Toronto F.C. winning “au naturel”

Len Grammenopoulos

All this talk about Football is great, but I was thinking… since I live in North America — more precisely Toronto — how about a little soccer discussion?

The MLS is in its 15th year and for the most part, it has been a success. That’s especially true here in Toronto where the team is known affectionately as T.F.C.

We’ll pick up the team here in its fourth season.

If the head honchos at MLSE (the team’s owners) knew what kind of success their team would have on natural grass, I’m sure they would’ve had it installed from Day One. T.F.C. has played on artificial turf for three seasons.  But after three coaches and no playoff games, the Reds are now a perfect 4-0 at the team’s BMO field this year, finally using their raucous home fans to their advantage.  Coach Predrag “Preki” Radosavljević has them playing a team game where every player on the pitch knows their role and it’s showing. After nine games, T.F.C. has climbed into third place in the East division.

Last Saturday was the perfect example of Preki’s no-nonsense style of coaching. He stood on the edge of the touchline barking instructions to guys like Dan Gargan, Raivis Hscanovics, and Nick LaBrocca.  Who are these guys, you ask? This is the MLS, they own the players, and with captain and top scorer Dwayne DeRosario (6 goals) away on international duty — and Designated Player Julian DeGuzman injured — these are the guys who are stepping up for Preki and the 21,000 faithful at BMO field.

With 50% of T.F.C.’s total goal production out of the line-up, it was up to young U.S. striker Chad Barrett this weekend. Barrett should’ve scored at least three goals but would settle for one that stood up as the winner in Toronto’s 1-0 win over the New England Revolution. After the game, Coach Preki would say the game “was ugly” and “it was a tough game for both teams, but I’m happy with the commitment.”

For the first time since Opening Day, it looks like T.F.C. is getting that commitment from all 11 players on the field — especially after the 75th minute, when they gave up the lead 11 times last year.

Len Grammenopoulos is a reporter and a producer for the Fan590 in Toronto. You can hear him on the sidelines at TFC games, and on Tuesday and Wednesday nights on Sports Central with Roger Lajoie.

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