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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A sudden blast of Winter

Odd man out

The man could always "pity" a disappointing result while managing TFC but apparently he can't pity the fools he claims are now in charge. A day after being repeatedly thrown under a transatlantic bus by Paul Mariner and Earl Cochrane, former TFC bench boss Aron Winter spoke to Sportsnet's John Molinaro (here) to give a glimpse into his side of things.
While the Dutchman had no negatives to say about the club, the city or even MLSE and Tom Anselmi he was about as charitable with Mariner and Cochrane as they crassly were with him at yesterday's end of season press conference. "…those guys aren't good enough. I don't think they can do good things for the club" said Winter who claims his sudden break in silence is over genuine concern for the club's future.
The former boss also threw down a gauntlet of sorts to the shockingly over-confident Mariner & Co. by adding "If they think they're so great, let's see them do it. But I don't think they're good enough. They don't have quality,". This of course less than 24 hours after Paul Mariner gruffly announced to the gathered media "I'm very good at what I do."
Opinion will be split over this latest exchange. Sadly, TFC supporters' and observers' feelings on the Mariner vs. Winter front have become as hard-lined as American Democrat vs. Republican election banter. Lots of shouting involved but very little listening. Those who think Winter deserved more time and feel his plan was being sabotaged will find vindication while Mariner backers will see this as nothing more than a bitter failed manager trying to save his reputation.
One thing every TFC supporter should agree upon is that it is a crying shame that yet another managerial regime has ended under a mysterious cloud of supposed backroom subterfuge. In the grand tradition of John Carver, Chris Cummins and well... anyone in a TFC coaching capacity - this is once again an ugly stain on Toronto's reputation. One that prospective manager's of the future will long keep in mind. Whichever side of this argument you tend to side with - you have to agree that this is not good for this already wounded club.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We need to talk about Seven

Mariner (left) and Cochrane address the media

Today marked the annual day where the majority of MLS clubs prepare for the post-season while Toronto FC talks about the off-season. In front of the gathered local press, some TFC players (but not the team captain) and staff faced the media’s "sort-of-firing-line" to provide any insight possible into the failings of 2012 and the preparation for Season Seven in 2013.
Very little aside from the usual platitudes are expected from these events. The usual "works starts yesterdays"; "gotta be betters next years" and "I believes in this teams" are practically on a loop so it's the between-the-lines stuff that is usually more interesting. You can watch the highlights of the two-and-a-half hour extravaganzo on Toronto FC TV later if you like but if deciphering body language textually is your bag, here goes nearly literally nothing...
The only thing missing from this band of sad-eyed orphaned puppies was a Sarah McLachlan soundtrack. It was interesting to watch the split in support for the manager between those who got playing time and those that didn't but that's hardly shocking. Here's a little bit of what we saw...
WHAT HE SAID: "Overall it's been a disappointing season"; "Aron Winter's brand wasn't working"; "100% belief in Mariner"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Pleeeeease stop asking me about fan protests"
WHAT HE SAID: "It's been a complicated year"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Where is the fine line between diplomacy and unemployment?"
WHAT HE SAID: "(Management) has their jobs cut out for them"; "I'm not sure..." (On whether Mariner is right for the job)
BODY LANGUAGE: "My body is here - my head is in Jamaica. Smell ya' later T.O."
WHAT HE SAID: "We have to be smarter in attacking and defence"; "I don't care who my coach is..."; "Believe in yourself or don't play football"
BODY LANGUAGE: "I want to punch Paul Mariner in the shorts"
WHAT HE SAID: "We panic in the last ten minutes... it's mind boggling"
BODY LANGUAGE: "That's right Milos - talk your way out of town."
WHAT HE SAID: "To answer your question, I don't know how to answer your question"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Where's the line to punch Mariner's shorts?"
WHAT HE SAID: "I'm sorry..." (On not being able to play more)
BODY LANGUAGE: I may look like a murderer but I am simply a misunderstood Frenchman who loves his family, the art of Monet, a fresh pain au chocolat in the morning light and Paul Mariner"
WHAT HE SAID: "Next year is very, very vital for this franchise"; "... fitness is an issue..."
BODY LANGUAGE: "Seriously guys, I used to be on loan at Bury. Even with 5 wins this place is heavenly"
WHAT HE SAID: "TFC is kind of Bermuda's outlet"
BODY LANGUAGE: "I sound nothing like my Twitter account"
WHAT THEY SAID: Random mumblings about being a rookie.
BODY LANGUAGE: "I just want to go home to my mom."
WHAT HE SAID: "We're only a few pieces away from being competitive"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Check out my hip toque Brostein"
WHAT HE SAID: "... getting close to 100% (health)"; "Every year or half year it's a new start"
BODY LANGUAGE: "I'm kind of a big deal here"
WHAT HE SAID: " time line" (On his recovery); "You can't complain when you play for Toronto"; "I will train every day - except on weekends"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Football. Pancakes. Settlers of Cataaaaaaaaan. (Drool)"

After the players were finished looking like they survived root canals it was time for GM (we guess) Earl Cochrane and Manager Paul Mariner to hold court. A few truths and surprises were sprinkled among the expected blatherings and your opinion going forward probably depends whether you believe Mariner & Co. really haven't had time to shape this club after Aron Winter's departure – or - if you believe their fingers are equally deep in this mess pie.
To set the scene:
EARL’S BODY LANGUAGE: The good cop in this "Good Cop/Crazy Cop" scene
PAUL’S BODY LANGUAGE: Something akin to "Begbie" in Trainspotting (see pic above)
"... (we need) three or four pieces to step in (to the starting line-up) and depth guys"
"... (there is) a lot of flexibility in the salary cap"
"... (Overall # 1 Draft Pick) is a great asset..."
"Don't expect pre-season to get you fit..."
"... (we) hope Frings will be 100% fit for pre-season"
"... (2013 will be) a lot different pre-season from last"
"I expect to be in charge of the team (in 2013)."
"I'm very good at what I do."
"Frings absolutely wants to be back next year."
"...don't have an answer to that yet." (On whether 3 DP's return)
"Seven." (On how many bona fide MLS starters currently on team)
"We've known for a while what we need... and where we're going to get them."
"Everything is on the table."

