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Thursday, April 28, 2011

THE MATCHUP: The Space Needle: Not a needle; never in space. Discuss.

Eat it Frasier

They've got a Space Needle; we've got a CN Tower. They had Frasier's dog, we had The Littlest Hobo. They had Nirvana we had... um... Platinum Blonde? They play like XBOX; we play like a reconditioned ColecoVision. "We're not in Edmonton anymore MoJo" - as Toronto FC visits MLS' biggest, baddest stadium and the Seattle Sounders.
The boys in "rave green" aka "projectile pea-vomit green” are always a very tough team to play at home and are far better rested than their Canadian visitors. At 2-3-2, Sounders are off to a start many of their abundant supporters would deem "mediocre" but they are fresh off of a 1-0 win away to MLS Cup holders Colorado. That match is now infamous for the terrible Steve Zakuani broken leg tackle which hurts Seattle's midfield options. Also hurting Seattle's offence has former TFC striker - now Sounder O'Brian White set to miss the match after surgery. What would a Jamaican striker have surgery for? BLOOD CLOT! Can't make it up.
Toronto FC make the short hop (if it wasn’t for the half-day airport delay) to Puget Sound from Alberta where they dispatched FC Edmonton in The NutCan. Despite the win, Aron Winter wasn't pleased with The Reds' sharpness late in the match and still seeks improvement. After last week's disappointing draw with Columbus, Winter will want to see better league play and did manage to rest some starters in order to maintain some freshness.
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "The Phallic Tower Tussle"
SEATTLE SOUNDERS: Kasey Keller, Fredy Montero, Erik Friberg
TORONTO FC: Stefan Frei, Julian de Guzman, Alan Gordon
- The word "emerald" being said by GolTV more times in 2 hours than over a week full week of Home Shopping Channel broadcasts: 10-1
- Seattle's wacky neon kits causing an impromptu game of TRON to break out: 50-1
- Conspiracy theorists blaming a Sounders loss to TFC on Courtney Love: 250-1
- Seattle is Washington's largest city with a population of 317 Sasquatch. Citizens are called "Seattlelites" and the main exports are hipster lumberjack shirts, "Venti" sized things, tossed salad and scrambled eggs
- Sounders owner / game show impresario Drew Carey is upset at MLS after having his idea of replacing the coin toss with a game of "Plinko" rejected by Don Garber
- Sounder (and ex-TFC) forward / slow movement enthusiast O'Brian White was fired as spokesmen for the XBOX Kinetic video game system when his motion couldn't be detected
"Shmellsh like de teen shpiritsh"
NEEDLES SAY: 2-0 Seattle
TOWERS SAY: 0-0 Draw

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AFTER 90: Reds put the squeeze on FC Edmonton's NutCan dream

I know... rubbing oil in the wounds

On the same night that saw Real Salt Lake trying to become the 2010/2011 CONCACAF Champions League Winners; the quest for a berth in the 2011/2012 version began for Toronto FC in Edmonton. Yes, The Nutrilite Canadian Championship aka "The NutCan" is back - now with 50% more knockout action! TFC, as reigning champions, drew the lowest seed - NASL newcomers FC Edmonton - and took to the field in the aging orange monolith known as Commonwealth Stadium. Would Aron Winter take the NutCan seriously? Would Toronto's Dutch style match Edmonton's Dutch style? Would someone tell us why FC Edmonton adopted the nickname "The Monties"? Let's go to the artificial pitch where ankles rarely return...
1' - Literally dozens of Albertans huddle in the bowels of Commonwealth as cold rain blows sideways over the snow banks (!!!) on the sidelines. Kick-off...
2' - If you squint it looks like Liverpool vs. Cardiff City. But you have to squint hard.
5' - Both team feeling each other out. Neither looking very Dutch.
8' - Mikael "Watch" Yourassowsky making some probing runs on the left side
12' - FCE midfielder Chris Lemire curls a free kick that beat Stefan Frei easily but hit the side netting. TFC got very lucky
20' - Richard Eckersley drives into the box and crosses a beautiful ball in front of the FCE keeper but Oscar Cordon scuffs his opportunity
22' - RED CARD: FC Edmonton MF Shaun Saiko gets straight red on a tough challenge. Wouldn't have been a red in many matches. Arguably a 50/50
27' - Alan Gordon really is "Yankee Dichio"
28' - Maicon Santos is his un-Brazilian alter-ego "Mike Sanders" as he scuffs a golden opportunity in the FCE box
33' - FC Edmonton somehow look far more offensively threatening since going down to 10 men. A better side would have punished TFC
34' - GOAL: Mike Sanders turns back into Maicon Santos and slots home a goal from a nice Joao Plata pass against the run of play.
42' - Nathan Sturgis AND Nick Soolsma shown on the bench - they're still alive!
45' - TFC defenders reading Edmonton's long range attempts well. In other news - Dan Gargan isn't playing
46' - Just to make me look stupid: SUB: Dan Gargan in for Richard "By" Eckersley who had a good first half. Recent TFC trialist Eddy Sidra on for FCE
48' - GOAL: Another great little Plata pass to Alan Gordon sees the ball pinball to Oscar Cordon only to return to Alan "Yankee Dichio" Gordon to sweep home the loose ball
52' - Joao Plata has been an absolute menace to the FCE defensive line. El Mosquito
58' - SUB: Alan Gordon out - Jacob "Amish Beckham" Peterson in
61' - GOAL: Terrible clearance by FCE goalkeeper Rein Baart lands at Maicon Santos' unmarked feet who slots it home with ease
65' - SUB: Joao Plata's best game in red ends with the return of the long lost Nick Soolsma
67' - Edmonton's D Paul Hamilton is a very pretty lady
70' - The FC Edmonton shirt sponsor "Sears Financing" makes me want to buy a La-Z-Boy recliner on layaway
74' - FCE Alex Surprenant puts one just over Stefan Frei's crossbar from a free kick
80' - Just heard that they couldn't fit tonight's crowd into FCE's actual home ground Foote Field. Is it a stadium for ants?
82' - TFC taking it into "ole" time
86' - Keith Gretzky can't be happy about this
89' - Can hear individual conversations at Commonwealth Stadium
90+ - Final whistle echoes through the stands putting FC Edmonton out of it's misery
Aron Winter couldn't have written a better introduction to The NutCan. The manager was able to rotate much of the squad while grabbing three valuable away goals. FC Edmonton showed some very workmanlike qualities early on and TFC indeed had some trouble breaking them down, but the difference in divisional class did show as the game wore on. The controversial red card changed the face of the match but TFC always looked like leaving Commonwealth with a win. The big three goal tally means Winter can put a very rotational squad out for the home leg next week as The Monties will be hard-pressed to score four at BMO Field. In the end, a win that TFC supporters wanted and a welcome addition of some lethal form to finish off a wounded opponent.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 6.5 / Richard Eckersley 7 / Ty Harden 6 / Dicoy Williams 6.5 / Danleigh Borman 6 / Tony Tchani 6 / Maicon Santos 7 / Oscar Cordon 6 / Mikael Yourassowsky 6.5 / Alan Gordon 7 / Joao Plata 7 / SUBS: Dan Gargan 6 / Jacob Peterson 5.5 / Nick Soolsma 6
TFC GOAT OF THE MATCH: Eddy Sidra? He was briefly a Red!
MATCH IN FIVE WORDS: Canadian. Sparsely populated. Fair result.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

THE MATCHUP: FC Edmonton wants oily hands all over our NutCan

Hands off our sweet NutCan!

