Sunday, April 29, 2007


Much better performance overall TFC looked more organized and composed, finally keeping some meaningful possession.

Greg Sutton 7 - even though there was a deflection, he won't be happy conceding a goal on short side, made a couple of big saves and challenges to keep the Wizards off the scoreboard until the aforementioned Johnson goal
Kevin Goldthwaite 5 - likes to get involved in the attack, a weak challenge on Buddle led to the goal though
Marvell Wynne 6 - strong player when attacking, gets caught up field at times, marking could be better, compensates with his speed
Jim Brennan 6 - he looks to have his conditioning back, what I wouldn't give to see him in midfield again
Andrew Boyens 6 - was solid for the most part, it will be hard for Reda to get back if Boyens plays like he did today
Andy Welsh 6 - much better today, needs to be more creative in his delivery of the ball/crosses as Hartman was easily collecting them all day.
Carl Robinson 5 - several terrible passes ended promising TFC build ups, his composure improved as the game went on though
Maurice Edu 6 - wonderful chance early in the first half from the Marvell Wynee pass would have marked his name in Toronto soccer folklore history, was decent in only second game back
Paulo Nagamura 6 - gravitated towards the middle often leaving acres of space open on the right flank, faded in and out of the game, was generally pretty solid
Danny Dichio 7 - a physical force, great target man with excellent touch on the ball, I'm surprised MLS didn't make a move for him earlier as I understand his wife is an American and he would qualify for a Green card/domestic player. Plays most of the game with his back to the opposing goal, faded in the second half
Alecko Eskandarian 8- continues to impress with his hard work, made several excellent runs, has to get more familiar with Dichio

Maycoll Canizalez 5 - did not see much of the ball, very neutral performance
Edson Buddle 4 - in limited minutes he had an excellent opportunity to get a shot off on what looked to be a good scoring chance, instead of moving towards goal and challenging the defender, he played a square ball across the top of the box to absolutely no one, except for a wall of KC defenders - poor decision, may point to a lack of confidence

Toronto Supporters: 11 - we were simply wonderful, and well behaved to boot.


What a great day for soccer fans in our city. Anyone down at BMO could have easily mistaken Toronto for any city in Europe or South America today. What a fantastic atmosphere, and finally some decent soccer out of Toronto FC to go with it.

Comments made by coach Mo Johnson on local radio, sums up the atmosphere in the stadium. He alluded moreover to how the BMO crowd resembled his experiences in England and Scotland, and brought shivers down his spine, which he hasn't felt since leaving Europe for America. Surely playing home games at Arrowhead Stadium as a player, and coaching at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, in front of a handful of diehards and sections of screaming youth soccer teams, in enormous American Football stadiums, will pail in comparison to what was on display in Toronto today. Another comment made by Maurice Edu on the radio made me chuckle - he said something along the lines of "the fans really know their stuff up here, they are very knowledgeable about soccer, it sounds like they are going to keep us accountable for our play." You can say that again Maurice. The crowd was comprised of a hard core and very knowledgeable fan base at BMO. We cheered when they deserved it, and let the players know when we were disappointed - as it should be. About the only thing the fans struggled with was who exactly was on the field as most fans are still clueless about who exactly is playing on both sides.

Having re-watched the match on the CBC Sports website, I can safely say television did not capture the true atmosphere and noise at BMO in my estimation. There were several occasions where the players, (nor the announcers on CBC) noticed the whistle had gone and continued playing. The one that sticks in my mind was a battle between Jimmy Conrad and Andy Welsh (I believe) towards the southeast corner of the stadium, that continued well after the whistle went. The Supporters Groups in behind the net were fantastic - they are a credit to our city. I'm not too far away so I can enjoy their passion, and my section was able to feed off them.

I would like to thank Toronto FC and MLSE for keeping things simple and authentic in the stadium, and for not trying to create a canned environment. Although some of the more fair weather fans may have been confused or even upset, it was awesome to see so many fans standing for the entire match. Entire sections throughout the stadium appeared to be standing - which was just a joy to see in this day and age of sports entertainment. My seats came in handy at half time, which was about the only time I used them.

I now understand why Frank Yallop traded Kevin Hartman away this winter. No self respecting Canadian would ever tolerate a cheating, whining, diving, complaining, cry baby like Hartman on his team. As a spectator I'd rather my team lose than have a bunch of whining, diving, fakers, represent my city. As good of a team as they appear to be, the antics displayed by Kansas City today were awful. They can take their 3 points home, but should be ashamed of the way they represented themselves, disrespected the officials, and MLS today.

A couple of things I'll whine about - the parking, and the Official Program. First off, exiting the parking lot was a total nightmare. It took me nearly 45 minutes to get onto Lakeshore Boulevard. Having an attendant or police officer direct traffic would be much appreciated for those of us that have to drive. Second, the official program had very little about the players themselves. Fans need to get acquainted with the players they are cheering for. The program was almost useless in that regard. Few write ups on the current players, and no real bios on the Toronto FC players. I mean they have an article about the guy who came from England to train the team (who btw obviously didn't do a good enough job - what can a cricket guy know about football fitness anyway?), and one on Jammal Smith, who survived the open tryouts but is no longer with the team. The team mugshots featured Conor Casey, Richard Asante, AJ Gray, Jose Cancela who are no longer with the team.I'm sure some may have mistaken Danny Dichio for Casey based on the jersey number and the mugshot. Missing were several starters including Andy Welsh, Danny Dichio, Kevin Goldthwaite, Marvell Wynne, as well as substitute Miguel Canizalez. The game day program has to be better. This is basic stuff a new team simply cannot afford to get wrong as they try to build the team's profile in the community, especially to a fan base largely unaware of MLS and the Toronto FC players.

One of Mo's post game comments indicated how upset he was for the Toronto fans to go home with nothing to show for it on the day. How wrong you are Sir Mo. Your team played with passion, intensity and showed tons of spirit and grit. This fan left BMO with evidence and hope of better days to come!!! All we ask as fans, is that your team put out similar efforts throughout the season.

Friday, April 27, 2007


The management at the Score may be questioning their decision to broadcast Toronto FC with yet another poor showing on Wednesday night. The ratings show only 21,000 people tuned in. With only 15,000 watching the match with the New England a couple of weeks ago, the numbers on the Score are very low by any standard. The very first Toronto FC game on Rogers Sportsnet drew 110,000 viewers on a very busy night in local sports, with a late 10:30 pm start.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


The talks to hire Brazilian Rene Simoes as Canadian National team coach have collapsed. Apparently, internal politics within the Canadian Soccer Association led to difficulties approving a contract for Simoes. With only a few short months until the Gold Cup, the Canadian Men's National team remains without a full time coach.


Toronto FC announced today the release of former Syracuse University, and Canadian Under- 20 midfielder Richard Asante. Asante was drafted as the first pick of the third round of the MLS Superdraft back in January. Also confirmed was the release of developmental players Tomer Chencinski a local keeper out of Fairleigh Dickinson University, and local high school product AJ Gray who is part of the Canadian Youth National team program. I hope for the sake of Canadian soccer they all land on their feet, and can continue with their soccer careers elsewhere.


