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Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Who's on forward... ?" Know your TFC 2013

"Okay, seven of you need to get the hell out of here"

SIXual Healing has long passed - and rather unerotically. The pain of 2012 has been replaced with the Payne of 2013 and TFC's Seventh Deadly Season. With a new regime of shining lights, wrapped together with red threads and more maple leaves than Algonquin Park, come a host of new players. Gone are the heady days of Soolsmen, Zavariseses and Dicoys only to be replaced by a paper-thin group of hungry youngsters. And Julio Cesar.  BREAKING: Now with 70% more Robert Earnshaw!
With a mere 48 hours to go before your Eff Cee's kick a ball in anger, here is a handy A(gbossoumonde) to Z(stupid Zavarise - thanks a lot) guide to the club. Chock full of hard-hitting investigative journalism, fascinating statistics* and shocking facts* (*not necessarily statistical) (* not really factual), we urge you to print up this list, stick it to your fridge or above your toilet and see how many of these lads are here in October.
SHOCKING FACT*: Full name is Gale Kosse Mawugbe Randy Agbossoumonde Jr.
PREDICTION: Making TFC kit customizers crazy rich
NATION: Canada
NICKNAME: "K-Bekks", "The Presto Kid"
SHOCKING FACT*: Modelled his game on David Beckham and hair on Brek Shea
PREDICTION: Practicing keepie-uppies on the GO Train
NICKNAME: "Like Beckham"
SHOCKING FACT*: Demanded trade from Portland Timbers due to plaid phobia
PREDICTION: Getting e-mail alerts on Stefan Frei injuries
NICKNAME: "Brainsover"
SHOCKING FACT*: Left Impact last year under cloud of poutine-addiction rumours
PREDICTION: Not being the quicker-picker-upper needed around goal
SHOCKING FACT*: Was voted "Most likely to resemble rockabilly serial killer" in junior high
PREDICTION: Red cards. Lots and lots of red cards.
NATION: Brazil
NICKNAME: "Not That Julio Cesar", "The Midfield Emperor"
SHOCKING FACT*: Went out for his first Halloween dressed up as "Otis Nixon on Steroids"
PREDICTION: Changing facial expressions between "gleeful grin" to "murderous rage" in remarkably short timeframe
NATION: Canada
SHOCKING FACT*: Played the Archangel Gabriel in TFC's Nativity play
PREDICTION: Sued by The Ultimate Warrior for unlicensed use of sock tassels
NICKNAME: "The Real Welshman"
SHOCKING FACT: Always arrives late for things

NATION: England
NICKNAME: "Ecks", "GingaNinja"
SHOCKING FACT*: The carpet disturbingly matches the curtains
PREDICTION: Will get a tan in new TFC home strip and become the league's first completely monochrome player
NICKNAME: "Screech"
SHOCKING FACT*: His three dream dinner guests include Dustin Diamond, Art Garfunkle and Marouane Fellaini
PREDICTION: Lathering. Rinsing. Repeating.
NATION: England
NICKNAME: "The Raisinballs" (courtesy of @the_ironsheik), "Hogan Hero"
SHOCKING FACT*: Father was a massive WWF fan. Mother was a massive Crocodile Dundee fan. Compromise.
PREDICTION: At least 30% better than Alen Stevanovic
NATION: Switzerland
NICKNAME: "The Goalblerone"
SHOCKING FACT*: Has 8 out of 10 stamps on his Toronto General Hospital Customer Card. Two more and the next surgery is free.
PREDICTION: Will transition from hard protective mask to Mexican wrestling mask
NICKNAME: "Jersenio"
SHOCKING FACT*: Nearly 64% of his teammates know his name
PREDICTION: Making us all go "hmmm?"
NATION: Canada
NICKNAME: "D'oh Henry"
SHOCKING FACT*: Favourite animal is a giraffe running on ice
PREDICTION: Spending another year as "one for the future"
NATION: Netherlands
SHOCKING FACT*: Demanded that his ACL wound be insulated with raw pancake batter
PREDICTION: Will return to form in September; score 10 goals in 7 matches; slip in the shower
NATION: Bermuda
NICKNAME: "Mutton"
SHOCKING FACT*: Claims that his footballing skills were lost during flight over the Bermuda Triangle
PREDICTION: Dramatically improving to become a 1 in 5 match player
NATION: Canada
NICKNAME: "#NastyLeftBack", "Future Captain Morgan"
SHOCKING FACT*: Refuses to talk to rookie Taylor Morgan
PREDICTION: Being expected to do too much
NATION: England
NICKNAME: "#NastyLeftFront", "Morgan Tallchild"
SHOCKING FACT*: Mother hails from Southampton, England - father is an antelope.
PREDICTION: Giggling himself to sleep at night that he was drafted by the only team in the league without a striker
#48 - DARREN O'DEA - D
NATION: Republic of Ireland
NICKNAME: "General D'OD", "The Shamrock Shaker"
SHOCKING FACT*: O'Dea and Danny Califf were just voted as's "Centreback Duo Most Likely to End Up on Trial 2013"
PREDICTION: Making TFC TV sound like episodes of "Father Ted"
NATION: Canada
NICKNAME: "J Ro", "Der"
SHOCKING FACT*: Had to flee Uruguayan playing stint last year after "XXX Montevideo" scandal
PREDICTION: Making appreciative and humble cheque cashing motions after scoring 1st goal
NATION: Canada
SHOCKING FACT*: Lists Seal's third full studio album "Human Being" as the single most important influence on his playing career
PREDICTION: Walking over to TFC strikers... telling them about the time he scored against England... dropping the mic
SHOCKING FACT*: Winner of the 2004 Southern California Junior Dramatics Society's "Best Newcomer in a Musical or Comedy" for his role as a young Freddie Mercury in the community play "Radio Ga-Ga"
PREDICTION: Staying out of Texas bars / not returning Nick Soolsma's texts
NATION: Canada
NICKNAME: "Cowboy"
SHOCKING FACT*:'s MLS preview rated Stinson as "an active player"
PREDICTION: Weighing up the pros and cons of Ottawa Fury FC
NATION: Canada
NICKNAME: "Mr. Sauga", "The 905 Kid"
SHOCKING FACT*: Has signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Mississauga Transit
PREDICTION: Will be the first footballer who can literally say that he is "going back to Square One"
NICKNAME: "(Insert your quip here) of the Modern Era"
SHOCKING FACT*: Is an avid time traveller / hack comedian
PREDICTION: Never forgiving Paul Mariner for the biggest anchor ever put around a footballer’s neck

