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Toronto FC: Finally Canada’s Team


After two years after gradually becoming less and less Canadian Toronto FC is finally getting the message. As Canada’s sole first division professional football club, TFC has been a disappointment to some fans north of the border the in its first two seasons due to a lack of commitment to promote Canadian players.

Having seen a team made up largely of Canadian players (Montreal Impact) eliminate a team primarily composed of players from the United States and British Isles in last year’s Canadian Championship, perhaps weighed on Mo Johnston’s mind.

This off-season we’ve seen TFC acquire Dwayne DeRosario and Adrian Serioux. DeRo is arguably the best player to have ever suited up in MLS. A four time MLS Cup winner his signing in 2001 by the league turned the San Jose Earthquakes from five year laughing stocks into MLS Cup Champions. DeRo has also been the heart and soul of the Canadian National Team for years.

Adrian Serioux was training last week in Florida with FC Dallas and is still in Florida (in the same hotel ironically) this week with TFC. The tough minded scrapper, Serioux is a solid MLS player whose best known for his hard foul in 2007 on David Beckham. Serioux will help solidify the Reds defense, which has been shaky at times the last two seasons.

A year ago it seemed as if TFC went out of its way not to sign Canadian players. Andrea Lombardo, a Toronto native was waived, and Will Johnson was not pursued when he made public his desire to return to MLS. Johnson signed with RSL and played a critical role in getting the Utah club within an unlucky post of playing for the MLS Cup.

At the same time TFC pursued players from the British Isles like Rohan Ricketts, Laurent Robert (who is French but played his club football for years in England) and Paul Dickov. The former two players were signed by TFC for a high salary figure and while Ricketts eventually settled in, Robert who had played for Coach John Carver at Newcastle did not and was eventually waived.

Mo Johnston finally gets it: TFC is a Canadian team and with a large amount of Canadian talent at its disposal, Toronto should always be among MLS’ best teams. The football talent pool in Canada is deeper than ever (including in 1986 when Canada qualified for the World Cup thanks to several veterans of the NASL) and if TFC continues to hone Canadian talent, the club will be one of MLS’s best going forward.

Both Montreal and Vancouver have proven over time that in the second flight USL, having Canadian oriented teams is a competitive advantage when the American talent pool has to be split so many different ways. Factor in the passion for the game in Toronto, North America’s most cosmopolitan city and you have the recipe for a winner.

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  1. mouthe bello

    August 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    bon soir je mas pelle mouthe je suie un jeune foutbaleur ou cameroune je sue terais joe votre ja piona un joure mai je ne sait pas coman acede ci vous pouve mede cile vous plais une reponce de vous meferais riyalize mai reve je vous zemai touse porte vous bien

  2. Andrew Rawn

    June 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I just stumbled across this site trying to follow up on the recent games in the Canadian Champions League play. Lot’s of interesting and sometimes funny stuff. I was most intrigued to read some of this “anti-Canadian” sentiments and don’t worry, it’s not taken personally. As a concerned Canadian citizen over the state of football (of the round ball variety), I only wish there was more of this sort of sentiment. Please, do us the favour and don’t just stop further participation of Canadian cities in “your” league, but kick out TFC while you are at it. Eplnfl, I appreciate your friendly attitude towards your northern neighbours, but I have to agree with Zeran that only way we are going to develop the sport here is by having our own national league. I was so disappointed when TFC became a participant in the MLS because it spelt a serious blow to our football aspirations for the simple reason (a few times voiced on this site), at most we will get three teams in the American context. Canada should have its own twelve-team league which means MLS teams in our three largest cities will only deny nine other cities professional teams and all that development that would lead to. Many of you have acknowledged that the MLS is mostly about the bottom-line where it should be about development of the local players. We seem to be on the same page. For Canada the issue is further exacerbated in that as a “business only” institution, American business interests in the MLS won’t consider any of the smaller Canadian cities. We had a Canadian league, the CSL at fourteen teams that was, I’m going to suggest, “deep-sixed” by a manager of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Bob Lenarduzzi, as he could only feel fulfilled by playing the game in an American context. Being raised in front of American T.V. can have that affect on Canadian kids. With his “screw the rest of Canada attitude”, he ensured that Canada would never again participate in the World Cup at least in my life-time. The math is easy. Participation in an American league will limit us to 10% of American development as that will be the percentage of cities (maximum) allowed in Canada. That is simply not enough. The problem with the Lenarduzzi approach is it has set the approach other business types have followed, TFC went directly to MLS, Mr. Saputo took the Impact to the USL and of course wants into the MLS. Lenarduzzi has single-handedly done more damage to development of the sport in this country than can be imagined. The single most important factor in developing any human ability is participation by the greatest number, not sitting and watching someone else. That would be achieved in Canada by the creation, or re-creation, of our Canadian league.

