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Monday, September 30, 2013

THE STARTING 11: TFC-themed video games

In the words of doe-eyed songstress Copa Del Rey: "(something, something, something) Video Games..." (Ed ~ What? What's a Lana Del Rey? I have to stop buying music from the UEFA website.) Anyhoo... video games. Growing steadily since the heady days of Centipede and its unhygienic arcade rollerball, the gaming industry now makes profits well into the hundreds of dollars. The release of FIFA14 this past week marked the appetite for football-related games and if there is any corporation that likes hundreds of dollars it's MLSE. Then they remembered they once bought one of those soccer teams... synergy! (INSERT COIN)




8. LittleBigPlata








Sunday, September 29, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v. D.C.... or D.C.C. to be accurate

So DC is playing their C squad. So no DeRo? No Silva? Pontius? Kitchen? Well talk about the pressure being off. I'm not even going to put this up with any urgency. I had a series of well (read : passable) graphics and a theme for this match.  But I can save my best for later too.

It turns out that DC are in the US Open Cup on Tuesday. How quaint for us. Here's how the potential freebie 3 pointer played out.

15' - GOAL - DC United C squad has opened the ‎scoring against Toronto's best XI (injuries, suspensions and excuses notwithstanding). Not embarrassing or humbling in the slightest.  Gary or Greg or... someone scores.

25' - GOAL - Darrel Russell gets on the end of a cross, pops it off of his chest, turns and buries it into the far low corner.

33' - Cross finds Convey with some space, gets off a good attempt but it was stopped by the DC keeper Wilton... Wiarton... Wampus.  Whatever.

55' - Wiedeman from 7 yards out and no one but the keeper to beat takes a shot so mishit it appears that it landed behind him.  Terrible.  Never mind the 'modern era' gags, that was embarrassing.

67' - GOAL - nice cross but a nicer full volley strike from Dike, a.k.a. "Carnage" to absolutely bury it past Winston... Waterman... Wilson.  Whatever.

70' - GOAL - Rey goes for a cross attempt, but it is ultimately deflected by the defender Tyler... Steve... Steven Tyler... Whatever.  It goes past the keeper.

80' - SUB - Dike off for Braun.

84' - SUB - Convey off for Lambe.

87' - GOAL - Bearing down from the right side, Rey beats his defender... Dave was it? (does that sound right?  Are these guys anyone?)  and slots it in.  Pure class*.

90+1' - SUB - Wiedeman FINALLY off for Bekker

Full Time : TORONTO 4, DC 1

Man of the Match : Alavaro Rey with the brace. He looked very confident on the ball*. 

Goat of the Game : Wiedeman. We've made jokes of Chad Barrett's shots shaking wide and De Guzman's shots firing well over the bar. Weidman's effort which appeared to end up behind him... I'm still in shock. 

Ref Rating : 4 out of 5. Not too whistle happy and bookings and fouls were reasonable. 

Kit Spotting : Hartford Whalers. If you want a measure how far we've fallen as an active supporters base, a hockey jersey won and it wasn't even close. 

I Am Not the Gaffer But... : At 3-1, why couldn't we have seen a few more minutes of Bekker or Elmer or some of those characters who's only run out involves warm ups on the touchline? Wiedeman should have been subbed immediately. And then raged at*.

It's difficult to want to say much positive about this match*.  ‎All analysis has to have that asterisk next to it because it was a faulty measure.  And conceding to this side, which could be chocked up to luck or lapse, is a telling indication of how much work is needed to refine this situation.  

At least the weather was nice.

Props to the Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles for making the trek to watch their C team play.  Hope you guys lift the cup for your dedication and perseverance alone (we speak from tradition).

Player Ratings : Bendik 6*, Henry 6*, Morgan 6*, Agbossoumonde 6*, Bloom 6*, Hall 6*, Russell 6.5*, Rey 7.5*, Convey 7* [Lambe N/A] , Wiedeman LOL [Bekker N/A‎],‎ Dike 7* [Braun N/A]
* = insert "given that they are playing against the reserve side of the last placed club in the league so bad, they are on pace to set new records ‎in mediocrity." following the asterisk 

@ignirtoq got busy after the match and has continued for much of Sunday and still thinks relegation would be a wonderful wake-up slap in the mouth to players and supporters alike.. Hat tip to @BigWullieStyle for the "LOL" gag. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

THE MATCHUP: "Look over there... waffles!"

It's your basic 5-Waffle Plan

Wow. If MLS could justify erasing a match from their fixture list it is this one. A match-up so bad that TFC coaches Ryan Nelsen and Fran O'Leary got themselves banned from the touchline so they wouldn't have to watch... we assume. (This of course leaves Jim Brennan in charge... as was foreseen in the Book of Revelation.) The battle of the worst club in league history vs. the only other club that had the gall to have a worse record than them this season. A humdinger gang!

Even at full strength, this fixture should be a battle to see who is relegated to the NASL, throw in the fact that D.C has a US Open Cup fixture on Tuesday and the talent level that will be on display is rather mesmerizing. The last place club's reserve team against a club that has offered 7 years’ worth of reserve teams to their fans.

We would offer our usual pre-match malarkey here but we would say the "Players To Watch" are not watchable; "The Odds" are you are attending or watching through habit or obligation; and the "Post-Match Headline" is mostly old-man mumbling. Instead we bring you the highlights of the truly important TFC event of the day - The TFC Presidential Breakfast for (SOME) Season Ticket Holders! Not part of the royal gathering? No worries here are the best parts of tomorrow's shindig... today!

