The Yorkies' Regular Features

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

THE MATCHUP: Bon Voyaguers?

It's the cheesiest!!!

MONTREAL (0) VS. TORONTO (2)
VOYAGEURS CUP SEMI-FINAL 2ND LEG
 
STADE SAPUTO - WEDNESDAY 7:30PM
TV: SPORTSNET ONE
 
THE KICKABOUT:
The only real story to look out for in this 2nd Leg matchup is whether or not Montreal manager Marco Schallibaum sticks to his guns and continues to undervalue The Voyageurs Cup. Now it’s not as if Impact put out a squad far inferior to TFC in the 1st Leg last week but perhaps a lack of passion or urgency made the difference. While the manager turned his EuroNose up at the Canadian Championship, Montreal supporters were not happy over the apparent capitulation going as far as staging a silent protest during Saturday’s league fixture.
 
Of course this may reinforce the opinion in some that the VCup "doesn't matter". We say tell that to the fans who have paid to go to every match since the cup's re-creation and enjoy the fixtures as much as any MLS counterpart. We take these supporters' opinions every time over any journalist who decides to pop up like a Whack-A-Mole provocateur. Want to write about an imperfect tournament? Sure, go right ahead but do so with facts and potential solutions to its flaws. Instead, we expect said journalist(s) to disappear once again only to re-emerge when its' "cool to shit on Canadian Soccer" again. Meanwhile, real supporters of the game here will continue to enjoy a tournament that has its imperfections but is sure better than no Canadian club championship at all. Le rant fini.
 
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME:
"The 401 (VCup) Derby 2: Electric Goudaloo"
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
MONTREAL: Patrice Bernier, Justin Mapp, Daniele Poponi
TORONTO: Kyle Bekker, Danny Califf, Stefan Frei


Admit it... you'd love one.

THE ODDS:
Montreal supporters sitting in silence due to:
- Protest over previous loss to TFC: 2-1
- The smooth, mellow taste of many DuMaurier cigarettes: 5-1
- Overly chewy gouda: 10-1
 
WHO ARE YA?
We know anyone claiming that the Voyageurs Cup "isn't important" is just trying to get a rise out of fans. In fact, on Wednesday evening there simply will not be a bigger sporting event on the Toronto calendar! So confident in the 2nd Leg's ratings bonanza, TFC lobbied to have the start time changed to help out one of their struggling and lesser-known corporate sporting brethren. Apparently, an "Iced Hockey" club named the Toronto Maple Leaves (how quaint!) are competing in an amateur event for the Stanley Tools Trophy. We know that this is a footballing nation first and foremost but if you have the time try and support these icebound upstarts. Best of luck to them and their little sport - hope it catches on here one day.
 
POST-MATCH HEADLINE: "TRES IMPORTANT"
 
And… for dual purposes we present the effervescent Quebecois chanteuse Mitsou. 1) Because our pal, the proprietor of Waking The Red isn’t aware of her once-lushness… and 2) we want to sarcastically refer to L’Impact as our "cowboy". Bye Bye.


Monday, April 29, 2013

THE STARTING 11: MLS alternatives to Toronto FC's pre-match Bitchy ceremony

"Uncle Paulie want a hoagie! Caw! Caw!"

We are making a concerted effort to be less cynical and caustic about TFC sideshows this year. You know, new "winning culture" and all that. It ain't going too good. We have long submitted to blaring music, constant promos and girls yelling at us on the video screen like banshees at halftime but this year's attempt to make "Bitchy the Hawk" into a pseudo-tradition borders on farce. Even the bird wants none of the club's attempt to become Diet Benfica (TM) attempting an upper deck escape a couple of weeks back. But alas TFC will shove the rock n' roll Harris Hawk down our throats until we fight no more and they aren’t the only MLS club with bizarre pre-match malarkey...
 
11. PORTLAND: A captured Sounders supporter is bound and gagged then lead to midfield amidst tribal chants while "Timber Joey" prepares his chainsaw
 
10. REAL SALT LAKE: The traditional launch of the Mormon Tabernacle Cannon
 
9. SEATTLE: A moment of silence is held then every supporter turns to the supporter next to them and repeats "You are the greatest soccer fan in the history of soccer". Three times.
 
8. MONTREAL: Joey Saputo emerges from the tunnel and invites an elderly Italian man from out of the stands who is then offered a year's supply of provolone or... a three year contract with Impact
 
7. PHILADELPHIA: Actor Burt Young, who portrayed "Uncle Paulie" in the Rocky films, is released from his cage and races to his centre-spot perch where he maniacally downs a hoagie to the song "Living in America"
 
6. VANCOUVER: A pot-smoking grizzly bear dressed in yoga gear is paraded to midfield where he dramatically takes off his Ray-Bans and unveils a t-shirt that reads "DEAL WITH IT". The crowd nods silently in bemused satisfaction.
 
5. NEW ENGLAND: Robert Kraft's accountant spreads hundreds of dollars around the midfield circle before thrashing around in them naked to wrestler Ted "The Million Dollar Man" Di Biase's theme song
 
4. NEW YORK: A Manhattan hipster walks out in a New York Cosmos jersey and takes a dump on a Thierry Henry Red Bulls' jersey while yelling "The future!!!"
 
3. CHICAGO: A midget version of Principle Ed Rooney chases a midget Ferris Bueller around the sidelines to that "Oh Yeah" song until they both collapse in exhaustion
 
2. CHIVAS USA: Apparently the single greatest pre-match ceremony in FIFA history is held before every match... however, no one has attended a match to confirm this.
 
1. COLUMBUS: The league's "Dirtiest Mascot"(C) - "Crew Cat" - zip-lines from the upper deck to the pitch where he licks his imaginary cat-balls for three-to-five minutes before "marking" one of the Crew cheerleaders. He gives the finger to the away goalkeeper while leaving to The Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane"

Oh Crew Cat... you dirty but rockin' fake feline!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v. NYRB... or aren't we all really here to see Tim Cahill?

Little did I know how prophetic that title would be.

Man, what a long day.  First off, my fianc√© and I sat through 80 minutes of the dullest theatre, then we took off for an eleven course meal in Markham where we sat in traffic for close to an hour and a half due to traffic.  It is currently 12:07am the next morning, and I sit here to write a match report outlining some of that very theatre.

There wasn't much to take optimistically from Wednesday's V-Cup of reserve-on-reserve action except that under little pressure to perform and succeed, Bostock can be creative and fun to watch.

To the four regular readers, please allow this report to be an opportunity to relive that horror of Saturday afternoon that was...

THE BORINGEST
80 MINUTES EVER...
*dun dun dunnnnnnn*

Starring XI:
Bendik
Richter - Agbossoumunde - O'Dea - Morgan
Lambe - Silva - Hall - Ephraim
Braun - Earnshaw

On to the match...

11' - SUB - Braun, a.k.a. the Narcissist, a.k.a. the Brass Bullet, a.k.a. Koevers Light, a.k.a. 4%, comes out due to injury and is replaced by Wiedeman.

28' - Should a game start out this slow?

