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  • Why Dunfield to TFC is Great For Canadian Soccer


    ccs-3106-140264009783_thumb.jpgTerry Dunfield is a traitor. He's a villain. He's a backstabber and a fink.

    That, I imagine, is about the gist of what went through the minds of a good many Vancouver Whitecaps supporters yesterday when it was announced that the midfielder had been shipped to rivals Toronto FC. As Andrew Bucholtz noted over on Vancouver Insider, Dunfield was the hometown boy who came home to make good on a once hugely promising career. He's the guy who leaped into the waiting arms of ecstatic supporters after scoring for Vancouver on their MLS debut against, of course, Toronto.

    And now he's a Red. And Canadian soccer will reap a benefit.

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]Why? Because nothing fuels a good rivalry better than deceit and treachery (real or perceived, it doesn't matter). As an Arsenal fan, I loved Sol Campbell not so much because of his defensive skill and power, but because he abandoned Tottenham to become a Gunner, and his mere presence in an Arsenal shirt pissed off Tottenham fans. The same goes for William Gallas (the bastard!), but in reverse.

    The Toronto FC-Vancouver Whitecaps rivalry is no Tottenham-Arsenal, but even in its short lifespan, this rivalry has had some serious moments: Vancouver trouncing TFC on opening day, the oh-so controversially abandoned NCC final second leg, the possibly-even-more-controversial second leg replay victory for TFC. And now this: Vancouver's hometown boy moving to the centre of the universe, the arrogant, self-important Ontario capital.

    But it's a good thing. (Yes, that's easy for me to say.) It's another building block in a potentially great Canadian sports rivalry. Rivalries need a few things to really get boiling: a natural animosity (MLS's two Canadian teams, from parts of the country that like to reserve judgement about each other – check); controversy (this year's Canadian championship final – check); and a cast of villains and heroes. We're halfway there on that last one. If Dunfield suddenly amps things up, and leads a resurgent Toronto to glory, well, too bad for Whitecaps fans, but good for the rivalry, I guess.

    For Canadian professional soccer to permanently establish itself – beyond the honeymoon period that Vancouver is enjoying, and that Toronto is pining for – rivalries have a big role to play. They bring out passion and attract interest – in this case to the benefit of two Canadian teams.

    Now, I might be overblowing the facts just a bit. Maybe a lot. He was something of a fan favourite, but Terry wasn't really lighting things up on the West Coast, and was especially out-of-favour under new manager Tommy Soehn. And he didn't ask to move, but was traded, and has had nothing but good things to say about his former club.

    But that's not the point: facts and reality need not enter into this. If (and it's a big if) Dunfield and TFC start to enjoy some real success, Vancouver supporters will look at the past with rose-tinted glasses (Dunfield's missed penalty against Columbus will fade, his leap into the stands at Empire Field will stand out), and at the present with a scowl ("Psht – fuck him. Fuck Toronto. We should have never let him go.")

    In short: How good Dunfield was or wasn't for Vancouver won't matter if he's a success with TFC. Bitterness will prevail. To make the point clear for TFC supporters, imagine reading this headline: "De Guzman MVP as Whitecaps Take MLS Cup."


    For now, though, add another log on the fire of the Toronto-Vancouver rivalry. And, TFC fans, maybe it's time for a new chant: "We've got Terry Dunfield! we've Terry Dunfield! La la, laa laa! La la, laa laa!"

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