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Monday, January 31, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC complaints about Turkey

You can take a club to Turkey but can you turkey a club?

It was quite a surprise when word leaked out this past autumn that Toronto FC would be spending its preseason in Turkey. In the previous four years, TFC were more like Quebecois senior citizens who went to Florida for the winter. Their opponents usually resembled Old-Age Home U-90 teams too. But, 2011 is different and The Reds are on the exotic south coast of the big Eurasian nation with some good opponents lined up as well. However, it's an adjustment for the club who have never been so far from home and there are some early complaints about their Turkish delight...
11. Dichio wearing large comedy moustache and fez in training
10. Club forced to cut ties with Toronto's Greek Town
9. Dan Gargan very confused by the whole "Istanbul was Constantinople" thing
8. MLSE thought they were buying a turkey club, not sending the club to Turkey
7. Aron Winter saddened that "Turkey" puns haven't overshadowed "Winter" puns in media
6. De Rosario angry that his interviews referred to as "Instantbull"
5. Kebab Buttys
4. Locals keep calling the team "Hobo Galatasaray"
3. Some guy named "Moammar Johnston" keeps hanging around looking for jobs
2. Bob de Klerk always naked in the Turkish baths
1. Have to train on finely woven carpets

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Letters From Camp: "Trial, trial again" - International trialists join Reds in Turkey

Javier Martina - Pride of Netherlands Antilles

Team Winter's goal of releasing more reliable information in four days than Mo Johnston did in four years continued today with the promised list of the remaining participating trialists. After the introduction of the three Canadians (Eddy Sidra, Gianluca Zavarise and David Monsalve) yesterday, TFC's "Camp GobbleGobble" in Turkey welcomed the following potential Reds into the happy family. Well, except for Uncle Dwayne... he's a bit miserable. Anyhoo, here's the latest contestants in TurkeyTime...
· JAVIER MARTINA: 23-year-old forward from the Netherlands Antilles. That's an island chain, not the Star Wars pilot. Joined the Jong AFC Ajax (Ajax's youth team) from the amazingly named FC Omniworld who are possibly a club from a Dutch theme park. Spent 3 season with Jong Ajax with mixed results culminating in a brief loan to HFC Haarlem before they went bankrupt... not his fault hopefully. Was highly rated for a period which did see him make two minor appearances for the main Ajax team. Big chances on a TFC club with few forward options.
· KING GYAN OSEI: Or possibly King Osei Gyan... or Gyan Osei King... depends where you read it! Either way, the Accra, Ghana born holding midfielder who attended high school in California was once such a prospect that Fulham snatched him up straight out of a Ghanaian academy. While never making it onto the Fulham First Team, the tough midfielder proved to be a useful member during a three-season loan spell at Belgian Pro League club Germinal Beerschot. And hey, who here doesn't want a Beerschot?!
· BAS ENT: Frequent visitors to The Yorkies and other TFC sources will have seen Bas Ent's name for a while now. The technical Dutch winger trained with Toronto last summer including getting some minutes in the friendly vs. Bolton Wanderers. Ent spent his young career toiling through the Dutch Eerste Divisie and lower with clubs such as FC Volendam and VV Katwijk before finding himself at the Dutch-phile Ohio-based club Dayton Dutch Lions in the USL PDL. Dayton isn't far from Columbus and Ent just wants to get away. Isn't it our duty to help an Ohio refugee? Please be generous.
· SANTIAGO GONZALEZ ARECO: While not yet a renowned name in International football circles this lithe 18-year-old Uruguayan striker has made a few waves in his home country. The 5 foot 8 hitman showed enough promise to play for Uruguay's highly regarded U-17 team and he also earned a spot on their U-17 World Cup squad in 2009. Hasn't managed to break free of his last club's (River Plate Montevideo) B-team where despite having an eye for goal has succumbed to criticisms of his fragile physical nature in the box.
· NICK SOOLSMA: The least known of the three Dutch treats in this group, the 23-year-old Soolsma has yet to cement a place up front with a club of any substance. Spent time with Holland's VV Young Boys and HFC Haarlem (the Dutch kind of Harlem, not the cool Hip Hop one). No word if Soolsma had anything to do with Haarlem's bankruptcy either. Despite flirtations with the Dutch U-20 and U-17 set-ups, definitely the dark horse of this group.

Pride of The Rebellion - Wedge Antilles

Friday, January 28, 2011

Letters From Camp: "Trial it... just a little bit..."

"Captain... passenger De Rosario wants to complain about his meal"