Very rarely does Toronto FC go into a match as the "reigning" anything but as the 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship (NutCan to its friends) kicks off, The Reds look to add their two concurrent trophies. With the lush reward of a CONCACAF Champions League berth for the winner, The NutCan is a valuable little tournament which has expanded to four clubs with the inclusion of FC Edmonton. With the additional club, the format has changed to a knockout style with home-and-home legs which delivers TFC to Alberta on Wednesday.
The debutant FC Edmonton have just started their first season in the NASL and have shown some decent quality early. The core of the club has been playing together for a number of months and have tried to instil a similar "Dutch-style" as is being attempted in Toronto. Dutchman and former Eredivsie pro Harry Sinkgraven manages Edmonton onto the cavernous Commonwealth Stadium pitch, attempting to find long-term solidity in a town where the likes of the Drillers, Brickmen and Aviators have come and gone.
For Toronto FC, The NutCan may represent the club's only chance at finding glory in 2011. In the midst of an admitted major rebuild, Aron Winter would be wise not to underestimate the importance of this tournament to TFC's supporters. While most fans would see the need for some squad rotation - on the back of Columbus and with Seattle on the near horizon - The Reds are in no position to be fielding entire B-Squads. Anything less than another trophy in 2011 will be considered a failure.
FC EDMONTON: Alex Surprenant, Rein Baart, Chris Kooy
TORONTO FC: Richard Eckersley, Tony Tchani, Oscar Cordon
- Higher number of hot dog vendors than fans at Commonwealth: 8-1
- Conservative Party to rescind any points TFC gains in Alberta: 10-1
- With duelling Dutch managers - Belgian slurs to number in hundreds: 50-1
- NASL new boys FC Edmonton were named after a "Name The Club" competition picked FCE over two other entrants: Brickmen Rovers and PSV Oilhaven
- In an attempt to mimic the Whitecaps' Nash brothers popularity, FC Edmonton tried to sign Keith Gretzky during the off-season
- Commonwealth Stadium officials have tried to downplay fears over a rough pitch by promising to fill the giant divots with run-off from the Alberta Tar Sands
"Commonwealt Shtadium ish for Eshkimoshe not footbalsh"
OILERS SAY: 1-0 Edmonton
SPOILERS SAY: 2-0 Toronto

Monday, April 25, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Strange things found during the BMO Field Easter Egg hunt

Mmm, you can really taste the buttered bread!

Well that's it for Easter break - a nice mini-vacation to celebrate the first time Jesus rode through England on a giant bunny throwing chocolate eggs at snakes. At least that's what the nice lady on the Toblerone customer service line (tried to swallow a triangle whole - long story) led me to believe. Good work Christ fella! In the middle of the weekend was a decent TFC match which added to the biblical theme with a pestilence of insects and the new "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" version of BMO Field security. What many of us didn't see was the lovely children's Easter Egg hunt held through the corridors of BMO Field during the match. The things those kids stumbled across in their hunt for The Messiah's eggs was quite eggs-citing! See what I did there? Jesus.
11. Jim Brennan trying to shave hipster facial hair on a bunny
10. A dungeon where all of the South Stand's "disappeared" customers were taken by BMO Field security
9. Nick Soolsma - locked in the bathroom since March 21st
8. An Amsterdam-styled Red-Light District under the gym
7. Mista frozen in carbonite
6. A cot, a hot plate and a Twitter account in a storage closet with the words "Rohan Wuz 'Ere" spray painted on the door
5. Thousands of candy wrappers covering a snoozing Collin Samuel
4. Nick Garcia running on a giant hamster wheel that powers the stadium lights
3. An unfinished self-portrait of Mo Johnston depicted as a ginger version of the risen Christ
2. The Cadbury's Cream Chip Butty prototype
1. The other half of Joao Plata

Saturday, April 23, 2011

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Columbus... or how to spot multiple plagues in 90 minutes

Well how's that for a weather turn around? Last week, on the cusp of freezing rain and freezing temperatures, today a balmy 21C. The setting was perfect for an afternoon of... PLAGUES!

Just before kick-off, we were greeted with swarms of mosquitoes! All of that money raised for malaria nets could come in to good use right about now. Kidding. Sorta. Anyways, Toronto has never defeated Columbus apparently, and the Crew haven't allowed a goal in 4 matches. Another ideal scenario for a (goal) drought from the mighty Reds Robins! Oh the pressure, the stigma.

At kick-off we acknowledge the 6 to 7 supporters who made their way up from Columbus to see their "fightin' bananas" play. A special shout out to whomever borrowed mom's minivan for the day. The afternoon kick-off really affords them the chance to get back home before curfew. I guess having that play-ground in the stadium was a meeting place after all.

Highlights :

25 - Counter attack found Martina on the wing losing his man and firing a low shot, parried away by Willie Hesmer.

35 - Renteria for Columbus who has been poaching like a... um... poacher (so much for that simile) manages to intercept a pass, and lays it off to Rogers who proceeds to curl it around the south stand. Well squandered.

36 - YELLOW - A wee scuffle at the Columbus bench earns Tony "Touch" Tchani a booking, and someone else on Columbus... but peculiarly enough, no one on the bench got as much as a stern looking at.

41 - GOAL - Brilliant ball over the top onto the path of Tony "Touch" , one hop and half-volleys the ball low past Hesmer. He scores his first goal for his new club, much to the adoration of the North End Elite which leads us to...

41 - RED - The ref, who clearly doesn't follow the MLS past the paycheque stage, books the over-enthusiastic Tony "Touch" for excessive celebration. As noted, he pulled the "Dichio" of a goal then a shower immediately thereafter. It was a fair but stupid booking. Yes, I'm biased. If you want real journalism, you wouldn't be reading a blog...

45 - SUB - Gordon is off for Yourassowsky.

48 - GOAL - And we joked that it was only going to be a matter of time before Columbus finds the hole (here's a hint, it's most of our defence) and exploits it. The poacher, Emilio RenterĂ­a, nabs it.

54 - The pitch has opened up, more real attempts at each side. Seriously, WTF is with TFC playing better with 10 than 11? It's as rediculous as fighting blindfolded.

63 - SUB - Martina off for Eckersley, the new loan acquisition from Burnley.

76 - SUB - Maicon off for Plata. That dude is so pocket tiny...

79 - Plata is on the receiving end of an absolute hammering from Julius James. James was booked for his frustration in being unable to dislodge Plata from the ball.

FULL TIME : Toronto 1, Columbus 1

Man of the Match : Dicoy Williams was a beast in the back today. Looked great and the reason why I put "most" in the exploit line.
Goat of the Game : Dan Gargan wasn't bad, but his lack of skills exposed him too much. He wasn't fast when he needed to be and his judgment of high balls was really off, often under or over running where the ball's trajectory will end up.
Ref Rating : He was equally bad on both sides, but we feel that Tony "Touch"'s second booking was unnecessary. Let the man have his moment, then talk to him in the tunnel at the half. 3 out of 5.