Sutton: 5 - Not sure what to think about Sutton tonight, his confidence must be at a low even though most of the goals aren't his fault, a big save or two would surely help they cause right now but they have been far and few between
Reda: 3 - tough game for Reda, being pulled by Johnston can't be a good thing, struggled organizing backline, wasn't tough enough on the attacking players on
Wynee: 4 - looked rusty tonight, was easily beat a couple of times on his side, marking on Johnson on first goal was terrible
Brennan: 5 - the entire back line looked to be in total chaos several times, Brennan has been good on an individual basis,
Goldthwaite: 4 - distribution was poor, needs time to adjust to new surroundings, giveaway early on set tone for the match
Robinson: 4 - our big money player at the moment isn't doing quite enough to justify his status, missed a sitter in front of goal in the second half, defending has much to be desired, distribution was poor tonight
Nagamura: 5 - helped build a few good sequences from the middle, distribution was poor several times
Welsh: 4 - had a couple of decent runs and a even a shot on goal, but is still a defensive liability, he is much too casual in his distribution of the ball, again several turnovers,predictable player, he should be on another level vs. the domestic players yet hasn't shown very much at all 3 games in - simply not good enough at this stage; a major disappointment considering the hype
Edu: 5 - Not bad for a player who hasn't played in several months, faded in and out of the match, the rust certainly showed, looked promising on the ball, it will take him time to adjust to the pace of the game in MLS
Eskandarian: 7 - Hard working, never stops, again came back to the midfield to retrieve the ball, TFC's best player
Buddle: 3 - non-existent for most of the match

Boyens 5 - pretty neutral performance, gave the ball away once though
Canizalez 6 - served as a spark plug on the flank, added some much needed energy to the team winning a few corner kicks, crosses into the middle were encouraging yet there were few Toronto players in the middle and they were easily cleared.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Toronto FC lose yet another, this time 3-0 to the Kansas City Wizards at a very wet and rainy Arrowhead Stadium.

A first for MLS tonight, there may have been more fans at BMO Field in Toronto watching the TFC - Wizards game on the video board than actually at the match at Arrowhead Stadium. It was a beautiful yet very chilly night down by Lake Ontario. With parking free, and $12 food vouchers provided at the gates, a smallish but very enthusiastic crowd made their way to the CNE grounds tonight (a few nut jobs were lined up by 6:00 pm). Nice to see the supporters groups were in full voice in the first half. Though the proximity to the video board or perhaps more importantly the Carlsberg beer tent at the other end of the stadium, and the hapless play of TFC, was enough to take the wind right out of even the most enthusiastic fans tonight. Due to some technical difficulties, I was worried we would miss some of the match, though everything was worked out for the kickoff.

I'll provide a full report after watching the game again, and thawing out - which ever comes first.


Sam Reynolds, the son of Chicago Fire Assistant coach Craig Reynolds, served as the backup to Greg Sutton for tonight's match in KC. This was a short term call up until a suitable replacement can be found. Tomer Chencinski of Thornhill was released last week leaving Toronto without a backup. More on Reynolds:


According to Colin Smith at the National Post, Toronto FC have called upon 25 year old Canadian Srdjan Djekanovic to audition for the backup keeper spot this week. I am impressed with the job The National Post is doing covering MLS and Toronto FC thus far. Many thanks to those responsible. More on Djekanovic: . Johnston had an opportunity to watch Djekanovic at the Canadian National team camp in Florida this winter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Toronto FC heads into a very important away fixture on Wednesday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. At a minimum, TFC need to gain some momentum heading into their home debut on Saturday against the same Wizards team. Keeping meaningful possession over the course of the match, having some control over the run of play, and of course scoring a goal or two will help lift the spirits of all involved.

After the last game, I felt Mo unfairly criticized his defenders in the media. It was well known Mo was a supporter of the 3-5-2 formation from his days in New York. The formation proved to be ill suited for a back line that is unfamiliar with each other, and included inexperienced players such as Boyens and Brennan. It was a total collapse, not just a problem with the defenders. From the forwards straight through the backline, Toronto was not prepared for the Revs. They were outplayed, outsmarted, outclassed.

Mo has decided to do a total reversal with regard to the system of play. A system he has preferred, and used basically all pre-season. Mo has said Toronto FC will move to a new system of play tonight. Was it a entirely a coaching decision? Or were the players also involved in asking for a change? Mo said last week the system will resemble a 4-4-2 on Wednesday, and a possible 4-5-1 when Danny Dichio becomes available. Long time MLS supporters will remember Bob Gansler riding the 4-5-1 formation to an MLS Cup Championship in 2000 with Mikos Molnar serving up top as the lone striker.

THE GAME: Wednesday is the home opener for the Wizards. The game also marks the return of both Mo Johsnton and Bob Gansler to Kansas City. The Toronto coaches spent many years together in Kansas City, winning the 2000 MLS Cup Championship with the Wizards in the process. Gansler served as the head Coach of Kansas City after taking over from Englishman Ron Newman in 1999, while Johnston an original 1996 Allocation, was a mainstay in the Wizards midfield during the MLS's formative years. The match will be a reunion of sorts. Current KC Assistant Coach Chris Henderson, and Technical Director Peter Vermes were also part of the aforementioned 2000 MLS Cup Champions while Wizard players Nick Garcia and Kerry Zavagnin remain from the Championship season.

The Wizards were recently sold by the late Lamar Hunt, to a group of ambitious local investors, who are working towards building a Soccer Specific Stadium complex for the team. After many years of poor attendance at the cavernous Arrowhead Stadium, and constant rumours that the team would be relocated to another market, things are starting to look up for the Wizards on the business side. That said, a referendum on publicly funded soccer park/stadium was voted down overwhelmingly by residents last winter. With Arrowhead Stadium scheduled for a major renovation it was unknown where the Wizards would play the 2007 season. An agreement to remain at Arrowhead was finally reached early this year. The Wizards are the professional team where former Canadian International legend and Toronto Blizzard player Alex Bunbury ended his playing days.

On the field, Kansas City is a team that has not made the playoffs each of the last two seasons. I would suggest the Wizards became a stale and predictable side under Bob Gansler. His long tenure as head coach ended when he was dismissed midway through the 2006 season. His replacement, former assistant coach Brian Bliss was not offered a contract in the off season. The Wizards hired former MLS player and US National team assistant coach Curt Onalfo to lead the team into a new era. On the player front, the Wizards lost US National Team forward Josh Wolff to 1860 Munich in Germany, as well as Dutch midfielder Dave Van den Bergh to New York.

LAST MATCH: Kansas City head into the home and away series with TFC after losing two straight. The first loss was a 2-1 US Open Cup defeat to Real Salt Lake, which eliminated the Wizards from further contention in Cup play. The second loss, was to the Chicago Fire in MLS action on the weekend. The Wizards scored an impressive 4-2 win over DC Untied in their season opener April 14th.

The Team

COACHES: Curt Onalfo is in his first year as an MLS Head Coach. Onalfo a former US Olympian, served as an assistant to Bruce Arena at the World Cup in Germany. He played several seasons in MLS before joining the coaching ranks. Onalfo has hired recently retired MLS player Chris Henderson, and former MLSer Kris Kelderman as assistant coaches. Technical Director Peter Vermes, a former Wizard player himself under Gansler, has vowed that the Wizards will replace Gansler's defensive minded, negative tactics, and introduce a new more entertaining style of soccer this season.

KEEPER: An off-season trade has brought one of the best goalkeepers in MLS history, Kevin Hartman to the Wizards. One of the longest serving Los Anglees Galaxy players, Hartman's record speaks for itself. Hartman's long run in LA ended when LA Galaxy coach Frank Yallop decided to make a move for Joe Cannon, in the off season.

