Jump to content
  • Articles

    Manage articles

    Guest

    It was 50 years ago today …

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    No, I don’t remember anything about the 1950s. I showed up at that party – a little late.
    Fifty years ago this very day, a young English professor at the University of Toronto and his brilliant, eccentric, utterly unstoppable wife celebrated the birth of their first son. Me.
    My father told me years later he had always wanted a son named Bernard. That’s BERnard, the English pronunciation, with the acCENT on the first sylLAble. So Bernard was my name – for about four seconds, and then he wheeled around and named me Ben.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    It’s the only nickname that has ever, in half a century, really stuck to me, even though I’ve never been able to stick it to my passport.
    “No, you can’t be Ben from Bernard,” a passport clerk once told me. “You can be Bernie! You wanna be Bernie?”
    No. I don’t. No offence to all the wonderful Bernies in the world. But I’m Ben.
    I remember the black-and-white TV in the living room. I vividly remember Expo 67 and Canada turning 100. By the time that happened, I’d been to England, up and down Italy by train, and on the fringes of a shooting war in Africa.
    I was certainly around when the Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup, but I didn’t know or care about hockey until two years later. Then I got obsessed. My lifelong involvement with sports began with the Leafs beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 in their first home game of 1969. The Kings wore yellow uniforms. Even then – with no context at all – I knew that was weird.
    Hockey ate my life, then baseball and gridiron football. Basketball, not so much. Then, on one of the family trips to England, I started learning about soccer.
    It wasn’t the sport that hooked me. It was the idea that there could be four leagues instead of one. That teams were promoted and relegated, and that every tiny town had its own version of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
    I’m never quite clear on the first soccer match I attended live. It was either:
    - Dallas Tornado 3, Toronto Metros 0, at Varsity Stadium (three blocks from the family home),
    or
    - Wimbledon 2, Barnet 2, at Plough Lane.
    I can never remember which came first. I could look it up in under a minute, but I’m honestly happier not quite knowing.
    I’ve probably mentioned this along the way, but I honestly never had any intention of being a sportswriter. I’d done journalism school at Ryerson in the eighties, and hooked up with CBC National Radio News, which took me all the way to Iqaluit on Baffin Island. Back in Toronto a few months later, the work environment turned toxic, and one morning I just up and quit.
    I’ve never had a full-time job since.
    I became a copy-writer, bass guitarist, cab driver, researcher, data entry grunt, got married, divorced and really didn’t have a whole lot of direction throughout my 30s. And then, funny things started to happen.
    I started writing about amateur box lacrosse on the Internet. It needed doing, and wasn’t being done. Before long, I was covering an eleven-city Jr. A lacrosse league – from all eleven cities – for no pay whatsoever.
    That, believe it or not, eventually landed me eight years of columnist work with Sportsnet.ca. Lacrosse eventually gave way to soccer. Hundreds of columns later, on the very same day Sportsnet said they were done with me, the Globe and Mail grabbed me in mid-freefall and put me to work. The economic downturn did that in last November, but I don’t know thing one about quitting. Onward! was born a few days after that.
    Fifty finds me single (delightedly), somewhat poor (financially) and happy (every single blessed day, thanks).
    I get to write about sports, play music for children (didn’t intend that, either, and now it’s 250 pre-school music shows a year) and do home care for special-needs adults in Etobicoke. Money comes and goes, but every time I show up for work, I love what I’m doing.
    I realize now that happiness was always the goal. In any lifetime ever, I’d rather be happy and stretching a few bucks than wealthy and miserable. There’s still plenty of time to be happy AND wealthy – but you have to be happy first to pull that off.
    I am.
    Thanks to everyone who’s ever read, enjoyed or been annoyed by my work.
    Onward!

    Guest

    Money-Less Soccer

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    Now that Kanata Soloists SC will not be getting the backing of Ottawa politicians, it’s time to glean the lessons.
    In a time of great financial distress, it is not wise, somehow, to ask for a gigantic infusion of public funds to build a stadium in an unpopular location, excluding a provisional expansion franchise in another sport which has already been approved.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    I don’t blame Eugene Melnyk for trying, and I’m not even all that down on MLS commissioner Don Garber for trying to turn Melnyk’s enthusiasm into a soccer-only stadium with a grass field.
    Expecting the people of Ottawa to pay for it, though? Especially when those same people – if they care about soccer at all – just don’t love the idea of schlepping out to Kanata?
    Well, it was always going to be a longshot.
    Didn’t have to be, though. I have two words for any supporters of Melnyk’s solo suburban soccer scheme, up to and including the great man himself:
    Private money.
    Put enough of that stuff together, and we can all be dancing an MLS Kanata cantata. Without it, though – well, the Jeff Hunt group and its Lansdowne Park redevelopment scheme which can include the CFL is just vastly more attractive on the voter-accountable level. Hey, come play soccer here! Sorry about the plastic turf, but given the climate and the Rough Riders and all ….
    In fairness, I have little doubt that Melnyk would have reached out to Hunt had his Kanata vision won the day. That would not have pleased Don Garber, but I’m pretty sure the $40-million expansion fee would have seen him through his upset.
    But given the facts in evidence, Ottawa city officials have little choice. The money will stay in the city proper, and how ‘bout them Riders?
    Any other outcome was over-optimistic … at best.
    Mr. Hunt, meet USL-1. USL-1, this is Mr. Hunt. You kids play nice, now.
    Onward!

    Guest

    Has anyone seen the gameplan?

