Tag Archives: tfc

TFC Mines Aron to Strike Gold

Winter promises improved summer

Total football is coming to Toronto this season, thanks to newly-appointed Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter and his new management team. Winter will be Toronto FC’s sixth head coach, as the team heads into its fifth MLS season.

It has been a tumultuous four years for Toronto FC as the revolving door of coaches and G.M.’s goes round and round.  Every year since the franchise broke into the league, MLSE has made announcements of firings and hirings of coaches. Finally last fall, the man who was in charge of making those coaching changes — Mo Johnston — was shown the door.

This time around — with the help of German international Juergen Klinsmann — the club hopes to get it right.  Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment C.O.O. Tom Anselmi says there’s pressure to please the 20-thousand faithful who come out every game in support of a team that hasn’t been able to get into the playoffs since the “model franchise” joined the league.

Call me optimistic but it seems TFC has finally got the right team of front office staff, who looked confident in front of a packed news conference, answering questions about a franchise that had hit rock bottom in the way it handled business on and off the field.

Director of Player Development Paul Mariner brings MLS experience to the club.  In his six seasons in New England, his teams made the playoffs every year while reaching the finals in three consecutive seasons.  Winter and Assistant Coach Bob De Klerk will be in tough as they try and develop a style of soccer not seen in Toronto and will need an upgrade in personnel to do so. With just over two months until the start of the year, they know it will be a challenge.

Meanwhile, the head coach — a Dutch international and former Ajax midfielder — says he wants to develop a system which will see three strikers up front with plenty of ball movement… a style he says fits the way he envisions his team playing.  Winter has played in three World Cups with Netherlands and four European Championships…  so the pressure and challenges presented to him in Toronto should be a piece of cake.

Len Grammenopoulos

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Winter of TFC’s (dis)content?

As rumoured for most of the week, Winter is here at Toronto FC.

After four fruitless seasons under four five failed head coaches, the Klinsmann plan was enacted today with the hiring of former Ajax and Inter midfielder Aron Winter as head coach and Bob De Klerk as his assistant. Winter, a former Dutch international, and De Klerk come to Toronto from Amsterdam, where they were working with Ajax’s academy and assisting the first team. Paul Mariner will serve as director of player development.

Winter wants TFC to play with three up front in a 4-3-3 formation. But he’s never seen this collection of chumps play, and he’s already got to deal with news that designated player Julian De Guzman has “shredded” his meniscus and needs to go under the knife.

Mariner, formerly Steve Nicol’s sidekick when the New England Revolution were good, is back on this side of the Atlantic after 15 TFC-esque months with Plymouth Argyle. In his day, the former England international was a  prolific scorer for Plymouth and Ipswich.

Over at The Globe & Mail, our man Paul Attfield says he likes the moves. Here at At The Rails, we’re waiting for new blogger Ryan Johnston to make his debut with a breakdown of the hirings. He’s a little busy with his day job right now, but has promised to weigh in this weekend. Stay tuned.

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Bound for Bhoys? Don’t ask TFC

Sign this or I'll sign for Celtic!

Besides the fact that Tottenham can apparently defend as well with 10 men as they can with 11, the strangest story in football this week has to be Dwayne De Rosario’s dalliance with Celtic, and how little Toronto FC claim to know about it. As surprise announcements go, it’s a saga with far more grips, twists and turns than Newcastle’s Jose Enrique’s taking to the Twitterverse to spread news of an injury.

DeRo, who you might remember from his “show me the money” cheque-signing celebration after a superb goal this season, also caught his team off guard, or so they’d have us think, when news broke that he was to have a one-week trial with the Glaswegians. TFC first denied the story, but having their player get off a plane in Scotland made that look foolish, so they claimed it was news to them, too.

De Rosario is under contract for two more years, but his brother insists TFC was aware of the move, and happily made it sound as though the Scarborough-born Canadian international could make a long-term move to the SPL.  “If it’s long-term for a loan or he comes back has yet to be determined,” Mark De Rosario told the Toronto Star. “If it works out, fine, we’ll work on the particulars (between TFC and Celtic) later.”

Someone is full of shit here, maybe both sides, and it stinks pretty bad. Expect this one to get weirder before it makes sense. It’s hard to blame De Rosario for wanting to bail on the rudderless ship that is Toronto FC, still listing along without a coach or full-time GM. But while fans may wish the somewhat mercurial DeRo the best, they should be sharpening their knives for the stuffed-shirt stooges who run the team.

Ian Harrison

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MLS Cup Runneth Colder

The MLS Cup fittingly came to an end on Sunday night with an own goal in the 107th minute. Most of the announced crowd of 21,700 had smartly exited the building as the game went into extra time. The first 15 minutes of that extra time were probably the worst soccer played at BMO Field; hence the mass exodus. But Colorado Rapids coach Gary Smith was happy with the win… even if wasn’t, as he put it, “the best game for viewing”.

Standing on the sideline on a cold and windy night, watching two teams most fans would never have cared to see if they weren’t forced to buy tickets, I thought of MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s pre-game press conference. One of the points he made was that the league is looking into altering its schedule to align itself with the international calendar. That means playing through the winter. Even with a break through the coldest months, it’s still not good news for sideline reporting.