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Know your 2013 Eastern Conference

West may be best for baby (saw it on Wikipedia) but the East is where it's at yo! That's right, hot off the heels of our highly factual and influential MLS Western Conference preview (see below) we shift focus to the continent's eastern seaboard... also Kansas and Houston. Whatevs - we're inclusive.

Everyone on this continent knows east is the beast! Who needs oceans, mountains, deserts then prairies? Pick a geology and stick with it west. Showboaters. We've got the salty Atlantic, we get snow up the ying-yang, silly accents all up in yo business and just to be dicks we throw in Quebec. What son!? Eastern Conference... mic drop.
CHICAGO FIRE - Toyota Park
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Frank Klopas / Principal Ed Rooney
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Joel Lindpere
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, Bloods, wastoids, dweebies; Abe Froman - Sausage King of Chicago
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 4th in East / Sticking a lump of coal up our ass, turning it into a diamond
COLUMBUS CREW - Crew Stadium
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Robert Warzycha / The construction worker on the left
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Federico Higuain
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: White dudes; People who Google "Did Columbus have the croup?"; A patronizing Gonzalo Higuain
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 6th in East / Having their Crew Cat spayed or neutered
D.C. UNITED - RFK Stadium
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Ben Olsen / Someone from Virginia... possibly Maryland
INTERNATIONAL RE-BRAND: Washington Wanderers
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Dwayne De Rosario... yup.
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The House; The Senate; Moving companies
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 2nd in East / Checking out Craigslist for any stadium vacancies
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Dominic Kinnear / A container of TANG
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Oscar Boniek Garcia
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Garfield; TV's Snooki; Orange Julius franchisees
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 5th in East / Trying not to be squeezed for juice
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Marco Schallibaum / Former Italy manager "________"
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Anglophones; Francophones; Provolones
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 7th in East / Making Toronto look bad
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Jay Heaps / Paul Mariner
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Sainey Nyassi
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Tea Party members; Musket enthusiasts; Guys who sound a lot like Peter Griffin
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 9th in East / Making MLSE look like caring owners
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Mike Petke / Felix Baumgartner
INTERNATIONAL RE-BRAND: Monster Energy New Jersey
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Jamison Olave
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: X-Treme Nu Jerzey rezidentz; Caffeinated matadors; People from Queens just biding their time
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 3rd in East / Reminding Manhattan that they exist
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: John Hackworth / A couple of guys gettin' up to no good
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Sebastien Le Toux (of Bel-Air)
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Jazzy Jeffs, Fresh princes; Uncle Phils
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 8th in East / Moving with their Auntie and Uncle in Chester
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Peter Vermes / Not Lance Armstrong
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Bunburys of all nations; Ex-sorcerers; Not Lance Armstrong
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 1st in East / Not mentioning Lance Armstrong
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Ryan Nelsen / Check back in 9 months
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Ryan Nelsen and a 10-year time machine
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Light shiners; Red threaders; Five year planners

2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH:
10th in East / Feeling real positive about the 20-- Season

Know your 2013 Western Conference

Cup your bits in your hands North America - you're about to be First Kicked. The most majorest of this continent's major league soccer leagues not in Mexico - Major League Soccer - is back for 2013! That's right, Commissioner Don Garber has been busy buffing balls as another season is set to begin and we have the only previews you need*!
(*you will need other previews)
Since our romantic letter on Hello Kitty stationary to Mr. Garber, begging for a single table, once again fell on deaf ears, we will start our preview with the mighty Western Conference. Home to the MLS Cup Winners, the hipsters and sasquatches of Cascadia, the raucous Mormon Ultras of Salt Lake... and also Colorado Rapids... the West is a tough division. So join us... Go West! Life is peaceful there... Go West! They have quality Tex-Mex...
CHIVAS USA - Home Depot Center
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Jose Luis Sanchez Sola / Bumblebee Man
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The Dos Equis Man; Luchdores; No fans of PUMAS, Santos Laguna, Club America or any other Mexican team that isn't Chivas Guadalajara
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 9th in West / Relegated to the Mexican 3rd Division
COLORADO RAPIDS - Dick's Sporting Goods Park
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Oscar Pareja / A Wal-Mart greeter
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: RapidsMan; American Arsenal supporters; Not Stan Kroenke
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 7th in West / Pissing off the few real fans they have left
FC DALLAS - FC Dallas Stadium
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Schellas Hyndman / A very confused Harry Redknapp
INTERNATIONAL RE-BRAND: Queen's Park Texas Rangers
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Lost high school football fans; Fireworks aficionados; People looking for a nice quiet place to sit and read a book for a couple of hours
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 6th in West / Buying out the rest of Toronto's Designated Players
LA GALAXY - Home Depot Center
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Bruce Arena / Miserable looking Hollywood cartoon dog Droopy
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Omar Gonzalez
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: "Real Housewives"; The remaining cast of "Joey"; Screaming girls who have yet to realize that David Beckham plays for PSG now
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 4th in West (MLS Cup Winners) / Being linked with every member of FIFA's Best XI 2002
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Caleb Porter / Some guy who liked soccer before it was cool
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: Hipsters; Lumberjacks; Hipsters dressed as lumberjacks
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 8th in West / Accepting donations for Timber Joey's chainsaw-severed thumb replacement... ironically
REAL SALT LAKE - Rio Tinto Stadium
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Jason Kreis / ( ________ ) Osmond
INTERNATIONAL RE-BRAND: Deportivo de la Utah
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Alvaro Saborio
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The Mormon Royal Family; Stocktons; Malones
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 2nd in West / Still getting over the whole Mitt Romney failure
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Frank Yallop / Dale Mitchell
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Chris Wondolowski
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The sexy ghost of George Best; The not-so sexy ghost of Buck Shaw / The Holy Ghost of St. Joseph
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 1st in West / Cursing the MLS Playoffs
SEATTLE SOUNDERS - CenturyLink Field
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Sigi Schmidt / Bigfoot in a tight scarf
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Mauro Rosales
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: The over-caffeinated; That other dude from Nirvana; Harry... but not The Hendersons
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 3rd in West / Testing the boundaries of neon fashions
MANAGER/NEXT MANAGER: Martin Rennie / Stan Smyl's moustache
PLAYER WE'D STEAL: Assistant Coach Carl Robinson
WELL KNOWN SUPPORTERS: 50% of Cheech & Chong; The British; Colombians who can't spell
2012 FINISH/2013 FINISH: 5th in West / Still going on about SoccerBowl '79

