience will be necessary in Year V, opening the Pandora-sent box to 2011 was nonetheless exciting. Well, perhaps it would have been a bit better if the new scarf didn't look like a Hudson Bay Company reject and the glossy Yearbook wasn't a reminder of one of the club's most horrible seasons... but as usual we digress. There were other items that were considered as additions to the big box of joy, but hey... postage and stuff... MLSE's not a charity you know!
11. Framed and autographed black & white print of Adrian Cann's abs
10. Souvenir lock of Mo Johnston's hair
9. "The Big Book of Dutch Curse Words"
8. Joao Plata
7. A donation envelope for the club's new charity - "TFC WORKS - Employing Under-privileged Footballers Since 2007"
6. 800 Marlies tickets
5. Audiobook version of Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women as read by Maicon Santos
4. A pair of sexy red underwear with the word "Yourassowsky" on the backside
3. iTunes gift card good for one free download of "I Do Thingsh My Waysh: Bob de Klerk does Sinatra"
2. A free sample of Stefan Frei's new Swiss chocolate bar "Goalblerone"
1. A new 5-Year-Planner

Sunday, March 20, 2011

AFTER 90: Vancouver puts a Cap in our a**!

Vancouver. You're fit buy my gosh don't you know it.


There are a couple of reasons why tonight's heavy defeat to MLS debutantes Vancouver hurt that bit more than Toronto FC's usual season opening let-down. The fact that the "oh-so-perfect" Whitecaps are a brand new MLS club and will be able to crow about this victory stings for sure. However, the big let-down for TFC supporters tonight comes from months of holding our collective breaths then exhaling into an exasperated sigh of tough times ahead. Here's how BC's finest put said cap in said a**...
1' - After an opening ceremony that used leftovers from the Winter Olympics and more white latex than is surely healthy, the first all-Canuck match in MLS kicked-off
3' - TFC briefly making fans think that the Dutch messiah had appeared as Winter's boys play inspired voetbal with Nick Soolsma and Javier Martina owning the wing play
7' - Obviously a safe-sex campaign in the stands at Empire Field as many fans dressed as oversized condoms
14' - GOAL! We waited 5 games in year one, Vancouver waits less than 15 minutes for their 1st ever goal in MLS. DP striker Eric Hassli showing what a DP striker can strike.
15' - Caps fans mimic the famed "Dichio" cushion toss by partially showering, er... dribbling the sidelines with their safe-sex ponchos. Fail
16' - Vancouver is the shiniest most perfect place ever. Apparently
18' - GOAL! Dwayne De Rosario disagrees with the above and hushes the crowd with a great effort to tie the game. It's also the league's 8000th goal ever
20' - Empire Field sorely lacking a Star Wars theme despite name
22' - GOAL! Every Canadian's favourite ex-Shrewsbury Town player Terry Dunfield puts Whitecaps ahead as Toronto's "Gargan-Harden Defense Comedy Jam" gifts a goal
27' - Caps fans happily holding their souvenir Aboriginal-esque drums like the extras in Karate Kid 2: The Karateing
31' - TFC managing to play, not quite Total Football but... Fifty Percent Football
37' - Vancouver Field Turf looks sorta "muppet-y"
39' - Whitecaps starting to dominate midfield heavily. Reds losing shape and concentration
46' - Keith "Booyah" Makubuya in for Nick Soolsma who was looking out of sorts
49' - Not only do Vancouver have adult film star / keeper Joe Cannon they also have defender Jonathan Leathers. So erotic!
52' - Aron Winter's half time talk must have been too "Dutchish" as TFC have come out very flat in 2nd half.
57' - Steve Nash shown in the crowd looking oddly like an adult version of "Eight Is Enough" child star Adam Rich
60' - TFC can't find a rhythm. Unlike the crowd who start their "WHITE"..."CAPS" chant which sounds eerily white-powerish. The hooded ponchos aren't helping.
63' - GOAL! A lovely set-up from Dan Gargan's thigh/ ass sets up Vancouver's Atiba Harris for a sitter
65' - Stefan Frei Mike Palmateer's a hard shot stopping another Caps goal
70' - TFC makes changes as Gianluca Zavarise and Mikael Yourassowsky come in for Nathan Sturgis and Jacob Peterson
72' - GOAL! It doesn't help as Eric Hassli exposes TFC's defence like a Nightline special report. One of the poorest Toronto defensive showings in ages.
74 ' - GOAL! Seemingly out of nothing Maicon Santos drills a left-footer past Caps' keeper Jay Nolly. Words "too little" and "too late" come to mind
78' - Realize the secret to Vancouver's success is the amount of players who are nouns on the team. Cannon, Leathers, Tan & Koffie. Surely there's a 3 noun limit.
85' - A Canucks playoff game has broken out as Caps fans sing the "Na-na-na-na Goodbye" song. Lenarduzzi, please.
90' + - With the Whitecaps 20-person Native (filled by non-First Nations) drumming corps losing their minds, the ref calls a day on a big day in Canadian soccer... and a Saturday for TFC
While it's hard not to feel extremely disappointed with the result, we have been tirelessly warned by Winter & Co. that this is a major overhaul and requires time and patience. Winter deserves such time for sure but the patience barrel for many in Toronto is nearing empty after four long years. Sadly, if fans want long-term success, more days like these are likely on the horizon before we see the inevitable signs of progress.
Stefan Frei 6 / Adrian Cann 5 / Dan Gargan 4 / Nana Attakora 6 / Ty Harden 4 / Jacob Peterson 5 / Nathan Sturgis 5 / Dwayne De Rosario 6 / Nick Soolsma 5 / Javier Martina 5 / Maicon Santos 6 / SUBS: Keith Makubuya 5 / Gianluca Zavarise 6 / Mikael Yourassowsky 6
TFC MAN OF THE MATCH: Dwayne De Rosario... by default
TFC GOAT OF THE MATCH: HARGAN - the Gargan-Harden hybrid monster
MATCH IN FIVE WORDS: White. Drummy. Offside nap. Deflating

Friday, March 18, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Expansion team to face Vancouver Whitecaps

Ugh... the nouveau riche. So crass.

