Friday, October 29, 2010

Klinsmann - the consultant chosen to steer TFC out of shallow waters??

Superstar German coach and player Jurgen Klinsmann may be hired by Toronto FC as a consultant. This according to a report from The Globe and Mail . The report was written by Stephen Brunt and I am incapable of imagining that Mr. Brunt could ever be wrong.
He writes...

Though Klinsmann will not take on the role of general manager or coach himself, he will be asked to make a recommendation as to Johnston’s replacement.
But it is more than a simple head hunting assignment. Klinsmann and his company will look at the club’s infrastructure, at its academy and scouting system, will suggest a playing style, and then find someone to accomplish the goals they set out.

Klinsmann, who lives in California, brings impeccable credentials to the task.

Never before has "impeccable credentials" been this much of an understatement. When I checked the TFC site moments ago it was down, so I await full confirmation. Meantime, allow me to return to my drooling.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DC United 2 – TFC 3 Emotions, good and bad

Last night’s game had everything that TFC’s entire season had, except that it ended positively.  Maybe I’m a sucker for all the positive stuff that has happened this week, the Tueseday academy win over  Arabe Unido, the personal nature of the town hall meetings and the victory against DC, but I feel that the my faith is restored in the club.  Corporate damage control has worked, I can’t wait for next season.  I hope the boys in charge don’t screw it up again.

The story of this game is the line-up.  What we saw out there was a squad which represents our hope for next year.  With the exception of Nick Garcia, all the players that stepped on the pitch could feasibly be there next year too.  Yet, there are many of those players who might not be here or will be pine riders.  All indications point to Julian de Guzman staying, as both Earl Cockrane and Jimmy B. both were apologists for his play and role this year.   Also, the play of both Nick Labrocca and Jacob Peterson of late has been wonderful.  The Lindsay to Peterson to DeRo goal was the best we’ve seen all season and had me up and shouting expletives of joy at my tv.

Another line-up story to be considered is the absence of Stephan Frei.  My pet theory suggests that he is being rested so that he won’t pick up a knock before the January transfer window.  But his absence could be that he has a knock, or that Dasovic wants to share the playing time, or that the club wants a look at the reserve keepers with an eye to next year.  It could be for any of a thousand benign reasons that Frei has been out the last several  games, I just prefer the conspiracy theory.

The single player story, and this has been for the past few weeks, has been Nicholas Lindsay.  He seems to be the rapidly maturing winger that we expected Jacob Peterson to be.  Last night he was effective on both ends of the pitch, being involved in the second DeRo goal and saving a goal as well.  He is the pride of the academy, the poster boy for what could happen when things are done right and, at this point, he helps to bring all the warm feelings back.

The game contained all of the things we want to see as fans, and all the things we have come to expect from TFC.  An early goal by the opposition on a horrible defensive play was typical of all the bad we’ve seen over several years.  A penalty score from Jamie Moreno in his last game in the league, gaining him top scorer status again, is typical of TFC’s penchant for giving goals to famous and former players.  But then the good goals arrive, thanks in large part to Maicon Santos, who’s play has been a boon for the team.  His arrival may have been the only good thing Preki did for the club.

Overall the final game of the season, unlike the last few years, has left us with positive things to dream about.  There will be changes for next season, possibly as dramatic as this year.  Hopefully all the changes that come will build on the positive changes that have happened this week.

And, just as a parting shot, by my calculations MLSE could have paid every season seat (that’s seat, not season seat holder) $62 for the salary they paid Mista.  I won’t hold my breath for my $124 refund cheque from him.  Congratulations Mista, you rank with Denilson and Louis Angel Landin as one of the worst designated players in league history.  Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.


Friday, October 22, 2010

It was breath-taking to read the letter to season seat holders from TFC this afternoon. Wow. Unexpected speed. Unexpected news. They listened to a lot of things that were written and said. Forgive me for hurting my elbow while I pat myself on the back here, but I truly feel that they listened to ME!
I think that they understand that praising the passion of the fans came across as patronizing. It made the conversation seem more based on "us and them" than ever before in TFC history.
Sure the content of the letter was fantastic, the price freeze, a gesture of thanks by making the opener next season a freebie, the willingness to continue the town halls in 2011 all have me smiling. But more importantly, the tone was improved. The phrasing of the second paragraph grabbed me.

