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Saturday, September 29, 2012

AFTER 90: "In New York, concrete jungle where bad dreams are made, oh"

"T to the Izzo, D to the Unfield"


1' - Scoreline still 0-0. Yet to come close to TFC's previous 5-0 drubbings in New Jersey. #progress
2' - Shock and horror ripple through the 10% full Red Bull Arena as Quincy Amarikwa rattles the post with a low shot
6' - GOAL: Toronto - Ryan Johnson scores on a gorgeous 20-yard strike that finds the top corner of New York's goal. Against all right minds it's...
10' - Red Bulls have a boisterous supporters group called the "Viking Army" - because when you think Harrison, New Jersey - you think proud Norwegian ancestry
14' - GOAL: Just to rebel against my Scandinavian cynicism, giant Swede Markus Holgersson rises barely to get his head on a Thierry Henry corner kick
21' - Ashtone Morgan with a great diving clearance after a Joel Lindpere cross into the box. Match has a frenetic pace with NYRB starting to control
25' - In their red shirt and white shorts combo, you can squint and pretend it's TFC 2007 all over again! Except without the warm fuzzy feelings, Danny Dichio and Carl Robinson and you know... hopes and dreams for a successful future
27' - GOAL: New York - Ouch. Thierry Henry saunters in and flicks the ball over to an absurdly open Kenny Cooper who taps it in while Richard Eckersley crashes into Freddy hall. Shambolic.
38' - On a petty note - at least many of the supporters at Red Bull Arena tonight will be abducted by C.H.U.D.'s on their way back to their cars
42' - The more respect Luis Silva gets in MLS, the more knocks he takes. Will need to get used to taking his lumps.
45' - Reds keeping it close but can they keep up with this high energy pace for 90 Minutes?


45' - SUB: Andrew Wiedeman on for Luis Silva
46' - Wiedeman did some of the best stretching in the modern era before coming on.
50' - Definitely a chippier match than recent outings. Darren O'Dea and Richard Eckersley are a High Street deep fried cheeseburger away from making this a Glasgow Saturday Night
65' - Just realized I didn't write a thing for 15 minutes. As you were.
68' - YELLOW CARD: Aaron Maund (flying buttcheck)
72' - Darren O'Dea not headhunting but rather "handhunting" Thierry Henry's filthy Irish-screwing paws.
77' - One goal lead doesn't reflect offensive dominance of NYRB this half. Terry Dunfield's head could still steal a point which Thierry Henry deserves just for being him.
80' - Freddy Hall fighting off a scrappy Tim Cahill. When will the Bermudian-on-Australian violence ever end?
83' - SUB: Eric Avila on for Reggie Lambe
85' - When things go well for TFC (I know, ha ha) I refer to Paul Mariner as an "Ipswich Legend". When they piss me off he reverts back to "that ex-Arsenal twonk".
87' - Andrew Wiedeman tests "the modern era's" finishers from distance. Saved.
88' - GOAL: New York - I think this one is a re-run. Thierry Henry bedazzles the TFC defence while Kenny Cooper stands in a acre of space alone only to slot the pass in easily.
90'+ - GOAL: New York - Thierry Henry. Different class to anything TFC has ever had. Floated from distance over a hapless Hall.
90'+ - "ex-Arsenal twonk(s)"


PLAYER RATINGS: Freddy Hall 5 / Jeremy Hall 5 / Richard Eckersley 5.5 /Darren O'Dea 5.5 / Ashtone Morgan 6 / Reggie Lambe 5.5 (Eric Avila N/A) / Aaron Maund 5 / Terry Dunfield 5.5 / Quincy Amarikwa 5 / Luis Silva 5 (Andrew Wiedeman 4.5) / Ryan Johnson 6


What do you expect here? A raging diatribe? Nope. All out of that sauce we're afraid. Just futility on top of futility and long past the point where any new angered description can address the frustration of supporting TFC. Not an unexpected result by any means, just another reminder that if MLS had a Division 2 - The Reds would be solidly mid-table.

We will say this though - if Paul Mariner wants to hold on to any of his rapidly diminishing reputation in TFC supporter eyes tonight - DO NOT come out and claim anything this evening was "positive", "so close", "best in ANY era" or anything that doesn't describe this club as a relegation-reprieved mess that needs 24/7 reconstruction between yesterday and next March.

Friday, September 28, 2012

THE MATCHUP: Red Bull gives you wings... Reds bull; without Frings

"The Champagne of Football Clubs"


A late-season trip to New York (well industrial post-apocalyptic New Jersey) inevitably stirs up memories in TFC supporters of that fateful match on the last day of the 2009 season. As we all remember, The Reds were on the verge of their first playoff appearance and with all on the line and a big effort needed - they laid a giant 5-0 sized egg.
Massive and immediate changes were needed after that match but instead of dispatching the Highlands Moron and his Gang (some who still pull strings at TFC), the club instead ripped out its guts by dispatching Carl Robinson, Marvell Wynne, a promising young coach in Chris Cummins and a rookie who had the balls to tell it like it was (while the existing "captain" told the world there were no problems at all) in Sam Cronin. Now, as TFC head towards (yet) another crossroads, supporters are once again wondering what changes are ahead. Will they be positive moves forward or a fruitless cull to protect the employment of "company men"?
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "The Sam Cronin Testimonial"
NEW YORK: Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, Dax McCarty
TORONTO: Quincy Amarikwa, Terry Dunfield, Darren O'Dea
The following players regretting their dismissal form TFC...
Sam Cronin: 5000-1
Marvell Wynne: 5000-1
Carl Robinson: 5000-1
When the Red Bull Corporation bought New York MetroStars and re-branded them, many thought it would start a wave of corporate-branded clubs in MLS. Toronto FC has had its share of beverage suitors but as their prestige declined annually so has the level of potential re-branding sponsors:
2008: RC COLA FC
2013 (pending offer): NEILSON EMPTY BAG OF HOMO MILK FC

And... Since it's Friday and "We Heart Symbol NY"... here's a "love letter" to NYC (but maybe change "Staten" to "Harrison")...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AFTER 90: Reds in control - MLSE relocating Toronto FC to El Salvador

Big night for "Jamiroquai"