-Tim Leiweke does not talk a word of "spin" nor "sizzle" during 45-minute speech from a throne of made of melted Stanley Cups and Tom Anselmi's reclaimed gold fillings. Ends rousing manifesto with a sing-a-long of "The Monorail Song".
- Ryan Nelsen spotted sitting alone at end of head table slumped in a chair looking either sleepy, dejected or like a lame duck. (TBD)
- Stefan Frei pulled to one side and told he isn't allowed to appear at the breakfast. Joe Bendik waves at him while happily munching on a pickle.
- Drama in the lobby of RealSports Bar & Grill as former TFC striker Collin Samuel is taken down by MLSE Security tranquilizer guns as he makes a mad dash towards the buffet table.
- Jim Brennan asked to chew up some tater tots and gently spit them into Bitchy the Hawk's awaiting beak.
- Danny Koevermans makes a "miraculous" recovery and is taken off the injured list to take part in the "Aunt Jemima's Million Dollar Dream Pancake Throwdown". Immediately goes back on injured list after the contest.
- GM Tim Bezbatchenko overheard haggling with servers to exchange his plate of scrambled eggs for a boiled egg and a 3rd Round Supplemental Draft Pick in 2015.
- All eyes on the giant video wall as the lights are dimmed for the showing of the 90-minute documentary: "Get Used To It: The Kevin Payne Year(s)"
- Hundreds temporarily blinded as shirt cannons misfire and scalding hot maple syrup is sprayed over front three rows of dining supporters.
- Everyone asked to leave the premises before the hounds are released and to "ignore the fact that only cold brown toast has been offered for 7 years as some serious back bacon is coming in January"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Good, The Bad... The Overpriced - MLS player salaries illuminate unbalanced TFC

"The boys at Lambda Lamda Lamda will not be pleased!"

Toronto FC loves them a good bargain. They have turned a lame bird act into their own version of Bargain Harold's Benfica, they always sell players well before their expiry date (well, well before) and no one knows how to turn a 5-Year Plan into an 8-Year Plan with such simple calculations! But, what about when it comes down to their salaries?
Obviously things haven't been going their way on the paystub front so MLSE Emperor Tim Leiweke has hired "capologist"/80's teen film nerd Tim Bezbatchenko to slice and dice their salary sums. Well at least until there's a big enough hole for Leiweke to parachute in a couple of aging DP's to sell shirts and get injured.
Today, the updated MLS salary lists were unveiled and another chance for all us amateur capologists - it's what I wanted to be as a boy - to consider who is giving TFC the biggest bang for their buck. So stop throwing slushees off the upper level of the mall at Bezbatchenko and let's help the new guy look at some of the club's best, worst and mediocre contracts.
- Joe Bendik $46,500
- Doneil Henry $62,083
- Matias Laba $200,000
- Jonathan Osorio $46,500
- Steven Caldwell $89,000
Not tons of bargains to be had but Caldwell and Bendik standout as getting a lot for your buck. Both have played major roles in the admittedly poor season but things would be even worse without them. Despite Laba's $200K he looks to be good value as the club's most technically gifted player by some stretch.
- Bobby Convey $215,000
- Robert Earnshaw $155,150
- Jeremy Hall $90,000
- Andrew Wiedeman $65,000
- Bright Dike $60,687
Convey is the standout in the group due to his salary but also arguably the most consistent performer of the lot. A bit hefty though for a journeyman. Earnshaw barely didn't fall to the bad end of things but only due to his March and April - really shouldn't return in 2014. The others represent some basic deep bench strength. The more they are used as front-line starters, the worse things are for TFC.
- Justin Braun $114,700
- Richard Eckersley $310,000
- Stefan Frei $200,000
- Danny Koevermans $1.663,323
- Alvaro Rey $204,450
Two standouts on this list are Eckersley and Koevermans. Ryan Nelsen pretty much stamped Ecks' passport back to England today moaning of his hefty (and it is) fullback salary. Despite The Ginger Ninja's proclamation that he is "not some ordinary fullback" - he is. And one making nearly double the league average at that spot. Cheerio Richard.
Danny Koevermans has fallen so far off the respect-ladder that it's a surprise he hasn't picked up yet another "injury". Now out with a supposed calf injury it is unlikely that Koevermans will ever wear TFC red again. We just pray it doesn't hinder his contract signing in The Netherlands on January 1st. God speed pancake astronaut. God speed. (Ed.~ look up Dutch word for sarcasm)
Frei is a bad-luck, sad-luck case. We like him a lot but nowhere in this league is there a place for a $200K backup keeper. For Frei, we genuinely wish the best for his career. Alvaro Rey may need more time to prove (or disprove) himself but that money on a Spanish 3rd Tier winger seems steep. Braun? Should be paying fans to watch him.

So there you are amateur banking aficionados, some of the highlights of the TFC 2013 salaries. Majority of the others more-or-less fall into place but hey, who knows what wacky calculations T-Bez is doing on his Casio calculator watch? Having to carve out that much space for Leiweke's vanity acquisitions will likely mean a lot more "Meh-zbatchenko" in our futures.

Monday, September 23, 2013

THE STARTING 11: TFC Emmy Award Winners

The fight against Anti-Manimalists starts with you!
Look, we haven't been friendly with The Emmy Awards since "Manimal" was overlooked by the right-wing anti-trans-species Hollywood agenda back in '84. However, controlling a powerful pop-culture, multimedia juggernaut like The Yorkies means we can't just ignore the annual awarding of prizes to the most base of sit-coms. But... when Jim Brennan wasn't even nominated for Best Supporting Facial Hair in the TFC TV series "All For One" we said "enough is enough!" Instead, we ponder an Emmy Awards on GOL TV where all the winning shows are TFC shows...

11. "Curb Your Enthusiasm Until January"

10. "The (Front) Office"

9. "Glum"

8. "Who's The Agbossoumonde?"

7. "Canadian Horror Story: Asylum"

6. "Maddening Men"

5. "So You Think You Can Coach"

4. "Boredwatch Empire"

3. "Evrybdy Lvs Rvs"

2. "Downtown Shabby"

1. "Broken Bad"

Saturday, September 21, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Kansas City... or budget officiating strikes again

OK close your eyes.

Sorry, this is a blog. Pretend that you closed your eyes. Imagine if every other #TFCMajorAnnouncement resulted in a decent player acquisition... this side would have a bench. Instead we are reading and reporting and analyzing executive moves. New GM, new coach, new President, sack the GM, hire new GM. You'd think supporters were supposed to give a shit about the executive. We just wanna see good football staffed with talented footballers. Not too concerned with the how.

I'm sure in 6 months there will be ten new names on the backs of shirts. 

In the meantime, we go through the motions of winding down. Handful of matches left against superior sides and one against DC [Sick burn. ~Ed.]