32' - The Zambian Prince, Earnshaw, tries to catch Robles off his line and chips him but doesn't miss by much.

37' - Something witty here.

39' - GOAL - Ball tapped across the face of goal by Steele, dummied by Henry, and poked in by Tim Cahill
ROBINS 0, EXTREME BEVERAGE 1

45' - Espindola loses Agbossoumunde with a nifty move and has a go, but Bendik dives to get his palm on it slowing it down, then cleared to safety by Richter.

Half Time mood : Bored.  Seriously, my fianc√© BBM'd me during the game to state that she should've brought her crocheting so she would have something interesting to do.  Hell, I should've let her so she could show me something

45' - SUB - Bostock on for Ephraim.  Believed to be an injury.

58' - Free kick from Bostock gets to Lambe, who then over thinks everything and skies the ball way over the bar.

62' - Silva has a half-powered attempt at goal.  At least someone is trying.

66' - Seriously, I love making random quotes about Super Troopers and 80's pop songs, but if this is the only way I take notes, there's a problem.

69' - Richter catapults a throw-in, the ball finds Earnshaw and he struggles to get enough power behind the shot, easily saved by Robles.

79 - SUB - Osorio comes on for Wiedeman.  OK, huh?

83' - GOAL - We're all awake!  Long free kick finds its way to Osorio after Robles misplays it from way off his line, Osorio, turns a defender around and just has a go - chipping it over out of position Robles, under the crossbar and behind the goal line.  Wow.
ROBINS 1, EXTREME BEVERAGE 1

85' - Still plenty of time for Toronto to crap the bed, right?  Right.

89' - GOAL - Henry crosses the ball and Cahill gets up in the air to head it past Bendik.  Agbossoumonde was marking him but caught not jumping and was made to look terrible for it.
FULL TIME: ROBINS 1, EXTREME BEVERAGE 2

Man of the Match : Ummm... Hall.  Sure.  I guess.  He wasn't crap.

Goat of the Game : Shit I don't know...

Ref Rating : 4 out of 5.  Let the game go, and I'm not sure he issued a single card.  Also, he may have been bored too and slowing it down meant the game went longer.

I Am Not The Gaffer But... : I... I don't know what to say here.  You're only limited to three substitutions and two were used on injuries.  The last one was a telling tale of how unimpressive that player was.  I mean, if you have to substitute a substitute... that's rough.  Does Nelsen try the hair dryer treatment at half?  Caffeine in the orange slices?  Physical and emotional abuse to kick-start the emotion in the match?  If I were the gaffer, I would have drunk alone after the match.


Kit Spotting : We saw a Dortmund kit with Lewindowski on the back (how convenient), and two Sunderland kits together.  Sunderland wins.

Quote of the Match :
Let's go fuckin' riot!
~ bearded hipster in sunglasses and a Jays cap. 
That's nearly 30% of the Toronto male 18-35 demographic
described in meticulous detail at the end of the match.

Holy crap where to begin?  OK, Richter, you've got a nice throw-in, but why is it, you can beat a defender then flop to the ground as if the ball tackled you?  Stand up!... Bostock, you have absolutely ZERO confidence when taking on players.  Nil.  Going head to head with Olave, yes, that is a good idea not to deal with him, but other wingers?  If there was a statistic I would love to know, what was the percentage of time where running with the ball was in the wrong direction?... Wiedeman, SHOOT!  You're a damn forward... Earnshaw had terrible opportunities but took them as best as he could.  That being said, I will not be surprised if the way to shut Toronto down is to man mark Earnshaw all match... am I insane or was the overwhelming majority of the game played in that quarter of the pitch that could be described as 'New York's side of half, but well in front of the 18 yard box'?... It's now 1:13am and I can still channel rage with the frustration of that match and that was after an absurd amount of dinner.  Eleven courses is too many, superstition be damned!  Dammit I wanna go to bed.

One nugget of news we've overlooked was the announcement of Tim Lieweke as the President of MLSE.  A primer as who this guy is can be summed up as "the guy who ran AEG when AEG owned 7 of the 10 league clubs".  His signing cannot be a negative.  At least Anselmi will no longer be the spineless question-dodging yes man at the top.  Obligatory "we welcome our new overlords" type gag here.

Player Ratings : Bendik 6, Richter 6, Agbossoumunde 6, O'Dea 6.5, Morgan 6, Lambe 6, Silva 6, Hall 6, Ephraim [Bostock 5.5], Braun N/A [Wiedeman 5.5 {Osorio 7}] Earnshaw 6.7

Friday, April 26, 2013

THE MATCHUP: X-Treme Skedding!

Crystal Pepsi Toronto Soccer Club - "Los Invisibalos"

TORONTO VS. NEW YORK
 
BMO FIELD - SATURDAY 2PM
TV: TSN
 
THE KICKABOUT:
In a league with as much parity as MLS there aren't too many "easy wins" (Not true say every team not named Toronto!) but boy have TFC faced some stiff early season fixtures. While some (fairly or unfairly) bemoan TFC's ability to snatch draws from the jaws of victory lately, many prognosticators wouldn't have seen them competing as they have. So far, The Reds have faced the current 1st and 2nd place clubs from the West while facing all top five from the East. If this was an energy drink commercial you would have just heard a guitar riff.
 
The star-laden New York Red Bulls are the latest to test TFC's hardened "winning culture" but will also test the recently lauded depth of the club. While managing to rotate some of his squad during Wednesday night's VCup match vs. Montreal, Ryan Nelsen will see just how much his core group can handle a hot 'n heavy schedule. As with most other things TFC right now it may have to fall under "work in progress".
 
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME:
"The Crashed Icer"
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
TORONTO: Joe Bendik, Robert Earnshaw, Luis Silva
NEW YORK: Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, Jonny Steele
 
THE ODDS:
- Bitchy the Hawk to ice skate down from upper deck through frozen obstacle course: 100-1
- Reggie Lambe to dive to midfield from the stratosphere: 50-1
- Terry Dunfield to get the jimmy-legs after drinking to many Red Bulls at night: 2-1
 
WHO ARE YA?
When the Red Bull Corporation bought New York MetroStars and re-branded them, many thought it would start a wave of corporate-branded clubs in MLS. Toronto FC has had its share of beverage suitors but as their prestige declined annually so has the level of potential re-branding sponsors:
2007: FC CANADA DRY TORONTO
2008: RC COLA FC
2009: CRYSTAL PEPSI TORONTO SOCCER CLUB
2010: PC DIET COLA TFC
2011: FC POP SHOPPE TORONTO
2012: BRIO CALCIO TFC
2013 (pending offer): NEILSON EMPTY BAG OF HOMO MILK FC
 
POST-MATCH HEADLINE: (Just 3 minutes of extreme guitar riffs)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Laba results are in... It’s positive. (NOW WITH 50% MORE OFFICIAL!)

The "$1.35 Million Dollar Man"?

UPDATED: Shockingly, between Argentinos Juniors announcing the deal yesterday and today, Matias Laba's plane wasn't diverted and his transfer didn't vanish somewhere over Brazil. Instead, your Toronto Eff Cee's officially announced the Argentine starlet's signing this morning.