DEFENDERS: The Wizards have a solid core of quality defenders. Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Jose Burciaga are amongst the best in the league. I've always rated Nick Garcia highly. A mainstay on the defense since the 2000 season when the Wizards were crowned MLS Champions, he is a fierce and smart competitor that brings his all each night. He unfortunately never made the jump to become a regular for the US National team as I always thought he would. Still there aren't many defenders better then him in the league in my estimation. Jimmy Conrad on the other hand has become a regular on the US National team, including a place in Germany last summer. Conrad has developed nicely into a consistent and reliable defender. Jose Burciaga has developed into a quality MLS player and should also get his chance at the US national team in the near future. Rookie first round draft pick, Michael Harrington (who can also play in the midfield), could be a candidate for Rookie of the Year honours if his solid play keeps up. Harrington has already turned heads with his play in pre-season and the first two matches of the season.

MIDFIELDERS: Kansas City acquired 25 year old Carlos Marinelli from Argentina during the off season. Marinelli who grew up in the Boca Juniors system, made a $4 million move to Middlesboro in the late 1990's. After playing more than 50 games in the EPL, and spending time in Seria A with Torino, his signing could be one of the best of the off-season in my opinion. Kerry Zavagnin is one of the longest serving Wizards; he remains from the Mo Johsnton days. Zavagnin was a US national team mainstay leading to Germany, and is a solid two way MLS midfielder. Sasha Victorine is yet another threat in the midfield, fully capable of leading the team. He was a key player in the Wizards season opening win in DC. Davy Arnaud is another player to keep an eye on, especially if he matches up against Andy Welsh, and Welsh puts in another terrible performance defensively.

STRIKERS: The highly rated US International Eddie Johnson came out flying in the season opener against DC United scoring one, and being involved on all 4 goals scored. Johnson's career has sputtered somewhat. He became a hot commodity in the run to Germany, and was rewarded as one of the most expensive players in MLS. Injuries, and concerns over attitude and behaviour however, have clouded his future prospects. After being traded by FC Dallas, he had an altogether sub-par 2006. The other threat up top is Trinidadian International Scott Sealy who looked good against DC in the season opener (some concerns over a foot injury may keep him out of action though). If Marinelli pans out in midfield, Sealy and Johnson will surely reap the rewards of playing in front of him.

OUTLOOK: On paper Kansas City is not one of the MLS glamour teams. Tomorrow will tell us more about the quality of Kansas City Wizards 2007 prospects, then it will Toronto's. If they struggle against TFC the impressive season opening win against DC United will be looked at as nothing more than a one off victory. Toronto has to leave a better impression on Wednesday night. While I don't expect them to win, they have to show improvement.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Wednesday will show us if Marinelli and Johnson are for real (granted Marinelli has to be in the lineup). The setting for them to impress won't get any better than against an expansion side still looking to find themselves. The contributions of Jose Burciaga Jr., from the back is also something to keep an eye on. I will be watching Rookie Michael Harrington who can play either at the back or in midfield, he may very well be the best player out of the 2007 Superdraft.

KEYS FOR TORONTO: If Marinelli is as good as many are suggesting, he could be the best off -season signing in MLS given his age. Depending on how much he plays Wednesday night, limiting his influence over the midfield will be critical for Toronto. Eddie Johnson will finish opportunities if given the service by Marinelli, or anyone else for that matter, so closing him down has to be a top priority. Getting through the Wizards back line won't be easy, the Toronto forwards will need to capitalize on any chances they get.

PREDICTION: Kansas City 2-Toronto 0

The BMO doors open at 7:00 tomorrow for the Season Ticket holder Open House at BMO Field. Be sure to bring a blanket if you intend to stay for the entire KC game as I would expect temperatures to be much cooler by the lake, especially after dark. Should be great!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


A comment made on Alecko Eskandarian's Blog caught my eye: "Within the last few days, 7 guys were either traded or released, and new players were brought in to replace them. It's always tough to see a teammate go, especially after you spend time getting to know the person."
Mulrooney, Cancela, Casey makes 3 out of 7 - who were the other 4???

Good news for Canadian soccer fans coming out of Los Angeles is that Kevin Harmse has found a home with the Galaxy.

The deal to build a new stadium for the San Jose Eathquakes on the campus of San Jose State University, replacing Spartan Stadium, looks to be dead. Not sure if Lew Wolff the owner of the Oakland A's will continue with his quest to land a team for the Bay Area, or if this latest round of bad news is the end of the line. While much of the focus appears to have been with communities in the South Bay, I've often wondered if options/interested communities exist further north in cities like San Francisco, or across the Bay Bridge, in East Bay communities like Oakland.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


The Canadian Soccer Association will announce their new Men's Head Coach on Monday, if the CSA Board of Directors approves the recommendation made by the selection panel ( a panel that included player rep Dwayne De Rosario of the Houston Dynamo) this weekend. Brazilian Rene Simoes has long been rumored to be the leading candidate. Current interim coach Stephen Hart, and Under 20 Coach Dale Mitchell, were also in consideration. A fourth candidate from overseas was also in consideration.


According to the Globe & Mail, Toronto FC traded American striker Conor Casey to the Colorado Rapids for undisclosed allocations, a third round draft pick, and the rights to British Colombia native Riley O'Neill. O'Neill was drafted in the Supplemental Draft in January, yet decided to try his luck with St. Pauli of the German league.

I'm not too sure what is happening in TFC land, but I sure do hope Sir Mo has a game plan in place. I don't recall a flurry of trades and signings made by one team, in such a short period of time, in all my years following MLS (that, or I'm losing my mind which is also very likely). So much for having patience and building a cohesive unit. Toronto FC has become a revolving door.

Could this move be a salary dump in anticipation of more moves to come? Toronto has cleared a minimum of $200,000 from their salary cap with this move, and at least $300,000 over two days with Mulrooney's departure yesterday (considering the contracts of Marvell Wynne & Kevin Goldthwaite in this scenario have been added) .

After the long wait for Casey, Toronto has basically given him away for a player they passed on during the Supplemental Draft and allocations. This just doesn't make sense without more movement ahead. With the top picks in the first and second rounds of the Supplemental Draft, Toronto FC decided to select two players (Jarod Smith of New Zealand, & Daryl Roberts of Trinidad) who by-passed MLS for European ambitions, and American Hunter West in the third round who was cut in pre-season. The "undisclosed" allocations are the key to the deal for Toronto, but could we also see O'Neill returning sooner than later?

Like most following Toronto FC, I am totally confused with what has happened in TFC land this week. Mo continues to show shuffle the roster, and is apparently not done yet as he continues to search for a backup keeper. I'm not sure if we should be excited or worried.


Toronto FC coach Sir Mo Johnston attempted to land Polish international defender Jacek Bak while coaching the New York Metrostars last year. While unsuccessful in his attempts to bring him stateside, he has apparently continued to pursue the 34 year old Bak in hopes of bringing him to Toronto. The Polish international scored last month in a European Cup Qualifier against Azerbaijan, currently plays for Al Rayyan in Qatar. He has played for Lech Pozan, Lyon, and Lens amongst others during his career. At 34 I hardly consider Bak "Designated Player" material, though he would surely excite the huge Polish community in our city if he indeed signs on.

Johnston officially revealed his interest in Bak to Dean McNulty of the Toronto Sun, though it doesn't sound likely that a move will be made anytime soon from this article.

In other News:
The Montreal Impact broke ground on their new 13,000 seat Soccer Specific Stadium at Olympic Park in Montreal yesterday. The Stadium can be expanded up to 17,000 seats, will be financed by the Saputo Family.

The Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL announced an exhibition game with the LA Galaxy for October 3rd at BC Place Stadium earlier this week

Toronto FC's next opponent (x2), the Kansas City Wizards lost 2-1 last night to Real Salt Lake in snowy Salt Lake City. The game was a US Open Cup fixture. New signing Carlos Marinelli from Argentina, apparently looked very good in his debut with his new team in the loss.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Ives Galacep the beat writer for the New York Red Bulls and ESPN Soccernet has reported that Toronto FC have traded disgruntled American midfielder Richard Mulrooney to MLS Champions Houston Dynamo for Kevin Goldthwaite (not exactly a household name, but cheap) and Houston's first round draft pick in the 2008 MLS Superdraft.


When I heard this interview on the Fan 590 this morning (scroll down to Mo's Interview), I was pretty excited that Toronto was set to land another big name. Well it turns out the second defender Mo was referring to is Kevin Goldthwaite, and the first round draft pick was coming from the Houston Dynamo. In exchange, Toronto sends disgruntled midfielder Richard Mulrooney back to Texas and his former club (albeit when they were in San Jose), a player that wanted nothing to do with Toronto from the start. Interesting for Toronto fans that Mo mentions a 4-4-2 formation.


When I wrote that Mo Johnston is one of the best dressed coaches in MLS a couple of weeks back, I didn't expect anyone else to notice. Well, the Harry Rosen chain of upscale mens suits and clothing stores sure did. I was shocked to see a half page add on page 3 of today's Toronto Star featuring Mo Johnston himself plugging the company. The proceeds for Mo's appearance will go to a charity. Mo sure does know his suit material though, he is wearing Zegna (no not Walter Zenga the former Italian International and MLS player & coach) which is just about the best material out there. By the way Mo, stick to the grey and black, that brown one looks terrible on you. Check out for an extensive interview with our trade happy leader - its good reading.

TV RATINGS: I was told the Canadian TV Ratings for the Toronto FC game on the Score over the weekend was a lowly 15,000. Now either the person I spoke to was pulling my leg, he missed a zero, or there were only a handful of fans watching this game across the country. Numbers like that won't bode well for TFC's image in the corporate community.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Here is a great behind the scenes look at BMO Field on what was a miserable spring day in Toronto.


While serving his very brief tenure as Head Coach of the New York Metrostars (now known as Red Bulls), our very own Sir Mo, made a last minute deal to trade up in the 2006 MLS Superdraft in order to acquire highly coveted defender Marvell Wynne. Well according to New Jersey Star Ledger reporter Ives Galacerp, Mo has once again acquired the coveted young American. Toronto FC is apparently sending the # 2 Draft Pick in the 2008 MLS Superdraft and possibly allocation money to New York, in exchange for Wynne. The trade has yet to be made official by either side. Wynne is the son of former Major League baseball player Marvell Wynne Sr. Wynne II played two years of college soccer at UCLA, and has been a member of the USA Youth National Youth team program. Wynne was a member of the US U-20 team at the last FIFA World Championships in 2005. He will count as a Youth International for Toronto FC, though I believe he has graduated from the Generation Adidas Program where his salary did not count against the team salary cap in year one.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


A 4 nil defeat = no one gets over 5 in my book!

Greg Sutton - 5
I feel sorry for what he is going to have to endure this year. Sutton didn't have the presence he did last week. When he saw Welsh lose his man on the fourth goal, he needed to come off his line and mow Ralston down hard - he didn't
Marco Reda - 5
a bright spot if such a thing exists when you lose 4-0, the 3 man system ain't working, not his fault
Jim Brennan - 4
I thought he did a decent job distributing the ball, and saved a sure goal when he was forced to deflect a shot, that came about because Andy Welsh let his man get a cross in from the touch line.
Andy Boyens - 2
Confused, bewildered, out of his element tonight. Poor man marking, and distribution of the ball out of the back (giveaways) The foul that led to the penalty would have made the Kiwi All Blacks Rugby team proud.
Andy Welsh - 2
Two goals directly from his side via Steve Ralston runs, he gave up the ball way too easily, and again showed terrible distribution. He is very predictable and appears to lack imagination, pace, and creativity.
Carl Robinson - 5
Is a good player in need of others at his level of understanding. Still needs to be sharper and harder defensively though.
Miguel Canizalez - 3
Reality check for Miguel tonight. He wasn't matched up well against the speed and size of Smith, and was made to pay for it. Less active on the offensive side too.
Richard Mulrooney - 4
Although he too had problems with Smith, when backing up Canizalez, I thought he showed good distribution of the ball
Paulo Nagamura - 3
Has to be better, as distribution was very poor. Not as active as last week.
Edson Buddle - 2
Great first touch no doubt, yet he had a another clear chance in front of goal and failed to convert. The first two Revs goals originate from turnovers he caused up the field.
Alecko Eskandarian - 5
Again no goals scored, but he continues to plug away and work hard, something all Toronto fans will appreciate. He had a couple of decent strikes at goal and checked way back to get the ball a few times.

Conor Casey - 5
I thought he showed well, good movement, held up the ball, yet nothing came of it.
Abbe Ibrahim - NR
Did not see enough of him. Though he almost scored on the last second Mulrooney cross.


Toronto FC have made a last minute transfer signing, securing Englishman Daniele Dichio of Preston North End. Dichio is a 32 year striker that will count as a senior international.


It looks to be a long season folks. Although I didn't want to believe it with the roster of players Mo had assembled prior to the season , Toronto FC looks every bit an expansion team at the moment. We have to be realistic and patient. This is a collection of players definitely not on the same page with each other just yet. It can only get better.

New England is as good as it gets in MLS. They are a talented and very deep side. They did all the little things right on Saturday. They didn't provide Toronto with an inch of room in their final third, put intense pressure on the TFC players with the ball, forcing turnovers, and created and finished chances offensively. They exploited from the flanks and capitalized. Speedy Khano Smith had his way with an overwhelmed Miguel Canizalez all night, and created the first goal. Steve Ralston toyed with Andy Welsh on the other flank leading to the second and fourth goals. New England attacked in numbers easily exploiting the huge gaps between the back three.

Although you can't blame the Toronto back line entirely, as they had to respond to the constant giveaways from their midfield and forwards, the three man back line was spread thin all night. It was obvious New England had Toronto figured out from the get go. They were simply overwhelmed and not capable of handling the intense pressure. I felt Andy Boyens especially had a terrible night. He let his man get behind him twice leading to goals. First, he lost sight of Twellman (of all people), on the second goal, and then needed a Rugby style tackle to make up for poor marking, that resulted in the penalty. Boyens also gave away the ball 3 or 4 times on routine clearances in his own half, leading to really good scoring opportunities.

As for the fitness concerns, this is the one area the Toronto FC coaches most take responsibility for. Conditioning and fitness moreover is the one area that an expansion team should have got right from the start. The fitness concerns work the same on both sides of the field. Toronto spent as much time in pre-season as everyone else. Besides, Toronto does have an advantage in that several players have recently returned from Europe. Like Toronto, most other teams, including New England, are also recovering from key injuries, so that too isn't much of an excuse in this regard.

Andy Welsh's man marking has much to be desired. Steve Ralston easily ran by him leading to the first goal, while a soft attempt at chasing and defending off of a throw in, led to the third goal. A blatant Welsh giveaway not 5 minutes into the match set the tone for the rest of the game. The giveaway resulted in a New England goal that was called back for offside. He gave away the ball in a similar fashion on several occasions, much too easily.

