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Leagues: MLS

All Is Not Right in Toronto


Toronto is not known for its successful sports teams these days.  The Maple Leafs, the Raptors, the Blue Jays, the Argonauts and of course, Toronto FC, all failed to make playoffs in their respective leagues last year.  Three (Leafs, Raptors and TFC) of the five teams are owned by MLSE.  It is really no wonder that fans of the various Toronto sports teams lay the blame at MLSE’s doorstep for the meltdown in Toronto sports.

But it may not be MLSE’s fault…not entirely anyway.  As a Toronto FC supporter I can look at this as partially our problem as well.  Toronto FC supporters are very vocal and demand changes whenever something goes wrong for any short stretch of time.  There is very little patience within the supporter groups and many people feel that after three long seasons the results should be rolling in.  Unfortunately, our demands have probably negatively impacted this team more often than they have been of any benefit.

Read the collective wrist-slitting on the supporter forums after any perceived underachievement and you can come to understand how connected MLSE truly is to their supporters.

MLSE reads all about upset supporters and hits the panic button. Players are jettisoned and signed without any thought as to what they might actually contribute.  Julian de Guzman, the underachieving designated player, is the poster child for this.  He was signed in the middle of last season when the club already had more central midfielders than it needed.

The club has now gone into all four seasons of its existence without a set roster.  Players have been continually added at the last minute and the first month of the season becomes a new preseason where the players get to know the other players.  This defeats the entire purpose of the actual preseason.  This year, Toronto FC’s preseason consisted of a bunch of trialists playing (most of whom never signed) alongside a handful of the players who actually did start.

So how does the club remedy this problem?

The first action is to fire the one who has largely been responsible for this over the last 3 seasons.  Mo Johnston really does need to go.  If anyone failed as often as he had in any business other than football they would have been dropped and never touched again in that field.

The second action the club needs to take is to give Preki time to build his squad.  He can (and has) deliver(ed) results when given the time to build the squad he wants and needs.  Preki has a larger payroll than he ever had at Chivas USA and has been given this tool so he can get Toronto to playoffs.

The third action, and arguably the most important action, is to bring in an executive who actually knows the game of football to oversee the club and ensure that it is headed in the right direction.

And supporters?  The supporters need to stop panicking.  Sure there have been a handful of players (Garcia and Velez being the most prominent) that the supporters have been right about.  But for every Velez, there is a Buddle, a player who shouldn’t have been jettisoned.

TFC supporters need to calm down.  The season is likely going to be another long one, but the shouting isn’t going to do anything valuable.   All it will do is set the club up for another year of an unset roster and a lack of clear direction.

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  1. SSReporters

    April 20, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I’m done waiting. Mo has to go. Nick Garcia, Ali Gerba, Andy Welsh, Marvell Wynne, and countless other worthless players he has signed/traded for prove it. We’re into our 4th season and he hasn’t constructed the roster for a playoff run. That’s a firing offense. If Alexi Lalas was terrible, I think Mo is right with him.

  2. remy

    April 19, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Mo’s got to go, period. Preki has to go as well, ask anyone at Chivas. Preki’s defence first logic, cannot work with a half ass inexperienced defence and and four defensive midfielders. If you cannot put offensive pressure on the opposing team, all your going to do is sit back and defend for 90 min’s and play the long ball forward and pray for a goal. What happens when your down? You cannot just change that game plan, without a strong bench. Barrett cannot cut it, neither will White. They will probably combine for about 5 goals this season total. Our whole midfield is defensive. DeGuzman has no help in the middle. Sangyang, LaBrocca, Saric, Julian,Cronin are all defensive style midfielders. No attacking mid what so ever. So how do we connect to the forwards? we can’t. Long balls from the Defence or Frei. I don’t like ugly futbol, but if we CAN get results I would not mind it. The players we picked up in the off season will not cut it. TFC fans can have hope for Preki but I gaurentee you if something major does not happen, we will have our worst season ever. Dero is the only player capable of scoring on TFC and he’s going to have to pull goals out his arse. Dero plays with balls. He tries or does whatever it takes to put the ball in the back of the net and I admire that. Julian is a talent. He’s a destroyer. But as a defensive mid he needs an offensive mid or a wing man or 2, to link up with. Its funny to watch when Julian or Dero get the ball and the rest of the team stands around watching them hoping for miracles instead of moving into or creating space for them. So much more to say, but not enough time. example Cronnen’s constant disappearing acts to Frei being hung out to dry all the time, no super sub much less a bench to fight for spots, No natural striker or attacking mid, players being played out of position, no game tactics(other than defend), Defence making bad tackles and desisions constantly, no creativity, constant lateral and back passing, playing Serbian style futbol and not having that kind of Serbian deeprooted talent and patience for that style of play etc etc….I want TFC to be winners so bad, It pisses me off

    • Gazza

      April 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

      Agreed Remy. Mo should have been fired 2 years ago. And Preki had limited success in a league that no longer exist. To bunker down for 85 minutes and hope to nick a goal to win 1-nil doesn’t work in today’s MLS where most games have 3 to 4 goals in them.

