The Yorkies' Regular Features

Starting 11       The Word       The Matchup       After 90       The South Stand Report

Thursday, June 30, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Back To Back Caps - Episode II: We Predict a Riot

Caps' supporters are ready for Saturday

- Will Toronto FC be able to build momentum from Wednesday night's league win over Whitecaps or are two positive results on the trot too much to ask?
- Would Teitur Thordarson still be coach of Vancouver if God hadn't decided that He didn't like The Caps' back on that rainy night in May?
- Will Julian de Guzman return and "prove his value" to Aron Winter?
- Will TFC come out and aggressively play for a win or allow Whitecaps to attack them as seen in the original 2nd Leg?
- Would anyone notice if the guy in Dan Gargan's jersey looked a lot like Torsten Frings?
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "NutCan 2: Electric Boogaloo"
TORONTO: Stefan Frei, Maicon Santos, Nick Soolsma
VANCOUVER: Camilo, Jay DeMerit, Eric Hassli
- Harvey's new Frings stand debuting at BMO Field: 20-1
- If TFC win, massive riots taking care of the parts of Vancouver not already boarded up: 50-1
- Whitecaps taking an early lead - BMO Field hit by tornado: 100-1
- Whitecaps are apparently rushing to match TFC's ambitious signings by aggressively pursuing Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and former German international Stefan Kuntz
- The island nation of Iceland will be watching the match live and heavily supporting TFC after the Prime Minister branded Vancouver as "racist against Icelanders"
- Supporters are being asked to ignore any loud clock-ticking noises at BMO Field as it is simply time running out on Julian de Guzman's TFC career
THE WAGER: 0-0 Draw (2011: 15-8 with 4 exact scores)

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v. Vancouver - Frings and Koevermans Disappoint In Debut

Tonight is a lovely night for football. The drawback is that we get TFC and Vancouver instead. This quest for the Wooden Spoon runs right through the confines of BMO Field. Last place is firmly on the line!

Winter and Co. debuted two new signings in Torsten Frings (of Harvey's meal accessory fame) and Danny Koevermans (of the Van Koevermans fame) as well as a shifting of priorities putting Winter in the role of Manager, de Klerk as coach, and Mariner as MLS-to-Rest of World football translator (there ish no dutcsh woerd for "shalaree kapsh"). Let's see how things unfold.

Predictions have 1-0 for Vancouver, and a few 1-1s and a 0-0.

15 - Yourassowsky picks up a massive loose ball 20 yards from goal with no one but Jay Nolly in his way and he launches it 15 feet WIDE to the left. First diving now lack of finishing. At some point, some club was fooled by this man's gift of masking true talent.

17 - Koevermans is nowhere to be seen on the pitch. Disappointing.

Quote of the Match
If I get a cold sore Mitch...
~ Ian in the case of the switched beers

21 - Dan Gargan demands a new ball every time he's called on for a throw-in. He's had 3 in succession. Too good for the game ball, huh?

26 - I was bored and doodled a pair of women's naked breasts. I had it scanned but didn't want to corrupt the journalistic integrity of our mighty blog. But, in defence, I was bored.

31 - Yourassowsky replicated his failure left with a similar shank veering well wide right. By the law of averages, he's arguably scored two goals.

43 - For the money TFC is paying him, you'd think Frings would be having a greater impact on the match. Disappointing.

Half-time : meh.

52 - PENALTY - Soolsma was hauled down, what appears to be, outside the box, but it's nice when the ref screws up in our favour. He lines up and slots one past Nolly. Confetti cannons are go and...

the ref calls for a retake. Not sure why, so Soolsma steps up.

52 - GOAL - Same spot. Soolsma is a hero for once.

57 - Gargan new ball throw-in count for the game is at 4.

59 - Martina reminds us that he's still playing with a little run starting with a back heel that looped his marker. Sadly the next touch put it into the keepers mitts.

71 - Martina gets closed down by two defenders and somehow gets a shot off that had to be parried away by Nolly. Excellent effort.

72 - Gargan new ball throw-in count is now at 6. He should donate a kilogram of food to a shelter for each time he does this.

73 - SUB - Zavarise out, Stinson in

84 - Yourassowsky to Martina who gets the ball in Plata's path who JUST gets his foot onto it passed Nolly but past the wrong side of the post.

87 - SUB - Martina out, Morgan in

89 - YELLOW - Plata for kicking the ball away after a tackle from behind.

3 minutes of extra time

90+1 - Plata gets absolutely levelled for the ball and no booking.

90+2 - SUB - Plata out, Omphroy in

FULL TIME : Toronto FC 1, Vancouver 0

Man of the Match : Plata played well and hard. What more do you want?

Goat of the Game : Yourassowsky. I can't help but think if he were a little bit more talented in any way, we'd never have to complain about him. Alas, we do.

Ref Rating : 2 out of 5. Screwed up enough calls to make us angry.

Player Ratings : Frei 6, Borman 6, Harden 6, Eckersley 6, Gargan 6, Sturgis 6, Yourassowsky 5.5, Zavarese 5 [Stinson 5.5], Soolsma 6.5, Martina 6.5 [Morgan N/A], Plata 6.5 [Omphroy N/A]

Updated Cascadia Cup standings
Toronto 6
Seattle 5
Vancouver 4
Portland 1

I just discovered that Koevermans and Frings didn't actually play and they're not eligible to play for a few weeks. This explains much... We didn't understand the lack of capos in the first half, but I'm sure if the front office is ever asked about it, their answer would be level headed and logical (unlike the clusterf**k in New England last week)... Would love to know how much money TFC is paid to play Kardinal's T.O. Anthem as annoying the crap out of the fans has to be worth it... to the moron who paraded the new signings in front of the nearly 7000 who show up that early, half-time had more people... if Frings, Koevermans or anyone that supports them reads this blog, yes, MLS is this bush league and supporters are treated like fools who can be overcharged to be underserved simply because 'it's soccer and they should be lucky to have this'.

You wait all year for a Designated Player, then two come at once!

The criticisms surrounding Aron Winter & Co's "re-building" of Toronto FC had recently started to reach alarming levels in some supporting circles. A lack of results and seemingly neutral development on the pitch coupled with relative quiet off the pitch started to make murmurs of displeasure turn into yells. For a good majority of long-suffering Reds supporters though, patience was always going to be paramount with the summer transfer window the first litmus test for the new management. As far as tests go, it was a good first day.
A couple of weeks before the international transfer window opens in MLS, Toronto FC made a massive splash today by inking two Designated Players - German midfield legend Torsten Frings and Dutch hitman Danny Koevermans. With the 2011 season being lost in the dregs of re-building, the most historic and momentous signings in the club's young history may have turned the atmosphere at BMO Field from tentative to optimistic in a few pen strokes.
Frings, the 34-year-old German defensive midfielder arrives in the twilight of his career, yet with no recent signs of diminished skills or physicality at his long-term club Werder Bremen. With piles of experience with the German National squad and playing in the highest levels of UEFA club championships and the Bundesliga, his pedigree and leadership will be looked at to anchor the TFC midfield.
The 32-year-old Koevermans is a towering central striker who had quite the dynamic strike rate during his career peak in the Dutch leagues. Most famous for his stretch with PSV Eindhoven, the former Dutch international found himself on the fringes of his former club this season and eagerly jumped at the chance to become the talisman striker for the goal-shy TFC. With no history of major injury and with the size and pace that suits MLS, Koevermans has the chance to make an impact up front with The Reds where so few have before him.
We can be cynical and claim that MLSE has only approved these moves to ensure healthy ticket renewals but it isn't the time for that. The ownership has rubber-stamped three DP's, the maximum allowed in the league, and that deserves some commending. The "R" word of re-building can't stop here yet however, as the defensive squad needs desperate quality. After today's splash into the transfer market though, a few of those yelling for change will now be eagerly awaiting the next moves at BMO Field.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Back To Back Caps - Episode One: "The Cappening"

Toronto v. Vancouver again? Enough already!