Lethargic play by Edson Buddle can be linked to at least two goals. Buddle did not react to a descent looking pass from Miguel Canizalez in the New England end, that led to a turnover - nor did he attempt to track back on the same play. New England easily capitalized on the subsequent rush that followed. On the second goal, he played a terrible ball in the attacking half, that was easily intercepted. A long Steve Ralston rush was then completed with a perfect cross to Twellman who easily converted.

For all his promise and potential Paulo Nagamura , simply gives the ball away too easily. There were easily two or three really good build ups that ended with a poor aimless pass by the Brazilian.

I was surprised Mo did not respond to the obvious problems earlier on. I'm not saying a radical change, but a couple of subtle adjustments in order to change the flow of the match may have helped. It was obvious to most that Toronto needed someone with more pace to mark Smith. And Boyens looked terribly nervous and overwhelmed from the start.

On the bright side:

Carl Robinson is a classy and smart player. He looks to be a step or two ahead of everyone else when it comes to making decision with the ball. He must be frustrated by the quality around him. He looks to be able to pick out a player at will, unfortunately, with so little running off the ball, options just aren't available to him. Still, Robinson was a bit soft defending on occasion, and was guilty of giving the ball away a couple of times. I look forward to watching him live.

Considering his team let in 4 goals, I felt Marco Reda still looked good. Nice to see him play the full 90 minutes. Alecko Eskandarian worked very hard tracking back for the ball, and created a couple of chances. Conor Casey does a good job holding the ball up, and adds another dimension up top. He looks to be a classy player. Although Richard Mulrooney struggled with Khano Smith as well, he showed some positive play on the attack, as he was involved in a couple of good sequences with Robinson, Nagamura, and Canizalez.

On to Arrowhead Stadium and the new look Kansas City Wizards.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Toronto FC heads into Gillette Stadium to face one of the best teams in the league over the last few seasons. Coached by former Liverpool great Steve Nicol, the Revs have reached the MLS Cup Final on 3 different occasions since he took over as coach during the 2002 season from Fernando Clavijo. The Revolution are far from one of the MLS glamour teams. Notwithstanding, they continue to produce the results year after year. Aside from a higher profile players or two like Taylor Twellman, the Revs consist of a workmanlike collection of players. The Revs coaching staff which also includes former English international Paul Mariner, have done an excellent job at identifying young talent over the years. They are known to recruit lesser known college players, found off the beaten path, and provide them opportunities to develop and succeed.

OFF SEASON: The Revolution lost key player Clint Dempsey in a $4 million transfer to Fulham of the Premier League. One of America's rising stars, Dempsey scored a wonderful goal against Ghana in the World Cup in Germany. He was named Honda's US Male Player of the Year in 2006. When a transfer to the Premier League did not materialize last summer, things turned sour between Dempsey and the Revolution. Dempsey spent most of the MLS Cup Final in Dallas riding the bench. For Toronto's sake, I was hoping for more turnover in New England. Rumours had Sharlie Joseph of Grenada very close to moving to Glasgow Celtic, Trinidadian Avery John to Queens Park Rangers, and even star striker Taylor Twellman to Odd Grenland of Norway.

Reports suggest MLS All Star Sharlie Joseph is extremely unhappy with his current situation in New England. While he received a substantial raise not too long ago, he remains severely underpaid for a player of his quality. Although his contract is again being re-worked, it's apparently not happening fast enough. Trade scenarios have been floating around as a result. It was also rumoured that Joseph declined to take on the recently vacated captain armband due to his current situation. Joseph's quality, caught the eye of Glasgow Celtic last summer during an exhibition at Foxboro. Celtic made a reported $1 million bid for his services at that time, which was turned down. Another reported bid, rumored to have been double the original amount, was made during the January transfer window, which was again declined by MLS. The financial gains of moving to Celtic, and taking a portion of a decent transfer fee aside, how many chances will a player from a small island nation get to play for one of the most prestigious clubs in the world and Champions League?

LAST MATCH: New England is coming off a 1 -0 loss to the Chicago Fire at frigid Toyota Park in Chicago. In a highly entertaining match, both teams played wonderful flowing soccer all night. While New England started slowly, they became more daring and dangerous as the game wore on. Like Toronto, the Revs were unlucky not to finish some fantastic opportunities. Due to several key injuries, the Revs started three rookies against the Fire - Adam Cristman, Gary Flood, and Wells Thompson.

INJURIES: New England could again be missing several key players. Sharlie Joseph, Khano Smith, Michale Parkhurst, Daniel Hernandez, and captain Joey Franchino did not play in the season opener. While Joseph and Bermuda International Smith resumed training this week, there has been no word on Hernandez, Parkhurst or Franchino. I don't expect them in the starting lineup on Saturday. Captian Franchino has been granted a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons. While he made an appearance in the second half last week, Pat Noonan, is still recovering from a sports hernia procedure and is not yet at 100%.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Taylor Twellman was quiet last week. Look for him to be hungry on Saturday. I felt Andy Dorman was in fantastic form last week against the Fire, their best player in my eyes. Both Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan are quality MLS players at their respective positions.


KEEPERS: Toronto faced a brick wall in Brad Guzan last week in California. Things won't get much better this week. New England is home to Matt Reis, one of the top keepers in the league. Reis served many years as a backup in Los Angeles and New England, has developed into one of the best starting keepers in MLS.

DEFENDERS: The Revs played with a makeshift defence last week as Michael Parkhurst was unavailable. James Riley played centrally, with Trinidadian International Avery John and Jay Heaps on the flanks. I felt Riley did a wonderful job organizing the middle against the Fire. Heaps was a two sport athlete at Duke University in the 1990's. A fantastic all round athlete, he was a walk on with the famous Duke Basketball team. Heaps who hails from the Boston area, saw a couple of former Duke Basketball Alumni, Brian Davis, and Christian Laettner, become part owners of DC United in the off season. Although not the tallest player, Heaps is very good in the air, and can be dangerous on set pieces and corners and will jump in on the attack.

MIDFIELD: Without Sharlie Joseph in the lineup the midfield should be led by Englishman Andy Dorman and MLS original Steve Ralston. Ralston has established himself as one of the most consistent, yet underrated players in league history. Depending on his health, Sharlie Joseph might see time on Saturday. Joseph is a quality player, and simply one of the best players in the league at his position. They will be joined by Jeff Larentowicz who is quickly establishing himself as a solid MLS midfielder. First round draft pick Wells Thompson was solid in his MLS debut, and may be yet another future MLS prospect discovered by Nicol and Mariner. An option off the bench is young Arsene Oka from the Ivory Coast, who brings tons of pace.

STRIKERS: Taylor Twellman is one of the top strikers in the league. Since returning from Germany, Twellman has been amongst the most consistent scoring threats in all of MLS. He narrowly missed out for a spot on the 2006 World Cup team. Nicol started rookie Cristman up top against the Fire. If Pat Noonan is healthy enough to start, he will be yet another potent threat. Rookie Adam Cristman a University of Virginia product, earned the start in the season opener, alongside Twellman.

KEYS TO SUCCESS: If Toronto can neutralize the New England midfield, namely Andy Dorman, and contain explosive Taylor Twellman, they will have a good night. Depending on the injury situation, New England may again resort to starting several rookies which will bode well for Toronto. Chicago did an excellent job at exploiting the inexperience of Flood and Thompson, leading to an early goal that held up for the 3 points. Again if Toronto can contain Dorman, who looked really impressive last week, it will be a competitive game.