Team ratings : Frei 6.5, Cann 6.5, Williams 7, Borman 6, Gargan 5.5, de Goo 6, Tony "Touch" 6.5 until the red, Santos 6.5 (Plata -), Peterson 6, Gordon 6 (Yourassowsky 6), Martina 6.5 (Eckersley 7)

The security seemingly were pulling people at random around the 75th minute, so if there was any sense of solidarity, the fans should havv walked out in protest but chose to think a "who are ya?" chant would send a message. It didn't... Dear MLSE, you have our money, your have our commitment, you have our attention. If you're not going to give us anything of value for our money, leave the supporters alone and pray that we remain stupid enough to keep coming back... I really was digging Eckersley and what he can bring to the side as he was playing in the middle of the pitch when TFC had the ball then moved back when they didn't... it took me a good 20 minutes to realize that we had reverted back to a 4-4-2. I thought "Total Football" was a 4-3-3 for the most part. I guess that's covered in Chapter 9 - Formation, when they're only on Chapter 4 - Clearing the Ball.

Up the Robins!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Security and weather to add Glasgow touch to "The New Soft"

Let's see BMO Field security pat that down

The Trillium Cup, Major League Soccer's originally lame attempt to create a "rivalry" between Toronto FC and Columbus will never be mistaken for Glasgow's "Old Firm" derby. Quite the opposite in fact... making it the "New Soft" However, both sets of fans have organically turned this fixture into a decent rivalry (thankfully minus letter bombs) despite the fake trophy and official club promos. Either way, when Montreal arrives next year - this "rivalry" becomes less Celtic v Rangers and more Queen of the South v Forfar Athletic.
The ambience may be helped on Saturday by the Glaswegian weather forecast and the return of BMO Field's strong-arm security tactics including pat-downs and intrusive checks on the way into the stadium. This of course is deemed necessary by the "near-death" experiences cause by a couple of flares and a smoke bomb. Nearly 0.01 people die every year around the world from flares at football - play safe. Supporter culture looks good on MLSE billboards - but it sure seems like they would prefer soccer moms at the stadium. Less noise - more popcorn.
On the field, TFC desperately needs to find its backbone and rebound from a terrible performance against D.C. last week. It will be interesting to see Aron Winter's line-up after a performance against United he labelled as "shameful". Of course playing a club that Toronto has never beaten doesn't make the task easier, especially as Crew have held opponents scoreless in their last four matches. The Trillium Cup starts here - light your flares early.
THE 'RERS: Julian de Guzman, Stefan Frei, Javier Martina
THE CROOPS: Will Hesmer, Chad Marshall, Robbie Rogers
- The match's only resemblance to Glasgow's "Old Firm" being overzealous police, overly fried foods and sideways drizzle: 3-1
- TFC fans managing to catch the last 10 minutes of the match after wading through the new "pat-down" and property search procedures by BMO Field ‘s "top-notch" security team: 50-1
- Local florists reporting a run on trilliums: 250-1
- Saturday's match was in danger of being called off when two of the three dudes in Crew's logo threatened to go on strike. Left guy and middle guy agreed to a last minute contract extension
- "The Trillium Cup" ranked third in FIFA's "Most Popular Flora-Themed Competitions" behind the Swedish League's "Lingberry Trophy" and the Russian League's "Weed Growing in Concrete Cup"
- Columbus Crew have once-again been voted favourite club of the Partially-Sighted Football Supporters Union for their dedication to “being seen from miles away”. Crew held off stiff challenges from the 1988 Netherlands national team and Norwich City
"Theshe Columbush kitsh burn my eyesh!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TFC TOTAL CINEMA: "De Pulp Fictionsh"

We pride ourselves on being a renaissance football blog and want to broaden the minds of our readers. It is said "man can not live on football alone..." Well no, sandwiches help. Either way, we are proud to bring you a new feature - "Total Cinema" - where Aron Winter and his fellow (often Dutch) thespians re-imagine some great scenes from modern cinema. To kick off this celebration of film, we bring you a scene from the 1994 Quentin Tarantino classic "Pulp Fiction" as performed by Aron Winter and actor / Toronto FC Assistant Coach Bob de Klerk...
An old gas guzzling, dirty, white 1988 Opel Astra barrels down a pancake-ridden street in Amsterdam. In the front seat are two Dutch fellas – one white, one black – both wearing cheap black suits with thin black ties under long green dusters. Their names are VINCENT VAN VEGA (de Klerk) and JULESH WINNTER (Winter). Julesh is behind the wheel.
Okay now, tellsh me about de donutsh.
Wat do you want to know?
Well, donutsh ish huge in Toronto, right?
Yesh, they are huge, and a hundred pershent
shugar. I meansh you can not walk into a reshtaurant, have a shmoke, and eat a Dutchie. You are only shupposhed to eat donutsh at de offish or shertain deshignated plashesh.
Thoshe are de Teem Hortensh?
Yesh, it breaksh down like thish: it'sh
legal to buy donutsh, it'sh legal to own
donutsh and, if you are de proprietor of
de Teem Hortensh, it'sh legal to shell donutsh.
It'sh legal to eat de donutsh and drive,
which doesh not really matter 'caushe –
get a load of thish – if the copsh shtop you,
they jusht ashk for de donutsh.
Eating de donutsh ish a right that de
copsh in Toronto have.
Oh, man – I'm fuckin' goin',
that'sh all there ish to it.
You will dig it the mosht. But you know
what de funniesht thing about Canada ish?
It'sh de little differenshesh. A lotta
the shame shit we got here, they got
there, but there they are a little different.
Well, in Toronto, you can not buy beersh
in the filmsh theatre! Not even in de
paper cupsh! They give you a cup of
Pepshi Cola, like in de childrensh party!
In Ajax, Ontario, you can not buy beersh at
McDonald'sh! Alsho, you know what
they call de Royale with de Cheeshe in Ajax?
They don't call it de Royale with de Cheeshe?
No, they eat with de Imperial shyshtem
there, they wouldn't know what de fuck a
Royale with de Cheeshe ish.
What are they calling it?
Qvarter Pounder with de Cheeshe.
Qvarter Punder with de Cheeshe. What are they
calling de Big Mac?
Big Mac'sh a Big Mac, but they call
it Big Mac eh.
Big Mac eh. What do they call de
I dunno, I did not go into de Burger
Kingsh. But you know what they put on
pommesh fritesh in Canada inshtead of
Tomato Ketchupsh.
I sheen 'em do it. And I do not mean a
little bit on the shide of de platesh,
they fuckin' drown 'em in it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Other features at Toronto FC's new training facility