- Has TFC improved since the opening day drubbing at Empire Field?
- Is there a scientific possibility that Dan Gargan will appear in The Reds' midfield ever again?
- Is the priority over these two matches the league fixture or the NutCan replay on Saturday?
- Would any TFC player have the heart to break his nose during the game only to stay on and score a goal? (Or even just score a goal?)
- Will Eric Hassli make it through the airport without a red card?
"The Great Canadian Bagel II: East Coast Flava"
TORONTO: Richard Eckersley, Stefan Frei, Maicon Santos
VANCOUVER: Camilo, Jay DeMerit, Eric Hassli
- Any other market in MLS tuning into this game 30-1
- Dwayne De Rosario being traded to Toronto before the match: 50-1
- Joao Plata getting caught up in Jay DeMerit's beard: 100-1
- Word is that TFC is close to signing Dutch striker Danny Koevermans not for his scoring touch but because his name sounds like Vancouver. From a marketing point of view - Vancouver is so hot right now!
- This two-match stretch is the longest two Canadian clubs have spent together since the North York Rockets and the Hamilton Steelers went on that ill-fated flight over the South Pacific that was never found
- FIFA has been asked to investigate Vancouver Whitecaps after ignorant foreign fans complained that the team is neither British nor Colombian
THE WAGER: 2-1 Toronto (2011: 14-8 with 4 exact scores)

Monday, June 27, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Effects of playing Vancouver Whitecaps twice in a week

#soccerbowl79 - So hot right now!

A common joke term used to describe Canada is "America's Hat". However, if you look at the two Canadian clubs in Major League Soccer - it's more like "America's Bib". While the perfectly perfect Vancouver Whitecaps have the excuse of being a first-year MLS club to wash away their sins, the local club just has to rely on its corporate motto "Rebuilding Since 2008". To be blunt, if MLS does ever go Single Table, Canada’s teams would be those felt circles under the legs. Anyhoo, as our west coast cousins set up camp in T.O. (Wednesday for a league fixture and Saturday for the replay of the biblically denied NutCan Final) we wonder what the local effects of having this much Whitecap in our midst will be...
11. Local Lululemon outlets report huge spike in sales
10. Rogers Cable employees constantly crank-calling Caps' hotel - asking them to switch their Bell jerseys for a Rogers one
9. Vancouver goalkeeper / adult film star Joe Cannon spending days trying to frame hilariously saucy shot of him and the CN Tower
8. The discovery of eight lost local Nash brothers
7. Somehow #soccerbowl79 keeps trending on Twitter
6. Canadian National Team players from both clubs try to have Canada Day picnic - easily pushed away from last picnic spot by elderly family from Panama
5. TFC gets the chance once-and-for-all to prove they're only the second worst club in MLS!
4. Toronto stationary stores stocking up on red cards in preparation for Eric Hassli's arrival
3. Somehow the Boston Bruins win the Voyageurs Cup
2. Mayor Rob Ford's spot in this weekend's Gay Pride Parade taken by Bobby Lenarduzzi
1. Two times the riots!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

AFTER 90: Real ugly in Utah

No need to be so rude Kyle Beckerman!

With the Gold Cup Final taking place simultaneously (smooth move Garber), the Women's World Cup starting tomorrow, The UEFA U-21 Final earlier today and the FIFA U-17 Championship under way - nearly zero eyes are on this match. Thankfully that means the horror of the Gargan-Sturgis-Zavarise midfield will reach few eyes...
1' - A beautiful night in suburban Utah. A smallish crowd made larger by the amount of sister wives in attendance. Kick-off...
4' - Natty Dread Kyle Beckerman takes a shot which Stefan Frei loses in the sun. Gets a kicking in the ribs from Alvaro Saborio on the ensuing rebound
10' - RSL passing the ball around like Utah legends Stockton & Malone
14' - Danleigh Borman clears a sure RSL goal off the TFC goal line that had beaten Frei a little too easily. All Real so far
20' - RSL testing the sun drenched Frei with long range shots
23' - Will Johnson forces a good two handed save from Frei. What a quality Canadian midfielder he is. Hey, I wonder what ever happened to that Julian de Guzman fellow?
35' - How can RSL supporters not sing "Jason Kreis... Superstar"?. Too blasphemous for Utah?
39' - GOAL: Like a cat playing with string. It was only a matter of time as Nat Borchers powers home a header from an RSL corner
41' - GOAL: Truly awful defending as the ball bounces over three Reds before landing at the feet of an unmarked Saborio who easily scores
44' - Can TFC's defence be written off as a charitable donation?
45' - SUBS: Mikael Yourassowsky in for Joao Plata and Academy product Matt Stinson in for Javier Martina. 2/3 of the front line out says all you need to know.
52' - TFC always seems to play better when any chance of a result has long gone
58' - RSL have re-established full control of match
59' - See above. GOAL: Alvaro Saborio eats Doneil Henry for a snack and beats Frei easily
63' - Richard Eckersley's face is matching his hair in frustration
64' - SUB: Nick Soolsma in for Dan Gargan. It would be too easy to write a joke
66' - GOAL: The enigma that is Maicon Santos makes his once-a-game appearance and drives a long range blast past Nick Rimando
71' - Eckersley has become the pantomime villain at Rio Tinto garnering loud boos with every touch
80' - RSL are starting to put match in cruise control
83' - The TFC transfer window better have players pouring out of it like clowns out of a tiny car
88' - If the rest of the team had a portion of the fire in their belly that Eckersley has, this club would be in many more matches
90'+ - A poor match for TFC mercifully ended by the referee
What can be said about this match that hasn't been said about majority of The Reds' away fixtures this season? Yes, the club is currently decimated by injury and a shallow roster but there hasn't been forward development in quite some time. The truth is that TFC is currently in a limbo state. Aron Winter's "revolution" has obviously gone as far as it can with the current crop of "talent" and anyone with any investment in this club is counting the days until the transfer window flies open. Sadly, by the time July 15th rolls around there is a very good likelihood that TFC will be the worst team in MLS. Even the most pessimistic Reds supporter (yes, it's likely me) didn't expect that this year.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 6 / Richard Eckersley 6.5 / Doneil Henry 5 / Ty Harden 5.5 / Danleigh Borman 6 / Dan Gargan 5 (Nick Soolsma 6 ) / Nathan Sturgis 5.5 / Gianluca Zavarise 6 / Javier Martina 5.5 (Matt Stinson 5 ) / Maicon Santos 6 / Joao Plata 5.5 (Mikael Yourassowsky 6 )
TALKING POINT: Can you order a transfer "bay" window? Discuss