Monday, October 29, 2012

THE STARTING 11: Other places to lay blame for Toronto FC's woes

Stupid playoff-wrecking low high pressure weather front!

Ah, Fall in Toronto. Glorious foliage, golden sunsets, and the annual pointing of fingers. Nowhere does the passing of the autumnal buck waft as beautifully as through the corridors of Toronto FC. For anyone with a limited knowledge of this tumultuous club (but reading the local newspapers over the last few days) you may be lead to believe TFC's failures were down to: an oppressive New York-based conspiracy; professional footballers being forced to wear suits over flip-flops; the agony of being paid to watch game film to improve one's game; or... shock-horror... a fat player having to play some extra minutes with reserves to shed pancake-weight. Oh the huge manatee! It is hard work trying to lay blame on a scapegoat while running a club into the ground at the same time so we offer TFC these handy other blame-ternatives...
11. Pressure from the violent and oppressive Bermudian Government regime to use their players... or else!
10. Busy trying to figure out if it should be spelled "Five Year Plan" or "5-year-plan"
9. Damn Raivis Hscanovics never fulfilled his abundant potential!
8. Hard to get over the long-lasting disappointment from the lacklustre sequels to "The Matrix"
7. No time to prepare for next season when you have to give unattributed interviews to local columnists every day!
6. Handshake deals no longer being upheld by the Supreme Court
5. The greedy NHLPA keeps blocking our plans
4. The crippling European Debt Crisis and the resulting shortage in full-length trousers
2. Don Garber's childish War of 1812 grudge
1. Had to get rid of all those loud fans at BMO Field before we could properly concentrate
And… since we love to listen to our readers’ suggestions… here is a piece of suitable classical music we should have used yesterday but still suits this special occasion… the new TFC Anthem…

Sunday, October 28, 2012

AFTER 90: It's all ( ___________'s ) fault

"It wasn't me..."


1' - Good news for TFC fans.. according to a well known local columnist it has been Major League Soccer's fault all along! Phew. MLSE has really, really wanted to be a winner but mean, old Don Garber has stopped them! This explains seven managers, a turnstile of dozens of useless players, alienating a once rabid fan base and six years of 5-Year Plans. It was the league's fault! Thank goodness for those "sources" close to the situation for saving their own skins setting the record straight. Oh look... a match...
4' - Part owner of TFC, TSN delaying broadcast of TFC match for the CFL. 2 minutes of regulation pointy egg has taken 15 minutes. Don Garber loves him some Edmonton Eskimos.
10' - Finally live at a very damp Crew Stadium. Crew Cat must be soaked. The Dirty Crew Dancepack... make your own joke you filthmonger.
13' - Crew striker Federico Higuain goes close. He is the poor man's Gonzalo Higuain... which must make family dinner's awkward.
17' - GOAL: Columbus - Federico Higuain gets angry by what I wrote and turns Jeremy Hall inside out and inside again then slots past Freddy Hall. Too easy.
18' - Jeremy Hall? The league's fault.
21' - Reggie Lambe briefly looking tricky in new role as forward. Sadly still surrounded by the other usual forwards.
28' - GOAL: Toronto - Andrew Wiedeman darts around flopping Crew defenders and buries the ball low and into the corner. IT'S THE MODERN ERA! Dogs and cats, living together... mass hysteria!
35' - TFC showing more attacking prowess in the last 10 minutes than usual. Stick it to those New York City fat cats boys!
41' - Freddy Hall makes a big save off a Ben Speas strike. Reds' players leaving it until the last possible moment to "play for a job in 2013"
44' - This inclement weather in Columbus has MLS executives' finger prints all over it.


45' - Back to the Crew Stadium action amidst the dulcet tones of "Gangnam Style". That song will never. get. old.
53' - Andrew Wiedeman showing the Columbus Crew reserves why he is "Generation Adidas". Yes he will be "Generation KangaRoos" next year but why you gotta be so negative?
61' - PENALTY: as Terry Dunfield called for grab on Higuain in the box. He sold it like only an Argentine can but calmly scores a GOAL on the resulting PK
62' - How dare the league find a player of Higuain's ability and hand him forcefully to "glamour market" Columbus without them scouting him first?!
67' - The mercurial season of Ryan Johnson ends with a limp...
69' - SUB: Ryan Johnson off for Doneil Henry
72' - Henry goes to RB rather than Eckersley slot back into his natural position. Apparently if you just keep jamming a square peg into a round hole it will eventually fit.
80' - These are officially the "garbage minutes" of a "garbage season"
85' - SUB: Logan Emory on for Eric Avila
86' - Pffffffffffffffffffft.
88' - Six years of league-enforced losing nearly over.
90'+ - What more fitting an end than TFC finishing the season with five defenders on the pitch and Adrian Cann as striker. Merry Christmas y'all.


PLAYER RATINGS: Freddy Hall 5 / Jeremy Hall 5 / Richard Eckersley 6 / Adrian Cann 6 / Ashtone Morgan 5 / Andrew Wiedeman 6 / Terry Dunfield 5 / Luis Silva 5.5 / Eric Avila 6 (Logan Emory N/A) / Reggie Lambe 6 / Ryan Johnson 5.5 (Doneil Henry N/A )

In the hallowed words of 20th Century poets society "Tag Team"... "Whoomp! (There It Is)". 2012 that is. It's finally over and what better way to get the momentum rolling for 2013 than with a 14 game winless streak in the league? Blame whomever you like: MLSE, MLS, Aron Winter, Paul Mariner, short pants or Gozer The Gozerian. It all leads to the same end... a club on the last day of 2012 that has no better future than on the first day of 2007.

The post-match interviews will no doubt be electrifying in their clichés of "the work starts now for 2013" and the need "to evaluate and move forward" but the damage done to the souls of TFC fans (and no doubt some of the players) this year has been devastating. Never has there been a last day of the season where the majority of those who follow TFC are happy for the break and look ahead with trepidation instead of the usual hope for better. After six years of this, blaming anyone outside of this club is simply wrong.

