New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2014/01/starting-elevens/
Now that all the big deals are official, I have been consumed with thoughts of how the new TFC will look on the pitch.
This is purely an exercise in day-dreaming. So, I am assuming that TFC figure out some way of keeping Señor Laba and Bright Dike in the roster. I am also assuming that the new roster may beg a change in formation from the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 that dominate in the MLS. Arguably, there is now enough depth and talent in the forward and midfield ranks to innovate. That said, the back line may not yet be ready to stray from those basics formations.
I would love to see Ryan Nelsen’s notebooks now.
Any votes for what we’re likely to see?
De Rosario Laba/Osorio Bradley Rey
Morgan Morrow / Henry Caldwell Bloom
Dafoe Dike Gilberto
De Rosario Laba / Bradley Rey
Morgan Morrow / Henry Caldwell Bloom
Dafoe / Gilberto
De Rosario Osorio Rey
Morgan Morrow / Henry Caldwell Bloom
De Rosario Bradley Rey
Morgan Morrow / Henry Caldwell Bloom
Osorio / Bradley
De Rosario Rey
Bradley / Laba
Morgan Morrow / Henry Caldwell Bloom
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2014/01/2013s-payne-could-be-2014s-pleasure/
2013’s Payne could be 2014’s Pleasure
MLSE haters and TFC doubters, Timmy L has just gone “all-in” on 2014
Anyone who has lived in Toronto knows the whiney old tune. It gets sung year in and year out. The chorus has lasted a generation for fans of the Maple Leafs. It’s almost two decades now for the Raptors. And Toronto FC is closing in on a 10 bag of seasons too.
The song is the epic about the evil old Scrooges at MLSE who smugly reap monster profits and never care about their teams winning trophies. No doubt there is some truth to those verses. And maybe those greedy old suits are guilty of some of those charges.
Anyone with half a mind for business would know, however, that it’s totally ridiculous to accuse any corporation of not wanting winners in its stable. All of those teams and all of their ancillary products become ever more valuable with those victories.
It’s certainly understandable that fans would tire of the frustration and the futility. Those greedy suits sucking our pockets dry and shredding our loyal hearts are an easy target too. From the outside, it often seemed like the profiteer could be spending more on the substance of those teams in search of lasting success.
New corporate owners are in charge now. And a new leader has taken the MLSE helm. His mission is to make winners of all three teams.
In the case of Toronto FC, Tim Lewieke, MLSE’s new boss, has just dumped a big pile of chips on the table. The true price tag of acquiring Jermaine Dafoe and Michael Bradley are not yet public. They may never be, as the MLS likes to keep such details private.
There is no doubt Bradley and Dafoe are big steps up in terms of talent for TFC. The MLS is already winning with their decision to play in Toronto. Top talent joining the League will always be good publicity.
MLSE’s commitment to raising its stake in the game is commendable. To the players’ credit, it could not have been an easy decision to enlist for duty on a ship that has never really been seaworthy. Whopping sums must be involved.
Great as their reputations are, and popular as they may be with fans, these players are still unquantifiable contributions to the greater mission. Bradley and Dafoe remain unproven commodities for TFC until they can reliably deliver on the pitch.
Kudos to Lewieke, though. Toronto FC are certainly in their best position ever going into a new season. Only time will tell if these big bets will pay off.
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2014/01/de-hero-or-derogue/
DE heRO or DEROgue?
2013′s Payne could be 2014′s Pleasure
Yes, he’s older. Yes, some unfortunate stuff went down between the man and TFC last time around. Critics might call him ego driven or over the hill or even ungrateful. And yes, he could wash out this season without ever making a major contribution.
I just wouldn’t bet on that.
Dwayne De Rosario’s return to play in his hometown is unqualified good news for the Reds. That’s because there is one character trait DeRo has that will always be valuable:
DeRo is a big-game player.
He is the guy who makes something out of nothing. He’s the guy who rises to the occasion when it really counts. Among Toronto FC’s seven MLS seasons and dozens of rostered players, DeRo is the only one you can point to who ever brought that to the pitch.
The 2013 DC United team he played for was hampered by injuries, including his own, and was consistently horrible in running to a last place finish in the league. Nevertheless, DeRo lead that squad to win the US Open Cup. No surprise, really, those big games are his best.