Toronto FC's owners, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, don't get much kudos around these parts but today we'll make an exception. This afternoon, the sports empire / panda-tasting aficionados announced the creation of a multi-million dollar training facility to be built for TFC and its academy programs in Toronto's Downsview Park. The (INSERT CORPORATE SPONSOR NAME HERE) Centre will house all levels of the club's training and management facilities over a sprawling 14-square acre site. Multiple pitches, gyms, meeting rooms and offices will give TFC similar facilities to some of the world's best clubs. However, there may be other features that weren't announced at today's press conference...
11. Mikael Yourassowsky's "How to look like a Super-Villain" class
10. "The Collin Samuel 'Eat Like a Champ' Dietary Centre"
9. An 11-man walk-in freezer to get new players acclimatized to early-season BMO Field temperatures
8. Maicon Santos gets to teach Lambada on Tuesday nights
7. Courtesy shuttle bus to Yorkdale Mall driven by Andrea Lombardo
6. A doggy door for Joao Plata
5. "Jimmy Brennan's Coffee Corner"
4. Direct flights to Amsterdam using old Downsview Airport runway
3. "The Adrian Cann Centre for Academy Prospects Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too"
2. A statue of Mo Johnston dressed as Michael Jackson with the inscription "Beat It: September 14, 2010"
1. "Daniele Dichio - Salon Pour Homme"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT: Toronto v D.C. ... or what a club looks like when only on chapter 3 of the "Total Football Manual"

This whole March/April home games thing is really backfiring. With the horrible weather we've been having, don't be surprised if the pansy schedule people decide that TFC's home opener won't be until May. Summer holidays will be brutal. Anyways, I've been sick and I know you all miss me. Right. Whatever. You do, and even if you don't, I'll lie to myself anyways.

The mighty Robins (I'm over this whole "Reds" thing for now) are on the cusp of mediocrity. Yes, they've mustered up some points against a few sides, that's well and good and all, but where are the goals going to come from? My prediction : from a player who isn't here yet... because we know he isn't here already.
Quote of the match came early:

I'm the president of the Luton Town Supporters Club of North America. Not just Canada, but the whole of North America. We have 6 members!
~ President of the Luton Town Supporters Club of North America

We are truly in the presence of greatness. Speechless really.

5' - GOAL - So this is how it's gonna be. Chris Pontius on the right side breaks in to lose his defender and slides it to the right, past a sprawling Frei. Here's a look at his celebration
9 - GOAL - Charlie Davies picks up a loose ball from a kick save from Frei and slide kicks it into the gaping net.
I know we've had a few personnel changes, but in case you're wondering, Frei still plays for TFC and we're down 2-0 in under 10 minutes.
10 - SUB - Cann goes down injured, so on comes Attakora
41 - Effort! Finally. Corner headed across ends up at Attakora's feet, who rockets the ambitious shot across the face of goal. Didn't work, but effort all the same.
44 - Charlie Davies does have an eerie resemblance to Jerome Iginla (that's a hockey player)

49 - RED - Ty Harden gets a show for a really late tackle on someone, studs up. They need an emoticon with the worlds largest eye roll for a proper reaction to this event.
53 - "Touch" Tchani steps over and launches a ball towards the amphitheatre. Nice to see someone else have a go.
54 - SUB - Gargan comes in for Cordon Bleu.
59 - It appears that Toronto with 10 men is better than Toronto with 11. Addition by subtraction and all that...
63 - Peterson's diving header just goes wide
64 - Santos has a long run down the pitch with no support and launches a rocket of his own that just bends wide of the top corner.
65 - YELLOW - deGoo for a rough tackle
66 - SUB - Santos out, "Easy Peasy" Zavarise comes in
73 - GOAL - Well, that should take care of that. Pontius bags his second goal with, effectively, the same damn move he did with the first goal.
Announced attendance is 16000. I learned that in school, teachers took attendance for the students who were present, and not implied to be there... 14000 is more like it.
77 - Peterson is really trying to get this diving header maneuver to become a goal 'thing', but this time has his damn near goal cleared off the line by Wolff.
88 - YELLOW - Gargan for clearly wanting to give a guy a hug from behind.
89 - Davies is absolutely robbed by a lunging Frei getting a palm on it to push it out of play. Brilliant.

FULL TIME - Toronto 0: DC United 3

Man of the Match : Davies for scoring a nice goal, then actually doing something to make the south end give a crap by doing a little dance, so thanks for that. I'm allowed to give the award to the opposition when...
Goat of the Game : holycrapwheredoyoustart... screw it, everyone except Frei. There, grossly unimpressed. Aron Winter can earn this award later if we discover that Stevanovic was told to stay out on the pitch and play injured for the last 15 minutes of the match. Didn't look good. He could barely walk.

Ref rating : 3 out of 5. He let a pile of questionable calls go, but for both sides and in MLS, that's refreshing.

Player ratings : Frei 7, If you're a defender, assign yourself a 4, everyone else is a 5

None of the goals were Frei's fault... Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Get Enough" may be the new sensation that's sweeping the terraces. Annoying, yet catchy... I'm patient for the system to work, but I'd like to see some progress and not regress... I don't know if anyone is actually fit to wear that captain's armband, short of Frei... here's a plan: we need to go and get the best striker in the Norwegian second division and give him a job. Why? Why the hell not... good thing the police cracked down on the flares that were lit late in the game. I'd hate to think that the hard core support would have to rely on the on-field product to focus on, then they'd never come back.

Note: if you don't know, the Chris Pontius reference was to the name of the guy in Jackass known as "Party Boy". I had to explain that to someone in the stands once the connection was made so, you know, you might not get it either.

Friday, April 15, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Reds seek end to Capitol-ism

"The Reds go marching on to victory!"

TORONTO FC (6th) VS. D.C. UNITED (16th)


A major moment during the War of 1812 was the sacking of the Town of York (now Toronto) by American Forces. In retaliation for this act of aggression, the British forces marched on Washington D.C. and torched the White House. If modern day footballers read history books... or books - Toronto FC vs. D.C. United could be a monstrous rivalry.
Instead, the Reds / United match is just another Eastern Conference (ugh) matchup between two teams who have never great since first meeting in 2007. United were once the powerhouse of MLS but have had a tough few years and are in a rebuilding mode not unlike Toronto. United coach Ben Olsen has got his young team playing with heart, if not tremendous skill, with majority of the offence going through dynamic loan-signing Charlie Davies. The two clubs are both coming off stalemates to LA Galaxy and TFC needs to start grabbing wins at home rather than more draws.
"The Matchup" - now with 50% more loan signings! - Word has emerged that TFC has signed English defender Richard Eckersley from Burnley on a season-long loan. The 22-year-old ginger ninja full back entered pro football as a Manchester United schoolboy before joining Burnley in 2009. Since joining The Clarets, Eckersley has bounced around the English lower tiers on loan including a stop under Paul Mariner's tutelage at Plymouth Argyle. A solid pick-up with the ability to play both wings, Eckersley's arrival could spell the end for a defender lower on the TFC depth chart.
RED MENACE: Tony "Touch" Tchani, Alan Gordon, Stefan Frei
CAPITOL-ISTS: Charlie Davies, Dax McCarty, Branko Boskovic
- American broadcasters referring to the match as a "battle between two nation's capitals": 25-1 (they'd kind of be right though)
- Toronto FC's marketing department releasing a range of "1812 Fever" products including redcoats, pith helmets and the Danny Dichio signed bayonet: 250-1
- If TFC loses badly, Bob de Klerk to travel to RFK Stadium in D.C. and light it on fire: 1000-1
- TFC plan to honour United and Canadian international GK Pat Onstad with a belated birthday cake at halftime with a message reading "Happy Birthday. you traitorous 71-year-old"
- DC United was once famous for having the "best fans in the league". Until Toronto came along. Until Seattle came along. Until last light when Portland came along.
- Massive footy fan Barack Obama was said to be ready to put a wager on this match with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The plan was nixed over Ford's apparent reply of "Football is played with hands not feet. Soccer is for pinkos. Gravy Train! Mmm... who bought cake? Graffiti!"
"Eeshtern Conferensh match wit DeeShee"

Eckersley... very Red

Thursday, April 14, 2011

AFTER 90: Scrappy Reds ice Barrett & "Frozenballs" in Galaxy draw

New dodgy facial hair. Same old strike rate.