Friday, June 24, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Not looking Real good

- Will TFC have enough healthy players to make up a midfield?
- Are the recent positive and optimistic Reds player's sound bites real or simply an effort to appease anxious supporters?
- Even though Julian de Guzman is officially still with the club, is he really "with" the club?
- Remember a few years ago when RSL were worse than Toronto FC?
- If Maicon Santos played for RSL, how many wives would he keep?
REAL SALT LAKE: Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Nick Rimando
TORONTO FC: Richard Eckersley, Stefan Frei, Joao Plata
- Richard Eckersley calling up ex-teammate Alen Stevanovic - asking him how you get out of "these loan deals" so easily: 15-1
- Julian de Guzman mistaking Real Salt Lake for a Spanish club - demanding a transfer: 25-1
- GolTV trying to help ratings by interrupting 2nd Half of match for highlights of 1980's Utah Jazz to the music of Utah Saints: 50-1
- Real's Head Coach controversially turned down a promotional opportunity with a major Utah organization when he refused to legally change his name to "Jason Kreis of Latter-Day Saints"
- News has been hard to come by in regards to Julian de Guzman's post-Gold Cup "injury" but medical observers are hypothesising it is down to either Post Traumatic Vertical Follicle Disorder or Lamborghini-itis.
- The Salt Lake suburb of Sandy, Utah is home to Rio Tinto Stadium. The town was founded in 1989 by pioneers Karl Malone and John Stockton. Local residents are called Sandinistas and the main exports are tiny basketball shorts, wives and family musical acts.
THE WAGER: 2-0 Real Salt Lake (2011: 13-8 with 4 exact scores)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mid-Term reports at The Aron Winter Academy of Total Learning

Even the architecture is 4-3-3!

When Preki Junior High permanently closed its doors last year, and crusty Dean Mo Johnston was sent packing, no one knew what place of learning would take in the young Reds. Then, just before the school year began, word emerged that the prestigious Aron Winter Academy of Total Learning would open its doors with promises of cultured education and advanced philosophy nurturing the minds of Toronto's footballing pupils.
Led by tough Headmaster Aron Winter, wacky firebrand Vice-Principal Bob de Klerk and experienced Superintendent Paul Mariner, a new era of higher education was to dawn over the Lakeshore campus. The halfway point of the school year has arrived and time has come to mail home Mid-Term report cards to the young lads in their sharp red uniforms.
STEFAN FREI: "Star pupil. May leave for fancy European school" A
MILOS KOCIC: "Quiet. Helps pal Stefan with homework" N/A
NANA ATTAKORA: "Issues with tuition Dept. Can do better" C+
DONEIL HENRY: "Promising freshman with a bright future" B -
DAN GARGAN: "Curriculum too advanced. Rides the short bus" D
ADRIAN CANN: "Playground injury. Concentrate on modelling" B -
TY HARDEN: "Big, but slower than Elmer's Glue" C
DANLEIGH BORMAN: "Didn't do homework on 'Sith Ifrici' trip" C +
RICHARD ECKERSLEY: "Stand-out exchange student. Crayon hair" A
DICOY WILLIAMS: "Big strong kid. Very laid back. Irie" B
JULIAN DE GUZMAN: "Local rich kid. Doesn't want to be here" C
NATHAN STURGIS: "Very cooperative. Name like a Naval officer" C +
OSCAR CORDON: "Freshman full of beans. May need Ritalin" C
MIKAEL YOURASSOWSKY: "Your Ass usually rolling on the ground" C
TONY TCHANI: "Bright future. Runs like an angry giraffe" B -
JACOB PETERSON: "Plain but useful. Hall Monitor" B -
MATT GOLD: "That much ginger on one boy is unhealthy" C -
GIANLUCA ZAVARISE: "Most Italian part of talent is his name" C
JOAO PLATA: "Smallest boy in class. Biggest heart" B +
NICK SOOLSMA: "Name means 'painfully slow' in Flemish" C
ALAN GORDON: "Popular. Motivates the class. Absent too often" B +
MAICON SANTOS: "Checking files. Name might be Mike Sanders" B -
JAVIER MARTINA: "First day of school was great. Downhill since" C

Monday, June 20, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Ottawa's NASL club names

Oooh, natural grass pitch!

The Nutrilite Canadian Championship just got more muddled. Well, by "just" we mean in 2014 - the projected inaugural season for Ottawa's new NASL club. Scheduled to play in a revamped Lansdowne Park Stadium alongside a new CFL club, Ottawa will be joining the ranks of Canadian pro footy clubs alongside the three MLS squads and their NASL brethren FC Edmonton. This is of course if the current NASL exists in three years’ time. Either way, we wouldn't be doing our unpaid job if we didn't present the leading candidates for the Capital City's new soccerers...
11. Hull City QC
10. FC Girondins de Rideau
9. Old England Constitution
8. Olympique de Morissette
7. Galataxaray
6. Rough Riders FC / FC Roughriders (tie)
5. The Ministry of Foreign Sports
4. Dynamo Trudeau
3. Bytown & Hull Albion
2. FK Partizan Politics
1. GST Eindhoven

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stevanovic runs straight back to Torino - refuses to look left or right

"Just don't pass. Just don't pass. Just don't pass."

Few would have guessed that yet another mediocre Alen Stevanovic performance would have been the catalyst for a recall to parent-club Torino. Yet, when the enigmatic Swiss-Serb was subbed off against Seattle in the 2nd Half yesterday, he was leaving the BMO Field pitch for the last time.
If the other TFC (Torino FC) think that Stevanovic came to MLS and regained some confidence and polished his skills, they would be wrong. The midfielder’s time in Toronto will be remember for head-down runs with the ball, refusing to look for teammates on a play and attempting fancy step-overs only to be easily muscled off the ball.
For the injury-plagued Reds', the departure of Stevanovic puts their midfield in red-alert mode while manager Aron Winter pines for reinforcements on every part of the pitch. Perhaps someone should tell him supporters have been waiting for five years.
Reds supporters will panic at the loss of another body but not fret over Stevanovic who seemed to have an air of MLS-superiority about him despite showing any performances which illuminated any dominance. Word that Stevanovic grabbed his suitcase and ran to Pearson without looking left or right; threw his hands up in disbelief and disgust at the Alitalia ticket counter; then, tried to do a 360 around customs before tripping and losing possession of his luggage has yet to be confirmed.

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT: Toronto v Seattle... or the quest for the Cascadia Cup!

You tie a tie, tie a bow, tie your shoes, tie fighters, tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree.

You draw a picture, draw water from a well, draw a name out of a hat, draw a bridge, draw the strings in your bathing suit so it doesn't fall down.

You get a point across, you get a point on a needle, point form for a list, point your finger, point your toe.

