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  • Awards and such


    When your local soccer team’s attacker and defender of the year are a midfielder and a goalie, you know there’s still a long way to go.

    Such is so with Toronto FC in this year of Mo Johnston, 2009.


    No denying Dwayne DeRosario his TFC golden boot. Eleven goals in the MLS regular season, and an utterly clutch natural hat trick to spark the 6-1 Voyageurs Cup clinching comeback in Montreal.

    Rookie goalie Stefan Frei was honoured at the back, for his 98 saves in 26 starts. The young Swiss conceded a goal-and-a-half a game, far from stellar, but the very fact he won this award in the first place tells you a lot of those saves – and goals-against – were forced from the tentative positioning and play of the leaky back line he was backing up.

    I suppose if most teams made their ‘keeper eligible for individual defensive honours, a lot of them might win it. But the announcement felt so jarringly odd, I feel confident in saying this doesn’t actually happen that much.

    All of this begs two questions:

    1) If the TFC attacker of the year award had to go to a striker, who would get it?

    Why, Chad Barrett, of course. He of the five goals on 55 shots, 25 of which were on target. No, I don’t know if that short, square pass he played to the Kansas City goalkeeper on opening night counted as a shot. Barrett obviously thought the play was over, so he gave the ball away – all alone, wide open, ball at his feet, just off the left goalpost.

    Barrett’s tale of hard-hustling, misfiring woe been told too many times, of course. But Ali Gerba did nothing, O’Brian White didn’t get enough playing time, Pablo Vitti’s moments at forward were gnawingly unproductive, and franchise hero Danny Dichio only had three goals and a couple of helpers before he was eased out for what we continue to be assured was the greater good of all concerned.

    2) If the TFC defender of the year award had to go to a defender, who would get it?

    Better news, here. Nana Attakora (bless him!) got hurled into the void and did just fine. Poise, anticipation, good maturity for a youngster – and a couple of clutch goals down the stretch when the post-Dichio strike force dried up like a dewdrop in a blast furnace.

    A great story, but it’s still not a great recommendation for your roster when your most improved youngster is also the anchor of your D. Anchor of the future? Quite possibly. Today? Well, that’s yet another reason why the season ended early.

    Attakora has lots up upside – as does young Gambian Emmanuel Gomez – so time and maturity should make the TFC defence stronger. But even if Barrett and Gerba boost their productivity by half, DeRo still has them both pasted single-handedly.

    Which brings us back to what we already knew – Trader Mo has got some serious work to do before this team is as good as he wants us to believe.

    As long as we’re here, here are a couple of Onward! awards for the Toronto FC season just past:

    - Player of the Year Other Than DeRo: Amado Guevara. Everyone knocks him for cruising from time to time, but who on this roster didn’t? Only Chad Barrett, really, and how did that work out? Guevara is strong, creative and dangerous, and is off to the World Cup in South Africa with Honduras. TFC fans love the guy enough they don’t even seem to mind he plays for Honduras – the Canadian national team’s most voracious and dangerous natural predator.

    - Player I Always Get Ripped for Criticizing: Pablo Vitti. I could write 10,000 words of fantasy fiction about Jim Brennan, chickens and a Lamborghini Countach and I wouldn’t get carped at as much as I do for just happening to notice over seven long months that Vitti can’t produce. Yeah, he played out of position a lot, and yes he has a lovely touch on a soccer ball in traffic. But putting one ballerina out with ten gummy bulldogs does not a winning soccer team make. That might not be the ballerina’s fault, but there’s no reason to even think about doing it again next season.

    - Player I Most Wanted to See on the Field After TFC Coughed Up the First Goal in that Fatal Nil-Five Loss on that Dreadful Night in ‘Joisey: Danny Dichio.

    ‘Nuff said.


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