Dear Major League Soccer, we know you think Toronto FC's fans are fantastic, loyal and obviously willing to put up with a lot... but we're human beings! Please, for the love of my feet stop stockpiling TFC home fixtures in early spring. If truth be known, the sell-out crowd had far more to do with a certain underwear peddler/ odd-child-naming enthusiast than any deep love for watching The Reds in sub-zero temps. Yes, "The Cockney Lothario" David Beckham, and to a lesser extent, his LA Galaxy teammates (minus the injured Landon Donovan) were responsible for the audible female yelping and far from acceptable high level of away kits in the crowd but how would the Tinseltowners fare in very chilly Hollywood North?
1' - Mid-April is not supposed to involve the word "witch's" or "teat". I put the blame of this lacklustre post squarely at Don Garber's feet. And also my stumps which used to be my feet. Kick-off.
2' - Dan Gargan somehow sees the starting line-up over Nana Attakora. That's a big Dutch doghouse. Gargan immediately eaten alive by a Galaxy attack but is saved by Stefan "The Goalblerone" Frei's safe hands. I envy his giant mitts. So warm.
3' - Shrieking commences as the walking 5 O’clock shadow that is David Beckham takes his first free kick. Swoon. Barf.
7' - Jumping in celebration - not due to TFC's erratic defending but to get blood back into ankles
14' - Alen Stevanovic dropped and injured in middle of the park. Unsporting Galaxy move the ball up field with Chad "Still Sh*t" Barrett blasting a shot off the bar. Karma. That also explains your homemade haircut Barrett. Crowd lustily breaks into "Same old Barrett - Still not scoring" chant. And I mean lustily.
16' - Beckham get his designer chapped legs onto a cross which is blocked by Danleigh Borman only to whip in a second cross. Dreamy.
22' - Stevanovic shows off his vast technical array but his Serie A is showing as he waits far too long to seek the outlet pass
24' - There's not enough footy chants about runny noses
26' - Jacob Peterson whips in a pinpoint free kick which meets Gianluca Zavarise's head but is saved by top Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts
31' - Peterson is again showing his spot kick prowess and earns the new nickname "Amish Beckham"
35' - Many fans wore double socks. Dan Gargan obviously puts a brick in his boots.
40' - Chad Barrett made a lot of bonehead plays during his TFC tenure... seeing him get out-dribbled in the box by Stefan Frei tonight was just precious. Sing it! "Same old Barrett..."
42' - Adrian Cann picking up where he left off against San Jose with very solid defence and improved dribbling. Red Steel!
44' - David Beckham gets a yellow card for a cynical tackle on Stevanovic. 5 yellows means a league suspension. Oh... the Royal Wedding is coming up! Convenient.
45' - "The Winter Freeze" in full effect as TFC leaves Galaxy waiting in the cold for a few minutes before returning from the locker room. Beckham looking more "Frozenballs" than "Goldenballs"
48' - Chippy and sloppy start for both teams with ball stuck in a clogged midfield
52' - Due to frozen fingers my match notes look like the etchings of a madman. Not sure, but this might say "Ty Harden purple monkey football jacuzzi"
58' - If there's one player who should be allowed to ignore "Total Football" it's Dan Gargan. Just keep booting it as far away from you as possible. "Total Gargan" is safer
60' - Watching Barrett play amongst the high-paid Galaxticos is like seeing a kid on a "Make-A-Wish" adventure
64' - Tony "Touch" Tchani having a strong match and almost scores from a TFC corner. His header just misses Ricketts' far post.
65' - SUB: Mikael "Watch" Yourassowsky in for Julian de Guzman
68' - Amish Beckham (Jacob Peterson) still making a nuisance of himself on spot kicks as he goes close once again. He's found a niche!
69' - Much deserved “oohing” and “aahing” in the crowd as "Frozenballs" curls a free kick around the TFC wall and rattles the post. We joke, but Beckham has class and fills a stadium. Enough said.
73' - Yourassowsky - who looks like a great super-villain - links up nicely with Stevanovic but TFC just missing that finisher in the middle. You know, like in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
77' - SUB: Oscar Cordon in for Gianluca "Easy Peasy" Zavarise
80' - Cordon weights a lovely through ball to Yourassowsky but the super-villain gets called offside. Expect a shark with a laser to attack the linesman.
84' - SUB: Joao Plata in for Javier Martina. Toronto's front line now "Two and a Half Men"
86' - This is why you play a 5' foot 2 striker. Plata goes down. Ref feels sad that tiny man go boom. Free kick. Genius.
87' - Reds cross the ball into the LA box and whose head does it fall to? Joao Plata. The one guy whose head can't reach the ball. If he was 5' 4 - TFC wins the match. Buy him some lifts.
90+ - LA's "Fake" Juninho picks up his second yellow and gets a late RED CARD but it's too little too late as the ref blows... and whistles for full time.
With the draw, Toronto FC extends its unbeaten streak to four matches, picking up another valuable point. Despite the preference of taking 3 points at home, there are positives that can be taken from the draw. The Reds stood toe-to-toe with one of the league's best teams and was never truly dominated by the very talented Galaxy. They also have Barrett. The difference between the two teams is LA's individual quality which can make something from nothing at any time. TFC still lacks that go-to but there is no questioning the work ethic they put in tonight. While not always pretty and still not yet Total football, another match with improvements and a steel that would have bent to a team of Galaxy's quality in the past.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 7 / Danleigh Borman 7 / Adrian Cann 7 / Ty Harden 6 / Dan Gargan 5 / Julian de Guzman 6 / Tony "Touch" Tchani 7 / Jacob Peterson 6 / Gianluca Zavarise 6 / Alen Stevanovic 6 / Javier Martina 6 / SUBS: Mikael Yourassowsky 7 / Oscar Cordon - / Joao Plata - /
TFC GOAT OF THE MATCH: Dan Gargan... but saying Chad Barrett makes me laugh
MATCH IN FIVE WORDS: Cold. Tough. Entertaining. Frozen Metrosexuals.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Up late with David Beckham

"Goldenballs" indeed.

