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Saturday, March 30, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Los Angeles... or Aaaaaaah, finally no dome, no turf

I know, this needs to be updated.  Hopefully they'll sign someone equally rediculous to make it easier on me.

Springtime in Toronto.  Is it here?  To be fair, it's not important as long as it FEELS like spring by kick-off and maintains its springness until the final whistle.  If mother nature wants to do a heel-turn and make a blizzard by 4:30, so be it.

The circus-free Galaxy have gone 2-0-1 early in the season with Mike "Who" Magee leading the league in goals with 4.  It feels cheap for me to review the stats and standings after 3 matches.  Only by match 10 will we know how grim things truly are.

After the whuppin' by Montreal (and lets be fair, aside from a 30 minute display where they looked great, there was not much to celebrate), the respite gives them more time to tweak and tinker. Plenty to be optimistic about.

Starting XI
Russell - O'Dea - Califf - Eckersley
Bostock - Dunfield - Hall - Lambe
Ephraim - Earnshaw

16' - GOAL - A very pretty pass carving the back four finds Magee who taps one past Bendik for his fifth of the campaign.

21' - Magee is already sniffing for a second as he gets his head on a well floated cross, but Bendik makes a fantastic save from no more than 3 yards out.

29' - GOAL - Los Angeles completely mishandles a pass to one of their defenders allowing Earnshaw to poke at it.  Cudicini charges out to race for the ball, but Robbie gets to it first, pushes it past the keeper and then floats one in from 20 yards out.  Spectacular!

36' - Bostock cross pitch to Lambe who gets into the penalty area and has a go only to bury it into the side netting.  Close...

Quote of the match:
Do these guys even practice?
~ my brother at his first TFC game
regarding the home side's midfield

Half-Time Mood : Still optimistic.  At this point, we've realized that every goal scored this season has been the direct (or indirect) result of a counter attack.  Indirect due to the penalties.  So we're like a mediocre Manchester United. Editor's note: Don't forget to have a go at him in the comments, you know you want to.

52' - YELLOW - Califf goes into the box for looking a little bit too much like the lead singer from Reel Big Fish. (sue me, I love ska...)

55' - Lambe delivered a cross which found Bostock's head and popped it back into the path of Earnshaw but Cudicini caught it.  Fun stuff.

62' - Landon Donovan first touch from a through ball and his shot is right at Bendik.

64' - SUB - Dunfield comes off for Osorio.  This substitution would've taken place closer to the 80th minute, if this were year 3.

69' - O'Dea misses an opportunity at becoming a league wide legend by NOT pummelling Donovan after a two-handed shove. Because Landycakes is the teacher's league's pet, no card.

72' - SUB - Ephraim comes off for Silva

78' - GOAL - a floated pass towards Earnshaw has him one-foot donkey kick it to Silva who then stepovers and stepovers and then lays off to Osorio who slots a slow ball into the far netting catching Cudicini way off his line.  Brilliant!

89' - Looks like Agbossoumonde is about to come on but play continues until...

3 minutes of extra time

90+1' - GOAL - SONOVABITCH!  Russell collects a cross the Toronto penalty area and heads it back into the middle where Villareal scissor kicks it past a helpless Bendik from 8 yards out.

90+3' - Bostock successfully battles his way into a corner kick scenario.  Ensuing kick is headed away and there goes the whistle...

Full Time : Toronto 2, Los Angeles 2

Man of the Match : It's tough as Earnshaw was a terror, and O'Dea was very good, but Bendik was the difference between a draw and a blow out.

Goat of the Game : Though Dunfield's presence was minimal and ineffective, Hall's presence was greater and even more ineffective.

Ref Rating : 3 out of 5.  There weren't many blown calls, but blown opportunities to show cards.

I'm Not The Gaffer But... : Russell looked more like a stopgap defender than someone who plays there naturally.  If he's a winger, I move him to his natural wing side (which appears to be the right), Ecks on his regular right side, I move Bostock to central attacking midfield and let him play the diagonals much like DeRo does, and leave Dunfield as a centre mid, 4-3-1-2 style.

Hall doesn't impress me, but at least Nelsen was willing to make changes earlier by swapping Dunfield.  If there's a winning combination of central mids, keep tinkering, but Hall/Dunfield should not be the default.  Hopefully Osorio made a strong case for himself.

Lambe definitely stepped up his game.  He was taking chances, playing aggressively but was far from perfect, but certainly improved.  Perhaps he sees the writing on the wall but if that's what gets him to play better, find bigger walls to write on as it worked.  I thought I was crazy but @kzknowles saw it too so either we're both batshit insane or correct.

The top of section 117 is a joy.  Our new home is quiet, Tribal Rhythm Nation notwithstanding.  We could barely hear the antiquated Dichio chants.  To our friends in 113, stay strong and migrate when you can.

Player ratings : Bendik 7.5, Russell 6, O'Dea 7, Califf 6.5, Eckersley 6, Bostock 6, Dunfield 5.5 [Osorio 7], Hall 5.5, Lambe 6.5, Ephraim 6 [Silva N/A], Earnshaw 7

@ignirtoq was once a manager in an adult money league. The side was terrible and the money man of the side insisted that his THIRTEEN YEAR OLD pudgy son was the LONE STRIKER.  Needless to say we didn't score too many goals.  Otherwise, he's not half bad at FIFA13

Friday, March 29, 2013

Julio Cesar released, wall of honour announcement forthcoming

Find me a pic of him in a red kit and I'll swap it... better yet don't.