The Town Hall sessions were passionate, vocal and candid. The meetings were crucial to helping us understand your concerns. Toronto FC fans are unique - you love your club, you feel a part of the club, but your club has let you down on and off-the-pitch. We've now digested your feedback with the goal of identifying actionable items.

I have no evidence, just a feeling, yet I think that these words were a direct answer to my question last night "What makes this a club"? The something magical about loving this club just might be more widespread than I would have thought in that moment when Julius James scored in September. (I am reading that one over wondering if it even qualifies as a sentence. I am rolling with the words today, coherence can mosey along later).

I chided MLSE in this blog in reaction to the apology letter for many things. The apology letter was not signed I said, this one was clearly signed by all four leaders involved in the town hall meetings.

I chided MLSE in this blog in reaction to the apology letter for declaring a new era. I said it was up to others to decide that. Today's letter sure feels like a new dawn (and a new era of dialogue sure seems possible)
So, I take it back, they are not knuckleheads after all. We all have knucklehead phases in life, they get credit for getting out of theirs quickly. Tom Anselmi should not be fired. He and I can be members of the same club, passionate fans of Toronto FC.

Well I will have to postpone my second part of my town hall report until after weekend. If a timely report on the DC United game appears here it will be due to the efforts of my great friend Trout.  I have a weekend away to visit my daughter who is attending Bishop's and my pvr will be holding the TFC at DC game until my return.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TFC Town Hall report - trying to find the words to reflect how big our dreams are for this club.

It was tough to find the right question to ask tonight at the first (and next to last) TFC Townhall meeting at BMO Field. I have been following the reports from the Red Patch Boys and the U-Sector so I knew the questions that had been asked and could probably recite from memory some of the answers. In case you have not been following the process, TFC has been represented by Paul Beirne, Tom Anselmi, Earl Cochrane and Jim Brennan.
I was a little surprised at the general praise and friendliness that seemed to be in the room and when it was wrapped around the first question, I had to burst forth with the second question. Later, after a few more happy, happy queries, I did call out "Next year, I want to be invited to the "piss and vinegar" town hall meeting".

Let me try to capture my little speech and question.
My name is Mark Kennedy, I have had seats in section 220 since day one. I also write a blog about being a fan of this team called "Mistake by the Lake". So I have been loving this team and blogging about it for four years now.
I do want to complain first off that by having Jim Brennan up there I can't blast away at how you are all suits who don't care, because from Section 220 we know Jim cared from day one, that for him it was a dream come true and for us up in Section 220, the fact that there was a stadium and a team in this city, was a dream come true. So, my question is, when you named this you called it a football club. What makes this a club? Because from up in Section 220, and I have written this in my blog (oh and by the way, I thought the apology letter sucked. You're going to praise me for being a great fan? My dad taught me how to be a great fan. You have profited from me being a great fan, but don't praise me, it does nothing for the situation) so, what makes this a club? From our point of view you look upon it as a product with a price point, we look upon it as our pride, our dream come true, our passion. We have big dreams for this CLUB. It's not a product, it's not part of the "MLSE stable". The suspicion is that if the phone call came some of you would say "Oh sure I'll take the corporate shift and I'll go and run the Marlies now".  Jim excepted.
What makes this a club?

Now my buddy's camera did an awful job of recording Tom Anselmi's answer. If somebody there has a better memory of his reply I will be glad to add it. I think that the emotional tone of my question struck a chord with Tom Anselmi, he responded with passion and fire. He spoke of being a Toronto guy too. He spoke of caring deeply for the team, that there were results this year that he was digusted with. He spoke of a common bond between fans and leadership, a common goal of success. He said that praise toward fans was sincere, that it was the fans that made this club. He made a good solid dig at me and my willingness to fire all the suits - when I replied that I had not gone that far, he reminded me that he has read the blog. (Yikes!! My section 220 Row 6 could be row 166 when I make my renewal call tomorrow).
Yes, I shook his hand afterwards and we talked briefly about the blog. I also reminded him that should things continue to be negative in 2011, I'll hold up my hand high in Section 220 and say "this is the hand that shook Tom Anselmi's hand" and then smack it with the other hand! I am a TFC fan, but bloggers need to stay out of "fanboy' territory.

