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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Quick Glimpse – Canadian Notes on Will Johnson, Gershon Koffie, TFC Kit Launch and the U-20’s

Notes on Will Johnson, Gershon Koffie, the TFC Kit Launch and the U-20 Loss to the USA

    Will Johnson appears set to be named the captain of his new club, the Portland Timbers, mere months after having joined the side.

    It comes as no surprise, to those who have followed his career, that the determined young man is a perfect fit for what will be a very hard-working side under the employ of new coach Caleb Porter.

    Tracking their progress through the preseason, Johnson has been a vocal presence both off and on the field, having continued to mature through his time with recent perennial contenders Salt Lake.

    For folks in Toronto, already interested in the fortunes of popular former Reds, Milos Kocic and Ryan Johnson, traded to Portland in the offseason, this new development makes following the Timbers’ results even more pertinent.

     Without doubt, in the near future, Johnson – Will, that is – will likely captain both club and country.

    Vancouver’s Gershon Koffie has received permanent residency status in Canada, will no longer count as an International on their roster, and has expressed some interest in playing for his adopted nation’s national team.

    It’s always difficult to wade through the – gentle – pandering to get to the core of a few quotes, but if this is an actual possibility, Canada fans should be very excited. Just don’t hold you’re breath.

    Koffie is one of the more promising young players in the league, having grown from a largely defensive role in 2011 to a more dynamic box-to-box force in his second season in MLS.

    Deft on the ball, powerful in the tackle, versatile in the midfield, while still adding late runs into the box and attempts from distance to his ever-expanding game.

    That game is reminiscent of a certain Atiba Hutchinson, a name that resonates warmly amongst the Canadian soccer community.

    Toronto FC held their Kit Launch Party at the Berkeley Church last night, unveiling the jersey they will wear for the 2013 season, introduction the brain-trust and players to those in attendance.

    Kevin Payne was a natural speaker in front of the group and did not let any hint of negativity dampen his enthusiasm for the coming season.

    Ryan Nelsen was a little more softly-spoken than expected - to say nervous would be a poor word choice - looking every bit a recent footballer, as opposed to a weighed-upon coach.

     There was something reassuring in the humility with which he approached the group, and if he carries that trait into the day-to-day activities, there will be success in his future.

    Though it is yet to have been officially announced, Hogan Ephraim and Taylor Morgan were introduced as “the newest members of the squad” and were on stage in uniform with the rest of the official roster.

    Note: Ephraim’s acquisition on loan from QPR was just announced at the time of writing.

    Several of the trialists were on hand as well, looking a little out of place, but taking in the atmosphere nonetheless.

    Also, in breaking news, Terry Dunfield is an amazingly nice guy. If one is not a fan of the man there is something seriously wrong.

    There are very few expectations heading into this season, but one can’t help but feel a little better after seeing the positivity exuded by the group.

    Hopefully it will last, and that Red Thread, will not be too easily unraveled.

    While the Canadian U-20 National Team’s 4-2 loss to the USA in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Championship ends their dream of the World Cup in Turkey and was disappointing, especially the manner in which the defense crumbled when Doneil Henry was forced off with an apparent hamstring strain, there were several bright spots to pick out.

    Samuel Piette, though at times a little unsure of his role in the midfield, showed glimpses of what he could become – speaking of future national team captains; whoa, slow down.

His two strikes were absolutely marvelous pieces of play; well-hit balls, calmly stroked high into the net; words fail in attempt to describe the emotion that those beauties stirred in the hardened-hearts of long-time Canadian observers.

     Some very technical flair from Montreal’s Zakaria Messoudi and the infamous Keven Aleman in the middle of the park were encouraging, though both will need to be more measured in their application of those skills.

    Caleb Clarke’s goal-scoring prowess was impressive in the Nicaragua match, while Stefan Vukovic’s poaching ability nearly sparked a comeback against the Cubans.

    Perhaps most important of all, the group, headed by up-and-coming domestic coach, Nick Dasovic, displayed a unity and a joyfulness that has too often been lacking in the national side.

    Winning becomes culture, but if the wins elude, at least face the challenge as a group; after that comes success.

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