It's back! "The Matchup" is on the air (does the internet-machine have an "air"?) which means MLS and Toronto FC are ready to go for 2011! Well, by "ready to go" we mean embarking on yet another major re-build from top to bottom. TFC has used the word "re-build" so many times since 2007, it's a wonder The Reds' TV rights didn't go to HGTV. Badum-dum! I am in pre-season form! I'm here all five-year plan - try the Harris Hawk!
To drive the point home that TFC have yet to accomplish anything in MLS since 2007, we start the season against our shiny, new Canadian cousins - Vancouver Whitecaps. Oh, that perfect club which has perfectly done everything perfectly perfect since their perfect admission into MLS. Enough already, you're cool, you bring pot to the party... people like you... we get it. Yes, TFC has become Canadian club football's red-shirted step-child - but who cares? They're ours Reds supporters and everything starts fresh again tomorrow, right? Now... to copy and paste that and save it for next year's season opener.
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "The Great Canadian Bagel"
YEAR 1 STARS: Atiba Harris, Jay DeMerit, Joe Cannon
YEAR 1 (PART 5) STARS: Dwayne De Rosario, Nana Attakora, Stefan Frei
- Weather forecast to include words rainy, drizzly, damp, cloudy: 3-1
- "Munchies" induced fans make new "Orca Butty" a hit: 10-1
- Alan Gordon accidentally breaking something on Adrian Cann: 15-1
- Steve Nash coming on to score buzzer-beating lay-up goal: 50-1
- Vancouver is Canada's 3rd largest city. It's citizens are called Vancouverpudlians and the main exports are hacky-sacks, good vibes and looking down noses. The city was once again ranked # 1 in the world "Most Liveable" poll but ranked a poor # 218 in the "Most Humble" category
- Fears of a "Dichio-seat cushion" debacle replay have stopped Whitecaps from handing out Commemorative "SoccerBowl '79" foam handlebar moustaches to Saturday's crowd
- Bobby Lenarduzzi's time as Canadian National Team coach will be honoured pre-game. A video highlighting all of the team's best moments will be played 12 seconds before kick-off
- While Vancouver chose to stick with the name Whitecaps in MLS, the vote for team name went to the wire with Crystal Meth Palace FC, Granolatasaray and Pottingham Forest close contenders

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Know your Toronto FC 2011: The A to Zavarise Guide

"We jusht arrived and we're Dutch. Ishn't that shtrange?"

In about 48 hours from now, Reds supporters will get their first regular season look at TFC Version 2. Apparently this time it's for real and despite predictions of peril from around North America, the excitement for a fresh start in Toronto is palpable. Of course, much of the energy comes from the new management team of Aron Winter and Paul Mariner (Team #Winner) but there is a roster that while not yet complete, has an eye on Vancouver and far beyond. In our special Yorkies way, we introduce… # 11 in the league # 1 in our hearts... your 2011 Toronto FC.
HOBBIES: Growing dreads, looking three years into the future
2011 HEADLINE: "Attman rescues TFC from dark plight"
COUNTRY: Netherlands
NICKNAME: Sonny Chiba, B.K.
HOBBIES: Looking like a B-Movie villain, questioning heart
2011 HEADLINE: "Bouchiba leaves TFC for role in Die Hard 5"
NICKNAME: Zoocannder, The Prodigal Cann
HOBBIES: Being really really good-looking, putting tail between legs
2011 HEADLINE: "Cann puts Red Steel into defence"
NICKNAME: D-Goo, Luis de Guzman
HOBBIES: Follicle engineering, gettin' paid, remembering Spain
2011 HEADLINE: "D-Goo DP's opposition"
NICKNAME: De Ro, Me Ro, He Ro, H8 Mo
HOBBIES: Popping, locking, Scottish tourism, putting money where mouth is
2011 HEADLINE: "De Ro shock winner at 2011 Charades Championships"
COUNTRY: Switzerland
NICKNAME: Superfreis, Goalblerone
HOBBIES: Screaming at bad defence, wondering what European club to play for next
2011 HEADLINE: "Another clean sheet closer to FC Zurich"
NICKNAME: The Gargan
HOBBIES: Being released, watching Rory Delap videos
2011 HEADLINE: "3 dead, 2 missing after Gargan throw-in"
NICKNAME: The Nosebreaker, Yankee Dichio
HOBBIES: Breaking male model's faces, seeing over people
2011 HEADLINE: "Gordon and Cann shake hands... Cann out for 2 weeks"
NICKNAME: That Big Dude
HOBBIES: Charity work, being anonymous
2011 HEADLINE: "Tall blonde man seen at BMO Field"
HOBBIES: Completing puberty
2011 HEADLINE: "Reserve team plays. Henry says hi"
NICKNAME: Milko, Blockovic
HOBBIES: Biding time, muttering at Croats
2011 HEADLINE: "Milos foreman as TFC blanks Edmonton"
NICKNAME: Lohan Ricketts
HOBBIES: Snowmobiling, #failing, jeopardizing stuff
2011 HEADLINE: "Lindsay ends rehab - waterskiing in celebration"
COUNTRY: Netherlands / Netherlands Antilles
NICKNAME: The Curacao Kid, Wedge Netherlands Antilles
HOBBIES: Doing Dutch stuff, doing Caribbean stuff
2011 HEADLINE: "Martina shaken... not stirred"
NICKNAME: Little Lord Omphroy
HOBBIES: Tattoos, tweeting, sing-alongs
2011 HEADLINE: "Rookie adds Omph to the line-up"
NICKNAME: Vanilla Jake, The Amish Assassin, J. Peterson
HOBBIES: Drinking skim milk, Saying 'golly gee', barn raising
2011 HEADLINE: "Peterson claims 'Chip Butty too ethnic, spicy'"
NICKNAME: Lakeshore Lambada, Other Maicon
HOBBIES: Dancing suggestively, refuting Joga Bonito
2011 HEADLINE: "He's not that Maicon and never played for Santos"
COUNTRY: Netherlands
NICKNAME: Soolio, The Dutch Boy
HOBBIES: Spelling things with double vowels, sticking fingers in dikes
2011 HEADLINE: "Soolsma scoores wiineer for Tooroontoo"
NICKNAME: The Sturgeon, Sturgis Meredith
HOBBIES: Watching Sounders matches... crying gently,
2011 HEADLINE: "Like a Sturgis, got a touch for the very first time"
NICKNAME: Easy, Luca Brasirise (swims with the fishes)
HOBBIES: Blasting Euro in Mustang, driving laps around Woodbridge Dairy Queen, ballin'
2011 HEADLINE: "Zavarise scores winner - St.Clair Ave. closed"
So there you have the core of your 2011 Toronto FC! Excited yet? Dying to scream "I love The Sturgeon" at BMO? Of course you are. Can't get enough of these great journalistic biographies you say? Not to worry, TFC added some youngsters today so we're throwing in: Matt "Nickname Pending Waivers" Stinson, Keith "BOOYAH!" Makubuya, Oscar "Meyer" Cordon "Bleu", Ashtone "Tone-Moc" Morgan and even the yet to be signed Joao "Zero and a Half Men" Plata. Now don't say we never give you anything! Enjoy these boys - they're not yet Total Football, but they're ours. COYR!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