With all the varied meanings of the word, it has lately been one of the answers to the following question : how did TFC do last week? A tie/a draw/a point.

With Toronto in second place for the Cascadia Cup on 3 points (thank you Portland), a single point doesn't help much. 3 points are a must!

Predictions didn't look too good as most people has 1-0. 2-0, 3-1 for Seattle. 2-2 draw and someone was optimistic enough to call 1-0 Toronto. Oh, the faithful...

2 - Seattle come flying out the gate as Fucito is on goal and fires wide. Oh if they can only hold on for 88 more minutes...

11 - Yourassowsky gets into the box, beats his defender, next touch he pushes it too far, flops down looking for the penalty. If that had actually worked for you your entire career, you'd be playing for Hannover in Germany right now.

16 - Are high crosses to the 5 foot winger truly a good idea? Discuss...

20 - YELLOW - Harden gets booked for his participation that had Grampa Keller on the pitch writhing in pain from the arthritis from being knocked over.

26 - YELLOW - Borman goes into the books for his part in an altercation.

36 - Good pressure by the Robins in the Seattle 18 as the ball gets bounced around while forcing Keller to make a few very quality saves. Not bad for a pensioner.

43 - Sturgis free kick bends over the wall, but not quite under the bar.

HALF-TIME MOOD : Optimistic, but Soolsma and Yourassowsky are showing some clear signs of uselessness. TORONTO 0 - SEATTLE 0

45 - SUB - Sturgis out, Cordon in. Strange as Sturgis played a fairly decent half.

49 - Seattle are now down to ten as Kennedy earns his second yellow and first shower.

56 - Plata runs at a defender near the goal line, beats him and slides a ball right across the face of goal. Now, if Soolsma has stopped marking his defender and took a step forward, it would say GOAL in front of this time stamp. Any guesses?

65 - YELLOW - Yourassowsky is deservedly booked for a mistimed challenge.

70 - SUB - Martina comes on for Stevanovic. Yet Soolsma and Yourassowsky are still on the pitch. Curious...

75 - Eckersley cleans up a bit of a Harden caused mess as Seattle were nearly in on goal except for a confident challenge near the box. I almost went a match without having anything bad to say about Harden.

82 - OMG MARTINA!!!! AAAAAH!!!! CROSSBAR!!!! AAAAAAAHhhhhh... sooooo close you could taste it.

89 - Lets see, opposition late in game gets free kick outside of the box. I have seen this before many many times...

90 - GOAL - I did foreshadow this would happen, not because I'm a pessimist, but because this is the very TFC we keep stumping up season tickets for. In all fairness, it was a very quality free kick by Montero around the wall and well out of Frei's reach.

4 minutes of extra time.

FULL TIME : Toronto 0, Seattle 1

Man of the Match : Plata did well so he gets the nod, but I appreciated Doneil Henry's efforts

Goat of the Game : Soolsma. Must be a Flemish dialect for "pilon".

Ref Rating : 3.5 out of 5. A little card happy, but they kept it down the middle as best as possible.

Updated Cascadia Cup standings
Seattle 5
Vancouver 4
Toronto 3
Portland 1

Team Ratings : Frei 6, Eckersley 6.5, Henry 6.5, Harden 6, Borman 5.5, Sturgis 6.5 (Cordon 5.5), Yourassowsky 6 (Gargan N/A), Soolsma 4.5, Santos 6, Plata 6.5

Soolsma begs for the ball and his offensive maneuver is to go backwards then give up possession... Why Soolsma played the whole game is baffling... I know we're tough on talent supply right now, but c'mon... Cordon could play well if he went heads up... no capos for the first half was kinda nice... Keller, for all of his geezery, is still very good... there was a period where it looked like players were ignoring the wide open Plata... so much for another draw, huh?

Friday, June 17, 2011

THE MATCHUP: Reds need XBOX 180

Who needs Halo when you can have Zaxxon?

TORONTO (14th) VS. SEATTLE (5th)
- Have TFC improved since they were drubbed 3-0 by Sounders at Qwest Field back in April?
- Can TFC take the 1st Half from New England and the 2nd Half from LA and combine them into a full 90 Minute performance?
- Does Julian de Guzman go right back into the starting 11 despite the recent workmanlike performances of Nathan Sturgis?
- Can young Doneil Henry continue his composed play on defence?
- Is Kasey Keller the last active footballer who fought during WWII?
TORONTO: Alan Gordon, Doneil Henry, Stefan Frei
SEATTLE: Osvaldo Alonso, Kasey Keller, Fredy Montero
- Supporters actually noticing a difference in the midfield with Julian de Guzman's return: 20-1
- Sigi Schmid's circumference expanding by 1/3 during match: 50-1
- Microsoft XBOX approaching Aron Winter and Bob de Klerk to do voice-over on their new video game "Grand Theft Auto: Hot Amshterdam Nightsh"
- Seattle's star striker Fredy Montero has angrily resisted calls for him to "Americanize" his name by adding a second 'D' to 'Fredy' calling it blatant "racial alphabetization"
- Toronto supporters are trying to re-energize the old fighting spirit by refusing to listen to Soundgarden, wear Xavier McDaniel jerseys or eat tossed salad & scrambled eggs for a full week
- Due to the gulf in talent on the two clubs, BMO Field's most creative chants on Saturday will again revolve around the CN Tower's phallic prominence over Seattle's Space Needle
THE WAGER: 0-0 Draw (2011: 13-7 with 4 exact scores)

"C'mon 8-Bit de Guzman - move your ass!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

