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Found 118 results

  1. Let's start with the obvious. Sebastian Giovinco will be missed. Mostly by Toronto fans, but also by MLS fans in general. The little Italian thrilled fans for four seasons, scoring 73 league goals, many of them of the jaw dropping variety. He also won. Three Voyageurs Cups and a Supporters Shield were the appetizer to the ultimate prize. The 2017 MLS Cup championship. Dream stuff for long-time TFC fans who lived through a lot of bad football to get to that day. He was a Bloody Big Deal. And, now he's gone. Not with a bang, but rather a pout. Walking out the door in the middle of the night with an Instagram post that thanked the fans and accused the ownership of cheaping out, no longer caring about the results on the pitch. It's a time honoured strategy of players. A Blame the suits move. They're the bad guys that don't care about you little guys in the stands. Make sure to come out for my autograph signing in 2023. Only $50 for a photo! Let's be clear. Giovinco has every right to chase the paycheque. I wouldn't turn down $30m and neither would you. But, that's what's happening. Had TFC offered Giovinco the same number he'd be perfectly OK with ownership's commitment to winning. It was their evaluation of his worth that informed his opinion. This was always going to happen. This was a player that left Juventus to join TFC, effectively ending his chance at playing internationally again. If he was driven by glory he signs a cheaper deal with a Sassuolo, Chievo or Genoa, rips it up, and has 20 more caps for Italy by now. No one dreams of leaving Juve for Toronto. You only leave Juve for two reasons: for money or opportunity to advance your career further. Unless Giovinco thought his agent had misspelled Torino when he sent the offer to him he was coming to Toronto for the money. And, he's leaving Toronto for the same reason. It was always going to end this way. In terms of the football, it's going to be difficult for Toronto fans to critically evaluate whether it was right for Toronto to let him walk. Should they have matched the Saudi offer and let Giovinco retire as a TFC player? Well, he's 32. It's pretty much universally understood that attacking player's peak years are between 23 and 31. The decline after that can be sharp. So, Giovinco is, statistically speaking, past his prime years. There are outliers though. Is Giovinco trending upwards? His stats over last four years: 2015 -- age 28, 34 app, 22 goals, 13 assists 2016 -- age 29, 34 app, 21 goals, 16 assists 2017 -- age 30, 29 app, 17 goals, 7 assists 2018 -- age 31, 28 app, 13 goals, 7 assists His appearances, goals and assists figure has dropped each of the last two seasons. Doesn't seem to be out of line with statistical norms. If his production drops the same percentage this year as it did between 2017 and 2018 he would end up with between 9 and 10 goals in 2019. That's a quality MLS forward, but not a DP and certainly not a $10m a year DP. Of course it's also 10 goals TFC is going to need to replace. That's the other side of this move and one that can't be evaluated until it happens. But, by making the move today they have the DP space and money to start that process in the summer, which is generally when MLS teams make their big moves.
  2. Let's start with the obvious. Sebastian Giovinco will be missed. Mostly by Toronto fans, but also by MLS fans in general. The little Italian thrilled fans for four seasons, scoring 73 league goals, many of them of the jaw dropping variety. He also won. Three Voyageurs Cups and a Supporters Shield were the appetizer to the ultimate prize. The 2017 MLS Cup championship. Dream stuff for long-time TFC fans who lived through a lot of bad football to get to that day. He was a Bloody Big Deal. And, now he's gone. Not with a bang, but rather a pout. Walking out the door in the middle of the night with an Instagram post that thanked the fans and accused the ownership of cheaping out, no longer caring about the results on the pitch. It's a time honoured strategy of players. A Blame the suits move. They're the bad guys that don't care about you little guys in the stands. Make sure to come out for my autograph signing in 2023. Only $50 for a photo! Let's be clear. Giovinco has every right to chase the paycheque. I wouldn't turn down $30m and neither would you. But, that's what's happening. Had TFC offered Giovinco the same number he'd be perfectly OK with ownership's commitment to winning. It was their evaluation of his worth that informed his opinion. This was always going to happen. This was a player that left Juventus to join TFC, effectively ending his chance at playing internationally again. If he was driven by glory he signs a cheaper deal with a Sassuolo, Chievo or Genoa, rips it up, and has 20 more caps for Italy by now. No one dreams of leaving Juve for Toronto. You only leave Juve for two reasons: for money or opportunity to advance your career further. Unless Giovinco thought his agent had misspelled Torino when he sent the offer to him he was coming to Toronto for the money. And, he's leaving Toronto for the same reason. It was always going to end this way. In terms of the football, it's going to be difficult for Toronto fans to critically evaluate whether it was right for Toronto to let him walk. Should they have matched the Saudi offer and let Giovinco retire as a TFC player? Well, he's 32. It's pretty much universally understood that attacking player's peak years are between 23 and 31. The decline after that can be sharp. So, Giovinco is, statistically speaking, past his prime years. There are outliers though. Is Giovinco trending upwards? His stats over last four years: 2015 -- age 28, 34 app, 22 goals, 13 assists 2016 -- age 29, 34 app, 21 goals, 16 assists 2017 -- age 30, 29 app, 17 goals, 7 assists 2018 -- age 31, 28 app, 13 goals, 7 assists His appearances, goals and assists figure has dropped each of the last two seasons. Doesn't seem to be out of line with statistical norms. If his production drops the same percentage this year as it did between 2017 and 2018 he would end up with between 9 and 10 goals in 2019. That's a quality MLS forward, but not a DP and certainly not a $10m a year DP. Of course it's also 10 goals TFC is going to need to replace. That's the other side of this move and one that can't be evaluated until it happens. But, by making the move today they have the DP space and money to start that process in the summer, which is generally when MLS teams make their big moves. View full record
  3. One of the first things they team you in Journalism School is that you should never put a date in your lead. The first paragraph of any story needs to grab the attention of the reader and no one gets excited by a date. That might explain why the Canadian Premier League didn’t lead off its press conference yesterday with the date of its first ever game. Instead, they started by explaining how Volkswagen Canada was the league’s first major corporate partner. More on that in a minute, but to most fans they buried the lead. April 27, 2019 at 1pm in Hamilton, Ontario. The 905 Derby (ugh, really. You have a team of marketers and that’s what you came up with. What is it with this region and its obsession with area codes?). The only problem with this – if you view it as a problem – is that the game is at a time that will make it impossible for fans to go to both that game and Toronto FC’s match with Portland at 3pm. A few celebrate this “shot across the bow” of the CanPL against the established team. It shows intent and a failure to be fearful of Big Bad TFC. Far more people were puzzled. Why would you cut out thousands of potential fans be making it impossible to do both games that weekend? In time, Hamilton and York will have a solid core of fans that live and die with the team. A tiny, tiny, tiny amount do now. Until that changes it is absolutely vital that CanPL teams seek out fans that are also fans of MLS teams in Canada. This move eliminates the possibility of the curious taking a flyer on the CanPL game as well as the MLS game. It was preventable and it was a mistake to schedule the game in such a way. I argued this strongly on Twitter yesterday. Roughly 95% of the people who interacted with the Tweet agreed. Twitter is hardly a scientific tool, but it also isn’t without influence. It wasn’t long until the insiders were slipping into my messages to tell me that another announcement was coming soon that would make it all make sense. The implication was that this was a TV decision and that it was done to maximize the viewership there. After hammering back and forth with a few people today what I’ve pieced together is this: The CanPL is very close to working out a pay-to-broadcast deal with TSN. Basically, the CanPL would pay for all production and talent costs and share in advertising revenue generated during the broadcast. In exchange TSN would promote the airing of the games. No guarantees on editorial content beyond that, but SportsCentre sure does talk about the CFL a lot. Sportsnet, not so much. TSN has 100% of the CFL rights. It was even suggested that the Volkswagen deal was largely tied into the deal. Basically, the auto giant would be the title sponsor of the broadcasts. It’s not an uncommon relationship for a start up league and, on the surface, not the worst idea. They aren’t getting on TSN in a standard rights deal and streaming only will make it hard for them to get much traction beyond the hardcore audience that is only so big. But, it’s still a bad idea to schedule games so that fans in MLS markets are forced to choose between. At best, it’s just disrespectful of fans. Ignoring that there are conflicting loyalties at play is silly and if you force a long-time TFC fan from Hamilton to pick a side he’s likely staying at BMO Field. That’s doubly the case with the York market, which already mostly identifies with being from Toronto anyway. So, why? Just why? Finally, how many fans do they hope to gain by being on TV? The industry trend is moving away from cable TV to streaming only. You’re not hitting Gen Zers with this. You’re barely hitting Gen Xers at this point. And even the ones you’re hitting are probably already aware of the product. TFC struggles to draw 100,000 viewers. The CanPL will be lucky to hit 20,000 regularly. And all of them would probably watch on YouTube too. Sometimes you need to be realistic. If what is being suggested in true then CanPL would have been better ignoring conventional TV this year, putting the product on YouTube for the hardcore (and getting some local TV deals), focusing on the in-stadium experience and then revisiting the major national media when the negotiations are on more equal terms.
  4. One of the first things they team you in Journalism School is that you should never put a date in your lead. The first paragraph of any story needs to grab the attention of the reader and no one gets excited by a date. That might explain why the Canadian Premier League didn’t lead off its press conference yesterday with the date of its first ever game. Instead, they started by explaining how Volkswagen Canada was the league’s first major corporate partner. More on that in a minute, but to most fans they buried the lead. April 27, 2019 at 1pm in Hamilton, Ontario. The 905 Derby (ugh, really. You have a team of marketers and that’s what you came up with. What is it with this region and its obsession with area codes?). The only problem with this – if you view it as a problem – is that the game is at a time that will make it impossible for fans to go to both that game and Toronto FC’s match with Portland at 3pm. A few celebrate this “shot across the bow” of the CanPL against the established team. It shows intent and a failure to be fearful of Big Bad TFC. Far more people were puzzled. Why would you cut out thousands of potential fans be making it impossible to do both games that weekend? In time, Hamilton and York will have a solid core of fans that live and die with the team. A tiny, tiny, tiny amount do now. Until that changes it is absolutely vital that CanPL teams seek out fans that are also fans of MLS teams in Canada. This move eliminates the possibility of the curious taking a flyer on the CanPL game as well as the MLS game. It was preventable and it was a mistake to schedule the game in such a way. I argued this strongly on Twitter yesterday. Roughly 95% of the people who interacted with the Tweet agreed. Twitter is hardly a scientific tool, but it also isn’t without influence. It wasn’t long until the insiders were slipping into my messages to tell me that another announcement was coming soon that would make it all make sense. The implication was that this was a TV decision and that it was done to maximize the viewership there. After hammering back and forth with a few people today what I’ve pieced together is this: The CanPL is very close to working out a pay-to-broadcast deal with TSN. Basically, the CanPL would pay for all production and talent costs and share in advertising revenue generated during the broadcast. In exchange TSN would promote the airing of the games. No guarantees on editorial content beyond that, but SportsCentre sure does talk about the CFL a lot. Sportsnet, not so much. TSN has 100% of the CFL rights. It was even suggested that the Volkswagen deal was largely tied into the deal. Basically, the auto giant would be the title sponsor of the broadcasts. It’s not an uncommon relationship for a start up league and, on the surface, not the worst idea. They aren’t getting on TSN in a standard rights deal and streaming only will make it hard for them to get much traction beyond the hardcore audience that is only so big. But, it’s still a bad idea to schedule games so that fans in MLS markets are forced to choose between. At best, it’s just disrespectful of fans. Ignoring that there are conflicting loyalties at play is silly and if you force a long-time TFC fan from Hamilton to pick a side he’s likely staying at BMO Field. That’s doubly the case with the York market, which already mostly identifies with being from Toronto anyway. So, why? Just why? Finally, how many fans do they hope to gain by being on TV? The industry trend is moving away from cable TV to streaming only. You’re not hitting Gen Zers with this. You’re barely hitting Gen Xers at this point. And even the ones you’re hitting are probably already aware of the product. TFC struggles to draw 100,000 viewers. The CanPL will be lucky to hit 20,000 regularly. And all of them would probably watch on YouTube too. Sometimes you need to be realistic. If what is being suggested in true then CanPL would have been better ignoring conventional TV this year, putting the product on YouTube for the hardcore (and getting some local TV deals), focusing on the in-stadium experience and then revisiting the major national media when the negotiations are on more equal terms. View full record
  5. The Ottawa Fury appear to have lost the game of chicken that they were playing against CONCACAF and the CSA. Yesterday, the club announced that they would not be allowed to play in the US-based USL for 2019. This is despite receiving a tepid approval from the CSA in September, when they refused to become founding members of the CanPL. This leaves the Fury in a difficult position just four months out from the start of the season. However, according to multiple people working inside the game, they shouldn’t be surprised. “They knew this was possible,” one source said. “Yet, they went ahead anyway and now they are crying about being discriminated.” Another person went even further, suggesting that the Fury might have “half wanted (to be denied sanctioning).” The suggestion being that OSEG doesn’t really want to be involved in soccer anymore, but didn’t want to be the bad guy in fans’ eyes, least it hurt them with RedBlacks’ ticket sales. What happened yesterday was predicted by many. In a Sept 6 article on CSN I quoted a source suggesting that this was a distinct possibility. “Who is going to sanction them,” they said at the time “They may get a ‘pity’ sanction for 2019, but beyond that?” Another person speculated that the CSA would be reluctant to directly challenge the Fury, but would work behind closed doors to challenge the legitimacy of the club playing in a US-based league. “They won’t say anything publicly, but they are hoping CONCACAF steps in,” they said at the time. We don’t know if CONCACAF is acting on behalf of the CSA, but CONCACAF did in fact step in. The question now is what happens next. Most still believe a temporary sanctioning for 2019 will come through, but only with the understanding that this will be the final year it is permitted. Will the Fury continue with that understanding? For the sake of the fans, let’s hope so. But, relations between the CanPL and the Fury weren’t great already and, although there is no direct link between the CanPL and CONCACAF denying sanctioning, yesterday didn’t help the relationship improve. Beyond the Fury, yesterday’s decision could have a trickle down impact on Canadian soccer. If CONCACAF is to enforce the policy evenly, you would have to think that USL-2 teams (formerly PDL) will be the next to be targeted. The rule being referenced in the Fury’s case states that no team is allowed to play in a league outside its country if a league of the same standard is available in their country. Clearly, CONCACAF has concluded that CanPL is equal to USL. But, is League1 Ontario and the PLSQ the same as USL2? It’s long been the desire of the CSA to stop teams at the D3 level from playing out of country in the hope that the provinces would step up and start D3 leagues. So far only two have, which has allowed several D3 teams to ignore that desire and play in the US. With the CanPL buying L1O, there is speculation that the plan is to bring that model to all parts of the country. When that happens, you would expect that the existing D3 teams be asked to return to Canada. Anyone operating a D3 team now would be wise to plan ahead with this in mind. Which brings us to the MLS teams. Many fans will not accept the rational that they should be exempt from this. In the interest of “fairness” it will be argued that they too should be forced to join CanPL. It won’t happen, but it will create some bad optics for the CSA. The reason it won’t happen now is because it’s clear that forcing TFC, IMFC and VWFC out of MLS would be negative for player development and soccer culture in the country. That would be counter to the entire purpose of creating the CanPL. Although many USL fans strongly disagree, that league is not viewed as having a net benefit to the country and thus is fair game here. Will this eventually change? Is there a scenario where the three MLS teams are required to enter the CanPL. Yes. And possibly sooner than most believe. (That is if one or more of the Canadian MLS teams isn’t part of a bigger league by then – a league that is launched as part of the United 2026 bid and is designed to disrupt the established order of world football. But, that’s a topic for another day).
