|Drama in the sky, comedy down below|
If Toronto F.C. were a television series it would have a difficult time convincing viewers that it was a sports comedy/drama. Most observers would figure it was science fiction, if only because characters descend, spin for a while and then vanish. It could also be considered soap opera, long pauses, close ups of fans in discomfort and duelling press conferences.
Whatever genre you think it falls under, the hardest concept behind looking at TFC as television series is believing that it would be going into it’s ninth season. Football clubs have luxuries that television shows just don’t enjoy.
2015 TFC has a host of new characters. They say they are onto a winning formula. Defoe sold, Altidore bought is the biggest headline so far. The smaller headlines are woven into the character sketches presented in
hopeless hopeful detail below.
Coach Greg Vanney - at least fans hope he counts as a new character, his debut as a late season replacement for Ryan Nelsen was of questionable quality. He seemed to be thoughtful and strategic when speaking to the media, but lost when the starting line-ups were presented and again when the game was in progress. Hiring his own sidekick/mentor Robin Fraser and drafting his own players should give him momentum for the new season. TFC don’t play a home game until May. Vanney could be growing in confidence or vulnerable by that May 10 home game.
Coach Robin Fraser - New assistant coach. Played with Vanney, coached with Vanney. he is an experienced MLS coach. Last year Nelsen’s number two, Fran O’Leary, had zero MLS experience. If TFC start off 2015 looking good, look for Robin Fraser to get some of the credit.
Coach Jason Bent - He is the head coach of TFC’s new “farm” club playing in the USL Pro division - home field still to be determined. When Nelsen and all of his assistants were fired last Labour Day weekend, Jason Bent was the only survivor. Instead of sending playing prospects to Wilmington as in 2014, TFC should see them develop together under Bent. This should make the biggest difference when injuries strike the senior team. Apart from having the depth to survive injuries to the big stars of Bradley and Altidore (more to come?), Bent’s squad should be depth players in waiting. TFC lacking depth has been a condition woven through too many seasons.
Coach Stuart Neeley - Coach Vanney was in charge of the TFC Academy last year. So Neeley has been brought back to Toronto to fill that spot. It is hoped that the USL Pro team will make the Academy a bigger attraction for young soccer talent in Ontario as it will be the link between Academy and TFC.
New Player Characters
Jozy Altidore - A top US National team player and our 2015 mystery man. Just by putting on the TFC shirt he ends the Jermain Defoe at TFC saga. However his time in Sunderland of the EPL was less than thrilling in either minutes played or goals scored. He and Michael Bradley have played on the USMNT together now for years. The all American leadership of TFC (Tim L., Tim B., Coach Vanney, Coach Fraser) think Altidore is a multi-million dollar part of the elusive winning formula. The EPL entranced TFC fan base are concerned about the Sunderland performance and are usually less impressed by US Men’s National Team credentials. Admitting how much of that is just Canadian sour grapes is always hard to calculate.
|Tim B., Jay Chapman and Coach Vanney- either ignoring the tradition of showing the shirt WITH PLAYER'S NAME or attempting cooperative laundry folding|
Jay Chapman - A Canadian midfielder, signed to TFC as “homegrown player” instead of going into the draft as a Michigan State player. He could be growing on the farm team in 2015. If he is on the senior squad that could spell trouble for the existing Canadians in the midfield - Kyle Bekker and Jonathan Osorio.
|Alex Bono -TFC's first pick in Superdraft 2015.|
Alex Bono -Clement Simonin- Skylar Thomas
The three first round draft choices of TFC just this week. Bono is the one to watch - he has already been called up to the US Men’s National Team for a look. The USA has long overtaken Canada in the area of developing goalkeepers. If Alex Bono proves to be the heir to Tim Howard for the USMNT, then TFC will have hit the college draft jackpot.
Simonin is a defender and Skylar Thomas is a young Canadian defender with plenty of size and played his college ball out in front of keeper Bono at Syracuse.
Wesley Charpie - Edwin Rivas
TFC’s second round draft choices. History has not been kind to any of Toronto’s draft choices, but second rounders are even less known for staying around. Lovitz the left footed winger from last year is the only exception right now as he was a 2014 second rounder. Perhaps the TFC USL Pro team will give these guys a chance to develop and grow.
The cast of characters is not frozen at this point. At the Altidore signing Tim B. mentioned that further signings are possible prior to training camp and then during the pre-season. Stay tuned.