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    That, I think, was more than just a bad night.
    That was a soccer team short on fundamentals, in rising need of clear direction.
    Toronto FC lost 3-2 in Dallas on Sunday, a sub-par performance that raises deeper questions. How could the Reds look so disorganized? And why are they playing a style that minimizes the effectiveness of their talent?
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    I’m going to take talent out of the equation today. The off-season improvements were enough that experts up and down the internet were calling Toronto a playoff team. I felt more than a little lonely when I wasn’t quite convinced – but my reluctance had more to do with the overall strength of the MLS East than any serious doubts the Red roster had been improved.
    So what is all that talent doing?
    In Dallas, it struggled to hold any real coherent shape. I don’t mind two defenders closing on the ball, but I don’t like them tripping over each other in their own penalty area.
    What astonished me, throughout this dire match (Dallas was no blueprint for glory either!) was Toronto’s persistent bypassing of its own central midfield. Dwayne DeRosario and Amado Guevara – two of the more creative players in the league – were continually excluded in favour of wing play and long balls aimed at the general postal code of struggling striker Chad Barrett.
    That Barrett started at all was a huge surprise. Coach John Carver has said all along he has faith in the guy. He certainly proved it in this one. And yes, Barrett redeemed at least some of his early struggles with a second-half breakaway goal that knotted the match 2-2. But at halftime, he could have opened a deep-fried chances stand on the concourse.
    The amount of time DeRo and Guevara spent watching errant passes soaring over their heads was astonishing. TFC fell behind 2-0, and their comeback didn’t start until backliner Adrian Serioux nudged home a roller just before halftime – almost an exact duplicate of the goal Dallas used to swipe a 1-1 draw at BMO Field the week before.
    Now – many are going to point to the late penalty call on TFC defender Marvell Wynne: that the ball hit his arm and not the other way around. I’m on the other side of this one. I was always taught that defenders play with their arms at their sides – particularly in their own penalty area late in a tie game. Wynne’s were windmilling, and I’m not buying the off-balance excuse. Balance is possible with your arms down – especially in the pros!
    The young defender’s awkwardness gave the ref the option, and if there’s anything the Torontos have learned in two-plus years in MLSville, that is no way to move up in the standings.
    There there were the substitutions. Why was embattled defender Marco Velez summoned – replacing attackman Faud Ibrahim, with Toronto losing? Best theory is Velez can score – and he can! – but what does that say to Danny Dichio, who’s looked useful in his brief appearances so far, and wasn’t summoned until the final couple of minutes?
    To quote John Lennon: “Strange days indeed.”
    All right, it’s early in the season. But the shape’s off, communication is bad, struggling players are getting endless opportunities while more in-form teammates watch, and TFC were fortunate to get even one point out of six in a home-and-home with what might easily prove to be the worst team in all this odd and little league.
    These, to me, are coaching issues. The team has to get the ball the guys who can create. That means Guevara for now, with DeRo looking sidelined with a hamstring tweak. I’d also hope it could mean more Danny Dichio, who is still perhaps one of the finer passers of the ball in MLS.
    And what does Argentine import Pablo Vitti have to do to earn a start?
    To me, these are all coaching issues. This soggy match in Dallas throws the spotlight squarely on the charismatic and popular John Carver. Charisma and popularity can’t win points in the absence of strategy.
    And “absent” remains the best word to describe Toronto FC’s strategy on this pointless night in Dallas.
    Onward!

    Guest

    Time for real time

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    An important soccer match. Scores level. Down to the wire.
    Thrusts. Counter-thrusts. Scares. Chances.
    … And nobody watching has any real idea of how much time is left.
    Around the world, this quite literally happens all the time. The question never asked is: “Why?”
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    Even since my colleague Duane Rollins posted an amusing item on possible rule changes for soccer, I’ve been mulling one he didn’t discuss – and which I’ve actually seen put into effect.
    Actual running time on the scoreboard clock. When the clock hits zero, the half is over.
    Back in 1997, I called play-by-play on cable television for the Toronto Lynx, in what is now USL-1, but then was called the A-League. Everything was normal as the game kicked off, except the clock was running backwards – as it does in hockey, basketball, lacrosse, North American football and tournament Scrabble.
    And I freely admit it felt odd to shout down the microphone that there were 37 seconds left in the game. But there were. And 37 seconds of actual playing time later, it was wrap time.
    One of the most sacred, unchallenged traditions of our game is that the referee alone has custody of the clock. The arbiter is judged a master of 45-minute timespans, and given unquestioned authority over how much sand is left in the hourglass.
    And it doesn’t work.
    Add more than four minutes of stoppage time onto any half of soccer, and the fans get antsy. And if the ref calls for two minutes and ends up adding five, whistles and boos rain down on the park – even if the team that’s a goal ahead has clearly and obviously been wasting time since the “regular” 90 minutes expired.
    And then there’s the whole business of corner kicks. Convention states that if a corner kick is awarded deep in stoppage time, the ref will allow it to be taken. If he doesn’t, the team with the ball will call eight generations of his relatives appalling names before he even makes it to the touchline.
    In fact, time just flows. 90 minutes is 90 minutes, and can end at any arbitrary point in the action. Put in simple scientific terms, the fourth dimension doesn’t stop or fold back on itself to allow for corner kicks.
    Certainly, the sport of soccer predates electronic stadium clocks. When I was watching Toronto Metros NASL games in the 70s, I sometimes heard old-world fans calling for the scoreboard to be turned off, because it wasn’t “authentic.” Even today, there are pro soccer stadiums all over everywhere (except maybe North America) that simply don’t have clocks or scoreboards.
    But MLS does.
    The ref would still decide when time is in or out. All he needs to do is signal the scoreboard operator when it’s out. Exactly like any other sport you grew up with, except for baseball and cricket.
    Admittedly, it didn’t always go smoothly in the A-League back in ’97. Referees would forget. One particularly dim twit of a ref who worked the playoff game at Varsity Stadium that summer would signal time out, and then completely forget he had to whistle time back in again. Exasperated players were standing around, waiting for the whistle, shouting the rule at him, and he just stood there oblivious.
    It won’t be perfect, in other words. And it flies against a century and a half of tradition.
    But real time is far more accurate – and hugely reduces controversy.
    There are perfectly legitimate reasons why a ref might add 10, 12, even 15 minutes to a half. A bad injury, most likely. They don’t. In the vast majority of all cases, a few token minutes get tossed on. Fans then treat that number as a contract, no matter how much time-wasting or gratuitous substitution goes on.
    Can you imagine hockey fans putting up with that?
    Down to the wire in a close hockey game, fans have one eye on the ice and the other on the clock. No clock and it’s up to … the ref? Good luck getting out of the Raging Jackass Falls arena alive during the playoffs!
    Stop time is fairer, cleaner, truer – and hugely cuts down on the slim possibility that a corrupt official (Byron Moreno in Ecuador along about 2005) might tamper with the timekeeping.
    Stoppage time is the most critical time in soccer. Shouldn’t it at least be measured accurately?
    Onward!