THE WORD: TFC to loan Stevanović to TFC?

"Oh, Torino! We're goin' crazy, oh yes it's true!"

Could we finally get to see some hot TFC-on-TFC action? Numerous sources out of Italy are chattering (likely with their hands waving) that Torino FC, aka TFC Italia, is preparing to loan their young midfielder Alen Stevanović to Toronto FC. The rumour, which started off on a few Italian football websites this morning, has been picking up steam as the day has worn on and is now being reported by local mainstream outlets such as The Fan 590.
In theory, the move would make sense as loaning players has been mentioned numerous times by management recently as a way of filling out TFC's thin roster. For Torino, it would allow them to move a player who was recently highly regarded but desperately needs playing time, to a league with far less pressure than Serie A. Whether the potential move is long-term or short, it could be mutually beneficial.
For Stevanović himself, a move to MLS could prove to be the tonic for a career that seems to keep getting stuck in neutral. The 20-year-old Serbian/ Swiss midfielder was highly sought after during his early career with Serbian side FK Radnički Obrenovac which led to a transfer to Italian giants Inter Milan. Despite his promise, the young Serbo-Swiss couldn't manage to crack Jose Mourinho's talent-laden squad except for one sub appearance and was moved to Torino FC in 2010 in a co-ownership deal. Since that time, Stevanović has only managed 8 First Team appearances with Il Toro and is possibly in need of a fresh start.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Know your 2011 MLS Eastern Conference

East coast flava! Oh, and Houston

Wow, you are an impatient lot! Wasn’t the Western Conference (posted below) good enough for you? Yeah, guess not. I mean - what’s with that half of North America anyways? Ocean, mountain, deserts, prairie heartlands. Jeez - pick a geology and stick with it. Show-offs.
Anyhoo, as promised to our loyal Yorkiemaniacs, here is the second half of the “Know Your MLS 2011” preview - The Eastern Conference! That’s right west - you’re trippin’ on E now! We gots us an Atlantic seaboard, we get wacky with the snow, silly accents up the wazoo and just to mess you up we’re throwing in some French people next year! What, what! East coast! Biggie would be so proud… if he liked football.
CHICAGO FIRE - Toyota Park
Carlos de los Cabos / Los Lobos
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: La Maquina Roja / Chicago Long Sox
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: None / Pizzeria Uno Deep Dish
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Scottie Pippen, The One-Man Gang, Random Belushi
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Out of playoffs / Calling Cuauhtémoc Blanco... leaving message
COLUMBUS CREW - Crew Stadium
Robert Warzycha / Crew Cat
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: The Crew / The Yellow Flubmarine
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: None / French's Mustard
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Right Said Fred fans, Canary enthusiasts, Xenophobes
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Out of playoffs / Still a thorn in our side
Ben Olsen / Barack Obama
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Black and Red / The Beetles
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Charlie Davies
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Democrats, Huge stadium enthusiasts, Hristo Stoichkov
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Wildcard contender / Still looking for a new stadium within 800 miles
HOUSTON DYNAMO - Robertson Stadium
Dominic Kinnear/ Oscar de la Hoya
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Orange Crush / La Fanta
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: Greenstar Recycling / Those orange Glad Garbage Bags
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Astronauts, Warren moon, People “having a problem”
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Wildcard contender / Being seen for miles
Steve Nicol / Paul Mariner
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Revs / The Boston Ruins
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Shalrie Joseph
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The Irish, Various Wahlbergs, the sisters in “The Fighter”
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Wildcard contender / Being called “wicked awesome”
Hans Backe / Eric Cantona
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Red Bulls / Energie Jersey
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Rafael Marquez
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Jersey Shore’s cast, American Arsenal supporters, Non-Cosmos fans
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Title contender / Half-filling league’s best stadium
Piotr Nowak / Rocky’s Uncle Paulie
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: Bimbo / Why mess with that?
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Faryd Mondragon
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The robot from Rocky IV, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Out of playoffs / Trying to be the Millwall of MLS
SPORTING KANSAS CITY - Livestrong Sporting Park
Peter Vermes / Preki-Mo
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Sporting / Kansaslautern
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Amateur wizards, Tornado chasers, Little dogs too
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Out of playoffs / Telling people they’re Portuguese
Aron Winter / Mr. Klinsmann... line 1 NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: The Reds / Der Oranje
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: BMO / Rogers (See Vancouver Whitecaps below)
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Bitchy The Hawk
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Gluttons for punishment, Extreme weather survivalists, Butty connoisseurs
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Bottom of league / Heading for Year 6 of 5 Year Plan

Know your 2011 MLS Western Conference

"Can you be more Pacific please?"

