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    Duane Rollins
    Philadelphia Union (0-0-1) v TFC (0-0-1), Match Day 2
    TSN 4 – 4:30pm, Saturday
    CSN Away Viewing is upstairs at Pauper’s Pub (Bathurst and Bloor). Check the usual suspects (Wheat Sheaf, Shoeless Joe’s, etc.) for others or add your viewing in the comments.
    Last meeting: TFC won its first ever playoff game in rather convincing fashion to launch a magical run that lasted through to the end of November. I’m not sure what happened in December.
    Most famous game: In what was possibly Aron Winter’s darkest moment the exceptionally average Union put six – yes, SIX – goals by the Worst Team in the World to win 6-2 in front of a grumpy BMO Field back in 2012.
    Key Union player: Let’s go with Super Keeper Andre Blake, who is arguably the best shot stopper in all of MLS. Thankfully, TFC has not been robbed blind by a keeper standing on his head in almost three months.
    Former Red alert: With the man responsible for BMO Field’s lack of plastic, Mo Edu, still recovering from his broken leg the former Reds alert is Warren Creavalle. The utility player most famous in Toronto for the drunk guy two rows back of you insisting he’d be a better option at right-back has actually found some half-decent form for the Union.
    Key TFC player: Gotta be Seba, no? After yet another week of MLS’ tried and true defensive strategy of hack-a-little-Italian, the Atomic Ant will be looking to open his account in style this weekend.
    Home advantage: Meh. Unless you’re trying to park your car after sunset there isn’t much intimating about Chester’s best soccer stadium.   The weather on game day is going to be positively Canadian -- -4C expected at kick-off. No orange ball likely though.  
    What opposing fans are saying: REVENGE!!!!1!!!!1! They are also mostly calling for a tight game and possibly a draw. Yippee.
    TFC panic level (as expressed by the name of a former player): Danny Koevermans (He’s really good, but we’re scared it’s all going to go wrong at any moment)
    Our view: It says here that TFC gets its first three points of the year and Seba opens his account with a brace. 3-0 Reds.

    Kevin Laramee
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    Duane Rollins
    Talk about burying the lead. 
    Toronto FC fans got a surprise yesterday and not one that they would have been looking forward to. That Champions League spot that many were looking forward to is not just delayed until next February -- it's been taken away completely. The news was almost hidden in a release announcing the extension of the Canadian Championship to include the winner of the PLSQ and League1 Ontario. 
    So, to re-cap, the CSA got one thing right and one thing very wrong.
    Let's start with the wrong. Appreciating the fact that a lot of people in this country love it when Toronto gets screwed, there is no denying that they did, in fact, get screwed here. Yes, there was a bit of an issue to fix -- CONCACAF's change in format made it a long wait for the qualifying team -- but the CSA chose quite possibly the least sporting solution available to them. TFC won the Voyageurs Cup on the field and the CONCACAF spot that went with it should have stayed with them.  A year where the Cup did not have a CCL spot would not have been the end of the world. In fact, it may have given more opportunity to young Canadians to play in the competition as the teams would have very likely rotated (as an aside, the CSA also added a Canadian quota for starters this year -- each team will need to start three Canucks each game.
    The CSA did provide a slight advantage by allowing TFC to host the one game playoff. Obviously, if TFC wins the 2017 Voyageurs Cup they do not need to play itself for the berth.
    Unfair or not, it's done now and the Reds will need to get down to the business of repeating as champions if the CCL is to make a long awaited return to T.O. 
    For the D3 level teams the long wait to get a shot at the Canadian Championship is almost over. The specific format of the 2018 Cup has not been released yet (hopefully because they are waiting to add a few more teams in a, say, new league...), but whatever it is it will include at least two D3 teams. It won't include the Canadian PDL teams. The likely reason? The CSA wants those teams to play in Canadian leagues and this might be the incentive to get them to make that choice on their own.