    Guest

    Ahead to the past

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    The Canadian Soccer Association came full-circle today, appointing technical director Stephen Hart as interim head coach of Canada’s senior men’s soccer team for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
    It’s a post he successfully held – on an interim basis – during the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
    A full circle, certainly – but not a retreat.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    This tentative step, which does nothing to solve the bigger question of who will eventually lead the team into the next round of World Cup qualifying, offers yet more proof that things are indeed changing at the CSA – and for the better.
    The bad news (if you’re scoring at home):
    - The upcoming friendly in Cyprus will remain Canada’s one and only Gold Cup warm-up match.
    - The team will have to adjust to a coaching change now, and another in 2010.
    - CSA president Dr. Dominic Maestracci continues to talk about fee increases on amateur players when asked about the long-term coach search.
    The good news:
    - The players like Hart, and performed their hearts out for him two years ago. Yeah, there’s been criticism that Hart lacked any particular master strategy, and all he really did was turn the lads loose to play. But play they did. Vastly better than they did under the departed Dale Mitchell in World Cup non-qualifying.
    - Deferring the final choice of coach makes good, efficient use of the CSA’s notoriously limited budget.
    - General secretary Peter Montopoli, prodded by a follow-up question, confirmed he is working hard to forge corporate sponsorship links, a much better – and more honourable – way of financing national World Cup aspirations.
    There’s been speculation the past week that Canada might call up newer, younger players for the Gold Cup, turning the whole venture into a player-development exercise. Hart didn’t commit either way, but did say it would be hard to go that route effectively without at least three warm-up matches.
    From that, I’d expect the Gold Cup roster will feature one or two carefully selected youngsters, in positions determined largely by which senior players can or cannot report for duty.
    If you were on the “get a coach now, and let everyone bond during the Gold Cup” bandwagon, you’re probably not happy right now. But if you’ve been waiting around for a calm, reasoned CSA strategy that might actually even sort of maybe kind of work? Well, I’m treating myself to a mild grin right now.
    At this point, I’m prepared to believe that:
    - Montopoli has a plan for the team.
    - Montopoli has a plan for paying for the team.
    - Montopoli has the ear, respect and trust of the usual suspects, and is genuinely making changes, and moving the entire program forward.
    Today’s announcement probably doesn’t do a blessed thing to improve Canada’s chances of ever qualifying for the World Cup.
    But – through fiscal responsibility and careful redeployment of available resources – it hasn’t done anything to hurt them either.
    And that – alone – is an improvement.
    Onward!

    Guest

    On perfection

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    So we’re six minutes into the UEFA Champions League semifinal, second leg. Cristiano Ronaldo, on the road for Manchester United in his native Portugal, buries a stunning first-time thirty-yarder to put his side ahead on a night where they surely faced elimination from the continental quality quest.
    It was … perfect.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    And it stood up as the winner, too.
    “Perfect” is a strange and two-headed quality. It’s so rare and elusive. One of the great joys of being a sports fan is that sport encourages perfection – and you know right away on the rare occasions it shines.
    But the pursuit of perfection can really mess you up. The stress, the over-analysis, the tension. There have been soaring, transcendent moments in my life that certainly weren’t perfect. What a shame it would have been to miss them being overly honed in on something so rare and so impractical.
    Yeah: impractical. The strangest thing about perfection is it tends to just happen. No practice, no plan – just an indescribable moment where different things come blindingly together, and there’s nothing anyone can do but be amazed.
    Sure, Ronaldo is shocking gifted. But long shots in soccer go wonking off goalposts and duck-quacking over crossbars all the time. If he’d missed, and United had subsequently been eliminated in a scoreless draw, what do you bet Sir Alex might have his impetuous young star taking extra shooting practice in tomorrow’s gray Mancunian dawn?
    One of the best soccer shots I ever saw was in the Robbie youth soccer tournament in Scarborough a few years back. Late in a tie game, an anonymous 11-year-old striker won the ball at the corner of the penalty area, turned his defender, and scorched a transcendently beautiful outswinger into the near top corner for the match-winning strike.
    I’d only just sat down a moment before, and here’s perfection! I don’t doubt for a second that the kid meant to score. But like that? Only in his dreams – and this one shining gorgeous-and-gone moment.
    Now – Toronto FC:
    Since coming home from a fine season-opening road trip, the ragged Reds have taken just one of six points at home, scoring one and only one goal.
    The intriguing thing? That goal was perfect. Adrian Serioux with a blazing throw-in only Dwayne DeRosario could reach, which DeRo headed down a line where it could only and always be a goal.
    It’s clear that perfection can really give you a lift. Players, teams, fans – who doesn’t respond to something so shiningly and unarguably unimprovable? And yet, TFC settled into listlessness that afternoon, ultimately conceding a soggy tie against the last-place team.
    Maybe it’s a context thing. Attacking throw-ins are rare in world soccer. They’re stunningly effective, but somehow they lack tradition. But what could be more basic that Ronaldo crunching a 30-yarder that curves stingingly past the diving goalkeeper’s aching empty fingers, then lets itself be caught and cradled by the waiting goal-net, still spinning defiantly even as it inevitably falls to earth?
    TFC fussed and futzed over far too many attack opportunities this past weekend. The attackers were clearly nervous, looking like they were trying to be … perfect. What this team needs is for one of the strikers to just crunch one.
    Blast a ball; bury a goal.
    Fullback Jim Brennan did it in Kansas City in the opener. Midfielder Amado Guevara did it twice. But aside from DeRo’s header last Saturday, no one deployed in the TFC front line has found net in the opening four matches of the new MLS season.
    The most perfect thing DeRo, or Pablo Vitti, or Danny Dichio – or Chad Barrett – could do right now is forget perfection, and just start blasting. Some of those balls are going to go in. One might even be as pretty as Ronaldo’s. And THAT would give all concerned on the Good Ship TFC exactly the lift they need to rise from these turgid seas, and set proper, purposeful sail for the long-awaited, oft-promised distant port in the playoffs.
    … Except, of course, that perfection is fleeting.
    But the lift endures. Toronto ’09 is a team that will give up a lot of goals. They need to stop treating scoring chances like they are rare and fragile. If the ball’s got a sniff of the net, hoof it. If you miss, hoof the next one.
    No fineness, no fussiness, nothing cute – just blast something and see what happens. Win a couple of games like that, and then we can work on the fine points.
    Perfection – if it comes at all – isn’t something you can plan for. And there’s no point plummeting out of contention because you’re afraid of making mistakes.
    A soccer-coach friend of mine used to say “30 shots, 3 goals.” It bugged the crap out of me, because it strips the beautiful game of all its art and subtlety. But I’ll sure take it now – and so should the TFC strike force.
    Such artless lack of perfection might even be … the perfect solution.
    Onward!