It's that most wonderful time of the year for Major League Soccer fans. The season is upon us and everything is fresh and yet to be ruined by another season of broken promises. Oh dear God - make it end already! Ah-hem... looking forward of course.
The lead-up to any new season is a time when media outlets across the league do their annual predictions and previews and we here at The Yorkies are anything if not a serious, hard-hitting media behemoth. You in the back... we hear you laughing. So here goes, The Yorkies' "Know Your MLS 2011". Despite hating East and West Conferences, we know you have a life outside this blog (which angers us to no end) so we will split it up for your convenience. Go West my son! Here's "Know Your MLS Western Conference"....
CHIVAS USA - Home Depot Center
Robin Fraser / The "Dos Equis" Man
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: The Goats / Chivachangas
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: Corona / Nick LaBrocca Personal Injury Lawyer
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Taco Bell Dog, Cheech Marin, Ghost of Ricardo Montalban
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Bottom of league/ Cursing in Mexican
COLORADO RAPIDS - Dick's Sporting Goods Park
Gary Smith / RapidsMan
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Rapids / The Ron Burgundys
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: None / Denver Hayes Discount Jeans
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Ghost of John Denver, Bob Denver, Denver the Last Dinosaur
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Title Contenders / Lame defending Champs
FC DALLAS - Pizza Hut Park
Schellas Hyndman / Pizza The Hutt
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Hoops / Queen's Park Texas Rangers
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: David Ferreira
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: J.R. Ewing, Rodeo clowns, Bushes
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Playoff contenders / Still outdrawn by High School gridiron team
LA GALAXY - Home Depot Center
Bruce Arena / Any big name, washed-up, unemployed European
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Los Galacticos / Davy B & Friends
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: Herbalife / L'Oreal For Men
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Landon Donovan
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Hollywood B-Listers, Reality TV Cougars, Expat British actors
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Title contenders / Pretty to look at
John Spencer / Timber Joey
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: Alaskan Airlines / Evergreen Car Air Fresheners
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Clyde Drexler, Non-jailed Trailblazers, Justin Timberlake
REAL SALT LAKE - Rio Tinto Stadium
Jason Kreis / A random Osmond
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: The Royals / Deportivo La Utah
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: Xango / Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Cast of "Big Love", King of Spain, Stockton & Malone
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Title contenders / More trophies... wives
Frank Yallop / Dale Mitchell
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: The Quakes / Los Massacres
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: George Best's liver, Seismologists, Saint Joseph
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Playoff contenders / Still playing in a High School stadium
Sigi Schmid / A kid on XBOX LIVE
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: Rave Green / The Glowsticks
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The other guy in Nirvana, Frasier's dog, Sasquatch
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Title contenders / Telling everyone how great they are
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC - Empire Stadium / BC Place
Teitur Thordarson / Björk
NICKNAME/ OUR NICKNAME: The Caps / Crystal Meth Palace FC
SHIRT SPONSOR/ NEXT SPONSOR: Bell / Rogers (Eventually they control everything)
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Steve Nash, Tommy Chong, Stan Smyl
EXPERT PREDICTION/ OUR PREDICTION: Bottom of league/ Long, damp afternoons

Monday, March 14, 2011

THE STARTING 11: New Vancouver Whitecaps promotional slogans

Be sure to stay for the post-match disco!

We're just over 5 days away from the first All-Canadian match in Major League Soccer. After being the sole recipients of anti-Canuck sentiment from MLS-South since 2007, our West Coast cousins Vancouver Whitecaps join the party this week, hosting TFC at Empire Stadium. We're calling the match "The Great Canadian Bagel" Derby since there's footy on the outside (BC and Ontario) and a whole lotta nothing in the middle. Whitecaps have a long history in North American football but it's been a while since they've been in the top loop and their fancy front office has had to promote the team and league creatively to new fans...
11. "It's like the Winter Olympics - with more kicking!"
10. "First 1000 fans become honourary Nash Brothers!"
9. "Picture SoccerBowl '79 - just less handlebar moustaches"
8. "4 out of 5 Sasquatch agree - soccer better than hockey"
7. "Finally a place to use the word "wanker" in public!"
6. "If you like English Premier League action, you're gonna love... you're gonna like... um, ok... you're gonna tolerate MLS Soccer!"
5. "Let's kick Toronto in the ball!"
4. "Hot! Check out sexy goalkeeper/ adult film star Joe Cannon!"
3. "It'll be a real Lenar-Doozy!"
2. "Support us... or we're moving to Memphis"
1. "Puff, puff, pass... score!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Letters from Camp: United they stood

"Aww Adrian... you didn't have to"