So in light of the steady rain, I didn't even bother to write some notes. So point form of what I remember.  
  • Sapong unmarked at the end of a cross, heads it past a helpless Bendik. ROBINS 0, COMETS 1 
  • Collin is a wank and gets booked
  • Collin can't control a pass from Legoman Nielsen, Rey poaches it, lays it off to Russell who one touches it and buries it from the edge of the top of the box. ROBINS 1, COMETS 1
  • Collin makes a bad tackle on Rey and should be sent off, but the ref and linesman collaborate to blow that call. 
  • Sapong unmarked at the end of a cross, heads it past a helpless Bendik, part two. ROBINS 1, COMETS 2
  • Caldwell gets a straight red card for something 
  • Collin ties up Braun in the air during a 93rd minute cross and no call.

Man of the Match : Darel Russell because he's got a more confident finish than Wiedeman 

Goat of the Game : If your job entailed marking Sapong then your name goes here. Also, Collin is a moron.

Ref Rating : 1 out of 5.  The officiating was so unbalanced it's difficult to think 
this idiot was impartial. Also, if there is a ref bias against Toronto, I don't see why they'd spend the effort. They're bad and if the visitors need the help then they're shit too. 

Poncho Spotting : damn it was wet...

I Am Not The Gaffer But... : I'd be booking that meeting with the new GM for right after the press conference. 2 forwards, 2 midfielders and 2 backs.  And a roof.

Very comfortable in declaring that Kansas City is my most hated team. Neilsen, Collin, Peterson, and Teal Bunbury, stupid pajama looking kits and bad pseudo-Euro name rebranding. Also they're stadium is gorgeous with a roof!... Announced attendance was 12,000 which is getting closer to the truth of the 8,000 that were there... I picture Wiedeman following Russell around the training ground all week in hopes that he'll show him the secrets of doing fewer than six touches to settle the ball... Osorio deserved the two games. I like spirited challenges but that was careless and dangerous. Thumbs down on the league for waiting so long to pass judgement... man, a roof would be sooooo fancy right about now... @DuncanDFletcher gave me a killer one liner about Peterson before kick off, but I forgot it. It was gold. Trust me...  Dike was invisible today. Is it fair to assume that Osorio was the one that involved him in the game? 

Player Ratings : Bendik 6, Morgan 6, Henry 6, Caldwell 6.5, Bloom 6, Hall 5.5 [Bekker N/A], Rey 7 [Lambe N/A], Convey 6.5, Russell 7, Dike 5.5, Wiedeman 6 [Braun N/A]

@ignirtoq would've liked to write more, but was soaked beyond everything.  Stupid weather and then the rain stopped AND the sun came out after nearly 24 hours of fog and misery.  Wanted to engage in post-match pints but preferred dry clothes instead.

Friday, September 20, 2013

THE MATCHUP: Wiz-zing all over the future

"And scoring is totally out of the question Toronto!"


Back on March 9th, TFC began its journey through Season 7 at SkyDome (Soon to be future home of TFC while they retrofit BMO for the Argos. Just sayin'.) against these very same Sporting Kansas Cities. It was a bright start with our Eff Cee's recording a 2-1 win but as the long season continued, the two clubs went their separate ways. The deep Sporting now boast 13 wins and are 3rd in the East, a vastly more developed team than the 4-win Reds who only avoid the East basement due to D.C. United's craptitude.

The different direction for these clubs isn’t limited to the table however. Back in 2007 the Kansas City Wizards were a joke of a club being forced to move from an NFL stadium into a minor-league baseball park. TFC meanwhile were the darlings of MLS - a "real" football club in a soccer-specific stadium. Fast forward less than a decade and the re-branded Sporting boast raucous support, a solid on-field product and the finest football-only stadium in North America. TFC has two Tims, a Kiwi and are drawing up plans for the CFL.

Don't let MLSE know that the "Wizards" nickname is now available as well.

"The PrekiMo Invitational"

TORONTO: Mark Bloom, Bright Dike, Jonathan Osorio
KANSAS CITY: Claudio Bieler, Jimmy Nielsen, C.J. Sapong

New TFC GM Tim Bezbatchenko's thoughts during match:
- "We've got a decent young core.": 50-1
- "There is much work ahead.": 10-1
- "Well, at least a CFL team doesn't play here. What? They are? When? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.": 2-1

By constantly saying he "won't rule out" the Argos move to BMO Field, Tim Leiweke is showing off his MLSE money-boner to anyone with eyes. It's inevitable as the RONA ads soon to be gracing the BMO Field pitch. What we weren't aware of is the great admiration Leiweke and MLS had for Kansas City Wizards when they used to play at the minor league baseball CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

Proving that an MLS club could play in those conditions has not only emboldened the owners to butcher BMO Field for the CFL but the ground will also soon be home to the Canadian Olympic Field Hockey Team, the Toronto-Area Gaelic Hurling League, a permanent training facility for GraveDigger the Monster Truck, harness horse racing, a community vegetable garden and a full oval stock car racing track around the new CFL-size playing surface. Not to worry though TFC fans... it will be intimate.

Promise. xoxo


Allocation Moneyball as TFC hires new GM

Tim Bezbatchenko

Toronto FC has got their man. Again.

Not realizing that their Twitter hashtag #TFCMajorAnnouncement has become a parody-inducing thing of ridicule, The Reds gathered the local press for their annual catch-and-release of their new front office supremo. But who you ask could fill the shoes of Toronto legends like Kevin Payne, Aron Winter and Mo Johnston... why it's none other than child prodigy Tim Bezbatchenko!


Before you start getting your TFC-brand knickers (Available at RealSports for $34.99) in a twist, this is not a GM-signing like those in the past or akin to GM's in other North American sports. Bezbatchenko, most recently the MLS Director of Player Relations and Competition, is a numbers wonk. A man brought in to hopefully find every single loophole and crevasse that the league's labyrinth of salary rules has hidden in its belly-button.

In this brave new world, player targets seem to be firmly in the control of Ryan Nelsen, who in turn seems firmly controlled by Tim Leiweke. You would assume that Nelsen will identify reasonable targets that T-Bez (we're lazy, get used to it) will try to financially wangle while Leiweke aims to reel in the big fish like his horrendous hint dropping at a private meeting that he is looking at (gulp) Emmanuel Adebayor. Euthanize me now.

In the end, we will probably not see T-Bez in the spotlight like previous GM's but rather like a glorified Earl Cochrane. In theory, the set-up seems alright but when you consider a rookie head coach will identify players to a rookie GM all under the umbrella of a monorail salesman - it all gets very TFC.