    Guest

    A disappointing draw

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    If there’s any silver lining in Toronto FC coughing up a late equalizer and settling for a 1-1 draw with last-place FC Dallas, the fans are probably thanking their lucky stars it wasn’t Jeff Cunningham who scored the tying goal.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    Cunningham may have scored over 100 goals in MLS, but the fans are unanimous that he was dogging it whilst wearing TFC red in the opening half of the 2008 season. Discontent hardened into hatred when the fella whiffed on a four-yard empty net sitter that would have crowned Toronto Canadian pro champs, and sent them off to the CONCACAF Champions League.
    TFC was clinging to a 1-0 lead late Saturday afternoon when Cunningham returned, wearing Dallas’s Queen’s Park Rangers-tribute second strip. Almost immediately, he spitefully chop-tackled rookie Toronto goalie Stefan Frei, earning a yellow card and a resounding round of boos.
    Not that I condone booing, but past a certain point, I understand it. Cunningham has taken a lot of Torontonians WAY past that point.
    But while Cunningham did not, in fact, do the deed, his teammate Pablo Richetti back-heeled home the equalizer on 89 minutes, and TFC settled back into their uncomfortable habit of hairballing up late goals, frittering away points in a division where too many teams are vying hard for too few playoff spots.
    Such an odd game.
    The Reds looked squarely in command early, keeping the ball on the carpet, moving often and effortlessly deep into Dallas turf. At the half, they were up a goal, and looking good.
    Funny stat, though. Dallas outshot them 11-4 in the first 45. TFC had the territory, FCD was doing all the shooting. Creeping proof, perhaps, of deficiencies in Toronto’s back four – except most of the shots were coming from well outside, where cutting them out is perhaps more of a midfield issue.
    There were several spots where defensive middie Carl Robinson and pushing centre back Adrian Serioux didn’t seem aware of what each other were doing. Big gaps often appeared between them, and those gaps turned into Dallas shots.
    We’re left, on the field, with a match Toronto could have won or lost. So I want to step back, and look at the roles of the higher-ups:
    GM Mo Johnston is ahead on this one. Toronto’s lone goal was gorgeous. Serioux zipped in one of his bullet throw-ins from the right side, to a place where only TFC star Dwayne DeRosario could reach. DeRo then headed straight into the net, on a line Dallas ‘netkeep Ray Burse couldn’t have reached with a spamming mass e-mail.
    A perfect goal – concocted by Johnston’s two marquee off-season signings.
    On the other hand, head coach John Carver took an unexpected gamble when he tapped struggling striker Chad Barrett for the start. In three previous starts, Barrett has missed a lot. After the Seattle loss, it was roundly felt that newcomer Pablo Vitti and veteran fan-fave Danny Dichio had both done enough to earn a start.
    Carver told the press post-match that he told Barrett before the match that he has faith in him, and to go out and play. Barrett did – missing two sitters, including an eight-yard room-service header that somehow sailed high and wide on a gaping empty goal net.
    Now, I’m all for a coach encouraging a struggling player. But it’s the WAY Barrett is struggling that concerns me. Either he holds the ball until all his options vanish, or he rushes shots that fly everywhere but goalward.
    Not every miss is an automatic goal, of course, but netting either of them would have almost certainly clinched three points for Toronto yesterday. And I’m certain most fans feel either Vitti or Dichio would have buried the empty-net sitter.
    Barrett needs a breather, and the other strikers deserve a chance. The two teams play a quick rematch down in Texas next Sunday. It would be nice to see a retooled attack for that one.
    The deeper lesson of this match, I think, is that we are going to see a lot of goals in TFC matches this season. Even when these Reds take care of the ball, they’re giving up bagloads of shots. Goals-against are a given, so the only real issue is how many will Toronto score, and can they group them efficiently enough to consistently bring home results?
    The next two matches are both out-of-division. It would be good to get this straight, before the looming rematches with Kansas City and Columbus.
    Thoughts?
    Onward!

    Guest

    Meanwhile, back at the poker table

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    Interesting to see the commissioner of a smaller pro sports league stepping up to play hardball with somebody’s government.
    Don Garber, chief cook and bottle washer for Major League Soccer, has suggested to all concerned in the greater Maryland-Virginia-District of Columbia area that flagship MLS franchise D.C. United could actually – relocate.
    This after yet another soccer-specific stadium proposal collapsed soggily into the Potomac River due to a lack of public funding.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    “We don’t seem to be able to get a deal done and it could be that, if something can’t be resolved, we will move the team,” Garber told Steve Goff of the Washington Post.
    It’s the classic pro sports leverage game. But does Garber, in fact, have any leverage? D.C. United is hugely loved by its passionate fans, but is that a large enough group of people to put any significant pressure on the public purse during a severe economic crisis?
    Garber is essentially telling towns, counties and cities all over the area that if they build a stadium, they get the team. But I can think of at least one other city near and dear to the Canadian heart that might want to get a seat at this poker game.
    Are you listening … Montreal?
    The last time the Montreal Impact played poker with Don Garber, the commish reached across the table and folded their hand early in the most recent MLS expansion race. Impact owners Joey Saputo and George Gillett tried to low-ball the game, and were unceremoniously removed from the table.
    Now, these are not the best of financial times in Monteal, either. Gillett owns the Montreal Canadiens and is co-owner of Liverpool, and is sell, sell, selling as the money gloom rolls in. Whispers are even percolating up that it might have been Gillett, from the shadows, and not Saputo who low-balled MLS.
    Nonetheless and regardless …
    If Montreal is to have any hope of landing an expansion team in either 2012 or ’13, they have to get back to the table – with enough chips to get it done. Vancouver and Portland won the last hand at $35-million (U.S.) each. Look for a price increase – especially since the league made a $10-million last-hand concession to land two prime west-coast markets.
    That may be more chips that Joey the Cheese Man can rustle up. But if the issue that might divorce MLS from the District of Columbia is a soccer stadium – Montreal’s already got one.
    My crazed, warped thinking this morning is that if Garber is serious and Maryland won’t blink, Stade Saputo could be expanded as a wonderful, welcoming home for United, at a fraction of the cost of bidding for, winning and financing an expansion team.
    There’s a lot going against this.
    - Garber is not serious. Not yet, anyway. This is one of MLS’s few name franchises we’re discussing, and everybody knows it. Garber is certainly shaking the tree, but that’s a long way from shipping out.
    - Montreal has to prove it wants in. This is a bottom-line money situation. How many chips are you flashing in front of Dealer Don?
    The Impact need to step up – right now – with a new and bolstered expansion bid. New investors would help, as it doesn’t look like Gillett’s got the gelt to continue tip-toeing through MLS’s tulips.
    If Montreal can at least convincingly bluff its way back to the table, the city could be in excellent position to play life boat for D.C. United if Garber starts seriously screaming “iceberg!” And if Garber can use the Impact as the bargaining chip that actually gets the D.C. stadium built, that’s a lot of good will and future considerations that might help grease the way for a Montreal expansion team.
    Jus’ speculatin’.
    Onward!