Coming Soon: Know your 2013 Eastern Conference...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Out mit the alt, in mit the neu

No Pat... we said "Young DP"

You can take his face off of the sides of those milk cartons - Kevin Payne was not missing after all. On the heels of Torsten Frings' almost emotional and extremely classy goodbye to TFC, the club president was finally forced to update his very concerned fan base about the lack of incoming players. With two DP's down and a preseason roster still mostly filled with Academy prospects, draft picks and trialists, Payne attempted to assuage an increasingly angered mob before torches were lit.
The "potential" additions to the club include:
- Hogan Ephraim: the 24-year-old winger and sometime striker is apparently an "imminent" (you've heard that somewhere before) signing on a loan deal from his parent club Queen's Park Rangers. The Iron Sheik has gone on the record saying "The Hogan has the raisinballs" so Payne may want to re-consider.
- John Bostock: Yes, he of the angry father calling TalkSport radio to call out Harry Redknapp, is on trial after failing to garner interest from San Jose Earthquakes. The 21-year-old was once touted as a future England international attacking mid but has seen his career stutter after numerous loan failures and rumours of a shoddy work-ethic and questionable attitude. Potential signing would again be on a loan basis from Tottenham.
- Robert Earnshaw: the very experienced 31-year-old Welsh international striker is flying into Toronto tonight to "take a look" at the club and vice-versa. With many years spent in the English Championship at such clubs as Derby County, Nottingham Forest (he's a Welsh Clough) and Norwich City, he could be the kind of goal scorer that would work under Ryan Nelsen's system. Would have to put this one at 50/50 at best for the moment.
- Two Hondurans and a microphone: Where's it at? Apologies to Beck but TFC ("I'm a loser baby") apparently have two players from the Central American nation on their radar. The club has been linked with a few Hondurans this spring so take your pick from Alfredo Mejia, Arnold Peralta, Rommel Quioto and numerous other random Tegucigalpans.
- An Argentine DP: this was the one that came out of left-field. Payne has dispatched Head Scout Pat Onstad down to work on his tango and take a look at a player who would be a "young DP". Which is apparently not the same thing as Young MC. The yet unnamed striker would be a big addition talent-wise (you would imagine) but as per all of the above moves - would be a loan signing. Bust a move already.
- Coming soon: in post-conference interviews Payne lamented the short period of time he has had to re-tool The Reds but told fans to expect a few changes in the first couple of months of the season.
While updating the fans on these potential moves is a welcome positive, it will be at the new regime's peril if most of these official "rumours" don't pan out. Yes, deals fall through every day in the world of football but with four days remaining before First Kick, TFC supporter patience, rightly or wrongly, is as thin as the roster.

UPDATE: Our colleague and pal from Waking The Red, Kristin Knowles (@kzknowles on teh twitterz) has been doing yeoman's schmoozing work at the TFC Launch Party tonight and has managed to get word out that The Reds have apparently made a few signings. Supplemental Draft Pick (and our very own Peter Crouch-esque striker) Taylor Morgan, QPR-owned winger Hogan Ephraim and (most likely) Academy product Jonathan Osorio have joined the club.

Now seriously TFC, time to do this...

Auf Wiedersehen Herr Kapitan

A bittersweet farewell

"Frustration": Webster's German Dictionary calls it der Frust… then says a bunch of stuff in German. We assume it's about sausages. Soon, it may contain a passage about Torsten Frings' time at Toronto FC. What started as ein bang back in 2011 has now ended in ein whimper as The Reds say goodbye to their talismanic captain - and the club's most famous player - after he decided to retire due to lingering injury.
With an illustrious playing career in the Bundesliga and the German national team behind him, Frings joined Toronto FC, along with Danny Koevermans, in the summer of 2011 in what was supposed to herald in Phase 2 of Aron Winter's Total Plan. Of course, "Total" turned into totally sad and as his new club's fortunes spluttered (again) so did the luck of the midfield general. Whether it was the wear and tear of MLS travel, artificial surfaces and summer heat on Frings' physique or just a blend of bad luck and age, his body started to let him down. His pace dropped off dramatically (even during his tenure at TFC) and a rash of injuries saw him miss large portions of seasons. It seems as if the latest hip injury was his career's final blow.
There may be a rash urge to blame Winter/Mariner/Payne/modern day hip-hop for the disappointing nature of Frings' time here but this one may have to be put down to bad luck. Few argued Frings' signing at the time - players with his pedigree, smarts and clout don't come along that often. His presence in the midfield was meant to be the sun that the other pieces of a now failed experiment were meant to orbit. It was a nice, but likely too lofty, ideal. No one can predict injuries and few would have truly believed TFC would have fallen so much further into the abyss as they have since he joined.
For Kevin Payne, Frings’ choice to end his DP contract is a fortuitous one. This may possibly lead some to suspicion that the German was gently nudged out in a cold and calculated cap room jettison. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle – we will likely never know. What Payne does (or what he hasn't done) with his bundle o’ cash is an argument for another day but if Torsten Frings was unlikely to play serious minutes for the club this year - any other GM in MLS would have quietly welcomed the news. For better or worse, Payne seeks increased maneuverability in the transfer market and this move almost clears his decks as far as his inherited contracts go with only Richard Eckersley, Darren O'Dea and Danny Koevermans in the "hefty" category. That was not a Koef pancake joke.
For Frings himself, this must be an awful blow for a warrior and much respected professional. After such a long career full of tremendous highs it will not be the way he wanted to walk off the pitch. He will look back and perhaps cringe at a club that was in a constant state of upheaval for his entire stay while being surrounded by teammates that would never match his footballing IQ. Joining another club as a player is unlikely (unless it was a staged run-out with Werder Bremen for a few minutes) but he will no doubt remain in football as his former club has been pining for him to join as a coach for some time now. Kevin Payne has also hinted that Frings will continue to work with TFC in some capacity in Europe.
Frings will move on, Toronto FC will stumble along as they do, and eventually one day the supporters at BMO Field will look back and at least fondly remember watching a modern-day international superstar - even if he was a shadow of the World Cup hero he once was. However, as with Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman (despite different circumstances) and countless others who arrived with bangs and left with whimpers, many fans - and no doubt Frings - will say "it should have worked out so much better".