Friday, October 26, 2012

THE MATCHUP: “SIXual Release”

"Yes we've got that feelin'..."

It wasn't supposed to end this way... but now we're just thankful it's ending. Toronto FC's agonizing 2012 comes to an end eight months after it began with such promise that we had branded it "SIXual Healing". However, that Dutch Viagra didn't really work very well and instead of dynamic virility we ended up as an old eccentric man running around in short pants yelling at the kids on our lawn. Now it's just time for a long nap.
Before our winter (the season not the man) sojourn, there is one last fixture and what better match to highlight the Reds' impotence than the opposite of "Old Firm" - the "New Soft" derby versus Columbus Crew? What could be more fitting than one last punch in the head from a club we used to so smarmingly mock? After the match, the tired clichés of "the work starts now for 2013" will be trotted out. Considering the first project was scuppered by a USL coach turning down big money and a "Major League" job title - it may be a long off-season. Alas, we leave Paul Mariner & Co. with the words of 20th Century poet and musician Rupert Paul III... "You. Better. Work."
COLUMBUS: Eddie Gaven, Federico Higuain, Chad Marshall
TORONTO: Terry Dunfield, Ryan Johnson, Luis Silva
When we tried to brand 2012 in the pre-season as "SIXual Healing", no one knew how poorly it would all go. TFC now has to scramble for a new title to adorn their 2012 Highlights Video. Their choices are down to:
- "SIXual Dysfunction": 10-1
- "SIXually Frustrated": 5-1
- "SIXual Harassment": - 2-1
And now, for our lucky readers we present the full 2012 Toronto FC Highlight Video package. Sit back, relax and enjoy all of this season's exciting and successful moments set to a hot club beat! Ladies and gentlemen... "SIXual Dysfunction: TFC 2012"...

(Oh sorry, this is the post-match headline from October 28, 2013)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(BEFORE) AFTER 90: Back to Los Futuros

Beats the crap out of a KIA!


Surely like many of you TFC supporters out there, we can think of a lot things we'd rather do tonight than watch the locals get kicked about by a bunch of Mexicans. Some quality napping, do next year's taxes, brush the dog's teeth - you know. With that, we thought we'd try a little science experiment and jump in our Mexican time machine-car (a Del Loreano) and go into... THE FUTURE! Six hours into the future no less so we can bring you tonight's post-match report... now! Gigawattos!
1' - After escaping from a group of Libyan trialists in a Volkswagen Camper Van we got the Del Loreano going over 80 Burro Gallops per hour and ended up at Estadio Corona... later tonight!
2' - Santos Laguna pressing early with Herculez Gomez forcing a save by Freddy Hall
8' - In the stands we meet a six-hour-older and more Latino version of our friend Dr. Emmett "Doctoro" Marrón who warns us not to change anything or TFC 2013 could be badly damaged. As if!
10' - TFC withstanding major pressure from Santos' quick wingers
13' - YELLOW CARD: Richard Eckersley
15' - GOAL: Toronto - Reggie Lambe against the run of play slides a shocking goal past Oswaldo Sanchez
17' - The crowd is agitated. Could be the scoreline - could be the lack of hoverboards available in Mexico
25' - GOAL: Santos Laguna evens it up as Juan Pablo Rodriguez takes a long distance shot which deflects off of the back of Jeremy Hall's head and crosses the line.
37' - More crowd agitation as some Santos Laguna fans chase a lone TFC away supporter around the stadium. The Torontonian evades capture only to see the Santos supporters fall into a pitch-side truck full of manure
40' - YELLOW CARD: Terry Dunfield
45' - Controversy as Ryan Johnson seems to score a clear goal from distance only to have the referee blow the whistle to end the half. "OUTATIME"
46' - Festive crowd after Huey Lewis & The News finish their halftime show and play resumes.
48' SUB: Aaron Maund on for Ryan Johnson
50' - GOAL: Santos Laguna - Herculez Gomez strolls through a confused TFC defence and puts the Mexicans ahead.
52' - GOAL: Santos Laguna - Gomez makes it two in two minutes as TFC barely had time to catch their breath. Long distance shot rebounds off of Freddy Hall's stomach and into Gomez' path.
62' - Our Polaroid team picture suddenly shows Paul Mariner disappearing!
69' - YELLOW CARD: Luis Silva
70' - SUB: Eric Avila on for Quincy Amarikwa
77' - Some kid in the upper deck is playing a mariachi version of Chuck Berry songs
80' - GOAL: Santos Laguna - The hosts go up by three as Jeremy Hall scores an own goal after TFC's defence can't decide what to do with the ball.
88' - A lightning storm is headed towards the stadium.
90'+ - "Doctoro" Marrón hangs a piñata from the upper deck of Estadio Corona which catches a lightning bolt and hurls our Del Loreano back to.... THE PRESENT! (Or whenever you read this)... oh and Toronto FC are eliminated.
PLAYER RATINGS: Freddy Hall 5 / Jeremy Hall 4 / Richard Eckersley 5.5 / Adrian Cann 5 / Ashtone Morgan 6 / Reggie Lambe 6 / Terry Dunfield 5.5 / Luis Silva 5 / Quincy Amarikwa 5 (Eric Avila 5.5) / Ryan Johnson 6 (Aaron Maund 4.5)
So there you have it. Now you can go about your sleepy financial dog business tonight and not worry about watching "El Foregone Conclusion"! What will we do? Well somehow we ended up with a shiny black pick-up truck that we have to take up to the lake. Oh...and Paul Mariner has become a successful author.
If you don't believe in science... the other version of the post-match future will be linked here...

