Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Saturday 31 December 2011

American Samoa

    This being the holiday season an all, there’s always room for a heartwarming story. Take some time to listen to the BBC World Service’s World Football program from this past week.

Friday 30 December 2011

POV-FS Xmas Drinks – Wrap

    The first annual POV-FS Xmas Drinks have come and gone. Hopefully a good time was had by all; a bit of beer, some football, and a lot of excellent conversation.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Beyond POV-FS – All I Want for Christmas is Joao. Part 2 – An Increased Sense of Community

    New piece up over at Waking the Red as part of the Toronto football fan’s Xmas wishlist series.

    Be sure to check it out, as well as the first installment; a worthy desire for any TFC fan. Keep an eye out for the rest of the series coming soon.

First Person View - Hoilett Says No to Jamaica?

    Sorry about the misleading tagline, but I came across something interesting last night while listening to BBC Radio 5 live’s Monday Night Club.

First Person View - Spare a Thought for D2

    This is now slightly old news, but the CSA has contracted a company to evaluate the possibility of a nationwide professional league to function as a domestic division II. This is an especially pertinent examination given the USSF’s mandate that the NASL will cap the number of foreign teams in its ranks – at 25% I believe - thus limiting Canadian participation in the league and stifling the potential growth of soccer markets outside those already established.

Friday 16 December 2011

POV-FS Xmas Drinks – Details

    Going ahead with the get together, Wednesday, December 21st at The Duke of Gloucester – 649 Yonge St. 2nd Floor. It’s a nice central location, easily accessible, and footy friendly.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

POV–FS Xmas Drinks

    I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to put on a Christmas drinks meet up for footy fans in the Toronto area. A chance to get together, have a drink or two, watch a few matches, and talk; to meet new people and chat with old ones.

    It’s incredibly short notice, but Wednesday the 21st is looking like a possible date. There will be ten hours – back-to-back - of EPL and it’s far enough away from the holidays that it will not interrupt any family time.

Monday 12 December 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England – Post-Mortem and Thanks

    Back home and with some time for reflection under my belt I realize it was quite a tour of the various strata of English Football. A sample of action ranging from the Premier League down to the FA trophy between to Non-League sides; from the glory of Old Trafford and the Emirates, to the historic and well-loved City Ground and Brisbane Road.

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Twelve & Thirteen: Tourism & Home

     Monday (December 5th)  marks the last full day of the excursion abroad; there was a faint hope of finding tickets for the Fulham-Liverpool match at Craven Cottage – one of the grounds I really wanted to go see – but it proved fruitless.

    Seeing as I had avoided doing the whole tourist thing for the majority of the trip I gave in to the urge to ride a tour bus around the historic districts of London.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Eleven: Bus to a Potential Giant-Killing

    With limited action available in London on Sunday, there was some consideration given to hopping on the train to attend a match somewhere else, but I had had enough of trains and running about. There was one match within reach however, as non-league side Sutton United were in search of a cup upset hosting Notts County in the FA Cup.

Monday 5 December 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Nine & Ten: The Away Pub Experience and off to the Orient.

The Ticket Office of Brisbane Road
    Having spent Friday on the mend - my cold has come back with a vengeance - I was as chipper as could be come Saturday morning and ready for a full day of football.

    After a quick Tube ride over to East London, the plan was to catch the early match on tele - Newcastle v Chelsea - before taking in an FA Cup match between Leyton Orient and Gillingham.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Friday 2 December 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Seven: Old Trafford Upset

The view
    Having been up so late and traveling for much of the pervious day, Thursday morning was a write-off. A quick snack in the hotel room - some cheese and bread procured at the Xmas market previously mentioned, a rest then we're off.

    A short, but ram-packed ride on the Metrolink - I have never been so crammed into a mass-transit as I was then - to the area surrounding Old Trafford.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Five & Six: "Oh, Gary Gary!"

Home End
    Quiet day of rest and reflection on Monday; Manchester is a cool town. Staying right near the city centre, by Picadilly Gardens, very busy all day long.

Monday 28 November 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Four: Euston Station, the Train Journeys North

Partially Obstructed View at Gigg Lane
    Up early this morning, a spot of breakfast in the dining room of the hotel - beans with breakfast is just odd, but I do love the colour of an egg yolk here - then a quick jaunt over to Euston Station.

Sunday 27 November 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Three: "One Nil to the ... Oh Wait"

Grand & New
    Today, being Saturday, was the occasion of the first match of the trip.

    Still feeling a little rough, I spent most of the day relaxing and catching a bit of sleep before taking the Underground to Arsenal.

Saturday 26 November 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day One & Two

Apologies for the lack of activity the past week - I had a few pieces in the works, but could not find the focus to get them done.

My attention was diverted by a trip; a big one at that. Not one for travel, I've boldly flown across the pond for a football-themed vacation of sorts.

Left Pearson on Thursday night, arrived at Heathrow Friday morning. Planes are evil; a cruel compressed mass of humanity; my ears are still popping. Marched through the snazzy, sideways lounge to face our situation. As if that wasn't bad enough I picked up a cold prior to embarking that hit me like a ton of bricks upon arrival.

Other than a paucity of bears at Paddington station and lack of equilibrium due to some inner-ear issue it's been wonderful.

I haven't seen proper wallpaper in a long time; dinner at a nearby pub actually witnessed a lady bid farewell with a proper "Cheeri-O". NB: Hot English mustard great for blocked ear canals.

Back to the football. Match one - Saturday afternoon Arsenal vs. Fulham at the Emirates.

I'll try an update postmatch.

Sunday 20 November 2011

First Person View - MLS Cup Final Preview – Late, Long-form and Long-winded.

    The boys over at Waking the Red asked me to contribute to an MLS Cup Preview, as I began writing I realized I had way too much to say to fit into the proper format, so I decided to expand on my points with a longer, sister-post.

Saturday 19 November 2011

First Person View - Canada – Progression, Perspective, Patience, and Positivity

     Many words have been written on Canada’s World Cup campaign thus far. Some are optimistic, a few more are not; all thought Canada underperformed. Some saw value, others were disappointed in the players, the coach, the support; anything you could point a finger at really.

    Let’s break it down a bit and see how to make sense of all the noise surrounding the six matches played, and how things are shaping up for the next round due next summer and fall.

Saturday 12 November 2011

First Person View - St. Kitts and Nevis versus Canada – In Three Bites

    A terrible performance on the night, but lost in the storm of negativity was progression to the next round of qualifying and having a celebratory homecoming return fixture on Tuesday.

Friday 11 November 2011

Suit Up! –Ashtone Morgan and Matt Stinson on the National Team

    Should Ashtone Morgan take the field for Canada in these next two qualifying matches, he will not just be carrying the banner for his nation, but also for the Toronto FC Academy.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

First Person View – Dwayne De Rosario for MVP

    There has been much debate – both domestically and in the wider reaches of the league – as to the merits of De Rosario’s campaign for Most Valuable Player. His capture of the golden boot – as top scorer - despite a season stricken with living out of suitcases and forgetting teammate’s names, is truly a laudable achievement, but should it earn him the prestigious award?

Monday 7 November 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Playoff Edition – Semifinals (Conference Championship) – Of Conference Champions Decided, Moving on to the Cup, a Clash of Takers, some Canadian Content, a Honduran Finish, Penalty Kicks Revisited, Off the Wood, Connect Again & Irish Eyes Are Smiling.

    The final two matches in the lead up to the MLS Cup Final took place on Sunday evening as the Conference Champions were decided. The East was won first, a technical duel and contest of strength between home side Kansas City and Houston. The West followed; a run-and-gun meeting between hosts Los Angeles and Salt Lake. Six goals, one devastating injury, a penalty kick, some woodwork being struck, another goalmouth defensive header, and the final pairing are set.