From a results point of view, Toronto FC's participation in this year's Carolina Challenge Cup won't go down as their most successful stop in Charleston. Winning a friendly tournament trophy is never high on the pre-season goals list but this year in particular, the tourney was obviously a training ground for The Reds and not a place for wins. Going into tonight's final match against DC United, many wondered if the performance would be closer to what is expected 7 days from now or a continuation of that training style.
Facing DC United was a good test as the club from the US Capitol is coming off a season even worse than the dreadful one seen in Toronto. United are rebuilding under a new coach with a new style and will be a team TFC needs to be superior to if they want to dream of playoffs. However, when DC add a guy like Charlie Davies while Toronto adds Nick Soolsma, many will see United as the better of the two clubs going into 2011. Here's briefly how the "Battle of the Titans" went down earlier tonight...
TFC match starters... Frei, Gargan, Attakora, Harden, Yourassowsky, Sturgis, Cordon, De Rosario, Zavarise, Peterson, Maicon
2' - Yourassowsky starts as he means to go on by "assing" up a defensive marking
7' - Literally dozens of rabid fans on hand. Some actually rabid.
12' - GOAL! Charlie Davies eats 3 TFC defenders alive and blasts it high past Frei
DC United 1 - Toronto FC 0
15'- DC's 87-year-old Canadian GK Pat Onstad a symbol of good socialized health care. DC Republicans will hate him
19' - PENALTY DC's Dax McCarty hauls down Gianluca Zavarise leading us to chant "When you're fouled from behind like a big pizza pie, Za-varise!" GOAL! De Ro takes PK
DC United 1 - Toronto FC 1
25' - Toronto energized by goal and controlling play
28' - Stefan Frei does a major Aron Winter no-no and boots a long-ball... however Maicon Santos gets on the end of it and GOAL! Past Onstad's walker!
DC United 1 - Toronto FC 2
32' - Oscar Cordon showing his youth and having his worst game
34' - Charleston advertising hoarding of the night: "RENT A PARTY TENT! 971-GOAL Oooh! I can get some Piggly Wiggly and eat it in my party tent!
37' - Two quick yellow cards for Yourassowsky leads to a RED CARD and a sending off. You sir, are an ass owsky. TFC down to 10 men.
43' - Charleston Battery president/ amateur announcer Andrew Bell wonders aloud why Nick LaBrocca didn't start tonight. Maybe he had his tax forms filled out too.
45' - Overmatched Oscar Cordon off and replaced my The Prodigal Defender: Adrian Cann. Someone must have bought the team a box of Pot Of Gold chocolates
50' - DC pouring on the pressure trying to get an early equalizer. Makes us miss the show The Equalizer
58' - Pretty sure Pat Onstad just put Metamucil in his water bottle
61' - GOAL! TFC can't hold back the offensive wave and Joseph Ngwenya puts the ball past a sprawling Frei
DC United 2 - Toronto FC 2
67' - Andrew Bell informs us that the pro shop at Charleston's Blackbaud Stadium sells vuvuzelas. Precious.
71' - Matt Gold in for Maicon Santos. Bob de Klerk yells "I love Gooooold!"
75' - Reds holding their shape well and managing to counter-attack
78' - Javier Martina on for Dwayne De Rosario
82' - Two party tents successfully rented during the match. Happy Birthday Bobby
89' - Gianluca Zavarise ends a good night and is replaced by Keith "BOOYAH" Makubuya
91' - TFC close out the match with some solid defending.

So, after a journey that started in late January in Turkey, Toronto's preseason matches are over. A solid draw tonight that was equally promising and frustrating. While the defensive lapses continue, The Reds managed to hold it together despite being a man down for nearly half of the match. Good performances by Zavarise, De Rosario and Frei were tempered by less than stellar nights for Cordon and Yourassowsky.
There is a sense this evening that it is upwards and onwards for TFC with a week to go before the opener in Vancouver. The sense of optimism was encapsulated by Adrian Cann's very public post-match mea culpa. "I'd like to apologize to the fans in Toronto, the organization and my fellow teammates, as well as Aron" said the remorseful Cann who with that hopefully shut the door on the only negative episode of camp. Changes are still possible but tonight's TFC may be what we can expect when the season begins in 7 short days.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Letters from Camp: Avoid the bike shop… TFC make Gordon jump

Today's headline is a treat for you fans of Diff’rent Strokes “very special episodes”… and Arnold's friend Dudley

A little Friday wheeling and dealing is on order today as TFC have finalized a deal with Chivas USA for 29-year-old forward Alan Gordon in exchange for midfielder/ personal injury lawyer Nick LaBrocca. The addition of Gordon is unlikely to get supporters’ hearts racing and some feel that LaBrocca was a steep price to pay for a squad-type player. The American striker has spent most of his career with LA Galaxy but hasn’t exactly been a prolific scorer at MLS level. His best stretch was on loan with Portland Timbers in the A-League/ USL early in his career. It is a curious move to say the least as he doesn’t exactly seem a likely candidate for “total football” but he is a sturdy target man and a good leader. The move may however, fuel the fire of rumours that Maicon Santos has fallen heavily out of favour with Winter & Co. In regards to LaBrocca , the deal is a bit surprising as he seemed to be fitting in very well by all accounts in the new system – obviously TFC didn’t need his help with their taxes after all.
As widely rumoured in Toronto FC circles (including these parts) for the last few days, the club has signed 24-year-old British Columbian Gianluca Zavarise on a permanent basis. The young Italo-Canadian seems pleased to return home to Canada after a nomadic career that has had stops in Italy, Germany and Greece. Reds manager Aron Winter seems to be equally pleased to have signed the youngster saying "He is a young player with skill and has a bright future. We feel he will fit well into the system that we want to play”. There's not too much to add to the Zavarise bio, so here's a chant to use: (to the tune of "That's Amore") "When... Gianni makes a pass, with a touch full of class, Za-varise! When he bombs down the wing, sends a cross flying in... Za-varise! Bada-bada-boom, bada-bada-bing, Za-varise!" Remember where you heard it first!
While there still seems to be a little confusion over exactly how much prodigal son Adrian Cann will earn this season, it looks as if his defensive partner may soon get a raise too. Whispers attributed to the CBC's John Molinaro hint that Nana Attakora is deep into negotiations with the club with the a six-figure deal seeming likely for the promising Brampton native. The sticking point for the young Canadian International may only be the duration of the new deal with Attakora seeming to prefer a shorter deal rather than locking down his long-term future with TFC just yet.
In other contract rumourage, which can be filed under “Miscellany”, TFC Director of Player Development Paul Mariner dropped an odd piece of info during a radio interview. Speaking on The Fan 590 earlier today, Mariner mentioned that TFC was recently "close" to signing a great player of "the modern era" with English Premier League pedigree. Obviously he gave no further hints other than the deal "fell through" but he did go on to hint that another scoring threat could be signed soon which likely alluded to Alan Gordon. As for the former EPL star rumour - I bet Paul Gascoigne's ears were burning!
No really, I bet Paul Gascoigne's ears were literally burning.
Finally the mystery has been solved! The reason Chad Barrett kept shanking one-on-one opportunities everywhere except for in the net was because he wasn't getting good service! Talking to a local Los Angeles media outlet Barrett explained his spotty scoring record at TFC compared to his new Galaxy role as such: "I know if I make runs that I used to make run back then, I know I'm going to get the ball ... when I wouldn't get the ball in Toronto," said the rich man's John Rooney. Uh-huh. Pretty sure we heard similar when Mo Johnston brought Barrett here from Chicago Fire too. Hard working guy? Yes. Average striker at best? Absolutely. This should end The Chad's local pseudo-hero worship already. Please.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Letters from Camp: Step 1 - Place tail tightly between legs...

