Recently John Molinaro wrote a wonderful oral history of TFC. Go read it it. I'll wait.
However, the article focused a lot on the more positive parts of the TFC experience. That's understandable as it was an oral history and no one involved with the club would want to focus on the less...fun moments in the club's history. Things that I like to call WTF TFC Moments. So this week's Big List will focus on the Top 10 WTF TFC moments of all-time.
10 - One wild night at Club Escobar, 2012
There is no debate about what TFC's worst season was. It was 2012. That was the bottom, the year even the diehards were considering taking up softball as a new hobby. And, the lowest point of the lowest season of all came in the early morning hours of June 18 in Houston when Miguel Aceval, Luis Silva and the infamous Nick Soolsma were arrested for public intoxication after an altercation broke out between the players and the locals. Amusingly, Julian de Guzman bailed them out of jail, in what might have been the DPs biggest contribution to the team in many fan's minds. What is a well known secret, but that has never been reported, is that the only reason this got reported in Toronto is because Soolsma's Toronto girlfriend got angry at him for being at the club and started calling Toronto reporters to rat him out. I wish I was kidding. Shakespeare would have found TFC's 2012 season too tragic to write about.
9 - UFC 167 - Winter v Mariner, 2011-2012
This one was more of a slow burn, but the front office civil war between Aron Winter and Paul Mariner -- the latter hired to assist the former understand MLS -- that raged on for the better part of 18 months basically killed three seasons of TFC. The fact MLSE hired two guys that were never going to get along was a reflection of how little they still knew about soccer four years into the club, and the lack of decisive decision making at the club. Mariner eventually "won" the battle, but not before alienating half the fan base and dooming himself moving forward. In the end, everything had to be blown up again and it would be another two years before they could even see the corner, let alone turn it.
8 - Jermain Defoe's boo-boo, 2014
It only took about three months for the Bloody Big Deal to become a Bloody Big Joke. Jermain Defoe got hurt, then got sullen, then disappeared back to the UK for an extended period of time while the fans just got disenchanted. Meanwhile, the club was spinning more than a bathing suit model with two pounds to lose. What was supposed to be a new hope ended up with fans throwing up their hands and assuming that TFC was forever doomed. The whole thing was epitomized when Defore missed a penalty in his first game back.
7 - Alan Gordon trying to kill the training staff, 2011
This one wasn't widely reported, but if you've ever wondered why Gordon was traded so soon after he arrived...well. He was upset with how his injury was being treated and ended up trying to strangle the training staff. He wasn't a TFC player a week later. Beyond the brawl (which happens on all teams from time to time) the story perfectly illustrates one of TFC;s biggest problems back then -- they had a terrible reputation with players. No one wanted to play here and not just because the team was struggling. They treated players like pawns and it bit them in the ass time after time after time after...
6 - Canadians vs Preki, 2010
People forget that 2010 started pretty well. Preki had the team in a playoff spot and the 2009 final game choke job was forgotten. Then, the players decided they didn't like their curfew. I'll never forget getting a phone call from a source when I was leaving a media even at BMO Field. His message was simple -- the players won't play for Preki. The source told me that the players had drawn a line in the sand to upper management. It was suggested to me that the senior Canadian players on the roster were the ones leading the charge. The players won (and Mo Johnston went with him) and TFC got blown up once again.
5 - Joao Plata escapes in the middle of the night, 2012
This one wasn't entirely the club's fault. Plata deserves far more criticism for his role then he gets -- he quite literally packed up his stuff and flew home without telling anyone at TFC. The reason behind his escape was that Paul Mariner refused to play him and was not particularly gentle about his reasoning (which in hindsight was flawed). Fans weren't in the mood to give TFC any break back then, and the club has an odd tendency to never be upfront with anything, so many fans still don't realize that, for once, they probably weren't the bad guys. But, perception is reality...so...
4 - The Gambians, 2009
Let's just say there has always been something not quite right about the signing of The Gambians. They did get a good photo out of it though.
3 - DeRo's Scottish vacation, 2011
What a damn mess. DeRo, unhappy with his contract, decides to go to Celtic to train. Photos emerge of DeRo training with Celtic. TFC denies that DeRo is training with Celtic, while simultaneously saying that if he was training with Celtic he shouldn't be because he doesn't have an ITC. Fans throw arms in air and assume TFC screwed something up somewhere. Club looks dumb. DeRo looks petulant. The relationship between the hometown hero and club soured even further.
2 - SHOW ME THE MONEY, 2010
Oh, you know. Arguably the best player to ever come out of Toronto (most creative and exciting, anyway) who was brought back home to great fanfare a year earlier scores a goal and then decides to make everything about his contract situation by pretending to sign a cheque while staring at the directors box. Seconds after San Jose scores the goal that officially eliminates TFC from the playoffs. See above for the rest of the story.
1 - Mo Johnston's management style
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Edited by Duane Rollins