Laba becomes the club's first "Young DP" but as per MLS blah, blah, blah there are no finances discussed. Sadly, Young DP has little to do with Young MC but with Laba's hefty (MLS hefty) transfer fee, he will be expected to bust many a move.

Yesterday's article below...

You know how the old saying goes: "when one Argentine door closes, another Argentine midfielder opens up". Then they say something in Spanish. Then they complain about The Falkland Islands for a bit. Then we tango.
 
Hot on the heels of Toronto FC withdrawing (or vice-versa) from a potential deal to bring Argentine striker Maximiliano Urruti to town, a full transfer for Argentino Juniors' midfielder Matias "Don't make us do that nickname" Laba seems to be done. At least according to this article from the Argentine club's website. Translate into English if you like... the exciting headline becomes "It approved the sale of Laba" - which makes it sound like some mythical decision-making beast runs their club.
 
Because we play in the secret financial society that is MLS we will likely never know the true value of the transfer fee but most are pegging it in the $1.35 Million range. In a league not known for splashing the cash on transfers this may very well be one of the riskier moves in TFC history. If Laba proves to be the dynamic playmaker TFC craves in the midfield then the club may have bought a 21-year-old on the verge of greatness. If he can't adjust to life in MLS... whooo boy - the criticism will not be pretty.
 
We await Toronto FC to officially brand this deal as "FIN" but you can't fault Reds supporters for holding their breath until he's holding up that maple leafy kit. Laba is apparently en route to Toronto in the next 24 hours but who knows what malarkey can occur in the air between here and Buenos Aires? As they say in Argentina "stay tuned!". Then they say "The Falklands are the Malvinas!" so take it with a pinch of salt.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Montreal... or Who isn't predicting a draw snatched from the jaws of victory tonight?

New scarves from the Yorkies Collection... ok, they're not, but I wish they were.

I had a whole "prediction" bit, but since most of those could not occur, including one where Bitchy takes off again, but gets caught in the north end goal netting, this had to be removed.  Pity, really.

Welcome to the national cup.  The Voyageurs Cup.  Formerly the NutCan, - I still don't know how that never caught on.  Gimmicks aside, this is the closest this nation will have to a proper play-down to a national champion, so let's enjoy it for the four teams that participate in it... for now (yes, Ottawa, we see you over there).

Historically, this is a trophy Toronto wins a pile of times.  They have never been worthy of continental participation, however. While some nations must endure their national league's season or multi-divisional knock out competition, Canada prances along two rounds of two-legs and crowns a champion.  Enter the Robin dominance.

Hot off of a string of matches where they have successfully donated a point to their opponents while in control, Toronto is starting to show signs of cohesion and chemistry.  Can, what appears to be, the Toronto Reserves maintain this show of momentum?

Starting XI
Frei (welcome back)
Richter - Henry - Califf - Morgan
Bostock - Bekker - Osorio - Welshman
Braun - Wiedeman

Full disclosure : I didn't write all too much, because as it has been much of this season, weather is not our friend, and wanting to write was difficult.  So here's what went down in a nutshell...

18' - Free kick from Bostock sent Evan Bush diving left to save it.

42' - Justin Mapp (you know what I'm talking about...)

50' - GOAL - Wiedeman lays a long pass, likely erroneously, way out to Osorio whose attempt is blocked by a defender, but the loose ball is gathered by Henry who arcs one in from 25 yards out.
ROBINS 1, FROMAGE 0

71' - SUB - Braun, a.k.a. Koevers Light, a.k.a. The Brass Bullet, comes off for Ephraim

71' - SUB - Bekker comes off for Silva

82' - GOAL - Silva slots a lovely ball onto the path of Wiedeman, who then slots it himself past Bush low and to the right.
ROBINS 2, FROMAGE 0

Full Time : TORONTO 2, MONTREAL 0

Man of the Match : Bostock played really well, and was starting to show flashes of confidence and brilliance from the KC match at the SkyDome at the beginning of the season.

Goat of the Game : none.

Ref Rating : 4 out of 5.  Let the game go, nothing questionable, kept control.

I Am Not The Gaffer But... : are you kidding?  He played the reserves against their reserves.  Nelsen did fine.

Seriously, if the weather keeps up, I'm going to hire a stenographer.  Writing was tough, and the wind was chilly as all hell... Announced attendance was 11000+.  My best estimation was that there was a Marlies game next door and they counted it as 'close enough'... Frei didn't have a heck of a lot to do but looked confident.  Sadly nothing worthy of putting Bendik's job under threat, but like much of this side's history, we (still) have two quality keepers at our disposal... With one pass, Silva showed that he's, at least, the most creative midfielder we have.

Open letter to TFC:

Dear keepers of the footie,

If When Toronto plays their opponent in the final of the V-Cup, half-price concessions and cheaper beer and you'll pack the place.  In fact, any midweek matches where the suburbia crowd cannot be bothered to make it down, give them an incentive to try and make it.  I'll spend my money at the ground rather than the weak selection of restaurants in the area.

And no, free name printing or 25% off merchandise isn't a 'thing'.

Sincerely,

The Yorkies
The Statler and Waldorf of your Muppet Show

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

THE MATCHUP: Weather or not

Match-ready.

TORONTO VS. MONTREAL
VOYAGEURS CUP SEMI-FINAL 1ST LEG
 
BMO FIELD - WEDNESDAY 7:45PM
TV: SPORTSNET ONTARIO

 
THE KICKABOUT:
Giant weather laser at the ready... The V-Cup is back! The domestic cup and its associated bilingual bragging rights are set for this year's challenge as Montreal come to town to try and snatch the trophy from its four-year resting place, BMO Field. By hook or by crook - or by manipulating the barometric atmosphere through MLSE pagan sacrifice to ancient weather gods - TFC has held on to the V-Cup like Mo Johnston held on to employment. This season however may be their most difficult test.
 
You cannot argue that TFC are the weakest squad of the three MLS clubs in the tournament and opening up with a derby kerfuffle just throws more wrenches at monkeys. This fact has raised some interesting debate locally whether TFC should "go for it" or conversely play a "B Squad". While Ryan Nelsen will no doubt explore some squad rotation, around these parts we hope they aim to fivepeat and bring a little glory to what may be a testing season. If not... make a tornado appear... that's fun too.
 
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME:
"The 401 Derby: Voyageurs Remix"
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
TORONTO: Kyle Bekker, John Bostock, Hogan Ephraim
MONTREAL: Patrice Bernier, Marco Di Vaio, Andrew Wenger
 
THE ODDS:
- Italo-centric heavy rain: 2-1
- Francophile tornado: 5-1
- Provolone-infatuated hurricane: 10-1
 
WHO ARE YA?
While our domestic rivals in Vancouver, Montreal and er... Edmonton may bemoan our meteorological/Trois Rivieres good luck in retaining the Voyageurs Cup, MLSE has gone to great lengths to distance the club from any "supernatural" conspiracy. "We are committed to a winning culture and the competitive spirit of the Canadian Championship, all talk of the MLSE GiantWeatherLaserTron X09 is just unsubstantiated rumour" said an unnamed source close to ownership. When pressed over rumours that ancient weather god idols were found during the building of BMO Field the answer was a terse "no comment". We thought we heard them mutter "Rain your vengeance upon these unbelievers oh powerful and mighty Jupiter" but when we said "Pardon?" they just said "good tickets still available!".
 