In his first stint in TFC red, he was that hero. He brought the team up.
Last time, it sometimes seemed like he had to do it on his own. His teammates on the field and the management backing them really weren’t a high enough calibre. It could make him seem like a ball hog, and a ‘me-first’ kind of player. Though, that really seems unfair.
In San Jose and Houston, he also had a proven talent for serving up opportunities for other goal scorers. Maybe Brian Ching could offer some testimony there.
Surely this year, with mounting expectations of Dafoe and Bradley, there will be games when injuries and tactics and morale are all flagging under the pressure. Those are the moments TFC will appreciate having DeRo around again.
As long as he’s healthy, DeRo will always show up when somebody needs to deliver. That alone, makes his return to TFC one of the best developments of this off-season.
Starting or coming off the bench, scoring or feeding others, DeRo is a guy you want on the field when the pressure is high and the competition is hot.
Dwayne – whatever hair design you show up with, whatever goal celebration you peacock, it’s good to have you back.
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2013/10/another-year-that-wasnt/
Another Year That Wasn’t
The Most Patient Fans On Earth
Ok, that title really belongs to Toronto Maple Leafs fans. However, Toronto FC fans can certainly boast to own some of it now. The seventh season ends this weekend, and it will bring merciful closure. Arguably, this might have been the worst season of all.
There was the usual hyperbole about change. There was the usual shuffling of the management and the roster. TFC played through an ugly and inglorious campaign.
Yet again, it was the kind of season that makes it very hard to feel optimistic about the next one.
It also has been hard to find much to write about here. The deja vu has been overwhelming. Another year of turning the corner only to find myself staring at the same dead end. The doom hanging over the 2013 team has been hard to escape.
Whatever promise the 2012 TFC had for this season, it was all gone by the end of July. Koevermans never really returned from his knee injury. Silva was traded. Stefan Frei never left the bench. Big name signings never materialized. No surprise, the new management was fired before the end of August.
Not all was lost. Some new players have proven to be good acquisitions. Laba and Caldwell definitely made a difference when they were healthy and available. Osorio, Convey and Rey have some promise as a midfield too. Ryan Nelsen even seemed to be able to organize the defense better than any of his predecessors.
In the end, it didn’t matter.
Toronto FC remain the pitiable runt in the MLS litter. Unable to shore up its back line, too many close contests were lost to late mistakes and laughably bad defending. Worse yet, service forward and the actual attacking were consistently incapable of scoring the goals that would have made a difference.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même.
Tic Tac Tabernac
All that’s left to rally around is the slim chance we can defeat the Montreal Impact at BMO to close out 2013. It could spoil their bid to make the playoffs.
That’s right, there’s no hope for TFC success. So we’re left only with finding pleasure at other’s misfortune. But don’t feel bad about that. They are our rivals. We are supposed to root for their failure.
With weather forecasts running cool and blustery, the stage is set for my favourite kind of BMO experience. If our team’s play fails to bond us in camaraderie, there’s always inclement weather to bind us together around a common cause. Plus, you can buy the big beers without fear of them going warm before you finish them.
TFC entered 2013 with a roar and will exit with a whimper.
Will 2014 bring us any different?
Toronto FC 1 - 1 Montreal Impact
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2013/08/urruti-toot-tutti/
Urruti Toot Tutti
That’s All Folks
Well, the K-Pay is good for his word. TFC finally signed the Argentine striker they’ve been pursuing for most of 2013. The youngster has landed, signed and posed for the requisite photo. He looks relieved, having left behind the legal hassles of a club struggling with insolvency. One has to wonder if he’s ready for the adventure that lies ahead in Toronto.
Unless there’s another free agent imminently scribbling his name to a contract, this is it for Toronto’s 2013 player-go-round. Now we get to watch ‘what it is’ fight for whatever’s left.
While a playoff run is mathematically possible, the odds are against it. And really, who cares?
The fact that K-Pay and the Nelsenator have begun to pull the team together is noteworthy in itself. Play on the field has definitely improved this season. The defense has coalesced into a decent unit for MLS play. The midfield is beginning to look capable, and actually has some depth. With Urruti’s arrival, there’s some hope that new life will spark life into the attacking corps.