  6. The Ottawa Fury appear to have lost the game of chicken that they were playing against CONCACAF and the CSA. Yesterday, the club announced that they would not be allowed to play in the US-based USL for 2019. This is despite receiving a tepid approval from the CSA in September, when they refused to become founding members of the CanPL. This leaves the Fury in a difficult position just four months out from the start of the season. However, according to multiple people working inside the game, they shouldn’t be surprised. “They knew this was possible,” one source said. “Yet, they went ahead anyway and now they are crying about being discriminated.” Another person went even further, suggesting that the Fury might have “half wanted (to be denied sanctioning).” The suggestion being that OSEG doesn’t really want to be involved in soccer anymore, but didn’t want to be the bad guy in fans’ eyes, least it hurt them with RedBlacks’ ticket sales. What happened yesterday was predicted by many. In a Sept 6 article on CSN I quoted a source suggesting that this was a distinct possibility. “Who is going to sanction them,” they said at the time “They may get a ‘pity’ sanction for 2019, but beyond that?” Another person speculated that the CSA would be reluctant to directly challenge the Fury, but would work behind closed doors to challenge the legitimacy of the club playing in a US-based league. “They won’t say anything publicly, but they are hoping CONCACAF steps in,” they said at the time. We don’t know if CONCACAF is acting on behalf of the CSA, but CONCACAF did in fact step in. The question now is what happens next. Most still believe a temporary sanctioning for 2019 will come through, but only with the understanding that this will be the final year it is permitted. Will the Fury continue with that understanding? For the sake of the fans, let’s hope so. But, relations between the CanPL and the Fury weren’t great already and, although there is no direct link between the CanPL and CONCACAF denying sanctioning, yesterday didn’t help the relationship improve. Beyond the Fury, yesterday’s decision could have a trickle down impact on Canadian soccer. If CONCACAF is to enforce the policy evenly, you would have to think that USL-2 teams (formerly PDL) will be the next to be targeted. The rule being referenced in the Fury’s case states that no team is allowed to play in a league outside its country if a league of the same standard is available in their country. Clearly, CONCACAF has concluded that CanPL is equal to USL. But, is League1 Ontario and the PLSQ the same as USL2? It’s long been the desire of the CSA to stop teams at the D3 level from playing out of country in the hope that the provinces would step up and start D3 leagues. So far only two have, which has allowed several D3 teams to ignore that desire and play in the US. With the CanPL buying L1O, there is speculation that the plan is to bring that model to all parts of the country. When that happens, you would expect that the existing D3 teams be asked to return to Canada. Anyone operating a D3 team now would be wise to plan ahead with this in mind. Which brings us to the MLS teams. Many fans will not accept the rational that they should be exempt from this. In the interest of “fairness” it will be argued that they too should be forced to join CanPL. It won’t happen, but it will create some bad optics for the CSA. The reason it won’t happen now is because it’s clear that forcing TFC, IMFC and VWFC out of MLS would be negative for player development and soccer culture in the country. That would be counter to the entire purpose of creating the CanPL. Although many USL fans strongly disagree, that league is not viewed as having a net benefit to the country and thus is fair game here. Will this eventually change? Is there a scenario where the three MLS teams are required to enter the CanPL. Yes. And possibly sooner than most believe. (That is if one or more of the Canadian MLS teams isn’t part of a bigger league by then – a league that is launched as part of the United 2026 bid and is designed to disrupt the established order of world football. But, that’s a topic for another day). View full record
  7. Toronto FC lost the game, but won the battle last night in Monterrey. Despite losing 3-2 on the night, the Reds advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals for the second time in its history, drawing 4-4 and advancing on the away goals rule. For a more analytic/tactical breakdown of the game, you can listen to the Sober Second Thoughts podcast, which was recorded minutes after the final whistle, or to Kevin Laramee and my thoughts on today's SoccerToday. But, this article is going to attempt to put the game and tie in perspective. Where does it rank in terms of TFC's greatest nights? In this week's The Big List we rank to top 17* TFC results: (*The Big List doesn't restrict itself to 10...) No 17 - July 27, 2013 -- Weids in the rain -- Toronto 2, Columbus 1 The game didn't mean anything. At all. Unless you were there and stuck it out in the rain. When Andrew Wiedeman, the greatest finisher of the modern era, slid that goal in to end the misery of a 12 game winless streak in MLS and an oh-for-life streak against the Crew...man, it was the medicine many of us needed in that otherwise terrible 2013 season. No 16 -- March 28, 2012 -- The Rumble at BMO -- Toronto FC 1, Santos Laguna 1 It was only the first leg and they didn't even win, but this was a game that had everything -- JDG's best game as a Red, a villain in Herc Gomez, false hope and, of course, a brawl at the final whistle. Maybe the funnest game ever played at BMO Field. No 15 -- Oct. 20, 2007 - PITCH INVASION! - Toronto 2, New England 2 2007 was special. For many of us it's remembered as fondly as a first summer love -- it wasn't perfect and there were as many lows as highs, but the highs were so amazing. And it ended on a magical fall day when a club hero scored a stoppage time goal to cap off a two goal come back draw and a love affair that remains to this day. And a pitch invasion for a draw! No 14 -- March 14, 2012 -- The worst champions in the world -- Toronto 2, Galaxy 1 Everyone remembers the Dome game -- and understandably so, it was the game that probably kept TFC relevant in the market through a lot of bad years -- but they didn't win the tie with the 2-2 home draw. They did that -- unexpectedly -- in LA a week later. No 13 -- July 11, 2012 - Tassels Revenge -- Toronto 3, Vancouver 2 Another game that meant nothing much in he grad scheme of things, but man was it fun. A virtual Greek tragedy, it looked like TFC had blown it again when Darren Mattocks jumped over the CN Tower to score a stoppage goal equalizer. But then Terry Dunfield -- known lovingly as Tassels by many TFC fans -- ensured he'd never have to buy a drink in Toronto a gain with one of the most fondly remembered game winners of all time. No 12 -- March 13, 2018 -- Wait, we won? -- Toronto 2, Tigres 3 Yesterday's game was an epic, no doubt, that featured an all world free kick, bizarre own goal and one very CONCACAF penalty call. Ultimately the collective 4-4 aggregate series would probably rank in the top 5 all-time, but in isolation this game falls outside top 10 because they did ultimately lose it. No 11 -- June 29, 2016 -- Poor, poor Vancouver -- Toronto 1, Whitecaps 2 Will Johnson broke his leg while scoring a goal that won the Voyageurs Cup (on away goals) over snakebitten Vancouver on the last kick of the game. It was the start of a magically 18 month run of winning for TFC. No 10 -- Oct 14, 2015 -- PLAYOFFS! YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS?! -- Toronto 2, Red Bulls 1 After nine frustrating, infuriating, bizarre and impossibly bad seasons TFC clinched its first playoff appearance. Good thing nothing else was happening in Toronto sports that night. No 9 -- October 18, 2011 -- Where did that come from??? -- Toronto 3, Dallas 0 Completely out of nowhere a truly terrible TFC team that was having an awful season went to Dallas -- a stadium they never win in -- and smoked FC Dallas 3-0 to advance the CCL quarterfinals. Those CCL runs were what kept interest in the team alive through the dark years. This win is underappreciated in TFC history. No 8 -- Nov 22, 2016 -- Gagner la Bataille; Perdre la Guerre -- Toronto 2, Montreal 3 The Montreal Impact had scored six straight playoff goals against Toronto. 50,000 Montreal fans were having a laugh at the clowns. Then Michael Bradley decided that enough was enough and the dark clouds faded away. The Impact have feared clowns ever since. No 7 -- May 12, 2007 -- The 24th Minute -- Toronto 3, Chicago 1 The team's first goal, first win and first cult hero born all on the same day. No 6 -- June 27, 2017 -- The forgotten trophy -- Toronto 2, Montreal 1 Lost in the excitement of TFC winning MLS Cup and Supporters Shield last year was the V-Cup win, which arguably was the most exciting game of the season. The stadium was as loud when Giovinco scored the late winner than at any time in the playoffs. No 5. -- Nov 29, 2017 -- When Toronto Needed a Hero -- Toronto 1, Columbus 0 Maybe Luke Wilman's greatest call of his career -- "When Toronto FC needed a hero, Jozy Altidore delivers." Also, you can't win the MLS Cup if you don't make it there. No 4 -- June 18, 2009 -- The Miracle in Montreal -- Toronto 6, Montreal 1 The undisputed No 1 on the list for most of TFC's history, the day TFC needed to score five goals to win and did (while adding another for good measure) will forever remain part of the club's lore. Also, TFC's first trophy was won that night. No 3 -- March 6, 2018 -- To be the best you've gotta beat the best -- Toronto 2, Tigres 1 The first leg win -- and especially the way it happened, coming from behind and with a local player scoring the winner -- is going to be high on this list forever. It was the best team TFC has ever beaten and one of the best night's in BMO Field's history. No 2 -- Nov 30, 2017 -- &^$&#&$!!11!1!! -- Toronto 5, Montreal 2 Without a doubt the most exciting, emotionally draining, insane night that any of us will likely ever experience at BMO Field. The memories of that night will last a lifetime. But, it can't be No 1 because... No 1 -- Dec 9, 2017 -- Campioni! -- Toronto 2, Seattle 0 Let's not be cute. It's going to be hard to ever displace this one from top spot.
  8. Toronto FC lost the game, but won the battle last night in Monterrey. Despite losing 3-2 on the night, the Reds advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals for the second time in its history, drawing 4-4 and advancing on the away goals rule. For a more analytic/tactical breakdown of the game, you can listen to the Sober Second Thoughts podcast, which was recorded minutes after the final whistle, or to Kevin Laramee and my thoughts on today's SoccerToday. But, this article is going to attempt to put the game and tie in perspective. Where does it rank in terms of TFC's greatest nights? In this week's The Big List we rank to top 17* TFC results: (*The Big List doesn't restrict itself to 10...) No 17 - July 27, 2013 -- Weids in the rain -- Toronto 2, Columbus 1 The game didn't mean anything. At all. Unless you were there and stuck it out in the rain. When Andrew Wiedeman, the greatest finisher of the modern era, slid that goal in to end the misery of a 12 game winless streak in MLS and an oh-for-life streak against the Crew...man, it was the medicine many of us needed in that otherwise terrible 2013 season. No 16 -- March 28, 2012 -- The Rumble at BMO -- Toronto FC 1, Santos Laguna 1 It was only the first leg and they didn't even win, but this was a game that had everything -- JDG's best game as a Red, a villain in Herc Gomez, false hope and, of course, a brawl at the final whistle. Maybe the funnest game ever played at BMO Field. No 15 -- Oct. 20, 2007 - PITCH INVASION! - Toronto 2, New England 2 2007 was special. For many of us it's remembered as fondly as a first summer love -- it wasn't perfect and there were as many lows as highs, but the highs were so amazing. And it ended on a magical fall day when a club hero scored a stoppage time goal to cap off a two goal come back draw and a love affair that remains to this day. And a pitch invasion for a draw! No 14 -- March 14, 2012 -- The worst champions in the world -- Toronto 2, Galaxy 1 Everyone remembers the Dome game -- and understandably so, it was the game that probably kept TFC relevant in the market through a lot of bad years -- but they didn't win the tie with the 2-2 home draw. They did that -- unexpectedly -- in LA a week later. No 13 -- July 11, 2012 - Tassels Revenge -- Toronto 3, Vancouver 2 Another game that meant nothing much in he grad scheme of things, but man was it fun. A virtual Greek tragedy, it looked like TFC had blown it again when Darren Mattocks jumped over the CN Tower to score a stoppage goal equalizer. But then Terry Dunfield -- known lovingly as Tassels by many TFC fans -- ensured he'd never have to buy a drink in Toronto a gain with one of the most fondly remembered game winners of all time. No 12 -- March 13, 2018 -- Wait, we won? -- Toronto 2, Tigres 3 Yesterday's game was an epic, no doubt, that featured an all world free kick, bizarre own goal and one very CONCACAF penalty call. Ultimately the collective 4-4 aggregate series would probably rank in the top 5 all-time, but in isolation this game falls outside top 10 because they did ultimately lose it. No 11 -- June 29, 2016 -- Poor, poor Vancouver -- Toronto 1, Whitecaps 2 Will Johnson broke his leg while scoring a goal that won the Voyageurs Cup (on away goals) over snakebitten Vancouver on the last kick of the game. It was the start of a magically 18 month run of winning for TFC. No 10 -- Oct 14, 2015 -- PLAYOFFS! YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS?! -- Toronto 2, Red Bulls 1 After nine frustrating, infuriating, bizarre and impossibly bad seasons TFC clinched its first playoff appearance. Good thing nothing else was happening in Toronto sports that night. No 9 -- October 18, 2011 -- Where did that come from??? -- Toronto 3, Dallas 0 Completely out of nowhere a truly terrible TFC team that was having an awful season went to Dallas -- a stadium they never win in -- and smoked FC Dallas 3-0 to advance the CCL quarterfinals. Those CCL runs were what kept interest in the team alive through the dark years. This win is underappreciated in TFC history. No 8 -- Nov 22, 2016 -- Gagner la Bataille; Perdre la Guerre -- Toronto 2, Montreal 3 The Montreal Impact had scored six straight playoff goals against Toronto. 50,000 Montreal fans were having a laugh at the clowns. Then Michael Bradley decided that enough was enough and the dark clouds faded away. The Impact have feared clowns ever since. No 7 -- May 12, 2007 -- The 24th Minute -- Toronto 3, Chicago 1 The team's first goal, first win and first cult hero born all on the same day. No 6 -- June 27, 2017 -- The forgotten trophy -- Toronto 2, Montreal 1 Lost in the excitement of TFC winning MLS Cup and Supporters Shield last year was the V-Cup win, which arguably was the most exciting game of the season. The stadium was as loud when Giovinco scored the late winner than at any time in the playoffs. No 5. -- Nov 29, 2017 -- When Toronto Needed a Hero -- Toronto 1, Columbus 0 Maybe Luke Wilman's greatest call of his career -- "When Toronto FC needed a hero, Jozy Altidore delivers." Also, you can't win the MLS Cup if you don't make it there. No 4 -- June 18, 2009 -- The Miracle in Montreal -- Toronto 6, Montreal 1 The undisputed No 1 on the list for most of TFC's history, the day TFC needed to score five goals to win and did (while adding another for good measure) will forever remain part of the club's lore. Also, TFC's first trophy was won that night. No 3 -- March 6, 2018 -- To be the best you've gotta beat the best -- Toronto 2, Tigres 1 The first leg win -- and especially the way it happened, coming from behind and with a local player scoring the winner -- is going to be high on this list forever. It was the best team TFC has ever beaten and one of the best night's in BMO Field's history. No 2 -- Nov 30, 2017 -- &^$&#&$!!11!1!! -- Toronto 5, Montreal 2 Without a doubt the most exciting, emotionally draining, insane night that any of us will likely ever experience at BMO Field. The memories of that night will last a lifetime. But, it can't be No 1 because... No 1 -- Dec 9, 2017 -- Campioni! -- Toronto 2, Seattle 0 Let's not be cute. It's going to be hard to ever displace this one from top spot. View full record
  9. The season has begun and begun well with TFC carrying a 2 nil lead into the home leg of the CCL round of 16! A fine headed goal by Jonathan Osorio (assisted by Seba) and a superb side-volley goal from Giovinco (assisted by Auro) along with at least one hugely clutch save from Bono has put TFC in a commanding position to move into the CCL quarter-finals! My only question mark for Tuesday is the pitch!