(Stupid TFC not respecting time and space! Now Biff will be the new TFC President!) 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

THE MATCHUP: On the ropes

Danny Koevermans' retirement plans are going well

A Canadian side heading down to Latin America... in midweek... in a do-or-die situation. Nothing can go wrong now! While we don't expect an 8-1 Tegucigalping like those other Reds, not too many pesos are being bet on TFC in their final Champions League Group Stage match against the mighty (CONCACAF-mighty) Santos Laguna. Needing a 3-0 victory or better while playing some of the worst football in the club's history really only leads to one outcome - elimination.
No one is really all that shocked to be honest. A win in this group was always going to be tricky but if The Reds could have avoided being bullied by Santos Laguna at BMO Field earlier this year - it could have at least been interesting. It's impossible to say if Aron Winter could have done better in Champions League like his squad did last year but the safe bet is "no". Keeping the ball on the deck definitely helped in continental play but this squad wasn't (and isn't built for success) against the likes of their Mexican foes. In the end, tomorrow just marks another conclusion in the seemingly Neverending Story (Ah-a-ah! Ah-a-ah! Ah-a-ah!) of TFC 2012.
"Journey to the Centre of Sanders' Lagoon II: The Lagooning"
SANTOS LAGUNA: Herculez Gomez, Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Oswaldo Sanchez
TORONTO: Eric Hassli, Reggie Lambe, Luis Silva
Since this match is pretty much "El Forgone Conclusion" we thought we'd offer TFC an option if they didn't think this whole football thing was worth pursuing. As they say "When in Rome, do as The Romans do. When in Mexico, become Mexican wrestlers." It's a phrase, ok. With that - a Lucha Libre card for our failed footballers and future luchadores!
(Ryan Johnson)--------------------------- (Luis Silva)
(Andrew Wiedeman)----------- (Logan Emory)
(Tom Anselmi & Paul Mariner)-- vs.-- (Milos Kocic & Eric Avila)
(Danny Koevermans) --------------(Richard Eckersley)


And... since this match preview couldn't be further from a tactical football preview already... and since this season has been totally "fhqwhgads"... a video from our favourite Luchadore "Strong Bad"...

Monday, October 22, 2012

THE STARTING 11: FIFA13 features if Toronto FC developed the game

No goals after 45'? So realistic!

For many Toronto FC fans it is more pleasurable to immerse oneself into the artificial video game world of football rather than face the daily grind that is real-life Reds supporting. Every year around this time, the most successful football video game franchise, EA's "FIFA" series, releases its annual version. The game comes stacked with annual improvements and features that push the boundaries of realism and excitement - the FIFA13 version being no different. Luckily, MLSE has yet to dip their financial tentacles into the video game development market because if they had, FIFA13 may not be the respite from real-life that TFC supporters crave...
11. New "Jimmy B Career Mode (TM)" lets you stay employed no matter what you accomplish at a club
10. Paul Mariner endorses the game as "...the best video game of the digital era"
9. You can buy a new copy at FIFA07 prices
8. Advanced trick moves include "The Jeremy Hall 90 degree SuperShank"
7. In-depth international player scouting covers English League One, Bermuda and the Puerto Rico Islanders
6. None of the stadiums have a roof
5. Crowd noise audio feature has two settings: "The Dichio Song" and "Apathetic Mumble"
4. Instead of a "GAME OVER" screen there is a long, half-hearted apology from Tom Anselmi promising that FIFA14 "must get better"
3. They forgot to include Eric Avila
2. You can choose between: "1", "3" or "5 Year Plan"
1. "Manager Mode" only lasts for 15 months

Saturday, October 20, 2012

AFTER 90*: "The Year of Living Apathetically"

* Upon returning from BMO Field today we decided that instead of our usual After 90 or South Stand Report, we will try to encapsulate a season in the stands in a single match report format. Enjoy... we sure didn't.
1' - Dutch guy calling things "a pity a lot"
7' - It's cold here.
10' - There's less people here than before.
13' - It's snowing
18' - YELLOW CARD: Richard Eckersley
24' - The "Dichio Song" is still a thing
30' - Some former USL guy just shanked it
33' - This is actually boring.
38' - It's raining
40' - "__________" taken off injured
44' - Lucky to get out of the half
45' - Dutch guy out. Man with no trousers in.
50' - It's too damn hot here.
55' - Koevermans is fit and we're scoring!
56' - Koevermans out for the season. As you were.
65' - New players worse than old ones.
70' - Oh look a cat!
75' - It's raining again
80' - Supporters are fighting amongst themselves.
85' - We're not renewing.
88' - $200 bucks a seat? We're renewing!
90' - (This is the part where TFC gives up the goal but as it's the last day and they decided to be dicks and preserve a draw)
90'+ - See you next year neighbour.
PLAYER RATINGS: Back-up goalkeepers 3 / Injured dudes 3 / MLS reserve league castaways 3 / Best whatevers in the modern era 3 / Miscellaneous 3
There will be time to look back on the season properly when it is done. Today is just a head nod to all those supporters who have been here since the early days and who spent more effort getting down to BMO Field this year than the club gave back to you. Kudos to every last one of you on making it through a dire season at "Our House".
Happy trails to those of you who may not come back - can't really argue with your lack of faith in management. To those who we will see next year... let's hope for a Christmas miracle and a better year on the pitch, less soap operas in the front office and in the stands and a "rollback" in atmosphere to 2007. And if not... at least we'll get what we paid for.

Friday, October 19, 2012

THE MATCHUP: Rollback the R'Impact to win!

"Please play again"? Do we have to?