POST-MATCH HEADLINE: "AWAY SUPPORTERS SECTION OVERWHELMED BY BIZARRE LOCALIZED MONSOON"
 
And... Just to beat Whitecaps to their early excuse for next round...

Monday, April 22, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Other Toronto FC last-minute disasters

Surprisingly low in electrolytes

In our more sober moments we can look at TFC 2013 and note the baby-steps towards semi-respectability. Unbeaten at home, not bleeding goals and definitely not the walk-over club of 12 months prior. That is of course when we aren't pulling out our hair and screaming "you mother#%*#^ sons of *#$^& of filthy *&%^$ ass &^%&**# and horse you *^&$#@! ignorant ^&$&()* Q-Bert playin' #%&^)! nincompoops blew another win in the last minute! %%@!" Yes those high-larious Reds are making an art of giving away 2 points late but this club has a history of terrible last-minute kerfuffles. Like that time...
 
11. Coaches told Stefan Frei "Don't worry - your job is safe"
 
10. The annual MLSE Board of Directors Holiday Party was ruined when that intern forgot to pick up the golden calf, panda bladders and virgins for the pagan sacrifice
 
9. They signed Mista instead of what was behind Curtain # 1
 
8. Preki trashed the dressing room after Jim Brennan switched his regular instant coffee for new Folgers Crystals
 
7. De Ro's cheque-signing charade was misunderstood when Raivis Hscanovics forgot to run up to him with the giant invisible "I HEART TFC" greeting card
 
6.  Andrea Lombardo's career was cut short when they forgot to inform him that TTC fares had gone up by 15 cents
 
5. Miguel Aceval was elected as "Post-Match Activities Director"
 
4. The hawk trainer chose "The Dichio Song" as Bitchy's "kill code"
 
3. Accountants cut Paul Mariner's wardrobe budget in half
 
2. Trainers forgot to tell Danny Koevermans that maple syrup isn't an energy drink
 
1. Mo Johnston waited 4 years and 364 days before getting to work on his 5 Year Plan


Sunday, April 21, 2013

THE WORD: TFC hot to Trotter?

Don't look so worried Kevin, it warms up in August

A strange little rumour has been floating about the Greater Manchester area tonight as multiple Bolton Wanderer-related websites (here and here) claim a Trotter's hero may be set to join Toronto FC. While lacking major press backing yet, the whispers say that 36-year-old Bolton striker Kevin Davies may seek one last paycheque on this side of the pond.
 
To say that Davies is in the twilight of his career is very kind. Despite some solid years of Premiership and Championship level service, the former Southampton and Blackburn forward doesn't seem a likely 20-goal MLS candidate. There are the obvious associations with manager Ryan Nelsen and Davies did flirt with a move to Houston Dynamo a while back but apart from that, the rumours have little in the way of legs. Much like Kevin Davies.
 
While it is more than evident that TFC are in need of a second striker to supplement Robert Earnshaw, Davies does not seem like the "build for the future" candidate that Kevin Payne and crew seem to crave. However, Davies will soon be available on a free and perhaps a run-out on a five-month NSA contract may suit both parties. A long shot... but stranger things have happened. Or as the rumoured Argentines go... not happened.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v Houston... or I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush

No, I don't like R.E.M., I just wanted a song lyric with "orange" in it.

Now we discuss the weather.  For the last three or four days, the temperature broke double digits, with a high of 23C.  As of writing this, it's 2C.  That's, like 36F for our American reader (hey man, thanks for reading).  By Monday, it goes back up to double digits.  Why is the warmest game thus far the one in late March?  Stupid ass weather... at least enough lessons were learned so that I know to wear a winter coat.

The one story that I'm following this afternoon is the rise of SuperBendik(TM), and can he carry forward from the "Performance of the Year" (seriously MLS, how did you screw that up not giving him player of the week?).  Yes, it's a high expectation from the young man, but why the hell not.  Also, the new makeshift backline as both Russell and Ecks are out with injuries.

Starting XI:
Bendik
Richter - Agbossoumonde - O'Dea - Emory
Lambe - Hall - Silva - Ephraim
Braun - Earnshaw


Legend for tonight's report, anything in blue was written at the game, anything in black was written long afterwards.

On to the match : 

1' - Good lord it's cold.  That wind... 

6' - Earnshaw shot beats Tally Hall, but crossbar. 

12'  - Possession Houston midfield

16' - Toronto defend holding Houstn fro attk

23' - Clear ball, no far, H attks

Quote of the Match:
Wll Bruin lik hot dg ghost on rigt
~ Dom saying something amusing. I think.

28' - O'D stp attk

30' - This pen suks. Ink no

31' - Agabossamun clear

34' - Agbssmn def

41' - Lambe baa baa

42' - Agss

Really from the 7th minute until the 45th, nothing important happened, because, frankly, I like my fingers.  It's cold.  Beginning to think my addiction to live footy is having an adverse affect on my well-being.  Seriously, to the 10,000 people who didn't show up*, you are the smart ones.  Sure, there was a pile of action with Toronto defending from a non-threatening Houston aggression.  Few attempts near the penalty area.  Kinda boring, and far from worth the frozen appendages.

* = provided the place would sell out as it wasn't even close to the announced attendance of 15,000

Half-time mood : f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fff....f-f-f-f-f...

49' - Lambe 5 stp ovrs, pass Earnshaw offsid.  Baa Lambe.  Too mny.

53' - Heheh, Braun = Koevers Light

58' - GOAL - Silva cross, just misses Earnshaw, but gets cleared out to Jeremy Hall, who has a go from 25 yards out and beats Tally Hall low and to the right.
ROBINS 1 - CREAMSICLES 0

Me: It's like the inside of a creamsicle, but the inside never tasted like it was made of cream.  Probably something gross like bull semen.
Tony: Now that's Good Humor
~ a conversation remarking on the Houston kits

61' - Found a new pen.  Can write more before fingers numb.

62' - Red card for Houston's Taylor as he took out Earnshaw who was about to be away on goal

63' - Earnshaw with back to goal, pops shot over his head, chips keeper brilliantly but crossbar too

65' - Flurries.  Shit.

68' - Silva pops a low ball into the box, Braun goes for Superman header, but stopped by Tally Hall

69' - Silva tries to nutmeg the keeper, but Tally Hall stops it.

73' - YELLOW - Lambe something.

73' - SUB - Silva off, Osorio on.  Huh?

85' - SUB - Earnshaw for Wiedeman.  Probably rest.  Ran lots.

Wiedeman is coming on!  It's 4/20 today!
~ @kzknowles with a terrible,
but greatly appreciated, timely stoner pun

89' - SUB - Emory hurt ankle. Henry

4 minutes of extra time

90+1' - Clear ball!  Clr!  CR!