  10. It's funny that both sides of this derby can't even agree on what to name it. I feel the 401 derby is a terrible name, especially considering there's no 401 highway here. What should it be called? My vote is on The Canadian Classic or Le Classique Canadien, since it translates well to both languages. Though, I have seen some Whitecaps fans get pretty butt-hurt about the name. (I'm not sure if there's a thread debating this yet or not, I couldn't find one.)
  11. Stephen Appiah was 14 years and 322 days old when he made his senior debut for Ghana. He is the 8th youngest player to play a full international and the youngest to have played for a country that has qualified for a senior World Cup. Although Appiah was never really a global superstar, his was a career that nearly any player would have been proud of. He had 67 senior caps for Ghana, scoring 14 goals. He won a FIFA u17 World Cup, was an Olympian and played in several AFCON tournaments. On the club side, he managed to find the field for one of the biggest clubs in the world, Juventus, where he made 10 Champions League appearances. I can’t say that I remember what kind of hype Appiah had back on Nov 11, 1995 when he made his debut, but I suspect there was a lot of excitement about him. You don’t play a kid who isn’t even 15 yet unless you think he has immense talent and potential. However, I know this: If that debut had taken place even 10 years later we all would remember the hype. In November ’95 only geeks and the truly obsessive were using the Internet beyond checking their email and patiently waiting three hours for the pixels to reveal what that photo was going to show. In 2005, everyone was on the Internet and we had started to move into the hype first, substance last world that we currently live in. I do remember talking about the soccer poster boy for lost potential, Freddy Adu, in 2005. Let’s not pile on Freddy’s soccer grave here, but we can all agree that the hype of the mid 2000s never really panned out for him. In fact, Adu’s biggest contribution to modern North American soccer has been to become a lesson to point to when hyping up young players. “Pump the breaks, we don’t want to see ____ become another Freddy Adu,” is something you consistently hear whenever a young player breaks through. It’s something we’ve heard in relation to the 2017 Gold Cup Golden Boot and Young Player of the tournament winner, Alphonso Davies. At just 16, he continues to be protected at every turn by both the Whitecaps and the CSA. The shadow of Adu looms large, despite the fact that Adu wasn’t a product of this country, nor of the MLS academy era. There’s some good in that. You do want to manage a young player to a certain extent. At the Gold Cup, Davies’ play did fade as the tournament wore on. The quarterfinal was probably his least effective game. But, here’s the thing. For every Adu there’s an Appiah. There is no direct correlation between debuting young and failing. There’s not even a direct connection between hype and failing. So, we need to treat Davies like his own man (boy?) and let his story tell itself. As fans, we can also allow ourselves to be excited by not just Davies but by all the young players that are stepping up for Canada on both the men’s and women’s teams. Jordyn Huitema, Raheem Edwards, Deanna Rose and Davies are the future and the future, for once, looks pretty good. Be excited. Celebrate their accomplishments thus far and dream of a future with even more glory. Davies story isn’t just one that’s being noticed in Canada. You don’t win a Golden Boot at a Confederation Championship event without ears perking up around the football world. When he becomes eligible to be transferred the names that are going to be attached to him are going to make long-term Canadian fans dizzy. That’s in the near future. But, in the meantime Vancouver and Canadian fans should enjoy the remaining time we have with this kid and stop worrying about whether we’re putting too much pressure on him. Talent finds its way. In short, pump the breaks less and spread the wings more.
  12. Stephen Appiah was 14 years and 322 days old when he made his senior debut for Ghana. He is the 8th youngest player to play a full international and the youngest to have played for a country that has qualified for a senior World Cup. Although Appiah was never really a global superstar, his was a career that nearly any player would have been proud of. He had 67 senior caps for Ghana, scoring 14 goals. He won a FIFA u17 World Cup, was an Olympian and played in several AFCON tournaments. On the club side, he managed to find the field for one of the biggest clubs in the world, Juventus, where he made 10 Champions League appearances. I can’t say that I remember what kind of hype Appiah had back on Nov 11, 1995 when he made his debut, but I suspect there was a lot of excitement about him. You don’t play a kid who isn’t even 15 yet unless you think he has immense talent and potential. However, I know this: If that debut had taken place even 10 years later we all would remember the hype. In November ’95 only geeks and the truly obsessive were using the Internet beyond checking their email and patiently waiting three hours for the pixels to reveal what that photo was going to show. In 2005, everyone was on the Internet and we had started to move into the hype first, substance last world that we currently live in. I do remember talking about the soccer poster boy for lost potential, Freddy Adu, in 2005. Let’s not pile on Freddy’s soccer grave here, but we can all agree that the hype of the mid 2000s never really panned out for him. In fact, Adu’s biggest contribution to modern North American soccer has been to become a lesson to point to when hyping up young players. “Pump the breaks, we don’t want to see ____ become another Freddy Adu,” is something you consistently hear whenever a young player breaks through. It’s something we’ve heard in relation to the 2017 Gold Cup Golden Boot and Young Player of the tournament winner, Alphonso Davies. At just 16, he continues to be protected at every turn by both the Whitecaps and the CSA. The shadow of Adu looms large, despite the fact that Adu wasn’t a product of this country, nor of the MLS academy era. There’s some good in that. You do want to manage a young player to a certain extent. At the Gold Cup, Davies’ play did fade as the tournament wore on. The quarterfinal was probably his least effective game. But, here’s the thing. For every Adu there’s an Appiah. There is no direct correlation between debuting young and failing. There’s not even a direct connection between hype and failing. So, we need to treat Davies like his own man (boy?) and let his story tell itself. As fans, we can also allow ourselves to be excited by not just Davies but by all the young players that are stepping up for Canada on both the men’s and women’s teams. Jordyn Huitema, Raheem Edwards, Deanna Rose and Davies are the future and the future, for once, looks pretty good. Be excited. Celebrate their accomplishments thus far and dream of a future with even more glory. Davies story isn’t just one that’s being noticed in Canada. You don’t win a Golden Boot at a Confederation Championship event without ears perking up around the football world. When he becomes eligible to be transferred the names that are going to be attached to him are going to make long-term Canadian fans dizzy. That’s in the near future. But, in the meantime Vancouver and Canadian fans should enjoy the remaining time we have with this kid and stop worrying about whether we’re putting too much pressure on him. Talent finds its way. In short, pump the breaks less and spread the wings more. View full record
  13. Back in the glory days of the 24thMinute.com (no one blogs anymore. It’s kind of sad, he says ironically) I used to publish a monthly projection of the MLS standings that was designed to take into consideration the massive swing in fortune between teams playing at home and on the road. Many TFC fans got irrationally angry at such a suggestion because, at the time, they had seen no evidence of teams excelling at home. Man, weren’t those early days fun! However, the simply projections proved to be remarkably accurate throughout the years that I published them. After a Twitter exchange with Kurt Larson and Doug Roberson of AJC.com earlier this week I was compelled to revisit my old tracking system. The impetus to the discussion and my curiosity was the fact that Atlanta has an absurd six game home stand in September. As with TFC’s absurd road trips to start 2015 and 2016 the reason for the long stretch at home is stadium related. The Falcons are building the latest shrine to the NFL (No, Tom Brady has not been invited to the grand opening) and Atlanta United is sharing in the spoils. By all accounts it’s going to be one hell of a stadium. It must be because it’s not exactly one of those Soccer Specific Stadiums Don Garber talks about when it fits his agenda. At any rate, Larson felt that this long home stand, combined with a current solid run of form, meant that Atlanta was in the Supporters Shield race. Roberson, who covers the team for AJC.com, agreed, with the caveat that Atlanta was a difficult team to project in 2017. I, the contrarian I tend to be, disagreed and I threw a whole bunch of those fancy stats at them to back up my opinion. Specifically they have the worst PDO in MLS, were 12th in xGoals, 19th in xGoals against and 12th in TSR. For those who read the above paragraph as Greek – the PDO number means they are, statistically speaking, the luckiest team in the league, score way more goals than their possession and shot placement would suggest, let in fewer goals than the same against them would suggest and they typically give up more shots than they get themselves (which has proven to be a very effective measure of success in global football, albeit less so in MLS). Now, part of the reason Atlanta’s numbers are lower might be because they’ve played more road games than home games (12 to 8), but it’s still dangerous to ignore them completely. There’s little to no guarantee that a home heavy schedule will automatically mean that you can just automatically say 6 x 3 = 18 GO! Just ask 2015 TFC about that… But, anyway. I decided to break it down into the simplest projection I could think of to try and factor in the home schedule of Atlanta’s to see how much of a penitential threat the upstarts are to TFC’s Shield run. Before I present the table please remember that I fully understand that a projection based on past performance in no way guarantees that the same form will continue. It simply means that IF teams continue to play the way that they have this season thus far we can reasonably project that they will finish with X amount of points. This isn’t a complicated formula (H pts / H GP x 17) + (R pts / R GP x17) = Projected final points. Here are the results: East 1. Toronto FC 66 2. Chicago 62 3. NYCFC 59 4. Atlanta 59 5. NYRB 54 6. Columbus 49 7. Orlando 45 8. Montreal 44 9. Philly 39 10. New England 39 11. DCU 30 West 1. Dallas 61 2. SKC 54 3. Houston 53 4. Seattle 50 5. Vancouver 48 6. Portland 46 7. San Jose 43 8. RSL 38 9. Galaxy 37 10. Colorado 31 11. Minnesota 27 Plan. The. Parade. Ok, maybe not, but the projection backs up the eyeball test that TFC remains the clear favourite to capture the Shield and it also suggests, as most eyeball tests have also suggested, that Dallas is the class of the West. Another thing that it suggests is that if you’re under the red line in July, it’s going to be a fight to pull above it by October. It’s happened, but far, far less likely than the hype-masters at league headquarters would have you believe. The standings at the 2/3 point are usually pretty close to how things will shake out at the end. In terms of Atlanta, it does show a very healthy return on points, but ultimately they are probably too far back already in MLS, where 6 points might as well be 20. Of course it all resets to 0 once the final 12 are decided. As for TFC…maybe don’t plan the parade, but start sketching out the Shield winning tifo design. Quietly. You wouldn’t want to jinx it, after all.