Adrian was not happy about the BMO Field roof plan

Ding. Ding. Round one to new manager Aron Winter in a TKO. When Adrian Cann, last season's "MVP" (apparently), left camp in a contract snit last week, TFC fans were treated to something new - a hardline, no bull reaction from management. Winter made it immediately clear that Cann's new contract offers were off the table and the defender/ James Franco ass double would only be welcomed back if he apologized to the team. Well guess who's getting flowers and chocolates?!!!
Yes, after likely finding that the only interest outside of MLS for his services were Scandinavian 2nd divisions, Adrian Cann now says he wants to return to the club. Well, at least that's what his agent/ negotiating genius Sanford Carabin says. Carabin also dropped these absolute quotable gems:
"At the end of the day, he wants to play here. This is where he grew up" Aww. Sweet.
He’s going to take the high road on this. He’s going to go back and show them that he’s worth the money that he wants.” Umm... we think you need a new road map.
Carabin then called a Cann's departure a “principled stand.” Uh-huh.
So, in the end, if Cann and TFC do indeed become BFF's again, the defender would end up having to accept a contract which is reportedly $35,000 less than one he turned down last month. He also would have used up all of the good will Toronto fans showered on him and most notably ends up looking like an ass. That is some top level agenting Mr. Carabin. Kudos. Selfishly, I enjoyed it - the whole ordeal has filled The Yorkies Twitter with so many great Zoolander references.
A few weeks after landing the rights to MLS in Canada, TSN has put together it's new on-air commentary team. Luke Wileman, most recently of GOL-TV and random TFC miscellany will be handling the play-by-play, while former Team Canada captain and Ipswich/Wigan legend Jason deVos will provide the colour work. It will be a challenge for the two as their first big job may be explaining to other TSN employees "what a soccer is". Footy fans are still holding their collectives in Canada to see what kind of job TSN will do with MLS coverage seeing as football's existence has usually been considered a nasty rumour at the network. It sure will cut into their regularly scheduled summer programming of "NHL Preseason Countdown".
It would hardly be a major shock but the rumours floating around TFC's South Carolina camp were that Canadian midfielder/ wingback Gianluca "Nickname Pending" Zavarise would be the next trialist to sign a full deal with the club. The 24-year-old British Columbia native saw more action in Turkey than he has in the US this spring but his versatile positioning could help his cause. With a week to go and giant holes where the roster should be, few would be coloured oranje with shock if this came true.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Letters from Camp: D-volt display against AAA Battery

Eveready. Gold. TFC were neither.

The only good news on a night that was equally rainy and miserable in Toronto as was in Charleston, was announced well before kick-off. Toronto FC chose today to officially announce what Aron Winter told everyone three weeks ago - that the club had officially signed Dutch trio Javier Martina, Elbekay Bouchiba and Nick Soolsma. While Winter crowed about how the three newcomers "will make a difference" for TFC in 2011, the night's following friendly showed little difference from the previous three.
Winter decided to play another fairly young and experimental line-up against Battery (who are now a USL Pro side), likely expecting little in the way of a challenge. You know, like against Orlando City last week. The match starters were: Frei, Yourassowsky, Williams, Attakora, Harden, LaBrocca, Cordon, Sturgis, Peterson, Martina, Makubuya... and things went a little like this...
- Pass, pass, no ball into the Charleston box
- Pass, pass, cross, no one on the end of it
- Pass, pass, pass back to Frei
- PENALTY Charleston handball in the box. Nathan Sturgis GOAL! on ensuing PK
Charleston 0 - Toronto FC 1
- Pass, pass, pass more.
- Get knocked down by "burly" USL 2 defenders
- Back pass, awful defending... GOAL! Charleston. Really?
Charleston 1 - Toronto FC 1
- Bad pass, bad pass, sloppy tackles
- Bring on some subs
- Pass, pass, cross over everyone
- Pass, pass, bogged down in midfield
- Get knocked down more by USL 2 defenders
- Pass poorly, pass back to Frei
- Rain starts
- Lose head in Toronto box... PENALTY... GOAL for Battery. Honestly.
Charleston 2 - Toronto FC 2
- Just keep passing.
- Get outplayed by a team dressed as 1995 Hull City
- Think about real match in 10 days. Pass out.
And that sports fans... is that. A lacklustre display against a team of players who wouldn't even be considered at TFC camp. While we are VERY aware that it is pre-season and these games mean nothing etc. etc. - the mixture of poor defending and a stingy strike force don't exactly warm the cockles with our National "derby" on the horizon. Yes, patience is required this year and we are happy to give it out in spades to Team #Winner. But with one friendly left, we need a little more than Javier Martina's runs to give us hope for a good start to the season.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Letters from Camp: It's not Cann, it's a Dicoy