Well, in what can only be assumed that it was a move prompted by taking advantage of the vacuum of a slow news day, Toronto FC as released Julio Cesar.

Allow us to start the rumour that he was just tired of being confused for all of the other Julio Cesars that are out there, but the greater liklihood was to free up an international slot in the squad.  At 34 years of age, there isn't much long term upswing for him.  More will likely follow, but at least it wasn't for getting arrested for public intoxication or making a cheque signing gesture, so there's a plus.

There would have been a "video" of his playing days as a Robin, but realizing that he hasn't played a minute, finding an image of him sitting on the bench is tough enough.

Nevertheless, we will remember him fondly...

THE MATCHUP: The stage is set

It's mostly cardboard


Three weeks after playing at the "Dome where ankles fear to tread", TFC finally hosts its true home opener on the grounds of MGM Presents: Exhibition Place & Casino" (Pending). With MLS now adopting the earlier start schedule, this may be our "new normal" but it will be good to be back at "our house" rather than living out of a football-suitcase.
What better way to christen BMO Field for 2013 than with MLS Cup Winners LA Galaxy. It is the official soccer stadium of "Hollywood North" anyways right? Despite the departure of international man-knicker peddler David Beckham, Galaxy are still a very strong side and will likely have a host of new DP's lined up very soon. The crowd may still be littered with screaming ladies who don't realize Becks is en Francais now but hey - they weren't going to come to see the set of Toronto-shot blockbuster Johnny Mnemonic were they?
"The Hollywood Norther"
TORONTO: Robert Earnshaw, Stefan Frei, Luis Silva
LOS ANGELES: Carlo Cudicini, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane
The following sequels to Toronto-shot films being made:
- "Booty Call 2: Agbootymonde": 10-1
- "American Psycho III: Jacob Peterson's Business Card": 100-1
- "Harold & Kumar Go To the Playoffs": 1000-1
Toronto is one of the busiest film and television production locales outside of Los Angeles and boasts the largest studio space apart from Hollywood. This fact wasn't lost on new TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen whose secret reason for rushing into management at Toronto is his desire to break into local film. The New Zealander has been working on a script for years now and it is a sequel to a film originally shot in Toronto. Nelsen's "Police Academy 8: Kiwis On Patrol" sees Mahoney, Jones, Hightower and the gang head to New Zealand to put a stop to an international sheep trafficking ring that is plaguing their city. Hilarity ensues.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Toronto FC signs Richter, Earthquake-related puns to be made

All bundled up for the overstated Canadian cold... brrrrrrrrrr...

Y-014B - The Yorkies Toronto FC new signing form

Name : Ryan Richter
Club : Charleston Battery
College : La Salle University
Years as a pro : 2
Acquired via : ☐ Trade / ☐ Free Agent / ☑ Waivers / ☐ Coerced out of retirement
Because of interest : □ Montreal signed him / ☐ Stolen from Montreal / ☑ none of the above

Say something nice: Ryan Richter has been biding his time for his breakout move, and this could be it.  A former 5th overall pick of Philadelphia, Richter has been on multiple trials with DC yet couldn’t earn a contract.  With a successful stint with the USL-Pro’s Charleston Battery helping them to a championship, Richter has done enough to impress Nelsen.  I’m sure ex-TFC midfielder, and now former Charleston teammate, Amadou Sanyang (remember him?) will be able to impart some wisdom to Richter regarding the city’s best burrito and craft beer.

If he is half as successful at the wing defender/winger roles that he’s used to, he can be a very valuable tool from the bench - not as a substitute due to injury or poor play, but as a change in strategy.

Adjectives checklist:
☑ Versatile
☐ Creative
☐ Tough
☐ Intelligent
☐ Athletic
☐ Anchor

Overall description:
☐ Greatest [attribute] of the modern era
☐ Experienced [position]
☐ Brings plenty of experience
☑ Long career ahead of him
☐ Highly rated goal poacher
☑ Provides different options from what club currently has

Reason for signing:
☐ Desperate acquisition
☐ Fill the salary cap
☐ Pressure from supporters
☑ Depth
☐ Stop-gap signing until [injured player] returns
☐ Glamour designated player signing for marketing purposes

Nonsensical comedic video tie-in:  

@ignirtoq is filling in for the usual news person. He would've had this up earlier, but had no idea where the form was placed. Note to self: look under "Forms" next time.

Monday, March 25, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC-inspired food stands at BMO Field for 2013

Man, IHOMHEP sucks.

One of the folksy multicultural promotions that TFC began back in 2007 was to aim for gastronomical inclusiveness at the BMO Field concession stands. In a city where football supporters can hail from any continent, the club tried to cater to all needs simultaneously. It hasn't always been a grand success - looking at you "Curried Scotch Egg Burrito with Hollandaise Sauce" - but the effort was there. Seven seasons on and the club is looking forward both on and off the pitch and what better way to a supporter's heart than through food? Put down that $28 dollar pint of Bud for a sec to feed your face with these new treats...