1' - Despite having 93 different channels, Sportsnet can't find a space for kick-off without disturbing millions of Canadians on the edge of their seats for Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays baseball. They could have at least shown the Tea Men host the Rowdies.
3' - Baseball been berry, berry bad to us.
5' - Would watch match online but word just came through that El Salvador's computer is down.
10' - And we're on the television machine! First look at a Toronto FC line-up that would strike fear into the hearts of the bottom three teams in the NASL. Sportsnet forgets the internet exists and starts the game from kickoff giving this a strange Back to the Future feel.
8' (to the DeLorean!) - Ryan Johnson looking dangerous as he usually does... only in the CCL
16' - GOAL: Toronto - Quincy gives Aguila's keeper a coroner's report. Amarikwa's leaping header puts The Reds up early.
17' - Genuine kudos to the three travelling supporters of TFC at the Estadio Barraza at a time when getting supporters to BMO Field is a challenge. Well done lads. Don't get kidnapped, MLSE will NOT pay for your release.
25' - C.D. Aguila's main shirt sponsor is "Mister Donut" which must anger Jim "Mr. Coffee" Brennan to no end.
30' - TFC's hodgepodge defence playing a strong line against Aguila's "ambitious" (aww bless) attackers.
33' - Aaron Maund breaks free and chooses to shoot rather than seek the very open man. His shot lands somewhere near Nicaragua.
38' - Literally dozens of home supporters on hand tonight. Was it a 10PM local start or was there a military junta?
40' - GOAL: Toronto - Tonight's captain Terry "Bear Feather" Dunfield taps in a solid low cross from Jamiroquai (as almost pronounced by FOX Soccer) to double the lead.
45' - One-way traffic as the half closes with TFC fully in charge. That looks weird when typed.


45' - And we're back live - or are we? Only Doc Brown knows for sure! Gigawatts!
46' - Scary start to the half as Luis Silva falls victim to a "very special" Central American tackle. Should have been a red card to Aguila's Henry "Kick of The Dead" Romero
54' - SUB: Eric Avila on for Luis Silva
55' - Darwin Bonilla leading a mini-evolution for Aguila's offence
57' - YELLOW CARD: Reggie Lambe
65' - Match footage will officially be lost before CONCACAF edits their "Best of Champions League" DVD
71' - Team who can't score only slightly bothering team who can't be bothered to score again.
75' - Ryan Johnson rattles the bar. If his CCL form leaves him, he will never score.
76' - SUB: Adrian Cann on for Dicoy Williams
81' - SUB: Andrew Wiedeman on for Reggie Lambe
83' - Andrew Wiedeman may actually be one of the best finishers in El Salvador's modern era.
85' - GOAL: Terry Dunfield crashes his second over the line and wins FIFA's "Least Brazilian Goal 2012" award
89' - Broadcasters doing their best to draw in the mid-90's MTV crowd by continually making Amarikwa sound like "Jamiroquai" and C.D. Aguila vaguely sound like "C. Aguilera"
90' - Match draws to a close and no players lost in the pitch. Success!


PLAYER RATINGS: Freddy Hall  5.5 / Jeremy Hall 6 / Dicoy Williams 6 (Adrian Cann N/A) / Logan Emory 6.5 / Ashtone Morgan 6 / Reggie Lambe 5.5 (Andrew Wiedeman N/A) / Aaron Maund 6.5 / Terry Dunfield 7 / Luis Silva 5.5 (Eric Avila 5) / Quincy Amarikwa 7 / Ryan Johnson 5.5


We will never take anything away from a win - we just want a little side-order of sanity with it. We don't want to hear any "hats of to the lads"; "Quincy Amarikwa is the best crosser in the modern era"; or, "we have turned a corner". No, TFC did what they very well should have in beating little more than a semi-pro team in front of a stadium where TFC's three away supporters made the most noise.

It was a win that needs to be expected from this team yet one where The Reds were (sometimes understandably) guilty of taking their foot off the gas. A solid win over an inferior opponent. Good. That's what you are supposed to do. Do that to Santos Laguna and we will happily listen to any platitudes you may have TFC.

Monday, September 24, 2012

THE MATCHUP (with bonus STARTING 11!): Where ankles fear to tread...

They made Steve Guttenberg... a star!



There are probably few places that injury-riddled/quality-starved TFC would rather travel to right now than Central America - the non-continent where leg bones go to die amongst the divots. Alas, it is a return to the humid climes of Latin America for The Reds as San Miguel, El Salvador’s C.D. Aguila and their wonderfully bizarre Germanic/ Dutch/ Gay Pride/ Stonecutter's Society badge welcome the MLS wooden spooners.

On paper, this should be a match that TFC can win. Aguila are considered the minnow of the group and while TFC needs something of a Santos-imploding miracle to advance in Champions League - this fixture is the obvious "must win". That being said, TFC has been very poor lately (even by Toronto FC standards) and despite Paul Mariner giving a mind-numbing "hats off to the lads" for their apathetic performance against LA - few would be shocked if they tripped up on Tuesday night.

MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "El Diablo dos Ankle Bone"
C.D. AGUILA: Darwin Bonilla, Yaikel Perez, Henry Romero
TORONTO: Reggie Lambe, Ryan Johnson, Luis Silva
BONUS! THE STARTING 11: Ways that C.D Aguila is trying to promote TFC's visit

As we know all too well in Toronto, CCL Group Stage matches aren't the easiest of sales. Midweek evening fixtures against clubs that only Wikipedia could love are a challenge for club promotions departments from here to Panama. This of course got us wondering how our opponents from El Salvador would try to advertise to locals in an attempt to see Los Torontos...
11. "Watch a team who has met actual David Beckham!"
10. "Come for the futbol - stay to see whitey wither in the humidity"
9. "Fill the void left by the El Salvadorian Hockey League lockout"

8. "Free Burro Parking!"
7. "A manager in shorts! Mucho hilarioso!"

6. "TFC: The "Santa Tecla FC" of MLS"
5. "Your only chance to see the legendary Ty Harden"

4. "Toronto - "Dos Equis' Least Interesting Team in the World' 2012"
3. "Defeat the Yankee Jackal... ('s harmless neighbour)

2. "Free tossable bags of urine for the kids!"
1. "Because Montreal Impact just weren't available"


Sunday, September 23, 2012

AFTER 90: Hollywood Walk of Shame

"How many 'E's in Wiedeman?"


1' - Biggest news as the match gets under way is that Mr. Non-Olympia David Beckham will miss the match with a torn boxer-brief/ Royal Garden Party to attend
3' - Ashtone Morgan is apparently a midfielder now. So there's that.
7' - Robbie Keane an early pest to TFC's backline
9' - Freddy Hall with a fingertip save to force a corner. Stretchy.
11' - GOAL: Los Angeles - Juninho curls a free kick over a very out of position Freddy Hall.
20'- Darren O'Dea and Robbie Keane are duelling. This is what it sounds like, when doves cry... in Dublin.
24' - Galaxy's Swedish newcomer Christian Wilhelmsson is all kinds of good. Like IKEA meatball dinner good.
33' - GOAL: Los Angeles - TFC doesn't come close to shutting down Juninho who blasts a screamer from long distance.
36' - GOAL: Los Angeles - One professional team vs. a bunch of strangers as Robbie Keane playground chips a goal over Freddy Hall. Ridiculous.
38' - GOAL: Toronto - Bizzarro World as Terry Dunfield heads one home via a Galaxy defensive deflection. Shocking if this is the last goal of the evening.
44' - Even Eastern European gamblers have turned this one off.