90+3' - GOAL - Shit.  Corner.  Creavalle headed 5 yds out.  LA, Philly, deja vu!
ROBINS 1, CREAMSICLES 1

Full Time : TORONTO 1, HOUSTON 1

Man of the Match : We disputed who should get it, and because we couldn't make a compelling argument for anyone else, Silva gets the nod.  O'Dea was having a good game until the very end.  And I refuse to give the nod to Jeremy Hall

Goat of the Game : none, really.

Ref Rating : 5 out of 5.  Really, it's more 4 out of 5, but given how most of the other crews would've blown the straight red earlier, I give them the full marks and I expect them to be fired from MLS by Monday.

I Am Not The Gaffer But... : Why did Silva come off?  That blew my mind!  Granted, Toronto's game didn't seem to start until the beginning of the second half, and when they were playing aggressive and creatively, however Silva was either a major part of the creativity or having a quality go.  His contribution was evident as he was playing, and seeing the 4th official's numbers, it was bizarre to think he was coming off.  With Osorio's addition, there might have been 2 real chances after that.

Who else's face is wind burnt?  And what the hell was up with the flurries?... I might be crazy, but as soon as the mighty Robins were playing with the wind in the second half, they looked composed and confident.  First half was a weird settling in stage.  Braun went from invisible liability to being a functional member of society... Braun doesn't seem to be the strongest with a pass or a touch, but has a killer instinct.  He came close a few times sniffing at goal... It's too damn cold for kit spotting yet.  Wednesday should be a high of 9C, which is practically shorts weather... I rated Ephraim based on how he didn't mess up, and aside from one or two touches, he was pretty good... Latest gaffe involving the subliminal attempt to get a bird that isn't a Robin associated with this club, Bitchy, the falcon that barrels down the players tunnel and then sits on her perch sought freedom this time, and buggered off up to the second deck.  It would've been far funnier if she took off and never was seen from again... If football ended at 90 minutes like in the good old days of MLS, this club would have 4 more points than they currently have (there's no way I'd want that back, I'm just saying).

Player Ratings : Bendik 7, Richter 6, Agbossoumonde 6, O'Dea 6.5, Emory 6.5 [Henry N/A], Lambe 6.5, Hall 6.5, Silva 7 [Osorio N/A], Ephraim 6, Braun 6, Earnshaw 6.5 [Wiedeman N/A]

@ignirtoq finally thawed out about an hour and half after he returned home.  He wildly anticipates the pending increased GO Train service on weekends so he doesn't have to wait 45 f'ing minutes post match.  It's not like each match has been a secret for years or that there's congestion preventing one additional train.But he's not angry or anything...

Friday, April 19, 2013

THE MATCHUP: HOU are ya?

"Joe Bendik. Let me tell ya' - Joe Bendik... no respect!"

TORONTO VS. HOUSTON
 
BMO FIELD - SATURDAY 4PM
TV: TSN
 
THE KICKABOUT:
Tarting up a TFC v Dynamo fixture is like putting lipstick on the proverbial piggy. Try as we might, there is so little marketable friction between these two "Eastern Conference rivals". Even between the two cities there is nowt to fluff. We can only use "Houston we have a problem", the fat dude from Running Man and Warren Moon gags so often. Club Escobar was a nice brief treat.
 
Thus, the highly unhilarious narrative for this match is entirely football related (go figure) and centered on TFC's prospective squad selection. With the big Voyageurs Cup semi-final 1st Leg vs. Montreal next Wednesday, will Ryan Nelsen elect to rest some regular starters? Despite TFC's new resilient play in 2013, playoffs are still considered a very long shot and the V-Cup likely provides the club with its best shot at glory. If the importance of national gloat rights, which we in Toronto enjoy immensely, is evident to the new management then perhaps names like Ryan Richter, Doneil Henry and Justin Braun see more minutes on Saturday. This damp squib fixture may get damper in the quest for some silverware. Did we mention Club Escobar?
 
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME:
"The Adrian Serioux Testimonial"
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
TORONTO: Joe Bendik, Robert Earnshaw, Luis Silva
HOUSTON: Giles Barnes, Brad Davis, Kofi Sarkodie
 
THE ODDS:
- TFC wins - considered a "fluke": 10-1
- TFC loses - considered "business as usual": 5-1
- TFC grabs a draw - blamed on the weather: 2-1
 
WHO ARE YA?
One of the most pleasant TFC surprises in 2013 has been the play of 'keeper Joe Bendik. The unexpectedly solid displays have made Reds supporters take notice but the same can't be said of Major League Soccer. Despite numerous point-grabbing stops, Bendik is only ranked 185th in the league's "Castrol Official Performance Index". While being lauded by motor oil is not all that important in the grand scheme of things, those ranked above him are just unjustified:
# 30:- Carlo Cudicini - GK Los Angeles
# 78: Bobby Shuttleworth - GK New England
# 92:- The left goal post at Crew Stadium
# 113: FC Dallas mascot "Tex Hooper"
# 129: A pylon
# 154: An actual bottle of Castrol motor oil
 
POST-MATCH HEADLINE: "ORANGE YOU GLAD YOU STAYED HOME?"

Never forget.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Are you Toronto in disguise?" - An away day to England's "Canadian Club"

The BMO Field of Suffolk
 
For someone who exploits many a word on this site to bemoan the extreme weather conditions and rickety tin-can architecture that constitutes a BMO Field fixture, the irony of my away day was not lost. As the Easter Weekend wind and sleet whipped off of the nearby North Sea coast, I stifled chattering teeth long enough to allow a wry smile in the realization of what I had stumbled upon. If Canadian club football, specifically Toronto FC, has a lost spiritual twin it may very well reside at Portman Road - home to Ipswich Town FC.
 
Most of you reading this will have never been to Ipswich. The County Town of the idyllic and largely rural county of Suffolk in Southeastern England has perhaps seen better days, the same which can be said of its beloved local club "The Tractor Boys". That being said, both are doing their best to emerge from lean years while attempting regeneration amidst a community spirit around Town and town that seems fierce and proud. As Mick McCarthy led his squad out to face the once mighty Leeds United, I couldn't help but feel a kindred spirit with the Suffolk support - and not simply due to weather.
 
While I grew up on the terraces of a certain Premiership club two hours away in London, much of my football life has been shaped here in Canada. Like many Canadians (native or transplanted) of the 1980's and 1990's footy supporting variety, it wasn't hard to have a soft spot for Ipswich Town. A succession of Canadian National players excelled at Portman Road with Town becoming a beacon in those days when Canadians playing abroad was more rare than today. Arriving at Portman Road I expected this to be my little Canadian "insider" experience, possibly only important on this side of the pond - I was heartwarmingly incorrect.

Monday, April 15, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Philadelphia wordplay we managed to resist

On loan from QPR

We know what we are. We have an ounce of self-awareness that we dabble often in the dark arts of punnage and hackneyed gagging. It is our chip butty bread and butter. See? Of all MLS fixtures, we find the Philadelphia matchups the hardest when it comes to resisting temptation of woeful wordsmithing. Philly offers so many rich veins to tap - from Fresh Princeses, Cosbys (Cosbi?), Brother Loving, both cheese and steaks and of course Rockybalboas. Despite our love of phraseturning, we did manage to ignore these sitters this past weekend. Set eyes to "roll"...
 