Left: decoy; Right: Dicoy

In a further sign that Aron Winter's hardline stance against Adrian Cann's holdout won't likely waver, TFC has invited a new trialist into camp. 24-year-old Jamaican centreback Dicoy Williams joined The Reds at their South Carolina camp with the hopes of landing a contract. The 6 foot 2 defender has proven a quick marker with good leaping ability during his career at Jamaican club Harbour View and in his 6 Caps with The Reggae Boyz. A point in his favour is his ability to also play on both the right and left wings making him a potentially valuable bench option if he can handle the physicality of MLS.
It seems as if the hopes that Julian de Guzman would be ready to start the new season against Vancouver may have been a touch ambitious. Speaking to media yesterday, manager Aron Winter revealed that the DP's injury recovery has been a little slower than expected... “Julian is recovering well,” said the Dutchman “but he’s three to four weeks away from being ready to play.” That is slightly disappointing for fans who would like to see the new squad take shape but Winter's plans for the midfielder may give fans optimism that the hometown star can bounce back from a poor 2010 season - “In our system, he will be one of our key players,” Winter said. “He will get the ball at his feet and forward in attacking positions.”
No, Bob de Klerk isn't doing his Goldmember accent in an interview, just a bit of Team Canada news which will no doubt involve some Reds. The group stage of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup was announced today and Canada was slotted into Group C along side arch-rivals USA, Van Halen's favourite team – Panama, and the former home of Milli Vanilli - Guadeloupe. The highlight of the round will be a cross-border showdown in Detroit, Michigan on June 7th between The Yanks and The Canucks - winner gets Windsor. Find the rest of the schedule here. Gold Cup 2011 - "Catch the Taste!"

Monday, March 7, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Shocking Adrian Cann contract issues

"It's that damn Adrian Cann - he's so hot right now!

Things at Toronto FC camp seemed to be chugging along peacefully until last week. Despite the difficulty of overhauling the squad and its style, the players in training all seemed gung-ho and positive. Even the De Ro contract woes seemed to be on the back-burner. Then, seemingly out of the blue, TFC's starting centreback and resident male model Adrian Cann, decided to pack up his designer manbags and leave the club in a contract dispute. In the days since, manager Aron Winter has taken a hardline against Cann's apparent contract breach, going as far as taking new club offers to the defender off the table. Of course, if these were the demands of the Thornhill star/ exotic beauty, you may have balked too...
11. Insists that all of his new kits be designed by Gucci
10. Demands that James Franco portrays him in "TFC: The Movie"
9. Wants the club to copyright and market his new look - "Red Steel"
8. Would like his MVP trophy replaced with "Most Valuable Abs" award
7. Wants team to emerge from the tunnel to Fashion Television’s theme song: “Obsession
6. Requests a free transfer to Milan... for fashion week
5. Demands credit for inventing the "Piano-key Neck Tie"
4. Willing to forego DP money for D&G money
3. Upset because "red and grey are soooo 2008"
2. Wants an "International" roster spot because it looks more stylish than "Domestic"
1. No-trade clause to "ugly cities"

"Ladies and gentleman... welcome your Toronto FC!"

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Letters from Camp: "Can't beat the Fire without a spark..."

Dr. Rick Slott report to the Piggly Wiggly...

With three friendly matches left before the season opens two weeks from today, The Carolina Challenge Cup seemingly represents a chance to fine tune for Toronto FC. Sadly, based on tonight's performance, the tuning may well be continuing into the summer months. In no means is this meant as panic mode, but the reality is that Aron WINter and Paul mariNER (#WINNER) haven't had the time to create a squad that can play the style they are attempting to instill.
Tonight's match against Chicago, beamed to us through the choppy joy that is TFC-TV, turned out to be a mostly disappointing affair for Reds supporters but managed to squeeze in enough optimism to carry us until the next match. Highlights and lowlights included:
- TFC start with line-up of Frei, Gargan, Attakora, Yourassowsky, Morgan, LaBrocca, Cordon, Peterson, Martina, Maicon, Plata
- Chicago's Marco Pappa "Don't Preach" scoring the game's lone goal in the 6th minute on the back of some awful TFC defending. The giggling belonged to Adrian Cann.
- The online announcer/ Charleston Battery president crowing that this tournament was "the cream of US and Canada soccer". We're going non-dairy if this is the case.
- Toronto's first real offensive opportunity didn't come until the 30th minute when Jacob Peterson's blast from distance went wide
- Awesome Charleston advertising hoarding # 1 "Piggly Wiggly" supermarket
- Fire captain Logan Pause gets direct red card for a very dangerous tackle. Chicago down to 10 men for the rest of the match
- TFC subs: Ornoch in for Morgan, Soolsma in for Plata
- Awesome Charleston advertising hoarding # 2 "Five Guys Burgers and Fries"
- Fire not playing like they are down to 10 men, TFC not playing like they are up a man
- Very little in the way of TFC finding a target man
- Announcers drop news that Dwayne De Rosario is slightly injured. Fantastic.
- Awesome/ Disturbing Charleston advertising hoarding # 3 "Panalpina". Um, ok.
- Zavarise and "Booyah" Makubuya in for TFC who start to push hard at Chicago with 10 minutes left
- TFC scramble to pour men into the Fire box but to no avail as match mercifully ends
While most TFC fans held out hope that the Florida friendlies were a blip on the radar, it was painfully clear that The Reds are a long way out from fulfilling the Total Football promise. The bright spots of the evening were Javier Martina, Mikael Yourassowsky and Dan Gargan but there were still too many ball-watchers. The injection of De Rosario and Julian de Guzman into the team will go a long way, but the two big pieces of the spine that will still be missing are a dominant centreback and a prolific scorer up front. Where have we heard that before?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Letters from Camp: "Come Ornoch on our door..."