One question that remained understandably unanswered today: When Leiweke's magical DP's don't arrive until August and TFC finds itself 2-10 in the summer forcing the dismissal of Ryan Nelsen (don't pretend it can't happen!!!) who is left to identify players? Something tells us that you should save up your best #TFCMajorAnnouncement gags for a rainy day in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

EDITORIAL: "It's all gone quiet over there..." But does TFC really care?

The blurst of times.

With apologies to the majority of the BMO Field population (circa 2007-2013), Toronto FC's image was built in large part on the visage of the South Stand. Now in no way are we claiming that the supporters in the south are more valuable or important than any others in the ground but it was the sizzle of the "European atmosphere" that TFC immediately harnessed to carve their place in Toronto's crowded sports entertainment market.

For the first few seasons, the club and its "benevolent" owners were handed a sweet gift from PR heaven - an organic (for the most part), grassroots supporter culture that was the talk of the town. Nary was a TFC ad or promo seen without the obligatory smoke-strewn, flag-waving, streamer-laden "Ultra" supporter that most other MLS markets lacked at the time. Word was out - Toronto had "the best fans in the league (TM)" and MLSE was more than happy to bottle it. The team thingamajig could come later.

Sadly, in true MLSE fashion, their promotional eyes grew too big for their belly and the fervent support they were so happy to promote was not rewarded... but rather milked. BMO Field ticket prices rose and game day expenses grew while expensive friendlies were shoehorned in on the back of this seemingly unquenched thirst for local football. Again, all while failing to meet the one request their fiery fans salivated over - a competitive side of their own.

Seven long and very unfruitful seasons later and the South Stand is a shadow of its former self. Large patches of empty seats and most noticeably an atmosphere that has gone from "European" down to "USL" levels. It is not a from lack of desire, no, TFC fans deserve all credit for still even discussing this team, rather it is the death by a thousand cuts of broken promises, greed and sheer drudgery. With the lowering in volume in the south, the rest of BMO Field has followed to become a fairly passion-free ground. The question is: do TFC and their owners actually care?

Monday, September 16, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Bitchy the Hawk replacements

"But you've been chasing me for nine months!"
In the grand scheme of things, Toronto FC's tedious attempts to turn Bitchy the Hawk into faux-tradition ranks as mediocre. Whether it has been through the creation of premature Walls of Honour or via numerous failed attempts at a club "anthem", the club has always tried to create history the same way they attempt to create a roster - by putting the cart before the horse. While some fans seem to enjoy Bitchy's "grand entrance" (why?) we find the whole thing rather clawing (forgive us, we know not what we do) and gives TFC the feel of Bargain Harold's Benfica. Alas, the club will probably continue with the mini-circus and while no one has heard that Bitchy's job is on the line - this is TFC - and potential replacements are always ready to step in...

11. Ned the Apathetic Incontinent Hound Dog

10. Reggie the Lamb

9. Bright Pike

8. Earl Cochrane in a Chicken Costume

7. The On-Loan Silverback

6. (Collin Samuel turned # 6 into a sandwich)

5. Joao Platypus

4. Btchy t Ltvn Dth Brd

3. The Allocationgator

2. Argo the Albatross

1. The 5-Year Plant

Saturday, September 14, 2013

AFTER 90: Pitch invasions

"Concrete jungle where no dreams are made no..."

KICK OFF - Listen, we know we bang on a load lately about the whole Argos to BMO kerfuffle but until we hear different we'll be a bit like a dog with a bone. It is clouding a lot of our (ok, tiny scraps) of optimism for the future of the club. Often, we and fellow worriers have been told to "relax" about the possibility of a CFL stadium share and that it's "no big deal". Usually by Leafs fans. We couldn't resist tonight's fixture, not far from where Giants Stadium stood - the ultimate example of gridiron stomping on football - to illustrate just how difficult we find it to watch the world's sport on the field of parts of North America's sport. But in text form!

____________      ____________________      ______________
__________ 10 _____________________ 10 ____________
 10' - Thierry Henry being a nuisance as usual.
____________      ____________________      ______________
 18' - Mark Bloom in his TFC debut not playing too badly.
__________ 20 _____________________ 20 ____________
27' - Andrew Wiedeman goes just wide of the New York goal. Close
____________      ____________________      ______________
__________ 30 _____________________ 30 ____________
 32' - GOAL: New York - Thierry Henry loses Bloom and taps in a hard cross.
____________      ____________________      ______________
__________ 40 _____________________ 40 ____________
43' - Kosuke Kimura very close to doubling New York's lead. 
____________      ____________________      ______________
__________ 50 _____________________ 50 ____________

 __________   C  ___ TORONTO  ___  C ____________


__________ 50 _____________________ 50 ____________
47' - Bloom tries to find Wiedeman as TFC come out fast 
____________      ____________________      ______________
__________ 40 _____________________ 40 ____________
53' - SUB: Jonas Elmer on for Justin Braun 
____________      ____________________      ______________
58' - YELLOW CARD: Steven Caldwell for hauling down Dax McCarty 
__________ 30 _____________________ 30 ____________
____________      ____________________      ______________
65' - Joe Bendik forced to make a big save on a charging Bradley Wright-Phillips. 
__________ 20 _____________________ 20 ____________
 75' - SUB: Bright Dike on for Andrew Wiedeman
____________      ____________________      ______________
78' - Bit of a scrap on the pitch as Jonathan Osorio plays a bit rough with Kimura. 
__________ 10 _____________________ 10 ____________
 80' - GOAL: New York - Fabian Espindola with a looping header over some bumbling TFC defenders.
85' - Bright Dike tries to open his TFC account but saved well.
89' - SUB: Kyle Bekker on for Alvaro Rey
____________      ____________________      ______________


PLAYER RATINGS: Joe Bendik 6 / Mark Bloom 6 / Steven Caldwell  6.5/  Gale Agbossoumonde 5.5 / Ashtone Morgan 5.5/ Alvaro Rey 6.5 (Kyle Bekker N/A) / Jeremy Hall 5.5 / Jonathan Osorio 6 / Bobby Convey 5 / Andrew Wiedeman 6 (Bright Dike 6)  / Justin Braun 4.5 (Jonas Elmer 5)

Alvaro Rey

Well there you have it, not the worst of TFC performances. Not great, but we've seen worse. But, I bet reading it with all those gridiron lines sure was annoying and took away from our usual sparkling journalism didn't it?