AFTER 90: Dozens of New Englanders bored as Reds draw Revolution

They must be so bummed they missed the Revs' match

With Boston area fans geared up to watch their Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final, this may be one of the lowest attended MLS matches of the season. Although... how will you tell? Gillette Stadium usually looks that empty. Two of the Least of the East do battle with dozens watching...
1' - Singles of fans in the stands of Gillette "The Best a Man Can Get" Stadium. No word how many are Wahlbergs. Kick-off...
8' - Shaky start for the Reds as they concede 3 corner kicks already
14' - Joao Plata with the first sign of offensive life for TFC with a close range shot blocked by Revs' GK Matt Reis
19' - Against the run of play, Revs' Chris Tierney forces a save from Stefan Frei who parries it away for yet another New England corner
27' - The only sound emanating from Gillette Stadium is Taylor Twellman's voice
34' - Young Doneil Henry having a very solid, composed night
35' - Kevin Alston clears an Alan Gordon shot off of the Revs' goalline. Closest chance so far for The Reds
38' - Gordon making all the difference to TFC as he takes another shot forcing a save from Reis
44' - The Gillette Stadium kop breaks into a rousing version of "You May Have to Walk Alone"
45' - No extra time added as the ref puts on his Bruins jersey and runs to the locker room
47' - Plata getting knocked about. Looks like dodgy rapper Nelly with his face band-aid
49' - Shalrie Joseph with a 20-yard cannon blast that Frei saves with diving aplomb
55' - Good TFC build-up but no finish. No it's not 2007,08,09 or 10
56' - SUB: Enigmatic Maicon Santos out for Oscar Cordon.
57' - Revs' Rajko Lekic misses an absolute sitter. It should be 1-0
62' - It's that time in the match where Mikael Yourassowsky looks like he needs to have his leg amputated
67' - SUB: A mediocre Nick Soolsma makes way for Gianluca "Easy Peasy" Zavarise
70' - TFC looking poor at the back - luckily so has Revs' striker Lekic
72' - Yourassowsky down again. We would hate him if he wasn't ours
74' - SUB: Plata and his hip-hop band-aid off for Javier Martina and his dancehall dreads
84' - Both teams have lost their shape going forward. Good thing no one there New England to witness it
90'+ - RED CARD: Gianluca Zavarise picks up two Yellow Cards in succession and makes an auspicious return to action. A suspended midfielder is not what TFC requires
90'+ - Shalrie Joseph with a blast that the ref says Frei tips over the bar but The Goalblerone furiously disputes
90'+ - Ref whistles to end the match. Parking lot clears in record time
For the second match in a row, TFC grinds out a draw and grabs a single point. However, where the match in LA felt like a battling moral victory with lots of heart and grit shown, this one felt like a lost opportunity. The match momentum did alternate between these two "Leasts of the East" but there was a feeling that TFC could have stolen 3 points off a weak Revolution. The Reds seemed to lose the offensive prowess they were showing late in the 1st Half and Aron Winter's substitutions did little to spark the club's scoring opportunities. BREAKING NEWS: Toronto FC still desperately needs a finisher. In the end, solid defensive work from Doneil Henry and Stefan Frei means one Canadian team took something from New England tonight.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 7 / Richard Eckersley 6.5 / Doneil Henry 7.5 / Ty Harden 6 / Danleigh Borman 6 / Nick Soolsma 6 (Gianluca Zavarise 4) / Nathan Sturgis 6 / Mikael Yourassowsky 6 / Joao Plata 6 (Javier Martina - ) / Alan Gordon 6.5 / Maicon Santos 6 (Oscar Cordon 6)
TALKING POINT: TFC the best Canadian team in sports tonight. Discuss

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

THE MATCHUP: The biggest game in Boston

- Can TFC carry over some offensive consistency from the LA match against an equally struggling opponent in Revolution?
- Can some of Toronto's walking wounded return to action to fill out the sparse line-up?
- Will Aron Winter risk starting the talismanic Alan Gordon so soon after his long injury lay-off?
- Will Paul Mariner and Steve Nicol have a running slow-motion reunion while "Dream Weaver" plays in the background?
- Will anyone in the Boston area remember that this match is on?
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "Not Necessarily The Stanley Cup"
NEW ENGLAND: Didier Domi, Shalrie Joseph, Matt Reis
TORONTO: Richard Eckersley, Maicon Santos, Nathan Sturgis
- TFC escaping the match without another injured starter: 5-1
- TSN announcers managing to go more than three minutes without mentioning The Stanley Cup: 10-1
- Revs fans throwing cups of tea at TFC players in misplaced "The Red Shirts are coming!" act of patriotism: 100-1
- Gillette ("The Best a Man Can Get") Stadium officials came under fire for their corporate cross-promotion during the recent Celtic v Rangers friendly. "Gillette Razorblade Night" was a massive failure
- Foxboro, Mass. was founded in 1963 as a safe haven by Boston-area wife-swappers (aka Fox Borrowers). The 16,000 strong population are known as Stone-Cold Foxes and the main exports are Samuel Adams empties, difficult accents and fist fights
- With an average attendance under 10,000 this year, Revolution are considering a re-branding of the club with the three most popular name changes being Boston Celtic, Wahlberg Wanderers and AC Sam Malone
THE WAGER: 1-0 New England (2011: 13-6 with 4 exact scores)

Monday, June 13, 2011

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC complaints about air travel

All these screens and not one Jan de Bont film?

Few people who have to regularly travel by air for work claim that it is a pleasurable experience. Airport line-ups, cramped flights, security headaches and long delays are the norm for these weary airline commuters. For Toronto FC and their MLS brethren, fixture lists can sometimes mean criss-crossing the continent three or four times over a fortnight. This would be enough to test the most seasoned traveller’s patience and it will come to no surprise that The Reds have their share of Mile High Gripes...
11. Nana Attakora keeps getting left off flights because his "luggage wasn't performing well recently"
10. KLM doesn't fly between Columbus and Kansas City
9. Dan Gargan keeps letting people pass him in the aisles
8. Players forced to sit in 4-3-3 formation
7. Air Canada has a severe lack of Dutch cinema options on its in-flight entertainment system
6. Having to awkwardly pass Mo Johnston as he mops the floor at Pearson Airport's Terminal 1
5. Maicon Santos inevitably ends up doing the Lambada with the hottest flight attendant
4. Ty Harden and his mid-flight jazz-flute sessions
3. Every time Canada Customs asks Aron Winter if he has "anything to declare" he answers back "it is a pity"
2. Stefan Frei steals all of the mini Toblerones
1. Joao Plata keeps knocking from inside the overhead bin

Sunday, June 12, 2011

AFTER 90: Shock Hollywood ending

"Heeeere's Alan!"