45' - SUB: Quincy Amarikwa on for Richard Eckersley
49' - It's night time in the Netherlands and Aron Winter is snuggled under his big orange duvet and giggling in his sleep. We're here.
52' - Freddy Hall with a great fingertip save. He's capable... when he isn't woefully out of position or allowing big gooey loose rebounds.
60' - SUB: Eric Avila on for Andrew Wiedeman
61' - So the rumours were not true. Eric Avila wasn't in Witness Relocation
64' - This scoreline changes nothing - Bruce Arena still looks like Huckleberry Hound and Droopy's love child.
69' - SUB: Reggie Lambe on for Logan Emory
70'- A night of wacky position-switching subs. Position-posmition... Participaction Medals all round boys!
76' - Freddy Hall a very busy hand-flapping Bermudian as Galaxy attack in waves
80' - David Beckham's giant silver underwear statue of himself at the Eaton Centre could have had an effective game against this TFC midfield
84' - YELLOW CARD: Ashtone Morgan
85' - GOAL: Toronto - Luis Silva with a wacky floater from some hard work. Makes for a terribly flattering scoreline.
90'+ - GOAL: Los Angeles - Well that makes it look a bit more fair as Robbie Keane plays through Ashtone Morgan and finishes beautifully. That goal was his boyhood dream for those keeping score of Robbie's boyhood faves.


PLAYER RATINGS: Freddy Hall 5 / Jeremy Hall 4.5 / Richard Eckersley 5 (Quincy Amarikwa 4) / Darren O'Dea 5.5 / Logan Emory 5 (Reggie Lambe 4.5) / Andrew Wiedeman 4.5 (Eric Avila 4) / Aaron Maund 5 / Terry Dunfield 6 / Ashtone Morgan 4 / Luis Silva 6.5 / Ryan Johnson 5


It sounds blasphemous in a way but it was almost a relief when Robbie Keane scored the fourth goal. Somehow TFC managed to find two goals in them despite playing incredibly poorly from start to finish. The two goals were both completely against the run of play yet at 3-2 there was the fear that some perverse apologists inside the club would gloss over the performance and say "see, not so far away! Promise!" Wrong.

As the 2012 season mercifully winds down, it is more than obvious, even to the most optimistic of TFC supporters, that they are not "close". Nowhere near in fact. Aside from Darren O'Dea and Luis Silva - there are few pieces that you would want to build around and that kind of overhaul is a major re-build - not a tinkering. No matter how things are spun. Promise.

Friday, September 21, 2012

THE MATCHUP: A Galaxy so long ago

"IT'S A TRAP!!!"

Oh Admiral Ackbar, our AquoSapien pal, you couldn't have exclaimed it better. Who knew back in March, when LA Galaxy visited SkyDome, that our "New Hope" for 2012 was nothing but "A TRAP!" to our emotions? Many Reds' supporters had great optimism for the year ahead on that exciting night. However, as the season peters out and we face LA once again, that hopeful night seems light years away.
After the scrappy and rebellious Reds blew up Galaxy's plans to rule the CONCACAF universe back in spring, it seemed like the two clubs were going in different directions. But, as we now know things have all gone very Empire Strikes Back for Los Angeles - currently 3rd in the West; while it has been all Attack of the Clones for TFC: a long, disappointing affair which has alienated the most devoted of fans.
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "The Admiral Ackbar Testimonial"
LOS ANGELES: David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane
TORONTO: Reggie Lambe, Darren O'Dea, Luis Silva
- TFC signing a new DP... who loses his hand to a laser injury: 2-1
- Paul Mariner spinning around in his chair and dramatically yelling "PLAY THE TRAP!": 5-1
- The Reds offence referred to as a "Phantom Menace": 10-1
It's late season silliness but if you don't see the comparisons between TFC and Star Wars then "stay on target" with these Porkins...
POST-MATCH HEADLINE: "AND I THOUGHT TFC SMELLED BAD............................................................................................................................................................................................................ ON THE OUTSIDE"
And... Since it's Friday and our TFC Family is as dysfunctional as any family, here's a show to help us through it. Hosted by your favourite Mon Calamari!

THE VESTAN STANDA SKYRSLU: Fram v Stjarnan... Or… Five year plans in Iceland are Fimm ára áætluns

We wish TFC were the "Fram of MLS"

Those of you who visit this site regularly enjoy the irreverent stylings of THE SOUTH STAND REPORT – written during all TFC home matches from BMO Field’s South Stand by The Yorkies’ own @ignirtoq – that’s his Twitter handle – he’s not from Lapland. After years of intrepid match chronicling, we ordered our cub reporter on a vacation to "the islands". Instead of The Caribbean, he chose the British Isles and Iceland. Being the good Yorkie he is, he was magnetically pulled to a local football match, taking in the Icelandic Urvalsdeild Division’s marquee Fram v Stjarnan matchup at Reykjavik’s largest ground. Enjoy and remember… "There’s only one Bjork…"
Fall football is magic time. Oh sure, the 'their blau' are having a rough go lately, 3rd from the bottom and 5 points from relegation safety, but who doesn't like a match with the backdrop of survival to set the scene?
Stjarnan and their internet fame mire in mid-table. No European appearances in their immediate future, but perhaps another YouTube video in their future.
A crisp night at the Laugardalsvollur with temperatures around 3C. 1500 ISK and you're in for this derby.*
* Fun fact, there's likely three derbies each round as most clubs play in Reykjavik.
Onto the match...


10' - Fram free kick curled around the wall and a great diving stop by the Stjarnan keeper.
18' - Stjarnan misses a wide open net after a cross was headed down then bounced over the bar.
19' - Stjarnan vocal support has more song selection than Toronto does. Sound like a male chorus. They have a version of the ragtime classic "The Entertainer" that needs to be ninja'd.
27' - YELLOW – STJ # 24 gets booked for a hard tackle on FRAM # 6
37' - Stjarnan almost get one as a collision between Fram keeper and STJ # 22 leaves the keeper on the ground and a wide open goal. After he pots it, ref calls a foul on the challenge.
45+1' - YELLOW – STJ # 13 was booked for a bad challenge on FRAM # 24, then crashes into another Fram player and gets shocked over the card.
Half-Time Mood : Chilly. Stjarnan has controlled much of the game and like to use the width of the pitch. Fram like gradual build-ups and sometimes catch Stjarnan's defence off guard, their keeper is up to the task.