When MLSE announces the BMO Field expansion plans and shows you lovely architectural diagrams alongside information of the new cutting-edge artificial surface, remember this. And know that when the CFL season starts in early summer and TFC and the Argos play 7 days apart or less that it won't be far off reading this. There is not a stadium in the world that has figured out to completely scrub off lines from dual sports. MLSE sure ain't full of science geniuses.

So yes, TFC looked a bit better tonight and may indeed improve in the future. However, if watching a match at BMO Field will be akin to reading the above... why bother?

Friday, September 13, 2013

THE MATCHUP: Busting ghosts

"Hey, Slimer! Hoo-Ha! I wanna know how you scored that goal!"

TV: TSN 2 (Droppin' a Deuce on the Weekend)

What better place to reflect on the ghosts of past that still haunt Toronto FC than New York City? It was Manhattan after all, in the hot summer of 1984, which suffered one of North America's worst ever mass hauntings. Zuul, a minion of Sumerian shape-shifting demi-god Gozer the Gozerian lead a supernatural attack on the Big Apple that will traumatize us for years to come. #NeverForget

New York is also the site of one of TFC's most supernatural nights when The Reds, under the command of Mozer the Mozerian, ectoplasm'd their pants in a 5-0 loss that ended a season in a truly frightening manner. It was on that night, as the team's corporate captain decided to go all "Slimer" in the dressing room, which MLSE should have gone all exorcist on Mo and his minions but allowed things to rot instead.

Years later, TFC is still trying to escape from past rot but just can't seem to stop scaring us. The specter of a possessed management and the dark shadow of the Argos at BMO only illuminate the skies with particle beams of future frights. Tim Leiweke has to come out now and bust Pinball the Clemzerian's dreams of haunting our house so we don't look back at late 2013 like we look back at late 2009. After all Tim - "Bustin' makes you feel good". Fact.

"The Gozer the Gozerian Testimonial Match"

NEW YORK: Thierry Henry, Jamison Olave, Jonny Steele
TORONTO: Joe Bendik, Jonathan Osorio, Alvaro Rey

TFC's big off-season signing most likely a:
- Keymaster: 100-1
- Gatekeeper: 50-1
- Stay Puft Marshmallow Man: 2-1




And... Since this site is nothing if not a hotbed for cutting-edge music and graphics... Press play, bustin' makes you feel good...

UPDATE: What do you buy the team who can't score a goal? Another goalkeeper! TFC made a trade - Stefan Frei is still rotting on the bench. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Chicago... or 3 points away from relegation safety!

The following analysis is based on a hypothetical scenario that will likely never happen in Canada & the U.S. due to greedy people wanting to remain greedy, regardless how good for the game it could be.

Here we are, the home stretch! The relegation battle is on!

MLS Bottom 4
16 Columbus 32 6
17 Chivas 25 6
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
18 Toronto 22 7
19 DC 14 7
NASL Top 4
1 Carolina 30 8
2T Tampa Bay 28 8
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2T Atlanta 28 8
4 Minnesota 22 8

Chivas is only 3 points ahead, but Toronto has a game in hand. With seven matches to go, the chase is on for survival.

Man, doesn't that potentially sound exciting? Oh sure, there's the possibility that Toronto could be in the second division with *gulp* Ottawa and Edmonton but to be fair, TFC would deserve that for how terrible they've been playing. Also, with the resources at hand, winning the second division should be a cakewalk.  It wouldn't, but it should.

Surely Carolina and Tampa Bay would play at least more competent footy than Toronto does. But the last games would actually mean something! Let's face it, the mighty Robins' season became a bust sometime in June. This would be exciting. The veteran players would actually have to fight for something: their jobs, their contracts and their current pay-rates! None of this 'going through the motions' bullshit. Wouldn't it be magical?

Toronto has come off of a fresh thumping at the hands of Portland that they deserved.  Then as a punishment, they traded 5-month-pursued-and-37-minutes-played Urruti to them in exchange for Bright Dike.  That will teach both of them.

With the threat of a lightning storm looming overhead all night, we proceed, with caution, to the match:

20' - GOAL - 30 yard looping pass by Dilly Duka tries to get on the end of Magee's foot but just out of reach... however Bendik played the anticipated touch and not the ball and his dive at Magee's feet meant the ball bounced over him. tragic.

23' - GOAL - well ain't that some shizz, Earnshaw at the right side of the 6yd box side steps a sliding defender and pops it in.

25' - SUB - Earnshaw is hurt and comes off for Justin Braun.

45' - Rey blasts one from 20yds out and beats everyone except the underside of the crossbar and bounces out.

45' - YELLOW - Braun for something

57' - Series of blown passes and tackles on a Toronto counter attack finds the ball at Braun's feet. A few step-overs and a missed opportunity to pass to a wide open Wiedeman later, Justin has a go and fires across the Dave of goal just missing the far post. Not terrible but should have been better.

66' - Convey corner finds Henry's header and it just glances wide of the top corner.

71' - YELLOW - Jeremy Hall goes into the books for a perfectly fine tackle.

75' - SUB - Wiedeman comes off for Dike

78' - Amarikwa sent in on goal and our Super Pickle (in blue) Bendik stretches out to palm the ball wide of the post. Great stop.

89' - SUB - new boy Elmer comes on for Rey

4 minutes of extra time

91' - YELLOW - Henry keeps the booking tradition alive and gets booked for a rough-ish tackle

Full Time : Toronto 1, Chicago 1

Man of the Match : Alvaro Rey was outstanding on the wing, solid crosses and wasn't afraid to have a go from distance

Goat of the Game : though he improved (or got lucky) once Dike came on, but Braun was a liability for his first 40 mins

Ref Rating : was cruising to a 4, but gets a 3 out of 5 for carding what appeared to be non-calls

Kit Spotting : Wolves, Sao Paolo and a sweet Inverness Caley Thistle from neighbour @jonarthur

I was surprised how well Morgan and Hall were playing all night.  In fact, all of the defenders played well offensively.  Defensively, it's a bit of a mixed bag... Bendik needs to go back to the green kit.  This "Super Pickle" thing is gimmicky gold!... Sitting with @DuncanDFletcher and @RedWineRoz and we couldn't help but remark that because Magee was a gametime decision, there was a conscious effort to not mark the guy with a boatload of goals scored for the first 35 minutes. I'm sure it was all part of the strategy (but somehow it worked)... Hey, the same weather that scared many supporters away actually held off all game... Rey was just killing it on the right side. He deserved at least a goal and an assist. Hope this is a sign of things to come... Well played to those with the "No Argos At BMO" banner. Should have been bigger draped over the empty seats... Was anybody else freaking out when Dike was getting in some hard tackles? The man just came back from an ACL injury. He was on the pitch for 15-20 minutes and was in a few quality challenges.