Friday 4 November 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Playoff Edition – Quarterfinals: Second Leg – Night Two – Of Leaving as You Came, Familiar Territory, Experience Gained, Words Turned to Action, the Golden Ageless Midfielder, & Home Sweet Home.

    The final two quarterfinals ties were decided on Thursday night, as both Houston and Los Angeles took one-goal leads back home where they hosted Philadelphia and New York respectively. Four goals, two home wins – without any further handbags or red cards, two more teams see their season’s end, while the four teams to contest the semifinals (conference finals) are set.

Thursday 3 November 2011

From a Different Point of View - 1st Week of November Edition

Some Things You May Have Missed From the Last Week

MLS Weekly Review – Playoff Edition – Quarterfinals: Second Leg – Night One – Of a Storm Brewing in Kansas City, the Luck of Champions Gone Bad, Weathering the Early Onslaught, a Decisive Clearance, Emerald Hope Ignited, & Farewell to Two More.

    The first two return legs of the quarterfinal pairings took to the field on a dark, wet Wednesday night. A matter of chance granted the viewers the two matchups closest to having been decided, with Kansas City holding a two-goal advantage returning home, while Salt Lake carried a three-goal lead into Seattle. Four goals – one a penalty; both home sides victorious, seven bookings from seventy-one fouls, one spectacular game-saving clearance, and a final clean sheet for Kasey Keller.

Monday 31 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Playoff Edition – Quarterfinals: Matches Two through Four – 1st Legs – Of a Super-Sunday Triple-Header, Handbags at Twelve Paces, a Flurry of Red Cards, Road Teams Taking the Advantage Back Home, & Juicy Second Legs Still to Come.

    Three matches on a Super-Sunday of MLS action. Six goals, three red cards, several scuffles, and three road wins.

    With Salt Lake vs. Seattle out of the way on Saturday night, the remaining three quarterfinal (conference semifinal) matches took place one after the other for a triple-header from afternoon to evening making for a rather enjoyable lazy Sunday’s viewing.

Sunday 30 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Playoff Edition – Quarterfinals: Match One – Salt Lake v Seattle 1st Leg - Of Keller Keeps It Close, a Risk of Offside Followed by Some Back-Heeled Class, Ossie Going Off But Not Going Off, Key Injuries, & a Salt Lake Long Not Seen.

    Salt Lay-ake; come out and play-ay. The brash Seattle side entered the contest brimming with confidence, believing that despite missing the dynamic Mauro Rosales – still nursing that knee injury suffered in the final match of the season - they could bring their fine regular season form into a struggling opponent’s home ground.

Friday 28 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Playoff Edition – Wildcard: Match Two – Colorado Rapids v Columbus Crew – Of Blustering Cold, a Playoff Rematch, Tactical Changes, a Death Blow, & the American Scott Parker.

    On a clear, chilly night in the lofty confines of DSG Park with the temperature hovering around freezing Colorado and Columbus took to the field in the second wildcard match to determine who would move on to face Kansas City in the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup playoffs.

Thursday 27 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Playoff Edition – Wildcard: Match One – FC Dallas v NY Red Bulls – Of Unexpected, Unheralded Heroes, Solli Loses his Head, Backe Realizing the Value of Substitutions, & the Impending Long-Desired Battle of Heavy-Weights.

    The 2011 MLS Playoffs began in front of a less than sold out crowd on a cool night at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. A disappointing attendance of just over 10 000 dotted the stadium despite rumoured attempts to flog tickets at the cut rate of six dollars hours before the match kicked off.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

First Person View – MLS: The Next Frontier – From Fans of a Club to Fans of the League

    With the playoff brackets decided and teams either in or out the important question becomes: How many fans of eliminated teams will tune into the playoffs?

Monday 24 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Weekend Round 32 – Of Final Tables, Play it Again Mr. Chaves, Feed the Wond, & Say Goodbye to Robertson, In Style.

    The final weekend of MLS league play, eight action-packed matches to determine the final standings and setup the playoff brackets. Twenty-nine goals scored – including a spectacular back-heeled own-goal and a blast from forty-yards – and two late red cards – both for second cautions; two draws and three away wins. 

Friday 21 October 2011

Foresight – MLS Round 32 Weekend Preview

Four questions to be answer in this the final weekend of MLS action:

MLS Weekly Review – Midweek Round 32 – Of Capital Disappointment, Desperation, Controversy, a Fateful Own-Goal & All Aboard - Playoff Bound.

    Two vitally important midweek matches kicked off round thirty-two of MLS action. Three goals – one an own goal - and two others chalked off; desperation and controversy, as the partition goes up at the playoff party.

They’re Killing Football … And Raking It In.

    The schedule that was recently released is appalling; the endless game of musical chairs that teams will be forced to play as they crisscross the vast nation is simply ridiculous. One has to wonder whether the powers-that-be care more for the financial rewards to be cultivated than for the quality of the competition hosted.

Monday 17 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 31 – Of a Fitting Farewell, Never Say Die, Mendoza (Exclamation Point), Red Bulls Red, & One Chair Remains.

    An action-packed penultimate round of weekend fixtures spread over three days; every team accounted for as the right to battle for the MLS Cup was on the line. Only eighteen goals scored, three decisive away wins, two draws, a single red card – more on that later – and two huge calls made on a weekend when most referees put away their whistles doing their best to allow the teams on the field to decide the outcomes.

Sunday 16 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 31 – Of Hope Extinguished Early, Doubling-Down, a Rally Too Late & the Playoff Mountain Looming Large.

    The two midweek fixtures scheduled for round thirty-one of the MLS season, like most of the remaining matches, had important playoff ramifications. Six goals, one red card, two teams inching closer to elimination, while another clinches their postseason berth, and the wooden spoon changes hand.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Beyond POV-FS - East to Eden: The Eastern Conference & Its MLS Playoff Dark Horses at The Shin Guardian

    New piece up at The Shin Guardian.

    An analysis of the MLS playoff picture and the potential contenders from the supposedly weaker Eastern Conference; just in time for the final two weeks of the season.

    The race is on, all Eastern places are still up for grabs; who will make it? Who will fall short?

    The answers will be found on the road from the East to Eden.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 30 – Of Away Wins, a Potentially Golden Meaningless Fixture, the Dreaded Cup Hangover & to the Top of the East.

    Two fixtures took place over the weekend of round thirty. Five goals, shockingly two rare away wins, and not a single red card, though there were six yellows and a small fracas; the stories behind the numbers are as follows.

Saturday 8 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 30 – Of Makeup Dates, Unexpected Results, Newfound Hope, & Camilo.

    Two rescheduled matches took place this midweek; squeezing fixtures in during the international break. Five goals scored, two home wins – shutouts no less, a single red card, a couple of penalty kicks, and an inactive team eliminated from postseason contention.

On Canada in St. Lucia – In the Style of Stuart Hall

    A bit of rompy-pompey for the Canucks; a Friday Night Jump Up set against the backdrop of the sun setting over the old Caribbean cricket grounds on the outskirts of Gros Islet – a sleepy fishing village turned tourist destination.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Eyes Outside

    Some stories from outside the footballing world – and one from within – that could help change the at times ancient mindset of the governing bodies.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weedend Round 29 – Of Resting for the Cup, Contenders Waking Up, Late Drama Ending Tied & the Big Match.