Well that was an odd week in local football. After being kicked eight times in the nethers by the Canadian National Team, Toronto-area fans sadly realized that their only live football fix was now the lowly local side. Ugh. However, with a large number of "Day One" season ticket holders on the fence about renewing in 2013 - and with last-home-match-of-the-season protests brewing - the club fearfully went all Ghost of Christmas Future on us yesterday with the big "Remember the 2007's" ticket scheme.
As we said yesterday - kudos to MLSE for doing something right. In the light of morning though, no one is thinking that this unexpected bit of goodwill towards men from MLSE is going to change what really matters - the football. Many of you still won't return because of this and we wish you a sad but understanding goodbye as the last fixture at BMO in 2012 awaits. For others, we hope that you were as lucky as us to end up with seats around great other supporters who have become bi-weekly (or more) friends. The price cut and footy socializing with them will bring us back.
For the majority though - this will be a temporary reprieve. There is still very little optimism that Anselmi & The Gang will fix the football side of things. His vague blatherings yesterday gave us little faith that the company he runs has a clue how to build a winning football club. Price cuts may stop the bleeding - but another season similar to this will re-open the wound again. For tomorrow - one last dance at home with our bitter rivals Montreal and only hope that MLSE will rollback their thinking along with their prices to ensure they don't have to "save their relationship" with us a year from now.
TORONTO: Eric Hassli, Darren O'Dea, Luis Silva
MONTREAL: Davy Arnaud, Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta
Other items MLSE is considering "rolling back":
- Chips on Chip Buttys to 2008 levels: 100-1
- Grass back to 2007 turf levels: 10-1
- Our memories to 2006 levels: 2-1
MLSE wants all of their TFC supporters to forget that this has felt like the longest year ever. They want us to remember the "good old days" of 2007 with their new pricing scheme - but they won't stop there! The 2007 love-in will continue next season with some great other "turn back the clock" features such as: Andy Welsh booting a cross into the chest 10 lucky fans; "Ride The Dufferin Bus with Andrea Lombardo!"; Toss a seat cushion at the MLSE exec of your choice!; The Mo Johnston "Wall of Honour" induction ceremony; TFC using 14 different goalkeepers; and... First ever TFC captain Jimmy Brennan will be interim manager by July!
And... since it's Friday... and since it's the last time in 2012 we will all stand together in head-smacking despair... here is a visual representation of how it has felt to watch TFC slowly die a ridiculous death at BMO Field this year....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"OMG! Rollback prices are like sooooo 2007!"

"Keep rollin', rollin' rollin'..."

We haven't had to eat a lot of crow in regards to Toronto FC over the years but today they prepared us a wee Crow Butty. While most supporters have been very vocal in their demand for lower prices on season tickets in 2013 before renewing - we had little belief that the club would actually come through. For a change, they proved us wrong. Very wrong.
In a seemingly spontaneous (but obviously not) media gathering today, MLSE President Tom Anselmi announced a major rollback in season ticket pricing which will see existing TFC season ticket holders pay the same amount they did for their seats in 2007. Claiming a need for a renewal in the club's "relationship with the fans", Anselmi introduced the scheme which among other incentives will include a ticket to the season opener... in Montreal's Olympic Stadium. The MLSE Board Meeting where this was all hashed out must have been spewing painful, money-losing fire and brimstone.
Jokes aside, we give kudos to TFC/MLSE for making the right decision for their fans. It is a move that will staunch the bleeding of season ticket holders and just maybe give supporters less of a feeling of being used and abused by the ownership. That being said, short-term forgiveness will not be followed with forgetfulness from fans as it was six years of bumbling that forced MLSE’s hand today – not jolly goodwill towards men.
Indeed, all football sins will not be dismissed by supporters but a reprieve may be offered in 2013. Many who weren't going to return to BMO Field may do so now but they will still require one more solution in the long-term… better football. While Anselmi offered few details beyond post-season analysis of the on-field product, he definitely did not go as far as offering Paul Mariner & Co. a vote of confidence. Some media in attendance have taken this as a broadside for further personnel changes before 2013 but that remains to be seen.
You did a correct move today Toronto FC. Supporters will appreciate it for the most part. But... it was "A" move and not "THE" move necessary for restoring the once vaunted BMO Field "atmosphere" that Anselmi referred to today. Use the goodwill you got from some supporters today as a springboard to fix the club on the pitch next - don't rest on financial laurels... again. Give us wins and we will give you more atmosphere than you can measure. Prove us wrong again please. We will happily eat more tasty, tasty crow.

Monday, October 15, 2012

THE STARTING 11: Sort of, kind of almost true facts about Honduras

Pranksters. Like that's a real name.

Tomorrow marks one of Canadian football's most important fixtures in years - an always difficult trip to Central America to face Honduras in a "winner-takes-all-but-Canada-also-takes-it-in-a-draw" showdown! In football, preparation is everything (well goals are everything, but preparation is okay too) and since Toronto FC are on international break we thought we'd enlist their expertise to help the Canucks. We asked the combined forces of TFC's world-renowned scouting department to find some important factoids about the mysterious "Land of Honey"... Honduras. You're welcome Stephen Hart.
11. Sporting spirits are low in Honduras as fans bemoan the second straight month of the National Cockfighting League lockout
10. In 2011, the country's main exports were mercury, parrots and coup d’états
9. The five stars on the national flag each represent one of the permanent members of 1980's hair-metal band Whitesnake
8. They put the 37th man on the moon
7. The capital city's name is actually Hondurasville. The name "Tegucigalpa" was just a national prank against atlas makers that got out of hand
6. Football supporters have kindly replaced the vile practice of throwing Ziploc bags full of urine at the opposition with the friendly and festive act of presenting them with piñatas... full of urine
5. Van Halen's 1984 hit "Panama" was originally entitled "Honduras" before a lawsuit successfully blocked David Lee Roth from ever uttering the nation's name in public
4. The runway at Tegucigalpa’s infamously dangerous airport Toncontin International (see safety video below), doubles as a local flea market between arrivals
3. Honduras had a torrid two-year extramarital affair with Belize in the 1970's
2. The United Nations ranks Honduras as # 4 in "Menacing Hand Gestures per capita"
1. Translated from Latin, the nation's official motto reads: "Sitting on Nicaragua's head since 1838"

The screaming you hear is Iain Hume looking out the window as Canada's flight arrives in Hondurasville....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

DP or not DP, that is the question…

"You stayin'?" "Dunno. You stayin'?"