And now an open letter for former Toronto Mayor David Miller,

Please come back. Please. Pleasepleasepleaseplease! Would you consider a position as the Toronto FC's president? Cannot be possibly worse than the last pack of inept monkeys. And your approval rating would certainly spike interest!

This masterpiece aimed at MLSE is the greatest open letter ever in Toronto FC history. And I know from experience: lobbying for Bendik to wear green again, and getting Frei an opportunity to gain some valuable field time, both well-thought out requests, if I may be so bold.

If the TFC president thing doesn't pan out, how can we talk you into replacing the windbag who filled your position? No? Just a thought.

Sincerely, The Yorkies.

Player Ratings :  Bendik 6, Eckersly 6.5, Caldwell 6, Henry 6, Morgan 6.5, Rey 7.5 [Elmer N/A], Hall 6, Osorio 6, Convey 6, Wiedeman 6 [Dike N/A], Earnshaw 6 [Braun 5.5]

@ignirtoq was happy with the performance, but couldn't help that he missed out on Canada's newest gameshow, Spin-Out, which airs every Wednesday at 8pm on CHCH.  You should watch it.  You have to be super super smart to win on there.  Or so he's heard.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

THE MATCHUP: Remembering heroes


This fixture is dedicated to remembering heroes and the lost dreams of yesteryear.

It was a time of innocence. The world was our oyster; youthful exuberance abounded. After early struggles, our young uniformed men had gained a great victory. Lead by an honourable veteran, it seemed as if the tide had turned. Tickertape and seat cushions were showered upon the conquering heroes... the foe from abroad had been vanquished.

The date was May 12, 2007.
A date that will live in sorta, kinda infamy.

Yes, with the return of our Great Lakes rival, we take a moment to solemnly remember their first invasion on our shore. That 24th minute goal by Danny Dichio which propelled TFC to their first ever victory and promised years of victories to follow.

No one realized that we had reached our finest hour so early and that all that would follow would be seven years of endless struggle.

Also: Toronto FC has designated this match as "Support the Troops Night" at BMO Field. Make up your own mind whether this is a benevolent, charitable act or a crass attempt to positively bathe a corporation with a bad image on others' sacrifice. Your call.

"The What Could Have Been Testimonial Match"

TORONTO: Joe Bendik, Steven Caldwell, Robert Earnshaw
CHICAGO: Austin Berry, Mike Magee, Bakary Soumare

TFC fixture compared to:
- ... a great tactical victory: 500-1
- ... trench warfare: 100-1
- ... 7 years in a Prisoner of War camp: 2-1

- Fired Mo Johnston
- That time we beat LA Galaxy in the CCL
- Present.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Urruti era looking Bright! (Not what you think)

This is the part where we usually crack wise on the latest TFC transaction.

Today, we're dumbfounded. Well... more than usual.

After months of chasing Maximiliano Urruti through the wilds of Argentina, the boy barely had a chance to unpack his suitcase in Toronto. That's right Eff Cee fanz, after less than a month in Red, TFC have traded Maxi Urruti and simultaneously given Kevin Payne a Bon Voyage gift - a giant middle finger.

Confirmed today, Urruti - the can't miss prospect of his generation - has been dealt to Portland Timbers for the marvelously named/injury crippled Bright Dike, a draft pick and our old friend allocation money. Dike, the Oklahoman-born, Nigeria-capped forward, managed 6 MLS goals with Portland in 2011 before spending part of last season in USL Pro on loan. So you know... TFC quality.

FUN FACT: Bright Dike suffered a torn ACL back in February of 2013. For more on how that injury heals see: Danny Koevermans.

Make no mistake, this is an oddball trade. And that says a lot in TFC-land but there are reasons behind it. Kind of. Trading Urruti opens up cash and a DP slot which Tim Leiweke is very verbally trying to fill before next season. You guys fancy Italian? In addition, there are loud whispers that Urruti was not living up to the scouting reports (of 9 months!!!) and was very much Kevin Payne's man but nowhere near Ryan Nelsen's. The optics couldn't be much clearer over how the current TFC management assesses Payne's legacy.

Speaking of TFC management, the other interesting part of this deal is what it says about the incoming new GM. Does making a deal involving a big name (argue away) that was meant to be a piece for the future, illuminate just how much say in personnel the new man will have? It is looking increasingly like Ryan Nelsen will be a Diet Pop version of an old-school manager while the new GM will be Earl Cochrane MAX. All this so Leiweke can play in the Beckham sandbox.

Time will tell how "Bright" all this is.

THE STARTING 11: New TFC GM qualifications

"Did someone say two candidates?"
MLSE Emperor Tim Leiweke took his message of love and demands of submission to his subjects at yesterday's TFC Season Ticket Holder BBQ/"Oh Look a Hawk, let's not talk about Portlandapalooza". While talking great spin about never talking about doing spin, Leiweke did mention that his search for Kevin Payne's replacement is progressing rapidly. Apparently TFC is down to a shortlist of two with resolution not far off. It's a tough decision but what qualifications are needed to fill football's biggest job opportunity since the hiring of the new Barcelona Head (of janitorial services)?

11. Someone who can proudly expound the virtues of the clubs "All For One" motto... without giggling

10. A person not affected by the XXX video evidence of MLSE pagan rituals owned by Reggie Lambe which is the only possible explanation of the employment of Reggie Lambe

9. A professional with deep connections to continue enhancing the already lucrative pipeline into the English lower division loan market

8. A candidate who is willing to honour Jim Brennan's 75-Year Guaranteed Employment Contract

7. An Australian... just to watch Ryan Nelsen lose it every day

6. Somebody that knows how to build a team for long-term success... on artificial turf

5. A well-spoken person who can express in four simple words that supporters "need to be suitably prepared to accept and be silent towards the inevitable annual repetition of short-sighted corporate greed"

4. A real "numbers guy" i.e. someone that can tell the difference between a 5-Year Plan and a 10-Year Plan

3. None of the applicants named Beau Johnston, Mo Jackson, Maurice St. Johnstone or Moe Jetson

2. A capologist/crapologist

1. An individual that understands that at Toronto FC winning comes first... well after profits; promotional endeavours; advertisers; Heritage Nights; CFL Stadium re-designs; false DP rumours; Bitchy the Hawk; TFC TV; pyrotechnics; thundersticks; and, ticket renewals. But after that - winning comes first!