    Another full slate of nine weekend matches spread over Saturday and Sunday comprised the fixture list for round twenty-nine of MLS action. Pink was everywhere as MLS recognized Breast Cancer Awareness with special balls, shoes, towels, and sweatbands. Nineteen goals, four draws, two away wins, two more sides eliminated from playoff contention, and a lone red card; these are stories behind the numbers.

Monday 3 October 2011

First Person View - Expansion Expectations

    I wrote back at the beginning of the season that Vancouver seemed a touch too assured of themselves heading into their first MLS campaign. Several months on, and some thirty matches later, one cannot help but wonder if these raised expectations have somewhat dampened what should have been a celebratory year.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 28 – Of Goal-Scoring Feats, Wholesale Roster Change, the End of an Empire, & In or Out.

    A full slate of weekend action saw all eighteen clubs in action. Twenty-five goals, three away wins, two draws, and a single controversial dismissal.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Friday 23 September 2011

Foresight – MLS Round 28 Weekend Preview

Four questions to be answered in this weekend’s round of MLS:

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 28 – Of Capital Collapse, Big Apple Meltdowns, & Marquez’ Mouth.

    Three midweek round twenty-eight fixtures took place as scheduled on Wednesday night. Ten goals, no red cards, and a single draw - threatened by a shocking dive and saved by a karmic penalty miss; these are the numbers, here are the stories.

Thoughts? - Are the big European clubs already feeling the pinch of financial fair play?

    A quick rundown of the early tables in the big leagues around Europe makes for a startling read.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Keith Law - On the Trouble of Getting Players to Play in Toronto.

    Speaking on his time in Toronto under JP Ricciardi the General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, he stated that Ricciardi believed strongly that the Blue Jays had to over pay to attract talent north of the border. Mr. Law himself believes that aside from tax consideration (an increase of 10% or so) there was very little evidence to back up that assertion. Though he admits it is something that would be impossible to quantify and thus prove.

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 27 (Abridged) – Of Outsiders Rising, Youth in Motion for Philly, & Salt Lake Rounding into Form.

    Nine matches took place during the weekend of round twenty-seven; twenty-three goals, a lone red card, and not a draw in sight.

Friday 16 September 2011

Thursday 15 September 2011

Sneak Peak - Behind the Cover at The Blizzard

    My Blizzard piece is up at the Shin Guardian as promotional material for the quarterly publication.

    Please follow the link to get your behind the cover look and then do yourself a favour and get a full copy of your very own.

Matt Spiro’s piece on Clairefontaine is a great read, as is Uli Hesse’s on his beloved Borussia Dortmund. Experience Gabriele Marcotti’s sentimental journey as a teenage Italian at the 1990 World Cup, and Jonathan Wilson himself tells us how Óscar Wáshington Tabárez led Uruguay to Copa América glory, the man was there, he knows.

    Basically, for as little as you care to pay, you can have either a digital download or a coffee-table masterpiece of your very own, featuring the best writers – and me – writing about what they want, not what their editor mandates.

Upon First Glance – CCL Edition: UNAM Pumas v Toronto FC

    Rather than share notes on such a depressing experience, this seemed an opportune moment to bust out the tactics hat and compare this woeful result with Toronto FC's successful trip down to Mexico a mere year plus a week ago as they drew 0-0 with Cruz Azul.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

In Defence of MoJo

    Today marks the one-year anniversary of the firing of Mo Johnston as Director of Soccer at Toronto FC. While others will revel in the demise of the man, his tenure deserves a closer examination.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 26 – Of a Long Time Coming, The Davies-Pontius Complex, & Playoffs Bound?

    After a long break in play of various lengths, all eighteen teams were in action. Nine fixtures comprised the weekend action of round twenty-six; twenty-two goals, five red cards – four direct, two draws, and plenty of playoff implications.

Sunday 11 September 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 26 – Of Two Struggling Sides Proffering a Potential Match of the Season in a Fixture that was Never Meant to Be.

    A single midweek fixture dots the round twenty-six list, though it was originally scheduled for August 28th – having been cancelled due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene. An eight-goal thriller between home side Philadelphia and New England – two teams in the midst of six-match winless streaks – battled to an entertaining 4-4 draw.

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 25 – Of a Faltering Union, the Dragon’s Finger, & a Two-Hundred Million Dollar Sandpit.

    Only two matches in an abbreviated international break fixture list. Seven goals, no ejections, a tasty draw on a terrible pitch, and Salt Lake rounding into form.

100th Post – The Blizzard

    The hundredth post, a necessary milestone. Having already collated a retrospective of some of the best and favourites this seemed an appropriate moment to pay homage to The Blizzard.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Upon First Glance – Columbus Crew v Toronto FC

    A night of firsts as Toronto FC picked up their first road win of the season, a first ever over Columbus, and clinched the Trillium Cup for the first time. An entertaining 2-4 win was nerve-wracking at times, but enjoyable in the end.

A few thoughts on the match:

Wednesday 7 September 2011

First Person View - Tragic News: The Passing of Bobby Rhine

    Tributes and grief have been pouring out from all corners of the MLS family with the tragic news of the sudden passing of former player and current FC Dallas broadcaster/manager of Community Development.

Saturday 3 September 2011

First Person View - Non-League Day

    Today is Non-League Day in England, a celebration of support for the tiers of clubs below the Football League coinciding with the break of action in the Premier League and Championship – the two highest levels of play – due to the international break.

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Retrospecticus – Volume I

     Every so often a piece written long ago becomes pertinent once more. This retrospective will highlight some of the entries those that may have been missed, as well as some favourites.

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 24 – Of Reverse-Alphabetical Alliteration Domination, Consolation at the Ex, & the Comeback of Champions.

    With three matches having been postponed due to the approaching winds of Hurricane Irene this shortened six-match schedule of weekend MLS action witnessed nineteen goals, two red cards – one straight – two new all-time record holders, a young, local boy scoring a hat-trick and a single draw.

Monday 29 August 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 24 – Of Hope Returned.

    The lone match of in the midweek fixture list saw Chivas USA travel north to JELD-WEN Field home of the Portland Timbers. Unbeaten in three matches Chivas arrived for their final match of a five-game road swing without their new striker Juan Pablo Ángel who was rested, possibly to avoid the additional wear of an artificial pitch.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

First Person View - The Ballad of El Hadji Diouf

Prompted by an interview with the man himself on BBC Radio Scotland’s Scottish Football Podcast

    Teeth-gnashed to the world, venom-spitting in every direction, an aggressively-shaven head bowed not in reverence, but in antipathy.

Monday 22 August 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 23 (Abridged) – Of Bobble-heads & All-Time Draw Kings.

    Three midweek matches, eight goals, two draws, a pair of red cards, and one bobble-head incident; these are the stories behind the numbers in the midweek sampling of the twenty-third round of MLS.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Thoughts? – Changes to the DP Rules

     MLS announced age-ranged designated player cap hit reductions designed to encourage more youthful signings. Designated players between the ages of 21 and 23 will see their cap hit fall from the standard $335,000 to $200,000, while those 20 and under will be further reduced to $150,000.

     While this should help combat the stereotype of an older player coming over to North America for one last payday and could potentially garner the league some transfer money in the future, there are a few questions that must be asked, namely which players will the cash be splashed upon and will they grow in MLS?

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Quote of the DWW* Double Dose

     Benni McCarthy speaks his mind on Karren Brady and TSN - despite current efforts to engage the soccer public – let slip their old bias.

Monday 8 August 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 21 – Of Royal Downfall in KC, Another Even Fire & Timbers Starting to Climb.