11. "Frings!" (Discontinued)

10. "Reggie's Lamb" (Open every 6 matches)

9. "T.G.I. Frei's"

8. "International House of Mysteriously Half-Eaten Pancakes"

7. "Kyle & Emery's GO Station Gourmet"

6. "Julio Cesar Salad Bar"

5. "Slightly Amber Skunky Water" brought to you by Budweiser

4. "#AllPhoOne" Vietnamese Foods

3. "Kevin's Pain" French Bakery

2. "Braun Cocktails"

1. "Five-Year Flan"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The next cut ain't the deepest

The one constant at Toronto FC has always been change. Life under our new Kiwi Overlord has not altered that human resources workload. With rumours abound of up to four new potential signings joining our springtime tundra, more change is on the horizon.
MLS rosters have their limits of course, both in capacity and economical, so if new recruits are truly on their way then the football boot must drop for some current Reds. With the mystery Argentine striker (the not mysterious Maximiliano Urruti) seemingly waiting at Buenos Aires airport, the machinations of transactions are creaking to life. Yesterday, the first bit of space management was implemented with TFC Academy grad Matt Stinson given his release - but that won't be enough.

Ryan Nelsen is clear that TFC will be a different looking squad over the next few months and that will have to mean pink slips to more than just Matt Stinson. But who else will be getting the not-so-golden handshake? Assuming that the professionals signed since Kevin Payne took control as President are safe(ish) - who may face the snip?
The former Puerto Rico Islander arrived with the whiff of emergency signing but did clock some minutes in 2012. On that mess of a squad, that doesn't say too much. A low salary at a fairly young age could save him but as far as potential goes - we have probably seen all that he is capable of.

Possibly the most looked-to as far as potential cuts go. Despite a low salary he does seem to be the "1 in 6 player" that Paul Mariner frustratingly claimed he was. Has looked "okayish" early this season but yet to develop into any kind of consistent MLS player. Worse for Lambe is the big international roster spot dangling around his neck.
"But I just got here!" Yes, probably a bit early and unfair to judge Braun but if attacking options are on TFC's shopping list then Braun may be the odd man out. His goal tally over the last few seasons is most likely to be found on the side of a milk carton but there may be a little bit of trade potential in the ex-Chivas striker. Could be ballast for Payne to pick up another team's international roster spot.
The three youngsters impressed enough in training camp to secure a pro deal but they will only hang on if TFC feels they have enough potential to warrant development at the price of a roster spot. On miniscule salaries, their departures won't help the wage bill but would be purely to make space. Variables such as Taylor Morgan's international roster (or not) classification could be a variable.
A short moment of pity to the youngster who was given the no-doubt unwanted anchor of "Modern Era etc. etc." in one of Paul Mariner's least cogent brain releases. Every time the attacking mid takes a (often wanting) shot on goal those words can be heard echoing around BMO Field like the Ghost of Ipswich Past. Pity aside, Wiedeman has yet to show his value and with his Generation Adidas shield gone, a future in Toronto seems unlikely. Whether another MLS GM can be tempted to mine what Mariner thought he saw remains to be seen.
Yes we know. Highly unlikely as the league's "Drop a DP" deadline has long passed - but weirder things have happened. While it is true that Koef is arguably the club's finest striker in its history, he is also on a very hefty (stop it) contract and is extremely injury-prone. Will the Dutchman be able to return to anything resembling a high-powered striker? Does he fit into Ryan Nelsen's tactical style? And... if fit... would a 35-year-old Koef re-sign with TFC in 2014 as a non-DP? These are questions that will determine his future in maple leaf red.
The positive of keeping Jeremy Hall in a TFC kit is that he can play five positions on the pitch. The negative is how he plays those five positions. Hall would be a useful tool on your bench if it wasn't for his nasty habit of making Reds supporters smack their heads really, really hard at least once per match. A player like Hall could still garner a wee bit of interest on the MLS trade market but not if you want a useful player in return. Has Hall's early season usage in the starting eleven been a sign of interest by Ryan Nelsen or just a lack of options?
Ok - when you throw things at your screen it only hurts your computer - not our site. Calm down. While Terry Dunfield has done well with the gifts that Football Jesus has given him, he is not more than bench strength on any quality MLS side. If he wasn't Canadian, he wouldn't be held in such high regard here. But, it is those intangibles - a Canuck, a really good citizen and with seemingly good leadership skills - that will likely save his job. Not to mention avoiding the PR nightmare that would follow. Now take a deep breath Terrymaniacs - it's not personal.
While who stays and who goes will be dictated by who comes in and the positions they play, chances are that one or more of the above are not long for Hogtown. Who do you think is due (or would you like - vengeful buggers) to depart BMO Field? Add your voice to the discussion in the comments below. Or you're cut.
And, if it is you Danny or Terry... we promise to sing this once at BMO Field...

Monday, March 18, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Unexpected side-effects of Toronto FC's new plaid scarf

"I was into TFC before they were cool."