Laugardalsvöllur Stadium: Bjork not pictured

60' - YELLOW – FRAM # 9 was turned inside out and took out his marker. Almost studs up.
64' - RED – STJ # 4 desperate tackle in the penalty area. Straight to the showers, right call.
64' - PENALTY - Miss! FRAM # 9 Baggio's the sh*t outta the ball. Stjarnan ultras jaw with Fram supporters. Getting gritty.
70' - SUB – STJ # 27 for STJ # 20, STJ # 10 on for STJ# 24
70' - Stjarnan defender bails out his side with a last ditch interception of a low cross to boot it out.
73' - GOAL – FRAM # 11 first shot parried by the keeper, rebound rolled in by FRAM # 6
76' - SUB – STJ # 26 off for STJ # 3
80' – FRAM # 9 crosses low for FRAM # 4, heads it towards the wide post, but cleared.
83' - SUB – FRAM # 17 comes on for FRAM # 24
86' – STJ # 10 free kick curls it over the bar. At least they're not folding.
87' - YELLOW - FRAM # 1 for delaying the game. He then rage kicks the ball 70 yards up the pitch... Damn son.
89' - SUB - FRAM # 29 in for FRAM # 15 to kill some time.
3 minutes of extra time
90' – STJ # 11 has a go from 20yds out and just puts it over the bar.
Quote of the Game:
"Beat the Traffic"
~ My girlfriend on people rushing out to get ahead of the nearly 300+ supporters in attendance
90+2' - GOAL - Wow! First shot rattled of the bar, rebound collected by STJ # 22 and buried. What a turnaround. No fancy goal celebration though. (See below for Stjarnan's finest)
90+3' – STJ # 10 nearly poaches the whole match chipping the keeper and the bar, just barely.
Full Time: Fram 1, Stjarnan 1
Man of the Match: The Stjarnan keeper made many critical leaping stops.
Goat of the Game: FRAM # 9 for missing two golden opportunities. Surprised he wasn't taken off after the second bad miss.
Ref Rating: 4 out of 5. Kept control and conviction. Didn't appear to be playing a favourite.
Opinion: Stjarnan "Ultras" supporters have more than 5 songs and less than 20... Away fans outnumbered the home side... The hot dogs smelled delicious. Sold out by half time. No merch. No 50-50 draws. No constant advertising too. If there is a paradise, Reykjavik is close... The game was hard fought, plenty of space, some skill. Not as fast as, say, MLS, but entertaining none the less... The TFC scarf I wore got me odd looks. Or the fact that we were the only two people in the ground not speaking Icelandic. Almost wore The Yorkies' scarf, but figured the world renowned Toronto FC would make instant fame.
FC Sjtarnan (tonight's opponent) and possibly the greatest goal celebration of all time...

@ignirtoq is on vacation for the next few weeks and there are 3 more games on the sched. If you must know, they're Wigan v Fulham, Hearts v Kilmarnock and Queens Park v Annan Athletic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sink or sail? Pros and cons of a solo Mariner

The Good Ship TFC: "We're not sinking... we're resting"

When Canadian Soccer News reported yesterday that Paul Mariner and Earl Cochrane would be the go-ahead guys at TFC in 2013, the news was met with a resounding "meh". Overall, little will change on the outside with likely tweaks to job titles which will reportedly see Mariner in more of an old-school "manager" role - responsible for player acquisitions and football decisions - while Cochrane will be a "general manager" but only in a contract, salary cap and MLS Miscellany vein. Tumbleweeds.
While yet to be formally announced, immediate reaction from TFC supporters has been tepid at best. "More of the same" when many are baying for (yet another) overhaul. However, there IS apparently a big asterisk on the proposed "shuffle"... if Mariner and Cochrane can't manage to steer The Reds to the playoffs in 2013, then it's the axe for both. This will obviously not be announced or written into any contract but is not hard to believe. So, full steam ahead with the (Increasingly) Ancient Mariner... but will it be smooth sailing or yet more rough seas?
PRO: The days of the solo manager may seem like an old British relic to some. Most large clubs today employ some form of a Director of Football role or in the least a management backroom committee. While the single manager seems more like the structure of lower division English clubs, for a team like TFC that is pretty bereft of football knowledge, perhaps having one determined footballing vision is at the very least, stabilizing.
CON: The negative side of putting all our eggs in one Englishman (ew.) is how much we trust said manager. Is Paul Mariner the footballing tactician and man manager you would trust with your club? Many TFC and MLS observers seem to think that given time, the bombastic ex-Tractor Boy will make good but there are increasing voices lately who are very concerned that his overly simplistic (or lacking) tactical prowess, emotional outbursts that lead to some strange exclamations (see Andrew Wiedeman's finishing) and man management is questionable.
PRO: Over the years at TFC a common post-disaster theme has been to blame either your predecessor or some "shady" dealings behind the scenes which got in the way of implementing your "plan". From the days of Mo Johnston trying to play "puppet manager" over John Carver and Chris Cummins up to rumours of Aron Winter's Coch-blocked player acquisitions, there has always been an X-Files feel to the TFC backroom. With Mariner as the main man, there would be only one man with the footballing decisions at his feet - and only one man to blame if it all goes wrong (again).
CON: Once again, this harkens back to trust in Mariner. If he will indeed wield all of the power in squad and tactical development - is he the man most suited? Is it a danger to give Mariner this "absolute power" with few suitable experienced football men surrounding him to balance his choices?
PRO: As mentioned above, a big asterisk over this "promotion" seems to be that it is playoffs in 2013 or the sack for "The Marine Cochologists" (again, ew.). While "making the playoffs" seems to be MLSE's sad zenith of success, we can visit that mediocre reality another time. In the here and now, perhaps having that clear goal and the baby steps of progress that would be necessary to achieve that, is a manageable goal for 2013. Anyone planning an MLS Cup parade would be dreaming in Technicolor.
CON: Our friends at Waking The Red look at this point well in further detail but the danger of setting this goal could be the club's very future. If Mariner knows that grabbing 8th Place is all he needs to keep his job, will he be willing to sell the farm as next summer's transfer window shuts to achieve it? Would his and Cochrane's personal employment status force their hands into making "quick-fix" decisions that could gamble away TFC's future? Would draft-picks and/or prospects be scuttled away for an aging fixer to simply grab the last spot in the Conference and a chance to lose 4-0 in the 1st Round?
PRO: Having long-term company-man Earl Cochrane, who many will go out of their way to tell you is an MLS and salary cap maestro, as Paul Mariner's economic nuts and bolts man could be very helpful to the manager. In a perfect scenario, this could leave Mariner to put his 100% attention into footballing decisions while an in-step Cochrane could take care of all the numerical headaches of contracts, salaries and whatever other alchemy Major League Soccer throws at its clubs.
CON: In many circles, Earl Cochrane represents much that is wrong with MLSE as an ownership. A man that has managed to survive years of worse than mediocre results while apparently overseeing some of TFC's more embarrassing snafu's (De Ro "not being" in Glasgow; Plata "not being" in Ecuador and, ahem, Nathan Sturgis for a 1st Round Pick). With TFC's backroom again being similar to the KGB, Cochrane's level of involvement is never fully clear but to many, he carries the label (fairly or unfairly) as Tom Anselmi's acolyte who manages to always come out smelling like roses while a more experienced football mind still goes missing at the top of TFC's management hierarchy.
PRO: The only constant through six years of TFC seasons is change. The instability has been a bane of the club's existence for many years with one clown car pulling up just as the last one leaves. More managers than you can shake a chip butty at and a front office that can briefly boast the football genius Jim Brennan as one of its higher-ups is the running joke of MLS. While the Mariner/Cochrane combo isn't exactly a footballing dream team, it may give the club stability and familiarity in which will be a true "make-or-break" off-season.
CON: The unholy trinity. Ask many TFC supporters (who are still unsure if they will renew season tickets) what is wrong with the club and they will rifle off the names: Tom Anselmi, Earl Cochrane and then (with a bit more distance) Paul Mariner. While the club can dress up this proposed management shake-up with new titles, new roles and a new sense of urgency - in the end, those same fans will look at the club and say (a more hidden) Tom Anselmi is still calling the shots while Paul Mariner is running about like a chicken with his head cut off (wearing shorts) while Earl Cochrane tries to end up with no blood on his hands awaiting his next internal promotion.
As with most things TFC, only time will tell but the over-arching theme with these proposed moves is "well, what else can we do?" There is no Sir Alex Mourinho waiting outside of BMO Field waiting to fix everything and no one is really in the mood for another grand plan only to see it abandoned in 15 months’ time. It is what it is, and there is something about Mariner that many fans would like to see succeed in Toronto. We hope that the affable and flammable Lancashire man can indeed steer TFC into smooth waters because if he doesn't - the "bust" side of "playoffs or bust" may very well be the club as a whole.