Could a rag-tag Toronto FC line-up shock LA Galaxy in the same way that Panama had just shocked USA at the Gold Cup? Or, would they be as impotent as Canada was against 10-man Guadeloupe? Seriously, it's not even a country! 1st versus nearly worst in Hollywood...
1' - Shock of shocks, a beautiful sunny night in the LA suburbs as Galaxy takes to the pitch with the likes of Angel and Beckham. We have Dan Gargan. This one could get fugly. Kick-off..
Note: For anyone who missed the pre-match rendition of the Canadian national anthem tonight - do whatever you have to do and find it online. Wow.
2' - GOAL: Remember when I said fugly? Chris Birchall left alone and eats the mish-mash TFC defence alive.
10' - Galaxy MF Miguel Lopez beats Stefan Frei but not the post.
15' - Despite Galaxy looking like they can score at will. Reds don't look awful going forward - just no finishers... for the last 5 years.
16' - YELLOW CARD: Danleigh Borman for a sloppy tackle/ shirt-pull combo #5
22' - Galaxy are in shooting gallery mode
29' - David Beckham does a very un-metrosexual thing and puts an ugly tackle on Tony Tchani who goes down and stays down for a long time. Tchani tries to run it off but can't continue... SUB: Joao Plata in for the injured Cameroonian
38' - (Same old) Chad Barrett (still not scoring) drives his mongo elbow into Joao Plata's face busting the wee man's cheek. Child abuse
42' - SUB: The Reds continue to drop like flies as Jacob Peterson re-aggravates his hamstring. Alan "Yankee Dichio" Gordon his replacement
44' - Silly puns aside - Beckham's touches are still silly good
48' - Gordon is setting an aggressive early tone crashing heavily with Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders
52' - It is announced that Galaxy have just broken their all-time shutout minutes streak. In Hollywood that's called foreshadowing
56' - Academy grad Doneil Henry's marking duties switch between Juan Pablo Angel and Beckham. Welcome to 1st Team football
59' - TFC dominating play with numerous chances - the best a sharp volley from Mikael Yourassowsky which forces a save
65' - Galaxy's offence completely being carried by the ageless Angel
67' - GOAL: "Yankee Dichio" Alan Gordon puts his shaggy head on a phenomenal long aerial pass off the foot of Danleigh Borman
68' - Chad Barrett's stupid haircut crashes hard into Stefan Frei giving The Goalblerone a gashed ankle. As if The Chad wasn't useless enough to TFC
69' - End to end stuff as Maicon Santos clangs a long range effort off the crossbar
72' - Beckham apparently gets 5 pre-warnings before next Yellow Card
80' - YELLOW CARD: Alan Gordon going for The Dichio Special
84' - Angel with a 20 yard blast that forces Frei to make a big stop
87' - Nathan Sturgis has been bombing quality free kicks into Galaxy's area all-night. Cough... de Guzman... cough
90' - GOAL: Perennial TFC killer Juan Pablo Angel tops off a great night with a vicious blast that Frei had no chance on
90'+ SUB: Javier Martina goes Double-Dutch for Nick Soolsma
90'+ GOAL: In Hollywood comeback script style, ex-Galaxy forward Alan Gordon cracks a great first-time volley past Saunders in the dying seconds of extra-time. Magical stuff
Who knew that journeyman forward Alan Gordon, picked up for Nick LaBrocca in pre-season, would become the closest thing TFC has had to a Danny Dichio-type presence since the "legend" retired? Gordon who has been off on an extended injury absence changed the shape and style of TFC going forward and dragged the club to a draw tonight in his old stomping grounds. In addition, positive play from Yourassowsky and Eckersley helped The Reds actually look very competent and creative going forward - quite a surprise considering the threadbare line-up. Mounting injuries will be a concern this week but for tonight, a rare moral victory for Toronto against a team whose DP's showed why they get the big bucks.
Oh, and Chad Barrett still can't score anywhere near a TFC kit.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 7 / Richard Eckersley 7 / Doneil Henry 6.5 / Ty Harden 6 / Danleigh Borman 7 / Jacob Peterson INJ (Alan Gordon 8) / Nathan Sturgis 6.5 / Tony Tchani INJ (Joao Plata 6) / Mikael Yourassowsky 7 / Maicon Santos 6.5 / Nick Soolsma 6 (Javier Martina -)
TALKING POINT: TFC always needs a rambunctious giant. Discuss

Friday, June 10, 2011

THE MATCHUP: D-List Toronto FC aim to avoid Hollywood disaster

- With Galaxy hit harder by Gold Cup call-ups than The Reds, will TFC have the gall to use the tournament as an excuse?
- Which former striker will haunt his old team more - ex-Red Chad Barrett or ex-Galaxian Alan Gordon?
- Who will Aron Winter line-up in a defence that is decimated by absence, injury and severe lack of depth?
- Is it fair that Galaxy loses their best DP and are left with Beckham and Angel while TFC loses its only DP and is left with Nathan Sturgis?
- Is Toronto FC really such a non-issue for LA that their creative midfielder Juninho could schedule his wedding - in Brazil - during this fixture?
LA GALAXY: David Beckham, Chris Birchall, Omar Gonzalez
TORONTO FC: Richard Eckersley, Stefan Frei, Maicon Santos
- Aron Winter's post-match including the words "internationals"; "travel"; "injuries" and "pity": 5-1
- TFC driving by local hardware outlets and hiring illegal Mexican workers to fill out defensive back four: 10-1
- Anyone thinking the film "Super 8" is about Dan Gargan's shirt number: 1,000,000-1
- Galaxy manager Bruce Arena was upset after coming in second place in the "Football Manager Who Most Looks Like Deputy Dog" contest losing in the final to Harry Redknapp of Tottenham Hotspur
- Carson, California is a southern suburb of Los Angeles with a population heavily made up of stunt performers, celebrity chimpanzees and hookers with hearts of gold. The locals are called Johnnycarsons and the main exports include cue cards, scripts for sit-com pilots and Forest Whitaker
- It's a big week for ex-TFC forward The Chad Barrett as he prepares for his feature film debut. The Chad stars alongside Steven Seagal and Valerie Bertinelli in the action thriller "Soccercop2000" which is released on VHS nationwide on Tuesday
THE WAGER: 2-0 Los Angeles (2011: 13-5 with 4 exact scores)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Supporter apathy, not anger, the biggest threat to Toronto FC

"Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is."
- Rollo May
For the first few years of Toronto FC's existence, the club, so desperate for a positive spin, dined out on the media propelled designation that BMO Field had "the best fans in the league". Boisterous, loud and loyal, the supporters were the only thing worth putting on a billboard to promote a club so bereft of quality on the pitch. While TFC fans are still amongst the best in the league, loyal almost to a fault, the comments in the same media that held up local support as a beacon in MLS now wonder where the electricity has gone.
The knowledgeable and devoted support at TFC have been behind their club through thick and the very many thins. However, when things were obviously wrong in the past, there was palpable, vocal frustration often bordering on anger. The club-destroying reign of the MLSE-backed Mo Johnston, the carpet bagging pricing schemes over the Real Madrid friendly and often the general play on the field were met with passionate discourse. Five years on though, new sins are being met with deep sighs, a resigned shrug of the shoulders and most notably absence.
From our in-person vantage in the South Stand, the vaunted bastion of The Reds sometimes fiery support, we have the pleasure of being surrounded by a cross-section of fans. Older fans who have immigrated from nations where football is like breathing; younger fans who were seduced by Toronto FC's "real football" atmosphere; long-time Canadian fans thrilled to have big league football in town; and in the near distance, the club's established supporters groups. While the attitudes vary and some are still as happy to sing "The Dichio Song" as they were in 2008, a wide spectrum of these fans have seemed to stop feeling as passionate. They are indeed angry after five years of rebuilding a club that was never built in the first place, but the fire in them to kick up a fuss is dwindling. There is almost a feeling that any anger is almost futile against an ownership that wouldn't hear the loudest of yells.
Whether it is right or wrong, the sense that the ownership is only in this for a quick buck has seeped through the stands. TFC supporters have been so loyal while watching other teams enter the league and achieve success quickly while The Reds stay in neutral. The effect has been seen in the stands this season with many empty seats - despite the 19 or 20 thousand "announced" attendance at every match. The casual support is breaking away to other forms of entertainment that don't leave you quite as frustrated at the end of two hours. While we, along with many other dedicated supporters will stick with the club, BMO Field may soon start to resemble stadiums in Columbus, New England and Dallas with small pockets of hardcore support, heavily outnumbered by swaths of empty seats. These are the stadiums we used to look down upon as being... well... apathetic.
Excuses like bad weather, match schedules or UEFA Champions League matches never used to affect the attendance and buzz at BMO Field but that has changed. There is almost a boredom sometimes at matches which emanates from the toxic mixture of the currently poor football and the steps the club has taken to mute the supporter culture in the stands - the only thing the trophy-phobic club was built on. If MLSE/ TFC think that replacing true organic support and good football with thundersticks, cheerleaders and promises of "a bright future" will work, they are mistaken. Apathy may very well turn into something worse - the fans once used to promote the club, turning their backs on it for good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

THE STARTING 11: European footballers' complaints about MLS

Kinder Surprise! You're moving to mid-Ohio!