We still get a little shocked around here with Toronto FC's new-found quality information sharing. For four years we had more misinformation and doublespeak than a George Orwell novel and a director who only appeared when there was good news. Like a moronic little ginger groundhog. Part of Team Winter's "sharing and caring" was a promise to inform supporters of the trialists involved with the 2011 camp. Following are the Canadians invited to Turkey with word that some Europeans will be added in the coming days...
· EDDY SIDRA: The Sudanese-born Canadian International had been highly rumoured to be involved with the TFC set-up after appearing at the Team Canada "Ode to all-things Manchester" kit unveiling earlier this week in Toronto. The 5 foot 7-ish, 21 year old defender has spent the majority of his pro career in the youth system of Germany's Energie Cottbus but found himself without a club at the end of 2010. Has 7 U-20 and 3 Full International caps to his name.
· GIANLUCA ZAVARISE: BC-born midfielder with 1 Canadian Full cap. Came out of the West Coast youth leagues and made his way to Italy's Serie D semi-pro divisions where he toiled with glamour clubs such as Calcio Montebellunna (The Monster Balloons) and AC Belluno (The Athletic Balloons). Managed to move up to the German league where he got some solid time playing for Vfl Bochum's Reserve side before leaving them for Greece's Iraklis FC where he failed to make a First Team appearance. At 24 years old could still have the potential to add some stop-gap domestic depth to the midfield.
· DAVID MONSALVE: The 22 year old keeper could be quite the story if he makes the club as he would be the first Red to make a return appearance after leaving TFC. One of the club's many first-year keepers, Monsalve made one start in MLS against Chicago and also got minutes in the first season's friendly vs. Aston Villa. Happy times. Has spent majority of last 3 years at Finnish club Inter Turku FC (The International Turkeys) where he made 14 First Team appearances. At 6 foot 2 and hailing from North York, Monsalve could well be in goal for the TFC Reserves at least in 2011.
For now, these are the only three confirmed trialist names in camp but with so many available roster spots and being so deep into Europe it will be surprising if they are the last. More to follow here if added trialists appear.
It emerged this afternoon that former TFC assistant coach, then interim head coach, then in-limbo staff member Nick Dasovic is no longer with the club. Dasovic and the Reds parted ways before the team left for Turkey and without word if the decision was based on Dasovic's dislike for kebabs. The decision would surprise few as having a former head coach as an assistant could undermine Aron Winter's authority and would never really work. There were expectations that Dasovic may coach the Reserve Team but a coaching role at either Vancouver or Montreal now looks more likely for the ex-Canadian International.
While not exactly news from TFC camp, Major League Soccer made a big change to league roster rules which will affect Canadian clubs. Starting this year, American players will be considered as "domestic" status on Vancouver, Toronto and next year in Montreal. The aim is to even the competitive playing field for Canada's clubs. In order to protect the "Canadiana" of those clubs, they will have to have at least 3 Canadians on the roster at all times.
The league has also set-up a "task force" alongside the CSA to find ways of improving Canadian player growth and development. Here's an idea MLS... Step 1) Buy sledgehammer. Step 2) Take sledgehammer to CSA. Step 3) Smash.
The genius brigade at MLS also announced conference realignment for 2011 with Vancouver and Portland joining the West and those Atlantic seaboard faves Houston Dynamo joining the East. That audible banging you hear are the combined heads of North American football fans hitting walls as we face yet another year without a single table.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Letters From Camp: "Lights, webcams... little action"

Head Counsellor at "Camp Wannafooty"

Dispatches from camp always have to be taken with a grain of salt. The campers often have a wide variety of emotions from good to bad and send the strangest messages to their loved ones waiting for news. TFC camp isn't all that different - lots of wide-eyed youngsters, surly camp veterans and wily counsellors make for an adventurous few weeks where anything seems possible.
Our very own "Letters from Camp" section will try to capture some of that madness over the next few weeks as we try to keep you up to date with the wacky stories, both real and imagined, that emerge from Camp Wannafooty. Think of it as a home version of training camp as you figure out what's real and what's italicized not-so-real fireside chatter! For example: "The club announced that they are set to leave for Turkey"... or… "The club announced their former Director was a turkey" See! Fun! Catch "Letters from Camp" until early March... or until those wacky draft picks steal a canoe and row across to the girl's training camp!
To kick off camp, the players and staff met up with local media for some hasty interviews featuring the finest in puffball questions, cliché answers, terrible audio and shaky internet connections. Some of the highlighted points from the 2011 Reds included:
· ARON WINTER: A possibility of adding a second DP before the season; 6 trialists will join the club in Turkey; Tuesdays will feature an all-you-can-eat pancake and shmoke buffet; He did not like the "old British" style played here previously; Supplemental picks won't go to Turkey; Really sick of "Winter" puns already
· PAUL MARINER: The club is actively dealing with De Ro and his contract woes; He is not the 5th Beatle as rumoured online nor an actual mariner
· JULIAN DE GUZMAN: Has trimmed the afro buy at least 34%; His knee is getting better and he should play in the Carolina Challenge Cup; Enjoys the bible and long walks on the beach
· DEMETRIUS OMPHROY: Very excited about being club's top pick; Loves the city; Wants to be known as "Little Lord Omphroy"
· MATT GOLD: Eloquent and well spoken; Relishes the defensive midfield support role over offensive glory; Wants to lead MLS in freckles and ginger hair
· STEFAN FREI: Excited to play attacking football; Will get to use feet in Dutch style; Still thinks Swiss cheese beats Dutch any day
· NICK LABROCCA: Everyone got to meet the coaches and it should be "exciting" soccer; Really excited about upcoming tax season - offered to prepare teammates returns
· TY HARDEN: Has to prove self to club; Had to show ID to enter stadium
· NICK GARCIA: Came in and announced "someone order a taxi?"
· JACOB PETERSON: The attitude is positive; Turkish food is frightening - will bring own powdered milk;
· JIMMY BRENNAN: Wanted to know if you take your coffee with cream and sugar
· MAICON SANTOS: Was clueless as who would line-up next to him in striker position; Having hard time with Toronto's winter that renders his lambada moves useless
· DAN GARGAN: Biggest change was not signing with team 2 hours before kick-off; Has trademarked the phrase "Soccer's Wendel Clark";
· COLLIN SAMUEL: Wanted to see if any sandwiches were left over
· DWAYNE DE ROSARIO: Celtic was a "great experience"; Winter is direct and straight forward - a refreshing start; Just turned down a controversial trial with Queen Of The South; "Some people like you, some people don't"; Wants to play in upcoming Canada v Greece friendly; Plans to run for Mayor of Scarborough in 2015; Replied to journalist question about trials with "If the New York Times asks you to write for their paper - would you go?"; Announced trial with the New York Times Sunday league co-ed squad
· MO JOHNSTON: Twittered that his birdhouse was coming along nicely and he had 6 or 7 Brazilian birds interested in moving into it
So there you have your campsite fun for now. To see the official, and fully factual (what fun is that?) interviews, check out the official site. But again, why? It's so... factual. Boring!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

THE WORD: First day back Maltesers

Red with a honeycomb centre. Like TFC's 2010 defence!