Monday, February 25, 2013

THE STARTING 11: TFC Oscars introductions

Equals the amount of signed TFC players

There are few things as agonizingly long to sit through than a Toronto FC "re-building" process - one of those things may be the Academy Awards. Staying awake through the grueling Oscars ceremony could test the most seasoned veteran of the Five Year Plan (TM). Or even the next Five Year Plan (TM) (Coming to a stadium near you: March 2014). Perhaps Toronto FC, with their scandals, bloated budgets and production delays, and the film industry isn’t all that different after all. We couldn't help but wonder how some of last night's nominees would have been introduced differently if Seth MacFarlane - the inexperienced hosting rookie hired only on a hunch and personality potential - was instead Ryan Nelsen (ahem) and his cohorts from TFC Pictures...
11: "The story of Collin Samuel's arduous career journey, trapped with only baked goods for company... this is… "Life of Pie"
10. "A whimsical animated tale of a stadium bird frozen to her perch only to be brought back to life by mid-summer lightning... "FrankenBitchy"
9. "Part of a mystical trilogy that transfers the wonderful worlds of Canada, Ecuador and er... Utah... "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Joao Plata Trade"
8 "A gripping and harrowing tale of hope in the midst of disaster as we follow a group of people seeking a TFC 2013 Playoff appearance.... ladies and gentlemen.... "The Impossible"
7. "The uplifting story of a man trying to get tactics right while surrounded by years of mental illness... "Shining Light Playbook"
6. "An older gentleman's promise to find a striker by "looking almost exclusively south" turns into a fruitless and frustrating journey in..."Django Unsigned"
5. Ladies and gentleman, performing the theme song to Toronto FC's Opening Day match at Rogers Centre, this is Adele singing... "SkyFail"
4. "In the midst of a revolution, a Frenchman struggles to break free of his chains and the tyranny oppressing him (and his wife)... please welcome the star of "Les Miserables"... Eric Hassli
3. "After hiding out in a Canadian bunker (Rogers Centre) this rag-tag bunch attempt to make their long-rumoured escape to freedom and a new home... Best Picture nominee... "Argo to BMO Field"
2. "And the Oscar for Best Shorts Film... 'Paul Mariner'!"
1. "A minute-by-minute chronicle of a mission doomed to failure from the start - Toronto FC's First Kick in Vancouver is brought to life in Eastern Standard Time... "Zero Dark Six Thirty"

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Paddle joke (here)

If 80's movies have taught me anything, then the last day of camp will involve Toronto FC competing in some kind of water race aboard a homemade raft. The team nerd (Dunfield?) will have equipped it with hilarious gadgets while the gang fight to beat that mean camp of hunky jocks (Sporting KC) from across the lake. The winner gets to keep their camp and get the girl (Bitchy the Hawk) - all set to a rockin' musical montage.

Alas, life is not like the 80's - if it were, Danny Koevermans would have a sweet Chris Waddle mullet - and today is just the last kick at an alarmingly quiet pre-season camp for The Reds. Ryan Nelsen is back from dodging immigration cops and will try to put a team together out of what is arguably the thinnest First Kick roster in the club's history.

With the regurgitated promise of 3 or 4 "imminent" player signings whispered quietly beneath the bellows of new crappy beer deals and reality shows, the season has crept up on a TFC that look less prepared for a MLS season than they did in November. You're dying to hear more now aren't you? Boat Race fog-horn!!!

KICK-OFF: Nothing epitomizes TFC more than the words "Consolation Final". With the "Participation" medals ready it's time to face our SkyDome brunch guests...

BUT THEN... like a broken BETAMax tape from that aforementioned 80's film, the club announced that there would be no live stream. Thus... a combination of Twitter updates and spring break/camp film tomfoolery...

1' - Here's a starting line-up to get you PUMPED for 2013!

5' - Good to see... er, read... Danny Califf and Darren O'Dea as the centreback duo today. If only we could combine the two. One wears a proper number (3) and the other wears proper boots (all black). Now that's a defender.
7' - Reggie Lambe loses possession when a buxom blonde's bikini-top gets attached to a nerd's radio-controlled airplane and pops off
15' - Darren O'Dea and Paolo Nagamura in a shoving match - they are actually following my script!

20' - Pretty sure today's referee is that crusty college Dean!