    Three matches dotted the fixture list in this the twenty-first round of MLS action. Seven goals, a lone red card and a single draw produced some unexpected results. As one streak continues, another falls, and Chicago continues to draw.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Thursday 4 August 2011

First Person View – Setting a Base

     When the CSA announced that all three of the upcoming second round World Cup Qualifiers would be taking place in Toronto there was much consternation amongst the diaspora of soccer fans across this vast nation. Petty regionalism aside there is something more important to consider.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Perspective - Luck of the Draw

    Considering all the Jabulani’s* that have been launched Canada’s way in qualifying campaigns there could not have been a better draw for the 2014 qualifying cycle.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Tuesday 12 July 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 17 – Of a Second City Destruction and some Last-Minute History.

    Toronto has always fancied itself a mini-New York, on this occasion it was found sorely lacking. The Red Bulls stream-rollered Toronto FC 5-0 in Wednesday night action.

The Retirement of Jason Kreis’ #9 by Real Salt Lake

    Real Salt Lake retired Kreis’ number the night of the 3-3 draw with New England. When it was originally announced at the end of March there was much debate over the merit of such an action.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

All’s Fair That Ends Fair

    There was a fair share of controversy in the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship – Voyageur’s Cup.

The Match That Was

     A humdinger of a Nutrilite Canadian Championship – Voyageur’s Cup Second Leg Final was on display at Toronto’s BMO Field.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Thoughts? - On the Women’s World Cup & Canada’s Performance

     It has been refreshing to watch some football with a lack of cynical fouls, diving, and poor sportsmanship. It has also been good to watch some athletes perform not for sponsorship contracts or higher wages (not that that is not a motivational factor) but for their love of the game and the pride of their nations.

Monday 4 July 2011

Quote of the DWW*

     Today: A double dose of quotations.

     Firstly, Mr. Schaad puts his finger on something I’ve been thinking all season long; the Toronto Sports Media are a bunch of cannibals. While, Mr. Lenarduzzi responds to the statement that BMO Field has lost some of its ferocious magic.

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 16 – Of the First of Two Battles for Canadian Supremacy

    The single MLS match this midweek saw the two Canadian teams do take to the field in their first of two matches in four days. Toronto was desperate to avenge their opening day loss in Vancouver, while the Whitecaps were looking to record their first ever MLS road victory.

Friday 1 July 2011

An Interesting Development

     The first wave of MLS players who grew up as fans of their club have started cropping up around the league.  They include Seattle’s Lamar Neagle, Columbus’ Aaron Horton, Chicago’s Pari Pantazopoulos, and Steven Emory in Colorado.

Thursday 30 June 2011

First Person View – The US Open Cup

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this tournament gets no respect.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 15 – Of Useful Returns, Goalkeeping Heroics, Formation Changes, Brazilian Fire, Home Cookin’, the Return of the King, Draws, Trades & the Red Card Crew.

     Nine matches played; twenty-nine goals scored. Six Home wins, three draws, and no losses. The road woes continued for most clubs, whether a result of scheduling peculiarities – all but 3 matchups saw the higher positioned club hosting the lesser – or exemplary of the difficulty of road travel in MLS.

Quote of the DWW*

     On the realization of Tony Pulis’ cunning plan to transform his Stoke squad having secured their place in the Premier League for a fourth straight season.

Saturday 25 June 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 14 - Of Living Strong, Trouble in the Fort, a Community Shield of Sorts, Charlie Davies Poor Balance, Whitecaps Cresting and Madness in Portland.

    The weekend slate of matches kicked off Friday night with Sporting KC hosting San Jose at the glitteringly new Livestrong Sporting Park. Their second home match in their new home was more fruitful than the first. After the impressive performance in Dallas by Graham Zusi he once again rose to the occasion. It was his free kick that was turned in by the outstretched leg of CJ Sapong that tallied the first goal ever at the new park. The 1-0 score line was enough to earn Sporting their first win at Livestrong and continue their strong run of performances of late that has seen them go undefeated in seven matches, winning two straight.

Friday 24 June 2011

Quote of the DWW*

    "We recognise that the failure to relocate the goalposts is a real own goal."

Thoughts? - They Just Don't Get It

     Mainstream North American sports pundits have long had a troubled relationship with soccer. From simple ignorance to despicable denigration the refusal to accept and engage in the world’s game is sometimes comical and sometimes baffling.

     When they do acknowledge the existence of the beautiful game their lack of knowledge of either the domestic or international game is sadly lacking.

     Why is it that these top minds on the realm of sport have no time for proper football? Are their minds so full of American football, baseball, basketball and hockey that there is no space for anything else?

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Quote of the DWW*

     Chris Pontius and Charlie Davies of DC United on the controversial penalty awarded to Davies in their weekend match against Real Salt Lake.

England's U-21 Failure & the Tenure of Stuart Pearce

     The consternation at England’s failure to progress past the group stage of the UEFA U-21 Championship has begun. Questions about the tenure of Stuart Pearce as the manager of the program have arisen. Granted things could always have been done differently as the defensive attitude of holding firm and attacking opportunistically is not necessarily the approach best suited to such a skilled offensive team, but the error lies much deeper than management and tactical plans.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

A Farewell to Alen…

     … Stevanovic that is, as the irreparable hamstring was recalled by his Italian overlords at Torino. The 20 year-old Swiss-Serb spent 87 days on this Turin-to-Toronto work-exchange program – curiously Torino did not accept any Toronto FC players in return.

Quote of the D/W/W*

On LA’s decision to conceal that David would not be travelling with the squad to Colorado.

Monday 20 June 2011

Thoughts? – Why Canada Should Continue to Watch the Gold Cup

    The Quarterfinal round has finished. Eight teams took to the field, four move on. Canada was depressingly sent home after the group phase, relegated by that last minute equalizer that drew the match level and allowed El Salvador to sneak in at the Reds expense.

    The USA, Mexico, Honduras, and Panama move on to the Semifinals; Jamaica, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador go home. Aside from the action, the theatrics and the drama of the matches, what reason is there for Canada and their fans to continue to watch the tournament?

Saturday 18 June 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 14 – Of the Lesser Canada-Boston Showdown of the Night

The lone midweek match of this MLS week took place on Wednesday night as Toronto FC visited Gillette Stadium to take on New England Revolution.

Friday 17 June 2011

Thursday 16 June 2011

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Thoughts? - A Radical Transformation: Wages to Percentages

     The ongoing financial arms race between clubs in European football will surely strangle the game. As each new billionaire garnishes lavish wages on their new acquisitions the pay scale of each and every other footballer is ratcheted up in accordance, eventually it will reach a breaking point, an event horizon, from which there will be no coming back, perhaps it has already gone too far…. What if this adversarial relationship was reworked and players were paid with percentages of revenue rather than wages?

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 13 – Of a Classy Professional Move & a New Stadium in KC.

    Two MLS matches dotted the calendar this week. Wednesday night saw Columbus’ Crew play host to Real Salt Lake. The Columbus, still struggling with the roster overhaul that saw them jettison fan-favourite Guillermo Barros Schelotto and some of the more experienced heads, entered the match winless in five. Leading scorer Emilio Rentería was absent with quad strain; DP Andrés Mendoza has increased his production (2 goals in last two matches) but still finds his Latin style not meshing with the blue-collar workman nature of the team and the town.

Monday 13 June 2011

Paul Chapman

     Sad news out of Germany as long-time German and English football correspondent for Deutsche Welle and BFBS passed away following a short illness.

El Salvador - Sign Them up

     El Salvador has been one of the more entertaining teams at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Granted they have yet to face the toughest of competition, but several of them could be expected to make moves out of their native league following the tournament.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Thoughts? - Wenger, Wilshere & England

    Arsène Wenger’s decision to pressure the England set-up into not calling Jack Wilshere to the UEFA U-21 European Championship – kicking off today in Denmark today – is just the latest in an ongoing battle between Club and Country.