Monday, September 17, 2012

THE STARTING 11: Ways Toronto FC is using the NHL lockout to their advantage

"He's got some hair and we don't care - he's Dan"

"War. Famine. Natural disasters. That's later in the news, but first, 2 hours of live coverage from the NHL Lockout!" It's a wonder Canada's economy hasn't ground to a halt and the army put on stand-by as our national treasure (so we are forced to believe) - professional iced hockey - has been put on hold. Why it's as if we'd have to find a million other reasons why Canada is a great country isn't it? Anyhoo, with puck football indeed in a holding pattern and thousands of hosers desperate for a sporting fix, TFC has a golden opportunity. In a bid to up its failing fan interest and position itself as a hockey alternative, The Reds have embarked on these toque-happy initiatives....
11. Every time an opponent gets a corner kick, Eric Hassli will bodycheck them into the boards from behind
10. Bitchy the Hawk outfitted with tiny helmet and mouth-guard
9. Wayne Gretzky to be hired next June as high-priced consultant in TFC’s next "exhaustive" head coach search
8. Eric Avila is growing a massive mullet
7. TFC will somehow win the Stanley Cup before the Maple Leafs
6. Adrian Serioux forced to dress like Don Cherry on GOL TV
5. "Danny Dichio Song" replaced by the "Dan Daoust Song"
4. Paul Mariner to knock out Julian de Guzman's front teeth
3. TFC to refer to themselves as "football's Hartford Whalers"
2. Ty Harden sent to the Marlies
1. First 5000 fans get a free concussion!
And… in respect to "hockey’s Toronto FC", please enjoy this tribute to "The Mighty Whale" and their lost theme song… "Brass Bonanza"…

Saturday, September 15, 2012

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Philadelphia... or That game where we got to sit

I don't even know where to begin with this one, mostly due to the fact that it is such a common occurrence that it barely phases me when it does happen.  Typically I write this part down pre-match, but I did not today.

Con : The Gardiner was closed.
Pro : At least the weather was nice.

23' - YELLOW - Hassli booked for... ok crap I can't remember and to be honest, I wish I had brought the notepad with me.

Half-time Mood : Optimstic if a wee bit underwhelmed.  Silva had a pile of opportunities, ranging from just wide to deGoo levels of over the bar.  Philadelphia was largely without teeth though they did break through a few times.

58' - GOAL - A bit of rebounds about the box and Hassli lets a low skidding shot past a few defenders and a diving keeper, tucked nicely into the corner. Class goal.

75' - This is the part of the match where Toronto decides that they've done enough and kindly allow Philly the opportunity to get back into the match.  Usually we let the refs do that for us, but just in case they forgot to, we'll kindly uphold our end of the bargain.  Let the onslaught commence!

80' - SUB - Hassli takes quite the knock and once the little scuffle surrounding it died down, he makes way for Amarikwa.

81' - I ask what kind of a DP we can get for the last few games of the season.  Just in case...

84' - YELLOW - After Toronto had one of theirs bowled over in a rough tackle and no foul, Jeremy Hall returns the favour to test the waters and goes into the books for his troubles.

85' - GOAL - This is the part of the match where our opponents are back into the match.  Sheanon Williams gets a hold of one that bounces past everyone.

Full Time : Toronto 1, Philadelphia 1

Man of the Match : There was some hustle out there today but I'm going to cop out and give it to Hassli for the calm finishing.

Goat of the Game : I didn't get to see if anyone can be hung out to dry on the equalizing goal as it happened in the opposite end.  But if it was one person, their name would go right here.  Otherwise, the last 15 minutes of TFC play is the goat, which would implicate everyone.

Ref Rating : 3 out of 5.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Some of his calls were inconsistent.  But he was rocking the hell out of the spray can marking up the pitch with it and I like that stuff.  As far as officiating crews, we've seen far worse this month than these guys...