The stories out of TFC training camp's first day started leaking before the ink was dry on the medical needles. At least that's my understanding of needles. Might explain my scurvy. Anyhoo... with roster spots galore and a plane warming up on the tarmac for a flight to Turkey, names have begun to pop up on the potential passenger list aboard AeroWinter - direct flight, non-stop to Antalya... On-board meal: butty; In-flight film: "How Not to Play Football: TFC 2010 Season Highlights".
Apart from the expected inclusion of The Reds' eight recent draft picks, word is that TFC will give a fair shake to four current TFC Academy products: Ashtone "Loc" Morgan, Oscar "Meyer" Cordon, Keith "Booyah" Makubuya and Matt "Don't Call me Matthew" Stinson. The homegrown youngsters will by all accounts get as much opportunity, if not more, than their NCAA-bred counterparts. TFC's recent announcement of creating even younger Academy teams shows that the homeslice plan is the route they will follow in future. The new U-1 TFC Toddler team will really pay dividends in the 2029 season.
Rumours from outside of the club include whispers that Andrew Ornoch may no longer be in The BMO Field mix while Canadian international Eddy Sidra (in town to show off the national team's new "Ode to Man United" kit") could be interested in joining the team. Sidra has been without a club since his contract with Germany's Energie Cottbus (so fun to say!) ended in 2010.
The wackiest rumour floating around came out of footballing hotbed Malta where media reports linked 22 year old Brazilian striker Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo (aka Camilo) with TFC. The 5 foot 7 forward scored a massive 22 goals in 24 Maltese Premier League matches with the great Qormi team (apparently the Aston Villa of Malta) before venturing off to a less than inspiring stretch with South Korea's Gyeongnam (apparently South Korea’s Blackburn Rovers) where he failed to score. Before getting too excited about 22 goals in 24 matches, remember... it's the Maltese League. Word is that the reigning champs played a mule in net for half the season.
One day in and it's already fun! Welcome back footballs!
WORD FACTOR (TFC Academy call-ups): 9 / 10
WORD FACTOR (Ornoch & Sidra): 5 / 10
WORD FACTOR (Camilo): 3 / 10

Monday, January 24, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC preseason vaccinations

"You are safe to play The Crew now"

The first photo-op of any preseason is of eager (well, mostly eager) players arriving at their club and getting ready for their annual medical. Down at BMO Field, Toronto FC's crack medical team will be putting the Reds, both old a new, through their paces to make sure they are up to scratch. Of course, it's not all jumping jacks and 1930's style fat-shaking machinery - Doctor Dichio and staff also has to get the roster ready for the rigours of an MLS season and its inherent dangers with a series of vaccinations against some potentially odd ailments...
11. Bitchy Rabies
10. (Aron) Winter Blahs
9. Strained Afro (Julian de Guzman only)
8. DP Envy
7. Mo Withdrawal
6. Buttygut
5. Dan-Gargantuism
4. Cann-cussion
3. Columbus, Ohio
2. Celtic Fever
1. Nicked LaBroccas

Friday, January 21, 2011

Das Falsche Konsültant Journal: Day 75 - Auf wiedersehen Toronto, Kanada

7 AM: Departing on zie early morgen flight form LAX flughafen to der Toronto, Kanada Baron Lester V. Pearson flughafen. Today ist finale wrap-up address with FC Toronto staffen under strict direction of Chancellor Herr Anselmi. Will not be saddened over loss of Luft Kanada Airlines. Ist like riding on das Wuppertal Suspended Railway for hours in sky - but mit worse föod und more eishockey dokümentary.
8:30 AM: No timen for die hearty breakfast before departure so I bring mein special "Stuttgart Sunrise" Pöwer Shaken in mein onboard lüggagetrunken. I request a bendy straw from die sexy luft waitress but she claims there is no bendy straws on die aircraft. Schiesse! "Lies, lies, lies!" I yell - but mein anger falls on deaf Kanadian ears. I am forced to drink Pöwer Shaken (lingenberry, limes, herring, horseradish und marzipan) from die Tüpperware cup like some kinderdumkopf! Herr across aisle turns up nose at mein shaken, I tell him to “chill out dude!”
10 AM: Lose patience mit in-flighten audiovisual system. Vas ist die “Corner Petroleum” programmen? Ee ist neither humourous nor edukational auf role of petroleum prices und their residual effekt on der Western ekonömy! Thankful that I uploaden zie latest German slapstick komedy filmen “Your Family Never Loved You”. Hilarity.
3 PM (Kanada Timen): Toronto is colder than der embrace of Lothar Matthäus. Temperature effects my nether region in der adverse way.
3:30 PM: In transit to MLS und E secret bunker. I asken mein driver, Nick Garcia, to stoppen so I can try famous Toronto strasse frankfurter, or as is called in Kanada “Der Street Meat”. After one bite I throw this strassemeat on der pavement. Dies ist disgrace to the City of Frankfurt! Und I spillen die relish on mein loafer! Schiesse!
4 PM: Arriven at MLS und E bunker. Herr Anselmi willkommen me mit bundeshüg und tells der JimmyBee to get me the espresso. Der JimmyBee must have got der promotion as Herr Anselmi only refers to him as “Mr. Coffee”. I did not konsült such a personnel movement yet I think er ist perfekt for job! Herr Anselmi tells me all is happy mit TFC again and he is pleased mit my signing of “Jonathan Winters”. I correct him that it is Aron Winter but he rides away on die back of Earl of Cockrain and says “thanks for everything Jerry Klugman!”
4:30 PM: Texten message from olden freund Rudi Völler: Why must you hire die Nederlander für FC Toronto trainer?! You know how Rudi feels for zie Nederlander! Rudi spitten on your choice! Poor Rudi, always mit his moustachen in der knot!
4:45 PM: Before leaving der MLS und E bunker, JimmyBee... er Mr.Coffee und die Giant Dichio bring me der spëcial giften basket from Herr Anselmi as departing gift mit card attached saying "To Jerry... I don't care what The History Channel says, you German-types are fine by me! Heil soccer! T.A. & The gang!" Strange man. Giften basket is containing der following köntents: 1 satchel "Fancy Mixed Nuts"; Autograffen fotograf of eishockey legend Dan Daoust; 2 kilogram of pickled Cantonese panda meat; DVD box set of "Battle of the Blades - Season 2"; Der coupon for "One Free Crime of My Choice in the Greater Toronto Area"; a small creature in a cage mit direktion "Do Not Feed After Midnight"; XBox 360; jar full mit ground unicorn horn; der "Leafs Nation" tea towel; a platinum keycard mit wörds "Pleasure Chamber" engraved on one side; World War III sniper rifle; limited time Maple Leafs donut from Tim Horton’s; und finale... die map to “2012 Ark”.
6 PM: Say last auf wiedersehen to Toronto skyline und kiss to both cheeks of limo driver Nick Garcia. Tells me he is to return to Kalifornia to “work on his music”. Says we should “meet up for lunch”, I say “no danke”. Buy die maple syrup von Kanada in der Düty Free. Get texten message from Herr Anselmi before boarding Luft Kanada Airlines: Jerry - best if you don’t take that gift basket through customs LOL! Again - was ist die lol?
8 PM: Try to rest on flight back to LAX flughafen by watching iPäd foto slideshow of mein kitty kat best friend Karl-Heinz dressed as famous footballers of the 1980’s. Karl-Heinz as 1985 Peter Beardsley in der Newcastle kit is mein favorit! Watch die uploaded German night-time talk show “I Watch You Sleep mit Boris Becker" - special guest, a dog dressed as transvestite Ivan Lendl.
8:30 PM (Kalifornia Timen): Arrive at LAX flughafen. Immediately pulled aside by der Fatherland Security. I am thinking large man is wanting mein autograf but instead he says “is this gift basket yours sir?” Schiesse.
8:45 PM: Full body kävity search. Not entirely unpleasant.
9:00 PM: Fatherland Security man returns, says that he “didn’t know I was friends with Grand Elk Anselmi” und was free to leave.
9:15 PM: Last küstoms officer at LAX flughafen asken “Anything to declare?” - I answer “$400,000 dollars for three months work ist wunderbar!”