Thursday 9 June 2011

What’s Up with Julian?

    Julian de Guzman was, until recently, Canada’s brightest footballing star. Following a youth career that saw him soar from Scarborough to Marseille, he began his professional career in the 2nd German Bundesliga, worked his way up to the 1st division, and earned a transfer to La Liga’s Deportivo La Coruña where after a slow start to life in Spain he adapted and was named the club’s player of the season.

    The downfall began as a dispute between himself and the Spanish club over financial matters. Monies owed to him for appearances, image rights and bonuses failed to materialize prompting difficulties as the two parties discussed a new contract. At the time rumours of interest in the solid midfielder were coming from Germany, England and within Spain.

First Person View – Thoughts on USA vs. Canada in Detroit

    I just got back from Detroit earlier this evening – if you ever find yourself in the Motor City, the Motown Museum is worth the trip and the burgers at Five Guys are equally excellent- sitting down to re-watch the USA-Canada match. I haven’t had a chance to read any of the other post-match diagnostics but I thought I’d share my initial impression.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

First Person View – Why Support Canada

     On this, the eve of our opening Gold Cup match against the US in Detroit, I’m readying myself for the trip south to cheer on our team. While many fans prefer to cheer on the big teams of Europe, regardless of how vague or passive their association to that country is, a select few endure with a smile the trials and tribulations of being a Canadian soccer fan. There is one selling point for me on this decision of loyalty and it is simply that this is our team.

Monday 6 June 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 12 – Of Late Drama, Stellar Goalkeeping, Honours Even, the Return of Casey Conor, the San Jose-Houston axis, and a New Record for Futility in Year One.

     Though week twelve saw only 12 goals in 11 matches there was plenty of action to behold. Late drama in New York saw Columbus rookie Rich Balchan erase an early Mehdi Ballouchy goal, leveling the score at 1-1 in the 92nd minute. Fellow first-year Crewman Justin Meram found space behind substitute right back, Matt Kassel, the highly touted academy product who replaced the injured Jan Gunnar Solli (hamstring) in the 28th minute. Meram exploited Kassel’s inexperience down the flank and cut a ball across the top of the six-yard box. The clever pass was met by the onrushing Balchan who slammed it past Red Bull keeper Greg Sutton for his first career MLS goal. Ballouchy’s strike in the 9th minute had given New York the lead; Solli found Rodgers on the right-hand side of the pitch, he cut out towards the touchline dragging defenders with him and threaded a ball through a tangle of legs to Ballouchy. A deft chip over a scrambling Will Hesmer nestled in at the far-post. The New York squad decimated by international call-ups could only name four players on the bench and only made a single substitution; though Thierry Henry returned to action should the injury to Solli prove serious this could be a lean month for the Red Bulls. Columbus’ frustrations in-front of goal continued as designated player Andrés Mendoza missed two glorious chances while looking nonplussed at the action around him. 

Toronto FC - Xmas in July

     The mid-season transfer window opens on July 15th. Toronto FC is in dire need of some reinforcements, these are not rumours, just desires. Depth at two positions, striker and defender, would greatly enhance the team.

Friday 3 June 2011

Gold Cup & International Action Shines on MLS Rosters

    With the Gold Cup kicking off on Sunday night, and a day of Euro 2012 qualifiers and friendlies having just past, it seemed a good time to analyze the effect on MLS action these absences will have on this weekend’s action. 

Letters to the Editor

    Some of the mainstream media response to the Canadian National Team’s match versus Ecuador in Toronto Wednesday has been less than adequate.

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 12 – Of a Few Changes, But Really Just the Same

    In the lone match of mid-week action Vancouver traveled to Los Angeles to take on Chivas USA. Having jettisoned their manager Teitur Thordarson on Monday, Tom Soehn took charge of his first match for the Whitecaps and brought about the expected changes.

Thursday 2 June 2011

The Canadian Home-Match Experience

    Fantastic scenes at Canada’s friendly match last night hosting Ecuador at BMO Field in Toronto. A stunning first half strike by Terry Dunfield, followed by his leap into the South End of Voyageurs, gave Canada a lead at the half. Ecuador sprung to life in the second half, ‘Chucho’ Benitez heading an equalizer from a corner and Michael Arroyo lashing the go-ahead strike from 30-yards two minutes later. Quick thinking from Julian de Guzman, as Ecuador was pre-occupied protesting the award of a free kick, found Tosaint Ricketts alone in front of goal. He slotted past the Ecuadorean keeper to level the score, a bit of controversy went Canada’s way – for once- to earn a 2-2 draw.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

First Person View - I Support Canada

    Tonight the Canadian Men’s National Team takes on Ecuador at BMO Field in Toronto. Like most National Team matches here in Canada there is a high probability that the home support will be dwarfed by rows upon rows of Ecuadoreans who will appear as out of thin air to support their heritage against their home. Far be it from me to tell anyone who they should or should not cheer for, but due to a local campaign to support Canadian Soccer there may be an air of change amongst the South End of Voyageurs at BMO.

Tuesday 31 May 2011

International Absences & the Importance of a Balanced Schedule

     32 players from MLS rosters were called up to their respective national teams for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup; several others will report to their national team for various other duties, some will not make the full squad, will choose to pull out or get injured and be back with their club teams in due time. Such a drain on an already limited selection pool for managers is a necessary evil for a league that is not able to respect the international calendar. There is much consternation at the pig-headedness of continuing to play matches while much of the league’s premium talent is away on international duty. While this is a concern, it is much more important that the league focus on maintaining a balanced schedule of competition, rather than worry if not all players are available for every match.  

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 11 - Of a Unified Destruction in Toronto, Regicide in Salt Lake, a First in Portland, a Bit of the Ole’ Back-&-Forth, & the Battle for ‘El Capitán’.

     The first match early on Saturday witnessed the destruction of Toronto FC 2-6 by the Philadelphia Union. Toronto playing their eighth match in the month of May, the eleventh in 34 days, fell behind early. Goals in the 2nd, 11th and then again in the 44th minutes saw TFC go in for the half down 0-3 to a chorus of boos from the home fans. Gabriel Farfán, picked out by Jordan Harvey’s cross, was left alone in the right side of the box to grab the first, his first in his MLS career. Justin Mapp doubled the lead with his first of the season and Kyle Nakazawa rounded out the first half scoring when he was left alone in front of goal. Toronto made two changes at the half, Julian de Guzman and Dan Gargan made way for Javier Martina and Danleigh Borman, who was returning to action from an absence due to personal matters. The shuffling resulted in TFC piling on the pressure, with Maicon Santos grabbing a brace, firstly rounding Faryd Mondragón then knocking in a loose ball in the box. The comeback was halted abruptly as Mapp picked up his second off a poor clearance from Stefan Frei, which he fired into the top corner. Toronto continued to press forward leaving gaps in an already porous defense. Danny Mwanga redirected a low, goalmouth cross by Sébastian Le Toux in the 72nd minute, prompting Aron Winter to throw caution to the wind and bring on yet another attacking substitute with Alen Stevanović replacing Ty Harden. TFC switched to a 3-3-1-3 and pressed forward. Mwanga wrapped up the scoring with a last minute strike handing TFC their worst ever loss and earning Philly their first win at BMO Field. It was Union’s second away win of the season, precipitated by a largely unprecedented offensive explosion. Having tallied just 8 goals in their previous 10 matches this season; this 6-goal outburst was modestly foreshadowed by their 2-1 victory over Chicago Fire last Saturday, their first 2-goal output of the season. The Union solidified their lead atop the Eastern Conference, while Toronto FC’s fans were left to watch the Champions League Final on the big screen questioning their team and their manager.