When TFC's cold weather-laden home schedule was released, club owners MLSE must have sighed in relief when they saw LA Galaxy on a chilly April weeknight. The already sluggish BMO Field attendance will no doubt be boosted by grooming enthusiast David Beckham and his Galaxy teammates. This will mark Beckham's first actual league match in Toronto (and likely his last) with his only previous BMO playing appearance being at the All-Star Game. Of course Bruce Arena's team aren't a one man show and are laden with tremendous talent. They also have Chad Barrett. Expectations are high for LA this year with anything less than a MLS Cup being failure. Galaxy are coming off a 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Saturday and playing them at home early in the season, with a possibly injured Landon Donovan, is a tiny silver lining for The Reds.
For Toronto, the "gradually getting better" scenario is positive but will have to be accelerated if they hope to get something out of this match. BMO Field has been a friendly confine for the club and often flatters them, but to create the fortress needed, mistakes need to be rectified. The defence cannot allow Galaxy the chances they gave San Jose in Saturday's 1-1 draw as LA's star-heavy strike force will punish them. Nana Attakora and his defensive mates will have to step up their game while The Reds' wingers will need to make the park as wide as possible. With 3 matches in 7 days, it won't be a surprise to see some player rotation especially with tender midfielders Julian de Guzman and Alen Stevanovic. The undoubtedly blustery 8PM temperature may be the extra tonic to help TFC keep its unbeaten streak intact. Don't tell Beckham about shrinkage.
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "The Hollywood Northerner"
REDS FOR HER PLEASURE: Stefan Frei, Alen Stevanovic, Adrian Cann
DP STRENGTH: David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Juan Pablo Angel
-Finely manicured facial hair designs and oversized designer sunglasses in the stands up by 35%: 5-1
- After years of shanking, scuffing and just plain booting, Chad Barrett finally figures out how to score at BMO Field: 10-1
- High-pitched shrieking from higher than usual female audience causing Bitchy The Hawk to fly into a mad mating frenzy: 100-1
- Local celebrity watchers are upset that the Beckham's soon-to-be-born daughter wasn't conceived during a visit to the Toronto area. The chances of the child being named Burlington, Pickering or Brampton Beckham have thus diminished greatly
- With the ill-advised 8PM kick-off meaning some supporters may not get home until Thursday AM, some plan to camp out in the Food Building's Tiny Tom Donut stand until Saturday's match
- Bruce Arena has been preparing his Galaxy squad for the chilly Toronto weather by demanding his high-priced stars add a fourth ice cube to their post-training mojitos
"Broosh Areenah an de Losh Anjellesh Galakshee"
5 O'CLOCK SHADOWS SAY: 1-3 Los Angeles

Monday, April 11, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Mo Johnston election campaign promises and slogans

Yes We Can't

It's spreading like wildfire - election fever is gripping the nation! Ok, it's actually spreading like a vaguely humid breeze - and it's more of a sinus congestion than a fever. Either way, Canadians are headed to the polls with a choice of three bland leaders (four if you're Quebecois, five if you like trees, more if you're one of our Marxist readers). The lack of vibrant personalities made us wonder if Toronto FC had any potential politicians to step into the vacuum. But who, in TFC's history, can politically massage the truth, spout vague sound bites at periodic press conferences, disappear on mysterious international trips and do nothing of significance for four years? Oh yeah - that guy... “5 Mo Years! 5 Mo Years!
11. Go on annual winter trade missions to Brazil
10. "Because all of Glasgow can't be right!"
9. Jim Brennan to make coffee for every Canadian once a year
8. Will ban Field Turf from every Canadian farm
7. Tax breaks for parents afflicted with ginger children
6. "A 5-Year-Plan You Can Believe In"
5. Replace pesky Senate with Gambian trialists
4. "A Butty In Every Pot"
3. "We've got our eye on 3 or 4 countries to invade"
2. Minister of Defence: Preki
1. "Read my lips... no new strikers!"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

AFTER 90: 1.1 on the Richter Scale as Reds alert against Quakes

Birchmount Stadium: The Buck Shaw of Scarborough

A beautiful Northern California sunset welcomed Toronto FC to the one stadium in the league where their road woes have always been put to one side. Possibly playing at Buck Shaw Stadium. a venue that looks like Scarborough's Birchmount Stadium on steroids (that one's for you Scarberians... except you DeRo) put the club at ease. However, while TFC has spun its development wheels since their last visit to San Jose, the Earthquakes, under the leadership of the great Frank Yallop, have improved greatly and wouldn't be a pushover. So, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, did TFC put up an ample challenge... or look like boobs? Get it... Silicon... never mind...
1' - Kick-off. Still think Earthquakes is a very pro-disaster name. Rude.
2' - Chris Wondolowski an early nuisance against Adrian Cann
5' - No word if Adrian Serioux threatened to sue but Nana Attakora's hair gets shorter by the week
8' - Commentary informs that Ty Harden was LA Galaxy defender of the year under Yallop. On cue, Harden gets eaten alive by San Jose's Ryan Johnson
16' - Stevanovic tries to make something of nothing but can't connect on shot
19' - Narrow pitch clogging up the midfield. TFC wing play stifled - Martina hasn't been seen yet
22' - MLS officiating at its finest as ref almost cards Stevanovic for coming back onto field despite the assistant allowing him to
27' - GOAL! Alan Gordon stumbles home a loose ball that originated from a Danleigh Borman cross. Good work from Tchani, Stevanovic and Sam Cronin's head in build-up
30' - San Jose fans "Ole-ing" strings of passes... in the 30th minute. Precious.
34' - Frei controlling traffic as Quakes mount long-distance attacks
35' - Tony "Touch" Tchani gets a yellow card as does former Red Sam Cronin after a little late tackling from the young Cameroonian
38' - GOAL! Nice tight passing and poor marking allows Tottenham-loanee Simon Dawkins to tie the game for the Quakes
41' - Okay, maybe the "Ole-ing" is justified. Quakes dominating play
43' - Javier Martina's invisibility kit fails as he reappears and gets his first touch of the match
45' - Ref's whistle a relief as San Jose clearly in the ascendancy
46' - Julian de Guzman comes into the game for Attakora. Peculiar.
49' - Jacob Peterson dropping to right back next to Harden. Aron Winter obviously thinks the defence wasn't pale enough
50' - Stefan Frei a massive save and Harden with a block to rob Wondolowski twice at close range. Martina close on TFC counter
57' - Reds showing some grit in the midfield
59' - Ryan Johnson exposes Peterson and gets in alone on Frei but the Swiss keeper gets a touch on the ball
62' - Blow to TFC as best player on the pitch Stevanovic hobbles off injured. Replaced by Gianluca Zavarise
64' - Aron Winter opens his shoebox and releases Joao Plata into the game for the largely ineffective Maicon Santos.
65' - Stevanovic muttering to himself in Serbian on the bench. Menacing.
68' - de Guzman wearing the captain's armband. Looks... correct. Just saying.
70' - Plata making series of good runs. They end abruptly when he tries to go under defender's legs
73' - Martina goes very close on a solo effort from 15 yards out
77' - Adrian Cann shutting down most San Jose runs - best game of 2011 for ZooCannder
82' - Tchani and Cronin enjoying quite the little midfield hate-on. Chippy.
86' - Wondolowski dives in the box but a shocker as a MLS ref makes the right call and gives the striker a yellow for simulation
89' - Ike Opara goes all Ike Turner on L'il Joao Plata crashing the wee Ecuadorian through an advertising hoarding
90+ - Toronto FC show a steel not seen often in the past four years as they hold off a late Quake rumble
The work in progress that is TFC continues to make... well, progress. Still far from perfect but a little better every match is a nice change for Reds supporters. While Toronto definitely still needs better quality along the back four, the big positive tonight was being able to hold shape under late pressure. With 10 minutes left and holding onto a draw, many Reds fans winced at the prospect of giving up a late goal but TFC actually looked fairly composed and stuck with their possession gameplan. Again, still not "Total" but a bit closer every match and a hard-earned point against a tough opponent.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 7 / Ty Harden 6 / Nana Attakora 5 / Adrian Cann 8 / Danleigh Borman 6 / Maicon Santos 5 / Jacob Peterson 6 / Tony Tchani 6 / Javier Martina 5 / Alan Gordon 7 / Alen Stevanovic 7 / SUBS: Julian de Guzman 6 / Gianluca Zavarise 5 / Joao Plata 6
MATCH IN FIVE WORDS: Narrow. Chippy. Composure. Birchmount Stadium.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Shaky Toronto FC looks to avoid Earthquake disaster