“Das Falsche Konsültant Journal” does not claim to represent the words of any real Germanic person living, dead or miscellaneous. No dogs were dressed as tranvestite Ivan Lendl during the publication of this falsche Bavarian diary. Danke

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Whooo! Spring Break!" TFC releases preseason plans

Cann, LaBrocca, Gargan and Harden get ready...

Yes, it's a bit of a slow news day when you are discussing your club's travel plans but things are a little more interesting than in years past. From 2007 through 2010, Mo Johnston's Reds usually dilly-dallied around Florida for a few weeks while testing their "strengths" against far from formidable opponents such as out of season NCAA squads and Sunday League ex-pros before winding up with a mediocre display at the annual Carolina Challenge in Charleston, SC. Of course, it's was always hard to train considering Mo didn't start signing players until 24 hours before the season started.
This year marks a decidedly improved and far more challenging springtime for Toronto FC. After a brief get-together in Toronto, the club, along with some trialists and invitees, embarks on their first ever sojourn to Europe - specifically Antalya, Turkey. During their two week stay in the Turkish city, The Reds will play friendlies against UEFA middleweights Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia and Serbian legends Partizan Belgrade with another match TBA. Despite both Dinamo and Partizan trying out some new and young bodies themselves, it still marks a vast improvement in pre-season challenges.
The club returns to North America on February 12th and will split their time between Toronto and the US South with appearances at both the Disney Tournament and once again at the Carolina Challenge Cup where they will test their strengths against MLS rivals.
With rumoured trialists, including Bas Ent, Evan Schwartz, Andrew Ornoch and David Monsalve, joining the eight recent draft picks, the TFC camps should be an open affair with a lot of competition for many available spots. Hopefully the club will help out their eager fanbase with far more open reporting, which would contrast the former regime's "information lockdown" agenda.
View the full TFC Preseason schedule here...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Sup' Plemental Draft?" "Just Draftin', whassup' wit you?"