Perspective - Teitur Thordarson Tossed at Low Tide

     Vancouver Whitecaps parted ways with their head coach early this morning at a press conference. An abrupt end to his four-year tenure in charge of the club was a bit of a shock to most of the media and fans. There had been rumblings of discontent, but it was thought that Vancouver had learned from the mess that is Toronto FC and would not rush into any rash decisions. It takes time to step into this league and find success as mused here; however, the Vancouver frame of mind did not think much of MLS’ qualities. Optimism was high following the opening day defeat of TFC; even as the two clubs’ records ran almost parallel, the new-car-smell of BC’s team was inducing a blinding high, which appears to have worn off inducing a stark, despairing come-down, and the realization has hit, the team is not doing well.

FIFA: Dancing Shadows on the Wall of the Cave

    The current posturing of the major players in this FIFA soap opera is as captivating as the OJ trial was in its day. One cannot help but worry, that this drama is nothing more than it appears, an orchestrated show, designed to fool the populace once again as maneuvers are made to continue the good ship on its intended path.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Thoughts? – Decipher the Blather

"When a Swiss farmer's neighbour has a cow while he has none, the less fortunate farmer will work twice as hard so that one day he can buy a cow as well. When another farmer, elsewhere, on an island, say, has no cow but his neighbour does, that farmer will kill the neighbour's cow out of sheer malice. I'd rather be a Swiss farmer, like it or not"  – Sepp Blatter, care of The Guardian’s Fiver.

Mondragón Channels Danny Cepero

    At today’s Toronto FC match, the less said about the result the better, Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón almost scored off a long goal kick that bounced high over Stefan Frei’s head as he rushed out to collect it. Frei managed to scramble back and smother the ball before it crossed the line. Shades of Danny Cepero’s goal, the first goal ever scored by an MLS keeper from open play, as his kick bounced similarly high over the head of Columbus Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum in his debut game on October 18th, 2008.

Friday 27 May 2011

First Person View – Rarified Air

    I finally caught the action from Toronto FC’s match in Colorado; GolTV’s Game in an Hour came through in the end. I know, I know, what kind of fan misses a match, I was busy cooking some dinner for the family. It was only the second match I’ve ever not been able to watch live, I had to work for a disappointing TFC performance in Houston two seasons ago. As for home matches, I’ve only not been present for two, one my sister’s wedding, though I did manage to sneak away in time to catch it live, and another in season one, we were sharing tickets with another fellow and he used all the seats for the Houston match… something about Houston.

Thursday 26 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 11 - Of Offensive Struggles, Shut Out Streaks, Penalty Kicks, and a Mad Six Minutes in New York.

    Three matches were played this midweek all on Wednesday evening. Seattle fell 1-0 to FC Dallas at Qwest Field; Brek Shea scored the lone goal in the 18th minute. Seattle, decimated by injuries, has struggled to amass any offense this season. They attempted 19 shots last night, out shooting Dallas 15-3 in the second half, yet they failed to hit to get the necessary equalizing goal. It was only the 3rd time they have been shut out in their 13 matches. The real issues is regular scoring, the last time Sounders had a multi-goal game was April 30th, when they Toronto FC visited and fell 3-0, that was only the 3rd match that Seattle had scored more than 1 goal.     Injuries to Steve Zakuani, O’Brian White, Nate Jaqua and Mauro Rosales, as well as the preseason departure of Blaise N’Kufo, has decimated the Seattle attack leaving Fredy Montero as the go-to guy, a role with which he has not always been comfortable. He will need to step up his prosperity in front of goal if Seattle wishes to push for the title this season.

The Match that Never Was

    Some thoughts on the VC-NCC (Voyageurs Cup – Nutrilite Canadian Championship) match that was abandoned and replayed, hopefully dryer, the very next day. The rain started just moments after the match; it was not the usual rain, for these drops were big ones, evil ones. Everything was fine, unless you dislike being wet, until the close of the first half, a crack of lightning pierced the south-western sky, slowly approaching. It seemed odd to halt the play then, but that was the decision made, a poor one as what came was much worse. Following a half hour delay, the players again took the field, a veritable swimming pool, the ball stuck, the players hydroplaned, the sky and the play degraded, both looked dangerous, things were going to get reckless. And so, the match was put on hold again, “let’s try and wait it out” someone suggested, others knew the game was up.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Thrown Out: Whispers on Super injunctive Twitter

    There is a storm brewing over the apparently overheard whispers of Sir Alex Ferguson regarding a journalist who had the temerity to ask how important Ryan Giggs was to Manchester United in light of recent super injunction revelations. Some would argue that SAF was in the wrong and has had a Gray-Keys moment of his own, forgetting he was sitting in front of a barrage of microphones, recording even the most unintelligible of syllables from the mouth of the great man.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Manchester City’s Transfer Policy

With the silly season about to kick off a quick look back at the recent transfer dealings of Manchester City paints a cunning, yet devious strategy. Dating back to the summer window in 2008, City has embarked on a system of targeted purchases designed to fulfill two purposes. Firstly, to amass a group of talent, with enough quality and experience to allow them to push into the upper echelons of the English Premier League, while simultaneously weakening their immediate rivals.

Thoughts? - A Wink & a Nod

     Sepp Blatter blathered on this week about how he once refused a bribe, that he could not refuse, but he returned the money or something like that. The whole saga is really quite tiring, seeing an elderly gentleman, struggle in a modern media world that he just does not understand, being made the fool.

Monday 23 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Round 10 - Of More of the Same, a Little Something Different, a Touch of Redemption, New Faces on the Score Sheet, and a Not So SuperClásico

    The 10th week of MLS action was less congested than those previous; the 8 matches were all played on Saturday and Sunday, some things, however, did remain the same. Portland Timbers are still unbroken at home; this latest 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew was their 5th win at JELD-WEN Field, a perfect 5-0 record. The Timbers exploitation of dead ball situations also continued, they have scored 6 of their 13 goals from set pieces. Defender Eric Brunner’s header in the opening minute of the second half, against the team that left him unprotected in the expansion draft last year was set up by a Jack Jewsbury free kick, which was redirected across the goal by Kalif Alhassan for Brunner to put in. Jewsbury and Alhassan lead the team in assists, each tallying their 5th on Brunner’s goal, leaving them a lone helper behind league leaders David Beckham and Brad Davis, tied with Vancouver’s Davide Chuimiento. Real Salt Lake, despite unveiling their new golden jerseys, continued to struggle in a storm affected match in Dallas. The lightning caused play to be stopped in the 83rd minute, the same minute as the stoppage in the match versus LA Galaxy some weeks ago. A rematch of last year’s Western Conference Semi Final, which was won by Dallas, was a testy affair, both teams battling for the 0-0 result. Salt Lake had never earned a single point in Dallas before this match, their 2nd straight scoreless draw and the 3rd time in the last 4 matches they have been kept off the score sheet. Despite this offensive slump Salt Lake are still maintaining the strong defense that has made then so dominant, keeping their opponents at bay, earning clean sheets in 6 of their 8 matches played. FC Dallas remains unbeaten in 6 matches, with goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who recorded his 5th clean sheet of the season; they have not allowed a goal in 399 minutes of action.