Glory was the word I forgot to use when  trying to describe what TFC fanatics seek.  We are on a mission, not just in search of victories and championships, but in revealing to ourselves and the world that soccer is a Canadian game. It is not an afterthought or an import. It is a part of us. When Paul Beirne talked about the growing number of Canadian teams meaning greater talent being developed and a Canadian team returning to the World Cup, I felt that he did more to restore my faith than the apology letter did.
So much to blog about and it is getting late. Tomorrow I will try to add another post to give Jim Brennan's answer to my question about improving scouting and Mo's old habit of sticking to one talent agency. I was struck with how much passion and attention the four TFC leaders paid to all fans, especially when you remembered that these were sessions 6 and 7
 I tried to explain later at home the spirit behind my speech and question. If TFC leadership thinks that the unhappy fanbase is some combination of John McCain and Rob Ford, ticked at every penny that is not in their pocket, they may have the pulse of some, but not all. I am proud to be in a different camp, a President Obama if you will. When I express unhappiness it is because I feel that someone stepped on my dream this year. Soccer is not the topic of discussion amongst Torontonians these days and a glorious schedule of upcoming playoff games is not etched into my mind.You want to know why I dread going to the MLS Cup? It will remind me in November of how far short my beloved TFC fell in 2010.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A quick note

Wow, it is very late. I promise a longer blog post tomorrow. I do want to say that it was heartening to watch TFC play tonight. A victory is always something to embrace. It was the quality of the young players that made up most of the roster that was most impressive. Lindsay continues his energetic play. He did not have as many crosses as he did 1st half against Columbus, but he was effective in different ways.
More tomorrow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TFC 2 Crew 2 When will we ever learn? Or will there be mistakes as long as there are lakes?

I went to the stadium today expecting very little. It was TFC’s last MLS home game of 2010 and I was there out of loyalty to the ritual that is fandom as much as to the team itself. Anyone who went down to the lake today expecting a lot is either suffering from a dangerous amount of optimism or too little brain cells. There was a fear that Columbus could be on their game and TFC would show little resistance. So it started off as an event where the few positives that appeared were carefully guarded.
This would explain why my pre-game thoughts had a weather and fashion focus. A blue sky and a soft wind made it comfortable to be on the shady side of the stadium. Everyone likes a give away with real purpose and the TFC toque always becomes a part of my winter wardrobe.  I could not distract myself from the game and the quality of the team for long however.
There was a strange atmosphere in the stands prior to the game.  It was another low turnout. The mixture of disgruntled regulars determined to send a message and a noted wave of tourists and first timers made for a dull tone. The south end was showing enough green clothing and green banners to make a difference. The dumb greed of MLSE deserves to be called out. I think it is a sad thing in this city that in the end the corporate juggernaut swamps the Toronto soccernistas of the south end, but nothing wrong with rattling the cage while you can. I noticed that the announcing of the TFC players on the p.a. went away from the usual style of first name only so that the crowd can reply with the second name. The boos rang out when the reminder to renew your season tickets was read out. The day’s potential for ugly kept on rising. During the anthems I had a horrible passing thought- what if the Chilean equivalent of MLSE had been in charge of the miner rescue?

The game started in this sea of tension. Things did not look good when Columbus grabbed the first goal. The TFC defender Hsacanovhj should not have conceded the corner kick and the comedy of errors continued when Columbus had their headed ball hit the cross bar, bounce out and hit keeper Conway in the back and then into the net. Disaster loomed.
Then, lo and behold, Maicon Santos found a shaft of space and sent a twisting shot past the Hesmer in the Columbus net. It was a strike of bright speed and skill. The sort of screamer that has been rarely seen from the team in red this year .

