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Found 5 results

  1. Thanks to Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com for the audio.
  2. Until next time, have a great soccer! @OfftheWoodworkx @KevLaramee http://www.afrokanlife.com/category/sports/ http://canadiansoccernews.com http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/off-the-woodwork/id898309206?mt=2 http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/off-the-woodworkx Sports Podcasting Network http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/otw-studios/id1018126433 http://feeds.feedburner.com/otwstudios Support Kevin and SPN http://patreon.com/kevinlaramee http://kevinlaramee.com
  3. Today on Off the Woodworkx, I recall the road of the Montreal Impact in the 2014-15 Scotiabank's Concacaf Champions League. Starting in Edmonton for the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship Semi-Final, I go through games and moments of the competition and try to put a perspective on the size of the accomplishment of reaching the Final of our continent's biggest club tournament. From the group stage through to the knockout stage, I remember the key moments of the club, with a certain emphasis on a certain 94th minute series winning goal by the rookie Cameron Porter! Come for the ride, the memories are forever! See you in Mexico! @KevLaramee https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/off-woodworkx-soccer-podcast/id644040569?mt=2 http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/off-the-woodworkx http://feeds.feedburner.com/rapidfeeds/iekP http://facebook.com/offthewoodworkx offthewoodworkx@hotmail.com
  4. I was not impressed by much of what I saw at the end of 2014. The only way to rationalize Greg Vanney doing (marginally) worse than Ryan Nelsen, over any comparable stretch and with the same group of players, is to accept the (untestable) "death-spiral" hypothesis and blame Ryan Nelsen. Which, really, is a pretty remarkable piece of intellectual jujitsu. I was not impressed by how Greg Vanney was installed as coach of TFC. Rightly or wrongly, Tim Bezbatchenko made a move that made Vanney and himself focal points for the team's failure. It exhibited either hubris, or a lack of PR savvy. Hopefully it was more of the latter than the former. But: In the interests of fairness, I'm ready to start fresh. There have only been a couple TFC managers that I've had a pre-existing "good feeling" about, and plenty that I was predisposed to being discouraged about. Instead of holding on to my frustration over the way 2014 ended, I'm going to (attempt to) reset my opinion of Greg Vanney to the same one I had when John Carver was announced: I've got no f*cking idea who this guy is, and won't be able to have anything like a reasonable opinion on his suitability until he's had some time in charge. If Vanney had been appointed this winter, that's exactly the attitude I would have taken, so it's the one I'm going to employ. So: No fine parsing of interviews trying to glean predictive nuggets. No looking back to the on-field performance in those last 10 games. The moves the TBez/Vanney team make over the winter will be fresh data on a blank canvas. Even then, they'll only start to frame an impression of the direction they plan to move Toronto FC. We’ll have to wait until 2015 is well in-gear to really get an idea of who Greg Vanney is. Greg Vanney, if he’s the person Toronto FC decides should be head coach in 2015, deserves the chance to fail that’s been denied too many previous incumbents. Moving on: Part of the perception of my "negativity" is my constant frustration with the unearned trust that swathes of the online fan base seems to invest in each new manager, only to be later disappointed when those unrealistic expectations aren't met. There's a "leadership cult" at TFC that imagines a level of immediacy of agency that managers can only rarely affect. (Aside: The perverse consequence of that cult is that every loss, let alone (annual) season long failure, must be explained as a function of some incorrect decision the manager made and blamed on him.) When the manager is new and popular, chipping away at that trust is perceived as negative. The rare times I've been on the "positive" side of an argument over a manager's efficacy -- Preki in retrospect, Paul Mariner, and Ryan Nelsen this summer -- it's been because I've been expressing doubt over the certainty that the manager either is failing or has failed. Thus, the real object of my ire is revealed: certainty. At first, most often, it's the certainty that a manager will be successful. Later, the certainty that they have failed, are failing, or will fail in the future. Even in the most obvious cases of failure, such