Many of you are sitting in your window like a Jack Russell waiting for the Purolator delivery dude to bring your TFC Season Ticket package right now. Sit Ubu supporter, sit. Good supporter. However, not only are your vouchers to a year of exciting somewhat palatable football in that tardy box but also a bold fashion choice. For our seventh season ticket holder scarf, TFC decided to step outside of the couture box and go with a hip lumberjack plaid design. Some will hate it ("It's not a football scarf!); others will love it ("It goes with my ironic moustache!") but what surprising circumstances await the unwitting hipster supporter?
11. Every time you grab your scarf, a bloodhound is asleep under it
10. Unofficial TFC anthem becomes "Plaid to the Bone"
9. The Scottish can't keep their hands off of you
8. Northern Ontario supporters now have extra formal dinner attire
7. Always expected to be the first to clean up household spills
6. Hunter-weary bears now steering clear of Exhibition Place
5. Guaranteed to get a seat for post-match drinks at trendy Ossington Ave. nightspots 

4. You totally look like a hot-shot when talking about maple syrup
3. Portland Timbers now consider us their most bitter rivals
2. Eddie Bauer's 2013 catalog is mostly random photos of BMO Field's south stand
1. Stadium security turn a blind eye if you bring an axe to a match

Saturday, March 16, 2013

AFTER 90: Not so gouda

Smell that fine-aged One-Year Plan


KICK OFF - The grande story of the day is of course the thousands of Rouges dans le Stade du Roof Crumblement. While NBC crows over a couple of hundred D.C. United fans who made it to New York, Torontonians en masse have invaded The Big O to propel new look TFC over their much-improved rival - The Cheesemakers. Is that a chorus of "You'll Never Provalone" we hear? Commencer!
2' - Great loud start from the decrepit stands of Olympic Stadium. TFC supporters in fine voice. Impact supporters in fine corporate sponsor noise-maker.
4' - Joe Bendik tips a close-range Marco Di Vaio strike to safety. Solid save.
10' - Reds on the back foot early. Scrappy in the midfield but disjointed in attack.
11' - An early gift for TFC as Montreal's legendary defender Alessandro Nesta leaves the match with an injury. Joey Saputo applies a cold mozzarella di bufala to his thigh. Probably.
20' - YELLOW CARD: Jeremy Hall for a slightly rambunctious tackle. Slightly. Hello to all of our readers in the Baldomero Toledo refereeing family. We feel your shame.
25' - In their new third kit you can squint and pretend this is a 1990 fixture between Inter Milan and Liverpool. Squint harder and you can pretend the stadium looks like 1976.
29' - Hogan Ephraim slides a pass across goal for Robert Earnshaw but it's broken by Jeb Brovsky at the last second. Fancy footwork by TFC.
34' - PENALTY: Dubious call as Ashtone Morgan bumps Andres Romero in the box. GOAL: as Patrice Bernier stutter-steps it past Joe Bendik. Merde.
38' - Dangerous runs and wing play seen against Sporting KC last week M.I.A. today. Also, most of the other good stuff as well.
45'+ - GOAL: Montreal - Reds' midfield then defence carved like a warm brie as Marco Di Vaio waltzes around Joe Bendik (or whatever dance Italians do) and doubles the lead.
45'+ - Mi-temps.


46' - Reds unchanged to start. Tactics need to be if they are to make something of this match.
50' - Toronto all 6's and 7's in attack. Unless you are counting shots on goal where they are more like 0's and 1's.
52' - Scramble in the Montreal box leads to Hogan Ephraim acrobatic attempt that rattles the crossbar.
53' - High pressure leads to another Toronto break - Earnshaw forces a fingertip save.
58' - Ad hoardings reveal that Pizza Pizza has a different "11-11" phone number in Montreal. Oh Quebec, you just have to be different don't you?
60' - SUB: Kyle Bekker on for Jeremy Hall
62' - Montreal fans amusing themselves with the wave. Ultras.
64' - SUB: Darel "The Roy G." Russell on for Ashtone Morgan
67' - PENALTY: Montreal defender Daniel "Scent of a Woman" Iapichino pulls Terry Dunfield down in the area. GOAL: Robert Earnshaw with his third of the year.
75' - Got the penalty and he is a lovely gent but Terry Dunfield having a shocker today.
84' - SUB: Jonathan Osorio on for Danny Califf
87' - Impact skillfully killing off the clock. Saputo skillfully putting together a cheese basket for Man of the Match.
90'+ - Big O scoreboard displays word "NOISE". Noise is made.


PLAYER RATINGS: Joe Bendik 6 / Richard Eckersley 6 / Danny Califf 5.5 (Jonathan Osorio N/A) / Darren O'Dea 5.5 / Ashtone Morgan 5 (Darel Russell 6) / Reggie Lambe 6.5 / Jeremy Hall 5.5 (Kyle Bekker 5.5) / Terry Dunfield 4.5 / Hogan Ephraim 6.5 / John Bostock 5.5 / Robert Earnshaw 6

Hogan Ephraim

Yes there was some dodgy officiating and all of the goals could have been argued against in one form or another but Toronto FC did themselves no favours in front of thousands of travelling supporters. Bereft of attacking options, midfield control and flat-footed defensively, The Reds lacked the shape and tactical discipline seen in parts of their previous matches. A shame that the efforts of so many away supporters couldn't be rewarded.