The Fighter: "Irish" Steven Beattie

Enough of that wacky rap music street jive, Toronto FC is doing serious business... yo! Major League Soccer held the 2011 Supplemental Draft today and Team Winter was busy doing what Mo Johnston rarely did - team building. For those of you who don't know what this draft is all about, think of last week's SuperDraft as the exciting Boxing Day sale where all kinds of goodies are up for grabs. The Supplemental Draft on the other hand is the post-Boxing Day sale where the things that didn't get picked up are thrown into a bin and bargain hunters sift through junk looking for a diamond in the rough.
Despite its Honest Ed's feel, the Supplemental Draft isn't anything to be sneezed at. It's true that there are no contract guarantees given to the drafted players with many, if not most, disappearing quietly during training camps. However, now and again, those diamonds are discovered. In past years, MLS stars such as Jeff Larentowicz, Brian Ching and Chris Wondolowski have emerged from the bin in question. With that possibility and a whole whack (more rap jive) of roster spots available, Toronto FC 2.0 has taken four youngsters with potential shiny bits.
JIMMY "JC" BANKS: Mobile midfielder from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay (Go! Fightin' Cheese Wheels! Go!) who just dropped out of the SuperDraft selections last week after a mediocre combine. Father was a US International who played at the 1990 World Cup and starred with the indoor Milwaukee Wave. "Wave Soccer - Catch the Taste!"
"IRISH" STEVEN BEATTIE: The high-scoring forward made his way from the youth leagues of Dublin, Ireland over to the wilds of Northern Kentucky (great fried chicken, awful Irish breakfasts) in NCAA Division II. His eye for goal led him to be named the division's Player of the Year in 2008 and 2010 but his stock dropped due to his MLS International Roster status.
SPENCER "FOR HIRE" THOMPSON: One of two guys named Spencer Thompson to go in today's draft. Wha' Supp (see what I did there?) with that? The big forward from Michigan State actually trained with TFC last summer when the "Preki & Mo FunTime Hour" still ruled. Does he still want to come? Hey, free trip to Turkey! Gobble, gobble!
SCOTT "SPANISH FOR RED SCOTT" ROJO: Diminutive midfielder from High Point University ("Let's! Get! High!") who spent some time with the USL PDL's Carolina Dynamo. The 5 Foot 7 Texan can still tower over new TFC forward Joao Plata - so there's that.
On a roster that is full of chances, a spot on the big club - or at least its Reserve League baby brother - is there for the taking for these young men. As one of eight youngsters joining the new “Oranje Reds” in the last week, these players may have joined the most opportune club outside of the two expansion teams. They won't be able to just walk onto TFC though. If Team Winter’s constant selection of two-way players has shown anything, it's that they have a plan in mind and will only take players who fit. Word to your mutha.

Whassup' with that?

Monday, January 17, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Nice things to say about the MLSE Board

"Tom, this panda is delicious! You can taste the powdered pickle!"

Us Yorkies have been tough on the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment brass in regards to their stewardship of Toronto FC - and rightfully so! Seriously... they bought the team, Dichio scored a goal... pretty much downhill from there. When they announced this off-season that they would assemble a top-notch management team, we turned up our noses and waited for Earl Cochrane's introduction as GM. But, as we know... they shocked us all and bought Team Winter instead and thus kudos are rightfully extended.
With MLSE's extension of sudden goodwill, we tried to suck it up and say some nice things about them. It hurt. Hurt real bad. We tried to find some genuine things, we really did - but we are petty, bitter and pessimistic types and failed. So, in the absence of truth, here are some nice things we'd believe to be complimentary about Toronto's sporting overlords...
11. Worship a different gold/goat god for every sports franchise
10. Have a solid plan to invade Bermuda - convert it into fascist island dictatorship named "Leafs Nation"
9. Poltergeists in new Downtown condos down by 30%
8. Successfully trademarked phrase "The Rolling 5-Year-Plan"
7. "The RealSports Human Sport-Hunting Facility" ranked # 1 in North America for three years running!
6. Completely entranced and invigorated by Jürgen Klinsmann's forceful German speeches... just saying.
5. Know how to build a top-notch secret dungeon
4. Have almost nearly stopped making Chip Butty from people
3. Never leave any leftover endangered panda meat at Board luncheons
2. Have managed to conceal Mo Johnston's whereabouts for over 5 months and counting!
1. Always sacrifice virgins in a timely and efficient manner

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SuperDraft SuperBusy for TFC’s new SuperManagement

End of The Chad in The Toronto

With no 1st Round pick and only a handful of mid-range picks at their disposal, most Toronto FC observers predicted a quiet day at the MLS SuperDraft. But, you know what they say... "when in Baltimore..." umm... "do stuff?" Sure, that works! And stuff they did. In somewhat chronological order, TFC's Oranje Army got SuperBusy at the SuperDraft... in SuperBaltimore like so:
Before their first pick was even close, TFC sent forward Chad "The Chad" Barrett to Los Angeles Galaxy for "future considerations". Don't they know the world ends in 2012?! What good are these futures? Damn you John Cusack!
After getting over the terrible tragedy that was John "I'm Wayne's brother" Rooney's selection by New York with the 25th pick overall, Toronto used their 26th overall pick to select the fabulously named Demetrius Omphroy. The 21-year-old defender/ midfielder from University of California is said to be a decent pick that late in the draft and has shown personal strength by battling the tough disease MS to make it to this level. Also, best name since Julius James.
With the first of their two, back-to-back 3rd Round picks, TFC selected two-way midfielder Matt Gold, a product of Ohio State. Take that Columbus! We gone done kidnapped a Buckeye! If Gold can collect goals like he collects freckles and dodgy facial hair, he'll be a massive star. If not... we'll leave him outside an Ohio State frat house - Revenge of the Nerds style!
With the Gold barely being appraised (see what I did there Cashman?) TFC used the 44th overall pick to snag yet another midfielder. This time it was El Salvadorian-American Junior Burgos who played at Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo - catchy school name! If he can emulate his father, Senior Burgos aka Efrain Burgos, who played for 6 years on the El Salvador National Team, then perhaps the lanky 22-year-old social science major could be depth in 2011.
With most TFC SuperDraft fans packing up their SuperScarves, Team Oranje pulled a 3rd Round rabbit out of their clogs by sending backup keeper/ giant Jon Conway to Chicago for the 49th pick which was used to grab tiny Combine standout Joao Plata. Before you say "who?", Plata was the leading scorer at the MLS Combine and is a product of the Barcelona youth system! Ok, it's the Barcelona in Ecuador - but still! Ecuador! We haven't had one of those yet. New flag at BMO!
So there you have it... for now. Everyone knows Baltimore is the city that never sleeps... mostly because of late-night burglars... so there may yet be deals to come. The day will be most remembered as the end of the Toronto line for The Chad Barrett. While he started his Reds' career as a constant goat, his hard-work and hustle won him many fans. Sadly, it was Mo Johnston's willingness to give him a massive (MLS massive) contract that did him in. In the end, not enough goal-scoring consistency and being prone to nagging injuries made his soon-to-be $300K salary too much of an anchor for a team in the midst of a massive re-build. How his cramps will deal with LA humidity is anyone's guess.
For the current TFC optimist, such bold moves leave one with the impression that Aron Winter's Oranje Army have a solid plan and a lot of moves up their collective sleeves before the season begins. Currently they are flirting with a skeleton roster with many holes to fill and a short time to do it. If Mo Johnston was in charge, TFC supporters would be frightened right now but there seems to be a sense of waiting to see what Winter & Co. will do before leaving for training camp in Turkey. Or, MLSE will only buy 20 tickets on Turkish Airlines... Just saying. Much like most of today's events, we must wait to see what the future holds.