  14. Back in the glory days of the 24thMinute.com (no one blogs anymore. It’s kind of sad, he says ironically) I used to publish a monthly projection of the MLS standings that was designed to take into consideration the massive swing in fortune between teams playing at home and on the road. Many TFC fans got irrationally angry at such a suggestion because, at the time, they had seen no evidence of teams excelling at home. Man, weren’t those early days fun! However, the simply projections proved to be remarkably accurate throughout the years that I published them. After a Twitter exchange with Kurt Larson and Doug Roberson of AJC.com earlier this week I was compelled to revisit my old tracking system. The impetus to the discussion and my curiosity was the fact that Atlanta has an absurd six game home stand in September. As with TFC’s absurd road trips to start 2015 and 2016 the reason for the long stretch at home is stadium related. The Falcons are building the latest shrine to the NFL (No, Tom Brady has not been invited to the grand opening) and Atlanta United is sharing in the spoils. By all accounts it’s going to be one hell of a stadium. It must be because it’s not exactly one of those Soccer Specific Stadiums Don Garber talks about when it fits his agenda. At any rate, Larson felt that this long home stand, combined with a current solid run of form, meant that Atlanta was in the Supporters Shield race. Roberson, who covers the team for AJC.com, agreed, with the caveat that Atlanta was a difficult team to project in 2017. I, the contrarian I tend to be, disagreed and I threw a whole bunch of those fancy stats at them to back up my opinion. Specifically they have the worst PDO in MLS, were 12th in xGoals, 19th in xGoals against and 12th in TSR. For those who read the above paragraph as Greek – the PDO number means they are, statistically speaking, the luckiest team in the league, score way more goals than their possession and shot placement would suggest, let in fewer goals than the same against them would suggest and they typically give up more shots than they get themselves (which has proven to be a very effective measure of success in global football, albeit less so in MLS). Now, part of the reason Atlanta’s numbers are lower might be because they’ve played more road games than home games (12 to 8), but it’s still dangerous to ignore them completely. There’s little to no guarantee that a home heavy schedule will automatically mean that you can just automatically say 6 x 3 = 18 GO! Just ask 2015 TFC about that… But, anyway. I decided to break it down into the simplest projection I could think of to try and factor in the home schedule of Atlanta’s to see how much of a penitential threat the upstarts are to TFC’s Shield run. Before I present the table please remember that I fully understand that a projection based on past performance in no way guarantees that the same form will continue. It simply means that IF teams continue to play the way that they have this season thus far we can reasonably project that they will finish with X amount of points. This isn’t a complicated formula (H pts / H GP x 17) + (R pts / R GP x17) = Projected final points. Here are the results: East 1. Toronto FC 66 2. Chicago 62 3. NYCFC 59 4. Atlanta 59 5. NYRB 54 6. Columbus 49 7. Orlando 45 8. Montreal 44 9. Philly 39 10. New England 39 11. DCU 30 West 1. Dallas 61 2. SKC 54 3. Houston 53 4. Seattle 50 5. Vancouver 48 6. Portland 46 7. San Jose 43 8. RSL 38 9. Galaxy 37 10. Colorado 31 11. Minnesota 27 Plan. The. Parade. Ok, maybe not, but the projection backs up the eyeball test that TFC remains the clear favourite to capture the Shield and it also suggests, as most eyeball tests have also suggested, that Dallas is the class of the West. Another thing that it suggests is that if you’re under the red line in July, it’s going to be a fight to pull above it by October. It’s happened, but far, far less likely than the hype-masters at league headquarters would have you believe. The standings at the 2/3 point are usually pretty close to how things will shake out at the end. In terms of Atlanta, it does show a very healthy return on points, but ultimately they are probably too far back already in MLS, where 6 points might as well be 20. Of course it all resets to 0 once the final 12 are decided. As for TFC…maybe don’t plan the parade, but start sketching out the Shield winning tifo design. Quietly. You wouldn’t want to jinx it, after all. View full record
  15. Recently John Molinaro wrote a wonderful oral history of TFC. Go read it it. I'll wait. Good, eh? However, the article focused a lot on the more positive parts of the TFC experience. That's understandable as it was an oral history and no one involved with the club would want to focus on the less...fun moments in the club's history. Things that I like to call WTF TFC Moments. So this week's Big List will focus on the Top 10 WTF TFC moments of all-time. 10 - One wild night at Club Escobar, 2012 There is no debate about what TFC's worst season was. It was 2012. That was the bottom, the year even the diehards were considering taking up softball as a new hobby. And, the lowest point of the lowest season of all came in the early morning hours of June 18 in Houston when Miguel Aceval, Luis Silva and the infamous Nick Soolsma were arrested for public intoxication after an altercation broke out between the players and the locals. Amusingly, Julian de Guzman bailed them out of jail, in what might have been the DPs biggest contribution to the team in many fan's minds. What is a well known secret, but that has never been reported, is that the only reason this got reported in Toronto is because Soolsma's Toronto girlfriend got angry at him for being at the club and started calling Toronto reporters to rat him out. I wish I was kidding. Shakespeare would have found TFC's 2012 season too tragic to write about. 9 - UFC 167 - Winter v Mariner, 2011-2012 This one was more of a slow burn, but the front office civil war between Aron Winter and Paul Mariner -- the latter hired to assist the former understand MLS -- that raged on for the better part of 18 months basically killed three seasons of TFC. The fact MLSE hired two guys that were never going to get along was a reflection of how little they still knew about soccer four years into the club, and the lack of decisive decision making at the club. Mariner eventually "won" the battle, but not before alienating half the fan base and dooming himself moving forward. In the end, everything had to be blown up again and it would be another two years before they could even see the corner, let alone turn it. 8 - Jermain Defoe's boo-boo, 2014 It only took about three months for the Bloody Big Deal to become a Bloody Big Joke. Jermain Defoe got hurt, then got sullen, then disappeared back to the UK for an extended period of time while the fans just got disenchanted. Meanwhile, the club was spinning more than a bathing suit model with two pounds to lose. What was supposed to be a new hope ended up with fans throwing up their hands and assuming that TFC was forever doomed. The whole thing was epitomized when Defore missed a penalty in his first game back. 7 - Alan Gordon trying to kill the training staff, 2011 This one wasn't widely reported, but if you've ever wondered why Gordon was traded so soon after he arrived...well. He was upset with how his injury was being treated and ended up trying to strangle the training staff. He wasn't a TFC player a week later. Beyond the brawl (which happens on all teams from time to time) the story perfectly illustrates one of TFC;s biggest problems back then -- they had a terrible reputation with players. No one wanted to play here and not just because the team was struggling. They treated players like pawns and it bit them in the ass time after time after time after... 6 - Canadians vs Preki, 2010 People forget that 2010 started pretty well. Preki had the team in a playoff spot and the 2009 final game choke job was forgotten. Then, the players decided they didn't like their curfew. I'll never forget getting a phone call from a source when I was leaving a media even at BMO Field. His message was simple -- the players won't play for Preki. The source told me that the players had drawn a line in the sand to upper management. It was suggested to me that the senior Canadian players on the roster were the ones leading the charge. The players won (and Mo Johnston went with him) and TFC got blown up once again. 5 - Joao Plata escapes in the middle of the night, 2012 This one wasn't entirely the club's fault. Plata deserves far more criticism for his role then he gets -- he quite literally packed up his stuff and flew home without telling anyone at TFC. The reason behind his escape was that Paul Mariner refused to play him and was not particularly gentle about his reasoning (which in hindsight was flawed). Fans weren't in the mood to give TFC any break back then, and the club has an odd tendency to never be upfront with anything, so many fans still don't realize that, for once, they probably weren't the bad guys. But, perception is reality...so... 4 - The Gambians, 2009 Let's just say there has always been something not quite right about the signing of The Gambians. They did get a good photo out of it though. 3 - DeRo's Scottish vacation, 2011 What a damn mess. DeRo, unhappy with his contract, decides to go to Celtic to train. Photos emerge of DeRo training with Celtic. TFC denies that DeRo is training with Celtic, while simultaneously saying that if he was training with Celtic he shouldn't be because he doesn't have an ITC. Fans throw arms in air and assume TFC screwed something up somewhere. Club looks dumb. DeRo looks petulant. The relationship between the hometown hero and club soured even further. 2 - SHOW ME THE MONEY, 2010 Oh, you know. Arguably the best player to ever come out of Toronto (most creative and exciting, anyway) who was brought back home to great fanfare a year earlier scores a goal and then decides to make everything about his contract situation by pretending to sign a cheque while staring at the directors box. Seconds after San Jose scores the goal that officially eliminates TFC from the playoffs. See above for the rest of the story. 1 - Mo Johnston's management style On recommendation of the CSN lawyers this content has been deleted.
  16. Recently John Molinaro wrote a wonderful oral history of TFC. Go read it it. I'll wait. Good, eh? However, the article focused a lot on the more positive parts of the TFC experience. That's understandable as it was an oral history and no one involved with the club would want to focus on the less...fun moments in the club's history. Things that I like to call WTF TFC Moments. So this week's Big List will focus on the Top 10 WTF TFC moments of all-time. 10 - One wild night at Club Escobar, 2012 There is no debate about what TFC's worst season was. It was 2012. That was the bottom, the year even the diehards were considering taking up softball as a new hobby. And, the lowest point of the lowest season of all came in the early morning hours of June 18 in Houston when Miguel Aceval, Luis Silva and the infamous Nick Soolsma were arrested for public intoxication after an altercation broke out between the players and the locals. Amusingly, Julian de Guzman bailed them out of jail, in what might have been the DPs biggest contribution to the team in many fan's minds. What is a well known secret, but that has never been reported, is that the only reason this got reported in Toronto is because Soolsma's Toronto girlfriend got angry at him for being at the club and started calling Toronto reporters to rat him out. I wish I was kidding. Shakespeare would have found TFC's 2012 season too tragic to write about. 9 - UFC 167 - Winter v Mariner, 2011-2012 This one was more of a slow burn, but the front office civil war between Aron Winter and Paul Mariner -- the latter hired to assist the former understand MLS -- that raged on for the better part of 18 months basically killed three seasons of TFC. The fact MLSE hired two guys that were never going to get along was a reflection of how little they still knew about soccer four years into the club, and the lack of decisive decision making at the club. Mariner eventually "won" the battle, but not before alienating half the fan base and dooming himself moving forward. In the end, everything had to be blown up again and it would be another two years before they could even see the corner, let alone turn it. 8 - Jermain Defoe's boo-boo, 2014 It only took about three months for the Bloody Big Deal to become a Bloody Big Joke. Jermain Defoe got hurt, then got sullen, then disappeared back to the UK for an extended period of time while the fans just got disenchanted. Meanwhile, the club was spinning more than a bathing suit model with two pounds to lose. What was supposed to be a new hope ended up with fans throwing up their hands and assuming that TFC was forever doomed. The whole thing was epitomized when Defore missed a penalty in his first game back. 7 - Alan Gordon trying to kill the training staff, 2011 This one wasn't widely reported, but if you've ever wondered why Gordon was traded so soon after he arrived...well. He was upset with how his injury was being treated and ended up trying to strangle the training staff. He wasn't a TFC player a week later. Beyond the brawl (which happens on all teams from time to time) the story perfectly illustrates one of TFC;s biggest problems back then -- they had a terrible reputation with players. No one wanted to play here and not just because the team was struggling. They treated players like pawns and it bit them in the ass time after time after time after... 6 - Canadians vs Preki, 2010 People forget that 2010 started pretty well. Preki had the team in a playoff spot and the 2009 final game choke job was forgotten. Then, the players decided they didn't like their curfew. I'll never forget getting a phone call from a source when I was leaving a media even at BMO Field. His message was simple -- the players won't play for Preki. The source told me that the players had drawn a line in the sand to upper management. It was suggested to me that the senior Canadian players on the roster were the ones leading the charge. The players won (and Mo Johnston went with him) and TFC got blown up once again. 5 - Joao Plata escapes in the middle of the night, 2012 This one wasn't entirely the club's fault. Plata deserves far more criticism for his role then he gets -- he quite literally packed up his stuff and flew home without telling anyone at TFC. The reason behind his escape was that Paul Mariner refused to play him and was not particularly gentle about his reasoning (which in hindsight was flawed). Fans weren't in the mood to give TFC any break back then, and the club has an odd tendency to never be upfront with anything, so many fans still don't realize that, for once, they probably weren't the bad guys. But, perception is reality...so... 4 - The Gambians, 2009 Let's just say there has always been something not quite right about the signing of The Gambians. They did get a good photo out of it though. 3 - DeRo's Scottish vacation, 2011 What a damn mess. DeRo, unhappy with his contract, decides to go to Celtic to train. Photos emerge of DeRo training with Celtic. TFC denies that DeRo is training with Celtic, while simultaneously saying that if he was training with Celtic he shouldn't be because he doesn't have an ITC. Fans throw arms in air and assume TFC screwed something up somewhere. Club looks dumb. DeRo looks petulant. The relationship between the hometown hero and club soured even further. 2 - SHOW ME THE MONEY, 2010 Oh, you know. Arguably the best player to ever come out of Toronto (most creative and exciting, anyway) who was brought back home to great fanfare a year earlier scores a goal and then decides to make everything about his contract situation by pretending to sign a cheque while staring at the directors box. Seconds after San Jose scores the goal that officially eliminates TFC from the playoffs. See above for the rest of the story. 1 - Mo Johnston's management style On recommendation of the CSN lawyers this content has been deleted. View full record
  17. Bill Manning sat down for a long form interview with the Vocal Minority Podcast this week. There's lots to unpack from that interview. You should listen to it in full. Part 1 here. Part 2 here. However, the part most will be interested in is Manning clarifying his position on the CanPL. Below is the transcribed portion of that conversation. You can listen to it starting at 16:55 of part 2 of the interview. BM = Bill Manning, KZK = Kristin Knowles, MH = Mark Hinkley, DF = Duncan Fletcher, TW = Tony Walsh KZK - CPL time! BM - Yes! KZK - Most requested topic by our listeners and readers and...of course that's how... BM - This has become such a hot topic KZK - (laughing) I wonder why! BM - So tell me what you guys know about the CPL, 'cause I don't know a lot, so. KZK - (laughing) So this is always your argument. So this all started, this whole reason you're here and everything, started from a conversation you and I had after the President's Breakfast BM - Yeah, Yeah. KZK - ..when I asked you some questions about the CPL in terms of the comments you made about it. BM - Yeah. KZK - So, very quickly, you are for the formation of a professional league in Canada, yes? BM - Yes, absolutely! KZK - Just wanted to get that out there, just so I don't have to throw anything at you (clearly joking) BM - No, no, no, absolutely (joking not relevant to topic omitted) KZK - The main sticking point with all of this -- and I know it sort of feels like re-visiting -- but, we just want...your views regarding the potential of a Toronto based team BM - Yes. KZK - And you said you really want TFC, more specifically TFC2, to be part of the CPL when it happens -- cause it is going to happen. Yes, we know it's all shrouded in mystery, but it is going to happen sometime in the next year, we hope. BM - Yep KZK - And you are very specific about why you think it's good for TFC to have a club, but not someone else. BM - Right, so here (it) is...in a nutshell. So, the CPL, the reason they are starting this league, if you talk to Victor Montagliani, is that they want to provide more opportunity for Canadian players so that they can have more of a pool of players for the Canadian national teams, right? It invariability is going to be a younger league because the better Canadian players will play in MLS and they'll play in some of the top leagues in Europe. So, what is TFC2? It is our younger players, who are just kinda knocking on the doorstep of playing in MLS. And, so the league is going to provide, I think, great opportunities for Canadian players, but it's still not going to get the best Canadian players. And, so I say with MLSE I believe that we can provide such local talent...p;layers that come up through our academy system -- and I see what's coming up in out 98 age group and up -- that we can field what I think would be a competitive team, based mostly of Canadian players, that would play good soccer. And, so that's why I don't understand why we'd want another group to come into Toronto and compete with us. KZK - But, why not because they aren't going to be playing against you so your...competing for players. BM - But...we're already offering what they would get...for lack of better words, I think will happen is -- and look, I love the USL and the minor leagues and all that , I started my career in that and I think it's a really important part of soccer in Canada and the US. I believe we could do it well. What I want to do, when this league starts, I don't want to see this league fold three years later. KZK - No one wants to see that. BM -- I think it's really important. I think if another owner comes into Toronto I think they're going to struggle. I think it's going to be very difficult in this market - this is a...Toronto (is a) alpha city, it doesn't compare itself to Vancouver and Montreal it compares itself to Chicago and New York and L.A. -- In this city they had a number of USL teams and...the Blizzards (sic) and the Lynx and everybody else -- I used to play against the Lynx -- those teams couldn't make it. And, my biggest fear is that they're going put a team in this market and they're going to try and compete with us and it's not going to work for them. KZK - But, how are they competing with you? They're not playing against you. BM - They compete with ticket sales, they compete with sponsorships, there are different ways. And, so I guess where I struggle is I think we can deliver all of that, you know. I do. I think we can deliver all of that. DF - I think the main think you have with it potentially being TFC2 is that - and presumably what