Most football minds in these parts have wandered from the never-ending drama that is Toronto FC and on to the international break. However, a couple of ex-internationals who have made returns to Toronto managed to catch some local attention. TFC's two high-profile Designated Players, Danny Koevermans and Torsten Frings, have both now returned from foreign operations to continue their lengthy re-hab with The Reds’ staff. Koevermans returned earlier last month while his German counterpart joined him at the club this past week.
Some TFC supporters, desperate for a crumb of good news in an abysmal season, took some solace from the news. While Koevermans, who has been back in Toronto for a while, is missed by many – equal numbers had guessed that Torsten Frings would never be seen around these parts again. With his future sights set on coaching duties at Werder Bremen, many surmised that the soon-to-be 36-year old German would call a day on his playing career. The question is - regarding both Frings and Koevermans - would this necessarily be a bad thing for the club?
As a gentleman who sits behind us at BMO Field opined early in the 2012 season: "Frings ain't what they used to be"... and this is certainly true. That being said he is still superior in football pedigree to most in MLS but his body is breaking down after an 18 year professional career. His return to the club at this time is an example of what a solid professional Frings is. He easily could have stayed in Germany over the winter and few would have been surprised but his responsibility to the club he captains seemingly brought him back. Make no mistake, that kind of leadership and experience is invaluable and would be near impossible for TFC to replace - this of course assuming Frings' head is in the right place. Surely the constant losing at TFC is not the way he saw his playing career ending. The rub is that the defensive midfield position in MLS is one that you can fill with a useful player for much less salary than Frings makes thus opening funds to be used to fill the many glaring holes that TFC has.
Danny Koevermans is a player that has different pros and cons to Frings. The big Dutchman has an MLS strike-rate that is quite phenomenal but one that comes at a price. Even going back to his days in the Eredivisie, Koef has been injury-prone and this has continued at TFC. The further worry about Koevermans is his training rate. Even at full health, many were shocked at the shape that Koevermans arrived in after this past off-season as we waited until late-May for him to be at "full fitness". Of course when firing on all cylinders he is the poacher that TFC has been seeking since 2007 and as we all know - they seem few and far between in Toronto. Coming off of a severe ACL injury and heading towards 34-years of age, Koevermans is going to have to put in yeoman's work to return. Even at best however, the earliest we may see Koef "firing on all cylinders" again is summer 2013. Is that too big a "what if" to wait for and does it give The Reds another built-in excuse for a slow start up front?
Of course considering the departure of these two players is far from black and white and is based only on possibilities that they would be willing to cut short the remaining year of their lucrative contracts. Frings, with his future seemingly promised at Werder Bremen may be more likely to accept a jump but that is admittedly an assumption. Koevermans is likely on his final stop as a well-paid striker and may want to stick around to see if his career could continue after this current deal ends. However, TFC has shown that it is willing to push out contracts it no longer wants, whether through under-handed means or not. No contract is written in stone at BMO Field.
TFC will not be winning a thing in MLS next year with the glorious goal set at grabbing the last wildcard playoff spot and proclaiming a great victory for all mankind. In this likely future, is it worth devoting such a large portion of the salary cap to two players well past their prime and with no long-term future at TFC? We won't even include Eric Hassli in this conversation as a DP return for him is hopefully unfathomable. Wouldn’t a club trying to build a secure future want to cut their losses and collect solid pieces to use two and three years down the line?

This of course becomes a sticky issue when you retain the management team of Paul Mariner and Earl Cochrane with a "squeak into the playoffs this year or bust" ultimatum. Why should they look to the future when their jobs are seemingly safer with a brief cameo in the playoffs in 2013? As supporters who will still be here long after Frings and Koevermans (and seemingly Mariner and Cochrane) - would you stick with the veterans to their end - or, if you could - would you wish them a fond farewell and forego a chance at a wildcard playoff spot in the hope of better long term development? The time to decide is now.

Monday, October 8, 2012

THE STARTING 11: Ways that Thanksgiving dinner is similar to supporting Toronto FC

The Right Honouable John A. McGobble

Today is the day Canadians gather together in our National Igloo to celebrate the birth of our first Prime Minister - a wild turkey from the Yukon. Now that our American readers are thoroughly confused we can get down to the business of brusselling our sprouts and sweetening our potatoes. As downtrodden TFC supporters get ready to sit around the table with their families today, it may dawn on them that the often trying "traditional holiday meal" has some similarities to their other abusive relationship - supporting The Reds...

11. You start drinking a good three hours before the whole thing starts just to get through it

10. The host spends all their energy telling you how fantastic the gravy is despite the rest of the offerings being dry, dull and stale

9. Halfway through the proceedings it dawns on you that you could be sitting at home watching movies in your underwear

8. Much like Canadian Thanksgiving, TFC marks the end of their MLS season in early October - a full month before their American counterparts

7. You have to sit and watch a turkey not move for 90 minutes

6. Jim Brennan just won't leave

5. Inevitably, someone is challenged to meet outside for a fight

4. You always end up leaving with an upset stomach

3. No matter how hard you try, you just can't think of things to be thankful for this year

2. Somebody always thinks it appropriate to show up wearing shorts

1. You are fed the same crap you had for the last six years

Saturday, October 6, 2012

AFTER 90: "Let us give thanks"... that we only have to go once more this year

A very MLSE Thanksgiving - watch turkeys and get stuffed


1' - The Reds are welcomed to the pitch by a sea of plastic seats... Six years good work by what MLS used to call "model ownership"
2' - So Ashtone Morgan has a "chest cold" today. One of those chest colds that sees you end up playing for another MLS club in 2013?
8' - Completely against the run of play, Luis Silva goes close but can't connect on a Reggie Lambe cross
12' - Ryan Johnson with his shooting boots on today. TFC will likely win this just to take the wind out of any statements/demonstrations/protests in the stands
18'- Paul Mariner was calling for "Blood, snot and fire" from his players before the match. A bit of smoke, no lacerations and thankfully no giant boogers so far.
24' - Chris Pontius skies a free kick over Milos Kocic who is dressed as 1980's WWF tag-team The Hart Foundation today
33' - SUB: Andrew Wiedeman on for an injured Quincy Amarikwa
37' - Logan Emory suffers a head-on-head collision. Needs to bring back the Screech afro to protect himself in the future
40' - Wiedeman in a mini-slapfight with D.C. bench. Not the best pugilist in the modern era.
44' - Richard Eckersley last man back and saves a goal. Good half from the Ginger Ninja.
45'+ - Sloppy half comes to a close with both teams having messy chances to grab a lead.