Oh come on! What are you doing here? Leave us alone!

As opposed to their nickname, which brings images of misery and destruction to mind, San Jose Earthquakes have become an exciting club for their small Northern California fan base. Toronto fans can be justifiably envious of the solid club that has been built in less time than The Reds under the very capable stewardship of Canadian legend Frank Yallop. A blend of exciting young players (including ex-Red Sam Cronin), MLS veterans and a willingness to bring in an impact player has made San Jose a playoff contender with a bright future in a fairly short time. Now, if they could only stop playing in a youth team stadium.
Opposing The Quakes of course are the always road-weary Reds. It doesn't seem to matter who has been manager, Toronto has been a poor team on the road since day one and Winter will need to change this as part of his "cultural" shift. While the many new faces on TFC still try to settle in to "Torontotal Football" it will be up to the established players to steady the ship. Newly minted captain Maicon Santos will have to be more Brazilian and less "Mike Sanders", while the Attakora-Cann duo must be far better in the back than they were versus Chivas last week. Without any kind of real rivalry to spur either team, it will be a battle of Dwayne De Rosario's exes. Losers get corn-rows.
QUAKIN': Chris Wondolowski, Bobby Convey, Ike Opara
SHAKIN': Javier Martina, Stefan Frei, Tony "Touch" Tchani
- Mixture of late kick-off and season debut on digital cable minnow GolTV attracts a solid 137 viewers to broadcast: 10-1
- Toronto FC and its fans inappropriately referred to as "Earthquake victims" by overzealous broadcasters: 500-1
- Both clubs joining at halftime for a "We Remember Dwayne" candlelight ceremony: 2500-1
- San Jose Earthquakes have won the FIFA "Most Insensitive Named Club" 2011 beating stiff competition from Famine FC, Typhoid Wednesday and Inter Malaria
- Celebrity fans on hand at Buck Shaw Stadium often include the descendants of seismology pioneer Charles Richter, a guy who owns the tights of former WWF wrestler "Earthquake" and the sexy ghost of former NASL Quake George Best
- Rumours still circulate that SJ allowed former GK Joe Cannon to leave after succumbing to pressure from local Christian groups. Complaints centred on the Joe Cannon & Jon Busch GK tandem whose combined names were considered "not wholesome" for family viewing
"Shan Hoshay Ert-Kwayksh"
RICHTER SCALE SAYS: 2.0 - 0 San Jose

Booooo... sexy ghost!

Not all MLS idiosyncrasies bad for Winter

Wow, Martin Saric really let himself go

Aron Winter has been getting a crash course lately on the wacky world of Major League Soccer. Player trades, locker room access, four-hour-flight road trips and comical officiating are still novel for TFC’s Dutchman and will take time to get used to. Surely some days he must feel like he's managing in Bizarro Football but ironically, it is MLS's unique structure which may give Winter a chance at success quicker than if he had headed to a club in Europe.
The advantage for team re-building in MLS (if done right, Mo Johnston) is the lack of reliance on transfer fees and guaranteed contracts. If Winter had inherited a version of TFC in the Dutch 2nd Division, the first hurdle would have been trying to recoup transfer funds from the decrepit group of ballast players his predecessor had assembled in 2010. Winter, and Mariner as well, had the luxury of erasing the deck of unwanted players and it's a good thing because you only have to look at the players' post-TFC work history to assess their value on any transfer market. As we impatiently support through another rebuilding, imagine if we had to try and sell Mo Johnston's 2010 crop before being allowed to start again...
NICK GARCIA - Unattached
FUAD IBRAHIM - Unattached
MISTA - Unattached
MARTIN SARIC - Unattached
GABE GALA - Unattached
MAXIM USANOV - Unattached
RAIVIS HSCANOVICS - Signed with FK Jurmala (Latvia)
The list above illuminates two things, firstly the ineptitude in how Mo Johnston and Preki band-aided a squad of players who no one else wanted while promoting them as MLS-worthy. The second, how difficult the job could have been for Aron Winter & Co. if TFC had to honour contracts and deal in transfer markets like their international cousins. Winter may have trouble with some of MLS' strange behaviour but the league's lack of involvement in the world transfer market made his TFC rebuild a lot easier than if he had been saddled with 2010's far from valuable "assets" - and their poorly financed contracts.

Monday, April 4, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC perks in the De Rosario contract offer

Scarborough Town Centre: Not just a food court... a home

If Dwayne De Rosario's tenure with Toronto FC can be described as dramatic, his departure to New York Red Bulls is a full-blown soap opera. In the three days since the deal went down there has been a back-and-forth war of words between the player and his former club Toronto FC. His claims that he didn't ask for a trade were publically refuted by Aron Winter with every twist played out in the media. In Dutch-English - "a clashik he shaid, she shaid". Winter has insisted that the club offered DeRo a very good deal which was turned down but we wonder what kind of "perks" TFC was willing to throw in to keep the former captain in town...

11. Promised to never let Nick LaBrocca anywhere near his hair again
10. Willing to buy Scarborough Town Centre's food court and turn it into a luxury home for the De Rosario family
9. Jim Brennan would get him his morning coffee (DONE)
8. Club would compete with New York Red Bulls by re-branding team Toronto Tab Cola
7. Team would market a "Tickle Me Elmo"-like children's plush toy called "Cheque Me DeRo"
6. TFC Academy players would throw rose petals in front of him when dribbling the ball
5. Profit sharing on new BMO Field snack "Corn-Rows on the Cob"
4. Allow him to play online poker during any break in play
3. Joao Plata forced to wear white tuxedo and point out team airplane to DeRo
2. Would be allowed to go on trial in Scotland... but only at Kilmarnock
1. Formally petition Mayor Rob Ford to rename Malvern - "Scarborosario"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

AFTER 90: Frustrating Reds draw Goats in Faux-Mexican Standoff

Seriously BMO Field ad people? Mean.