you do with TFC2 is that there are players coming back and forth and it's not going to be the team that... BM - We would pay attention to regulations and all that and Victor didn't want...part of the thing is they don't want a second team cause they don't want the league to appear minor league. But, in my opinion, fans are going to know Major League Soccer (is higher). And they've said they don't want to compete with Major League Soccer, but then they don't want to be second tier, right? One thing I've learned in all my years doing this is that fans aren't dumb and they know what the highest level is. We're not the English Premier League is. So, they know what the highest level is and then they kind of know the next tier. I think the next tier is still very good soccer and I think the Canadian Premier League can actually have good soccer teams and I see what we've put together and what we have coming up, I think we can have really good soccer. And, frankly, local because what we're doing with our academy is we're developing a lot of local players. And, eventually we want to put those players on TFC, right, first team. But, the experience that you get in the Canadian Premier League would be great. DF - I think that's a bit of the problem, really. I grew up supporting a very small team and part of the reality of that is that, hmm, you got a player that's doing really well and he's going to be sold on to some other bigger team. That's one thing, but, hmm, well this guys doing well and the big team called him up and you just lost him for nothing. That's a different dynamic. BM - But, your club got money. DF - Yes, but would TFC be giving money to TFC2? BM - No, because we've already invested in all those players. That's the thing. So, we're spending over $2-million a year on our youth development system. It's a big investment. Now, our board has made it. My original thought was to have a Canadian division of the USL, which I think would have been really intriguing because then you could have the champions of the Canadian division playing in the play-offs with the teams of the US and so on. But, look I think there's a debate about...in terms of Toronto on who would want a team. I just think from a standpoint of -- look, someone can put a team in. There not going to get 20,000 fans a game. KZK - I don't think they expect to get 20,000 fans a game. BM - (laughing) you'd be surprised on who you talk to. No, but I think...I wonder because we're still going to have TFC2, right? So, then, all of a sudden, we're going to be competing for players, we're going to be competing for sales and I think there's going to be confusion in the marketplace. So, that's why I feel very strongly that we have the perfect team to play in that league. TW - Do you think mostly your feelings of it being a challenge is from a business standpoint more than anything? BM - I'd say no. More from a players standpoint cause we've invested a lot of money in our academy and developing players and, look, our eventual goal is to try and graduate as many players as we can to TFC. And, if along the way we could play in a Canadian league...and. look, if we don't have a team in Toronto, I'll affiliate with a team. Like, I'll take a team in one of the other cities and I'll affiliate with them somehow because it then would benefit them if I bought one of their players. That's how in England, right? The lower level clubs survive by the bigger level clubs buying their players. So, we're still going to mine the CPL, whether we're in it or not, for talent. What we want to do is we do want to protect the investment we've made in our academy players that are coming up through the system. And, a fear I would have is, you know, we have a guy and he wants to move up to another team in another league and he gets out of our funnel. And, so I kind of look at our funnel as CPL (level) and my discussions with Victor he's like, look, we're going to develop players and eventually they can play in MLS. So, I don't think from that standpoint there's competition, but it does get into competition when I look at my second team. And, the thing that was very interesting to me is that it's being run by the CFL owners. So, these aren't like soccer guys that have come out of nowhere... KZK - Well Paul Beirne is not a CFL guy... BM - No, no, but he was hired by... KZK - Sure, but they at least hired someone with soccer knowledge BM - Absolutely and Paul is good, but they have sen that soccer is a sport that can grow and I think they have venues, they have space. But, you have the CSA, who I very much believe it's about the development of soccer in this country and then you have the CFL owners who see it as a business opportunity and they're going to want to make it work financially. And I just think...look, if there's a team here in Toronto I think it will struggle in a market like this where...it's a big town. It's a big market. Look, there might be a team that gets a couple thousand fans a game or whatever and if people like that that's fine, but I think we can put a Toronto team, our second team,and compete aganist the other cities -- Regina, Saskatchewan, wherever it is -- and we're representing Toronto. TW - If that were to be the case would you re-think the way that TFC2 is, like where they play, how thy're... BM - Yeah, ideally we would renovate Lamport (Stadium). Ideally. That's the best location, I think. We have established a very good relationship with the city of Vaughan and Ontario Soccer. We do have to do more with that little stadium up there. Last year e had a great little following, we tripled our ticket sales. It's still not where we want it to be, but we want to get it better. I would love to see us re-do Lamport, but to re-do Lamport is going to be a lot of money. Unfortunately. We manage Lamport, but it's going to be a lot of money. That is ideally the best place. BMO is too big, you know for my goal to get 4-5,000 fans a game and if we're playing in the Canadian Premier League maybe it will be more because I think there will be more attraction to the Canadian talent. But, the one thing we've found with TFC is all the surveys we've done -- (fans) don't want to see Canadian talent at the cost of winning. They want to win. Our fans want to win, right? Look if this player and this player and this player are directly even the Canadian guy we want to see, but if this guy is here and this guy is (lower) we want to see (the better player). And, I think the CPL. it's a different mission. It's about providing more opportunity for Canadian players. But, the level of play right now...it will be interesting to see if it's at a USL level or a NASL level and up because some of the guys playing in Europe if they're making good money won't come back unless they're paid good money and if they're paying really good money they're going to need big crowds, not 4-5,000 a game. They're going to need to average 10-15,000 a game. So, economics always come in. You know, it always comes in. MH - Is there...a possible...I'm going to assume that the conversation is never fully dead as far as a TFC contribution to the CPL... BM - Yeah MH - ...is there a way that you can envision where TFC2, or branded as something similar, or something else completely different, I should say... BM - The Young Reds. I like that. The Young Reds. MH - ...TFC under 23... BM - No, I wouldn't want to call them that. MH - ...What I mean is they're not the 'B' team, they're the youth team. You know, if there is a way that you can still have TFC in the CPL... BM - Look at Monaco right now. They have 18 of their players starting are under the age of 23. and they're going to sell them all. They are.... MH - That's been their... BM - Why can't we have a team that's made up of players under the age of 23, which is essentially what TFC2 is right now, that can compete very, you know, competitively in a league like that and the best of those players eventually move to MLS? Like to me that's essentially what the CPL will become. We will wind up -- if we see players develop, whether were involved or not, we're going to eventually -- as will Vancouver and Montreal will too -- we're going to want those players and we're going to pay some kind of transfer fee, just like we've done with the USL teams and the NASL teams, to get those players. So...for me, I think with our ownership with MLSE, I think we could do a lot to have a Toronto team that would work. As opposed to a stand alone team that I think would come in I think in this market would struggle. That's in my own opinion. DF - So when you're talking a couple times there about TFC's priority is clearly what's best for TFC... BM - Yeah, of course. DF - ...As opposed to potentially what's best for Canadian soccer, or Canadian players, or supporters of Canadian soccer in Toronto.. BM - Yeah, yeah, yeah, right. DF - ...As far as the players go I look at Jay Chapman. Last year he kind of started out a little tentative, got a run of a few games and he was looking really good. Then all of a sudden you sign Armando Cooper. Now you've signed Victor Vasquez. What exactly are Jay Chapman's prospects right now? And I understand why that should be your priority for TFC, but how is this really helping Canadian players and I think you having other options is a good thing. BM - Well I mean if you look Jay played the full 90 against Arizona (in USL). We won 1-0, but the best will always rise to the surface. In my opinion and Jay will get his day in the sun because he's a good young talent. We have a problem in Canada if our national team players are all coming from the Canadian Premier League. That's inherently going to be a problem because the level of play won't be good enough... KZK - Certainly not to begin with, but the idea is that it gets there, or at least approaches it. BM - But, what will happen is when Jay Chapman is playing there he's just going to end up somewhere else anyway. If he's that good. I say this sincerely...I believe that what is good for TFC is good for Canadian soccer and I believe what's good for Canadian soccer is good for Toronto FC. And, that's why I support the development of a league. I just feel that we have so much more to offer if we're part of the league and if we're not part of the league...I've already been approached by a couple of people who are looking at it who want to affiliate. And, we'll wind up affiliating and we'll do some kind of direct tie that way. But, we're still going to have to have a second team to get our players good, quality games. You look (at) Nick Hagglund last year. Nick Hagglund was not...he was the fifth option on defense and he wound up playing in the USL a few games, Josh Williams gets injured, Nick is thrown into a game, does well and now we can't take him out of the line-up he's doing so well every game. He's really cemented his spot. But, that's what those second team games are for -- Alex Bono, last year, played in the USL, was actually doing really well - Quillan Roberts was ahead of him actually... KZK - What happened to Q. Talking of Canadian players that are no longer with TFC BM - But, at the end of the day we have to look at who is better, right. Q coming out of training camp 2016 went up on our depth chart ahead of Alex. And then they both were playing USL games and Alex was playing better and Alex got the call when it was time to play...when Clint got injured and then Alex clearly just rose above... KZK - But, Q didn't even get to play in Voyageurs Cup games BM - Well, because Alex was playing so much better in the USL. I say this all the time: Would you rather us have a team where I took the local player, but we're not winning and we're bad. Or, the team that's going to win. And, everyone always says I want the team that's going to win. ... KZK - And I'm not going to say that I disagree with that cause sure I like winning, but -- and I admit...that I am a big proponent of Quillan Roberts. I always have been. I like him a lot... BM - And he's a good kid. We wanted him on the USL team this year... KZK - And I just feel that he's sort of one of those ones who has just been mishandled and he's no longer with the club and... BM - I don't know if it's mishandled. We offered him the opportunity to stay. KZK - To play for TFC2? BM - Yeah. To be the guy. KZK - And he chose to leave? BM - Yeah. KZK - Oh, Ok. BM - Look, he's a great kid. He's a great kid. And I think he's got a good future. Alex just... KZK - Alex is a good player. I have nothing against him. BM - And that was what great about TFC2 last year is that we rotated as many games as we could and Alex wound up playing better at the end of the day and that's why that came about. KZK - Ok. BM - But, he's a good kid. He just felt...look, Clint (Irwin) is only 27, turning 28. Alex is 22. and all of a sudden he was third in the depth chart and he figured hey I need to move somewhere else if I want to get up to MLS. DF - The other thing with the CPL...as far as supporters go...again, I fully understand you work for MLSE and kind of by extension MLS in a way. It's your job to protect your monopoly... BM - Thank you for understanding that (laughing) DF - ...similar to whenever there is talk of the NHL maybe putting a second team in the GTA... BM - I think I gave you the pizza shop analogy... DF - ... what's wrong with more pizza options? Why can't the people of Toronto have more pizza options? BM - I could build a chain. So you know if you have a Pizza Nova here I can build another Pizza Nova down the block. DF - But, what if you don't like Pizza Nova? BM - But, you know what, MLS is the best pizza (laughing) KZK - Bill, I will give you a local example. I live near two pizza places. Two different places. Two different chains. I visit both of them. Fairly equally. I give my support to both! BM - I would love people to come to TFC2... KZK - Then move them closer! (laughing) It's almost two hours by transit. BM - But, I think for me...look, for the Canadian soccer fan the more soccer the better, right? They're going to go to all kinds of soccer. I think I can provide that second level of soccer. And, who knows, let's say a CPL team came in and, who knows where they play, right? KZK - Monarch Park? BM - Why would you go there instead of going to TFC2? KZK - 'Cause TFC2 is in Vaughan! BM - But, let's say they're in Scarborough? KZK - Scarborough is still closer than Vaughan. BM - I guess my point is it's going to be difficult to find a place to play for them as well. I think for me there's enough cities, I think, in Canada that actually would be perfect for the CPL. Where it would be the only game in down - maybe them and a CFL team, obviously. I think we're already providing that second level of soccer. That we can provide here in Canada. KZK - But no one goes to see them BM - No, last year we sold out six games KZK - What's a sell out? BM - 1,300. But, we did. We sold out six games. It's a low price point KZK - Sure, but wouldn't you rather 5,000 come see those games? BM - No, I would. Of course, but that's one of the things we're debating. That's why we're playing at BMO Field twice this year KZK - The reserve team used to play at BMO Field more BM - No, I know...but, it became economically not viable because it's very expensive to open up BMO Field.This year we're going to experiment a little bit...but, look, on the CPL thing it's not an easy one because I do understand people want to see more soccer. The think that I struggle with -- I was talking to a couple of people who like, like the Galaxy. So Chivas fans were not Galaxy fans, right? Galaxy fans were not Chivas fans. In New York NYC fans are not Red Bulls fans and Red Bulls fans are not NYC fans. And New York Cosmos, which is probably a more relative example here...New York Cosmos fans are New York Cosmos fans. They're not NYC fans, NYC fans are not New York Cosmos fans. So I find it interesting that there is a different dialogue here that 'hey, we're going to be TFC fans and we're going to be CPL fans', but other markets are different. So, I found that the Orange County Blues, which is a team that plays in the USL, you know, they kind of have their own small little fan base -- maybe there's some cross over because I don't think the Galaxy pay attention to them, but I don't think the Galaxy supporters groups are supporters groups for the Orange County Blues, if I gave an example there. So, I'm just wondering is it...I think it's a good view that there's going to be more soccer. But, I'd be surprised if Inebriatti would go be a supporters group for another franchise too. I'd be surprised. But, you never know. But, I find that it's very interesting that some of these other markets there's no cross over. Or, very, very little, but yet people say 'oh, there's going to be all this cross over in this market, which I actually don't think would happen at the end of the day. TW - It might be a maturity of a market thing that you're referring to. I don't know if we're at that point yet. You refer to Toronto as bing kind of a big time market... BM - It is. It's a big, big city. TW - ...it's kind of turned its nose up at small things in the past... BM - I mean this is a big city and I think it's why some of the USL, the USL has thrived in some of the smaller markets. It's rarely thrived in the big markets. TW - On the other hand I think Toronto has matured greatly as a football town in the last couple of decades even leading into before TFC. You know you look at a big market in, I know this is a bit apples and oranges, but like a London where I support Tottenham Hotspur, but my local side is Leyton Orient, two divisions down, which would be a very, I think, fair comparison of what maybe a CPL team coming in would be to TFC. I would go to both, maybe not as fervently support Leyton, but I'd...yeah, I would go to both because the price point... BM - Could you speak to my friend Ivan Gazidis at Arsenal, he's saying none of his fans are going to anybody else's games... TW - Yeah, but those are Arsenal fans (laughing). They're a special breed...But, I think that...Now London is a very, very big city and as I said it's apples and oranges and I don't know if Toronto is quite ready for that, but I guess it would depend on what level the CPL would consider success as far as gate goes. BM - Right and that's a kind of a difficult thing now as you don't know...I think Victor, success for him is developing young Canadian players that can get competitive games to prepare them for future national team games. I think the CFL owners are looking at as we have stadiums that we need to fill and we can get a good business model out of soccer. I think they're coming together and they've become, you know, partners. And look again I say I think it's going to be a successful league in Canada if done properly and under the right budget, but I think there's a lot of cities that it can do really well in. Like, I think Hamilton will do great. I do. I think it will do great there. MH - And I'm going to be one of those people that will have season tickets to both (talk of Hamilton supporter scarves omitted) BM - (responding to a comment about an Ottawa Fury scarf) Ottawa Fury is an interesting one because they just joined the USL and they have a good owner in John Pugh and they're part of that group that owns the (junior) hockey team and the CFL team, but he's still, you know, he's not sure (about the CSL), he's not sure. It will be interesting. KZK - Well this is a topic in which there's never going to be a resolution in terms how you look at it and how a good swath of TFC/Canadian supporters look at it. I think, you know, you think there's room for two teams under the TFC umbrella; we think there's room for two teams regardless of who runs them. Like...we think there's room for a CPL team even if it's not run by Toronto, but we all want good things to happen for Canadian soccer. BM - That's fair. If they had a team in Scarborough, if they had a team in Brampton I wouldn't care. If they had a team five minutes away? Eeh. KZK - Scarborough is part of Toronto, Bill (laughing) BM - No, I know it is but... KZK - Are you talking proximity? MH - It's a community BM - it's not Toronto. Like we're talking downtown Toronto MH - Like if you had a team in Brampton and a team in Mississauga those aren't, here not competing with one another BM - That's where I kind of look. KZK - Literally if you put a team east of Yonge Street it's Ok. No one will notice. It's all right. This is how this works here. You'll be fine. (laughing) BM - So we'll see. If a team does come into this market I think it's going to be extremely difficult for them to get...I mean we're still here. We're the 800 lbs gorilla and it's going to be tough. It's going to be tough. KZK - Well hopefully we're still here! We're a Toronto FC podcast. What the hell are we going to do?