    Duane Rollins
    In the words of the great modern poet that is Demi Lovato: 
    So how did you get here under my skin?
    I swore that I'd never let you back in
    Should've known better than trying to let you go
    'Cause here we go go go go again
    After nearly a year of...let's call it re-charging...CSN is back with a slightly new mandate and hopefully a revitalized zest for writing about the always frustrating but rarely dull world of Canadian soccer. We would have been back sooner, but we had a lot of work to accomplish first. Most importantly, we needed to change the look of the site and to get rid of a truly staggering amount of spam that had overwhelmed us and that played a significant role in creating the burn-out that necessitated that above mentioned re-charging.
    The comments section, once the best check of my ego I could have ever hoped for, but yet an important part of making CSN a community rather than just a news site, became the bane of my existence. Unless you were in the market for Russian pharmaceuticals there was no point checking the comments. Without the understanding that people are reading it becomes difficult to motivate yourself to take time out of your schedule to do that hard work of writing -- especially when you spend a lot of time commenting in audio form as the host of SoccerToday.
    Speaking personally, the burn out was also just a product of doing it for so long. You feel that you are repeating yourself after a while. But, eventually you start to miss it and you start to feel that you need to get your voice back out there in a consistent way.   
    A lot remains the same about Canadian soccer, but a lot has changed as well. Part of CSN's (slightly) new mandate will be to address those changes -- specifically the Canadian Premier League project that is (frustratingly still) on the horizon. Additionally, D3 level leagues like League1 Ontario, the PLSQ and the new BC initiative are becoming more and more important in the system and reporting on them will become a big focus of CSN 2.0.
    That's not to say we won't still talk about MLS and the three Canadian teams. There was a time when I felt that maybe we should step away from that kind of coverage (and I still think we should focus a bit less on it compared to the topics outlined above), but when nearly 100,000 people attend the Eastern Conference Final in Canada and a million more watch it on TV it's hard to say that it shouldn't be covered.
    So, it will be. As will the national teams and issues that impact Canadian soccer at all levels, regardless of where it originates from.
    It's going to be a lot of work. But, it's work I'm excited to get back to after a little time away.
    In the words of retired Canadian soccer poet Ben Knight...
    ONWARD!   


  • Posts

    • His reluctance to attack is so complete that it seems it must be on instructions. But it actually weakens Bayern as the opposition know that he will not take them on. It does not make sense, especially when most of the attacking on the night by Bayern was mechanical and not too hard to defend against. They could have used a few drives down the left to mix things up and unsettle the defence.  I agree with several posters that Hernandez was superior in this game, which is actually the first time I have felt that so clearly. I don’t see Bayern changing Davies’ position but I hope they unleash him a little to get greater benefit from his skill set which leans offensive.
    • Lots to like. If our vets are injured, TFC is not bringing in anyone new, might as well. I'd rather see a bunch of green-ish, passionate and talented (if unrefined) young players who give a damn than vets who aren't in shape and might be a little unmotivated by the situation (which is awful for any team).
    • I doubt he'd take money from TFC without some disclosure. He's a true journalist that way. Still, he might freelance with SportsNet, CBC, TSN and maybe the US networks (Fox etc..) who cover MLS. I don't think that's very lucrative, but if he's able to draw 500-1000 paid readers he might do OK. Molinaro's stuff is really good -- he's one of the most thoughtful writers in the Canadian soccer scene. I'd hope he would expand his view outside of TFC -- maybe over time. Let's see. I wish him well in this and might subscribe. $50 to support a quality writer when the big media outlets are doing so little isn't too much in my eyes.
    • They wouldn't, but for those teams that aren't doing fine it might be an idea. The East is the only part of the country that's been consistently stable and might allow for training to go without a stop/start/stop/start sequence. It's a fair bit of effort, but if Athletico can go off to Madrid, it's not a crazy idea.
    • When is FIFA doing the intercontinental draw for the 2022 World Cup? All I can find is at a later date. 
    • As I said earlier, I'm not so convinced about our attacking ability.  We are overly deliberate in most attacks, while not having the ability to break down the structured defense that has time to organize itself.  Against a poorer defense in Wales, nice through-balls behind the back line were misplayed time and again by our attackers, usually not even resulting in a shot on goal.  All this was also apparent at the She Believes Cup.  We are going to have a hard time scoring against good teams if things stay as they are.  We need to figure out how to be more effective on attack, or we'll have to rely on luck and hope that the opponent makes mistakes like England did.  At the very least, we should try to improve crossing the ball into the box.
    • Really important win for Regensburg, and another solid performance from Kennedy. Good awareness as usual with his tackling and heading, but his passing looked a lot better today too. He didn't lob the ball to the other side of the field without pressure, and actually played it forward competently. He even held up possession with runs up the left a few times, and I'm not sure if we have other defenders (let alone CB's) who can do that. 7.1  rating on sofascore.
    • Priestman has maintained the solid defensive structure seen under KHM. But it looks like the back line seems more comfortable playing out from pressure. Offensively, she has improved the structure from being lethargic to showing some flashes of dynamism. No one really emerged under KHM but it seems Quinn is stepping up. Creativity in midfield is still hard to find but given Carle, Riviere & Chapman all can handle being fullbacks, Lawrence should be in the middle of the park against most opponents. Otherwise, it's about relying on speed, power and jumping on mistakes. And it looks like Canada can play and score without Sinclair. Viens is a good technical poacher in a similar vein as Sinclair. Huitema can bring energy and physicality as a sub.
    • I believe on twitter when they announced the signing they referred to him as a champions league reinforcement. edit: wasn’t the official site  
    • The thing I love about Armas playing the kids is that players like Endoh, Deleon, Mullins, etc, the usual subs during Vanney era have to step up, if they want game minutes. Which in turns further motivates TFC kids to be more hungry for game minutes. A healthy competition is a good thing.
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