Goal scoring remains the greatest deficit on the pitch for the Reds. Danny Koevermans may yet return to match fitness, but these are end days for him at TFC. Nevertheless, Koef, Earnshaw and Urruti need to put some finish into TFC’s improving play.
For me, a 2013 playoff run is irrelevant. Winning every game left this season is an entirely unreasonable expectation. TFC posting a winning record for the remaining matches would be a totally satisfying closing chapter for year 1 of this new regime.
In Columbus tonight, the Reds could grind out a moral victory. Solid play seems likely. A win isn’t out of the question. The Trillium Cup could be ours. C’mon lads, bring us back the hardware.
Columbus Crew 1 - 2 Toronto FC
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2013/07/is-there-anything-left-to-say/
Is there anything left to say?
Wisdom? Or Wasteland?
Too soon to tell if MLSE and the LeiPaynSen experiment are for realz. But right about now, I need some signs.
After a pair of desperately terrible matches this past week, supporter emotions and hope are flatlining. Can we really complain? We were warned the next few games would be ‘tough.’ There really isn’t any point in getting all analyse-ish about all this churn and failure.
It’s agonizing to watch. This team is moving from sucking to the sucktacular. Again.
Painful as it is, 2013 isn’t any of our first run-ins with this team bottoming out. Other teams might have roster consistency, or occasionally good seasons, but Toronto FC’s motto really could be “We Clean House, A Lot.”
Past regimes have failed to ever totally clear out their predecessors failed handiwork. Rebuilding has never been completed. Not even once. The norm for management here is: Enter, Promise New Path, Dump out, Drag in, Ask For Patience, Churn Roster. Spend Big. Do Worse. Lose job. Repeat.
We can thank Mo Johnston. He got to go first. He’s our founding father of fuck ups at TFC. Without him, there would be none.
I can’t say what media scrutiny was like in other MLS markets for LeiPaynSen. I’m not even sure if what we have here in Toronto passes as a ‘hot’ environment in the footballing world. This week, however, the TFC braintrust must be feeling some heat. I mean they promised the playoffs. This year!
I’ve always hated that Rob Fordy, over-simplified milestone as a rallying call. I could care less about the playoffs this season. I want to see this team truly improve. Someone has to be able to lead the Reds out of the basement. Someone has to free us from the laughing stocks in the middle of the MLS town square.
I want more. Maybe it’s a silly fantasy. I need to believe there is some other path. There has to be a parallel universe where a Toronto FC team actually makes the most of its wealth and fan base to build a long-term contender.
I don’t want to LeiPaynSen off easily. They need to know that our loyalty has its limits. This may not be the time to pull their feet too close to the flames. Yet, they need to know we will want some answers if this implosion is another repetition of what has come before.
We have to stop this terrible cycle sometime. If there’s any mercy, and any game in the management seats, we’ll see it end here.
LewPaynSen has my trust for now. Playoffs or not.
The Coming And Going
In the meantime, this season is now a novelty act. The contests on the pitch are irrelevant. The Wheel of Player Fortune spins and spins. Where it stops we cannot know.
I feel bad for the guys who have to suit up and face the music each week. And I bet the merry-go-round will keep turning for quite a while too.
Matias Laba seems like a smart purchase. Caldwell has done better than most.
The out door is still open. Eckersley and Frei seem like they will be leaving TFC soon. If not this season, then by next.
We should all be saying goodbye to Danny Koevermans. Match fitness and a major scoring streak are the only thing that might keep him here past his current contract.
But all that subtraction has to be followed by addition. TFC has to stock up through academy development, old-fashioned trading or by dollars down. The infernal cap will always be there. Other teams manage it.
When there is no more cap room to be had, and no more season to be sacrificed, LewPaynSen have to show us the goods.
Bring it on.
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2013/07/unforgettable-moments-2/
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2013/07/summertime-shuffle/
They’re back, tabernac!
Yep. Just when you thought you could remember the entire starting line-up. The summertime transfers are set to begin. That means a bunch of new faces moving in, and a few stale old ones moving out.
Welcome Michael Thomas. And I guess we can say the same for Steven Caldwell, who has just signed for a three season hitch. Sayonara… tbd. Our first halfies have had a tough go of it. There’s’ still hope that the second halfies will do better.