30' - Fans in attendance today in Orlando invited to stay after the match to meet Archie Hahn - the voice of the alien "Meathead" in 1984 blockbuster hit "Meatballs Part II"
35' - Despite no video feed, I can honestly say this is the most solid I've seen TFC play all spring
40' - Any player named "Saad" should be legally bound by MLS to play for Toronto FC

SECOND HALF: No major changes going into the final half of spring except trialist Justin Davis off for trialist Darel "The Roy G." Russell who will possibly do a Kool Moe Dee-esque rap track as the jocks, nerds, beauty queens and goths watch on dancing awkwardly
55' - Nothing much happening for the first 10 minutes so it will likely just be packaged as a montage to the soft rock stylings of Cheap Trick
57' - The "Ogre" of TFC (that one's for you "Revenge of the Nerds" fans) Darren O'Dea picks up his second caution and sees red...

60' - TFC decide to play a game of "Look Who's Striking?"

70' - Tables turned on rival frat house as Danny Koevermans' "I'll Eat Your Pi for Charity" booth reveals topless pick of Terry Dunfield stuck on the bottom of every pie plate!
75' - Like the guy who has been at the college way too long - Terry Dunfield joins the race. But will he win the girl?
85' - The exciting* (*not exciting) raft race that has been TFC's pre-season is on its final stretch! Can those plucky lads win and save "Camp Shining Light" from impending doom?
89' - No.

FINAL WHISTLE: While the lack of coverage gave us the excuse to have way more fun with this match than it really was - there is no real excuse for the mess this club's roster is in a mere week before the season begins. Yes there is new management; bloated contracts; celery caps (that's it right?) and red threads needing to be bound but the squad trotted out was what we should have seen a month ago and not today.

Yes the magical "3 or 4" signings are once again "on their way" and perhaps things turn out well way down the road but not a single TFC supporter expected this paper-thin excuse for a team one week before Vancouver. The Reds are indeed "Up The Creek" and that creek has a name... and is known for not supplying paddles.


Friday, February 22, 2013

LETTERS FROM CAMP: Fring the bell?

He's the new "Grumpy Cat"

He came into camp seemingly "close" to being ready; he played for around 20 minutes in TFC's first spring friendly; he suddenly returned to Toronto for mysterious "personal reasons"; today, word is emerging that he is at least 2 months away from fitness and that even more dramatically - he may be on the verge of having his TFC career ended. Yes, it seems like the stern captain of TFC, Torsten Frings, could very well be at the final exit of his Canadian autobahn.

If the once-brilliant midfield general isn't likely to play a role for TFC until May or June it is safe to assume that Kevin Payne (if he isn't still missing) will do what he can to end the German's DP contract before the beginning of the regular season. It would be a sad end for a classy player and not the way Reds supporters would have wanted him to go out but a cold and calculated move may be what offers TFC the best manoeuvrability going forward. If the end of Frings really is nigh, Toronto fans can be comforted that one of the best midfielders of the last 20 years played here, but saddened that we never saw him close to his best. More to surely come.
Does Kevin Payne want to buy your gold, silver and unwanted jewellery? No. But, he may be trying to pad out the paper-thin roster with a couple of loan signings just a week before the season begins. The woefully attack-free Reds possibly have their non-transfer eyeballs on two attackers - QPR-product Hogan "The Raisinballs" Ephraim and Honduran, Romell "The Latino Fox" Quioto.
The Ephraim rumour was started when the player himself hashtagged the word #Toronto on his Twitter account and seemed to engage in a little football career talk with a friend. It could however have some extra legs due to his QPRness which he shares with TFC's new manager Ryan Nelsen.

If simply hashtagging something makes it happen, here goes: #SexyBillionaireAstronaut
The Quioto re-rumour is not the first time that his name has been attached to Toronto this spring. The update, appearing in Central American football press, may be nothing more than the ramblings of C.D. Vida President and professional hint-dropper Carla Dip who seems to think that transfers are completed by announcing them on Honduran internet machines.
Terrible beer news: have you hated paying through the nose at BMO Field for stale Carlsberg for the last six years? Not to fear, even staler-er Budweiser will now be on tap instead! Marf. (Mouth + Barf = Marf) This original deal was worked out last autumn but has been expanded to incorporate a whole spectrum of annoying promotions. To poorly paraphrase Monty Python: "Why is drinking a pint at BMO Field like sex in a canoe? It's fucking close to water"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

LETTERS FROM CAMP: Trials. Tribulations.

Honestly... we CAN handle some strikers.

Toronto FC continued their "preparation" for the regular season today with a scrimmage against home opener opponents Sporting KC down in the tropical wilds of Central Florida. On paper, the 3-3 result doesn't seem like the worst thing in the world but considering that only four of the starting eleven are actually signed to the club probably says much about how far along things are. Today's Reds were too distant from a real version of the team to be happy or sad about the state of things but at the very least.... they managed to score a few goals. The fact that the goals came from two unsigned youngsters (Ashton Bennett (2) and Jonathan Osorio) is best left unsaid.
It wouldn't be a day at TFC camp without another trialist that isn't a striker joining the club. The latest body to join Camp Shining Light (for at least a few days) is San Jose Earthquakes cast-off Jake "Horton Hears a" Hustedt. Guess what guys? He's a defender! You're downright flabbergasted aren't you?

So another day passes in TFC's quest to avoid signing anyone who can score a goal while collecting trialists Panini Sticker-stylee. Who knows, maybe things really are going on behind the scenes (Yes, let’s say that while rocking in a corner) but TFC must have taken an Extra Strength Tylenol because it seems like Payne has disappeared. The President who was a quote machine since November has not been heard of much lately while Earl Cochrane speaks to the media, Fran O'Leary manages the team and Jimmy Brennan's pals are stopping by to go on trial. Here's hoping Kevin Payne is busy somewhere getting those strikers and wingers signed and not in Brazil on a scouting trip with Mo Johnston. Culture change etc. TBA

Monday, February 18, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Descriptions found on Toronto FC scouting reports/sexy singles ads

Seriously? Not one striker?