When David Beckham made his much bally-hooed, sexy landing in Los Angeles a few years ago, many MLS observers thought it would open a floodgate of European stars heading to North America. As supporters of the league know, the deluge never quite happened. Apart from the odd Ljungberg or Henry, no extra flights were added across the Atlantic to handle a sudden influx to MLS. The idea of the big-name Designated Player can still be tempting for some clubs but there seems to be difficulty getting the UEFA star to trade Frankfurt for Foxboro. With the transfer window upon MLS, Johnny Foreigner still has some problems with playing footy in North America...
11. Not a single club named Grasshopper
10. Feelings of guilt when having to park luxury sports car next to teammate's 1993 Toyota Camry
9. Need more clubs in either New York City or Los Angeles
8. No matter what your agent says - Columbus is not located on the "Ohio Riviera"
7. Too many people in Manchester United kits
6. Not enough hilarious corruption scandals
5. Serious lack of Benetton stores
4. Horizontal NFL lines on pitch "not slimming"
3. Kinder Egg surprises not as whimsical
2. Good luck finding a bidet at a Holiday Inn
1. CONCACAF has too many letters in it

Saturday, June 4, 2011

AFTER 90: Nothing up the Wizard's sleeve

A Wizard can't change his rainbow stripes

The main question coming out onto the pitch was whether the temperature would be colder than the reception for Teal "Judas" Bunbury - this is what it sounds like when two poor MLS clubs meet...
1' - This can't possibly be June as a less than capacity crowd actually need their scarves for warmth - not festivities, Kick-off...
3' - Late-comers revel in fact that Dan Gargan not starting
8' - Supporters voicing their displeasure with "The Son of Alex Bunbury" catches the eye of the Nu-American forcing a sly grin
11' - Ten minutes have passed without allowing two goals. Better than last week then. Improvement!
27' - Joao Plata with a (very) rare opportunity on goal but hits the side netting. Both teams seem to have forgotten that they're supposed to score actual goals
36' - TFC takes yet another terrible corner kick. They must practice those right? At least play them on FIFA 11?
42' - Really shouldn't be able to see my breath in July.
44' - Really shouldn't have to see these too very poor clubs pretend to have a clue for more than another few minutes
Note: During the halftime break, a local squirrel ran onto the pitch, darted straight for KC's net and launched itself into it causing the crowd to erupt. Best scoring drive of the night.
47' - Maicon Santos drives in on KC goal but a last-minute tackle from Chance Myers stops him. Ironic name.
52' - Total Nonsense Football
58' - Mikael Yourassowsky with a very rare shot on target but saved by Sporting GK Eric Kronberg
60' - Many people demanding the squirrel's return
65' - Maicon Santos turns into Mike Sanders then back into Maicon Santos with poor dribbling, followed by an amazing side-step past two Sporting defenders and a hard shot saved by Kronberg. The man's a Brazilian enigma.
66' - SUB: Little Joao Plata leaves for Medium Nick Soolsma
68' - YELLOW CARD: Still waiting for the corner kick from the Maicon shot and Tony Tchani gets booked for Unsporting Behaviour. Possibly for not being on Sporting? Kick finally taken. Weak.
69' - YELLOW CARD: Richard Eckersley who has looked about the only passionate Red out there is booked for a rash tackle
75' - SUB: The increasingly frustrated Eckersley comes off for the eternally frustrating Dan Gargan
80' - Simply horrible football to watch on both sides.
85' - Watching TFC hang on to a draw AT HOME to THE WORST CLUB in the league is frustrating to be very polite
90' - SUB: Nana Attakora goes off injured (oh crap) and is replaced by Doneil Henry
90'+ - Henry almost becomes a hero by connecting on a header from a long free kick only for Kronberg to make a good stop
What can be said about this bit or drudgery masquerading as a football match? One guarantee - MLS won't be editing it into the end of season highlights video. TFC, who were humiliated at home 6-2 last week, came out (and stayed out) with very little fire or passion. The Reds' play was disjointed, awkward and has noticeably regressed as of late which can't simply be put down to player absences. As for Sporting KC, they showed why they are the worst club in the league but that 10-game road trip is at least a good excuse. The biggest favour they did for local fans tonight was show us what TFC would look like in alternate baby blue kits.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 6.5 / Danleigh Borman 6 / Ty Harden 6 / Nana Attakora 6.5 (Doneil Henry - ) / Richard Eckersley 6.5 (Dan Gargan - ) / Mikael Yourassowsky 5.5 / Tony Tchani 6 / Nathan Sturgis 6 / Javier Martina 5.5 / Maicon Santos 6 / Joao Plata 6 (Nick Soolsma 5.5)
TALKING POINT: At what point does rebuilding go backwards? Discuss.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

THE MATCHUP: "We're not playing the Wizards anymore Toto"

Suck it Benfica St. Louis

- What is more devastating: a massive 10-game road trip; or, coming off a humiliating 6-2 loss at home and being decimated by injury and International duty?
- With Adrian Cann injured for the season, will Nana Attakora finally get the chance to cement his place back in the starting line-up?
- Would Aron Winter dare start the dreaded Gargan-Harden ("The Raging Hargens") combo again after they helped handicap TFC in the first 10 minutes last week?
- How would the seemingly low morale and egos of TFC handle a loss at home to the worst club in MLS?
- Can the pent-up patriotic fury that supporters have been ready to release against Canadian turncoat Teal Bunbury be redirected into irony for a singing of “There’s only one Alex Bunbury”?
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "The No Blizzard - No Wizard"
TORONTO FC: Stefan Frei, Tony Tchani, Mikael Yourassowsky
SPORTING KC: Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara
- Toronto fans mocking Sporting KC until seeing pictures of their new stadium; then gently weeping as it rains on them: 10-1
- Sporting Kansas City to re-brand the team at halftime: 100-1
- 2,000 TFC fans being outnumbered by 10,000 immigrants from Missouri at BMO Field: 1000-1
- Sporting's insanely long road-trip to start 2011 may have caused them to falter in the MLS table but in a silver lining they did qualify for the 2012 Homeless World Cup
- If it rains on Saturday evening, BMO Field will break FIFA's matchday precipitation record set in the now defunct Brazilian Rainforest Division
- If TFC loses, manager Aron Winter could break the Guinness Book record for most uses of the word "pity" by a single person, smashing Mr.T's previous tally set in 1986
THE WAGER: 1-1 Draw (2011: 12-5 with 4 exact scores)

Only one Bunbury

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT Special Edition : Canada v Ecuador... or Opposite Night at BMO Field!

Liberally stolen from CBC and Chris Young/Canadian Press. Sorry but this is beautiful.

I need a forum for this and I'll keep it brief and do my best to tie it into our beloved Robins (that's TFC folks).

The match was an electric affair where a combination of sublime luck and timing earned a draw against relentless pressure and natural skills. 2-2. Canada up by one, concede two then tie it up in injury time. What an absolute cracker.