I've got the brains, you've got the looks
Let's make lots of money
You've got the brawn, I've got the brains
I'm Tim Leiweke

Sunday, September 8, 2013

AFTER 90: "We were making 5-Year Plans before it was cool..."


KICK OFF - If there was ever a night for some Hipster Fair Trade java to stay awake. Deep inside of the Pacific Time Zone in the bespoke, artisan moustache enclave of Portland, Oregon our newly GM-widowed Reds try not to be "meh" in front of MLS' most raucous and plaid-encased supporters. The only way to report tonight is to go deep, deep (woods) undercover as one of them... a hipster douchebag. Let's play some European soccer... or you know... whatever.

2' - Richard Eckersley whips in an early cross, sporting a ginger beard tonight but... you know... no big deal.
5' - Steven Caldwell with a solid defensive header. But he doesn't buy into "labels" okay?
10' - Former TFC fan-favourite Milos Kocic in goal for Portland tonight and tested early. The skinny jeans and vintage desert boots are a rare sight for a goalkeeper.
18' - Spanish winger Alvaro Rey down with a knock. Oh you haven't been trekking through the Andalucian Mountains? I have. But before it was touristy.
20' - Just finished second Pabst Blue Ribbon
25' - YELLOW CARD: Gale Agbossoumonde for putting too much artisanal bacon marmalade on his tackle
30' - Robert Earnshaw with a shot on Kocic. Earnshaw knows so many Zambian-Welsh bands you haven't even heard of yet.
32' - Timbers' Kalif Alhassan beats Bendik but hits the goalpost. More frustrating for Portlanders than the line at Voodoo Donuts. If you don't get the reference... just forget it.
38' - Earnshaw attempts acrobatic bicycle shot. He was scoring goals before it was July.
41' - TFC's counter-attack has the fluidity of artisanal, organic maple syrup that has been forgotten in an avocado-coloured retro refrigerator for two months.
45'+ - GOAL: Portland - Alhassan with a long range blast that beats Bendik. TFC defenders' minds were already on the halftime visit to that farmer's market.
45' + - Pabst me.


50' - Oh hey sorry to keep you waiting. I actually don't own a TV. Was really into this John Steinbeck novel.
55' - TFC defence being peppered with shots right now. I really know a lot about different peppers by the way. Just an FYI
60' - Lack of options on Ryan Nelsen's bench to change tempo of the match. Also lack of ironic moustaches. It will be a busy off-season.
67' - Have to say that Portland's kits are quite striking. Wonder if they are bespoke?
75' - SUB: Justin Braun in for Alvaro Rey. Irony?
75' - Portland subs off their goalscorer for a DP in Diego Valeri after TFC bring in Braun. There's the irony.
78' - Pabst.
83' - GOAL: Portland - Rodney Wallace picks Agbossoumonde's pocket and beats a helpless Bendik to double the lead. If you're into that kind of thing.
87' - GOAL: Portland - Will Johnson takes irony too far as the Canadian goes through TFC's "defence" like a reclaimed Victorian hot knife through fried butter from a food truck.
90' - Like having that one Republican friend, we look at Reggie Lambe and say "how is this a thing"?
90'+ - GOAL: Portland - Valeri on the end of a Portland move that was great like that movie you've never heard of.
90'+ - Pabst.


PLAYER RATINGS: Joe Bendik 5 / Richard Eckersley 4.5 / Steven Caldwell 5 / Gale Agbossoumonde 5 / Jonas Elmer 5 / Reggie Lambe 4 / Jeremy Hall 5.5 / Darel Russell 5 / Alvaro Rey 6 (Justin Braun N/A ) / Andrew Wiedeman 5 / Robert Earnshaw 6

Reggie Lambe. Yes, that's us being ironic.

Want some more hip irony? Like the hipsters of Portland themselves we are "meh" over this embarrassing loss.

The apathy isn't because we are "too cool" to care. No if that was the case we wouldn't be typing at 1:30AM. Why do we not feel anything over another TFC loss? Because we are simply numb. These awful displays, our USL line-up promoted as "big-league" and promise after promise of "better days ahead" under the constant cloud of management decisions that may ruin this club forever. That will do it to ya.

You are giving us little TFC. You watch a match like that and say "who am I supposed to be excited about for in 2014?" Stop masquerading as a "major league" organization and fix things with what is likely your last real chance. Being 'too hip" to win is so 2007.

F*cking hipsters.

Friday, September 6, 2013




If MLS produced an Off-Off-Off Broadway production of "A Tale of Two Cities" it would star Portland and Toronto. You really can't find two markets in this league pulling in different directions.

The Hipster-infused Portland has a private owner who has a personal connection to his club and a drive to win. While not doing everything perfectly, Timbers have built a competitive club with a sensible MLS squad while turning their stadium into the envy of North American supporter experiences. Jeld-Wen Field is truly "their house"

Up here... notsomuch. Toronto FC and BMO Field (home of the former "Bestest Fans in the History of All-Timez Soccerz"(TM)) is a shadow of one-time unlimited promise. Heading into their 9th consecutive 5-Year Plan, now under the Imperial Leader Tim Leiweke, TFC has decided that the best way to fix the biggest farce in MLS is to shoehorn a gridiron team, likely avec Field Turf and the unscrubbable CFL markings/ giant RONA advertisements, into the "soccer specific" stadium.

As the rest of North America finally starts to "get" football, Toronto is pulling hard in the other direction and dragging the most abused fans in MLS back into the bad-old days of Giants Stadium. For those TFC fans masochistic enough to stay awake for this Pacific Time Zone spectacular, seeing what Portland's supporters have, and knowing what we have had pulled from beneath our feet, is a cruel twist of the knife.