Damn you and your 2012

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TFC Academy over MLS Draft way forward for The Reds

Sign of the future?

With the majority of Toronto FC's management staff, both new and old, gathered at the MLS Combines, we ponder if future pre-seasons will devote as many resources to the league's SuperDraft. Since Aron Winter and his "Oranje Revolution" cohorts were named to lead TFC into the future, the words most heard have been “youth”, “academy”, “philosophy” and “development”. It is no secret that the long-term goal is to foster a smaller version of the famed Ajax Academy system here in Toronto and in interviews last week, Winter made it clear that a strong TFC Academy could eventually make The Reds' participation in the Draft redundant at best.
Is it realistic to picture a scenario where TFC Academy regularly feeds the First Team like so many other major clubs around the world? In its first few years, TFC Academy has taken baby steps in developing local talent and it began to pay dividends with the first professional graduates Doneil Henry and Nicholas Lindsay in 2010. If Team Winter manages to revolutionize the academy over the next few years the way they would like, and for now it seems like all are on board, it isn't beyond reason to imagine a crop of youngsters feeding into TFC annually. There are seemingly far more positives to dedicating resources to the TFC Academy and away from the NCAA draft system...
A strong local academy knits Toronto FC into the local football and general sporting fabric at an organic, grassroots level. Having a local home-based destination for young, bright prospects gives those players a goal in which to pursue their football dreams with the possibility of a pro career at the end and makes TFC a club that can make local dreams come true. That kind of positive image can't be bought on commercials.
If implementing the "TFC: Total Football Club" philosophy is as important as Winter claims, then training players in that style from their mid-teens is far more advantageous than drafting an NCAA product. The collegiate draftee in most cases is already in their early 20's and has just come from a 4-year crash course in another coach’s style. "Un-learning" that style, then catching up to the TFC style makes that player 23 years old where an academy product is tactically ready at 19.
Canadian MLS rivals Vancouver and Montreal both have established academies and have been collecting talent from their geographic areas (and sometimes Toronto's) for many years. When Montreal joins the league in 2012 there will be a premium on finding Canadian talent (in a fairly shallow pool) and breeding your own young Canadians will be imperative.
In a league where salary parity eliminates the advantages of a financially superior club, academy investment is a way for more successful clubs to flex some of their money-muscle and/or football smarts. Clubs who take the time to build better facilities, hire the best staff and create the smartest philosophies can find a way to supersede the SuperDraft (which can always become something of a lottery with few "sure-thing" prospects), as well as MLS salary cap/ transfer restrictions.
For TFC in particular there are two selfish reasons to invest in the Academy over the Draft. On the field, The Reds can get a major jump on many teams talent-wise in a league where less than 50% of their rivals have established youth set-ups. US clubs are coming around slowly but most have yet to join the academy revolution giving the likes of TFC a head start. And finally, if the MLSE board needs a little help swallowing it... there are possible big pay-offs down the line if a local prospect comes good and European clubs come around sniffing with wads of Euros in hand. A potentially big profit awaits from a modest investment. 

Of course much of this "future" MLS landscape is subjective but as the league grows closer ties to the world football community, the academy system is likely to follow. For now, the NCAA draft is going nowhere, not enough MLS clubs have invested in youth to be able to stock their rosters properly without it. Drafts are considered an exciting, fun and very North American tradition which many of our friends down south will want to protect. However, it isn't a football tradition, and much like running penalty kicks, countdown clocks and 2-point goals it will eventually go the way of the footy dodo. All the more reason for MLSE to give the full set of keys to Winter, Mariner and the gang immediately, so for once, TFC can lead… not follow.

Toronto FC suffers broken wing - Nicholas Lindsay out for 2011

Lindsay: Best foot forward

Disappointing news out of BMO Field today as Toronto FC announced that 18-year-old winger Nicholas Lindsay will miss the 2011 season through injury. The energetic Lindsay has suffered a serious knee injury during off-season (rumoured to be snowmobile accident) which will require multiple surgical procedures over the next six months. In addition to the surgeries, Lindsay will require lengthy re-hab which will push any possible return to the club until the 2012 season.
For the player himself, the injury couldn't have come at a worse time. Lindsay made news in the 2010 season as the club's second ever Academy product to turn professional and showed flashes of skill and poise during his brief MLS appearances. 2011 was set to be a big year in Lindsay's development as a professional and the club's lack of depth in the wing position gave the youngster an open door to earn substantial minutes and solidify his place on the First Team.
For TFC and its new management team, the injury represents another challenge in the rapidly approaching pre-season. Going into Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, the roster is a skeleton squad with few positions having quality depth. What makes Lindsay's sudden status even more problematic is that TFC doesn't currently have any established starters in the wing position let alone depth. It is yet another box to check on Winter & Co.'s pre-season wishlist and certainly not good news for their philosophy which cherishes homegrown talent.

Monday, January 10, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Things overheard at the Aron Winter press conference

Those are top quality Academy prospects!

