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Article on Greg Sutton


Grizzly

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Not your average pro

Family comes first for Sutton

By BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Soccer/TorontoFC/2009/04/08/9052416-sun.html

Greg Sutton balked at Germany and he never has made it to England's premier league. Instead he found a wife, their seven-month old daughter, Maya, and a home in Major League Soccer.

In life, this is what is called a fair trade.

"If you had asked me 10 years ago where I would end up I'm not sure what I would have said -- probably not Toronto," says Sutton, who has taken a twisted path to find happiness.

"Sometimes I do think about what might have happened if I'd signed in Germany. I think everyone wonders how life would be if they'd done certain things. But I have no regrets. If I had done that who knows if I would have met my wife. Would I still have my wonderful baby daughter? Some guys are always trying to go overseas because of the monetary values. For me, that's never been a persuasive argument. I was comfortable here," says Sutton, who has hung up his shingle in Chicago, Montreal and Toronto.

In his third season in Toronto, he has been capped 11 times as a goaltender with Canada's national team.

His road to the national team was another path he didn't even realize existed. He grew up more American than Canuck. It wasn't until he got to college that his coach Mike Toshack informed him he was eligible for Canada's national program even though he'd grown up in Bethel, Connecticut.

That is the thing about Sutton -- he has always come from the shadows to do unforetold things.

The story starts in Hamilton where he was born but his father got a job in Bethel when he was a year old. His father is from Oshawa; his mother from Calgary. He lists his home town as Montreal. He is, shall we say, complex or at least well-travelled. "In life you never know what to expect. I went to a small university (St. Lawrence University) in up-state New York ... When I got drafted nobody knew who I was," says Sutton, laughing. "There aren't many guys from Division 3 schools in the MLS."

But it was while at St. Lawrence that he met Toshack and got involved with the national program. That got him a bit of international exposure and even led to an offer from Werner Bremen, which thought it could develop him. He might have even stayed except his "shining moment" in life came when the Chicago Fire surprisingly drafted him. "Getting drafted is probably the biggest moment I've had in soccer."

He suddenly had a place to play, not just watch other German guys play. He earned a shutout the first game he played. There were stops including New York and he made his national team debut in 2004.

Call it a victory for "The Little Guy" -- although at 6-foot-6 he is hard to miss. Ask some of the best goal scorers in two leagues. He won a USL championship in Montreal in 2004 and in 2006 he won his fourth consecutive league goalkeeper of the year award. In Toronto, he has been a stablizing force in the expansion franchise's ever-changing landscape.

He is now 32. "I think I'll know when it's time to quit and go -- and not just get released because I'm too old and frail." He believes he has another five years left. Those could be in Toronto, where he is facing the challenge of first-round draftee, Stefan Frei. It may be elsewhere -- but it likely won't be overseas. Not now. Not anymore.

"I've really never pushed myself to get serious about finding a place overseas. I've enjoyed wherever I have played. Great cities and I like the MLS and that has been an important factor."

There was a brief fling in 2004 when he had a trial with Bolton, an English Premier League club. It was never really meant to be. "There were work permit complications to start and them being in the Premier League at the time it would have been a tough squad to make."

He has instead become one of the pioneers in a sport still elbowing its way into the conciousness of North America. That, in retrospect, isn't a bad legacy.

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quote:Originally posted by Grizzly

Not your average pro

Family comes first for Sutton

By BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Soccer/TorontoFC/2009/04/08/9052416-sun.html

Greg Sutton balked at Germany and he never has made it to England's premier league. Instead he found a wife, their seven-month old daughter, Maya, and a home in Major League Soccer.

In life, this is what is called a fair trade.

"If you had asked me 10 years ago where I would end up I'm not sure what I would have said -- probably not Toronto," says Sutton, who has taken a twisted path to find happiness.

"Sometimes I do think about what might have happened if I'd signed in Germany. I think everyone wonders how life would be if they'd done certain things. But I have no regrets. If I had done that who knows if I would have met my wife. Would I still have my wonderful baby daughter? Some guys are always trying to go overseas because of the monetary values. For me, that's never been a persuasive argument. I was comfortable here," says Sutton, who has hung up his shingle in Chicago, Montreal and Toronto.

In his third season in Toronto, he has been capped 11 times as a goaltender with Canada's national team.

His road to the national team was another path he didn't even realize existed. He grew up more American than Canuck. It wasn't until he got to college that his coach Mike Toshack informed him he was eligible for Canada's national program even though he'd grown up in Bethel, Connecticut.

That is the thing about Sutton -- he has always come from the shadows to do unforetold things.

The story starts in Hamilton where he was born but his father got a job in Bethel when he was a year old. His father is from Oshawa; his mother from Calgary. He lists his home town as Montreal. He is, shall we say, complex or at least well-travelled. "In life you never know what to expect. I went to a small university (St. Lawrence University) in up-state New York ... When I got drafted nobody knew who I was," says Sutton, laughing. "There aren't many guys from Division 3 schools in the MLS."