    Guest

    Oy!

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    What a week. What a blue blessed bleep of a week.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    1) First, I serve up a very poor, off-the-cuff, on-the-fly on-air insult of BigSoccer.com blogger/troll Bill Archer, effectively letting him off the hook for two-years-plus of hateful invective aimed at Toronto FC and its fans.
    2) In the rising wake of Columbus-gate, Seattle striker Freddie Ljungberg (down on the field injured at the time) and celebrity Sounders co-owner Drew Carey get doused with airborne beer at BMO Field.
    3) The Toronto Star runs, then partially retracts, a story that wrongly says Toronto FC fans were involved in a racial incident last season. This by the same reporter who wrote a few weeks back – with no apparent basis in fact – that Major League Soccer had trashed its system of financial checks and balances to sign David Beckham.
    4) Fan-thrown baseballs rain out of the SkyDome’s upper deck, forcing and interruption the Toronto Blue Jays’ home opener, and the papers compare the missile lobbers to Toronto FC fans.
    5) Angered, indignant TFC fan Tim Drodge drafts an open letter to the club’s press liaison, demanding the team do a better job of educating the local press corps on what is, and isn’t, dangerous trouble.
    Dealing with them in chronological order:
    1) I have about as much chance of beating Bill Archer with an insult as I do of dazzling Tiger Woods with a driver. Far too late I realize that the rest of MLS does not understand the depth of the TFC-Columbus discontent. The number of people who actually care, even in the two cities, is very small. It’s been make clear I managed to blow it even with the Toronto insiders. All I can do is apologize for dropping the ball. I promise I’ll be better prepared – and wiser – the next time a similar opportunity bubbles up.
    2) We’ve got problems, folks. As long as the people who see these things happen keep quiet, worse things – and further enflamed media response – will likely follow.
    3) The Star retraction is, in fact, a big deal (even if the TFC-racism allegation can still be read into the revised story). The media tend to keep calm and quiet when someone makes a mistake, because it could be any of us next. (And didn’t I just find that out?) Two mistakes, this close together, the second forcing a retraction: that’s a different animal. You likely won’t see or hear any particular changes or actions, but things like this do alter perceptions inside the press box.
    4) Don’t waste your heart and good intentions getting outraged over the baseball thing. TFC fans are flavour of the week in the press right now, and comparisons like this are going to pop up. The media aren’t alone in this. Fans grab hold of hot-button topics too, and make unfair comparisons all the time. Okay, those are on message boards or over post-game beers, while the media do it in banner headlines, above-the-fold photos and lead paragraphs. It passes. It will be Britney Spears’ turn again soon enough.
    5) I don’t know if Tim’s letter makes a difference here, but I do know it will be read and considered by the team. Honest and creative frustration-venting is a good thing. (Although I do wish I’d been a bit less honest and more creative in dealing with Bill Archer.)
    The best thing fans can do is also the singular, shining thing that created this whole lovely TFC soccer adventure in the first place. Put all your hearts and souls into cheering, singing, stomping, marching and supporting the team.
    And don’t stop doing it happily, just because the Good Ship Come-On-You-Reds took some heavy hits this week – from within and without.
    Toronto’s got a home-and-home with last place FC Dallas, for the “Who the FC is the Real FC?” cup.
    Let’s everyone shake off the shadows, get through to Saturday, and do what we all do best – fans and media alike.
    Onward!

    Guest

    Tout quiet sur la Rue Metcalfe

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    Okay, so maybe the fact that I passed Grade 9 French is almost as big a fraud as the last five years on Wall Street.
    But things are awfully quiet these days at the Canadian Soccer Association.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    It’s been a bit of time now since the embattled Dale Mitchell was removed from the driver’s seat the Canadian national men’s soccer team. The team was out of gas in a cul-de-sac at the time, so it’s not like Mitchell was actually going to drive them anywhere.
    I’m not surprised that the question of successorship is taking a while to sort out. The more time the better, really, as it indicates that general secretary Peter Montopoli (the hope of many, moi included) is patiently working his way through the tangled CSA bureaucracy.
    What’s interesting, though, is how little information is seeping out.
    It’s usually not too hard to get a read on this stuff. Someone’s always willing to offer an off-the-record insight. Taken as a group, these tid-bits quite often paint a fairly complete picture.
    But for the last week or more, the insight radar has been quiet. Blank, even.
    Early speculation – before the lights went out – suggested the new man would either be technical director Stephen Hart (who guided the team very well at the Gold Cup two years ago) or a foreign mercenary. The main issue was money. The last peep I heard, before the wall shuttered down, was “there’s money!”
    There’s a moderate urgency, I suppose, because another Gold Cup is coming up this summer. It’s the only name tournament on Canada’s dance card for the next couple of years, a perfect chance for the new bench boss to get familiarized with his discouraged, wary troops.
    If I might speculate, I think it’s quite possible the next Canada coach may be a relative unknown. I don’t have a name for you, but here’s a description that holds promise:
    - He’s coached in England or Italy or some similar place, in the bottom part of the top flight, or with some decent success in the second division.
    - He’s been recently dismissed, and is disillusioned with the soccer scene at home.
    - He has a fine head for strategy, and some wonderful ideas he wants to develop.
    - He is going to make a fine, successful name for himself one day.
    - He could happily be lured to Canada for modest-to-decent money, on the assurance that it’s his team and there will be no bureaucratic interference from the CSA board.
    Again, I don’t have a name to fit this description. Basically, we’re talking an inspired up-and-comer, who is ready to shine and whose price may be down because of recent setbacks.
    Someone a bit like Graham Taylor, when Elton John decided to bankroll him at Watford in the 80s. Someone like Brian Clough, when he fetched up at Derby County, before all his national and international championships. Jose Mourinho, when he bubbled up in Portugal.
    A future star, in other words, who needs new scenery and a brand new start.
    These guys are out there. They cost less than Guus Hiddink, and have more motivation. This guy’s future will truly be on the line when he arrives here. He’ll have all the motivation we’ll ever need – and if Montopoli can keep the board in line, some very sweet possibilities may await us all.
    All fiction, alas – as far as I can prove. I’m watching the CSA radar, and I’ll let you know when I get a good “ping.”
    For now though – who do you want coaching Canada?
    Onward!