With rumours of up to four new additions en route and some debuts yet to be made, we will hear (far) too much about how TFC is a work in progress between now and the next fixture but today was the first time this season that little progress was seen. While nowhere near the time for excessive hand-wringing and/or scarf-burning it was not a fun fixture. Worse still handing your derby rival an undefeated record while witnessing the difference between a One-Year Plan and successive Five-Year Plans.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

THE MATCHUP: Les Reds marchons dans

Home of Le Kop

Like it or lump it MLS, "The 401 Derby" is unchallenged amongst the league's derby days. When you throw in all the other muck that makes Montreal v Toronto a powder keg in any sporting, political, cultural or Mitsou-based clash, it can't be beat for heat. Just to be dicks about the whole thing, TFC supporters are invading en masse dans le Big O and are set to break (our own) MLS away day travel record. Throw in the bonus that Montreal is looking like a good squad and TFC are seemingly in ascendance and merde just got real.
With approximately 5000 red clad Ontari-ari-ari-ans making a spectacle of ourselves in our own "Kop" in The Big O, we thought it only right to emulate some other famous Reds and sing a little tune to our provolone-money host. Learn the tune, learn the words (like so)... hold your scarf up high....
When you walk through the store
Hold your basket high
And don't be afraid of the rind
At the end, of the aisle
There's a golden wedge
And that sweet cheesy tang of Cheddar
Walk on, past the Swiss
Walk on, past Colby
Though your choice... is all your own
Walk on, walk on, with Saputo in your cart
And you'll never Prov-alone
You'll never Provalone
"The 401 Derby"
MONTREAL: Patrice Bernier, Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta
TORONTO: John Bostock, Robert Earnshaw, Darren O'Dea
- Darren O'Dea not doing well with either official language: 10-1
- "Club Super Sexe" not accepting TFC Discount Cards: 2-1
- Someone commenting that it's "provolone" not "provalone": EVENS
Nowhere in Canada was yesterday's Papal announcement more closely followed than in Catholic-heavy Quebec. Not ones to miss a promotional opportunity, Toronto FC quickly put a new third goalkeeper kit into production for their own Vatican-esque property. "The Swiss Guard" Stefan Frei kit should be available soon through your local parish.

And… no matter what happens on Saturday Reds’ supporters… you get to leave The Big O come back to this…

Monday, March 11, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Items on Toronto FC's Montreal trip "to-do" list

The hunt... Is. On.

When all is said and fini this year, TFC and L'Impact du Montreal à la Bibliothèque will have faced each other five times. The ten trips up and down Highway 401(AutoRoute quatre zéro une for our amis) start this weekend as The Reds and their jolly bunch of supporters head to that belle province to the east for Saturday's date at The Big O. Preparing for a trip is never fun but when a big club travels en masse to visit their heated rival, preparation is everything. So what do TFC have to remember to do before packing leurs sacs?
11. Remind Robert Earnshaw that front-flips need to be performed in both official languages
10. Pack Reggie Lambe's Patois-English-French-Quebecois-Quebecois Patois Dictionary
9. Make sure that Darren O'Dea's Guinness intravenous drip is ready for St. Patrick's Day
8. Bring a bocce ball set to distract Impact's old Italian players
7. Get tickets to see Maxim Usanov at the UFC event that evening
6. Offer a live chicken in sacrifice at the ancient temple of St-Hubert
5. Use up the leftover credits on Miguel Aceval and Nick Soolsma's "Club Super Sexe" gift cards
4. Give Bitchy the Hawk Youppi's scent
3. Pack two cases of Jos. Louis cakes, Pepsi-Colas and smokes to get out of any potential hostage takings
2. Always have a quality cheese knife
1. Issue press release explaining that TFC's first six seasons have all been an elaborate "Just for Laughs" gag

Saturday, March 9, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto vs Kansas City... or Does everyone have their name tags?

Hello, my name is Mark and I am a blogger for The Yorkies. This may be new to you, but for us, this is old hat. Why, every year we welcome almost an entirely new side to the home opener. This year's crop is almost as large as the first one. Enjoy your stay and if you play poorly, you'll get a nickname and we'll make stuff up about you. Except Usanov, he still punches everything.

Ok, the tutorial is over, time for some live footy. 

Folks, what we have is a mishmash. A pot-pourri if you will. We have no idea if this curry of footy will produce appetizing football, or the usual gruel that we've been expertly served and overcharged for the last 3 seasons. All I know is that we need time to let this gumbo stew. It can go either way but understand that mediocrity is anticipated and brilliance is hoped for. 

The match last week was a bit of an eye opener, in that it wasn't bad, but far from great. Bekker will be on his way to Blackburn Rovers in two or three years time to a solid career if game one was any indication of progress. The football was aggressive when possible, had some creativity and a solid back four. 

Starting XI

Eckersley - O'Dea - Califf - original Morgan
Bostock - Dunfield - Hall - Lambe
Ephraim - Earnshaw

On to the match:

3' - Terry F'ing Dunfield gets a half powered attempt at goal but easily caught by Nielsen

3' - GOAL - running onto a poor clearance, Earnshaw picks it up and buries it left side

Once a Bluebird escaping the dragon, now a Robin

Beautiful prose, that is.

21' - PENALTY - Bostock gets hauled down in the penalty area after making two KC defenders look pathetic

21' - GOAL - Earnshaw sends Nielsen the wrong way and calmly pots it

Yeah, that's happening.

HALF TIME MOOD - bewildered. I understood the potential but we need time for the chemistry blah blah blah holy shit son!!!

