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.

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?

     The regular season is a long, difficult slog, with the two-legged play in match and the round of group action moving on will add an additional 8 matches to a busy schedule packed full of cross time zone travel. Does either team need such a burden? Examine Toronto FC’s performance last year, prior to their playoff tie against CD Montagua (March 27th to July 26th), TFC played 21 matches in 121 days, averaging out to a match every 5.76 days, which included the 6 matches of the full NCC tournament, and a friendly against Bolton Wanderers. From that playoff tie to the end of the season (July 27th to October 23rd) Toronto played 22 matches in 88 days, once every 4 days. Such expanded fixture congestion when paired with the summer heat and the extraneous travel to such far flung destinations as Honduras, Panama, Salt Lake City, and Mexico City can ruin an otherwise positive season.

     The effect on TFC’s league performance and standing was drastic. In the first half of the schedule as described above, they collected 23 of a possible 48 points (6W-5L-5D), or 48%, not great, but when compared to the 29% (12 of 42 Points; 3W-8L-3D) in the second half, solid. Collecting the average of the whole season TFC collected 39% of possible points (35 of 90). The weakest seasons that still made the playoffs, San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids (the eventual winners) collected just 51% of their points (46 of 90 on offer). The first-place-in-the-East New York Red Bulls amassed only 57% (51 of 90), while the Supporters Shield winners, Los Angeles Galaxy, were the best team in the league with 66% (59 of 90 points). Granted TFC’s points haul was below the eventual playoff threshold at the midway point, but it also fell drastically upon their progression in the CONCACAF Champions League eliminating any chance of a post season berth.

     Is it an honour, note the proper spelling with a ‘u’, to be the Canadian Champions, it is empowering to parade the Voyageurs Cup in front of the home fans, to pay them back for their support, but the detrimental effect progression can have on league results is a heavy price to pay. Perhaps both teams can forego playoff qualification in the name of domestic and continental glory; perhaps that will assuage the eager baying of each clubs rabid fans, hungry for a modicum success, but in Toronto’s experience it does little to soothe the aching bellies of a starved audience. To victor go the spoils, or so it would seem, in this case spoiled go the victors seems more fitting.

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