    Guest

    School’s back in

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    Undefeated on the road, home opener against an expansion team, Dwayne DeRosario and Adrian Serioux making their BMO Field debuts as Toronto FCers, the fans are pumped, the wind is up, and let the … good … times …
    Thud.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    The Seattle Sounders, masterfully prepared by head coach Sigi Schmid, kept the ball on the turf, were not unduly troubled by the swirling, gale-force winds, scored two goals – one lovely, one ugly – and ran out 2-0 winners over a TFC side that is now marching soggily back to the drawing board.
    Some thoughts:
    - Toronto’s on-field shape was, at best, sporadic. Head coach John Carver started with a 4-4-2, switching to a 4-3-3 at halftime. But that’s on paper. On the field, things were a lot more ragged. Look up on any free kick, and you’d see 3-2-squiggle, 5-5 (kinda), or 2-1-something-vaguely-resembling-a-turnip.
    On one goal kick late in the match, the entire TFC squad was stretched out in the same long diagonal line. The Sounders surrounded this with ease. And who do you imagine ended up with the ball?
    While the Sounders, in general, kept the ball out of the wind, the ramshackle Reds hoofed it up there repeatedly. When the ball came down – “where” was anyone’s guess – it was mostly guys in green who were leaping to control it.
    - Winger Rohan Ricketts got the ball, and repeatedly went exactly where the Sounders wanted him to – alone on the touchline with no clear path to his teammates. Ricketts gamely and doggedly ran the ball, but was just about never able to fashion a telling pass. On a day when teamwork was crucial and decisive, Ricketts played a lonely game of keep-away that wasted more than it created. He was off at halftime.
    - Dwayne DeRosario didn’t adjust. He wasn’t alone in this, by any means. But DeRo’s the go-to guy, and when his team is losing and the ball isn’t coming, he has to step up and do it himself.
    When Danny Dichio subbed in on the hour mark, the oft-injured veteran immediately started getting to the ball. Time and again, Dichio won it – even deep in his own end on one occasion. DeRo has to play like that, and didn’t.
    Dichio, I believe, has earned himself a start next week against FC Dallas – particularly given that striker Chad Barrett’s on-field invisibility streak has now seeped to three full games.
    - Back behind the ball, Toronto is playing an intriguing game of chicken. Fullbacks Jim Brennan and Marvell Wynne love to overlap, pushing forward to add depth and danger to the attack. That leaves two at the back, and centre back Adrian Serioux loves to move up to aggressively and man-mark 35 yards from goal.
    Unfortunately, that leaves us with Kevin Harmse versus the Universe in the TFC box. Yesterday, the Universe won going away.
    - So that leaves us with head coach Sigi Schmid, coasting his Pale Green Nor’Westers to a perfect 3-0 start, while the Columbus side he rode to a championship just half a year ago is posing for 4-1 trouncings at the fluttering, battering wings of Seagull City SC. Coincidence? Not likely.
    On their gala home opener, on The Day The Boys Came Home, Toronto FC got schooled by a fine invading general, whose well-prepared troops calmly and decisively overcame the wind, the cold, the hype, the hope, and a lonely Rohan Ricketts who repeatedly abandoned himself on the gale-swept wastes of the empty right wing.
    Will things get better in Toronto? Yes. Is it time to book that playoff party? No.
    School’s in for real now – and there’s a lot of homework to do.
    Oh! – Young TFC striker and Argentine import Pablo Vitti looked great. Anyway else want to see how he does with Dichio holding up the ball for him next weekend?
    Onward!

    Guest
    The first crocuses are tentatively emerging on the broad, apartment-lined East York boulevard that is Onward!’s home. The sky is blue, and the overnight chill seems set to melt into a very pleasant spring afternoon.
    Toronto is edging – somewhat grimly, perhaps – into warmer weather.
    And there’s not a soccer hooligan to be seen.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    The seething cauldrons of Parkdale, Mimico and Swansea to the west, Weston, Forest Hill and Leaside to the north, Agincourt, Rouge Hill and the Beach to the east, and the dreaded perpetual inferno of anti-societal discontent that is Ward’s Island to the south – all are quiet.
    In recycling centres here and there, copies of yesterday’s Toronto Sun front-page picture – the TFC fan being tasered by a half-dozen Columbus cops – are being pulped into pamphlets for holistic healing havens on the Danforth.
    Toronto FC fans excitingly await Saturday’s gala home opener, police officers at 14 Division are signing up for easy, stress-free overtime game-day shifts, and no cars are burning, no children are in danger, and the government at Queen’s Park will not be overthrown by a crazed mob of red-clad commandoes singing the name of TFC hero Danny Dichio to the tune of Men Without Hats’ sugary dance-pop confection Pop Goes the World.
    Nothing, in other words, has changed.
    There shall be no societal apocalypse this Saturday. A soccer game, yes. The end of everything, doubtful.
    Toronto’s old gray Exhibition grounds will not be blazing 100-foot-high flames to the firmament as Saturday’s sun sets. Okay, nothing down there could possibly burn anyway. Concrete just ain’t that combustible.
    And neither, dear children, are Toronto FC fans.
    As I write this, TFC supporters’ groups are finalizing a formal response to the city of Columbus, Ohio, and its threat-happy police force. It’s simple, practical, and will cost the Columbus Crew soccer team and their city a fair chunk of money. Details to follow soon.
    Yesterday’s media storm was useful, even if it skewed perspective so badly that Toronto cops will likely have to show up in bigger numbers and hand out beer-violation tickets at the pre-game tailgate. That’s just the game being played. It should all be back to normal come the Dallas game on April 11.
    This entire odd episode really went a long way to prove a significant failing of the major media:
    Infrastructure.
    If you have huge buildings, giant staff, heavy union deals and other such like, you’ve ultimately got to pay for all that stuff. In the case of the Toronto Sun – and newspapers in general – that need is especially urgent as they are getting chewed big-time by the global financial reset. Whiffs of danger sell papers. Subtle truth has a hard time playing to that crowd.
    Meanwhile, us Internet independents have none of those problems – rent’s a whole lot easier to pay than major labour unions – and we just write the story.
    The future of soccer writing in Canada – speaking as a chap who intends to create a respectable chunk of it – lies on the Internet, largely with the outsiders. (And Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail.) (And I still love your work, Nigel, Ryan and John. I’m just trying to make a bigger point.)
    I think we got an excellent example of that yesterday.
    Onward!