So here's what I don't get:
  • 20,000 show up for the mediocre TFC yet only 12,000 show up for the more technically superior in every which way (except defensive midfield - yeah you deGoo) Canada.
  • did the CSA actually believe that they'd sell out the place?
  • when they realized that the mythical 8,000 person walk-up could never happen, did they not think to paper the ground with local kids teams and show them what the future can be
  • TFC can overpay for apparent talent but somehow think Tosaint Ricketts is out of their reach (or does Politehnica Timi┼čoara really pay competitive wages in the Romanian top flight)
  • better atmosphere with fewer supporters? Yeah, it's possible.
It was easy to poke fun of the "Canadians in Yellow" regarding how their side lost to Canada by virtue of not actually winning, and it's even easier to call out the convenience of supporting, on paper or by FIFA ranking, the better side. But it is embarassing to see more people supporting the country they left/abandonded/forced from than the place they actually call home. And it's more embarassing that the CSA couldn't do enough to turn that number.

If TFC would like to bring back the exhibition matches, bring in "Canada vs [name of country here]". Tickets end up in the right hands and you can finally send the fans home knowing that they've seen a good team in a red kit play well for 90 minutes.

Lastly, I'd like to give a shout out to my favourite Canadian footballer right now, Milan Borjan. In a day in age when so many "Canadians" do not want to represent Canada, one who emigrated here wanted to. His story is humble and makes the chest swell with pride. I'd also like to say Milan played an excellent game, bailed out more than a few defensive blunders and that he's better than Begovic in every way.

The culture in the Canada supporters section was refreshing. Sure, it was the same 5 songs, but there wasn't a subplot competition of cheerleaders. Groups were unified. We stuck it to the other 90% of supporters in our home ground, out singing them for most of the game.

This is what footballing support was about. Singing not because someone on a wooden perch said so, but singing because you love to do so. Singing because you believed you needed to connect to your side. Singing because of a spiritual desire for the game.

Ask yourself if you truly felt that rush the next time you depart BMO.

If you were there, you can't wait for the next one. And if you weren't, you missed a very good justification to support local soccer.

Thank you. Rant/epiphany over.

Grass no greener off the pitch at TFC

Roof goes here.

Ask Toronto FC supporters what is wrong with the failing, and seemingly flailing, club right now and many will give an arms-length list of problems dressed in red kits or holding clipboards. In a season where on-field successes have been few and far between, it is hard to fault the average member of BMO Field's faithful for pointing at the pitch and screaming in exasperated frustration.
It is obvious to anyone who has regularly attended a match on Toronto's Lakeshore this year or even watched a match on TV, that there is a different air around the club. The heady days of electric atmosphere and optimism without reason have noticeably diminished in 2011, replaced only with flickering hope that yet another new regime will bring the change that The Reds’ loyal support so deserves - or worse, an uncaring apathy.
Judging the club based on its on-field performance right now brings simple answers - bad. However, those can be fixed with a few inspired personnel moves - it is arguably off-field issues where the rot has set much deeper and may indeed be the threat to TFC reaching its full potential as a club.
The apple rarely falls from the tree. While the Aron Winter/ Paul Mariner management team does its best to bring a professional environment so missing under Mo Johnston, there are still many links to the "old ways" of doing business. Much of this "culture" comes from owners MLSE who as any Torontonian sports fan can attest, is far more interested in dollars than trophies. The owners have somehow managed to turn the hottest ticket in local sports into a rapidly dull and apathetic environ. The extendable "5-Year Plans" (which aren't necessary in MLS) are slowly alienating casual support and somehow slaying the most unlikely "golden goose" in the Toronto sports scene. Can Winter & Co. battle the culture of "All For One Dollar"? There are a few players, some here - some departed, who already think not.
While the story has gone quiet (...too quiet) the seemingly inevitable sale of MLSE to (insert media giant / bank / super villain name here) must have a forward effect on planning. An air of instability must run through the front office rank and file with their futures seemingly in the balance. And what of MLSE currently? Is there a desire to improve the team long-term with acquisitions of Designated Players for example? Or, would such frills be considered ill-timed if a sale is on the horizon? While the massive Academy investment seems to signal long-term strategy (but possibly real estate accumulation), other short-term (and short-sighted) decisions such as putting most TFC matches on MLSE-owned GolTV seem like a short-cut to the quick buck. The GolTV move, which may affect long-term fan growth, is a particularly distressing move and one which hopefully doesn't signify a short-term vision in other areas.
In the club's early days, the emergence of a "global football supporter culture" took hold at TFC and likely took MLSE by surprise. The raucous atmosphere created at BMO Field was noticed around the league and around the world as a new type of MLS club support. The supporter culture made TFC matches a "place to be" and MLSE soon was happy to market this as a reason to come to matches when the football was definitely not. Recently however, it seems to many as if the club's operators have been quietly trying to dampen the boisterous supporter sections and the groups within them.
Minor incidents with flares for example, have been manipulated to excuse an overzealous security clampdown which has gone as far as making it difficult to bring a flag to the stadium. The result is a much more muted supporter element at BMO at a time when other MLS clubs are embracing such supporter displays. While many think they would never castrate this segment of the crowd, would it be beyond belief to think that a "Family Section" wouldn't fill the coffers of MLSE as easily without the hassle of policing this so-though-of "troublesome" element? It is a doomed vision if it exists - but would surprise few.
It is difficult to be too hard on BMO Field because without the publicly funded tin-can, there would be no TFC. When the stadium was built, it was assembled on the cheap as quickly as possible and Toronto football fans had no problem with it. The idea of a footy specific stadium was so rare after all. However, apart from the installation of grass (an admittedly fine investment by MLSE) the stadium is not the comfiest place to watch a match while other, more grand stadia, are being erected league-wide.
Positioned by the lake and being used during an MLS season which sees the worst of Toronto's extreme weather, BMO Field can be a challenge for the heartiest supporter. While MLSE will claim that the stadium is a municipal facility and their hands are tied, no one believes that the city would object if the owners would spring for the missing element in making BMO a better place to watch football - a roof. Whether it protects from searing heat or freezing rain and wind, a basic roof would be a gesture in customer appreciation which MLSE could afford for the price of a few Maple Leafs fourth liners and transform BMO Field from an "okay" place to watch a match into a great one.
It is not an insult to refer to Major League Soccer as a mid-range football league. It's what it is. MLSE of course would prefer to compare TFC to its other products, the Leafs and Raptors, who play in the global premier leagues of their sports. This thinking led MLSE to charge a premium rate for TFC tickets which average higher than many English Premier League clubs. The astounding early success of TFC of course affirmed their decision and gave them the bravado to increase ticket prices regularly and quickly.
Now that the "golden goose" has been somewhat slayed, the ticket prices no longer represent value for money. Casual fans and supporters in what were once cheaper seats are openly questioning the value of such investment in a floundering club while once die-hards in more expensive seats are simply not showing up to matches. Despite announcing near sell-outs for every match, BMO Field has rarely looked full in 2011 but a price roll-back by MLSE is still highly unlikely. It’s just not in MLSE’s DNA. This, with many of the above issues, may spell out a future that is darker before the dawn at the once liveliest sporting event in Toronto.