"El Moustachio Ironico"

PORTLAND: Will Johnson, Milos Kocic, Sal Zizzo
TORONTO: Joe Bendik, Jonas Elmer, Maxi Urruti?

Portland hipsters:
- mocking Toronto because "the CFL is sooooo 1986": 5-1
- enquiring whether TFC's maple leaf kits taste like trendy maple bacon donuts: 3-1
- adopting TFC as their second team because they think The Reds must be trying to be ironically awful: 2-1

The success of Portland Timbers has not gone unnoticed in the halls of power at Toronto FC. In fact, it is widely rumoured that the recently vacated President's role at The Reds could be filled by a poached member of the Timbers' staff. While there is no official confirmation, rumours that Tim Leiweke has asked for permission to speak to "Timber Joey" won't go away. An unnamed source quoted on the potential hire: "Timber Joey has everything TFC are looking for in a leader. He is a true industry leader at giving things the axe, destroying things in a rapid fashion and he obviously has severe mental issues. In short, the perfect MLSE executive".


And... lost in Tim Leiweke's "Vision of the Future" speech yesterday was this - the new opening for all live TFC broadcasts...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

EDITORIAL : You wanna put what, where? Rationale and the Argos at BMO Field

So they removed the President of Toronto FC and during the brief press conference it was revealed that MLSE is "kinda" still looking at shoehorning the Argos into the ground. 

I don't get it.  It doesn't make any sense. 

I'm sure the cost of the retrofit doesn't remotely equal the money they'd make from a rental. And where is this money coming from?  And the much revered (well, it used to be) South End... it will get displaced where exactly?

As much as I think Tim Leiweke is doing a good job (sacking Payne is a start), I'd like to break down and challenge some of his statements.
I’m going to go out Sunday and meet with the season seat holders. We’re going to stand front and centre and look them in the eye and communicate here – good, bad and indifferent. We deserve it. What we’ll tell them on football is that we did football at (the Stub Hub Center) in L.A. with different games including the high school championships and a whole series of games there.

Really?   Those games in Carson, were they to host a regular tenant?  Did you have to tear out the grass and install artificial turf?  Did you have to redesign the stadium to do so? (answer key: no, no, no)
To me, it’s not a debate about do you do football or not. It’s a debate about if it’s the CFL can you design the stadium so that it grows for the CFL and shrinks back down to its current intimacy for soccer. That’s money, and it requires cash and we’re trying to figure out what that means.

Oh, a retractable stand then?  Now it's hard to find numbers on retractable stands.  The latest example was that of the Olympic Stadium where West Ham will take up shop in three year's time.  The retrofit calls for the demolition and reconstruction of all four sides of the ground's bottom two tiers.  The cost is a staggering £120-150 million.  Granted, we're talking about a fraction of the work, but even a fraction is still not going to be cheap.  Hypothetically, are the Argos worth $10-20 million (speculating, but it cannot be cheap) for one stand to move 30-50 feet?  And that doesn't include a roof.

Whether or not we can do that, it means we have to spend more money... We do other events there, including rugby which is just as tough on a pitch as football if not more so.

Comparing rugby to pointyball is a bit of apples to oranges.  Yes, rugby is as tough on the pitch as pointyball, but: 
  • You don't have to vandalize the pitch with markings for every 3 steps in every direction
  • There might be a match twice a year
  • You don't have to retro fit the stadium for rugby
Here's the things that drives me the most insane with this entire scenario...
  • MLS has a push for soccer specific stadiums, so where's Don Garber when a step backwards is about to take place
  • What exactly is "Major League" about a team that is getting inconvenienced by a team that hasn't been culturally relevant in, what, thirty years?
  • If a new home is so necessary now, what was it when they took the 'sweetheart' deal of no rent, but no concessions from the SkyDome 8 or 9 years ago?  Did they think that that deal would last forever?  Did they think they'd actually have leverage where the home tenant plays 81 home games and wants natural grass?
  • It's actually not about the Argos as what is going to be done for the Argos at the TFC supporters expense.
Watch this:

This is a high school game.  The gridiron lines are perfectly fine in this environment.  Why?  Because it's not a soccer-first stadium.  Because it's high school.  Because it is in a region where gridiron football is by far and away the most popular and dominant game.  Because it's amateur.

If anyone has any doubt that this is a terrible experience, try to watch a soccer game at a field with football lines.  I had the pleasure of supporting the Hamilton Cup of Soccer back in the day, a one-off week long tournament played at Ivor Wynne Stadium, home of the Tiger Cats.  Though it was great seeing these teams play in person, watching seasoned pros unsure of where out-of-bounds is, takes away from the spectacle of the sport.  The game is tainted because the participants are confused due to the markings on the ground.  The gridiron lines took away from the damn game.

If BMO Field wants more dates at their ground, bring in a NWSL side, a USL-Pro side and market both to season ticket holders at a discount and make your money at concessions with cheap beer and food.  Let the supporters light flares and go nuts. Make the lesser clubs more accessible for customers and then beat them over the head with TFC advertisements all game long.  Friday night footie?  Sure, I'll stick around for that.  A true community spirit.  One stop mecca of local football.

When this franchise came about in 2006, a conscious decision was made : to put my money where my mouth and heart is, and stump up for tickets as soon as they were available.  Day 1.  Purchasing a pair in the dead center of 113.  If someone, anyone, was going to make that kind of investment in a serious (not you Toronto Lynx, and not anyone in the then-CPSL) professional soccer team in this area, then it was my duty as a supporter to back them up.  In return, a beautiful soccer-specific ground was built for this club.  Traveling every day on the GO Train, passing it, muttering "home" and then smiling as we passed by.  Even though the operating club is dysfunctional, it still appears to be footie, and that will suffice.

If MLSE shits all over this dream for the sake of 9 more dates for the wrong damn sport that the stadium was built for, well then, my hatred for this organization will officially never die, I will surrender my seats, and begin researching the process into what it takes to have a 'fan owned' club in the NASL.

Come V-Cup, we'll show you what a real derby looks like.

@ignirtoq really isn't a fan of MLSE and the Argos.  He considers himself a fan of the Tiger-Cats and believes their stadium situation is a debacle in a different way, but by birthright cannot like or respect the Argos ever.  As a native Hamiltonian, he despises the Maple Leafs and their insistence that a second NHL team wouldn't work in the region, even though Hamilton could easily support them.  And he's serious about the NASL thing.