Our part-time neighbour Lattes handed this flyer (see right) to us just outside of the GO Station pre-game.  We here at the Yorkies have been "no gear, no beer" every year without fear you hear (sorry... *ahem*) for quite some time.  We support this campaign 100% if only for the reason that no one should ever spend $12 for a $5 beer... If Mariner only played those who are showing heart and a desire to play for this club, the 'who' question isn't as important as 'why'... Kurt Larson at The Sun reported earlier today regarding a ticket pricing scheme that rewards loyalty.  I'm sure we'll all have our butts thoroughly kissed over a 5%-7% drop.  Yes, marketing gurus, this is an open challenge to shock me and not screw up my community (see bottom for rant)... Did anyone else feel bad for the players as they came out on the pitch this afternoon? I don't know why this came over me.  It's like you know you're not going to graduate this year and it's only February so you just go through the motions and scrape together your pride and try not to drop out altogether... Happy to see Sons of Ben make it out today.  Both of them looked happy...

Observation : That's two games in a row with a dead south end atmosphere.  For all the 'everybody get the f*ck up's and 'ole ole ole's being barked at, the "Toronto Til I Die" people seem to be, well, dead.

Support is not a phrase, or a song, or a t-shirt, or a scarf, or a road trip.  It's what you do.  Everyone expresses it differently, but as long as we can all agree that it is 'supporting', no one is right or wrong, as long as you do it in your way.

The amusement stems from the people barking at us in June to participate are visibly and vocally absent in September.  No idea at how many games it has been in a row, but it's been many.  Perhaps maybe they're ill, or there's been a tragedy, or something very important keeps them from the ground.  It happens to all of us from time to time.

But you can't help the convenience of this one.

We support the team by paying our tickets and showing up.  We support by standing in the south end.  We support by singing when we feel like it, such as when they do something good.  When the game is good, we hang on every pass and live and die on every shot.  We're here for the football first.  Not TFC, but for a high-ish level of football.  We genuinely like football.

We suspect that there are many who come 'for the party', and we suspect that there are some who believe that they are an integral part in the game with a specific role as 'voice #55'.  We suspect there are many who love football like we do, and the last few games have had those who love the game in attendance for as many games that logic and reason permits.  We are the 'football til I die' crowd.

If those people who have been absent for the last few games are part of the 'Toronto til I die' group, then I cannot miss them.  I hope the 'football til I die' types step up and replace them.  I think there will be a healthier culture in the south end.

Player Ratings : Kocic 6, Hall 6, Eckersley 6, O'Dea 6.5, Emory 5.5, Lambe 5.5, Maund 5.5, Dunfield 6, Johnson 6; Silva 6, Hassli 6.5 [Amarikwa N/A]

Friday, September 14, 2012

THE MATCHUP: In a state against Union

"I almost caught a foundation thiiiiiis big!"

Morale in these football parts really couldn’t be much lower right now. The disappointing result for Canada in Panama was followed by a TFC performance against Chicago in midweek that was simply crappy. Hardly our finest bit of writing but crappy sums it up. Poor on the pitch, (understandably) apathetic in the stands - it hasn't been a good week in Toronto.
Paul Mariner downgraded his pre-match "we're very close" optimism down to "unacceptable" after Chicago left town and Darren O'Dea - quickly turning into a vocal leader - decried some of his teammate’s unprofessionalism in the match. All of this has just piled on to the sinking feeling many TFC fans (who already hadn't felt it) have about their club. What is worse is that prospects for the future no longer hold any kind of light at the end of the tunnel. Confidence in yet another re-build is close to non-existent in the stands.
Ironically, it is Philadelphia Union who come to town on Saturday. While the third year team has had its struggles this season, they are a club who this time last year (in their second year of existence) was preparing for the playoffs. Tom Anselmi's new fallacy is to claim TFC has been garbage for six years because unlike Vancouver, Montreal and Seattle etc. - we had no "foundations" in place. While this is largely based on make-believe fairy dust (a USL infrastructure is not MLS ready) - how long does an MLS "foundation" take to build Mr. C.O.O.? In our six years, most of the expansion teams who have followed us have left us behind and those without these mythical foundations, like the visiting Union, have proven that Mr. Anselmi has once again talked about something he has no right to talk about... football.
"The "Clubs With No Foundations Foundation' Charity Match"
TORONTO: Ryan Johnson, Darren O'Dea, Luis Silva
PHILADELPHIA: Freddy Adu, Michael Lahoud, Carlos Valdes
Paul Mariner describing TFC's prospects at these intervals as such:
PRE-MATCH... "Not far from success!": 10-1
HALFTIME... "Some holes to fill for next season": 5-1
FULL TIME... "Plymouth Argyle's poor cousin": 2-1
Regular readers will know the stereotype-milking joy that a Philadelphia fixture brings us. The City of Brotherly Love has some great characters but since the mood round these parts is rather ill mannered we will instead look at a project we are producing for next year...
"PHILLY: THE MOVIE"... This is a heart-warming tale of a courageous but disease-ridden cheesesteak sandwich named Jeff who is unfairly dismissed from his job as a member of Fat Albert's gang of Cosby Kids. Determined to find justice, Jeff accepts a challenge to fight against Ivan Drago on Christmas Day after the Soviet kills his best friend... The Liberty Bell. After a shocking victory which sees the Moscow crowd chant his name, Jeff returns home to find that his Uncle - The Philly Phanatic - has lost all his money betting on a fight between Rick Mahorn and Randall Cunningham. After this final setback, Jeff's mother gets scared and moves the sandwich in with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.

And... Since it's Friday and we're feeling angry... and, since we are ill-mannered and support a team with no Plan B... and, since a portion of The Yorkies grew up on Council Estates... and, since the South Stand may resemble this in a year's time...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Chicago... Or it'll all be over soon

Many random-ass questions flood my mind and have kept me up at night.  What if Optimus Prime had survived the first time? What will be the go-to costume this hallowe'en? Is it possible to have a national team that plays at the level related to the sum of its parts? Remember SlamBall and how much fun that looked? What would it take Ryan Gosling and Tyler Labine to do a buddy movie like the old days?

Summer turns to fall, so does the annual tradition of "is it over yet"?  Leaf fans know this as "spring".  Jays fans know this as "June".  I'm sitting in a wee restaurant killing the time and the latest question is "how many will turn out tonight?".  Its a gorgeous night, weather-wise, but looking at my limited twitter feed, everyone knows someone looking to offload some tickets. (I'm predicting less than 8000, for what its worth) [Editor : 14,600 turned up. Madonna must be furious]

Toronto is adrift in mediocrity and, well, I like going out to the park... So standings and streaks be damned, especially since they're crap.

Who will step up tonight? Who will show that the future isn't as bleak and DP-tied as it seems?  Who's cuisine will reign supreme?!

13' - GOAL - Shot comes off the post and rolls into Fernandes path who puts it out of the reach of Kocic.

42' - GOAL - Rolfe scored it.