Friday 20 May 2011

Concussions in MLS

     A good result for Chivas USA on Sunday night was made even better by the return of defender Michael Lahoud, who overcame post concussion issues to assist his team in earning that jaw dropping 2-3 victory in New York against the Red Bulls. Concussions have become a serious issue in the sporting world in the past few years, the NHL and NFL are taking extreme measures, such as protective legislation and increased medical oversight to ensure the safety of their players.

    At the moment, there are 6 MLS players out of action for concussions and post-concussion symptoms: Jimmy Conrad (Chivas USA), Devon McTavish (D.C. United), Calen Carr (Houston Dynamo), Thorne Holder (Philadelphia Union) Patrick Nyarko and Michael Videira (both Chicago Fire). Jimmy Conrad, perhaps the highest profile players currently out, definitely the most entertaining and garrulous of the bunch, recently discussed his situation on his podcast. Making light of the situation as he usually does, Jimmy expressed the confusion and concerns associated with the condition, his desire to get out on the field, the indeterminate nature of the injury and the ramifications of collective damage suffered for one’s post professional career. 

Thursday 19 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Round 9 - Of Cascadian Cups, Galactic Earthquakes in California, High Earners Paying Off, Philadelphia’s Young Stars & a Power Outage in New York

     The Seattle Sounders vs. the Portland Timbers, the big derby MLS has been waiting for played out to a 1-1 draw late Saturday night.  This first match of the Cascadian Cup played in the pouring rain of Seattle, was a lightning paced battle, though it failed to live up to the unreachably massive expectations surrounding the event. The slick turf at Qwest Field did little to assist the proceedings as the ball proved difficult to control leading to a midfield duel in which neither side could claim dominance. The undoubted highlight was the massive tifo display arranged by the Emerald City Supporters that covered a whole end of the stadium, paying homage to their ‘Decades of Dominance’ over their Pacific Northwest rivals. The large patch of Timber’s Army who made the short trip did well to not be smothered by the incessant noise of the home fans, especially as their numbers were limited to some 500 or so fans. The match was played in good spirit, neither side receiving a booking, though the forearm smash by Osvaldo Alonso on Diego Chará was evidence of the fierceness of the competition. Seattle took the lead off a well work goal by Álvaro Fernández in the 52nd minute. Portland’s nemesis, Roger Levesque swung a ball in from the right hand side, which collapsed the Timber’s defense onto Fredy Montero, who won the header, flicked on to the unmarked streaking Fernández, who slotted past a hapless Troy Perkins. Portland responded quickly, in the 65th minute their captain, Jack Jewsbury, caught the Seattle backline napping with a free kick, floating a ball onto the head of defender Mamadou ‘Futty’ Danso, a carbon copy of the goal the two had combined for against Philadelphia last week. The Timbers have used set pieces to their advantage, scoring 8 of their 12 goals from free kicks and corners. Unveiling their Rose City Red second kits, the Timbers did well to earn themselves a point in the hostile confines of Qwest, and the hoards of Rave Green clad fans left disappointed at not continuing their supposed dominance. Comments to the media have spurred on the budding rivalry, with Portland’s Head Coach, John Spencer openly mocking the use of excuses such as weather and injury by his counterpart in Seattle, Sigi Schmid. Sunday, July 10th, note that date; the return fixture goes down in Portland.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

First Person View – Injuries & Workhorses... Updated - & Silviu Petrescu

     The excellent Richard Whittall wrote a piece on The Score’s Footy Blog dissecting the Toronto FC collapse against the Chicago Fire at BMO Field on Saturday night. He mentioned the effort put into the match by Jacob Peterson, to which I commented that Peterson may be the most improved TFC player from last year to this and that the ridiculously heavy schedule may have been one cause of the draw. With Peterson felled by an apparent hamstring injury in the first half of Wednesday’s match in Vancouver when he tried to accelerate to reach a pass and Tony Tchani also hampered by a leg injury minutes later when his foot seemed to get stuck in the pitch, I can’t help but wonder why these matches are allowed to be played on artificial surfaces.

     Peterson has been a work horse for Toronto this season, filling in nicely in the midfield, covering the entire pitch and filling in wherever necessary. His loss for any significant amount of time, during such a busy stretch of the season would be a major issue for TFC. No professional footballer, soccerer doesn’t sound right, likes to play on turf, they would much rather play on natural grass. If injuries keep occurring on these unforgiving grounds surely to protect the players rules must be brought in to remove them from top level matches.

     Second half is about to kick off, back to the match.

You can find Mr. Whittall’s work at the aforementioned Footy Blog, as well as at Canadian Soccer News and his personal blog, A More Splendid Life.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Perspective - Voyageurs Cup / Nutrilite Canadian Championship: Ad Victorem Spolias

     Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps take the field on Wednesday night for the first leg of the Canadian Championship. Both teams are desperate to put mediocre starts to their seasons behind them, claim some glory and satisfy the desires of their fans, but would it really be good for them?

Monday 16 May 2011

Cristiano Ronaldo & Emmanuel Adebayor pay homage to PK Subban & Carey Price


     This goal celebration as Real Madrid routed Sevilla on May 7th was oddly reminiscent of the Montreal Canadians young stars triple low five mixed in with the shoulder bump they used to celebrated their clinching of a playoff spot against the Chicago Blackhawks (Both videos can be found below). This raises the interesting question are Real Madrid sitting around late at night watching NHL hockey games? 

Sunday 15 May 2011

MLS Scheduling & TFC Congestion

     Toronto FC played their 7th match in 21 days this evening against the Chicago Fire. A match every 3 days, when travel to Edmonton, Seattle and Dallas is considered, it is no surprise that when the rains picked up and the field got heavy, Toronto just did not have the energy in their legs to combat the onslaught beset upon them by a Chicago team that has been finding its feet after a spell of retooling. It is a stroke of luck that most of TFC’s games have been at home; one has to wonder what schedule makers at MLS head office were thinking when they made this year’s edition.

Friday 13 May 2011

Toronto FC Hates Bouncy Castles

     Bad times in Frisco have plagued Toronto FC’s visits to play FC Dallas. TFC has conceded 6 penalty kicks in 9 games to the former Hoops, 5 in the 5 matches played in Texas.

     2 in 2007; 1 in 2008, a last minute game tying goal conceded when Julius James was judged to have pulled down Adrian Serioux; 1 in 2009, a Marvel Wynne handball call from a ridiculous distance that gave Dallas the lead in a tight match; no penalty was awarded in 2010, though Martin Saric did receive a red card, and again a soft call last night, Adrian Cann adjudged to have fouled a slippery footed George John.

     Toronto has also received 3 red cards in their 9 matches against FC Dallas. Karma for the 4-0 beat down in the first ever meeting at BMO in 2007? Hubris for constant jibes about how awesome it is to have a bouncy castle at a football match? Some other evil force at play? Who knows, though it is exhausting.

Perspective – The Present vs. the Past: Depth for Toronto FC & Over Paying for Players

     It has taken 5 long years, over a hundred players, 6 coaches, several ticket price increases and a few fan protests, but Toronto FC has finally achieved one of the key goals of a good MLS squad, depth. This season Toronto has fielded 25 of their 30 man roster, an impressive feat of rotation when one considers those who have not played, Elbekay Bouchiba, Milos Kocic, Demitirius Omphroy, Nicholas Lindsay, and Matt Stinson. Two of whom are injured, Bouchiba and Lindsay, while draft pick Omphroy, academy graduate Stinson, and backup keeper Kocic, have featured in the lone reserve match along with a plethora of academy youths. This intentional usage of the entire squad by Aron Winter, not only brings every player into the fold of the first team, allowing them to feel a part of the whole, but also keeps everyone fresh and on their toes, knowing that a bad performance or a lazy training session could mean they spend some time on the side lines.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Round 8 - Of Draws, Coaches Derbies, a Big Little Man, Real Obstacles, a Clash of Headliners & the Rebirth of Henry

     The eighth week of MLS action was concluded with a rash of draws, half of the ten matches, the last five scheduled actually, ended with the sides even.  No goals for DC-Dallas, New England-Colorado, and Chicago-Vancouver, while Columbus-Seattle and Los Angeles-New York each scored a lone goal. Whether the heavy schedule of matches and travel has caught up to the teams and the first plateau of the season has been reached or it was just an anomaly is difficult to say, but last season saw a similar smattering of level affairs at several points in the season, perhaps it is just that high-falutin’ parity rearing its ugly head.