Toronto FC might get another break as the league looks to expanding playoff teams from 8 to 10, with the inception of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers next season.

I’ll give credit to the Toronto faithful who more or less filled the stadium, and withstood the cold breeze late on a Sunday night, the game ended just after 11 p.m. Singing in the 23rd minute to honour TFC’s first-ever goal by Danny Dichio was a nice touch. The loudest ovation was reserved for former Toronto midfielder Marvel Wynne; the loudest jeer was fittingly reserved for another former player, Jeff Cunningham.

Those who did stay until the bitter end saw a fantastic finish. Dallas pressed for the equalizer but were thwarted by Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens when he dove to his right on a reflex save, essentially winning the game for the Rapids.

Well, it IS coloured grey...

All in all, Toronto did well as hosts for the finals. From the Mounties bringing in the Phillip F. Anschutz Cup to a boisterous rendition of the Canadian national anthem by the fans… I’d call it a success… and it didn’t rain.

TFC Notes
With two expansion teams coming into the league next seasons, teams had to protect 11 players on their rosters. Here are the players TFC has left unprotected for the expansion draft:

Chad Barrett, Julian de Guzman, Gabe Gala, Nick Garcia, Raivis Hscanovics, Fuad Ibrahim, Milos Kocic, Mista, Joseph Nane, Amadou Sanyang, Martin Saric, Maxim Usanov, O’Brian White

Len Grammenopoulos

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Klinsmann to solve TFC identity crisis

Unfortunately I was working for the man (aka CTV News) yesterday, which prevented me from going down to BMO Field and listening to Juergen Klinsmann talk in vague, broad terms about coming up with an identity for footy in Toronto (here’s a suggestion: a winning, playoff-calibre team). The German God of Goals, who showed no problems dropping several answers in Italian to his ethnically diverse audience, insisted he won’t become a full-time fixture in our fair city, shooting down talk that he’ll take on a coaching or management role. Some local soccer writers were more impressed with Klinsmann’s straight talk and realistic goals than others, who wondered (quite rightly) where the accountability will rest. For better or for worse, Juergen is just the ideas man, and MLSE’s Tom Anselmi will get the final say on new hires.

One other nugget of news that came down last night as I was sucking back a tasty Pompous Ass Cask Ale at the delightful Bar Volo on Yonge Street: Hamilton native and promising MLS striker Teal Bunbury has been called up for the US team’s friendly against South Africa in Cape Town. Bunbury won’t rule himself out of a lifetime of Maple Leaf misery if he suits up for the Yanks…it’s just an exhibition match…but the chances of him following his dad’s footsteps as a Canadian soccer stalwart seem to be slipping away.

Ian Harrison

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Praise for MLS, but Toronto still in proper mess

High praise this week for MLS from veteran football reporter Gabriele Marcotti, who penned a piece in The Times of London that said the North American soccer circuit “has grown into a proper league with proper fans.”

I’d love to link to Marcotti’s piece, which describes contrasting experiences at two New York games, the first in year one of the league and a return trip for this season’s Red Bulls playoff game against San Jose, year 15 of MLS. But The Times website is subscription only, so I’ll just clip his final two paragraphs for your reading pleasure:

When MLS was launched, the founders talked abut growing the league slowly, from the bottom up, putting stability above all else. In that regard, it’s mission accomplished. The other part of the challenge wasn’t just about pushing football – the multitude of European and South American games on TV and the web can more than satisfy the armchair supporter – it was about peddling the real-life experience of going to games and creating a fan culture specific to MLS. Here, too, they’re well on their way.

The biggest difference between 1996 and 2010? 2010 feels real.

Kind words, to be sure. But while MLS may be a proper league and, in cities like Toronto, draws proper fans, those fans don’t always get to watch proper football. They might when the MLS Cup comes to BMO Field on Nov. 21, but they seldom do whenever TFC takes the pitch.

Juergen Klinsmann and his SoccerSolutions company have been called on to solve the woes of our local lads by serving as consultants during the hiring processes for a new coach and general manager. The German will make his first trip to Toronto on Thursday afternoon to outline his plans for world domination successful football by the shores of Lake Ontario. We’ll check back tomorrow with a look at what he says.

At The Rails

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Touching down in Toronto?

The Vancouver Whitecaps have former Tottenham exec Paul Barber leading them into MLS. Now Toronto FC is looking to a Yid legend, tabbing former Spurs hero Juergen Klinsmann to try and right it’s ship. So says Stephen Brunt in The Globe & Mail. Not as coach or GM but as a consultant/technical adviser, something he did for the LA Galaxy in 2004. A nice bit of news on a Friday afternoon for the local lads whose just-concluded season, as Len outlined earlier, was pretty dismal.

Speaking of Spurs, I’m jetting off to Europe tonight, rather looking forward to attending the epic THFC-Inter tilt at White Hart Lane next Tuesday night. To say stoked would be something of an understatement. Will post some thoughts late next week. You’re in Brent’s hands until then.

Ian Harrison

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