45' - BMO Field has officially become one of those half-empty MLS stadiums that BMO Field used to so gleefully make fun of.
52' - A chess match so far. If chess was played by two chimpanzees throwing pieces at each other for no reason.
60' - Clue: Short on trousers - short on tactics
62' - Jeremy Hall, Wiedeman (!) and Maund play a bit of tiki-taka but Ryan Johnson can't find a finish. About the best 10 seconds of the day for TFC
65' - Jeremy Hall has a 1-on-1 chance with United keeper Bill Hamid and manages to kick the ball on a perfect 90 degree angle. Shocking if that was in house league.
66' - YELLOW CARD: Ryan Johnson
72' - Lots of goalmouth scrambles for TFC - however ball falls to the likes of... well... any of them.
75' - Generation Adidas? Andrew Wiedeman is barely Generation Skechers
82' - Match has settled back into a mess. Just awaiting the late conceded goal.
88' - GOAL: D.C. United - And boom goes the obvious as Hamdi Salihi cashes in on a comedy of TFC defensive and goalkeeping errors.
90'+ - TFC try to go all "blood, snot and fire" in extra time but simply don't have the talent to make anything happen. Maybe not the most fair result - but the most fitting.


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


How else could it end? It simply wouldn't be a match at the "once proud" BMO Field without conceding at the end would it? Overall, just a bad day of football in Toronto on every side. Ugly play (by both teams), desperate pleas for better from the long-suffering support in the stands and many, many empty seats everywhere else. That being said - big respect to anyone who took the time to send their message to MLSE in the stands today, however you chose to do it. The fact that they will ignore you is not your shortcoming - it is only theirs.

Will MLSE be wringing their hands tonight at yet another pathetic display of football and deep unhappiness in the stands? Nope. They are sitting somewhere trying to figure out how to spin NOT lowering your ticket price next season for their big November release. You know - once you've run out of any will to protest any further.

Friday, October 5, 2012

THE MATCHUP: United we stand, divided something, something...

"Best egg layer of the modern era. Promise."

Genuine kudos to anyone willing to protest and/or demonstrate at BMO Field on Saturday. Hell, kudos to anyone who will be bothered to show up. MLSE does not deserve any of you. There is never anything wrong in telling a soulless, greedy and dim-witted ownership that sees you as a number that "you've had enough" - this site probably wouldn't be here otherwise. The only question that will remain is: "what are you willing to do when they don't listen to you?" And make no mistake fellow supporters... they will not listen.
Early reports are emerging that the pie-in-the-sky dream that MLSE would significantly lower TFC ticket prices are already dashed. Of course, in their devious manner, the ownership will wait until the dead quiet of November to sneak in your 2013 renewal plan, likely with an insulting "bonus" (money off concessions and merchandise etc.) as an incentive. It will not be enough. It has put our hearts in our throats recently to hear so many "Day One" season ticket holders tell us point blank that they are not returning. They see the writing on the wall. They see ZERO actual plans in place to turn this club's fortunes around. Most of all, they, like us, have seen less than zero that the ownership/ management take them or the death throes of this once "slightly proud" club seriously.
"The Final Throes of the Golden Goose"
TORONTO: Ryan Johnson, Darren O'Dea, Luis Silva
D.C. UNITED: Branko Boskovic, Andy Najar, Chris Pontius
Upon seeing fan protests, MLSE executives will feel...
- Panicked: 10,000 - 1
- Amused: 1,000 - 1
- Wealthy and in the mood for more sushi: EVENS
Paul Mariner won't like it but really, this is "Who We Are" now after six long years of re-runs...


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Long Short Goodbye

That should just about cover everyone

With two home fixtures remaining for TFC supporters (well the ones who can be bothered to go) it may be time to get a jump on your player Bon Voyage cards. While Paul Mariner once claimed "...we're close (to competing). I promise"... would-be GM Earl Cochrane countered that the club likely needs 8-9 new faces. Where these warm bodies be acquired from - either Bosman signings, MLS trades, or the academy - is anyone's guess. However, the eternally cap-pressed TFC won't be able to bring in that many newbies without freeing up some existing salary.
With that, we take a quick look at the roster and who could and/or should be facing their last days in TFC red. We work on the very, very hypothetical (not hypercritical, Paul) assumption that TFC can indeed bring in numerous replacements in order for you to get your craft kit out and design a few farewell posters. Glue and glitter at the ready....
QUINCY AMARIKWA: Mariner seems to love Jamiroquai but he screams one-dimensional sprinter with only rumours of a scoring touch. Shouldn't stick around but probably will.
2013 PREDICTION: Starting TFC striker
ERIC AVILA: The manager obviously has no place for Avila whose appearances have become Loch Ness Sasquatchian in occurrence. Get your "So Long Avi" poster ready.
2013 PREDICTION: Goal, two assists and Man of the Match on opening day... for Chivas USA
ADRIAN CANN: Former TFC MVP was supposed to be the returning stabilizer on the defence but was never in Mariner's plans. Add a backpack to that 10-pack.
2013 PREDICTION: Prepping for Mr. CHIN Picnic pose down
OSCAR CORDON: Development seems to be halted and may have reached the end of the line with Toronto. Could stick as Reserve Team fodder.
2013 PREDICTION: High-fiving Gabe Gala with Mississauga Eagles
TERRY DUNFIELD: Not "the ultimate box-to-box player" but a handy leadership presence at a low-cost who should be bench-depth only
2013 PREDICTION: MLSE's poster child as they try to find the "Wendel Clark of the FC's"
RICHARD ECKERSLEY: Everyone loves his heart and desire - no one loves how much he gets paid for it. Still better than most we have for now and will likely be here.
2013 PREDICTION: Red Cards
LOGAN EMORY: A very low-budget workman who can play a few positions but in reality - a solid NASL player. Should only stick as bottom of bench emergency depth
2013 PREDICTION: Starting TFC centreback
STEFAN FREI: If he regains full fitness he will be the # 1 in goal. One of the few no-brainers.
2013 PREDICTION: Still looking behind him in disbelief then at defence in bewilderment
TORSTEN FRINGS: Wow. Will his body bounce back? Does he even want to come back? "Frings ain't what they used to be" and they ain't cheap either. A chance that club and player may call it a day.
2013 PREDICTION: Filling water bottles, dropping pylons at Werder Bremen
FREDDY HALL: Always looking dodgy in goal but always with an awful defence in front of him. Surely there are better players to use an international slot on than the smiling Bermudian.
2013 PREDICTION: Lost in the triangle of free agency
JEREMY HALL: Useful in that he can play multiple positions, possibly more useful that he may garner MLS trade interest. Not a starter but very handy on the bench
2013 PREDICTION: Starting TFC left-back
TY HARDEN: The longest goodbye of all! How he is still here is mind-boggling to all.
2013 PREDICTION: Returns from season-ending "mystery injuries"; re-signs with TFC on lucrative 5 year deal