53' - Califf lays a ball off to original Morgan and though his cross is deflected by a defender, the ball finds an open Lambe who pops it over the bar. Heady stuff

Quote of the Match

It sounds like I'm standing in front of Jabba's Palace and I'm the fat blue elephant
~ @theyorkies1812 on standing in front of Tribal Rhythm Nation

61' - Bendik gets bailed out by the crossbar as KC start applying pressure

77' - YELLOW - Califf goes into the books for standing up to KC for mugging Eckersley

77' - GOAL - Bieler catches the Robins defense napping as a pass flies into his path and he buries it past a helpless Bendik

Oh dear...

82 - SUB - Dunfield makes way for Osorio

85' - SUB - Bostock comes off for Russell

87' - SUB - Ephraim off for Bekker

88' - goal mouth scramble... panic... panic... ahhh nooooo!... OK, everything is OK.  *sigh*

5 minutes of extra time

Wha... for what?  Idiot refs.  Is this the new scam or something?

90+4' - Bendik punches away a curling free kick.


Man of the Match : despite my protestations, Earnshaw did the brace and that's good enough though I felt my argument for Bostock was solid.

Goat of the Game : Lambe's feet seemed to stop working for a solid chunk of the second half.

Ref Rating : 2 out of 5. They were on their way to a solid 4, but like Toronto's second half, showed signs of questionable logic.

Kit Spotting : We saw, ironically, a Blackburn Rovers one.  No, Nelsen's name wasn't on the back of it.

The game was clearly a match of two halves.  The first half was an aggressive, creative, free flowing side that had its opponents pinned down for long periods of time.  The second half was a little sloppy, a little cowardly with not much comfort on the ball under pressure.  If you PVR'd the match, you can just skip the first 35 minutes of the second half.  You're welcome.

Bostock was amazing in the first half.  He worked his ass off, took on defenders without a care as to who they were and created opportunity.  Understanding that this is only one match, the eternal optimism that gets suppressed by the years of underperforming is bursting to break through.  Hope there is this much to gush about next match.

If the right video can be procured, there is a meme which will be started by this very website involving Jimmy Nielsen.  He had not one, but two infantile and very animated tantrums.  A bunch of us were sitting around the table over a pint or two (name dropping @theyorkies1812, @kzknowles, @DuncanDFletcher and @RedWineRoz) and we talked about rivalries.  The two teams that always seem to inspire frustration and hatred for me are Dallas and KC.  There's just something about their players that just raise the ire.  Couldn't care less about Columbus, care little of Montreal or Vancouver.  Between the whining of the players, unsportsmanlike conduct with throw ins, over-pandering to the referee it just makes me want to physically harm a player in their stupid pajama-blue kits.  Nielsen needs a few open handed slaps in front of his family for his behavior.

OK, see you in Montreal next week.

Player Ratings : Bendik 6, Eckersley 6, O'Dea 6.5, Califf 6, original Morgan 6, Bostock 7 [Russell N/A], Dunfield 6 [Osorio N/A], Hall 6, Lambe 5.5, Ephraim 6.5 [Bekker N/A], Earnshaw 7

@ignirtoq is usually more animated during games, but less animated after them.  You get 2 pints of cider in him and he starts getting insane and a bit wobbly like an amateur.  Follow him on twitter for any reason you like.  He won't mind.  Much.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Drugs are out? Aw, this match just gets worse.

"The boys are back in tow-ow-ow-own!" (GUITAR RIFF!) Well in town... but a little too far to the east as the Nanny-State protects us from the evils of 7 Degree Celsius weather (or potential ice-slippage lawsuits) by "shoving" 26,000 of us into SkyDome. And yes we know it has another name but our tax dollars paid for the original one. It shall be Argostastic. Foghorn anyone?
If the spread-about crowd and horrendous turf weren't enough of a downer for TFC's "home" opener, then facing one of the league's best teams should bring the new-look-again Reds down to synthetic earth. This is not the rainbow clad Wiz of the Preki & Mo Johnston era but rather a balanced and pretty complete squad with strong defenders, a potent attack and a couple of local villains in Teal Bunbury and Jacob Peterson. Fun.
"The PrekiMo Testimonial Match"
TORONTO: Danny Califf, Robert Earnshaw, Hogan Ephraim
SPORTING KC: Teal Bunbury, Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi
- Preki added to SkyDome Level of Honour: 1000-1
- Mo Johnston added to SkyDome Level of Honour: 500-1
- Preki and Mo "spotted" in SkyDome Hotel window: 10-1
Sporting KC and ex-TFC midfielder Jacob Peterson may be much maligned around these parts but he's really not the redneck, raging xenophobe that some make him out to be guys. Talking to USA Still #1 Today, Peterson looked forward to returning to Toronto and visiting some of his old haunts. The Michigan-native recalled that his favourite (or favorite as he demands) spots of "Canadiana" were his old local McDonald's, a Wal-Mart, the site where American Forces invaded during the War of 1812 and the American Consulate.

BREAKING NEWS: Toronto FC officially announced the loan signing of Tottenham Hotspur property John Bostock. The 21-year-old midfielder could see time tomorrow if his international paperwork clears before kick-off.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

THE WORD: The "Miliano Dollar Man"?