We barely had time to recover from this rare moment of  offensive skill when Toronto came up with another Nicholas Lindsay was playing the left wing. He had displayed some speed down the wing, was willing to take on and beat defenders and had played in a few crosses that had potential. It just seemed there was nothing happening at the business end of these crosses. Then he sent in a beauty and Jacob Peterson anticipated and put it away. TFC had taken the lead and smiles were seen all around.
I dared to think at half time that if Toronto were to score two more the margin of victory would be enough for them to claim the Trillium Cup. Clearly nobody in the dressing room was thinking about adding to the goal total.
The second half played on in a balanced way. As long as Toronto had Maicon Santos in the play there was a threat. Yet he was running out of gas.
Throughout the game I had been noting that Stephen Lenhart of Columbus was up to no good. He was playing a chippy physical game that was getting to Attakora. It was more fun from a Toronto point of view when Ty Harden began to cover Lenhart. If Lenhart wanted to wrestle, grab and  bump, Harden could handle him. Then Lenhart went too far and went in after Conway , seeking to collide with Toronto’s keeper while he was focused on catching the ball. Credit to Conway for not putting up with the garbage play. A crowd soon formed around the action and credit to the ref for seeing the original cheap shot and giving the first red to Lenhart. Then Lenhart started acting all creepy innocent, oh so shocked that anyone would red card him. Conway picked up a red for retaliating and then took the high road and saluted the crowd. Maybe it is memories of Gordie Howe creeping in. but I would have made sure I got value for my red by letting my knuckles dance on the Lenhart curls a little longer.
It was not the last moment that a keeper would be the central focus of the game however. There had been an attacking drop-off when Maicon Santos gave way to OBW. It was not that Columbus had many scoring chances, it was just that they had less to worry about and did not need to keep bodies in the back. They won a late corner and their keeper Hesmer made the long run to get involved, The ball came to him and as Dan Gargan seemed to hesitate on the challenge, Hesmer buried the ball into Toronto’s net.
Stunned. I was stunned.  I was a fool to think that TFC could continue to score. Double foolish me for thinking that TFC could protect a lead and finally beat Columbus in this season of squander. It was a fitting end to MLS season games at BMO. What fun does the meaningless Champions League game on Tuesday night hold for us? See you then.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Too little too late, MLSE tries to patch up their 2011 ticket hike disaster with a feeble letter.

I am sorry.

For the way that MLSE knuckleheads think that they can declare “new eras”. I am sorry that an insulting email from MLSE has ruined my evening. Can I have my quiet night and the 2010 soccer season back?

Don’t suck up by telling me what a great fan I am. My Dad could take credit for teaching me how to be a fan, you have simply profited from it again and again. What a bad time to base your apology letter on feeble praise for your fan base.

What a crappy try on the apology. You say fans are angry and then drop two Champions League games? Not even close. We are angry about your jacking up the price of all tickets, so dropping two overpriced tickets does nothing for the endless prospect of price increases for bad football.

Ongoing two way dialogue? You rockheads did not listen last October when TFC stumbled so badly in New York.  It seems that you have decided to talk to the season ticket buyers when all other strategies went belly up.

The most insulting thing about the TFC to the fans letter was the fact that at the close nobody had the guts to sign it. Tom Anselmi should resign. Why talk about the future with those responsible for the past.

Toronto FC fan //  Fall for One

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Los Angeles Saturday Night- Chivas USA 3- Toronto FC 0

I was thinking of saluting that great song of the 90's by Bran Van 3000- "Drinking in LA". I was going to go with  Sinking in LA, but TFC hit bottom weeks ago.
Los Angeles is a city that is a source of endless fascination for me. I have family there and I have spent more time there than any other corner of America. LA has an incredible span between glamour and grime, sometimes you are in the land of Cary Grant and sometimes you are expecting Tom Waits to come around the corner. Then you mix in the bland, but beautiful suburban sprawl and the bursts of unexpected natural beauty of sea and shore and you are forever entranced.
Last night watching the MLS game in LA I was wishing I was there. Although there was nothing on the field that was enticing, it was the California state of mind that was pulling on my imagination.

Toronto showed more fight and energy than the final score would indicate. It was 1-0 for Chivas until the final minutes of the game. Then the breakdowns came and Chivas put the game away. It is important to point out that TFC was down to 10 men at this point. Adrian Cann was off to the dressing room after Alan Gordon had hit him in the head. All substitutions had been made so Toronto had to suffer. Gordon picked up a yellow on the play, but what a cynical bargain. The ref was offering a yellow for the chance to score two? When has Toronto ever been given that option?
The full points for energy does not obscure the terrible talent and tactics of the Reds. Chivas USA is not much of a team, but Toronto makes them look good. I think DeRo picked up a late yellow and may be suspended for the Columbus game next weekend.
So what can we fans cheer for in the remaining two games? When you calculate how many players will be potentially gone from the team next year, could the games be replaced by resume update sessions for the players?
There will be a day when Toronto sends a better representative team of what Ontario has to offer to the California that I love. This season is over and it is only the ritual of attending games to ward off the winter that remains.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Toronto loses in Seattle 3-2

How much bad news do you want on a cloudy, gloomy day ? Toronto FC lose on the road, again.
Nana Attakora leaves the game hurt.
TFC so close to being mathematically eliminated, you can feel it.
DeRo scored early, Chad scored late.
The end of the season looms. 3 games left.