PREDICTION: 2-1 in favour of New England. A prediction I would be more than happy to lose.

Enjoy the match folks. The pregame show featuring Brian Budd, James Sharman, and Paul James at 7:00 pm on the Score.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Very interesting news out of Toronto FC camp today, in that former Premiership keeper and Canadian International Craig Forrest trained with the club . Forrest who was forced to retire from West Ham United several years ago due to testicular cancer, had a long career in England with many years spent at Ipswich, and a brief stint at Chelsea before West Ham. Forrest will also be remembered in Canada for his many years of service to our national team, and leading Canada to the 2000 Gold Cup Championship. Forrest is now a popular television analyst for Rogers Sportsnet. I guess there is no better way to assess the players he will be covering then by stopping a few shots from them. Sounds like a bit of a publicity stunt for the network, though it's great to see the big guy healthy enough to even contemplate stepping up to train against professionals again. Here is the link to the Sportsnet article.

In other news, Toronto FC's first game apparently scored ratings on par with the national ratings for the Toronto Raptors.

UPDATE: Both Mo Johnston and Craig Forrest have implied during a television interview on Sportsworld, that they are testing the waters to see if Forrest can regain fitness to serve as the back up to Sutton. Forrest apparently was very impressive in training, until a calf strain ended his day early.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


A rumour is floating around the local soccer scene that TFC keeper coach Carmen Issaco will apparently become the new head coach of York University Men's Soccer program. I'm not sure how this will play out with his Toronto FC duties just yet, though the York U season begins in late summer with a fall schedule of matches. Paul James will apparently remain as the Women's team coach and take on new opportunities within the university. We will have to see how this one plays out, and if indeed it holds true.


First off, I'm not terribly disappointed with the result. I understand TFC is a work in progress. I am disappointed however by the lack of intensity and motivation demonstrated by the Toronto players last night. I just wasn't inspired by their play. Yes TFC showed sporadic signs of brilliance in the first half, came close to scoring, and were terribly unlucky. That said they were non existent in the second half. Toronto looked timid, nervous, confused, frustrated, disorganized, and tired - they looked every bit an expansion team. The big name guys didn't show up tonight. Carl Robinson was a major disappointment based on all the hype, and Andy Welsh was not the spark plug we were promised (although he was probably not 100% match fit - I hope). It wasn't all bad though. What did I tell you folks about Maycoll Canizalez when it was discovered he was with the team a couple months back. While he didn't light the game on fire by any means, he was a spark plug all night on the flanks. He is a jewel of a player that will shine in the MLS - take my word for it. Sadly though, he was also probably the least paid player on the field. Greg Sutton also looked solid - he will do well in MLS. All and all, not the perfect start we had all hoped for, but it wasn't all bad either.

Chivas on the other hand looked calm, composed, patient and organized for the most part. Toronto managed to break down their back line a few times, but nothing out of the ordinary in the course of a match.Chivas keeper Brad Guzan was called upon to make several quality saves in the first half. I was shocked to see Jonathan Bornstein start, but aside from that, Chivas was what I expected of them. They controlled the tempo, and dominated the possession, especially in the second half. They were clearly the better and more deserving team on the night. It will be a different story come August when the two teams meet again. Unlike some of the other MLS matches on Saturday, the conditions and weather looked perfect for the game. Though the opening day "real" attendances league wide, was pretty sad. We are going to have to show our American counterparts how its really done on April 28th. Right folks???

NOTES: I know many of you love the TFC strip, and will jump all over me for this, but the players looked awful last night with the red shorts, grey jersey, and grey socks. I'm not a fan of the colour grey, and I follow a strict, unwritten rule, to never wear anything grey in public during the summer (perspiration shows up way too much for my liking). The jerseys didn't stand out on TV either. I would personally much prefer a white away strip anyway. The people watching with me last night poked fun of the uniforms all night, suggesting they looked amateur, and I had to agree. So here is a cry for some help from you folks that read this blog from Adidas Offices on both sides of the Atlantic (I know there are at least a couple of you) - instruct Toronto not to wear the red with grey, or get working on a crisp white third jersey right away. Mo Johnston on the other hand continues to impress me with his suit and tie collection. Along with Fernando Clavijo, Sir Mo is one of the best dressed coaches in all of MLS.

As for the Canadian TV coverage - Craig Forrest was great, but Gerry Dobson is a talking cure for insomnia. He is not a play, play man, not for soccer anyway. He has come a long way over the years, but his voice is hard to tolerate, and his research has much to be desired. I'm probably one of the only people that noticed, yet he repeatedly called out the wrong Chivas players last night, and really, he avoided calling their names as much as he could. He must of said "pardon me" 5 or 6 times - why send him to LA, save the money and have him call the games from a studio if that was the best he could do. I feel really bad for the folks unfamiliar with MLS, trying to get a handle of the players on the other teams. Toronto FC do yourself a favour, find someone else to join Craig, or give the fans the option to watch the Fox Soccer Channel feed and the excellent pregame. My only pet peeve about Craig was that he undervalued Maycoll Canizalez's experience (though he praised his contribution and quality all night). After all, Canizalez was involved with a couple of big German Bundesliga clubs, and has played in the German leagues for the last few years, which is certainly a higher standard than most of the players on the field have ever achieved.

Toronto FC Player Ratings:
GK - Greg Sutton - looked a bit confused on first goal, a couple really good stops, good distribution, looked calm 6
DF - Andrew Boyens - showed signs of inexperience, and nerves, but held his own 5
DF - Marco Reda - solid, calm, not ready for 90 minutes though, injury was too bad 6
DF - Jim Brennan - a quiet night is always good when your a defender, certainly not the Jim Brennan of old 5
MF - Paul Nagamura - gritty performance, forced a couple of turnovers, was fairly active all night 6
MF - Carl Robinson - was easily beat a couple of times; distribution was less than expected, did not live up to the hype 4
MF - Andy Welsh - awkward looking player, obviously not yet 100%, not the spark plug advertised 4
MF - Maycoll Canizalez - best TFC field player tonight imo, was cool, calm, & classy 7
MF - Richard Mulrooney - did his job for the most part, held his own, good player 6
FW - Alecko Eskandarian - had a couple of good chances, did not convert, hard to blame strikers with so little service coming from the midfield 5
FW - Edson Buddle - came close a couple of times, no goals, floated in and out of the game - usual Buddle, tough to blame forwards with so little service from midfield 5

DF - Adam Braz - short stint, poor distribution 4
FW - Conor Casey - looked confused and frustrated, not in tune with teammates just yet 4

Saturday, April 7, 2007


Toronto FC are set to launch on Saturday night. All of the player moves, press conferences, promises, rumours, speculation are no longer important. Toronto FC, the soccer team, gets put to the test for real at the Home Depot Centre in Los Angeles.

On paper, Sir Mo has delivered the goods. He has brought Toronto some of the biggest names and talents in MLS - as big as you can expect for an expansion side I would suggest. He has made a meal out of the MLS rule book, with some clever transactions, making some existing GM's look like fools in the process (i.e. Real Salt Lake during the expansion draft). Although, Toronto wasn't able to bring home any of the top, starting Canadian national team members, a smattering of good local players are on the roster including Jim Brennan. The young Canadian talent, nearly all local GTA products, is perhaps what excites me the most on a personal level. Toronto also includes an interesting crop of foreign talent that fills in the roster nicely. From a solid core of Americans, to some interesting talent from the United Kingdom, South America, Africa - and even a Kiwi.