  18. Bill Manning sat down for a long form interview with the Vocal Minority Podcast this week. There's lots to unpack from that interview. You should listen to it in full. Part 1 here. Part 2 here. However, the part most will be interested in is Manning clarifying his position on the CanPL. Below is the transcribed portion of that conversation. You can listen to it starting at 16:55 of part 2 of the interview. BM = Bill Manning, KZK = Kristin Knowles, MH = Mark Hinkley, DF = Duncan Fletcher, TW = Tony Walsh KZK - CPL time! BM - Yes! KZK - Most requested topic by our listeners and readers and...of course that's how... BM - This has become such a hot topic KZK - (laughing) I wonder why! BM - So tell me what you guys know about the CPL, 'cause I don't know a lot, so. KZK - (laughing) So this is always your argument. So this all started, this whole reason you're here and everything, started from a conversation you and I had after the President's Breakfast BM - Yeah, Yeah. KZK - ..when I asked you some questions about the CPL in terms of the comments you made about it. BM - Yeah. KZK - So, very quickly, you are for the formation of a professional league in Canada, yes? BM - Yes, absolutely! KZK - Just wanted to get that out there, just so I don't have to throw anything at you (clearly joking) BM - No, no, no, absolutely (joking not relevant to topic omitted) KZK - The main sticking point with all of this -- and I know it sort of feels like re-visiting -- but, we just want...your views regarding the potential of a Toronto based team BM - Yes. KZK - And you said you really want TFC, more specifically TFC2, to be part of the CPL when it happens -- cause it is going to happen. Yes, we know it's all shrouded in mystery, but it is going to happen sometime in the next year, we hope. BM - Yep KZK - And you are very specific about why you think it's good for TFC to have a club, but not someone else. BM - Right, so here (it) is...in a nutshell. So, the CPL, the reason they are starting this league, if you talk to Victor Montagliani, is that they want to provide more opportunity for Canadian players so that they can have more of a pool of players for the Canadian national teams, right? It invariability is going to be a younger league because the better Canadian players will play in MLS and they'll play in some of the top leagues in Europe. So, what is TFC2? It is our younger players, who are just kinda knocking on the doorstep of playing in MLS. And, so the league is going to provide, I think, great opportunities for Canadian players, but it's still not going to get the best Canadian players. And, so I say with MLSE I believe that we can provide such local talent...p;layers that come up through our academy system -- and I see what's coming up in out 98 age group and up -- that we can field what I think would be a competitive team, based mostly of Canadian players, that would play good soccer. And, so that's why I don't understand why we'd want another group to come into Toronto and compete with us. KZK - But, why not because they aren't going to be playing against you so your...competing for players. BM - But...we're already offering what they would get...for lack of better words, I think will happen is -- and look, I love the USL and the minor leagues and all that , I started my career in that and I think it's a really important part of soccer in Canada and the US. I believe we could do it well. What I want to do, when this league starts, I don't want to see this league fold three years later. KZK - No one wants to see that. BM -- I think it's really important. I think if another owner comes into Toronto I think they're going to struggle. I think it's going to be very difficult in this market - this is a...Toronto (is a) alpha city, it doesn't compare itself to Vancouver and Montreal it compares itself to Chicago and New York and L.A. -- In this city they had a number of USL teams and...the Blizzards (sic) and the Lynx and everybody else -- I used to play against the Lynx -- those teams couldn't make it. And, my biggest fear is that they're going put a team in this market and they're going to try and compete with us and it's not going to work for them. KZK - But, how are they competing with you? They're not playing against you. BM - They compete with ticket sales, they compete with sponsorships, there are different ways. And, so I guess where I struggle is I think we can deliver all of that, you know. I do. I think we can deliver all of that. DF - I think the main think you have with it potentially being TFC2 is that - and presumably what you do with TFC2 is that there are players coming back and forth and it's not going to be the team that... BM - We would pay attention to regulations and all that and Victor didn't want...part of the thing is they don't want a second team cause they don't want the league to appear minor league. But, in my opinion, fans are going to know Major League Soccer (is higher). And they've said they don't want to compete with Major League Soccer, but then they don't want to be second tier, right? One thing I've learned in all my years doing this is that fans aren't dumb and they know what the highest level is. We're not the English Premier League is. So, they know what the highest level is and then they kind of know the next tier. I think the next tier is still very good soccer and I think the Canadian Premier League can actually have good soccer teams and I see what we've put together and what we have coming up, I think we can have really good soccer. And, frankly, local because what we're doing with our academy is we're developing a lot of local players. And, eventually we want to put those players on TFC, right, first team. But, the experience that you get in the Canadian Premier League would be great. DF - I think that's a bit of the problem, really. I grew up supporting a very small team and part of the reality of that is that, hmm, you got a player that's doing really well and he's going to be sold on to some other bigger team. That's one thing, but, hmm, well this guys doing well and the big team called him up and you just lost him for nothing. That's a different dynamic. BM - But, your club got money. DF - Yes, but would TFC be giving money to TFC2? BM - No, because we've already invested in all those players. That's the thing. So, we're spending over $2-million a year on our youth development system. It's a big investment. Now, our board has made it. My original thought was to have a Canadian division of the USL, which I think would have been really intriguing because then you could have the champions of the Canadian division playing in the play-offs with the teams of the US and so on. But, look I think there's a debate about...in terms of Toronto on who would want a team. I just think from a standpoint of -- look, someone can put a team in. There not going to get 20,000 fans a game. KZK - I don't think they expect to get 20,000 fans a game. BM - (laughing) you'd be surprised on who you talk to. No, but I think...I wonder because we're still going to have TFC2, right? So, then, all of a sudden, we're going to be competing for players, we're going to be competing for sales and I think there's going to be confusion in the marketplace. So, that's why I feel very strongly that we have the perfect team to play in that league. TW - Do you think mostly your feelings of it being a challenge is from a business standpoint more than anything? BM - I'd say no. More from a players standpoint cause we've invested a lot of money in our academy and developing players and, look, our eventual goal is to try and graduate as many players as we can to TFC. And, if along the way we could play in a Canadian league...and. look, if we don't have a team in Toronto, I'll affiliate with a team. Like, I'll take a team in one of the other cities and I'll affiliate with them somehow because it then would benefit them if I bought one of their players. That's how in England, right? The lower level clubs survive by the bigger level clubs buying their players. So, we're still going to mine the CPL, whether we're in it or not, for talent. What we want to do is we do want to protect the investment we've made in our academy players that are coming up through the system. And, a fear I would have is, you know, we have a guy and he wants to move up to another team in another league and he gets out of our funnel. And, so I kind of look at our funnel as CPL (level) and my discussions with Victor he's like, look, we're going to develop players and eventually they can play in MLS. So, I don't think from that standpoint there's competition, but it does get into competition when I look at my second team. And, the thing that was very interesting to me is that it's being run by the CFL owners. So, these aren't like soccer guys that have come out of nowhere... KZK - Well Paul Beirne is not a CFL guy... BM - No, no, but he was hired by... KZK - Sure, but they at least hired someone with soccer knowledge BM - Absolutely and Paul is good, but they have sen that soccer is a sport that can grow and I think they have venues, they have space. But, you have the CSA, who I very much believe it's about the development of soccer in this country and then you have the CFL owners who see it as a business opportunity and they're going to want to make it work financially. And I just think...look, if there's a team here in Toronto I think it will struggle in a market like this where...it's a big town. It's a big market. Look, there might be a team that gets a couple thousand fans a game or whatever and if people like that that's fine, but I think we can put a Toronto team, our second team,and compete aganist the other cities -- Regina, Saskatchewan, wherever it is -- and we're representing Toronto. TW - If that were to be the case would you re-think the way that TFC2 is, like where they play, how thy're... BM - Yeah, ideally we would renovate Lamport (Stadium). Ideally. That's the best location, I think. We have established a very good relationship with the city of Vaughan and Ontario Soccer. We do have to do more with that little stadium up there. Last year e had a great little following, we tripled our ticket sales. It's still not where we want it to be, but we want to get it better. I would love to see us re-do Lamport, but to re-do Lamport is going to be a lot of money. Unfortunately. We manage Lamport, but it's going to be a lot of money. That is ideally the best place. BMO is too big, you know for my goal to get 4-5,000 fans a game and if we're playing in the Canadian Premier League maybe it will be more because I think there will be more attraction to the Canadian talent. But, the one thing we've found with TFC is all the surveys we've done -- (fans) don't want to see Canadian talent at the cost of winning. They want to win. Our fans want to win, right? Look if this player and this player and this player are directly even the Canadian guy we want to see, but if this guy is here and this guy is (lower) we want to see (the better player). And, I think the CPL. it's a different mission. It's about providing more opportunity for Canadian players. But, the level of play right now...it will be interesting to see if it's at a USL level or a NASL level and up because some of the guys playing in Europe if they're making good money won't come back unless they're paid good money and if they're paying really good money they're going to need big crowds, not 4-5,000 a game. They're going to need to average 10-15,000 a game. So, economics always come in. You know, it always comes in. MH - Is there...a possible...I'm going to assume that the conversation is never fully dead as far as a TFC contribution to the CPL... BM - Yeah MH - ...is there a way that you can envision where TFC2, or branded as something similar, or something else completely different, I should say... BM - The Young Reds. I like that. The Young Reds. MH - ...TFC under 23... BM - No, I wouldn't want to call them that. MH - ...What I mean is they're not the 'B' team, they're the youth team. You know, if there is a way that you can still have TFC in the CPL... BM - Look at Monaco right now. They have 18 of their players starting are under the age of 23. and they're going to sell them all. They are.... MH - That's been their... BM - Why can't we have a team that's made up of players under the age of 23, which is essentially what TFC2 is right now, that can compete very, you know, competitively in a league like that and the best of those players eventually move to MLS? Like to me that's essentially what the CPL will become. We will wind up -- if we see players develop, whether were involved or not, we're going to eventually -- as will Vancouver and Montreal will too -- we're going to want those players and we're going to pay some kind of transfer fee, just like we've done with the USL teams and the NASL teams, to get those players. So...for me, I think with our ownership with MLSE, I think we could do a lot to have a Toronto team that would work. As opposed to a stand alone team that I think would come in I think in this market would struggle. That's in my own opinion. DF - So when you're talking a couple times there about TFC's priority is clearly what's best for TFC... BM - Yeah, of course. DF - ...As opposed to potentially what's best for Canadian soccer, or Canadian players, or supporters of Canadian soccer in Toronto.. BM - Yeah, yeah, yeah, right. DF - ...As far as the players go I look at Jay Chapman. Last year he kind of started out a little tentative, got a run of a few games and he was looking really good. Then all of a sudden you sign Armando Cooper. Now you've signed Victor Vasquez. What exactly are Jay Chapman's prospects right now? And I understand why that should be your priority for TFC, but how is this really helping Canadian players and I think you having other options is a good thing. BM - Well I mean if you look Jay played the full 90 against Arizona (in USL). We won 1-0, but the best will always rise to the surface. In my opinion and Jay will get his day in the sun because he's a good young talent. We have a problem in Canada if our national team players are all coming from the Canadian Premier League. That's inherently going to be a problem because the level of play won't be good enough... KZK - Certainly not to begin with, but the idea is that it gets there, or at least approaches it. BM - But, what will happen is when Jay Chapman is playing there he's just going to end up somewhere else anyway. If he's that good. I say this sincerely...I believe that what is good for TFC is good for Canadian soccer and I believe what's good for Canadian soccer is good for Toronto FC. And, that's why I support the development of a league. I just feel that we have so much more to offer if we're part of the league and if we're not part of the league...I've