Even though "Family Day" is a day off for some - and Arkansas' sexiest holiday - there is no time for Toronto FC to relax. With only a couple of weeks left before the regular season, very big gaps remain - especially up front - yet the club only seems capable of finding a daily influx of semi-pro holding midfielders and defenders. In fairness, it must be daunting for any prospective striker to follow in the hallowed footsteps of poachers like Collin Samuel, Andrea Lombardo and Mista... but this is getting nutty. We're not saying it's time for TFC to start searching the classified ads or Craigslist for a new forward, but the key search words are really quite similar...
11. "Great first touch"
10. "Holding up the ball"
9. "Stockings/Sock tassels
8. "Squeaky-bum time"
7. "Joe Cannon"
6. "Ruining clean sheets"
5. "Looking 'almost exclusively south' for prospects"
4. "DP rules"
3. "Ok with pain/Ok with Payne"
2. "Box-to-box"
1. "Brazilian"

Saturday, February 16, 2013

LETTERS FROM CAMP: Smell you later

Backwards hat? Check. Fluent German? Sure. Why not?
Those of you who are regulars here (Pete, Steve - how's the wife?) know that we are physically, dare I say spiritually, unable to pass up the opportunity to "Fresh'n" up the site when we face Philadelphia. We just can't seem to resist the temptation to honour the City of Brotherly Love's greatest ever citizen who was in fact born, and yes, raised there. In fact... on the playground is indeed where he spent the majority of his days.

However, this site is first and foremost a kafka-esque playhouse of football-related malarkey- serious sports news outlet, so we must mesh the pressing stories surrounding Toronto FC with this aforementioned spiritual journey/Carlton. With that in mind we present you with a topical tome, followed by some-nonsense hard-hitting sports analysis on Philadelphia v Toronto live from O-Town, FLA.

"The Fresh Frings of Werd-air"
Now this ist die story all about how
Meine life got flipped, turned upside down
Und I'd like to take ein minute just wait und see
I'll tell you how my contract ends at Toronto FC

At Werder Bremen is where I played
In Weserstadion where I spent most of meine days
Cap back, tattooed und looking quite mean
Shooting der free kicks in a kit dass was green
When a couple of guys, Winter und de Klerk
Started making offers for some new kind of work
I got on one little flight und joined a club that's a mess
And said "I'll finish meine career in der M.L und S."

I played at der BMO for nearly two years
We barely won a match und could hear der fans jeer
Injured und older but still mit long hair
I played out last season under Paul Marin-air!

I pulled up in Orlando, saw a squad not-so-great
Und I told Payne und Nelly "Yo, homes smell you later!"
Look at my hip, it does not have one more season
It's time to go home, just say "personal reasons..."

Now to the business at hand, if your hand is in Orlando or on your computer's mouse. Those striker-phobic Reds face Union in what is possibly their final Mickey Mouse Cup match of 2013. Just for shiggles, TFC ended the trial of Argentine winger Nicolas Cabrera but added two new trilaists with even less pedigree. Joining the club is Norwegian/NCAA defensive "prospect" Henrik "Norwegian Nickname" Robstad whose claim to fame is leaving school and being cut at San Jose Earthquakes camp; and, sometime Canadian international central midfielder - and most recent superstar of the German third tier - Jonathan Beaulieu-"Beef"-Bourgault. Well... colour us... um... perplexed.
Meanwhile, TFC management's quest "southwards" (no doubt scouting for all positions except forwards) must have gone past South America, over the South Pole and is headed back towards Canada. You're on the clock Greenland League players. To the "action"...
KICK-OFF: Sound and vision intact on a very blustery Disney day. If Daffy Duck wore trousers they would have blown off
5' - Trialist getting a chance today with Taylor Morgan and Ashton Bennett looking lively early on
8' - GOAL: Philadelphia - French-born Antoine Hoppenot slices through TFC defence like hot knife through brie. Tres easy.
15' - Is "Up shit creek without a striker" a trademarked phrase?
20' - Emery Welshman beats his defender in the box and lays it off to open man... Jeremy Hall... do we need to write the rest?
25' - In addition to lack of anything close to finishing from TFC, physical domination by Philadelphia is not inspiring
30' - The Wide World of Sports "stadium" may be minor league but it has two things over BMO Field - a roof and a food truck named Yum Yum's
41' - GOAL: Philadelphia - So easy for Roger Torres to make his way through a TFC defence very guilty of ball-watching
45' - If things are supposed to get better through pre-season, TFC didn't get the memo. Arguably their worst half so far this spring. Bad at both ends. Unlike a lunch from Yum Yum's.


45' - No changes to start the 2nd Half... since the 1st Half was such a fine tuned footballing machine. Apparently.
51' - GOAL: Philadelphia - Union trialist Matt Kassel jumps all over a miserable TFC defensive clearance to put Philly up by three. Ugly.
57' - Luis Silva with the closest thing to a scoring opportunity. And that is generous.
60' - In retrospect, watching Disney characters fight the wind would have been more fun. Looking at you Winnie The Pooh
64' - Wholesale changes for TFC as the likes of Kyle Bekker, Andrew Wiedeman and Reggie Lambe join the "battle" along with a debut for Jonathan Beaulieu-Beef-Bourgault
69' - Danny Califf and "Slappa De" Bassi on for Gale Agbossoumonde and Darren O'Dea. Why Califf and O'Dea are not working on their partnership is obviously beyond our feeble football minds
72' - The subs keep rolling (meatball for me please) as Justin Braun takes over as THE ONLY TORONTO FC STRIKER for Taylor Morgan
80' - Justin Braun with a chance. Seemed newsworthy.
85' - If TFC had an auntie and uncle in Bel-Air... they'd be on a plane by now
FINAL WHISTLE: For those of you who get their post-match wrap-up by reading this over sitting through the online stream... you're welcome. You were able to avoid watching TFC give their worst spring performance so far and resembling the worst parts of TFC 2012. Except without an actual recognized striker. Yes, we still see the silver linings of being patient and not panic buying... but c'mon. There has to be a point, when all the teams around TFC seem very able to buy players, where The Reds go out and pick up some actual reinforcements. If today's team goes into opening day, a lot of supporters with a justified lack of patience, will be extremely upset.