  3. Lars

    April 5, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Zeran, while i agree TFC has done a poor job of developing Canadian talent, the Whitecaps are taking the lead with a revolutionary academy system for North America. Unfortunately Garber will probably shut it down, even though it would produce great tonnes of talent for both American and Canadian teams. The special rules for TFC have done nothing to promote Canadian talent in MLS and I’m very disappointed in this, despite being a TFC fan. I would say that they are Ontario’s team at the most, even though I am from Western Canada. Western Canada (which BC is not despite being the furthest west as there are special rules for Canadian geography) doesn’t care about futbol. Montreal is Quebec’s team, and the Whitecaps FC are BC’s team.

    The plans for the CSL are to expand it to western canada by 2010, which would do wonders for increasing the profile of soccer, but not likely improve talent too much in Canada. These teams are semi-pro.

    A good step to taking the CSL and Canadian soccer serious would be to include the CSL champion in the Nutrilite Championship, which I have repeatedly stressed is something the CSA has to do in order to improve futbol in this country.

  4. Zeran

    April 5, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Being anti-MLS-in-Canada is not the same thing as being anti-Canadian. That term is in itself, stupid.

    I am of the opinion that having a sold out stadium in Toronto and Vancouver is good on the financial side for MLS, and that’s great for the investors and people who run the league, but not for soccer in Canada. To use an example, look at how good the U.S. has become with having 24 professional hockey teams. The spectators and money is all American, but the players are heart and soul are Canadian. That will be the same for MLS, only reversed. If Canada actually had a pair and made their own league, with a mindset to improve Canadian soccer, like what Australia has done (who has a smaller population than Canada), Canadian soccer would improve by leaps and bounds. Being dependent on the U.S. for everything won’t help nearly as much, and MLS is still and will always be geared for the betterment of the United States, despite Canadian feelings of entitlemen

    Toronto FC is Toronto’s team, not Canada’s, just like the Blue Jays are Toronto’s baseball team, and the Raptors are Toronto’s basketball team, or how the Canadiens are Montreal’s hockey team. Having a Canadian team didn’t seem to help the Canadian national team play any better in qualifiers, and the players it helped develop, like Maurice Edu, were actually American. It’s the same situation with hockey in the U.S. Having the vast majority of hockey teams be located in America has only minimally improved American hockey in the past 90 years since the league began, but it’s certainly given many Canadian players a good developing ground.

  5. Gazza

    March 31, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Joey Clams:

    You are anti-canadian. And you are the type of guy that I have to apologize for whenever I am in any other country. Frankly, you make me sick.

    What do you mean “Let’s assume Toronto is in it for the long haul”. Where the heck would they go? They are either the first or second most popular/valuable club in our league. Then you go on about Montreal coming next. In case you haven’t heard Vancouver is the next Cdn team and they will have 16,500 season tickets sold before they kick a ball. So in “OUR AMERICAN LEAGUE” out of the top 3 franchises TWO will be Canadian. No we don’t need Vancouver or Toronto at all.

  6. Joey Clams

    February 26, 2009 at 8:03 am

    I’m not anti-Canadian. I’m against Canadian teams in MLS. Let’s assume that Toronto is in it for the long haul. The minute Montreal is let in, then Toronto is no longer our Monaco. Get it?

    I resent the axiom that MLS / the US NEEDS Canada. I do acknowledge, however, that MLS owners want Canadian money.

    I find it absurd that at team from Canada is eligible to win what is essentially the pro championship of the United States. I don’t like the fact that one set of teams will be playing by different rules. I laugh at the suggestion that the United States of America should be emulating Monaco, Andorra, Liechenstein, Wales and New Zealand. (Overlooked, of course, is that every one of those countries has a formalized political association with the countries in which their teams play).