already been approached by a couple of people who are looking at it who want to affiliate. And, we'll wind up affiliating and we'll do some kind of direct tie that way. But, we're still going to have to have a second team to get our players good, quality games. You look (at) Nick Hagglund last year. Nick Hagglund was not...he was the fifth option on defense and he wound up playing in the USL a few games, Josh Williams gets injured, Nick is thrown into a game, does well and now we can't take him out of the line-up he's doing so well every game. He's really cemented his spot. But, that's what those second team games are for -- Alex Bono, last year, played in the USL, was actually doing really well - Quillan Roberts was ahead of him actually... KZK - What happened to Q. Talking of Canadian players that are no longer with TFC BM - But, at the end of the day we have to look at who is better, right. Q coming out of training camp 2016 went up on our depth chart ahead of Alex. And then they both were playing USL games and Alex was playing better and Alex got the call when it was time to play...when Clint got injured and then Alex clearly just rose above... KZK - But, Q didn't even get to play in Voyageurs Cup games BM - Well, because Alex was playing so much better in the USL. I say this all the time: Would you rather us have a team where I took the local player, but we're not winning and we're bad. Or, the team that's going to win. And, everyone always says I want the team that's going to win. ... KZK - And I'm not going to say that I disagree with that cause sure I like winning, but -- and I admit...that I am a big proponent of Quillan Roberts. I always have been. I like him a lot... BM - And he's a good kid. We wanted him on the USL team this year... KZK - And I just feel that he's sort of one of those ones who has just been mishandled and he's no longer with the club and... BM - I don't know if it's mishandled. We offered him the opportunity to stay. KZK - To play for TFC2? BM - Yeah. To be the guy. KZK - And he chose to leave? BM - Yeah. KZK - Oh, Ok. BM - Look, he's a great kid. He's a great kid. And I think he's got a good future. Alex just... KZK - Alex is a good player. I have nothing against him. BM - And that was what great about TFC2 last year is that we rotated as many games as we could and Alex wound up playing better at the end of the day and that's why that came about. KZK - Ok. BM - But, he's a good kid. He just felt...look, Clint (Irwin) is only 27, turning 28. Alex is 22. and all of a sudden he was third in the depth chart and he figured hey I need to move somewhere else if I want to get up to MLS. DF - The other thing with the CPL...as far as supporters go...again, I fully understand you work for MLSE and kind of by extension MLS in a way. It's your job to protect your monopoly... BM - Thank you for understanding that (laughing) DF - ...similar to whenever there is talk of the NHL maybe putting a second team in the GTA... BM - I think I gave you the pizza shop analogy... DF - ... what's wrong with more pizza options? Why can't the people of Toronto have more pizza options? BM - I could build a chain. So you know if you have a Pizza Nova here I can build another Pizza Nova down the block. DF - But, what if you don't like Pizza Nova? BM - But, you know what, MLS is the best pizza (laughing) KZK - Bill, I will give you a local example. I live near two pizza places. Two different places. Two different chains. I visit both of them. Fairly equally. I give my support to both! BM - I would love people to come to TFC2... KZK - Then move them closer! (laughing) It's almost two hours by transit. BM - But, I think for me...look, for the Canadian soccer fan the more soccer the better, right? They're going to go to all kinds of soccer. I think I can provide that second level of soccer. And, who knows, let's say a CPL team came in and, who knows where they play, right? KZK - Monarch Park? BM - Why would you go there instead of going to TFC2? KZK - 'Cause TFC2 is in Vaughan! BM - But, let's say they're in Scarborough? KZK - Scarborough is still closer than Vaughan. BM - I guess my point is it's going to be difficult to find a place to play for them as well. I think for me there's enough cities, I think, in Canada that actually would be perfect for the CPL. Where it would be the only game in down - maybe them and a CFL team, obviously. I think we're already providing that second level of soccer. That we can provide here in Canada. KZK - But no one goes to see them BM - No, last year we sold out six games KZK - What's a sell out? BM - 1,300. But, we did. We sold out six games. It's a low price point KZK - Sure, but wouldn't you rather 5,000 come see those games? BM - No, I would. Of course, but that's one of the things we're debating. That's why we're playing at BMO Field twice this year KZK - The reserve team used to play at BMO Field more BM - No, I know...but, it became economically not viable because it's very expensive to open up BMO Field.This year we're going to experiment a little bit...but, look, on the CPL thing it's not an easy one because I do understand people want to see more soccer. The think that I struggle with -- I was talking to a couple of people who like, like the Galaxy. So Chivas fans were not Galaxy fans, right? Galaxy fans were not Chivas fans. In New York NYC fans are not Red Bulls fans and Red Bulls fans are not NYC fans. And New York Cosmos, which is probably a more relative example here...New York Cosmos fans are New York Cosmos fans. They're not NYC fans, NYC fans are not New York Cosmos fans. So I find it interesting that there is a different dialogue here that 'hey, we're going to be TFC fans and we're going to be CPL fans', but other markets are different. So, I found that the Orange County Blues, which is a team that plays in the USL, you know, they kind of have their own small little fan base -- maybe there's some cross over because I don't think the Galaxy pay attention to them, but I don't think the Galaxy supporters groups are supporters groups for the Orange County Blues, if I gave an example there. So, I'm just wondering is it...I think it's a good view that there's going to be more soccer. But, I'd be surprised if Inebriatti would go be a supporters group for another franchise too. I'd be surprised. But, you never know. But, I find that it's very interesting that some of these other markets there's no cross over. Or, very, very little, but yet people say 'oh, there's going to be all this cross over in this market, which I actually don't think would happen at the end of the day. TW - It might be a maturity of a market thing that you're referring to. I don't know if we're at that point yet. You refer to Toronto as bing kind of a big time market... BM - It is. It's a big, big city. TW - ...it's kind of turned its nose up at small things in the past... BM - I mean this is a big city and I think it's why some of the USL, the USL has thrived in some of the smaller markets. It's rarely thrived in the big markets. TW - On the other hand I think Toronto has matured greatly as a football town in the last couple of decades even leading into before TFC. You know you look at a big market in, I know this is a bit apples and oranges, but like a London where I support Tottenham Hotspur, but my local side is Leyton Orient, two divisions down, which would be a very, I think, fair comparison of what maybe a CPL team coming in would be to TFC. I would go to both, maybe not as fervently support Leyton, but I'd...yeah, I would go to both because the price point... BM - Could you speak to my friend Ivan Gazidis at Arsenal, he's saying none of his fans are going to anybody else's games... TW - Yeah, but those are Arsenal fans (laughing). They're a special breed...But, I think that...Now London is a very, very big city and as I said it's apples and oranges and I don't know if Toronto is quite ready for that, but I guess it would depend on what level the CPL would consider success as far as gate goes. BM - Right and that's a kind of a difficult thing now as you don't know...I think Victor, success for him is developing young Canadian players that can get competitive games to prepare them for future national team games. I think the CFL owners are looking at as we have stadiums that we need to fill and we can get a good business model out of soccer. I think they're coming together and they've become, you know, partners. And look again I say I think it's going to be a successful league in Canada if done properly and under the right budget, but I think there's a lot of cities that it can do really well in. Like, I think Hamilton will do great. I do. I think it will do great there. MH - And I'm going to be one of those people that will have season tickets to both (talk of Hamilton supporter scarves omitted) BM - (responding to a comment about an Ottawa Fury scarf) Ottawa Fury is an interesting one because they just joined the USL and they have a good owner in John Pugh and they're part of that group that owns the (junior) hockey team and the CFL team, but he's still, you know, he's not sure (about the CSL), he's not sure. It will be interesting. KZK - Well this is a topic in which there's never going to be a resolution in terms how you look at it and how a good swath of TFC/Canadian supporters look at it. I think, you know, you think there's room for two teams under the TFC umbrella; we think there's room for two teams regardless of who runs them. Like...we think there's room for a CPL team even if it's not run by Toronto, but we all want good things to happen for Canadian soccer. BM - That's fair. If they had a team in Scarborough, if they had a team in Brampton I wouldn't care. If they had a team five minutes away? Eeh. KZK - Scarborough is part of Toronto, Bill (laughing) BM - No, I know it is but... KZK - Are you talking proximity? MH - It's a community BM - it's not Toronto. Like we're talking downtown Toronto MH - Like if you had a team in Brampton and a team in Mississauga those aren't, here not competing with one another BM - That's where I kind of look. KZK - Literally if you put a team east of Yonge Street it's Ok. No one will notice. It's all right. This is how this works here. You'll be fine. (laughing) BM - So we'll see. If a team does come into this market I think it's going to be extremely difficult for them to get...I mean we're still here. We're the 800 lbs gorilla and it's going to be tough. It's going to be tough. KZK - Well hopefully we're still here! We're a Toronto FC podcast. What the hell are we going to do? View full record
  19. There tends to be a bias in sports management that favours the player you picked over the player you inherited. It makes sense. After all, you fell in love with your player. The other player is an arranged marriage sort of thing. You might eventually love them, but it's going to take work from both sides. Sometimes one or neither side is willing to put in that work though and the relationship dissolves without ever having had a chance. This brings us to the case of Quillan Roberts and Alex Bono vs Greg Vanney and Tim Bezbatchenko. The latter fell in love with the man who's last name will forever evoke bad U2 puns. That left the player they call Q, a player carefully brought up through the TFC youth system for years, sleeping on the couch. It's easy to understand why they fell for Bono. He's a tall, strapping American that came from the cult of 'Cuse. He even played in the US youth system! And man does he practice well. Talk to anyone. They will go on and on about how good Bono is in training. How could Q stand up? He's just some pint-sized kid (for a keeper) from Brampton. Didn't even play college soccer. And, don't try to compare a full Canadian senior cap and having played at every level of the Canadian youth set up to the US system. Pfft. Tim and Greg had made up their minds the second they bizarrely used a first round pick on a keeper three years ago. The Fly was their man. Everything that happened after was designed to bring Bono forward over Q. Even though the academy product was by far the better keeper in USL in season 1 of TFC2 it was Bono that was given the longer look in the second pre-season. Even though Q was performing at an equal level to Bono in USL last year when Clint Irwin went down with the injury it was Bono that got the call. The management claimed that it was random fate and that he earned the next start through his MLS performance, but the googly eyes towards their boy from Syracuse betrayed them. It was also hard to argue that Bono earned the next start since he was directly at fault for the winning goal in his MLS debut appearance. It's old news now, but why Q didn't get at least one start during the stretch that Irwin was out isn't defend-able to me. The two players were not distinguishable in their development at that point and to not give your academy product at least one look never made sense to me. If they had given him a look last year he might have been willing to sign a USL contract this year. Instead, Q is out of contract and looking to find a team that will give him another shot. Meanwhile, TFC finds itself in a bit of a goalkeeping pickle, with Irwin's second injury in as many years. Regardless of whether you're a Bono Believer (and, I'm not fully there yet. To me he directly cost TFC five points last season and, as much as I recognize he's a decent shot stopper, I don't fully trust his mental game yet), you have to recognize that the Reds are screwed if he gets hurt. Unless you think Angelo Cavalluzzo is ready to be a MLS starting keeper (or, more likely, you're OK using a MLS pool keeper). Look, Bono may turn out to be what Vanney and Bez think he is. All I know is that there are as many people out there that share the same doubts as me as there are those that fully trust the kid. And, I'm not going to give Q a full pass either. He didn't get a fair shot in my mind, but there was also suggestions that he didn't fight hard enough after it became clear that Bono was favoured. My issue isn't really with Bono, but rather the blinders that appeared to be on TFC management when they made the decision that he was the better long-term bet than Q was. It speaks to a bias that many in the local soccer community see with TFC and, so long as the perception is out there, it could hurt TFC on the local recruitment front. Is that bias -- that they trust kids drafted from the NCAA over kids developed here and are more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt -- real? In fairness, Raheem Edwards is proving that they aren't going to ignore players from the system if they make them stand up and take note. However, perception is reality and it's going to be hard for some in the local scene to forget what they feel was unfair treatment of one of TFCA's longest serving players.