But it was while at St. Lawrence that he met Toshack and got involved with the national program. That got him a bit of international exposure and even led to an offer from Werner Bremen, which thought it could develop him. He might have even stayed except his "shining moment" in life came when the Chicago Fire surprisingly drafted him. "Getting drafted is probably the biggest moment I've had in soccer."

He suddenly had a place to play, not just watch other German guys play. He earned a shutout the first game he played. There were stops including New York and he made his national team debut in 2004.

Call it a victory for "The Little Guy" -- although at 6-foot-6 he is hard to miss. Ask some of the best goal scorers in two leagues. He won a USL championship in Montreal in 2004 and in 2006 he won his fourth consecutive league goalkeeper of the year award. In Toronto, he has been a stablizing force in the expansion franchise's ever-changing landscape.

He is now 32. "I think I'll know when it's time to quit and go -- and not just get released because I'm too old and frail." He believes he has another five years left. Those could be in Toronto, where he is facing the challenge of first-round draftee, Stefan Frei. It may be elsewhere -- but it likely won't be overseas. Not now. Not anymore.

"I've really never pushed myself to get serious about finding a place overseas. I've enjoyed wherever I have played. Great cities and I like the MLS and that has been an important factor."

There was a brief fling in 2004 when he had a trial with Bolton, an English Premier League club. It was never really meant to be. "There were work permit complications to start and them being in the Premier League at the time it would have been a tough squad to make."

He has instead become one of the pioneers in a sport still elbowing its way into the conciousness of North America. That, in retrospect, isn't a bad legacy.

I remember him playing for the Saints.. especially the when the Ottawa Gees Gees women were a club team and would go to play in a pre season tournament.... you would see this moving tree in red emerge, cant say that was a div 3 team, the University there really is running a div 1 program in all sports. Toshack the coach was from over the river in tiny Prescott Ontario.

I never understood why he seemed to pushed out of the CSA programs as coach to be replaced by Shel Brogsdard from Vancouver Island.

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"I've really never pushed myself to get serious about finding a place overseas."

That sums up a lot of career MLS stars, I bet, DDR included. Without that desperate drive it's hard for many players to reach their full potential. Fortunately, with the relative longevity and (arguably) improving level of play in the MLS, there might be more of a case as time goes on for North Americans to stay a career MLSer without being the object of such scrutiny. Better salaries would go a long way in this regard.

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^Security blanket. For good or bad, an MLS security blanket.

I'm not sure this current generation of domestic players sees MLS in the same way as the previous one. There seem to be an awful lot more USA players who are willing to give UEFA a try at a variety of levels than have in the past. Players who (rightly) look at MLS as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

I used to think the only advantage we had over the Yanks was the openness of our elite players to strike out for Europe to earn their bread but I more and more feel that advantage is evaporating.

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Certainly noone can criticize him for putting family and job security as his priorities in life. On the other hand it can't be denied that this lack of ambition and dedication to his trade certainly hindered his development as a player. As Nolando states he is probably not the only one on our team with this attitude and until the MLS improves significantly this type of player may be useful when needed but is not ideally the type of player or attitude we should have on the team.

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quote:Originally posted by Cheeta

^Security blanket. For good or bad, an MLS security blanket.

I'm not sure this current generation of domestic players sees MLS in the same way as the previous one. There seem to be an awful lot more USA players who are willing to give UEFA a try at a variety of levels than have in the past. Players who (rightly) look at MLS as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

I used to think the only advantage we had over the Yanks was the openness of our elite players to strike out for Europe to earn their bread but I more and more feel that advantage is evaporating.

I have never believed that it was ever an advantage for us but rather a serious disadvantage. Even today, we often hear expressions of dismay everytime a promising US talent is targeted by some second division sides in Europe or smaller less prominant league. When that happens, you immediately hear crys for the need to increase the MLS salary cap. Dont believe me? try subscribing to the to some of the more credible Podcasts shows that cover US soccer out there. See what they to say about stories of their players going to, say, Scandinavian leagues, they see it as crisis for their sport and their prospects as soccer nation.

Why does this happen? Its because Americans seem to understand (moreso than Canadian soccer fans and media) that if you have serious ambitions at the world level, those are not the environements where your players must be at in order to accomplish your goals as a soccer nation. Better to have these players at home where you scout and evaluate them. And, where they will be better prepared for teh like of Mexico and CRC. Simiarly, our NT programs is much better off by having players here than at some of the unknown environments overseas. Now, in the case of Sutton and Werder Breman, that would be an exception to rule of course.

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quote:Originally posted by Free kick

I have never believed that it was ever an advantage for us but rather a serious disadvantage. Even today, we often hear expressions of dismay everytime a promising US talent is targeted by some second division sides in Europe or smaller less prominant league. When that happens, you immediately hear crys for the need to increase the MLS salary cap. Dont believe me? try subscribing to the to some of the more credible Podcasts shows that cover US soccer out there. See what they to say about stories of their players going to, say, Scandinavian leagues, they see it as crisis for their sport and their prospects as soccer nation.