With the shuffle starting for real in the coming days. TFC are in a weird limbo. Poised to shake and bake the roster, but not yet holding all their chickens. Wow – stunningly greasy metaphor.
And L’Impact du Montreal saunter into town tonight. The Eastern Conference leaders and first half dominators are feeling pinchy in their Gucci loafers this week. Last weekend’s game with the Rapids saw them drop a rare home loss to the tune of four goals allowed. It probably didn’t help that Italia fizzled to third in the Confederations Cup.
After the 6-0 beat-down they put on TFC in their last contest, both sides are certain to be spirited tonight. What more can one ask of a mid-week, night game?!! Love it.
The Reds improved defense will have to stand fast. The attack, however, has to show up in a form we haven’t seen for weeks. With or without Earnshaw, TFC now have enough attacking options to try a few variations going forward.
Service into the box needs to be better. Too many good attacks are fizzling out while TFC leaves bodies forward looking for the cross. Frankly, it isn’t that surprising that Richter is having a tough time. Darren O’Dea has a good left foot, and it would be nice to see more of it putting the ball into attackers in the box.
Most importantly, the Reds need someone to finish. The RSL game over the weekend, proved they could hold off a strong opponent. It also demonstrated their current woes when it comes to converting chances into goals. Danny Koevermans looked less than sharp in his first start of 2013. All will be forgiven, of course, once he starts potting goals again.
The Impact are 3-2-0 in the last five and always dangerous. Lately, they’ve looked a bit more vulnerable. On our side, the Impact have never won at BMO Field. Tonight, it’s up to the Reds to bring it.
Toronto FC 2 - 1 Montreal Impact
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2013/06/how-to-win-friends-and-not-friendlies/
How to win friends and not friendlies
New Post has been published on http://www.better-red.org/2013/06/the-company-of-strangers/
The Company of Strangers
A month has passed since the last post here. Watching TFC through another agonizing period of ineptitude wore me down. It filled me with dread. That only got worse on game days.
More painful still, I’ve seen it all before. I have already written about it here before too. New coach. New system. New players. No cohesion. No luck. Plague of late conceded goals.
It felt like a burden to keep commenting on the same story Groundhog Daying over and over again. The “plus ça change” adage is no comfort.
Like many around me at BMO, nothing like this season has kept me from watching and going. So, here I am, toughing it out alongside many many others. Close to my seats there is a solid core of us who have held season seats since 2007. At least we can morbidly commiserate about shared suffering.
Things are bad for the Reds now. But not really worse than what has come before. No logic can explain why hope is still alive. But it is.
The team sometimes looks better than terrible. TFC’s most recent slide through winlessness makes it hard to appreciate. The Reds, however, are not rotten and irredeemable.
The new regime and roster have potential. There’s still room in TFC’s season to hope for a revival. Their season’s second half could bring the team closer to respectability. Forget the playoffs. Please. More than ten wins this year would be an enormous accomplishment.
Of course, it was last weekend’s victory which roused me to write again.
TFC seized their road win from an own goal off the head of their opponents. And I cheered. I was alone in front of the TV. I let go for a while. Lucky breaks have been few and far between this season.
Easy Come, Easy Go
TFC’s player-go-round just keeps on spinning. A few guys stick around. Lots of guys I liked are gone. Guys I don’t know come and go.
With a transfer window approaching, there’s only one safe bet. There’re more changes ahead. More players out, more in. The starting roster will see more churn. Forget chemistry and creativity, we’ll be lucky if they can recognize each other.
TFC’s past campaigns prove that constant turmoil and turnover never really work out well. The core of talent on the field needs consistency to achieve reliable results. Sadly, this isn’t Ryan Nelsen’s luxury. He and Kevin Payne have to ride out 2013 just like the rest of us.
It looks like the 2013 Reds might duplicate the title for the most players played on the roster of any MLS team. At least it’s a record we own.
We have to hope Tim Leiweke, MLSE’s new President, will give Payne and Nelsen enough time (3-5 years) to actually build and groom a team. No other management regime has succeeded in that task. Without that coherency, we should expect little of the Reds.
For the rest of the year, I’m trying to embrace the flux and flow. Maybe we can start an ‘adopt a new Red’ program, to help the guys adjust to their (short) stay in Toronto.
Houston 2 - 1 Toronto FC