"Everybody's got a price!" (Argentine Virgil not pictured)

"Young DP" hasn't been talked about this much since the unfounded rumours of a 'Young MC' sex tape all those years ago. Alas, "Bust A Move/Nut" turned out to be a hoax but that doesn't stop DP fever from hitting a crescendo in the TFC nether regions.
In the long and successful history of Toronto FC designated players, one that includes Julian de Guzman, Mista and Torsten Frings' hip - never have The Reds ventured into the fairly untested waters of MLS' "young DP" program. However, when updating the local media on possible additions to the squad recently, TFC President Kevin Payne admitted that a youthful Argentine was indeed being scouted by new head scout Pat Onstad. Since then, possible targets have been rumoured but today we may have our first glimpse at our Argie Loch Ness monstero.
Toronto football journalist/Brennan truther, Kristian Jack cited multiple sources on website that the target in question is 22-year-old Newell's Old Boys striker Maximiliano Urruti. The well-built forward saw his stock rise rapidly at our favourite-named Argentine club but has seen his minutes diminished with the return of a veteran striker to NOB. Once garnering interest from a host of Europa League-level European clubs, Urruti may be seeking a new start somewhere that will see him get mucho minuto.
Before we start making "Canada's Maradona" T-shirts however, there are some question marks surrounding Urruti. His scoring record is considered modest for a player of his age and position in Argentina. There is also a potentially sticky issue over claims that Urruti made disparaging remarks about the ethnicity of a Paraguayan player during a Copa Libertadores match earlier this year. Toronto's Little Asuncion neighbourhood will not be pleased.
This deal is definitely far from certain with TFC letting everyone know that it will be weeks and not days before we hear actual news. Also, how his contract would be structured in the MLS young DP program (long-term loan etc.) is also a mystery at the moment. The suddenly tiny amount of international roster spots on TFC would also have to be addressed to add more non-domestics (rumours of a one way ticket purchase to Bermuda not confirmed) so this is a story very much in the mixing bowl. But hey, a dynamic-looking striker (watch video here - WARNING: Screaming) with an awesome super villain name from an even greater named club! What's not to like?
Dropping science… Is Urruti down?

Monday, March 4, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Similarities between Toronto FC and the Toronto Blue Jays

Exhibition Stadium: The BMO Field of baseball

You've got a diamond. You've got 9 men. You've got a hat, and a bat, and that's not all. You got the bleachers, got 'em from spring 'til fall... well except for that one day a year when those metrosexual soccer players rent your park. With Toronto's foot and ballers about to (very annoyingly) open their season at "The House that George Bell Built" we came to the shocking realization that TFC and our pajama-aficionado base and balling pals the Blue Jays aren't all that different. Let's go score some innings!

11. Both have addictions to adding more and more maple leafs to their uniforms
10. When Tony Fernandez was traded to San Diego, Cito Gaston told him "he wanted to send him to a last-place team and let him burn in the heat"

9. The Jays had Cecil Fielder, TFC had Collin Samuel

8. Neither have much time for Mariners
7. Terry Dunfield and Lloyd Moseby bought their sock tassels from the same store

6. Dave Stieb's moustache was referred to as the "best box-to-box facial hair in baseball's modern era"
5. Andrew Wiedeman is widely recognized as the "Garth Iorg of midfielders"

4. Neither team wants to share their stadium with the Argos

3. BJ Birdy and Bitchy the Hawk have both killed a man

2. Neither made the playoffs before their ninth season
1. One was built on Gillicks - the other built on gimmicks

Saturday, March 2, 2013

AFTER 90: Mini-Shining Lights

The red bulbs blind us all


KICK OFF - Not sure if this is any kind of omen for the season but the First Kick in Canada is not live on TV as curling is still on. So happy that TFC pandered their start times this year to TSN who obviously care greatly for football. Anyhoo... red threads are bound, shining lights are lit and Robert Earnshaw has been thrown into the line-up despite match fitness. Let the Payne begin!
2' - Speaking of our newly minted Welsh striker, he's making a bit of a nuisance of himself against the Whitecaps' defence early.
5' - Adult film superstar/GK Joe Cannon doing his dirty best to keep Earnshaw from opening his MLS account. Erotic stuff.
7' - Caps suffer early loss as their defensive leader Jay DeMerit is forced off through injury. Ah Field Turf, is there anyone you can't hurt?
19' - Reggie Lambe uses the dark arts to grab TFC a 35-yard free kick. Earnshaw places it a bit too high over Joe Cannon's reach. Also the name of a 1992 XXX video.
23' - Rookie Kyle Bekker showing good positioning but a bit timid on the ball. Looking for the extra pass too often so far.
27' - YELLOW CARD: Terry Dunfield for a hard tackle on Daigo Kobayashi - possibly for eating all the hot dogs.
35' - Great low cross from Hogan Ephraim but only Dunfield on the end of it. Goes out for corner where Vancouver fans throw granola and old lululemon pants at TFC.
40' - Still odd when sunshine breaks through BC Place. Briefly think there's a fire upstairs. You know... not the usual smoke from potheads.
44' - With their first half of Ryan Nelsen's reign coming to a close there has been a distinct lack of hoof in TFC's expected hoofball.


