Monday, June 25, 2007

Goldthwaite traded to NYRB

OK, he (Kevin Goldthwaite) played a bad game against New England. The first goal was a gift from him, he picked up a yellow card and flirted with another a few times. But everyone has a bad game, it is inevitable for humans. I am worried that Mo pulled the trigger on this one out of anger. I know that the last time he traded with New York, TFC made off with Marvell Wynne. This trade will have to work out as well for me to put outside my "shoot from the hip" fears . Then again if this trade was an indication of something more - and the remainder of the road trip is on the upswing, I will be the first to sing Mo's praises.

Todd Dunivant is the name of the new TFC player, obtained in this trade. Life with TFC is seldom quiet....

Saturday, June 23, 2007

New England Revolution 3 TFC 0

Do you remember April?
Do you remember watching TFC on television back in those winless/goalless nights? A struggling team that did not seem to have had enough time together to gel and had new players arriving every game?
It was a convincing arguement for time travel Saturday night as the TFC went from the Father's Day world-beaters to the team of April right before your very eyes.
Dobson and Forrest on Sportsnet were able to comment a million times that nothing was going TFC's way (was it foreshadowing when Forrest called TFC "Canada" in the early part of the game?). It was a combination of ugly and listless for most of the night. Then towards the end it threatened to turn chippy as the frustration level increased. It is hindsight talking, but I think that some late substitutions would at least have given some players a rest and made it look like TFC was not throwing in the towel.
Rather than report all the gruesome details and write something that I may later regret, I leave you with...

The Still Kicking Questions

1 What is the health of Greg Sutton? The Mo Johnston interview seemed to indicate that there is real concern that Sutton's season may be at an end. OMG - what happens now?

2 What is it about the New England Revolution that allows them to own the TFC ? Accumulated score is now NE -7 TFC -0. They were missing Twellman and more to Gold Cup duty. They seem solid in every position and have an ability to finish in the box that allows them to make something out of nothing or close to nothing.

3 Am I the only one who thinks that Mo Johnston and NE Revolution coach Steve Nichol look very alike. I am suspecting that Nichol wears glasses just to ensure that viewing audience knows which brother they are looking at.

4 Why is the team so thin? Where is the player who can come off the bench- the super sub? When things seem listless and ugly TFC turns to?

5 Is this an omen for the road trip? There has to be a way to shake things around and change the TFC road story. Does TFC have a third jersey yet? Order one.

6 Did Jeff Cunningham take the night off or was he just waiting for Andy Welsh to cross the ball?

7 Watching that motley militia behind the advertising signs fire their muskets convinces me all the more that the TFC nickname should be the Redcoats so that we have the opportunity to fire back. One day. Who would want to throw a seagull at a revolutionary?

8 It is wonderful that Mighty Mo has been clear about the goal being the playoffs, but man, that is hard to dream about after tonight.

9 Shouldn't the TFC game have been the antidote for that Canada-US robbery?
PS - Cheers for Marvell Wynne being called up to the US team for the Copa America.

10 Can we go back to Father's Day now?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

TFC 4 Dallas FC 0

An incredible performance this afternoon by both the team and the fans.

First a report of what happened on the field.
A quick goal by Mo Edu early in the first half set the tone. It was a scramble in front of the Dallas net and Dichio's attempt at goal rebounded perfectly to Maurice Edu who fired it in. I thought that the recent Thursday night game against Real Salt Lake would take a toll on Dallas as the day wore on, but it seemed to play a part in the early going. Toronto was going forward with skilled passing and Dallas was going to exploit the counter-attack possibilities especially on the right side. The speed of Dallas wingers kept TFC honest in the back, but the back four stayed strong and the keeper Djekanovic had very little work to do.
The second Toronto goal was Danny Dichio on a beautifully timed header off of Carl Robinson's free kick. Dichio was a constant factor (why did it seem that every ball played to Dichio would result in a foul, roughly 50/50 for and against ??). He seemed to hurt his leg late in the half. He played out the half but did not have his usual speed and energy in the closing minutes.