Half-Time Notes : Amarikwa was sniffing for goal multiple times.  Looked like he was poised for bagging some goals as he was making some solid runs but the defense shut him down.  Toronto had the majority of positive aggressive possession but nothing came of it. Chicago had four attempts and, well, you know...

45' - SUB - Wiedeman came off for Morgan.  Seems a bit harsh, and confusing... winger for defender...

56' - SUB - Emory for Avila.  OK, defender for a midfielder.  Balance has been restored.

66' - YELLOW - Morgan booked for something very likely suspect.

75' - SUB - Amarikwa comes off for Stinson.  Also seems bizarre as Amarikwa was playing well from what I watched...

79' - GOAL - Hassli pots one across Johnson and into the far right corner.  About time someone solved him.

90' - YELLOW - Avila gets booked for a bit of a clumsy challenge.

4 minutes of extra time

Full Time : Toronto 1, Chicago 2
* Toronto FC have been mathematically, physically, emotionally and athletically eliminated from play-off contention

Man of the Match : no one was truly stand out.

Goat of the Game : no one was truly mediocre.

Ref Rating : 2 out of 5.  Perhaps I'm still seething from the disgusting display of reffing from Panama last night, but too much leeway was given to Chicago tonight.

Much of the talk in our section when it got quiet was regarding seasons ticket renewals. If the MLSE braintrust believes fans don't talk about this in the stands, you're nuts. In 6 years, you get to know your neighbours... Avila was a fire cracker when he finally got on the pitch. Hopefully that translates to a start on Saturday... Kocic was hung out to dry a few times tonight.  The man just had triplets, he can't stop everything!... For all the chest bumping and aggro grandstanding, it was nice to see so few "hardcore support" come out tonight... Wiedeman looked good near the front, resuming service from the last time we saw him.  Won't dream of asking him to defend... I know the measure of a good defense involves how few opportunities you hand your opponents for a free go at your keeper, and there were too many.  But, felt that they did everything else above what I expect from them.  I think that's why I couldn't out them as goats... What the hell is with Hassli? Everytime he shot, passed or missed, he does these over-dramatic hand gestures like he was so close to the greatest moment ever. This was well before the goal he bagged. Maybe he feels he's some tortured artist but someone should ask him to turn that down a few notches.  It looks silly.

I like coming out to the park.  I genuinely do.  I like the majority of my neighbours and the transplants who have become staples over the last few seasons.  I like the camaraderie that being in the south end provides.

Something about the team is crap, and this blog, as well as many others, have speculated what exactly that is.  But I keep paying for that crap.  I tell myself that said crap isn't what I pay for, but being out at the park, hanging with my friends, talking about footie and having a location to facilitate that bond.

Community is what keeps me coming back.  Even though I couldn't give my other ticket away tonight.  Even though many others couldn't give their tickets away tonight. What remains is my community.

I eagerly anticipate what the brains at MLSE have in store for me and my neighbours.  If they think for a second that I'm going to pay for anything that resembles an increase, no matter how they shuffle it, swap it, payment plan it - they will have truly lost the plot.

I don't expect them to completely screw it up, but we're anticipating that they're going to ruin a great thing we've got. And not just us, but every community in the south end. That is depressing. But who knows, perhaps the south end's new denizens will create a stronger community.  We discover that the elements that quit have been holding everything back, and those who can afford seasons tickets will bring their blind passion to the games and solidify supporters groups, singing the same five songs for the next fifty years.

Vancouver and Montreal have made pre-emptive gestures to keep the younger communities that their franchise has enticed to return.  Year two and year one respectively.

And Toronto is at year six.

Just sayin'

Player Ratings : Kocic 6, J. Hall 5.5, Eckersley 6, O'Dea 6, Emory 6 [Avila N/A], Lambe 5.5, Maund 5.5, Silva 6, Wiedeman 6 [Morgan 5.5], Amarikwa 6 [Stinson N/A], Hassli 6

@ignirtoq is making up for some lackadaisical match reporting. Sure he couldve done one for the Canada v Panama match but he would've felt bad describing how there's nothing happening in the final third and McKenna should not be yelling at Hirschfeld for, what was, a piss poor back pass - things you already knew. Besides, who doesn't like a random YouTube reference?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

THE MATCHUP: Not internationally known

'Executive Hawk Class' - Almaty to Toronto in 37 Hours

While the good majority of Toronto-area football fans are still mostly interested in the qualifying quest of the Canadian National Team, those other boys in red - your Toronto Eff Cees - are back at BMO Field. The quality Chicago Fire are here to test the threadbare Reds who are hosting the re-scheduled fixture in the middle of an international break due to being money-hungry Liverpool-fodder victims of an unavoidable yet useful and rewarding mid-season friendly.
Due to internationals, TFC will be without the help of Canadians Terry Dunfield and Ashtone Morgan while Jamaicans Ryan Johnson and Dicoy Williams (he's still here?) are also absent. One man who could still rightfully be with his national side but is back with TFC deserves a mention. Darren O’Dea asked the Irish team to release him from a friendly vs. Oman and travelled all the way back from a World Cup Qualifier in Kazakhstan to be with his new side. O'Dea is showing some very good leadership and team-building qualities while proving worthy of his new-found captaincy. While not a DP, the young Irishman may be about the brightest thing TFC has to show for at the end of 2012. Very nice!
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME: "The International Breaker"
TORONTO: Eric Hassli, Darren O'Dea, Luis Silva
CHICAGO: Alvaro Fernandez, Sherjill MacDonald, Dominic Oduro
- Match re-scheduled to accommodate big money friendly with Liverpool Alumni team: 10-1
- Milos Kocic asked if his newborn triplets would think about filling in on TFC's back-line: 5-1
- TFC managing to suck away any left-over euphoria from BMO Field's hosting of Canada v Panama last Friday within 5 minutes: EVENS
As mentioned above, TFC's Darren O'Dea made the selfless decision to return all the way from Kazakhstan to Toronto rather than returning to Ireland. However, it was not an easy journey. As his Irish teammates chartered back to Dublin, O'Dea was driven by donkey-drawn 1987 Skoda hatchback from the Glorious People's Footkick Coliseum in Astana to the rural town of Topar. This was only agreed upon after paying his handler "Yerzhan The Philanderer" the princely sum of a quart of industrial-grade Fanta and a photograph of Robbie Keane's wife.
Upon reaching Topar, O'Dea had to join his driver in a prayer to "The Mighty Hawk" before being carried overnight by eight virgins to the shores of Lake Balqash which was later crossed on a traditional Kazakh dog-ferry. 79 hours later (as The Hawk flies) and O'Dea finally reached the Almaty International Aerodrome and Meat Market where he boarded his Kazakh Airlines flight to Toronto (via Bishkek, Tashkent, Odessa, Tunis, an unmarked Sub-Saharan airstrip and Newark) while enjoying two full-length in-flight films - "Erkebulan: Adventure of The Eye Stabber" and "Karate Kid III".
And... much like TFC, he's not obsessed with being internationally known, however, unlike TFC, he is known to rock the microphone...

