This has been a strange week as there are a good six weeks remaining in the MLS regular season. The playoff race has been tightening up and at the moment the Western Conference teams will have the majority before the final weekend of October comes around since it looks like both Columbus and New York will have the top two spots in the East. That’s when trades are made from within the league as those destined for the playoffs need that one last piece to solve that puzzle.
Needing some midfield help and to orchestrate from within the middle of the park, the Red Bulls went out and got Moroccan International midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy from the Colorado Rapids and traded Forward Macoumba Kandji. “We’ve seen him about two to three months ago on the road at Colorado and at home in the US Open Cup” said Head Coach Hans Backe. “When they subbed him in the second half of the Open Cup match he automatically changed the game. When we played away at Colorado he could play centrally and out wide. His movements are very good.”
For Ballouchy it wasn’t that hard for him to report to Red Bulls training as he was spending a couple of days with family and heading out to Flushing Meadows Park for the US Open when he received the call from his former head coach Gary Smith. “I heard New York was interested a while ago.” said Ballouchy. “When I got the phone call I knew right away I was traded. I am excited and nervous going to a different team right away, but I am really excited coming to this team with these types of players.”
But as you all know in professional sports when trades are made, you have to give up something to get something and that player heading to Colorado was Macoumba Kandji.”He is a talented player” said Backe. “We hope this move will give him more time as a striker, because it’s how to build a team and be the strongest team in New York.” The first time I saw Kandji play in any US League was for the Atlanta Silverbacks then of USL-1st Division during the 2008 season when Fox Soccer Channel had the Friday night USL match of the week. Kandji blazed a trail of field turf pellets attacking the oppositions net. I hoped then he was going to be a great strike partner for Juan Pablo Angel. He is a good person and I hope he will have some success in the Denver area.
When it comes to the situation with Toronto FC all you can say is that no matter what quick fixes they have tried to make the playoffs, someway and somehow they have fallen short. If it’s not the late season collapses, then it’s the win and your in scenario last year and they got blown out from the Red Bulls last home match at Giants Stadium from a total of five goals to nil. Well this afternoon was the last straw for Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment as General Manager Mo Johnston has been fired and Soccer Hall of Famer Preki has joined him as well.
Toronto FC currently on a six match losing streak as it started with the first home loss at BMO Field against the Red Bulls on August 21st, then a joke of a so called Champions League match at Arabe Unido August 24. Two scoreless draws against Real Salt Lake & at the Chicago Fire, a one goal loss at FC Dallas, but the final straw the broke the camel’s back was their last home match as they lost to last place DC United allowing a 71st minute goal by Julius James to officially sealed both Johnston’s & Preki’s fate. Assistant coach and former Canadian International Nick Dasovic will run Toronto FC for the remainder of the league season & the four CONCACAF Champions League group stage matches.
With these events happening for TFC is the change quick enough to grab a playoff spot with six matches remaining and will they find success in claiming one of the two spots in their group to reach the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League. If the pressure wasn’t this big for them, then it’s going to get a lot worse towards the end of the regular season.