as Aron Winter's catastrophic start to the 2012 MLS campaign, I'm willing to accept that we can't actually know what would have happened if he'd been left in charge. I certainly felt that seven wins from 44 MLS games, and the downward trajectory from a really poor 2011 to a disastrous 2012, qualified as reasonable grounds for giving up, but it’s not impossible that it was premature. Aron Winter could have been successful. All we can really say is that he hadn’t been. The supreme expression of this desire for certainty was probably the infamous “In Carver We Trust” banner that once hung in the South End of BMO Field. At the time, even though it raised eyebrows, the banner may have been a fairly innocuous expression of normal fan/manager/club solidarity. But the way John Carver’s lingering personal popularity informs the recollection of his year and a bit as head coach leaves it with a different tinge. John Carver’s team finished third last overall in his only full year in charge. They didn’t win a home game for over three months that summer. They lost the inaugural Canadian Championship to a second division club, only winning one of four matches against that level of competition. Whether he was pushed or jumped, one way or another he ultimately resigned only weeks into his second year in-charge. Yet he’s still largely remembered fondly, occasionally suggested as TFC’s best ever coach, and sometimes even mooted as meriting a second spell. In Carver We Trust… because we have to? Because we like him? That’s never been clear to me. When is “success” not enough? The bizarre reflection of the above, the other consequence of TFC’s leadership cult, is that I’ve often felt that if our fan base doesn’t “believe” in a coach, they’re not willing to recognize success! Those who would seek to salvage Aron Winter’s reputation often point to his back-to-back Canadian Championships and epic CONCACAF Champions League run. That’s actually more than fair. Regardless of the fact that his stewardship resulted in two league seasons that were effectively over by early summer, those successes can be legitimately pointed to, and aren’t erased from his record. But in MLS itself? Preki radically overhauled an aging, over-budget 2009 team and had his group of unspectacular grafters solidly competitive until a mid-summer injury crisis amongst his forwards. I thought Paul Mariner’s four wins in his first ten games in-charge a fairly impressive turnaround for a team with a 1-0-9 record, but he was being roundly criticized even before the endless late-season winless run that followed. Ryan Nelsen may have done nothing to inspire confidence in 2013, but somehow the solid start to 2014 seemed to count against him during the long, wobbly summer that followed. Ultimately, none of those runs, however short, were deemed good enough. Truthfully, none of them would have, or did, result in that much sought after playoff spot. But each had to be explained away with references to luck, sample-size, or an allusion to other teams “figuring out the simple tactics”. Apparently, even success only counts when it’s achieved the right way, by the right person. It may even hurt a TFC manager’s chance of survival by standing in contrast to eventual slumps. Will this tendency affect Greg Vanney? We’ll see, but right now it seems like he enjoys slightly more favour than ire, depending on where you look. That said, it almost seems that Ryan Nelsen was more popular in early 2013 when Kevin Payne’s endorsement and happiness over Mariner’s dismissal combined to anoint him as the club’s next putative saviour. Finally: Sometimes, there even seems to be a belief that our collective "faith", or lack thereof, has some sort of causal relationship with a manager's success or failure. No one comes right out and says it, but it’s implicit in much of the discussion. I’m almost certainly guilty of it myself. That’s crazy. Notwithstanding the self-important wankery and preening arrogance above, I take comfort from the knowledge that my opinion of Greg Vanney really doesn’t matter. His success or failure, if he even gets the chance, will have nothing to do with my and your feelings on the subject. So why bother even writing all of this at all? Because I’m a fan. And I still care. And I'm probably not going to be able to stop thinking, talking, and writing about TFC. And when the inevitable happens and I’m defending Greg Vanney in ten months after a mediocre summer sees TFC edging towards another playoff miss, I want to be able to point back to this essay to explain why. Sorry, I’m petty like that. Or they could just shock everyone and actually not fail. I’m pretty certain that’s not impossible either.
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