    And I can’t help but notice that for some – not all – Toronto FC is an instrument of Canadian nationalism. Why all the flags? Why the maple leaf on the crest? And if it weren’t, every game wouldn’t be US-Mexico for its fans.

    The Canada that I have always adored has little to do with tribal enclaves and steel drums on a fresh water beach. The Canada for which I have little patience is found in the haughty city-states whose residents commonly reject or embrace loyalties depending on circumstances.

    By the way, Concacaf and Fifa denied the LA Salsa permission to play in Mexico back in the 90s. What did we do? We formed our own league,eventually. And when the Galaxy drew 69,000 on opening day, its first instinct wasn’t to bolt MLS and find a way to rub elbows with Chivas and America.

    I’m sorry, guys, but I couldn’t care less what you bring to the table. The table is ours. And we sweated blood to build the thing. Go build your own.

  7. Lars

    February 26, 2009 at 2:30 am

    And all these places were in a stones throw from a major centre… Vancouver 2010 is actually Whistler 2010…but nevermind the fact.

    As for the Montreal game, I was there. Great watch. I was maybe row in the 20th-30th row, just right of midfield.

  8. ashlee vance

    February 25, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    >If Vancouver was smaller than Winnipeg, it would not get the Olympics in 2010.

    God, I love people who are clueless and then share it with the world.

    Many Winter Games are held in small villages like Val D’Isere.

    Lillehammer had a population of around 20,000 people when they had their games.
    And Albertville also had about 20,000 people.
    Lake Placid is a hole in the countryside, Im not even sure its a town.
    Nagano is about 350,000.

    Thanks for playing. See ya.

  9. ashlee vance

    February 25, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Big problem for the FC to be Canada’s team is that rest of Canada cant stand the habit of the national media which is based in Toronto to think of themselves as the center of the universe. I cant think of many people from coast to coast who feel that Toronto represents them in any way. Hell, I think saying that would be enough for people to root against Toronna out of principle.

    Another problem is the TO team sucks and should be grateful that they cant drop down divisions like crappy teams should.

    And finally, the concept of Canadian national identity is rather vague. Since the advent of US cable TV in the 70s, the social and cultural fabric of society is molded south of the border. (they force black history month in canada in schools as well and the contents are strictly US figures. even teachers dont know enough to make the sham palatable.)

    Of course, when it comes to football, canadians still consider themselves inferior in every way which is why every CBC, TSN, RDS broadcast has to have at least one british/french (from france) voice to give legitimacy to the product.

    Btw, Toronto is no more cosmopolitain than either NYC or Montreal. They are however the canadian city which most resembles drab US cities like Cleveland and the one with the most US style violence and race problems..

    Btw, Montreal got 56,000 for their game tonight while MSL Houston had about 7,000 for their game.

  10. Kartik

    February 25, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I don’t disagree with you Joey. I’m just stating the perception: Canadian cities are more cosmopolitan than American cities.

    I’ve chosen to live most of my life in the Miami area for a reason.

    For the record I strongly opposed expansion to Canada when it was first discussed. I also favor stronger squad limits on foreign players throughout MLS, so we don’t go the way of the Mexican League . (Mexico’s national team has partly collapsed due to the high number of foreign players in the league.)

    But since TFC is around, I believe the core of that team should be Canadian and not British as it was thanks to Mo Johnston and John Carver’s handiwork.

    The cosmopolitan issue doesn’t entitle anyone to a team. My area is among the most cosmopolitan in the US, and MLS flopped here and USL is flopping. (more on that real soon)

    But Toronto is getting their share of hate from American fans who like me opposed expansion to Canada. It’s done- they’ve been in the league 3 years. The least they can do is be a more Canadian oriented team than the insulting group of Championship/League 1/SPL players that Mo and Carver assembled at the start of last season.

  11. Joey Clams

    February 25, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    And by the way, Kartik, does being cosmopolitan entitle a city to a team? Is Toronto a superior MLS city because a bunch of Croats and Indonesians hang out at squares?