And... while you sit on your throne here is Der Prinz von Bel Air...

Friday, February 15, 2013

LETTERS FROM CAMP: It's personal...

Down for the count?

Could TFC be on the verge of breaking up with their main man a day after Valentine's Day? That would be cold - Taylor Swift dumping cold - but it was the first thought for many Reds supporters this morning when the club dropped this solemn tweet...

Now let's not add zwei and zwei and come up with funf just yet but Das Kapitan is obviously at the very tail end of his career and there are major question marks about his ability to play in Toronto this year. Throw in his generous salary and the fact that TFC have a couple of weeks to make any DP-slicing decisions and the whispers gather steam. Perhaps it is a completely innocent coincidence but the zungen are wagging.

Here's an absolute left-field assumption that is admittedly without proof... have TFC invited an English journeyman, with bags of experience in the middle of the park, as an emergency back-up for an imminent hole in that area? Ok... it's a stretch but the club have invited 32-year old Cockney Darel Francis "Roy G." Russell to camp for a run about. The veteran of such clubs as Norwich, Stoke, Norwich again, Preston and Portsmouth is versatile but definitely of the "workman' model. Don't expect step overs and 360's but (some of his many) middle names are "Roy G." which sounds like a guy who is "Feat." in a rap video. So there is that. Yo.

Reds' Head Coach Ryan Nelsen is headed back to England. No, he's not planning to suit up for QPR, he's headed over to close up shop on his old life and apparently scout a few players while there. No word if he has finished doing Harry Redknapp's taxes which may or may not have been part of his agreed release. When Nelsen does return in a few days he will be down a man as Matt Stinson will be out for an undetermined amount of time after getting injured against Orlando City on Wednesday. So scout away Nelly! (Psst... a striker or three please.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Red Hot Reds' Supporters' Romance Quiz

You always hurt me, but I can't quit you.

"BMO Field is for Lovers"… said no t-shirt ever. Despite that, today is the day to stop dreaming of trialists, injuries and potential signings and ponder upon that special person in your life. And no - we don't mean Terry Dunfield. Yes, it's Valentine's Day - the day to celebrate all things amour... because French stuff always goes swimmingly at TFC. Put your MLS aside for a day (and that includes Zarek Valentin) to concentrate on the lurve.
In the spirit of getting your raging heart on, we have brought back an updated "Red Hot Reds' Supporters' Romance Quiz". It is the most scientifically proven* (depending on your definition of science) Major League Soccer/Romance test since the infamous "Tampa Bay Mutiny Presents: Is Your Wife Cheating on You?" quiz of 1997. So before you sit your lady/partner/random acquaintance down to an evening of microwaved tin pasta and a 90 minute snuggle in front of your 1991 FA Cup Semi-Final DVD... answer these February 14 questions to see just how red hot a Red you are.
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) Adidas coach's shorts B) A pair of sexy boots C) Some red undergarments D) A red & grey bar scarf
2. How long do you wait before trying to bed a new partner?
A) After 4 or 5 friendly dates B) Try to seduce them on the 2nd date C) Nothing like a one-night stand! D) I have a 5 Year Plan
3. How do you first get to know a partner?
A) Exchange some pleasant e-mails B) Meet up for a coffee C) A few flirty texts D) Get Reggie Lambe to send them confusing Tweets in Bermudian patois
4. Who most inspires you to be romantic?
A) Poets B) Painters C) Musicians D) Joe Cannon
5. If you were making a romantic meal, what would be your specialty?
A) A warm soup B) A pasta dish C) Red Velvet Cake D) Chip Butty
6. If you were to put some drinks on ice for the evening, what would you serve?
A) Some sparkling mineral water B) Champagne C) An expensive red wine D) $11 Dollar pint of Carlsberg in a plastic cup
7. What term do you use for "love-making"?
A) "A friendly" B) "Getting lucky" C) "Scoring" D) "Drilling one into the box"
8. How would you best describe your technique in bed?
A) "Sweet and tender" B) "Confident and assured" C) "Erotic and adventurous" D) "Like a series of Richard Eckersley tackles from behind"
9. If you could get your significant other to "dress up" for you, what costume would you choose?
A) French maid B) Hot cop C) The "Scotts' Turf Girl" D) Stefan Frei
10. What is your favourite position?
A) Classic missionary B) Spooning C) Something from the Kama Sutra D) Defensive Midfielder
11. What taboo experience do you most crave?
A) A night in a Columbus, Ohio hotel B) A very public adventure C) Hooking up with a complete stranger D) The Playoffs
12. What name would you like to be called in bed?
A) "Sweetheart" B) "Stud" C) "The best lover in the modern era" D) "Joe Bendik"
13. If you could choose a fantasy name for yourself - what would it be?
A) Mr. Right B) Fabio C) Justin Brawn D) Commissioner Dong Grabber
14. What do you find most physically attractive on your partner?
A) Their smile B) Their hair C) Their eyes D) Their South End
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 13 and meet a real girl - watching the Canadian Women's team at the Olympics doesn't count as a date.
21-34 points - you are in the ACADEMY: You've got some potential but there are 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 points - you are on the FIRST 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 Julian de Guzman - a chance to do a Toronto nice but instead finding yourself spending your days playing Scrabble with a down-and-out German.
49 points and higher - you are a DP: No not that kind of DP (you commendable perv) - 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 a Raivis Hscanovics. Reds' lovin' ladies would love some of your support! "Up The Reds!"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