Monday, September 10, 2012

THE STARTING 11: New TFC 2013 Season Ticket renewal taglines

TFC Ticket Centre - "Operators are standing nearby"

Things have been conspicuously quiet so far on the TFC Season Ticket renewal front. In fairness, the job of TFC ticket rep is currently ranking in career satisfaction alongside "Part-Time Hobo Foot Carer" and "Assistant Crack Dealer". Perhaps the club is waiting for TFC fans to forget Joey Saputo's awesomely dropped Impact price reduction boast or maybe they are waiting for TFC to go on a 5-game winning streak to get supporters' spirits up. Keep waiting. Either way, the club has to embark on its hard sell soon enough and have a few taglines at the ready for a media blitz. Check your emails soon for these doozys...
11. "There's a pretty good shot you'll get to play!"
10. "Yeah, last time we checked, Toronto didn't have a team in the English Premier League... so you can go suck an egg"
9. "Either you come back - or Mo Johnston does. Your choice."
8. "Paul Mariner + Shorts + March = Hilarious!"
7. "# 1 in your hearts - # 10 in the Eastern Conference"
6. "New Club President Jimmy Brennan invites you back..."
5. "First 1000 renewals receive this year's annual management apology in a luxurious faux-brass frame!"
4. "Now with 75% more random cats than a Raptors game!"
3. "Get in on the ground level of the new 5 Year Plan"
2. "PRICE REDUCTION!*... (*on second order of BMO Field tacos)
1. "Next year is totes for realzies guys!"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Balls of String: Stories to watch as Toronto FC plays out a lost season

"Today's attendance is 19,575... thank you fans"

Getting casual fans to watch TFC matches when times were good... well at least fun.... was a challenge. Now, as yet another season enters the "playing for next year" phase, even getting the most ardent supporters interested grows harder. For those of you who know they are addicted to this club and will be back next year despite 2012, finding a reason to watch a futile string of matches may be frustrating. So, if you need more reasons to watch a match aside from hearing Thomas Rongen's Dutch "donkey hitting his foot on a rock" analogy - here are some stories that you can keep your eye on...
When we last heard, the club whispered under its breath that club captain Torsten Frings had suffered a hip injury and had headed back to Deutschland to visit some BundesDoctors. The wording seemed to hint that Frings may be shut down for the year and if that is the case - is it unreasonable to think that TFC may cut ties with the Bavarian talisman? Frings has definitely lost a step this season (possibly due to injury) but with only a year left on the pricey 35-year old, will the club look in a different direction? Also see: Danny Koevermans
Most sane Reds supporters would concede that TFC's 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna at BMO Field all but ends the club's quest to progress in Champions League. While all signs point to "no way Jose", could TFC pull out a miraculous double of victories in Mexico and El Salvador AND get help to steal their CCL Group?
While not exactly blessed with a plethora of football knowledge in his starting eleven, Paul Mariner's tactics as manager have been described (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) as "dump and chase" or "hoof ball". Decried as a relic of 1960's English football, the style has even drawn mocking from opponents and without the scoring prowess of Danny Koevermans has not been effective. Will Mariner try to massage a little more "football" into his soccer in an attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff in his squad?
It seems pretty evident that a TFC keeper is being frozen. No, not by an opponent from the penalty spot but by the coaching staff. After Stefan Frei went down with a major injury, Milos Kocic became the defacto # 1 but recently he has been replaced by very raw Bermudian Freddy Hall. Is Kocic's benching a sign that his TFC days are numbered and is Frei headed back to his place as The Reds' main man in goal for 2013?
We may only see them if garbage minutes allow but it would seem as if 2012 may mark the end for a few old faces. Adrian Cann and Ty Harden have been phantoms (even when not injured) and do not seem to fit into Mariner's plans while other names such as Eric Avila have been surprising in their omissions. More than a few Reds may be down to their last few weeks with the club.
The on-field performance lately has been far from inspiring. Lack of talent is one thing but coming out flat is just downright infuriating for fans to watch. With little to play for except clichés, will we see a scrappy TFC inspired by their manager - or, will heads and effort levels drop in unison as other teams prepare for the playoffs?
Will the blend of injuries and general lack of talent on the club allow Paul Mariner to "audition" the younger members of the team for 2013? While a few veterans will be necessary to give the appearance of "trying" to win, the remaining fixtures may be an opportunity to see what youngsters can really cut it at the MLS level. While the likes of Ashtone Morgan and Luis Silva have solidified a future, names like Aaron Maund, Quincy Amarikwa, Matt Stinson and Logan Emory still need to show they have the consistency to demand a salary next year.
The imposing Frenchman avec le tattoos du neck was brought over to TFC as something of a panic buy after Danny Koevermans went down for the season and beyond. As far as panic buys go, he's a fairly good one - despite likely being able to snatch him for free at the end of 2012 if the injury hadn't forced Mariner's hand. However, Hassli has yet to find any consistency and has been far from the replacement needed up top. The Reds once again find themselves desperate for a consistent goalscorer but will Hassli find the form in the last few weeks of 2012 to warrant his pricey return?
Oh to be a TFC Season Ticket Rep over the next few months. Not an enviable task. Through no fault of their own (except guilt by association), these poor souls will have to convince TFC season ticket holders to hand over wads of cash for yet another season that is yet to hold promise of much different. Many Day One ticket holders are finally calling it a day and casual support is bleeding on a weekly basis. Will MLSE have the Saputo-prodded smarts to lower season tickets across the board? GASP! Will they freeze ticket prices once again? Can they offer anything to the long-abused to avoid TFC matches from resembling FC Dallas matches? This is a question that only time will tell.
The inevitable coronation of Tom Anselmi to MLSE's COO (aka head virgin sacrificer) will have many TFC supporters rolling their eyes. How a man so directly involved with the slaying of a golden goose is exalted to one of North America's highest sports management positions is beyond us, but hey. Maple Leafs and Raptors fans are suddenly screaming that "the sky is falling", but to them we say... "you are absolutely right". Welcome to our world. From a TFC slant, it will be interesting to see if Anselmi continues his iron grip over the club or if in a move of appeasement, an actual football man (not looking at you Earl Cochrane or Jim Brennan) is put into place as a TFC "President". Either that or the new owners move the Argos into BMO, get us a fluffy mascot, thundersticks and the TFC City Dancers. Whatevs.