  12. Joey Clams

    February 25, 2009 at 5:06 pm


    Stop it, OK? Toronto is as dull as an industrial park. It lacks edge. It has no juice. Everyone walks around as if they’re on honeymoon. It’s sickening. My immigrant friends up there express no loyalty to Canada and complain that natives have no time for them. Who knows where the rub is there but my experiences in Toronto have never convinced me that it was a multicultural eden.

    Give me Miami or LA. At least in those cities you get the exotic without the high-minded harangues.

    And the foreign born population of the United States is greater than the entire population of Canada. Yet, we’re not so caught up with ice wine and preserving cultural mosaics that we bang our chests about cosmopolitanism. I just got back from Brockton, Massachusetts. The place was crawling with people from every continent. Big deal. They were still miserable and I loved it.

    What distinguishes Canadian cosmopolitanism is its sneering nature. That, by the way, is no slag on assimilated Canadians but a dig at the superior urban intellectuals who can’t help but promote perceived virtues.

    By the way, I always thought that Toronto fans denied that their team, despite the red unies and the stylized maple leaf, was Canada’s team.

    Kartik, you really are going out of your way to live up to all the negative stereotypes of the denationalized elite.

  13. zapatoloco

    February 25, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I think Montreal ranks first because of the dual french-english mix, it adds an extra level of “cosmopolitan”. NYC surely is the most cosmopolitan city in North America hands down though.

  14. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    February 25, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Skyscraper City says Montreal and I trust that site and its commentators so I stand corrected. Toronto is probably then the second most cosmopolitan city and Vancouver third.

    No US city has the newly minted immigrant mix of any big Canadian city. Toronto is amazing with the number of croats, eastern europeans, south asians, Chinese, West Indians and even South Americans.

    I’m surprised they rank Montreal ahead of Toronto but I’ll defer to them.

    I’m far from the first football commentator to say that Toronto is the most cosmopolitan city in MLS. Among existing MLS cities I don’t even know how it is debatable.

  15. Curtis Spiteri

    February 25, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Toronto is North America’s most cosmopolitan city? Since when?

    I love Toronto. I’ve been there and it’s a great city, but your hyperbole is getting the better of you with every blog entry this week Kartik.

  16. Tidwell

    February 24, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Vancouver has the Canucks. I’m not sure how many more major sports teams it has, I’m sure CFL, USL, but in terms of long term expansion if the MSL can ever get as big as American Football, they should get one.

    Also, Winter Olympics were held in Idaho. No way, can one say that is a big metropolitan. I think it was called Sun Valley or Squaw Valley or something.

  17. Lars

    February 24, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Yeah, but Winnipeg is tiny compared to even Salt Lake City. And Lake Placid is located in the US Northeast, surrounded by major cities.

    Anyway, Vancouver is a large market…

  18. Tidwell

    February 24, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Utah and Lake Placid held the Winter Olympics but they are not big metropolitan areas. In fact, many places have held the Winter Olympics without being huge population centres.

  19. Lars

    February 24, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    The Lower Mainland (which is what real Vancouver is) is home to 2.3 million people. (wiki is the source)

    The area known strictly as Vancouver has about 500k, but Vanc is bigger than just Vanc.

  20. Lars

    February 24, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    You’re american aren’t you?

    Vancouver is either Canada’s 2nd or 3rd largest city. If you’re simply looking at the area called Vancouver, then of course its small (by that standard Toronto is probably the size of Winnipeg), but if you look at the Lower Mainland/Greater Vancouver area, it is massive.

    Richmond, Surrey, Burnaby, and a host of other “cities” are all part of Vancouver. Only people who aren’t Canadian or are from Vancouver distinguish them as different places. And the people from Surrey or Richmond still cheer for Vancouver teams.

    If Vancouver was smaller than Winnipeg, it would not get the Olympics in 2010.

  21. Tidwell

    February 24, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Hardly, if one gives a franchise to Vancouver and Seattle then one has to give one to Miami, St. Louis first, in fact, lots of places.

    Montreal is Canada’s second largest city, but Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary are all larger than Vancouver. Winnipeg too.

  22. Lonnie

    February 24, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Great signings by TFC…gives me hope for the coming season.

  23. Lars

    February 24, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    The Montreal-TFC one is already there too. The Voyageurs Cup in Canada has been a smash success, and this year is going to be even better simply because the great performance of Montreal in the CONCACAF Champions League. They’ve done a great service for soccer in Canada. Even if I am a TFC fan, I’m still cheering for Montreal, and they’re my second favourite team. When they play against TFC though, I hope they lose 100 to 0.