So to start the second half Dichio was replaced by Lombardo and Dallas brought in Ruiz as a striker. I think that Ruiz's flying elbow to the head of Hastings in the Canada - Guatemala game in Gold Cup play yesterday meant that there was a cloud over his head in the eyes of the TFC defense (and the fans too). You had to wonder at the decision to play a player who had only played the day before, but it may reflect Dallas' injury woes. The ref had to keep his hand on the yellow card throughout the half as there was a steady parade of bookable, ill tempered fouls that fell a few steps below evil and dangerous.
It was easy to see that beating Dallas meant a lot to Ronnie O'Brien. He was dominant, elusive and played with an edge to his game. The third goal, the Carl Robinson goal seemed to signal the end. The ball was pushed out to the right, Ronnie O'Brien swung it out to the far left and Andy Welsh (or was it Goldthwaite?) crossed it in to Carl Robinson's head and into the back of the net. Robinson seemed to be two strides away from any Dallas defender. It was now Toronto's party and Dallas wanted to get away because they had both a long drive home and they were going to have to drive home the baby-sitter too!
TFC withstood a half-hearted attack from then on. There was a steady supply of counter-attacks from Welsh, Lombardo and Cunningham. Jeff Cunningham squandered a chance which found him alone with the keeper. The longer that Cunningham did not score, the more Andrea Lombardo seemed annoyed at his partner's selfish ways. Then Cunningham converted a cross from O'Brien with a diving header to bring him into the world of TFC scorers. Not a minute too soon it is easy to say. Even Mo was looking peeved on the sideline at those missed chances.

and now to the crowd....the TFC zeitgeist if you will....
You have to pull yourself back from this process of being a fan/blogger and give your head a shake on a day like this. I know there are dedicated folks across the USA who have supported soccer and the MLS for a decade who look upon Toronto as gate-crashers and johnny-come-latelies and I can understand much of that. I know that there are huge hordes of soccer snobs in Ontario and huger hordes of soccer haters who are happy to ignore what is happening. But I say it is a mistake to miss what is happening by the lake.
It is hard to think of TFC as an expansion team. Two and half months into the season and yes, the team looks solid enough, but more importantly the supporters are 100% behind the team and they expect all this and more. I have spent most of my life as a Toronto sports fan and I have never known this confidence and expectation before. Success for a Toronto team is usually viewed as a fluke and the usual incompetence is just around the corner. Forget all that now, this is a jubilant force and the team seems to rise to our roar. Chris Bosh of the Raptors was at the game today and I wish I knew his thoughts. He and the other Raptor players have always complimented the energy of the Toronto crowd, but so much of the ACC routine is pre-fab and seems to have little to do with the team and the game on the court. I could live a happy life never again seeing those Raptor ticket holders smile goofily and wave as they appear on the big screen even though the team has just blown a double digit lead. So Chris Bosh, this was different today, wasn't it? This was Toronto as it has never been before. Chris Bosh, do you want to play soccer this summer??

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Canada sails into Gold Cup Semi-Finals

Canada defeated Guatemala 3-0 Saturday afternoon in Foxboro Mass. in a Gold Cup quarter-final game. It was a thrilling game and it was a rare opportunity to see on television the Canadian talent that many Toronto FC fans covet and mention on the various message boards.
Dwayne DeRosario is well known to MLS fans. Paul Stalteri shows up on our EPL Saturday mornings playing for Spurs.
J DeGuzman
Atiba Hutchinson
Ali Gerba
and Patrice Bernier
all play in Europe and were a revelation. The Canadian teams that I grew up with were able to defend all day and were backed by a solid keeper, but had nothing up front. This new generation Canada has attacking talent in the players mentioned above and more.
These guys might be financially beyond Toronto FC, but I hope not...I really hope not. I know that MLS teams have salary caps- but this Toronto team has a sold-out season and the potential to break very big in both TV ratings and merchandise sales. Splashing out some money on a talented young Canadian would be a brilliant move.
I admit that there has been more than a hint of jealousy in my introduction this year into the world of US soccer. I read the blogs and I watch the MLS teams that play in Toronto. The fact that the American soccer fan knows their MLS players in both the local club and national team context is a luxury.
I don't think American soccer fans understand how little American national team soccer gets televised in Canada. The years and years of constant failure in international soccer for the Canadian team has meant almost no CONCACAF coverage at all. Even on the channel which covered the game today followed the game with their sports news show. Top story was the trading of a hockey player. In June they pushed back the Canadian soccer team, US open golf, baseball - including a game in Toronto and made the trading of a hockey player their top story. All I can say is the Canadian sports media inhabit a different universe than myself and those I value.
But enough bleating, Go Canada in the semis on Thursday in Chicago !