Jack's a big fan of the 4-3-3

"...TFC has taken a step that isn't new." Yes, three's company but fifteen isn't enough for a club roster, so - The Reds have rekindled their on-again, off-again romance with Canadian International midfielder Andrew Ornoch. The Polish-born, Scarborough-raised midfielder has been in flirtation with Toronto FC since last summer but it seems like now his time in red may have finally arrived.
As rumoured here, amongst many other TFC sources, Ornoch looked to be set to join TFC as a trialist early in January but a stumbling block seemed to arise. Online chatter included whispers that former Toronto management had promoted the idea to Ornoch that he buy out his contract with then-club, BV Veendam of the Dutch 2nd tier, to prepare for a switch to T.O. The whispers (like Mr. Roper listening at the door) then hinted that new manager Aron Winter wasn't as keen on Ornoch as his predecessors were, thus the deal falling flat. Like a Jack Tripper comedy soufflé. Of course, those rumours may not be worth the keyboard they were typed on and later rather than never, TFC officially welcomed the attack-minded midfielder to camp on trial today.
Of course, further tongues will now wag that this move is in reply to Adrian Cann's sudden departure from camp but as the two men play in completely different roles, it seems far-fetched. Unlike our old management, it doesn't seem likely that Team Winter would make a squad move out of spite. Either way, TFC still needs to fill out its rather small roster and Ornoch could represent a decent squad player if he can first impress the management, then agree to a fairly humble wage. With just over two weeks until the season opens and with a thin squad, it's not hard to imagine that a roster spot is Ornoch's to lose.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another Cann of worms for TFC

No We Cann't

Toronto FC really needs to stop handing out "Player of the Year" awards. Mere months after team captain Dwayne De Rosario started making waves about contract renegotiations, his successor as team MVP, Adrian Cann, has decided to leave training camp due to a difference of opinion with his contract. In a spring full of optimism for The Reds, this move couldn't have come at a worse time.
For the 30-year-old Cann this represents a very high stakes gamble. A year ago there weren't too many clubs at the level of TFC interested in the occasional Canadian International yet he garnered, an albeit frugal, contract last spring. Cann indeed had a solid, steady year although many think his "MVP" status had more to do with the negative feelings towards De Ro last fall than Cann's play. In short, he is a capable defender - but very far from irreplaceable. As of now, Cann has turned down the club's new contract offer and has decided to play hardball in the midst of the club's most important stretch of training.
For TFC, and the new management team of Aron Winter and Paul Mariner, this represents an awfully tricky challenge. While Cann does deserve a payrise to bring him closer to a mid-range MLS defender‘s salary, he has yet to prove his long-term performance level in the league. In fact, Cann has looked rather out of sorts with Winter's new quick tempo passing style this spring. However, the dilemma for the club lays with the fact that the roster is dangerously thin and the defence in particular has looked shaky at best. Does the club bend out of necessity to preserve roster numbers, but risk opening the floodgates to future player petulance? Or, does the new management decide to make an example of Cann to prove who is in charge?
If you read between the lines of Winter's quote today it sounds closer to the latter. “We are disappointed that Adrian has decided to return home at this time,” said Winter. “Adrian is heading into the second year of a four year contract. We are currently in discussions with the League regarding the situation and are assessing the options available to us.” Winter and Mariner have not yet seemed the "pushover" types and they may choose this matter to illuminate that fact.
We cannot necessarily fault Adrian Cann without knowing all of the facts from the negotiations. It is true that he was making less in 2010 than he deserved but unlike De Ro, Cann doesn't have the MLS pedigree, long-term statistics and championship rings to back-up a hardline walkout. The Thornhill defender has likely squandered a great deal of goodwill that TFC supporters threw his way last year and if his holdout is seen as a deterrent to the club's early 2011 development, he may not be welcomed back at BMO Field by fans... or management.
Male modelling must be paying the bills…

Nice hat "Chico and The Man"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Letters from Camp: "Whole lotta waivin' goin' on"

Yes, it's the scouting we're interested in.

Toronto added a name to their training camp squad but it won't affect the roster size as it was one in and one out for The Reds. After announcing yesterday that Canada U17 standout and TFC Academy product Kevan Aleman was joining the senior squad in South Carolina, the team turned around today and cut Gambian defender Emmanuel Gomez. For Aleman, the reward for a great U17 CONCACAF tournament is instant and he becomes the latest Academy boy with a chance to join the Winter-Mariner youth movement. Sadly for Gomez, who isn't old by any means at 20, coming off of a long-term injury, using an international slot and being linked to the Mo Johnston era was one too many obstacles to overcome in the eyes of the new management.
Surely the only reason that Toronto FC announced a youth development and scouting link with Bagatelle FC was to score a place to stay on vacation. So... don't be surprised if training camp is in Barbados next year! That could be the only reason TFC are looking within the confines of the Caribbean nation's Digicel Premiere League. Even within that league, Bagatelle are practically the Wigan Athletic of Barbados. They definitely aren't powerhouses like Youth Milan, Pride of Gall Hill or 2010 Champs Notre Dame SC! Oh well, guess TFC will have an upper hand on good young Barbadian stars such as... and um... oh what about?
MLS clubs had to cull unwanted ballast from their rosters today (see Emmanuel Gomez) in time for tomorrow's MLS Waiver Draft. Toronto FC has the sixth pick overall and despite most of the players indeed being unwanted by other clubs, there could be a few utility pieces that TFC might be interested in:
DANNY EARLS: 21-year-old Irish defender who made 15 starts for Colorado in 2010
PABLO CAMPOS: 6 foot 3 Brazilian forward who scored 8 goals in 27 appearances with Real Salt Lake in the past two seasons
CARLOS BORJA: Lanky defender who made 8 appearances for Chivas USA last year and came up through the Cruz Azul youth system