  24. eplnfl

    February 24, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Why the bad feelings to our great neighbors to the north? I had the privilege of seeing the Fire play TFC in Chicago last year. The fans from TFC were great and a large group traveled to Chicago. Their are many great supporters groups in the MLS and the TFC supporters have to be considered among the best.

    The American-Canadian relationship is unique in the world. We have been able to share many things with our Canadian friends including defense, highways, waterways, natural resources and in some cases citizenship( some people are born into dual US/Canadian citizenship) and our sports. Why MLS should be different I do not know. The great interest in soccer in Canada can only help the MLS grow and the MLS growing is good for American soccer. Lars is right that a Sounders-Whitecaps rivalry is a natural. A Montreal-TFC rivalry is obvious. Huge crowds can be expected for both games. Several US teams come from NHL towns and would be expected to draw great interest in hockey fixated Canada. Soocer maybe the Canadian sport of summer if allowed to develop.

    MLS including Canada is not debatable, the question is how to follow up the great success of TFC.

  25. Lars

    February 24, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Vancouver has a team though, and that team has a storied history. Plus, the Whitecaps are fierce rivals with the Sounders. It would be good to have both teams there as it would boost league revenues.

  26. Tidwell

    February 24, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    France is such a soccer power, admitting they are presently having trouble with their national team. Ice hockey is the national sport of Canada, pass time. At times, I wonder if all those famous French-Canadian hockey legends played soccer, well, chances are they’d have a good team. Montreal is big on their team and I watched last year, when they’d play Joe FC out of Trinidad and stuff. I don’t know about Vancouver: but surely, Montreal is a large city. You can’t deny big cities, it be Boston, Philadelphia or where ever, right, Seattle’s getting a team, aren’t they a bit near Vancouver, they should have them share it even. IMHO!

  27. Lars

    February 24, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    TFC is naturally my favourite team. I believe the Impact and the Whitecaps could bring a lot to the league. Ottawa, barring a population boom that increases its population to 1.5 million, has no business having an MLS team because it can’t even keep a CFL team.

    The addition of two more Canadian teams will bring financial stability as the Whitecaps and Impact are well supported and bring the national rivalry to the game. Once again, to the Canada haters, MLS is not about developing American talent. They are there to turn a profit and will do so. They’ve realized the best way to do this is by having domestic players playing on their teams, whether it be in Canada or the US.

    The USSF won’t block any new Canadian teams because they know that bringing two Canadian teams will bring more cash into this league. In the long run this means that US talent will have the ability to compete in a larger talent pool, meaning better development of players for national purposes.

  28. undrafted

    February 24, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I’m not sure if having 5 credible Canadian starters quite makes it Canada’s team just yet. Though I suppose 5 is more than 3 and DeRo was a huge signing.

  29. Marc t

    February 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Your posts scream of jealousy.

    Joey, you really couldn’t care less. So much so you had to go and post that you couldn’t care less. Really?
    J.H At what point does the argument about nationalities trump the will to grow the game? Are you that comfortable with the state of the game in the US? Or would you be willing to concede a few Canadian teams to maybe help it grow. If not technically then at least financially.

  30. Tidwell

    February 24, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Oh, I’ve seen the Impact and they take soccer seriously in Quebec: I will be for them…honestly, Montreal hasn’t acted up yet and Canada is the second largest country landwise on earth.

  31. J H

    February 24, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    MLS was supposed to be an American league.

    But since TFC has become part of the league we’ve heard the arrogant canucks talk about how they “get” football and we don’t, even though they have a national team that cannot get out of the first group stage of qualifying.

    I agree with Joey Clams. I could care less. But now I am getting royally poed.

    Talk of three more Canadian teams in MLS and more and more foreign players is no good for the American game. The USSF I believe gave MLS a waiver to add TFC. Now they must put their foot down and say at most one more Canadian team.

    I will be rooting for the Mexcian team playing Montreal tomorrow night.

  32. Joey Clams

    February 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    With all due respect, I couldn’t care less.

  33. Backing Becks

    February 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Robert played in MLS?

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