    Guest

    Both sides of the story

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    Right off the top, I can’t give you eyewitness accounts of Columbus-TFC.
    I was sitting in a living room in Scarborough during the second half, singing songs and telling stories at the three-year-old boy’s birthday party. There were no smoke bombs or taser-crazy cops, although one colourful plastic shaker did go flying across the room before mom patiently explained that isn’t how things ought to be done in a crowd.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    I’ve been listening to CBC Metro Morning and FAN590 this morning, and reading various media accounts of the post-game intimidation exercise the Columbus cops decided to uncork on the travelling TFC fans. I was there in person a year ago, when a milder version of the same game was acted out.
    Some thoughts, if I may, aimed at the non-extremists on both sides of the debate. (Bob McCown and Barbarez can take the rest of this column off – although Mike Toth might want to stick around.)
    Someone in the TFC support grabbed a broken piece of metal railing and hurled it over the side of Crew Stadium’s south stand. That’s quite a drop, folks. Not good. Pictures of this person apparently exist, and I hope they will be quietly passed on to the heads of the supporters’ groups.
    I don’t want to enter the debate about whether the railing thrower also broke the railing, or if the chunk of metal in question was already loose. I want to talk to everyone who actually saw this happen.
    All of us who board buses and travel with TFC want to chant, sing and have some beers. A bit of posturing and rude behavior? Delightful.
    What no one seems to want to acknowledge, though, is that there’s a straight-line link between a fan throwing a railing and many others lobbing smoke bombs in the stands, and frightened, over-reacting cops tasering passers-by in the parking lot.
    Furthermore, the missile-lobbers don’t care. They conveniently join the chorus of outrage over the policing, without thinking for a second they might have done anything at all to call down the fury.
    >>>That doesn’t justify the cops. It just makes it easier for them.<<<
    There is a code, of course. You don’t rat out your fellow fans. There’s a code in hockey, too, and I still think Todd Bertuzzi is a criminal who ought to be in prison for what he did to Steve Moore.
    I’m assuming there’s a comfortable majority of TFC fans who don’t want missile throwing. I wish more of them were more inclined to tip off security. It’s one thing to say – quite correctly – that it’s a tiny minority that serves up all the repulsive garbage. But silence, ultimately, is approval, and you can’t expect people NOT to react to those videos.
    A couple of days go by, and here comes the media reaction. Stern, serious-sounding CBC hosts grilling Ryan Keay, one of the nicest soccer supporters I’ve ever met. They don’t know any of the fans, and all they’ve seen are the YouTube videos. Their scorn-tinged questions put Ryan in the impossible position of trying to explain what happened, and defend the vast majority of fans, simultaneously, live on the air. He tries, but it’s impossible.
    The interview made all TFC fans – everywhere – sound like denial-blinded lunatics. The point was made, but the deeper truth went unserved.
    So now I’m going to call out two of my fellow journalists – people I know, like, and have talked soccer with on many occasions.
    - Mike Toth, FAN590: You have a tendency, old soul, to take one point from over here, and another from way over there, and assume that’s the whole story. Further, you sometimes slide into treating anyone who tries to fill in the gaps as if they’re idiots. They’re not. I’ll happily tell you the rest of this story any time you’d like – and the beer’s on me.
    - Gareth Wheeler, Toronto Sun: I share your outrage over bombs and violence, amigo. But if you take that hard a line against the entire group, all it does is harden the group. You know too much about these people not to take a more measured, considered approach. Let’s talk about it on The Grill Room some night.
    Denial – alas – is a big part of all of this. My personal aversion to smoke dates back to the crushing remembered suffocating pain of an asthmatic childhood. But there’s a deeper point that’s going missing in this entire post-match debacle debate.
    It’s not about the smoke. It’s about the flares that inevitably follow once a group of fans decide smoke is okay. Those are dangerous beyond words. That torrent of smoke in the south end on Saturday will – soon – produce flares. Escalation is a normal, predictable part of mob behavior, and everyone who’s quiet about it now will have been a consenting, contributing factor when something horrible finally happens.
    Folks, I get it. I’m part of it. I love it. If the hard-liners think I’m a wanker, I’ll take that as a compliment, thanks.
    Can we all just do a slightly better job of protecting the fun? It would make it a whole lot easier for the media – and the Columbus cops – to single out the dangerous idiots from the vast majority of benign, happy ones.
    Onward!