LETTERS FROM CAMP: Wet World of Sports


You coulda' had it all Adrian Heath. You coulda' been a contendah'! Yo' Adrian! Etc. Yes, a subplot of TFC's epic encounter with hometown Orlando City is how different things could be right now if "The Lions" head coach would have accepted the assistant manager's job he was reportedly offered under Paul Mariner back in the fall. This was all before Kevin Payne showed up and Operation: Blow It Up Again began but there is an alternate universe where Adrian Heath became TFC's assistant manager, then manager when Mariner was fired in June 2013, only to then become TFC's next fired manager. Likely replaced with some kind of robot. Forget it Adrian, it's O-Town.
Alternate universe aside, Toronto FC instead continues its quest March-bound as they trot out for their second match in the Mickey Mouse Cup. Down three trialists since last match and still awaiting the 8-14 necessary new players, The Reds will likely take a look at a lot of players still without contracts. They will also continue to wish upon a star at Disney that someone knows how to score.
KICK-OFF: The single tripod is ready, the Florida rain is raining and "The Fiorentina of Disney" are ready to attempt a (Sort of) giant-killing on TFC...
1' - Unless you made the trek to Florida, watching the match has been reduced to a single camcorder held by some dude named Barry (we imagine) and has no sound. Ah, the Internet. The future is now!
5' - When the ball is in Orlando's area we may as well be watching live Subbuteo
10' - Best shot at actual match analysis: Joe Bendik is closest to the camera.
15' - Orlando City actually controlling majority of possession. We are going to pretend they really are Fiorentina to avoid the shame.
25' - Yes it's preseason and the weather is awful... but yikes going forward TFC
28' - And the audio is back! It's at least Blue Square South quality now!
34' - Jeremy Hall given caution. Possibly for being Jeremy Hall
39' - Long Tam goal for Orlando denied by offside. Orlando possibly leading Toronto 40-1 in shots on goal
42' - Danny Califf almost gets his head on a TFC free kick then gets back down the field to throw his body in front of an Orlando chance. Box-to-box stuff.
45' - Referee whistles to end the half. Single camera did not catch Adrian Heath breathing a sigh of relief over NOT taking Toronto FC offer

45' - Changes going into the 2nd Half for TFC: Gale Agbossoumonde for Califf, Matt Stinson for "Slappa De"Bassi, Terry Dunfield for Reggie Lambe, Emery Welshman for Nicolas Cabrera, and Taylor Morgan for Justin Braun. So not much then.
47' - Rain has died and two-camera set-up back. At least Blue Square Premier level now
53' - GOAL: Toronto - Sign him up! Taylor Morgan calmly rounds the keeper after getting on the end of a Luis Silva pass.
60' - The 2nd Half Reds a bit more fun to watch going forward over their 1st half colleagues. That's not saying much though.
65' - They really have to start having preseason in places with good weather. Florida is America's big wet wang.
72' - PENALTY: Handball called against Orlando in the box. Terry Dunfield (!) steps up and slots it past the keeper easily. GOAL
73'- Tempers flair after the PK and Orlando's Adama Mbengue receives a RED CARD after punching Kyle Bekker in his fancy hair
74' - Trialist Ashton Bennett on for Luis Silva who had a solid 3/4 match
80' - Andrew Wiedeman and Jonathan Osorio come on for Kyle Bekker and Jeremy Hall
85' - Say what you like about Orlando City but they do have LegoLand as their lower back kit sponsor. That is a hot blocky tramp stamp.
86' - GOAL: Toronto - Academy project Jonathan Osorio with some very fancy footwork in traffic and a nice finish
FINAL WHISTLE: Sometimes the "match of two halves" thing is a bit of a cliche - but not tonight. First half TFC looked toothless, timid and bereft of any ideas going forward. The hungrier team introduced in the second half seemed to have far more intensity and poise when attacking. It is early but youngsters Taylor Morgan and Jonathan Osorio made it a little harder to send them home. Overall positive would be the fairly solid defensive display but the attacking options (or lack thereof) will continue to be an ongoing concern.


Monday, February 11, 2013

LETTERS FROM CAMP: Hit, kit and fit

"Goalkeepers in disguise!" Wait... wrong toy.

The bad news - Stefan Frei's noseholes are broken. The good news? Maybe The Goalblerone has gotten his annual injury out of the way early and it's smooth sailing (but not breathing) ahead. The news is official now that Frei's schnoz did in fact lose the kitchen stadium battle of Boot v Face and he will have to go under the rhinoplasty knife on Tuesday to correct it. No word whether this procedure will take place at a Walt Disney Hospital facility but he should make sure NOT to check the box that says I AGREE TO BE CRYOGENICALLY FROZEN. The silver lining is that Frei didn't seem to get a concussion and that a more serious orbital bone injury was avoided. He may have to return to play with a protective mask like a modern day Bill Laimbeer or that guy from the movie Mask. Steve Maskington? That guy.
MLS announced that they have nothing better to do will hold a week-long (actually four days, but hey) celebration of new sales opportunities with the new "Jersey Week" campaign. As originally thought, it is not an attempt to further promote New York Red Bulls nor is JWow (that's still a thing right?) signing a DP contract (Hey-oooo! Pervs.) No, Chairman Dong Grabber is throwing a festival of polyester dreams to unveil the 12 new kits that will soon be on sale to the public. TFC's home kit is of course one of these new Adidas jewels and if the leaked photos were right, the four days will be used to unveil each of the many giant maple leaves patriotically (spellcheck: patronizingly) adorning the shirt. Word is that TFC will hold its own day on February 26th where we locals can get to know the shirt up close, personal and one-on-one. No word if it will be BoGo letters on "Agbossoumonde" personalized shirts.
One of TFC's training camp emphases... emphasis-is... empha... One of TFC's training camp things is to have a strong back four and newcomer Danny Califf is seen as critical to that success. Some long-suffering Eff to the Cee supporters are thus a bit worried that the burly Californian has yet to train for propers and did not appear in the opening friendly versus Columbus. Word of a lingering knee injury in post-match comments from staff did little to soothe but it appears that the injury is not of the surgical variety but rather closer to cysts on the knee that just require patience. Now you can't blame TFC supporters for fearing the worst but the man himself assures that he will be in the opening day line-up on March 2nd and if you can't trust a man with sideburns like that... who can you trust?