There have been few Toronto FC press conferences that have been as momentous as last week's introduction to Aron Winter & Co. There was the club unveiling in 2006, Dwayne De Rosario's signing from Houston, "The Great Mo & Preki Escape" of 2010... Oh, and maybe Jacob Peterson's Amish Hip-Hop album release. But, apart from those - this was big Edam cheese. Fans got to hear some of the Q&A with the new management team and the assorted press but sometimes it's the things that are caught anonymously off-mic that are more interesting...
11. "It was the giant CNE windmill that sealed the deal."
10. "I've never seen so many pancakes at a press conference!"
9. "Is Bob de Klerk a part-time hitman?"
8. "Gentleman, you can leave your clogs by the door."
7. "Did he just call the club TFC Eindhoser?"
6. "Where's Jim Brennan with our coffee?"
5. "What do you mean no red light district in Toronto!?"
4. "Rohan Ricketts just changed his name to Johan Riijkets"
3. "Sorry sir... no Belgians allowed."
2. "TFC will be more Ajax Academy... less Police Academy"
1. "Total Football sure beats Mo-tal Football"

Friday, January 7, 2011

THE WORD: Dutch-based Canadian first to join Toronto FC's "Oranje Revolution"?

Polish-Canadian Dutch treat?

It's barely been 24 hours since Aron Winter was declared Toronto FC's head honcho but perhaps the Dutch legend's links to his homeland may help the club land a new striker. Rumours from Holland claim that Scarborough raised Andrew Ornoch, currently playing for Eerste Divisie (Dutch 2nd Tier) side BV Veendam, will be leaving that club in the near future to join The Reds when training camp opens in late January. The poorly translated Dutch-to-English report states:

Aron Winter has his first reinforcement. The former footballer, who recently started working as manager at Toronto FC, will be provided with Andrew Ornoch.

Ornoch came last season to BV Veendam. The attacker, however, suffers from homesickness and decided to return to his native Canada. There he will work for Toronto FC, reports the club from Groningen.

BV Veendam and Ornoch spoke earlier and concluded that the player would take trips to the training camp of the club in Turkey. In consultation has now decided that both parties finally split up.

Oh, the Dutch... "split up" sounds so emotional! The 25-year-old Ornoch has been linked before to TFC but a deal couldn't be completed, with Mo Johnston's capped out salary structure the rumoured reason. However, with plenty of cap room, free roster spots, the new management's relations within Dutch football and the player's apparent desire to play in Canada - a deal could come into reality soon.
The Canadian International has had career stops in Hungary and Denmark previous to Holland but hasn't managed to cross into the "prolific striker" mode quite yet but at a young age and with a chance to play regularly at home, the Polish-born hitman could be the right fit in Winter's desired "attacking total football". With rumours persisting about Dutch winger Bas Ent and American defender Evan Schwartz (both having played for USL's Dayton Dutch Lions) joining Toronto, the club could have an oranje shade quicker than expected.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Winter's arrival brings season of change to Toronto FC

Well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad!

When MLSE VP Tom Anselmi opened today's important press conference with an admission that the club had been "going in the wrong direction" it was hard not to point the finger squarely at the man himself. For four years under Anselmi and MLSE's direction, TFC was allowed to flounder, mostly at the hands of Mo Johnston, and on this site as in many other places, the ownership was rightfully criticized. This post-season Anselmi committed the club to finding a "second to none" MLS front office. The pessimists (this site included) scoffed but for today at least, credit is due. The changes announced today are indeed the finest in the club's history.
With the more than influential Jürgen Klinsmann leading the way, MLSE put together a braintrust with actual "brains". Introducing the new front office as one that would foster "our style of play" Anselmi brought the news that the club's leadership would be laid out with new blood in an actual football hierarchy. From top to bottom the main staff includes:

Aron Winter - Head Coach and Technical Director
Paul Mariner - Director of Player Development
Bob de Klerk - Assistant Coach and Assistant Tech. Director
Earl Cochrane - Director of Team Operations
Stuart Neely - Director of TFC Academy
It was also made clear that Nick Dasovic, Danny Dichio, Jim Brennan, Mike Toshack and Jason Bent will remain with the club in "important roles”.
In addition to the major staff changes, Anselmi also handed club supporters some late Christmas gifts with the announcements that TFC would be creating a much further developed scouting department, improvements to the Academy set-up and that the MLSE Board had approved a $17 Million training facility to be built in the GTA.
It may have taken four hard years to get to this point but there is a feeling today that Toronto FC starts here... for real this time. The people and plans put into place should have come in 2007 but there is little use looking back in anger today. A little bit of forgiveness today to MLSE... BUT, not forgetfulness. If Anselmi & Co. really want to make this a success, then we say - good start, now get out of the way and don't meddle with men much smarter than you! We don't have another four years like the last in us.

Was 2007-2010 all a bad dream?

Some highlighted points from the stars of today's feature "TFC II: The Tee Effening":
- Has a good feeling for the club and Toronto - a "soccer city"
- Spoke to Ruud Gullit about challenges of MLS before taking job
- Wants a "Toronto" style not an Ajax one but will lean towards an attractive 3-striker option made famous with the "Total Football" philosophy
- He expects Dwayne De Rosario to be with the club at training camp
- MLS is a "shtrange" league with long geographical distances; equivalent to a mid-level European league in standard
- Making TFC Academy strong will eliminate club's need for the MLS Draft system and will create strong young Canadian talent
- Will report to Winter and be "the bridge between league and Aron"
- Will oversee the short-term and long-term player targets
- Started to identify players already for 2011
- Used to "look across the border with envy" at TFC's support and atmosphere when he was with New England
- Answered first question of press conference in Dutch
- Has awesome Goldmember-esque Dutch-English accent
- Has penchant for dressing like a pimp from The Hague
- Had a priceless moment during a question regarding De Rosario where they both stared at their shoes and shuffled uncomfortably in their seats
- Despite Anselmi's references to what type of hockey players Torontonians like, the German said that the "Toronto style" will be attractive, attacking football and that this coaching staff reflects it
- Claims it's harder for a European coach to be successful in MLS
- Winter stands for "aggressive, attacking" football