Hours of bluster. Since the Dwayne De Rosario trade madness started up 24 hours ago it's all we've faced. Chattering media, confused fan's banter and an ex-captain who always wants the last word. It was the bluster of wind however that howled through BMO Field today as Toronto FC played the first game in their post-DeRo era. A cold and indeed breezy environment welcomed the Reds onto their home turf as they were led out by newly minted, and rather surprising, captain Maicon Santos. This is what it sounds like when Goats cry...
1' - There would have been a larger ripple of surprise that Maicon Santos was the new TFC captain but BMO Field doesn't fill up until the 20th minute
2' - GOAL! Perhaps TFC's defence was surprised by the announcement as they failed to concentrate and allowed Chivas USA's Alejandro Moreno to scramble home a messy goal after missing four opportunities to clear it
4' - The only thing flatter than the cold and still sparse crowd is the painfully tepid start to the match by TFC. They can't be THAT depressed about DeRo
12' - TFC still refusing to attack Chivas' goal while the Mexi-Mericans squander numerous chances
15' - Stirrings of life as Alen Stevanovic shows some class on the ball. He is the new DeRo after all
17' - Former Red and current tax attorney Nick LaBrocca hauls down Stevanovic in a move we call "Getting Audited". If the ref wasn't MLS-worst Baldomero Toledo there may have been a call
20' - Bored elements of crowd wish Chivas USA's "Chivas Girls" dancers were a road act
24' - Javier Martina pulling team up by bootstraps. Earns a corner which Alan Gordon gets his head solidly onto only for the ball to rattle the post.
31' - New captain Maicon Santos sends a 20-yard screamer into Chivas GK Dan Kennedy's gut
33' - BMO Field misses the boat with lack of "Goat" themed food available today. C'mon - "Goat Roti in a Waffle Cone" too much to ask for?
36' - GOAL! TFC capitalize on a period of good play as Alan Gordon's giant noggin successfully slices home a great free kick from Jacob Peterson
42' - BMO Field staff don't see the irony of the new electronic ad hoardings flashing Red Bull logos at the crowd
44' - TFC controlling the match and nearly take the lead after Maicon Santos scrambles the ball into the Chivas net only to be called minutely offside my the linesmen. "MLS Officiating - Catch The Taste"
46' - Crowd excited that no local rappers were "entertaining us" during the half but also by Julian de Guzman's return to play as a sub for Jacob Peterson
50' - TFC shockingly start the 2nd Half as flat as the way they started the 1st. Winter needs to start giving pep talks in English
55' - Good thing he has his looks. Adrian Cann is a good shot-blocker but his feet are like bricks when dribbling. Not adapting to "Torontotal" football well
57' - Chivas' Corona sponsored kits make throwing limes at them seem justified
59' - Maicon Santos reverts back to his non-Brazilian alter-ego "Mike Sanders" as he walks the ball towards a wide-open Chivas net but somehow manages to miss. What is Brazilian-Portuguese for "side of a barn"?
62' - MLS referees. Did we mention them? So choice.
65' - DeRo bounty Tony Tchani gets on end of a cross and somehow produces a slow-motion header into Dan Kennedy's hands.
65' - No faking - Dicoy Williams in for Nana Attakora
68' - The Corona must be kicking in because Chivas looks drunk-guy confident
69' - Alen Stevanovic slightly hobbles off as 3 foot 6 inch striker Joao Plata makes his TFC debut. Bottom of his shorts touch the grass
75' - Aron Winter's head may actually explode at Baldomero Toledo. Welcome to MLS
80' - Chivas controlling the offence. Stefan Frei and his day-glo green jumpsuit are the only thing between a draw and ugly
82' - Fans surprisingly angry towards Nick LaBrocca. I was nice - haven't filed my taxes yet
85' - Total football degrading to Mo-tal football
90'+ - Best thing referee Toledo did all day. Blow the final whistle.
Flat was probably the most apt word to describe the match. A strange 24 hours for the club, its players and its fans which expressed itself onto the pitch. The single point at the end of the match was a fair result for two clubs who will likely spend majority of the year holding up the MLS table. Hopefully by time TFC's next fixture rolls around, the DeRo mess will be drifting into the horizon. However, if De Rosario thought he could get a parting shot at Winter's club, the Dutchman put things to rest in his own way. Enough he said, he shed for now though... I've still got limes to put in Coronas.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 7 / Danleigh Borman 7 / Adrian Cann 5 / Nana Attakora 6 / Ty Harden 6 / Jacob Peterson 6 / Tony Tchani 5 / Alen Stevanovic 6 / Alan Gordon 7 / Maicon Santos 6 / Javier Martina 7 / SUBS: Julian de Guzman 5 / Dicoy Williams 6 / Joao Plata N/A
MATCH IN FIVE WORDS: Blustery. Flat. Frustrating. New era.

* Many thanks to Mike Santos for use of his great pic of Red Bull not only taking our captain but then flashing their name in our stadium!

Friday, April 1, 2011

DeRo in "Empire State of Mind" as hometown star heads to NYRB

From Scarborough to The 5 Boroughs

It wasn't supposed to end this way was it? When Scarborough legend Dwayne De Rosario joined Toronto FC from Houston before the 2009 season, most supporters imagined him holding TFC's first MLS Cup aloft. Instead, DeRo has been in the middle of one soap opera after another with the club - many having little to do with him of course... but some serious conflicts resting squarely at his feet. Mo, turf, locker-room cancers, cheque-signings, contract disputes and Glasgow vacations have all been linked with the man who is starring today in the latest "As The Reds Turn"
The news of DeRo's trade to New York Red Bulls came flying out of TFC practice today with first reaction being that it was an April Fools prank. But, as the story gathered steam, it became obvious that DeRo was in fact headed to Red Bull Arena with talented young midfielder Tony Tchani and sort-of-ok defender Danleigh Borman headed north in return. A 2012 1st Round Pick is also included in what is easily TFC‘s biggest deal of its short history.
The first reaction for many supporters was shock, with many being immediately outraged. But, on further examination the transaction has merit. De Rosario is a very talented, but aging commodity and if Aron Winter's system is going to take a year or more to build, time was running out to receive any quality in return. In addition to his value, the ongoing DeRo saga of contract disputes, transfer rumours and cryptic Twitter messages must be a distraction to which Winter did not want in his new clean-slate club. While the move will no doubt hurt Toronto FC in the short term, it also opens a lot of room for Winter and Paul Mariner to rebuild the club in their image. DeRo was possibly the elephant in the room handicapping that process.
Tony Tchani will be the long-term face of this deal and how it will be judged in the future by Reds supporters. At 21, the young Cameroon born midfielder has a massive upside. For De Ro, his name may sadly be marred by many in his hometown and he leaves with a lot of "what-if's" in his bag. He has constantly gone from DeRo to HeRo to ZeRo with Reds supporters but at least his last on-field act as a Red will be his classy gesture in support of a deceased young fan. Perhaps the former Captain knew it was his last time in Red. It should have been different for DeRo and The Reds but as with most things TFC - it's time to move on.
More DeRo to NYRB reaction here in the days to come… and also likely on DeRo's ever-present Twitter