11. "Chester Cheat-oh's"
 
10. "Reds get off to a Rocky start""
 
9. "Le Toux legit to quit"
 
8. "Hey Farfan. Hey Farfan. Why don't you come home with a real team?"
 
7. Nah, nah, nah, Ali Gerba - Hey! Hey! Hey!"
 
6. "Sideline analysis from ADRIAAAAAAAN Serioux"
 
5. "Huxtable sweater kits"
 
4. "Hoagie Ephraim"
 
3. "Referees just don't understand"
 
2. "If we tie... we tie"
 
1. "Bendik got in one little foul and we all got scared, but the goal was disallowed which we all found fair"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

THE SOUTH COUCH REPORT : Philadelphia v Toronto... or is this the one where they come together?


Ahhhh... the best seat in the house.  This feels nice.  I'm finally at home for an away game, which sounds like an oxymoron, but I assure you is correct.  The majority of you who are watching it are either in the same predicament, or are enjoying your footie with a pint or two, perhaps some wings or nachos, at your local.  Either way, bask in the comforts.

Though failing to resist writing the following line: Toronto are a mere 2 points out of a playoff spot, with only 29 matches remaining *gasp!*.  Apologies to all, as the filler/preamble feels mandatory.

Starting XI
Bendik
Russell - Agbossoumonde - O'Dea - Morgan
Lambe - Silva - Hall - Ephraim
Braun - Earnshaw

Very happy to see some change in the lineup.  Braun getting a deserved start, and Bostock getting a bumping.  Still not sold on Ephraim, but perhaps his role on the wing will finally pay dividends as his centre forward/central attacking midfield role didn't impress all too much.

5' - SUB - Russell is hamstrung (hamstring injury) and Richter makes his Robins debut #shitPun

8' - The Philadelphia ABC affiliate play by play guys really like talking about the trio of Jack, Mack and Ernie.  Why haven't I heard of them before?  Sounds like a kids TV show with puppets... Editor's note : he's referencing the Union forward Jack McInerney and the author may have a learning disability, but the tests have been, thus far, inconclusive.

15' - Nice service to see a through ball to Earnshaw who pokes it in, but was a foot or two offside.

21' - Lambe couldn't control the cross in from Earnshaw, after a good battle holding off a few defenders.

21' - YELLOW - Morgan goes into the books for desperately holding off a counter attack.  Not a bad move, to be honest.

27' - Two BIG stops by Bendik, diving stop on a Casey attempt, and a second one from Cruz.  Damn.

44' - Silva free kick from 30 yards out, O'Dea gets up for it but heads it just wide of goal.

Half-Time Mood : Satisfied.  The defenders are not perfect, but not caught out. Some creativity from the front.  Hard to tell if Philadelphia is a little toothless or if Toronto is handling them.

52' - Silva with his back to goal 6 yards out takes a long throw-in, gets pulled to ground and the ref doesn't seem to think that was a foul.

54' - Casey is sniffing for a goal, but Bendik keeps making critical stops.

61' - Pushy pushy, shovvy shovvy.  No bookings but the ref appears to be having a symposium on behavior.

65' - Earshaw puts a long cross over the box, finding Silva on the other side who tries to snap-kick it back into goal, but nothing.

67' - YELLOW - Agbossoumonde goes down for taking out the three players.  Jack, Mack and Ernie are all fine.

69' - Philly pressures with some keepy-uppy in the box and it sits at the feet of unmarked Le Toux who puts the ball into the river behind the ground.

For those that don't know, 'the river' is Philadelphia's version of 'the Food building'.

71' - GOAL - MacMath clears the goal, picked up at half by Morgan who pops it over the backline and beautifully chipped by EarnshawMagic!  Something out of nothing! (it's just a song...)
ONION 0, ROBINS 1

73' - SUB - Osorio comes in for Silva.  Well, better than seeing Bostock, all things considered.

74' - YELLOW - Ephraim goes into the books for pushing and shoving a Philly player trying to make a throw in.  No less the gamesmanship that Philly has participated in so far.

74' - YELLOW - O'Dea tackles from behind.  That was a fair booking.

81' - YELLOW - Bendik for time wasting.  I guess...

85' - SUB - Bostock comes on for Earnshaw.  Why not, he's ran his ass off.

87' - Kleberson has a go from the edge of the box and Bendik goes full extension to stop that one.

88' - RED - Morgan gets his second yellow for a weak call.  50-50 collision in the air.  Terrible call.

89' - Ensuing free kick Bendik doesn't quite catch it, but gets bailed out by the ref.  Jack, Mack and Ernie interfere with Bendik gathering the ball and pokes it in.

5 minutes of extra time

90+2' - Corner kick pinball finds the foot of Casey who fires it from 8 yards out and Bendik stops another one.

90+3' - GOAL - Not fair.  Just not fair.  Ball floats across the box and finds the trio of Jack, Mack and Ernie (which only looked like one guy) unmarked who pokes it past Bendik.
ONION 1, ROBINS 1

90+7' - Kleberson sends Antoine Hoppenot in on goal and Bendik charges out and stone cold stops him.

Full Time : PHILADELPHIA 1, TORONTO 1

Man of the Match : Bendik without question. You cannot put a reasonable argument forward for anyone else on the pitch.  Possibly the league. I wanna see him in the FIFA13 Ultimate Team of the Week as players have done less to earn that honour.  Morgan has played very well, and Earnshaw too.

Goat of the Game : The ref.

Ref Rating : 2 out of 5.  He should've been a 1, but he handed us the point by disallowing the 89th minute attempt.  I didn't like the challenge on Bendik, but he didn't have enough control for me to feel he was fouled on, but I am not a ref.  The second yellow on Morgan was a terrible call but calling a goal-line foul might have been an attempt to restore balance (which is arguably too late after that many cards.

Revised Ref Rating : 1 out of 5.  Self-argued the officials down a point after further review.

I Am Not The Gaffer But... : nothing.  Originally felt that one of the carded players should have come off, but with the early injury, Nelsen couldn't afford to spend it on one of them.

First half was boring, second half was fantastic television... Saw enough positives from Ephraim that I couldn't write anything disparaging about him, so that's a plus... O'Dea looked like he was doing his best Eckersley impression because he seemed to be everywhere on the pitch... Never one to give props to MLS for something, but I will give them props for their free streaming match of the week, even circumventing blackouts.  It was amusing to be able to hear the director of the match giving direction throughout the match... Toronto looked composed.  They were far from perfect but you can see the chemistry starting to truly take place... Pro : cheap drinks.  Con : running commentary only on BlackBerry Messenger.  Not the same.

 :: SPONSOR ::


Player Ratings : Bendik 10, Russell N/A [Richter 6], Agbossoumonde 6.5, O'Dea 7, Morgan 7, Lambe 6, Silva 6.5 [Osorio N/A], Hall 6, Ephraim 6, Braun 6, Earnshaw 7 [Bostock N/A]

@ignirtoq is starting a fansite when this show starts up.  Probably a tumblr account.  Is a fan of puppets as evidenced by his love of Muppets, Avenue Q and the latest episode of Community.