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Ways Toronto FC will change under Dutch influence

Because PSV Torontohoven just wasn't funny

Winter is upon us! So are years of "winter" puns! Yes, the news travelled quickly across the Atlantic yesterday that Dutch legend Aron Winter was on the verge of joining Toronto FC. In what capacity we are yet to know for certain - at the time of writing it could be Technical Director, Head Coach, GM, starting midfielder or head groundskeeper. ML$E of course has kept their mouths shut on the topic until a press conference is held, most likely on Thursday. By that time we expect Earl Cochrane to have heard the news. Of course there is still the added possibility that England's Paul Mariner is in the mix but either way, Winter's arrival (along with his pal Bob de Klerk) will be seen as Toronto's "Oranje Revolution". But how else may the Dutch influence be felt around TFC?
11. New "Amsterdam-style" coffee house opened near Gate 3
10. 70% of BMO Field's power to come from windmills
9. New training facility built in Ajax... Ontario
8. All BMO Field ketchup replaced with warm mayonnaise

7. Club re-branded as "Go Ahead Beavers"
6. PA announcer constantly putting down Belgians
5. Julian de Guzman to market line of athletic wooden clogs
4. Club ownership will be pronounced "ML-esh-E"
3. Chad Barrett to change name to Chohan Bruyff
2. Dan Gargan told to grow 1980's style Ruud Gullit dreadlocks or be released
1. Pancakes! Pancakes! Pancakes!

Monday, January 3, 2011

THE WORD: Winter to storm through TFC?

Winter in Toronto has never seemed so good

Mainstream media reports are flying out of The Netherlands this morning that former Dutch International star and ex-Lazio, Inter and Ajax legend Aron Winter has been named as Technical Director of Toronto FC. There is yet to be any official announcement from the club itself but Winter has been quoted extensively including the following excerpts (poorly translated into English) in the major Dutch news paper De Telegraaf:

Aron Winter in Canada today to Toronto FC to sign a three year contract as technical director. He also gets responsibility for the first team at Toronto FC. The club comes from Major League Soccer, the professional level in America and Canada.

"I'm two days last week at the club visited and held immediately a good feeling, " said Winter. "They also, because I had not come back if I was already called back. Of the three candidates, I made the best impression. Around the turn of the year everything came around."

Toronto FC was explicitly looking for a technical man, who was familiar with the culture and Ajax playing style. "Then they come to the right place, " said Winter, who first comes to stand on their own as head coach. Winter has worked as coach of the promises of Ajax and was assistant coach to other Orange under 20 years of Foppe de Haan at the World Championships in the Netherlands.

The 43-year-old Winter Bob de Klerk takes it as his right hand. De Klerk (49) comes from the Ajax youth academy, where he and Frank de Boer in his charge had A1.

The sudden hiring apparently happened quickly over the New Year's period and Winter is en route back to Toronto immediately with his new TFC right hand man Bob de Klerk, the long-time Ajax assistant and youth coach. The surprises may not end here however.
Reports arose not long after the Aron Winter news that the Dutch star was not chosen over of widely expected hire Paul Mariner but in addition to him. If that extra bonus comes to fruition then there is a possibility that Winter takes the technical and "Director"-style position while Mariner becomes the field boss. In this equation, Earl Cochrane becomes an administrative type to handle the transition into the wacky world of MLS rules and salaries while Nick Dasovic possibly returns to the bench as assistant coach.
The details are far from concrete yet but as much as we don't want to believe it, the above set-up does hold the promise to be a "second to none" MLS head office. Aron Winter has been the inside man at Ajax who are second to none in international club structure. Here's hoping ML$E can manage to make these rumours reality. Updates to follow as they emerge.
WORD FACTOR: 8 / 10 (for the Winter hiring)...
6 / 10 (for the Winter/ Mariner package deal)

You want some International experience to go with that?

UPDATE: According to MLS insider website Soccer By Ives, the hirings are actually in reverse with Paul Mariner set to bcome the Technical/ GM while Winter & Co. will take on the First Team duties. Read more here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 New Year's (not New England) Resolution

The new TFC 2011 kit wasn't a hit

Bleary eyed. Terrible headache. Mouth tastes of old booze and smoke. You look in the mirror and promise yourself... "never again". No, it's not the day after the final Toronto FC match of the season - it's January 1st.
The Reds, and particularly their owners, don't make it very easy to look forward to 2011 but if there is one day of the year where you have to at least try to wipe the slate clean it's today. Just ignore the star player training with Celtic, no GM, no head coach, the likelihood of PR man Earl Cochrane being given control of the club, your 2011 ticket increase, the 13 players out of 30 currently under contract and the price of beer at BMO. Ugh, I should have drank more last night.
But alas, we here at The Yorkies will try to look ahead to 2011 with some New Year's resolutions for supporting our beloved Reds. Here's our bleary eyed crack at optimism - 11 goals for 2011. Add yours in the comments below... think of it as a New Year's intervention!
- Think of words that rhyme with "Nathan Sturgis" for new chants
- Quit my three-Butty-a-day habit
- Send Steve Nicol a cake with "Pretty Please" written on top
- No Beer. No Gear at BMO... until ML$E starts to build a winner
- Find a picture of De Ro in a kilt
- Learn the words to "The Ancient Mariner"
- Resist buying new TFC kit. Buy something from here instead
- Think of ways to blame Mo Johnston for another 365 days
- Become a German-Californian soccer consultant. Do little. Get rich
- Be nicer to ML$E. Stupid f*%#ing a&$@oles! (Oh well, 10 out of 11?)
- Instead of "TFC Blogger", refer to self as "Interim Journalist"

Happy New Year’s to our faithful readers… here's to 2011. Honestly, the only way is up... since there's no relegation.