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Buddle bundled off to LA -reports

There are rumours and one report that Edson Buddle has been traded to LA Galaxy. It seems that a defender is coming the other way in a trade. If it is the defender who late in the game last Saturday night (Dallas vs Galaxy) broke Cooper of FC Dallas' leg - you have to wonder at the timing of such a trade. Tyrone Marshall is the player's name. Watching it on tv my honest reaction was that the challenge seemed more clumsy than vicious. It was also a strange time to be challenging for the ball that was clearly going out of touch.
Expect more signings and moves in the days ahead. Trading a little used striker for defending help makes a lot of sense.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


It was not crazy talk to go into this game thinking of an upset or maybe squeak a tie.
TFC played with the Jersey Expensive Drinks for the first half. Jeff Cunningham powered in his first TFC goal. He was able to convert Andy Welsh's superb cross. I think I am far more patient with Welsh than many of the online critics. You can see why his usual wonky ways, all that speed that leads to give-aways or crosses that never come, would drive some fans bonkers. But on the goal tonight as Welsh took on a clump of defenders at top speed you can see what Mo sees in Welsh. May we have much more of the wonderful side of Welsh.
The second half saw Juan Pablo Angel take the game away with two goals (although the second was just him taking advantage of a poor TFC clearance).
I have been a proponent of signing a DP player sooner rather than later. Just was not sure who I wanted and who was feasible. Then I watched the Canada - Costa Rica Gold Cup game played in Florida tonight on television and De Guzman looked incredible. He scored both of Canada's goals. The move that had me shouting out loud was late in the game when he stomped on the ball and sent it spinning through the legs of the defender. There is a player for the DP role! Is he at all attainable?

June 15th seems to be the date that TFC can add a player or two to their roster. I will admit that I do not understand the MLS roster rules, but I do feel that we need somebody/anybody. This is not a knock against anyone on the squad right now, but TFC needs help in both defense and the midfield. A star would be great, but any depth would be a help.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

TFC 2 Colorado Rapids 1

It was a special day for TFC mostly because it should not have been special at all.
TFC was facing a MLS team (Colorado Rapids) that has had a strong start to their season. The Rapids have a reputation of an efficient not flashy team that does enough to win.
TFC’s number one goalkeeper, the man who has played every minute of TFC history, was off on national team duties.
Although the starting 11 only had Carl Robinson missing, the bench was certainly weakened by those national team duties with the Gold Cup
Plus there was the freaky omen that Conor Casey, a player traded off to the Rapids more than a month ago, had his mug shot prominently on the TFC ticket today.

Well it just shows to go you.

Team reputations can rise and fall with a flash and the Rapids did not look strong or efficient in the first half. TFC took the momentum away from the visitors and could have had a much bigger lead going into halftime. Wynne set up Dichio for the opening goal. I love it when Marvell Wynne leaps into the attack. O'Brien's corner set-up Boyen's header for the second.
Keeper Greg Sutton missing? No problem. Except for one flash of an attack against the run of play that resulted in the Colorado goal, Srdjan Djekanovic was a capable replacement.
So much for a depleted bench – both Gala and Canizalez played useful minutes in their second half appearances.
Chris Pozniak played an active game in the central midfield role usually patrolled by Carl Robinson.
As for the ticket possible jinx, Casey looked like a poor man’s Dichio. Don’t think there is one fan out there regretting the trade.
This TFC team is building nicely. It is yet another challenge ahead with NY Red Bulls coming in on Wednesday. Jeff Cunningham has more work to do to earn the love of the TFC faithful. If his goal scoring record with TFC starts against NY it will start the turning things in his direction.
Best Banner today was the one that had Cunningham and Dicho drawn beautifully and between them was the title.
"The Fast and The Furious".

Blogger observations- (understanding that the difference between a blogger and a sportswriter is that a blogger can throw in stupid, self referential extras)
Sunblock was required today and should be distributed upon entry at all summer games. I think I left with my skin as red as my shirt.
Food consumed today
A cornbread sandwich
BBQ bratwurst on a bun
California roll sushi
Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream stick
Orange popsicle
(give me a break, game started at 3:30 and partner and I realized upon entry that we had yet to eat- it was a busy day and it was hot and humid)
Liquids consumed
A Nestea Iced Tea
A small but delicious Carlsberg
2 bottles of water- they need to be refillable and bigger