ERIC HASSLI: Le Rental could have come for free after the season but Mariner understandably gambled a 1st Round Pick for him. Would welcome him back... on a non-DP contract only.
2013 PREDICTION: DP contract in Toronto. Constantly trying to replicate his circus shot goal.
DONEIL HENRY: Re-signed with the club so you can assume a return. Needs more first-team experience to progress - even if it is on-loan
2013 PREDICTION: Still being the guy TFC supporters say "if we're going to lose 3-0 anyways, I'd rather see them play Doneil Henry!" about
RYAN JOHNSON: At times a beast, at more times frustratingly invisible. Maybe has trade value but are there replacements available?
2013 PREDICTION: Making TFC supporters scream for him / at him.
MILOS KOCIC: Would be ideal to keep Kocic as a very capable # 2 to Frei - all Mariner signs point to no. The fertile Serb seems to be in an unlikely doghouse but has proven capable of being a MLS starter
2013 PREDICTION: Sleepless nights.
DANNY KOEVERMANS: Even when he's not injured it takes Koef four months to shake off his winter pancake-layer. Will need a major off-season effort to regain use but is it worth waiting until June or July for him? Talent-starved TFC will say yes.
2013 PREDICTION: Hearty winter meals, Catan Settling and a goal in August.
REGGIE LAMBE: At a surprisingly low cost, the affable Bermudian still has an upside. In a perfect world he comes off the bench but "perfect world" and "TFC" are rarely written together.
2013 PREDICTION: Starting TFC winger; Tweeting in hilarious patois
NICHOLAS LINDSAY: TFC only in name. Complete unknown due to injury; local status will at least get him a look.
2013 PREDICTION: Regretting decisions
KEITH MAKUBUYA: May fill a similar spot if the promised replacements are not found. Past promise seems to have diminished.
2013 PREDICTION: Just pleased that he made it into FIFA13
AARON MAUND: A very NCAAish square peg who Mariner tries to fit into a DM sized circle. Out of his depth but will most likely return.
2013 PREDICTION: Starting TFC defensive midfielder
ASHTONE MORGAN: Must work hard to develop to next level but local fans love him and he has stepped up to the Canadian Nation Team - which means TFC will screw this up.
2013 PREDICTION: San Jose Earthquakes MVP
DARREN O'DEA: For us, the best thing Mariner has done. Not perfect but a hard, strong defender who already loves the city and club (?) and exudes vocal leadership. Give him the permanent captaincy and move forward.
2013 PREDICTION: Fan favourite.
QUILLAN ROBERTS: The jury is still out on the academy product and whether he can really be a # 2 or better if called upon. Will likely be in camp.
2013 PREDICTION: Showing strangers his goal vs England on YouTube
LUIS SILVA: A lock. While maybe not as astonishing a talent as some would promote - he will likely develop into a good MLS attacker. Surely TFC can't screw this up.
2013 PREDICTION: TFC screws it up.
MATT STINSON: Like Cordon, an academy product that may have been promoted too quickly. Has more MLS raw material than Cordon and Makubuya though and deserves another look.
2013 PREDICTION: Anchor of the midfield... on reserve team
ANDREW WIEDEMAN: Oh boy. Exalted by Paul Mariner as the greatest finisher since Pele Maradona Jr., Wiedeman has shown nothing in his many chances to make anyone around here a believer. However, the manager has a huge crush on him and he will likely return.
2013 PREDICTION: Redefining the "modern era"
DICOY WILLIAMS: At the end of the day, Williams has had one solid month as a Red. So starved for quality on defence here that he was given Jamaican Messiah status but injuries have halted the second coming. International spot may prove too much.
2013 PREDICTION: More morose Tweets
So, take our advice if you like and get those "AVI GOOD YEAR AT CHIVAS"; "WE HARDEN-LY KNEW YA!" and "YOUR ABS WERE FAB ADRIAN" posters ready. Only two chances left before we see the next crop of guys... who we will say goodbye to in 2014.

Yes, bye guys. We get it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

THE STARTING 11: Odd Paul Mariner quotes

John, Paul, George, Ringo... four other guys... Paul Mariner

It's hard not to enjoy the effusive and emotional outbursts of Toronto FC manager Paul Mariner. What the animated and likeable Englishman lacks in results, he makes up for in bombastic statements. Now we're not trying to be "hypercritical" here but Mariner has ended up sticking his foot in his mouth recently with chart toppers like: "Andrew Wiedeman is one of the best finishers in the modern era"; "we're close. I promise"; "Dunfield is the ultimate box-to-box player..." and of course the post-loss "hats off to the lads". Entertaining in its head-smacking bewilderment, what other gems may we hear in that gravelly Lancashire tone?
11. "Bermuda is the next Brazil"
10. "Downsview Park makes the French Riviera look like a ghetto"
9. "Ty Harden invented the piano key neck-tie"
8. "Future Draft Picks are useless to the club while this whole Mayan Calendar thing is hanging over our heads"
7. "I was the ninth Beatle"
6. "Adrian Cann literally has 378 abdominal muscles"
5. "Hall & Oates have done more for medical research than Neil Armstrong, Franz Beckenbauer and the Electric Light Orchestra combined. Fact."
4. "The Royal Family / Columbus Crew are Lizard People"
3. "The new iPhone is nothing but a BetaMax VCR and a Polaroid camera attached to a 'Speak & Spell' "
2. "Tom Anselmi and Mother Theresa are practically the same person!"
1. "Wearing long trousers is a mug's game"

And... fresh from curing polio, here's some blue-eyed soul... The song title and TFC management? Make your own joke...