Friday 6 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Round 7 - Of Broken Ducks, Homecomings, Injuries Overcome, Streaks Continued, Defense, & a Hangover in Portland

Ducks were broken this weekend in MLS. Vancouver’s young striker, Omar Salgado, first pick overall in the 2011 Superdraft, scored his first professional goal in his first start, from a left sided Terry Dunfield cross. Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux, scored his first of the season from the penalty mark, following a handball by San Jose’s Jason Hernandez. Early season struggles to get on the score sheet put to rest after a dynamic season last year, leading the Union with 14 goals and 11 assists in 2010, to earn his side a 1-0 victory. FC Dallas’s Columbian DP, Fabian Castillo, scored his first goal for his new team, curling a flicked header from Andrew Jacobsen into the corner of the net. Chivas duo Nick LaBrocca and Marcos Mondiani both registered in Chivas USA’s 3-0 victory over New England; LaBrocca with a header from a Ben Zemanski cross and Mondiani with an unorthodox volley from a Alejandro Moreno pass. Sophomore Colorado striker Andre Akpan notched his first MLS strike, collecting a through ball from Omar Cummings and rifling into the far corner to level the match. In the Friday night match, Houston’s rookie striker, Will Bruin, notched his first career hat trick, helping his team demolish DC 4-1.

Sunday 1 May 2011

The Yellow Wall & the Merits of the Bundesliga

     Borussia Dortmund, the most exciting team in the most exciting league in Europe.  The goal scoring prowess and exotic flair of Lucas Barrios and Shinji Kagawa; the youthful exuberance of Mario Götze and Nuri Şahin, the staunch defense of Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotić; the wild orchestrations of Manager Jürgen Klopp; the famously impressive Südtribüne of yellow-clad fans; these are the things that come to mind at the mention of Borussia Dortmund.

     On Matchday 10, Dortmund reached the top of the table, having previously trailed behind the impossible start of 1. FSV Mainz 05, and haven’t looked back. They now stand on the precipice of an unforeseen championship that has captured the attention of the football world. The most impressive facet of this impending championship is surely the youth of the squad. The average age of the regular starters is slightly more than 22 years, even with the inclusion of 30 year old goalkeeper, Roman Weidenfeller. The poise and commitment shown by such a young group of players is even more exceptional given the one player no one is talking about at the moment, their injured captain, Sebastian Kehl.

Monday 11 April 2011

Sir, Yes, Sir - The Chain of Command Dilemma

     The question of whether football would benefit from the use of video technology is a long and much debated discussion, which will sadly be decided at another time. The latest round of controversies has seen the inclusion of an extra set of officials, deployed at each end of the pitch, near the byline, to add an additional set of eyes to any disputed goal mouth actions. While these extra referees have been in place for over a year now, in European ties, there is yet to have been any such official who has had any positive influence on the decisions made in a match, the same mistakes are being made, the same actions are being missed. To analyze the root of the problem examine the referee lineup for the Europa League match between FC Twente and Zenit St. Petersberg on March 10th

Friday 8 April 2011

Perspective - Beginnings

     Great goings in Vancouver, Teitur and the Whitecaps have gone 1-1-1 scoring 7 and allowing 6 goals in their three games. A two-goal win and a score draw at home, a narrow loss on the road in Philadelphia have seen the Caps run their tally to 4 points, enough to garner them 4th place in the tough Western Conference. Toronto FC, on the other hand, have had a miserable start under new boss Aron Winter a lone two-goal win, a squeaky score draw at home, and the depressing opening day loss in Vancouver has seen the Reds go a disappointing 1-1-1, tallying a paltry 4 points, to sit them 6th in the under strength Eastern Conference.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Party like it’s 2007

     Today Vancouverites enjoy their first of many MLS matches. Memories of Toronto’s first season have been clouded by failure, but it was truly a great time. Everything so fresh and new, exciting and hopeful, how things have changed.

     The opportunity to re-experience that rush felt in season one, albeit vicariously, has been made available by the Whitecaps, and should be enjoyed by all. The festivities leading up to the big first ever Canadian MLS derby have been exciting, listening to radio shows, watching video clips, reading stories and following tweets of some of Canada’s best soccer journalists has been enthralling. The nerves have started to jangle, the anticipation has built to a crescendo, the beer, of victory or defeat as required, is chilling. Every Toronto FC fan, no, every Canadian soccer fan should wish they were there. And so tonight at the historic Empire Field, two relatively unknown teams will take to the field and the new MLS season and perhaps the first steps of a better tomorrow for Canadian soccer will begin.

     Toronto and Canada wishes Vancouver the best of luck for this their inaugural season, though the schadenfreude of the Whitecaps stumbling, especially tonight, would go a long way to assuaging the pain caused to TFC fans by their own club’s failure and the annoying boundless optimism of the Vancouver pundits, who seem to not think much of the step up from USL (USSF-D2) to the big league of MLS.

Update - Ah, hubris, my old friend, so nice to see you again. Congratulations to the Vancouver Whitecaps on a fantastic debut.

Thursday 17 March 2011

TFC 2011

     The upcoming MLS season, the fifth such in Toronto, has not been met with the same fanfare those previous have enjoyed. Perhaps that is just the natural maturation of a relationship, the gloss worn off; new car smell faded. Some would say that a further lack of success, defined as a trip to the much lauded and often fabled playoffs, could spell a turning point in the team’s future.

     Perhaps some of the less than committed fans will turn their backs on ‘soccer’, head back to the Dome for some baseball action, after all this is the year the Blue Jays will do it. Boston and New York are on strike this year aren’t they? Maybe they’ll go watch the Argos play; now that’s an atmosphere. And everyone knows the Leafs and Raptors are really close to challenging for titles, maybe next year will be the one.

     Personally the largesse of the BMO crowds was never a concern. Perhaps the vision of a less than full, but fully focused group of supporters was the right way to go. Will that girl in the seat behind please stop talking about her trip to Southern France…? It’s nice, yes, but not here, not now.

     With that in mind rather than preview the season with a list of who has left (everyone) and who is new (everyone), the projected finish (last or so) and key contributors (same old cabal), let us look a little further into what has really changed at a club that has seen more than its fair share of turnover, as…

     The Future seems bright for Toronto FC

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Beautiful Losers

     Arsenal’s loss to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final was their third straight defeat in a finals appearance since they won the FA Cup in 2005.  This inability to clear the final hurdle has combined with a marked drop off in league performance which has seen 8 straight seasons of finishing either first or second in the Premier League with 5 seasons of third and fourth placed finishes.  Of course there are extenuating circumstances to this apparent decline, namely the rise of Abramovich’s Chelsea, as well as the relocation to and subsequent debt incurred as a result of their new Emirates Stadium; however one must question whether Wenger’s principles of fiscal responsibility, youth promotion, and hypnotic passing have superseded the desire to win.  Has the feeling of moral superiority and aesthetic beauty embodied by Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal become the new trophy?