  20. There tends to be a bias in sports management that favours the player you picked over the player you inherited. It makes sense. After all, you fell in love with your player. The other player is an arranged marriage sort of thing. You might eventually love them, but it's going to take work from both sides. Sometimes one or neither side is willing to put in that work though and the relationship dissolves without ever having had a chance. This brings us to the case of Quillan Roberts and Alex Bono vs Greg Vanney and Tim Bezbatchenko. The latter fell in love with the man who's last name will forever evoke bad U2 puns. That left the player they call Q, a player carefully brought up through the TFC youth system for years, sleeping on the couch. It's easy to understand why they fell for Bono. He's a tall, strapping American that came from the cult of 'Cuse. He even played in the US youth system! And man does he practice well. Talk to anyone. They will go on and on about how good Bono is in training. How could Q stand up? He's just some pint-sized kid (for a keeper) from Brampton. Didn't even play college soccer. And, don't try to compare a full Canadian senior cap and having played at every level of the Canadian youth set up to the US system. Pfft. Tim and Greg had made up their minds the second they bizarrely used a first round pick on a keeper three years ago. The Fly was their man. Everything that happened after was designed to bring Bono forward over Q. Even though the academy product was by far the better keeper in USL in season 1 of TFC2 it was Bono that was given the longer look in the second pre-season. Even though Q was performing at an equal level to Bono in USL last year when Clint Irwin went down with the injury it was Bono that got the call. The management claimed that it was random fate and that he earned the next start through his MLS performance, but the googly eyes towards their boy from Syracuse betrayed them. It was also hard to argue that Bono earned the next start since he was directly at fault for the winning goal in his MLS debut appearance. It's old news now, but why Q didn't get at least one start during the stretch that Irwin was out isn't defend-able to me. The two players were not distinguishable in their development at that point and to not give your academy product at least one look never made sense to me. If they had given him a look last year he might have been willing to sign a USL contract this year. Instead, Q is out of contract and looking to find a team that will give him another shot. Meanwhile, TFC finds itself in a bit of a goalkeeping pickle, with Irwin's second injury in as many years. Regardless of whether you're a Bono Believer (and, I'm not fully there yet. To me he directly cost TFC five points last season and, as much as I recognize he's a decent shot stopper, I don't fully trust his mental game yet), you have to recognize that the Reds are screwed if he gets hurt. Unless you think Angelo Cavalluzzo is ready to be a MLS starting keeper (or, more likely, you're OK using a MLS pool keeper). Look, Bono may turn out to be what Vanney and Bez think he is. All I know is that there are as many people out there that share the same doubts as me as there are those that fully trust the kid. And, I'm not going to give Q a full pass either. He didn't get a fair shot in my mind, but there was also suggestions that he didn't fight hard enough after it became clear that Bono was favoured. My issue isn't really with Bono, but rather the blinders that appeared to be on TFC management when they made the decision that he was the better long-term bet than Q was. It speaks to a bias that many in the local soccer community see with TFC and, so long as the perception is out there, it could hurt TFC on the local recruitment front. Is that bias -- that they trust kids drafted from the NCAA over kids developed here and are more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt -- real? In fairness, Raheem Edwards is proving that they aren't going to ignore players from the system if they make them stand up and take note. However, perception is reality and it's going to be hard for some in the local scene to forget what they feel was unfair treatment of one of TFCA's longest serving players. View full record
  21. People love lists. Journalism schools likely teach list making now. Instead of going on a rant about the death of journalism - I'll save that for Facebook -- CSN is going to embrace it with the debut of this new feature. The Big List will rank things. Sometimes 10, sometimes 8, sometimes 15. Whatever I feel like when I write it, basically. Today, it's 10. The reason it's 10 is because there's literally only 10 of them to rank. The subject is the best 10 TFC home openers. Presented from worst to first: 10 -- April 4, 2009 vs Seattle, 0-2 Let's start with the cold. Oh my God was it cold. Some will argue that the 2011 opener versus Portland was colder, but they'd be wrong. This game was literally the worst. There was a wind blowing every direction that was lifting supporters of the ground as they tried to hold up the pre-match tifo. Awful. Just awful. And, that's without talking about the game itself. Toronto gave the expansion Sounders their first ever road win (what's it with TFC and it giving Seattle the first of things?) in a absolute garbage performance. Three years in this was probably the game that ended the keg party buzz that had lasted through the first two seasons of TFC. It was the buzzkill game. 9 -- March 24, 2012 vs San Jose, 0-3 The Danny Koevermans "The Worst Team in the World" comment was still weeks away but the writing was on the wall. The scoreline says it all, although it was going to get far, far worse (hell, the Columbus game a week later was more depressing). The year 2012 was just bad. 8 -- May 10, 2015 vs Houston, 1-2 After 600 weeks on the road and coming off a two game winning streak that had fans giddy the debut of Giovinco was a bust. They were flat and uninspiring and the fans left thinking that maybe this wasn't all fixed yet. 7 -- April 19, 2008 vs Salt Lake, 1-0 They won. So, that was nice. But a 12:30pm start and an uninspiring opponent (no offense to RSL, but there is literally no rivalry there) lead to a pretty forgettable game. Seriously, try to remember the game. 6 -- April 15, 2010 vs Philadelphia, 2-1 Falling in the middle of a three year stretch where TFC opened against an expansion team (which was probably by design to help poor Toronto out) there wasn't much to get behind in this one. Preki ball was also terrible to watch at the best of times. 5 -- May 7, 2016 vs Dallas, 1-0 It went better than the last game at BMO Field in 2016 for sure. After the disappointment of the 2015 opener this game was a relief to fans. Pretty nice win over a very good team though. 4 -- March 22, 2014 vs DC United, 1-0 The earliest game in BMO Field history and it turned out to not be that cold. Also, Jermain Defoe scored the winner and fans thought this was finally the year. Nothing possibly could have gone wrong from there! 3 -- March 26, 2011 vs Portland, 2-0 By far the best performance of all the openers. And Javier Martina! Man, what a goal. Then a brace!! Aron Winter's first game in charge at BMO Field was very likely his best. But, it was cold. Not Seattle 2009 cold, but damn cold. 2 -- March 9, 2013 vs Kansas City, 2-1 When this game was announced many supporters hated it. BMO Field is our home, they said. SkyDome is where the Argos play (And always will, right?) But it turned out to be a lot of fun. A good sized crowd and actually getting to see the team that early in the year almost makes me want to go back to The Dome again. Almost. 1 -- April 28, 2007 vs Kansas City, 0-1 You never forget your first. Yeah, they lost, but the memories of that day are truly magical. The shaking of the stands, the beer throwing woman, singing "all we are saying is give us a goal," and the realization that it was all very real. I get emotional just thinking of it. Agree? Disagree? Give me your rankings in the comments of on Twitter @24thminute
  22. People love lists. Journalism schools likely teach list making now. Instead of going on a rant about the death of journalism - I'll save that for Facebook -- CSN is going to embrace it with the debut of this new feature. The Big List will rank things. Sometimes 10, sometimes 8, sometimes 15. Whatever I feel like when I write it, basically. Today, it's 10. The reason it's 10 is because there's literally only 10 of them to rank. The subject is the best 10 TFC home openers. Presented from worst to first: 10 -- April 4, 2009 vs Seattle, 0-2 Let's start with the cold. Oh my God was it cold. Some will argue that the 2011 opener versus Portland was colder, but they'd be wrong. This game was literally the worst. There was a wind blowing every direction that was lifting supporters of the ground as they tried to hold up the pre-match tifo. Awful. Just awful. And, that's without talking about the game itself. Toronto gave the expansion Sounders their first ever road win (what's it with TFC and it giving Seattle the first of things?) in a absolute garbage performance. Three years in this was probably the game that ended the keg party buzz that had lasted through the first two seasons of TFC. It was the buzzkill game. 9 -- March 24, 2012 vs San Jose, 0-3 The Danny Koevermans "The Worst Team in the World" comment was still weeks away but the writing was on the wall. The scoreline says it all, although it was going to get far, far worse (hell, the Columbus game a week later was more depressing). The year 2012 was just bad. 8 -- May 10, 2015 vs Houston, 1-2 After 600 weeks on the road and coming off a two game winning streak that had fans giddy the debut of Giovinco was a bust. They were flat and uninspiring and the fans left thinking that maybe this wasn't all fixed yet. 7 -- April 19, 2008 vs Salt Lake, 1-0 They won. So, that was nice. But a 12:30pm start and an uninspiring opponent (no offense to RSL, but there is literally no rivalry there) lead to a pretty forgettable game. Seriously, try to remember the game. 6 -- April 15, 2010 vs Philadelphia, 2-1 Falling in the middle of a three year stretch where TFC opened against an expansion team (which was probably by design to help poor Toronto out) there wasn't much to get behind in this one. Preki ball was also terrible to watch at the best of times. 5 -- May 7, 2016 vs Dallas, 1-0 It went better than the last game at BMO Field in 2016 for sure. After the disappointment of the 2015 opener this game was a relief to fans. Pretty nice win over a very good team though. 4 -- March 22, 2014 vs DC United, 1-0 The earliest game in BMO Field history and it turned out to not be that cold. Also, Jermain Defoe scored the winner and fans thought this was finally the year. Nothing possibly could have gone wrong from there! 3 -- March 26, 2011 vs Portland, 2-0 By far the best performance of all the openers. And Javier Martina! Man, what a goal. Then a brace!! Aron Winter's first game in charge at BMO Field was very likely his best. But, it was cold. Not Seattle 2009 cold, but damn cold. 2 -- March 9, 2013 vs Kansas City, 2-1 When this game was announced many supporters hated it. BMO Field is our home, they said. SkyDome is where the Argos play (And always will, right?) But it turned out to be a lot of fun. A good sized crowd and actually getting to see the team that early in the year almost makes me want to go back to The Dome again. Almost. 1 -- April 28, 2007 vs Kansas City, 0-1 You never forget your first. Yeah, they lost, but the memories of that day are truly magical. The shaking of the stands, the beer throwing woman, singing "all we are saying is give us a goal," and the realization that it was all very real. I get emotional just thinking of it. Agree? Disagree? Give me your rankings in the comments of on Twitter @24thminute View full record
  23. Philadelphia Union (0-0-1) v TFC (0-0-1), Match Day 2 TSN 4 – 4:30pm, Saturday CSN Away Viewing is upstairs at Pauper’s Pub (Bathurst and Bloor). Check the usual suspects (Wheat Sheaf, Shoeless Joe’s, etc.) for others or add your viewing in the comments. Last meeting: TFC won its first ever playoff game in rather convincing fashion to launch a magical run that lasted through to the end of November. I’m not sure what happened in December. Most famous game: In what was possibly Aron Winter’s darkest moment the exceptionally average Union put six – yes, SIX – goals by the Worst Team in the World to win 6-2 in front of a grumpy BMO Field back in 2012. Key Union player: Let’s go with Super Keeper Andre Blake, who is arguably the best shot stopper in all of MLS. Thankfully, TFC has not been robbed blind by a keeper standing on his head in almost three months. Former Red alert: With the man responsible for BMO Field’s lack of plastic, Mo Edu, still recovering from his broken leg the former Reds alert is Warren Creavalle. The utility player most famous in Toronto for the drunk guy two rows back of you insisting he’d be a better option at right-back has actually found some half-decent form for the Union. Key TFC player: Gotta be Seba, no? After yet another week of MLS’ tried and true defensive strategy of hack-a-little-Italian, the Atomic Ant will be looking to open his account in style this weekend. Home advantage: Meh. Unless you’re trying to park your car after sunset there isn’t much intimating about Chester’s best soccer stadium. The weather on game day is going to be positively Canadian -- -4C expected at kick-off. No orange ball likely though. What opposing fans are saying: REVENGE!!!!1!!!!1! They are also mostly calling for a tight game and possibly a draw. Yippee. TFC panic level (as expressed by the name of a former player): Danny Koevermans (He’s really good, but we’re scared it’s all going to go wrong at any moment) Our view: It says here that TFC gets its first three points of the year and Seba opens his account with a brace. 3-0 Reds.
  24. Philadelphia Union (0-0-1) v TFC (0-0-1), Match Day 2 TSN 4 – 4:30pm, Saturday CSN Away Viewing is upstairs at Pauper’s Pub (Bathurst and Bloor). Check the usual suspects (Wheat Sheaf, Shoeless Joe’s, etc.) for others or add your viewing in the comments. Last meeting: TFC won its first ever playoff game in rather convincing fashion to launch a magical run that lasted through to the end of November. I’m not sure what happened in December. Most famous game: In what was possibly Aron Winter’s darkest moment the exceptionally average Union put six – yes, SIX – goals by the Worst Team in the World to win 6-2 in front of a grumpy BMO Field back in 2012. Key Union player: Let’s go with Super Keeper Andre Blake, who is arguably the best shot stopper in all of MLS. Thankfully, TFC has not been robbed blind by a keeper standing on his head in almost three months. Former Red alert: With the man responsible for BMO Field’s lack of plastic, Mo Edu, still recovering from his broken leg the former Reds alert is Warren Creavalle. The utility player most famous in Toronto for the drunk guy two rows back of you insisting he’d be a better option at right-back has actually found some half-decent form for the Union. Key TFC player: Gotta be Seba, no? After yet another week of MLS’ tried and true defensive strategy of hack-a-little-Italian, the Atomic Ant will be looking to open his account in style this weekend. Home advantage: Meh. Unless you’re trying to park your car after sunset there isn’t much intimating about Chester’s best soccer stadium. The weather on game day is going to be positively Canadian -- -4C expected at kick-off. No orange ball likely though. What opposing fans are saying: REVENGE!!!!1!!!!1! They are also mostly calling for a tight game and possibly a draw. Yippee. TFC panic level (as expressed by the name of a former player): Danny Koevermans (He’s really good, but we’re scared it’s all going to go wrong at any moment) Our view: It says here that TFC gets its first three points of the year and Seba opens his account with a brace. 3-0 Reds. View full record
  25. Talk about burying the lead. Toronto FC fans got a surprise yesterday and not one that they would have been looking forward to. That Champions League spot that many were looking forward to is not just delayed until next February -- it's been taken away completely. The news was almost hidden in a release announcing the extension of the Canadian Championship to include the winner of the PLSQ and League1 Ontario. So, to re-cap, the CSA got one thing right and one thing very wrong. Let's start with the wrong. Appreciating the fact that a lot of people in this country love it when Toronto gets screwed, there is no denying that they did, in fact, get screwed here. Yes, there was a bit of an issue to fix -- CONCACAF's change in format made it a long wait for the qualifying team -- but the CSA chose quite possibly the least sporting solution available to them. TFC won the Voyageurs Cup on the field and the CONCACAF spot that went with it should have stayed with them. A year where the Cup did not have a CCL spot would not have been the end of the world. In fact, it may have given more opportunity to young Canadians to play in the competition as the teams would have very likely rotated (as an aside, the CSA also added a Canadian quota for starters this year -- each team will need to start three Canucks each game. The CSA did provide a slight advantage by allowing TFC to host the one game playoff. Obviously, if TFC wins the 2017 Voyageurs Cup they do not need to play itself for the birth. Unfair or not, it's done now and the Reds will need to get down to the business of repeating as champions if the CCL is to make a long awaited return to T.O. For the D3 level teams the long wait to get a shot at the Canadian Championship is almost over. The specific format of the 2018 Cup has not been released yet (hopefully because they are waiting to add a few more teams in a, say, new league...), but whatever it is it will include at least two D3 teams. It won't include the Canadian PDL teams. The likely reason? The CSA wants those teams to play in Canadian leagues and this might be the incentive to get them to make that choice on their own.
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