Friday, April 12, 2013

THE MATCHUP: "Breaking You" - Since 2007

If we die. We die.

PHILADELPHIA VS. TORONTO

PPL PARK - SATURDAY 4PM ET
TV: SPORTSNET ONTARIO

THE KICKABOUT:
What better fixture for Toronto FC to test their new hungry, young squad than against the fighting town of Philadelphia and the scrappy Union? Going toe-to-toe against the birthplace of famous pugilist Roccolino "Rocky" Benito Balboa, for us, means this match can go one of five ways:

I: The Reds will spend the day jogging through Chester before having a massive battle with Union which sees them fight bravely but lose bloodied yet respected.
II: In their 2013 sequel to 2012's match vs. Union, the better trained Reds with their hard-punching new tactics shock the Union with a late match knockout. Manager growls a lot in New Zealish.
III: The triumphant Reds are set to unveil a statue of Danny Dichio at their new training complex when a gold-chain wearing Sebastien Le Toux shows up and tells TFC's wife that he'll "show her a real man". A melee ensues before Union beat on a bloated TFC. Reds later even the score. Draw.
IV: Ex-Toronto defender Maxim Usanov shows up for the match. TFC takes five minutes to enter the field to a musical montage before an angered Usanov punches Jim Brennan into oblivion. TFC later go to Nunavut to train in a cabin.
V, VI, VII: Nobody bothers to watch. Italian Stallion signs for Montreal as a DP.

MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME:
"Showtime at the Apollo Creed"

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
PHILADELPHIA: Brian Carroll, Gabriel Farfan, Sebastien Le Toux
TORONTO: Danny Califf, Jonathan Osorio, Luis Silva

THE ODDS:
- People unhappy this wasn't another Fresh Prince tribute: 2-1
- TFC signing Uncle Paulie on loan: 5-1
- Philadelphia Union entering the pitch on rising platform from beneath the stadium as Jacob Peterson sings "Living in America" while dressed as Uncle Sam: 10-1

WHO ARE YA?
PPL Park is located in the suburban Philadelphia city of Chester. Founded in 1976 by a group of down-on-their-luck Italian-Americans, the area was once famous for its hand-beaten sides of beef, many steps and independently-owned pet shops. Despite losing its lustre in the 1990's, the modern city has rebounded as a leader in Robot Butler technology. Despite a well-documented prejudice against Soviets, the area has re-branded itself (six times) and is led by brutal Mayor James Clubber Lang.

POST-MATCH HEADLINE:
"WE GOT BROKEN"


Monday, April 8, 2013

THE STARTING 11: Side effects of Toronto FC's contract with Budweiser

Terry F*ckin' Dunfman

To poorly paraphrase Monty Python: "Drinking a beer at BMO Field is like sex in a canoe. It's f*cking close to water." Yes, the "King" of Beers (possibly the Larry King of beers at best) is now the official beer supplier at BMO Field and your taste buds couldn't be more morose. The American brewer/Czech brand name hustlers will now be pouring your overpriced suds in a contract that sees them plaster their name and their awful excuse for beer around the stadium. However, there may be more outcomes from this new deal with the hops devil...
 
11. Two Clydesdale horses on loan to TFC until July
 
10. Instead of usual journalistic descriptions for TFC's play, media can only now use the adjectives "pale", "weak" and "skunky"
 
9. Water fountains removed from BMO Field as the buzz from tap water deemed too competitive to Budweiser
 
8. It is the real reason that Frings left Toronto
 
7. Midsummer friendly vs. winner of the Bud Bowl
 
6. TFC warm-up gear replaced with hot 1980's Bud Girl bikinis
 
5. Shoving fries into your pint to improve the flavour now called a "Chip Buddy"
 
4. Bitchy the Hawk replaced with party dog Spuds MacKenzie
 
3. Terry Dunfield forced to legally change name to "DunfMan"
 
2. "The Dichio Song" banned - replaced with "Whaaaaa-suuuuuup?!"
 
1. Players "giving 5.0% effort" now considered good

Sunday, April 7, 2013

THE SOUTH STAND REPORT : Toronto v. Dallas... or Don't Call It A Comeback!

 Dallastasaray.

Damn it's colder here than I thought it would be. Welcome to game five of Toronto's season.  Seriously I could've used some mitts. Bloody lake effects. 5 degrees my ass. 

Dallas is one of the hottest teams in the league leading the West.  Conversely, my fingers are like icicles.  We've bitched about not having a roof in the south end, but what would it take for some under-seat heating?  It's like third world here.

Sorry, I get cranky when I'm not prepared for the weather.

Starting XI:

Bendik
Russell - Agbossoumonde - O'Dea - Eckersley
Bostock - Hall - Osorio - Lambe
Ephraim
Earnshaw

Onto the match...

14' - YELLOW - Osorio goes into the book, for a tackle down on the wing.  It looked 50/50 but it was on the far side of the pitch from us

34' - GOAL - from a free kick punted in, the 5 outfielders and the keeper couldn't get to the ball, but the header ends up a the feet of Jacobson and buries it.
ROBINS 0, DALLASTASARAY 1

45' - YELLOW - Ephraim goes into the book for dissent... or just complaining.

Half-Time : Hypothermic.  Seriously, it's bad that it's cold, it's worse when your pen doesn't want to work.

45' - SUB - Osorio comes off for Silva.

52' - YELLOW - Silva makes friends with the ref's book by a tackling someone kinda sorta from behind.

60' - GOAL - This one is fantastic... Bendik saves, thrown to Bostock, given up in midfield and launched up the pitch, one bounce, Perez slams it in.

ROBINS 0, DALLASTASARAY 2

62' - Free kick over the top and Earnshaw nearly jumping snap kicks the ball in, but the Dallas keeper was right in front of it.

73' - SUB - Bostock comes out and Braun joins the fray.

77' - Some of the masses begin to flock out of the stadium...

84' - GOAL - Cross comes into the box, Hedges heads it over his keeper and Braun at the doorstep to head it in.  This... naw... could they... naw, it's too cold or something...
ROBINS 1, DALLASTASARAY 2

85' - O'Dea is in the box with his back to goal, ball at his feet, gets hauled down, and there doesn't seem to be an official with a clue on how to call it other than "play on"...

87' - Free kick delivered by Silva gets headed in by Russell, which ends up at the foot of O'Dea who goes for a cheeky side-foot redirection and forcing a great save from Fernandez.  These frozen buggers are really going for it...

90' - GOAL - Russell.  Screamer.  Top left corner.  Highlight reel.  Holy shit.  It's happening!!!!
ROBINS 2, DALLASTASARAY 2

4 minutes of extra time

90+1' - SUB - Eckersley, who was absolutely everywhere, is injured and makes way for Ashtone Morgan.

90+3' - YELLOW - Braun for colliding with a player on a 50/50 ball.

Full Time : TORONTO 2, DALLAS 2

Man of the Match : Ecks.   Please don't be too hurt sir.