48' - Vancouver much more aggressive in the early stages of the half. Reds' defence forced into multiple scrambles.
50' - Joe Bendik has to make a big low save as Whitecaps continue to press hard.
52' - No confirmation if TFC's locker room chat was actually a DVD entitled "The Best TFC Ex-Manager Halftime Talks"
58' - TFC looking like a shell of their first half selves. Shaky, disoriented and without shape. So yes, like the last six years.
59' - GOAL: Vancouver Whitecaps - Gershon Koffie blasts one past Bendik who was let down by the 10 in front of him. Reds toothless since the half.
65' - Nigel Reo-Coker has been eating TFC's midfield alive since his introduction. Difference maker. Hyphenation-aficionado.
68' - Tonight's referee Juan Guzman should have never cut off those World Series-era jheri curls
70' - Promised cavalry better be pending as TFC's offense is still a rumour at best.
75' - SUB: Taylor Morgan in for Terry Dunfield
78' - Next time The Economist wants to name Vancouver as the "World's Most Livable City" I'm sending them a picture of BC Place's turf
85' - SUB: Emery Welshman helps Save The Wales as he relieves Robert Earnshaw. Welshman for Welsh man switch.
88' - Vancouver pressing hard for a second goal. Reds scrambling.
90'+ - Joe Cannon keeping TFC's long balls at bay. That one was free.


PLAYER RATINGS: Joe Bendik 6.5 / Richard Eckersley 6.5 / Danny Califf 6 / Darren O'Dea 6.5 / Ashtone Morgan 5.5 / Reggie Lambe 6 / Jeremy Hall 6 / Terry Dunfield 6.5 (Taylor Morgan N/A ) / Hogan Ephraim 5.5 / Kyle Bekker 6 / Robert Earnshaw 6 (Emery Welshman N/A)

Richard Eckersley

Considering many pundits and supporters alike expected a blowout today, perhaps we should feel grateful that it ended 1-0. However, TFC supporters will feel a wee bit frustrated tonight as their first half play could have delivered a win in the season opener if not a guaranteed draw. Of course, a classic Jekyll & Hyde display was to rob the "New (Again) Reds" of a positive start.

Was it a case of a talent-superior Vancouver taking The Reds too lightly in the first half? Did the "real" TFC take longer than expected to emerge? Or, is there a glimmer of hope in our collective futures? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle and how TFC fares over the next few months will depend on which half performance they choose to harness more often. It was raw, it was frustrating and it was ultimately disappointing but we have seen worse. Going forward, TFC must build on the first half so we can revel in the positives over the same old second halves more often.

Friday, March 1, 2013

THE MATCHUP: Shining Lights to the west

His name is "Shiny McShine"

Funny roof thingy? Check. Sweaty Lenarduzzi? Check. Smug sense of superiority? Check. Vancouver is ready.
Paper-thin roster? Check. Kids thrust into starting line-up? Check. Another new beginning? Check. Toronto is... present.
It seems like just a year ago that Aron Winter was set to lead TFC towards their craptacular 0-9 start because it was. SIXual Healing was a season to forget despite peculiarities like Dutch ovens, busted ACL's, shorts, black cats, modern eras and ticket rollbacks - but not to fear, a fresh start is here! Again.
TFC's Seventh Deadly Season (it ends with a head in a box) by K-Payne feat. Nelly starts for realz at the home of the BC Lions and expectations could not be more in check for TFC supporters. Mass departures have been met by sparse last minute additions for The Reds all which point to a tough start once again. Perhaps the club will have a better face by mid-season with more moves to undoubtedly come but for now, anything positive by Toronto's men should be taken as gravy. Speaking of man gravy - Joe Cannon should be in goal for Vancouver. Hot.
"The Great Canadian Bagel"
VANCOUVER: Darren Mattocks, Lee Young-Pyo, Nigel Reo-Coker
TORONTO: Danny Califf, Darren O'Dea, Luis Silva
A bad start to the new beginning blamed on:

- Not enough time to re-build the squad: 2-1
- Not enough time to build team chemistry: 3-1
- Not enough time to build an inukshuk: 10-1
TFC's newish President, Kevin Payne, felt the need to encapsulate the club's new "team-first" philosophy through the medium of the Canadian aboriginal symbol - the inukshuk. While many openly mocked Payne's choice at symbolism, the inukshuk is actually an inspired choice for a football team. While many assume that the rock statues are an ancient tradition, they were actually first used in 1933 when Preston North End's pre-season trip to Sweden got lost in northern waters and the club ended up on Baffin Island. PNE proposed a friendly with a local Inuit tribe but as they only had 10 men in their family, an inukshuk was created and played in goal. Inuit XI 1 (Atanqajurik '34 PK) - Preston North End 2 (Harper '12, Beattie 78')
In late breaking inukshuk transfer news - Twitter has been buzzing all day that Kevin Payne is about to send Reggie Lambe to Whitecaps for a warehouse full of leftover Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics inukshuk t-shirts and key chains.
Just before Press Time (I'm a newsie! You're off your trolley see!) Toronto FC made a couple of official signing announcements just to make our first paragraph look dickish.
As reported everywhere over the last few days, Robert Earnshaw is now official (although on a permanent deal) as are young attackers Taylor Morgan, Ashton Bennett (together they are Ashton Morgan!) and Jonathan Osorio. Darel "The Roy G." Russell was officially announced as signed a short time later. Not quite as late as Dan Gargan in a cab but these deals may have been signed on the plane to Vancouver. Tray tables to up Mr. Payne.