The onus for success on the field has been placed squarely on Sir Mo. MLSE Executives Tom Anselmi, Richard Peddie, Bob Hunter, and even TFC's own Paul Beirne, have distanced themselves from the on-field product. All the MLSE guys tend to divert questions about soccer operations to good old Mo (rightfully so, its his job). I will suggest it goes beyond that though. MLSE understand the Toronto sports fan better than anyone else. They understand we can be an extremely demanding bunch of whiners. Mo will be the scapegoat if the on-field product doesn't live up to the expectations of the fan base. At a minimum, TFC has to be competitive, and entertaining in order to satisfy the knowledgeable, and diverse soccer community here.

As a long time observer of MLS, I am excited about Mo's chances of meeting the aforementioned objectives this year. Am I expecting a repeat of the 1998 Chicago Fire? Of course not. Yet a playoff birth should be attainable. In my opinion, success will be determined by how well Toronto FC deals with the following three considerations:

(1) Injuries - Already an issue, Toronto features several delicate players, who have suffered major injuries over the last few years. From Greg Sutton through striker Conor Casey, injuries have been an issue with many of the players on the roster at every position. Hopefully the injuries in pre-season and the recent announcement about Ronnie O'Brien are not an indication of what we should expect for the next 7 months.

(2) Cohesiveness - How long will it take for this team to come together and gel as a unit is a big x factor. Wheeler- dealer Mo, continues to shuffle players, and has said he isn't finished. Mo must bring together many personalities, some that may not fit well. This will naturally take some time. At the end of the day, lets hope he doesn't have the same player management problems he had in New York during his short tenure.

(3) Depth - This goes hand in hand with the injury situation of course. Toronto is a team that will lose players to the Gold Cup, the World Under 20 tournament, European Cup Qualifying, perhaps even Copa America. Will there be enough depth to carry the team through those lean times?

The Chivas Match:

The most interesting thing about the on field match up, is how familiar the respective coaching staffs are with each other. Preki the Chivas USA coach, one of the greatest talents to ever play in MLS, was coached by TFC assistant Bob Gansler for many years in Kansas City, where Mo Johnston was also a mainstay in the midfield. The links go even further back than the Wizards and MLS. Johnston and Preki were teammates during the 1993-94 season with Everton in the Premiership. Their respective coaching careers have also taken similar paths. Johnston, served as an understudy to Bob Bradley in New York for several years before taking over for Bradley near the end of the 2005 season. Preki also served as an understudy to Bob Bradley, albeit only for the 2006 season with Chivas.

Several Chivas players will also be very familiar to the Toronto FC coaching staff. Jason Hernandez, Ante Razov, David Arvizu, and Amado Guevara played for Johnston in New York, while Romanian defender Alex Zotinica played for Gansler in KC.

Chivas USA is coming off their best season to date in 2006. They will be a team noticeably absent of the quantity of Mexican names it has featured during its first three years of existence.

The most notable players to depart, are high profile Mexican veteran attackers Juan Francisco Palencia, and young gun Juan Pablo Garcia. Defender Tim Regan was a key loss in the back, when he was picked up by Toronto in the expansion draft (since traded to New York). Chivas will also be missing 2006 rookie sensation Jonathan Bornstein, who earned himself a spot on the US National team, and a cap this winter. Bornstein suffered a very serious injury while in the National team camp. High profile American International John O'Brien, a starter for Ajax in Holland for many years, was also a Chivas USA player last year, yet a serious injury and World Cup duty limited him to 15 minutes of action. He was released in the off-season. Losing Head Coach Bob Bradley to the US National team was also a huge loss this off-season.

KEEPERS: American keeper Brad Guzan was thrown into the fire during his rookie year, with the expansion Chivas USA, and has developed into an emerging MLS talent. The idea originally was for Guzan to serve as an understudy to Chivas legend Martin Zuniga- yet an injury ended his career in California early and Guzan has held the reigns ever since.

DEFENDERS: This area is anchored by Mexican legend Claudio Suarez - a player that should be very familiar with most long time Toronto area and Canadian soccer fans. Suarez who will be amongst the oldest players in the league, was respected enough last year to be selected to the Mexican World Cup team in Germany. Another veteran former US International Carlos Llamosa, an American originally from Colombia (he was working at the World Trade Centre when it was attacked in 1993) also brings valuable experience to Chivas - though injuries have slowed his career. Jason Hernandez and recently acquired Romanian Alex Zotinica are solid MLS players as well.

MIDFIELD: On his day, Honduran Amado Guevara is arguably the most talented player in the entire league at his position, bar none. He is joined by Jesse Marsch one of the longest serving MLS veterans, he served as a very important cog in Chivas success last season. Marsch was a mainstay on the Chicago Fire since their inception and has won MLS Championships in both Chicago and DC . Mexican mainstay Francisco Mendoza has emerged as the best of the original lot of the Mexican imports. I really like Mendoza, I think he is a quality player.

FORWARDS: Up top, former US International Ante Razov redeemed himself with a strong 2006. Cuban Maykel Galindo, who might be familiar to local fans of the USL and Lynx, was signed in the off season from Seattle. Galindo brings with him a very good reputation. Draft pick and Youth International, John Cunliffe from England, has been receiving good reviews.

My Prediction: Toronto 2 - Chivas 2


Friday, April 6, 2007


Canadian Under 20 player Gabe Gala of Brampton, has apparently signed on with Toronto FC, as a developmental player.


Toronto FC have traded disgruntled midfielder Jose Cancela to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a Youth International spot on the roster. Moving Cancela frees up salary cap space, and a Senior International Spot on the roster. It looks to allow for another move. As I speculated here last week, Cancela was most probably a player Toronto offered in the discussions with Colorado as part of a deal for Clint Mathis. Toronto FC were confirmed by Fernando Clavijo to be the other team in the hunt for Mathis last week. Cancela should count as a domestic player for Colorado due to his Green Card status.

A couple of questions about the timing of this move come to mind: (1) Was Cancela the unnamed player Ronnie O'Brien kicked on Tuesday?
(2) Was the Cancela trade completed prior to the news about the extent of the Ronnie O'Brien injury?


According to Houston Chronicle Soccer beat writer Glenn Davis, reputable sources have revealed to him, that World Cup Champions Alessandro del Piero, Marco Matterazzi, and Fabio Cannavaro have put out feelers to judge the interest MLS may have in their services. While this may amount to nothing more than curiosity from their agents, it is very interesting nonetheless. One might suggest that Cannavaro and Matterazzi are probably a few years away from a move to MLS, though Del Piero may be a more realistic target. If New York uses their second designated player this year, one would think the likely destination for Del Peiro would be Toronto where former Juventus star, and Vice President Roberto Bettega has been immersed since his days with the Toronto Blizzard of the NASL. I would suggest there are probably as many Italy and Juventus jerseys walking around the GTA, with Del Piero on the back side, as any other professional athlete (save for Sundin, Clark, Tucker, and Gilmour).

MLS has been void of Italians since the leagues formative years featuring Roberto Donadoni, Walter Zenga, and Giuseppei Galderesi (an ex teammate of Alexi Lalas at Padova in Seria A). Current Italian national team coach Roberto Donadoni was one of the first stars signed by Major League Soccer in 1996 and spent two years in the league. His days spent in New York under Metrostars coaches Carlos Quiroz of Portugal, and Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreirra, were great learning experiences for Donadoni, who had aspirations to become a coach. I recall pictures of Donadoni working very closely with Parreirra during the MLS combines in 1997, trying to gauge the talent on display. Donadoni played for Italy at Euro 1996, and went back to play for Milan, and had a short stint in Saudi Arabia, before entering the coaching ranks after leaving MLS. If I recall correctly, Milan paid a transfer fee to MLS in order to bring Donadoni back to Seria A.