    Guest

    Good signs in a grinding game

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    Toronto FC coach John Carver said it best, I thought, when he said Toronto FC’s edgy 1-1 draw in Columbus on Saturday was a game which, last year, his team would have lost.
    In the end, it took gutsy goaltending from both Stefan Frei and Greg Sutton, and a fated own-goal deflection of a well-struck Dwayne DeRosario free kick to win the point for the Reds, bringing them into Saturday’s home opener against Seattle with a win and a tie from their two-game road trip.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    Have you noticed how much more time the ball is spending in the other team’s half of the field? Even with the creative Amado Guevara and midfield defensive anchor Carl Robinson away on international duty, Toronto FC used persistence, opportunism and hard, hard work to earn their share of the ball.
    Yes, the Columbus Crew created more. Sure, this could easily have been a heavy loss.
    But after seeing last year’s edition of TFC cough of endless late goals, turning wins into draws and draws into losses, it was quite thrilling – if nail-bitingly tense – to see Carver’s Cut-Throats pirate a point in a match where most MLS sides might have been caught, boarded, pillaged and sunk.
    And despite Frei taking a knock that sidelined him for the second half, it appears Toronto will be completely healthy for the big match Saturday.
    Against an undefeated, untied Seattle Sounders squad. Sure, they drubbed a desperately short-handed New York squad in their opener. But then they sprinted to a 2-0 shock win over Salt Lake, most people’s pre-season pick to romp to the MLS West crown.
    Toss on another huge crowd at Qwest Field – 28,000! – and Seattle is throwing down a double gauntlet to Toronto this weekend … on the field, and in the stands!
    Not that Seattle fans will be a huge presence on the Lake Ontario waterfront. Not with three intervening time zones, and the pesky fact that Toronto FC has already sold out the season. It will be interesting to hear the Seattle players, after the game, comparing MLS’s two most loud and boisterous stadiums.
    A couple of thoughts, going forward:
    1) Chad Barrett isn’t that bad. He needs to calm down, re-focus, and get a ball played to his feet that he can kill. Things should settle down for the badly struggling TFC striker after that.
    2) Pablo Vitti was much better off the ball than on it. That’s something Carver can certainly work with. TFC has the midfield to support Vitti’s diagonal adventurism. Saturday would be a fine time to show off.
    3) I love the way Greg Sutton hangs in there when he’s been abandoned. Clutch, crucial saves on wide-open Columbusers made the draw possible throughout the second half. He’s not going to be abandoned nearly as much this season. I love the guy’s heart.
    4) I know I’m about the 60th scribe to say this, but DeRo needs to shoot low occasionally. I listened to most of the game on the radio, and when play-by-play man Dan Dunleavy (fine work, by the way!) said that DeRo put a ball over the bar and into the Toronto fans, I knew what was quite a miss. Having stood in the front row there a year ago, you need some considerable lift to get a football up that far.
    Overall, this was always going to be a tough match to win. The draw was difficult, which makes it a good and useful result.
    Now it’s all waiting and anticipation. How will it feel to see hometown hero DeRo take BMO Field as the home side’s go-to guy? How will this rebuilt roster mesh with the frantic, frenetic energy in the building? Can TFC be the first team to unlock the expansion Sounders?
    After talking with super-blogger Ives Galarcep on “It’s Called Football” this past weekend, I’m even starting to worry less about all the youth on the Toronto bench. Galarcep called Frei “a once-in-ten-years goalie,” and top draft pick Sam Cronin “MLS-ready.” Based on early results, he may indeed be right on both counts.
    Comments section, fans! What’s your prediction for Saturday?
    Onward!

    Guest

    Dear Columbus:

    By Guest, in Onward Soccer,

    First of all, congratulations on winning the MLS Cup. Heck of an achievement. We look forward to equalizing one day.
    Second up, double congrats on being named MLS fans of the year. We love an underdog up here, and you guys are – frankly – adorable.
    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
    “We,” of course, are Toronto. We’re getting set to jam another caravan of buses down your lovely green and scenic interstate for yet another soccer summit. Alas, I can’t make it this time, but many dear friends are riding down, and I’ll just have to live the hype vicariously through them.
    A quick note, if I may, before we begin.
    There’s been a fair bit of poison on the internet – going both ways – about what a bloat-load of whinnying jackasses both sets of fans are. Most of it is hot air and flatulence, but it’s leaving a rising bad taste in both sets of mouths. We have done our share, certainly. As long as it’s playful, all this antagonism is harmless and fine.
    It would be tragic and ridiculous if it escalated.
    It hasn’t helped, of course, that your best soccer writer has somehow been convinced that all Toronto soccer fans are kill-crazy death-bots from planet Mutilate-Ohio-Yesterday. Bill Archer is a fine, dedicated, hard-working scribe. I thoroughly enjoy his work, and eagerly read whatever he jots down.
    But I have occasionally noticed that whenever he writes about something I know down to the foundation, all the joy and fun are missing from his accounts. Probably just my in-bred Toronto ignorance. Obviously, I wouldn’t know.
    Toronto’s actually a very lovely place, Bill. Any time you get up here, dinner’s on me. We can stroll these seething, dangerous streets, watching the skinhead hordes walk their Pekineses in the twilight, before settling in for a relaxed night of door-to-door, street-to-street moose hunting with chainsaws and concussion grenades. The trick is to lean into the blast-wave. I’ll teach you. Been doing it all my life.
    Of course, your words have resonated up here. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to stay the heck out of Leaside.
    Internet message board hatred and hysteria notwithstanding, Columbus, you’re a fine town and a decent road trip. Crew Stadium is lovely, and well done on winning the MLS championship last season. Sure, that surprised the heck out of us up here (those of us who noticed). Heck, it surprised everyone everywhere – including, I’m sure, Columbus (those of them what noticed).
    Raise your banner! Make your fuss! Celebrate beating us for last year’s Trillium Cup! The hatred is all hype, after all. Lots of posturing, but we’re all soccer fans there to enjoy the game.
    There’s this one little thing, though. News stories are circulating that you guys are actually going to hand out commemorative coins to fans entering the stadium tomorrow.
    Now, I know and you know that no professional soccer organization on the planet could be stupid enough to give free missiles to opposing sets of fans, celebrating a championship that one of the teams didn’t win. But rumours like these are how tensions get exacerbated.
    Can you imagine how idiotic the team – and the league, and the local police – would have to be to allow such a crazy, reckless thing to actually happen? I know I’m insulting your intelligence just mentioning it, but I‘m only trying to clear the air.
    All Archeresque over-writing aside, our fans and your fans are looking to have fun, make noise, behave a little rudely and all get home happy and content. If a couple of jerks on either side are determined to start something, I’m sure we can all find it in our better natures to act as peacekeepers.
    Being a soccer fan is a tribal experience. Tribes are mobs, and mobs do stupid things at times. But each individual person can step back, and refuse to cross the line. Most people’s anger is about parents, partners, exes, bosses and the jerk who cut them off in traffic, and has nothing to do with that guy over there wearing a different colour soccer jersey.
    The trick is to remember that.
    We all need this rivalry to be a good thing. Heated? Yes. Hate-filled? Never.
    Yours, with all good intentions:
    Toronto.
    Onward!

×
×
  • Create New...