Why does this happen? Its because Americans seem to understand (moreso than Canadian soccer fans and media) that if you have serious ambitions at the world level, those are not the environements where your players must be at in order to accomplish your goals as a soccer nation. Better to have these players at home where you scout and evaluate them. And, where they will be better prepared for teh like of Mexico and CRC. Simiarly, our NT programs is much better off by having players here than at some of the unknown environments overseas. Now, in the case of Sutton and Werder Breman, that would be an exception to rule of course.

I see your point, and agree that MLS is part of the solution. However, for the time being, there simply aren't enough jobs in MLS (read: teams willing to use an international spot on a young Canadian talent) for more than a dozen or so Canadian teams to play their trade there. European lower leagues, including Scandinavian leagues, provide (well-paying) opportunities that serve as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

Think Julian would be in La Liga now if he had started his career with FC Dallas instead of 1.FC Saarbrucken? I don't.

On top of it all, if you want to be the person to tell a guy that he is better serving his NT by taking a $30,000 job in MLS instead of something more lucrative in Europe, be my guest.

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quote:Originally posted by jonovision

How can you say that he wouldn't be? How has MLS impeded players like Altidore, Adu, Edu, Dempsey, Howard, Mathis, Beasley, Guzan, Bocanegra ?

seems to me that they have taken a more direct route to where Julian is current at than Julian did.

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  • 4 months later...
quote:Originally posted by Loud Mouth Soup

Word I've heard is Greg may not play again. Would prefer not to have to uproot his family and is interested in post-playing ventures.

Thanks. I'm a bit surprise by this, he's still young for a keeper. He never really appeared like someone who was interested by playing far away from MTL/Toronto....

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quote:Originally posted by Loud Mouth Soup

Word I've heard is Greg may not play again. Would prefer not to have to uproot his family and is interested in post-playing ventures.

I've heard similar things.

However, if TFC comes calling next season (if Frei leaves), he might be inclined to listen to an opportunity to return to the TFC fold

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I'm pretty sure I saw him at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto last week, walking with a notebook/folio. It appeared to me as though he was going to a meeting, so I would guess he is pursuing his post-playing opportunities right now.

I'd have to think that at his age, and the salaries on offer in USL/MLS for a backup keeper, he would be better off starting a non-soccer career for himself sooner rather than later.

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quote:Originally posted by JoeSoccerFan

I'm pretty sure I saw him at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto last week, walking with a notebook/folio. It appeared to me as though he was going to a meeting, so I would guess he is pursuing his post-playing opportunities right now.

I will say that you are not far off.

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quote:Originally posted by DoyleG

Consequences of not offering real opportunities for Canadian players.

I agree that this probably happens more than it should due to lack of opportunities over here. I also think it is a pretty natural occurrence for players who are on the fringe of 2nd/3rd tier leagues in Europe.

Once you get to your thirties and there is very little possible upside for your playing career, you have to make a decision as to whether to stay close to the game or make a career change before it is too late.

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Well, let's remember that Pat Onstad joined the MLS at age 35.

I'm not sure the problem here is with the lack of opportunities for Canadian players, Sutton hometown has a club (TFC) and Montreal is not that far away. IMO the problem is with Sutton who might not be good enough to be a starter in MLS and doesn't seem ready to make a sacrifice to continue his pro career. Base on LMS comments, I doubt if there was a pro club in Saskatoon or Winnipeg that Sutton would be showing much interest.

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He is doing what is best for his family. You have to admire him for that. You know, we all get very excited about soccer in this country and sometimes forget the human side of things. Sutton has to think of his wife and child first and foremost. I'm sure he would have loved to continue playing for TFC but that was not meant to be.

Here is an article I found on the BBC website about a keeper who is leaving the game at age 22 because he no longer feels the game is important in his life:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/i/ipswich_town/8211586.stm

Playing professional football is not something I want to continue doing," Supple told the club's website.

"As you grow up you realise there are other things in life and to be honest, the game is not what I thought it was."

But deep down my heart is not in the game any more and I'm not going to go into work every day trying to convince myself that it is, so it's the right time for me to walk away.

"I suppose you could say that I have fallen out of love with the game and when that happens I've always said to myself that I wouldn't hang around."

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Alberto, I'm not sure you were responding to me but I don't blame Sutton for doing what is best for him and his family. I just thought the reason why he might quit are more on him than on the structure of pro soccer in Canada.

BTW, nice article about Supple.

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quote:Originally posted by loyola

Alberto, I'm not sure you were responding to me but I don't blame Sutton for doing what is best for him and his family. I just thought the reason why he might quit are more on him than on the structure of pro soccer in Canada.

BTW, nice article about Supple.

No I wasn't responding to you Loyola. I was responding to all the people who freak out everytime a player puts himself first and the needs of Canadian soccer second.

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Looks like he is now embarking on a TV career. Was an analyst with Brenda Irving and John Molinaro in the Toronto CBC studios on Saturday (Nigel Reed and Jason de Vos were in Seattle).

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