According to Chris Zelkovich of the Star, Toronto FC will have a hard time getting ratings on Saturday night because Toronto FC have been very slow out of the gate announcing their TV package. While he is certainly correct in his observation that TFC have probably hurt their exposure by not getting the word out earlier, I have to disagree with Zelkovich that this will be the reason Toronto FC will suffer in terms of ratings for their first match.

Toronto FC will have poor ratings because this is first and foremost, Toronto Maple Leaf territory. The Leafs happen to be playing in their most important game in the last few years on Saturday night, the final day of their regular season, against rivals the Montreal Canadians. This alone will overshadow anything, and everything else, that gets in the way. Coupled with a late local start at 10:30, the TFC ratings are set to be bad. So Zelkovich can start writing his headline now, as we can all anticipate a negative review on Monday.

Come to think of it, the 10:30 start, now looks like a bit of a God send, considering the Leaf game should be over by then. Of course, those of you heading out to bars to watch Toronto FC should be prepared to miss the pregame show on FOX Sports World. Not sure how many bars are going to turn away from their hockey coverage for an MLS pre game show, even those with official TFC viewing parties.

Lets face it, as long as the Toronto Maple Leafs are alive in the playoff hunt, there is little any other sports team can do in this market to get any serious attention from media and the mainstream fan- not the Raptors, not the Jays, and certainly not our beloved Toronto FC.

It is a tough time of year to break in a new franchise in an already crowded sports marketplace. The Leafs are inching towards a playoff birth, and could make a run if they get in. The Raptors will be in the playoffs for the first time in years, and are apparently looking good. Then we've have the Blue Jays. With support on the decline over the last decade or so, at least at the gate, in the vacuum that is Skydome (Rogers Centre), the Jays can still draw a pretty decent television audience, fueled surely by the growing Senior Citizen Community, now too old to attend in person (to baseball fans I'm just teasing). I was actually given a free pair of pretty decent season opener tickets for Monday - that will never be used. After leaving in the second inning of a Yankees game a few years back (again freebies), I have vowed never to return. I personally can't tolerate baseball (I apologize to all my American readers, but baseball is dying a slow death in these parts) Besides, Monday night is my annual playoff hockey pool, which is much more important. This is also Masters weekend and the end of March Madness I believe. Here is the link to the Zelkovich article which is a lead in to his next article that will surely show Toronto FC as a ratings disaster.

In other television news - the Montreal Impact have announced a television package with Radio Canada (CBC) as part of their commitment to growing the sport in Canada after securing the domestic World Cup rights deal. I look forward to catching a few games if the local Radio Canada station in Toronto picks up the coverage.


Defending MLS Cup Champions Houston are the most exciting team in MLS in my opinion. I've always enjoyed watching Houston/San Jose play. Heading into the match last night, with a 2-0 lead from the home leg of the semi-final series with Pachuca, I was expecting a favourable result. It had the potential to be a famous result for both the Dynamo and MLS. Of course it wasn't meant to be. I suggest the final 5-2 scoreline was a generous result for the MLS Champions. It should have been much worse.

That said, I am not questioning the talent level, or work ethic of the Dynamo or the MLS. The players appeared to work and fight as hard as they could in my opinion. Pachuca in mid-season form, are obviously a very talented talented side. Instead, I question Houston's prepparation for this very important match. The loss last night goes well beyond Houston being in pre-season form. Houston were simply not prepared to play at high altitudes in Mexico.

Moreover, I ask why the heck were Houston in South Carolina participating in the Carolina Challenge Cup last week, when instead they should have flown south and practiced at high altitudes to better prepare the players for this match. One look at the players gasping for breath was enough to understand that Houston were at a serious disadvantage. Toronto's own Dwayne de Rosario was ineffective, and looked like a shadow of his usual self.

Didn't anyone at the Dynamo or MLS have the foresight to consider the implications of proper preparation when the pre-season schedule was being drawn up? Were they not counting on making it this far? Was defending a meaningless pre-season trophy really worth it? Could they not have backed out on the Carolina organizers, or found them a replacement team?

In a week where MLS signs Mexcian star Cuauhtemoc Blanco for millions of dollars, hoping to tweak interest, and gain some much needed respect amongst the highly coveted Mexican soccer community in the United States, MLS instead takes 4 steps back with the humbling loss of its Champions. Although Houston showed sporadic flashes of how brilliant they can be last night, they spent much of the game bunkered up in the back, reduced to a lowly kick and chase team, that will gain the respect of no one (work ethic aside).

Learn from this MLS, as this was an enormous opportunity lost!

Thursday, April 5, 2007


According to the Globe & Mail, Toronto FC are still pursuing Glasgow Celtic defender John Kennedy.


According to the Globe & Mail, the latest Ronnie O'Brien injury occurred during Toronto's Tuesday practice at BMO Field. Sir Mo has come out with the company line stating that the brand new field turf surface had absolutely nothing to do with the injury. O'Brien apparently made a silly tackle on an unnamed player. I for one am not convinced it was as simple as Mo has suggested. As Marco Reda suggests in the same article, playing on a proper grass surface will always be preferred to playing on plastic.

The questions, not answered in the article are - Who was O'Brien targeting with his tackle? and why?

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Toronto FC Eastern Conference rivals, the Chicago Fire , are set to become the third MLS team to sign a Designated Player, as the long rumored signing of Mexican Superstar Cuauhtemoc Blanco will be announced Monday. The Fire have been dumping salary all off-season, known to be courting a Designated Player. The Fire had some disappointing turnouts at their beautiful new Soccer Specific Stadium in the Chicago suburbs, and the once well supported and proud club under fan friendly General manager Peter Wilt, are looking for a boost at the gate. The move for Blanco, concludes speculation that has lasted the entire off season, linking numerous high profile names with the Fire, including the likes of Zinadine Zidane, Pavel Nedved, and Patrick Berger.

Mexican Superstars have historically not lived up to their potential in the MLS. While Jorge Campos helped lend credibility to the Los Angeles Galaxy amongst the enormous Mexican population in that market during the league's first two seasons, he was not with the Galaxy on a full time basis, and his commitment was sometimes questioned. Campos then moved on to expansion team Chicago Fire in 1998, where again his name was used to create a stir in the Mexican population in that market. After losing his place in the team while away in a successful World Cup run in France, his days in the MLS were numbered. The Galaxy brought in Carlos Hermosillo, and Luis Hernandez in subsequent years, yet they never lived up to their salary on the field, with sometimes questionable work ethic and commitment, and their drawing power at the gate was surely less than MLS expected given their star power. I think its safe to say that Chivas USA has yet to receive a huge contribution from its higher profile Mexican players such as Ramon Ramirez who has been basically been injured his entire time in California, and Francisco Palencia never did get rolling. Yet veteran Claudio Suarez did earn a place in Germany last year. Chivas USA hasn't hardly been a great success at the box office either.

It will be interesting to see what sort of attitude Blanco brings with him to the Fire, and how much he really has left in his tank. That said I don't see this ending well in Chciago. My prediction - after Toronto FC soundly defeat the Fire on May 12th at BMO, Dave Sarachan will be the first coach to get fired this season, with GM John Guppy to follow in the off season. Blanco will not return for 2008.