Goat of the Game : Ephraim was absolutely abysmal.  When our new Argentinian friend arrives, you will become a spectator.  When Koevermans comes back, you will be returned to QPR.

Ref Rating : 2 out of 5.  Dallas can't blame them for Toronto coming back as they did their best to prevent them from playing well or fair at all.

I Am Not The Gaffer But... : How long does Ephraim need?  At least Bostock was taken out after his howler of a turnover which led to the second, albeit pretty and somewhat unlikely, goal.  Ephraim looks frightened when he's outfield and when he does have the ball, it's not the most confident.  He looks bullied and almost out of his depth.  Perhaps there's a metric that I don't see or understand (because I am not the gaffer...) but short of being his friend, it's difficult to comprehend what Nelsen sees in him that most others don't.  Bostock should be delivering more in his role and with his pedigree.  Perhaps they underestimate their opponents or the calibre of the league, but if their resume is to be a measure, they need to play much better than this.  I still don't feel Russell is a defender, and that rocket was something special.  He should be playing further up the pitch.  Agbossoumonde's first touch was suspect, but found his rhythm and was a solid centre back filling in for the ailing Danny Califf.  Would prefer to see Braun play instead of Ephraim next game, if only for what he brought to the last match.  Osorio was rewarded for such play last week...

Who else's fingers are still a little numb?  I'm writing this hours after the match and I feel like I need some form of handwear... announced crowd of just over 16,000.  On one hand, that's sad.  On the other hand, it's still better than what Columbus gets... All those people who left early made watching the two goals easier to watch.  Please leave earlier sooner... Hall wasn't as useless a MF as I called the MF earlier this week.  He wasn't great, but functional... Dallas keeper Fernandez had not one but two absolutely brutal clearances.  Neither one was under much pressure and neither one stayed in play... Ou est Hassli?... As an amateur vexillologist, the Swiss flag in the south end perplexes me because it is incorrect.  The flag they have is rectangular, while the proper flag is perfectly square... I may be crazy, but I think TFC is really trying to shoehorn the falcon as part of the club's branding.  The whole 'thing' of Bitchy flying through the tunnel and staying on her perch, though a cute pet trick, feels forced.  If there is a bird-like mascot within 3 years, know that I'm not psychic.


Player Ratings : Bendik 6, Russell 6.5, Agbossoumonde 6, O'Dea 6.5, Eckersley 7.5 [Morgan N/A], Bostock 5.5 [Braun 6.5], Hall 6, Osorio 5.5 [Silva 6.5], Lambe 6, Ephraim 5.5, Earnshaw 6

Friday, April 5, 2013

THE MATCHUP: "Visit a last place team and let them freeze in the cold"

The future home of Harry Redknapp

TORONTO VS. DALLAS
 
BMO FIELD - SATURDAY 4PM ET
TV: TSN 2
 
THE KICKABOUT:
Like some kind of Texan version of Oliver the Jeweller, FC Dallas is the club that buys our old, unwanted designated players. Oh yeeee-ahhhh! First it was Julian de Guzman for something to do with modern eras then most recently snapping up "Les Miserable" himself, Eric Hassli. The story of this match will of course be the return of said Frenchman who is now part of Queen's Park Texas Rangers' lethal/slow-motion strike duo alongside Kenny Cooper.
 
A note to Danny Koevermans for later this year - horizontal hoops are not slimming.
 
MANUFACTURED DERBY NAME:
"The Designated Exchanger"
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
TORONTO: John Bostock, Hogan Ephraim, Darren O'Dea
DALLAS: Kenny Cooper, David Ferreira, Eric Hassli
 
THE ODDS:
- Eric Hassli scoring the FIFA Goal of the Year: 10-1
- Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper breaking the 3km/h barrier: 25-1
- Ryan Nelsen getting nostalgic when he sees Dallas' hoops kits: 100-1
 
WHO ARE YA?
Many in Toronto will think of FC Dallas as simply the team where we send expensive talent when they are deemed surplus here. However, it isn't only DP's that The Hoops have recycled off of TFC. The storage room under FC Dallas Stadium now boasts a set of phones that only dial a single agent's number, ten brand new five-year-planner diary books, a box of hilarious gag t-shirts that say "TFC Scouting Department 2007-2012", a giant tub of Butty Butter (TM) and some orange Lamborghini wax.
 
POST-MATCH HEADLINE: "HASSLI'S WIFE PLEASED WITH RESULT"

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Urruti and a mystery MF sign.

Urruti & what we will refer to for now as Mysterion, as depicted by South Park


I was awaiting official word of the signing, but because of the pending brilliance, I need to post now.

To be filed under "Please don't fall through", Toronto finally capture their Argentine designated player in Maximiliano Urruti. The Newell's Old Boys striker has been the focus of a long, nearly drawn-out, courtship but will add flexibility to the front of the Robins attack. No word yet when he'll make his debut.  If his highlight reel is to be taken as law, he can poach and create, and he ain't no MF.  Wikipedia, at the time of writing, is calling this a loan for the 22 year old.

What is remarkable from the Canadian Press report is the away team with Pat Onstad has revealed a second signing.  We don't know much other than he plays in the MF.  Perhaps this MF can add some creativity in the middle of the pitch.  Toronto used to have depth (ranging from passable to mediocre) with a string of MFs.  Some MFs were converted to forwards, some stayed attacking MFs.  What I understand is that whomever this MF is, this MF better bring his game, son.

I'm tired of these MFs failing.  Look at Hall.  Is that the kind of MF that's going to spark this team?  Hell naw.  Now Dunfield, there's a MF that knows work.  He ain't creative for s---, but at least he works.  Lambe is one of those disappearing MFs, sometime's he's good, other times he's a liability.  We need consistency from our MF.  At least our MF ain't trippin'.  Nobody likes diving.

We need a bad-ass MF, and not a bad MF as in terrible.

Editor's Note : the author first understood MF to mean mother f--ker, as that's how he read it on twitter.  He now understands that it is midfielder, but we kept the report intact.

Monday, April 1, 2013

THE STARTING 11: MLS signs of Spring

Behold, the call of the Great Cascadian ManCannon...

It's Springtime for Garber! No foolin' yo - it's April 1st and no matter what the weather says - spring is ready to sprung up in your business. Being a league that must use a reverse-football calendar (come visit us in January Mr. Blatter), Major League Soccer counts on the seasonal change to attract fans to stadiums across North America. However, not all the signs of spring are as obvious as flowers and sunshine in MLS...
 
11. Chivas USA paid attendance triples... to 21
 
10. Terry Dunfield switches to jaunty pink and yellow sock tassels
 
9. Club Escobar's patio now open!
 
8. De Ro makes a dramatic post-goal tulip-planting motion
 
7. Forest rangers give Timber Joey the stink-eye
 
6. Landon Donovan gets moody (see: summer, autumn, and winter)
 
5. Richard Eckersley begins to blister
 
4. Southern States switch from ignoring the NHL to ignoring MLS
 
3. The three guys on the Columbus Crew logo wear tank-tops
 
2. Joe Cannon begins mating season
 
1. TFC mathematically eliminated from playoffs