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  • Well, what did we expect?


    Understand. No one much goes to Toronto FC press conferences expecting to hear “the truth.”

    Every last member of the press corps understands, on the way past security and down the concrete chutes and past more security, that what we will be presented with is “the spin.”

    The trick – the almighty guessing game, truth be told – is to try to hook “the spin” back to some reasonable version of “the truth.” But this is a universe where “reasonable” remains undefined, so those of us who dare to draw conclusions are – for the most part – guessing.

    And so, while your guess is as good as mine, here’s mine:

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] A week ago Wednesday, Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan told “It’s Called Football” he was in good shape, and really looking forward to the new campaign. Two days ago, he sat smiling at a hastily arranged TFC presser to say he is done.

    Okay. That’s true.

    Jimmy B has also accepted a kick upstairs, and a new role as GM Mo Johnston’s assistant GM. That’s literally true, but how much of a “job” he really has will likely remain in shadow.

    For what little it’s worth, I have no real qualms or quibbles with Brennan’s side of this. Truth is, he’s on the downside. Deeper truth: this is MLS and Brennan got caught on the wrong side of the spreadsheet. That happens to everyone sooner or later, however crazy it drives those of us who dream of better things.

    Oh, you think it’s money, Ben? What about rifts with new coach Preki and such? The ones vehemently denied by both Brennan and Johnston during Wednesday’s spinfest?

    Well, sure, it’s possible. There were huge rifts in the Toronto FC dressing room when Preki arrived – rifts that Brennan’s captaincy had done bug-squat to heal. And, yes, Brennan famously tossed former Canada coach Dale Mitchell under a spike-wheeled street car when the ‘08 World Cup qualifying run went iceberg in Mehico.

    But let me suggest a reason or six why that part of the story might not matter. Regardless of whether you think Brennan is done as a player, he was long-gone done as a captain.

    Three things should have happened immediately after TFC lost 0-5 to the New York Product Placement on the awful last Saturday of the ‘09 playoff tease.

    · Chris Cummins needed to be canned as Toronto coach.

    · Mo Johnston needed to be reassigned to a new position as assistant to the guy wot changes bulbs in the BMO Field light standards.

    · Jim Brennan needed to be stripped of the captaincy.

    Folks, that one game is going to haunt this franchise for years and years to come. Johnston threw everything he had into making TFC a winner last year.

    He squirreled together draft picks and allocation money, landed DeRo and de Guzman, and threw it all on the need for one single decent result, on the road, in the Joisey swamps, against one of the worst teams Our Little League has yet produced.

    Nil-five loss. Horror. All these cap problems TFC is currently choking on? They would have been here anyway. The difference is – the team with the ridiculous name from Utah that snuck into the playoffs when TFC wrecked are now the cup-claiming champions of all men’s division-one pro soccer north of the Rio Grande. And Toronto FC has been rendered a soggy, seeping mess.

    Well, Cummings is gone, and Brennan’s been bought out. That just leaves your pal and mine, Mo Johnston.

    And his old pal Preki, and their old pal Nick Garcia in the centre of defence, even though he can’t run, can’t jump and has grievous lapses of field-reading judgment.

    Deep breath.

    In MLS, anything remains possible. The good teams are limited in how good they can be, half the squads still make the playoffs, this will always be a coach’s league, and Preki has proved he can coach undermanned squads into the playoffs. More players will arrive, and some semblence of teamwork will congeal, even if it can’t be tastily cooked up.

    Those who are deeply suspicious of Mo Johnston already were before he and Brennan spun this pretty little top of theirs.

    I find myself glad the armband is being passed, but I will miss Brennan’s heart. The fact that he’s about the only player the club has ever had who can reasonably cross the ball from the left side is going to need to be addressed – two years ago.

    People, you either believe Mo Johnston or you don’t, and nothing I write either way is going to ever change anyone’s mind on that.

    This team is in a lot of trouble right now, and there’s little anyone who loves it can do but hope Preki is the right coach, and that Mo can bandaid together just enough guys who can do just enough jobs to just about sneak this soggy, sagging soccer side into the playoffs.

    I just want Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to know that we aren’t being fooled, and we’ll happily explain the entire mess to them, if they’re ever feeling curious.


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