      • Charles

        April 20, 2010 at 9:47 am

        Well not like Chivas is lighting up the league without Preki either.
        Exact opposite for a team that during many parts of the year last year looked like one of the best.

        • PSST

          April 21, 2010 at 4:20 pm

          As a season ticket holder for Chivas last year I disagree. We got points by running people into the ground and clutching/grabbing. It was brutal to watch and we were always going out in the first round. Toronto will regret this hiring soon enough if they don’t already.

  3. Andy

    April 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    While I agree with most of this article, I’ve read this argument (that demanding TFC fans are to blame for the revolving roster) in a few different places now. “..because MLSE reads all about upset supporters and hits the panic button.” In other words…the team is crap because fans get too upset when they lose. Chicken & eggs anyone?
    Lars, if you honestly believe that & you don’t work for MLSE – you’re insane.

  4. Mike

    April 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    You left out 1 of the MLSE un-successful teams. Toronto Marlies failed to make the playoffs.. and not sure how the Toronto Rock are doing looks like they may be the only play-off team in town

    “Toronto is not known for its successful sports teams these days. The Maple Leafs, the Raptors, the Blue Jays, the Argonauts and of course, Toronto FC, all failed to make playoffs in their respective leagues last year. Three (Leafs, Raptors and TFC) of the five teams are owned by MLSE.”

  5. eplnfl

    April 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    A lot of names have come and gone there in there few years. You would have to question why this is unless they are pouring money into the development of younger players which they are not. The fan support is great so you have to question what the ownership is really up to?

    As I said earlier just think of what their attendance would be in a bigger stadium as well as with a team that can win. I feel sorry for the loyal fans who I’ve seen travel in a large number to Chicago to support their team.

  6. Donnie

    April 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    how do I rate this a zero?

    • Lars Lowther

      April 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm

      Regardless of how you feel about this club, it needed to be written. The club has a revolving door policy that leads to zero continuity and no chemistry.

  7. Joey Clams

    April 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    That’s a pretty fair and honest assessment. But while many might be tempted to sympathize with Toronto’s fans, I can’t.

    Aside from being the most sneering fans in a league known for sneering fans, they want everything their way and they insist that those who point out their hypocrisies are alway wrong: They claim that it’s their right to be in MLS, yet they constantly complain about the restrictions of the MLS business model. They yap about the quality of play and officiating in MLS and because of their grandiosity they feel as if they’re the only fans in the league who don’t have to endure the development of the league and their team. They insist that their team is not a subsitute for a Canadian national team and that nationalist soccer angst does not fuel their intensity, yet they wave Canadian flags and wear soccer balls on their heads with red maple leaf insignias; indeed their team wears bold red and its crest features a salient maple leaf. They insist that their team’s presence in MLS can only improve Canadian soccer and, eventually, the Canadian national team more than the establishment of their own league and argue, with a maddening lack of directness, that a stronger Canadian national team can only spur the US national team to new heights. Meanwhile, they make high-minded arguments against nationalism and pay only enough attention to the US nationl team to deride it. I’m not saying that they should cheer for it, but at least they should spare us the pollyanyish crap about our shared destinies. They’re not even truly committed to the growth of the game in their own country, despte their claims, and we’re supposed to respect them.

    Furthermore, I don’t find them terribly original, a fact that wouldn’t bother me if it weren’t for their loud presumptions.

    And, as you suggest, they’re way too demanding. It’s as if their fondness for beer and their supposed cosmopolitanism entitles them to perpetual super-club glory. They fancy themselves both worthy of MLS and too good for it. And it’s obvious to any honest observer.

    Sorry, guys. You might be decent soccer fans and good people. But, in general terms and collectively, you’re insufferable.

    • Gazza

      April 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      Yes that’s right Joey – TFC fans are insufferable.

      Kettle ………….. Pot

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