History- My MLS Journey Continues

I’m now two weeks into my Major League Soccer journey and to be perfectly honest I feel cheated. I turned to MLS to watch some dull average football and I was reliably informed that my choice of team (Toronto FC) had been a safe one. Wrong. I witnessed my first full MLS game last night and all my presumptions and preconceptions were just that. Toronto, bottom at the start of play were away from home against top of the Eastern Conference table Columbus Crew. The Reds outplayed, outfought and most importantly outscored their fierce rivals in their own backyard, beating Columbus for the first time in their brief history.

I was expecting to see at least some negative tactics from Toronto but they came out passing the ball brilliantly and looking to get forward whenever possible. De Guzman completely ran the midfield and twenty year old Ashtone Morgan looked composed and assured. Toronto controlled the game from start to finish ending up 4-2 winners and few could blame Reds fans for getting carried away. One thing Major League Soccer teams unquestionably don’t have is a history. How could they? Most are no more than 16 years old and Toronto of course were founded just five years ago. That is why moments like Toronto’s victory over Columbus are so important for the club and for the league. I have come to realise that more so than in England, Spain or Italy the current crop of MLS players are making their own history. In twenty years time Toronto Fans can tell their children about Danny Koeverman’s breakaway goal to secure our first ever victory against Columbus Crew. I think the leagues lack of history is one of the reason European’s dismiss it so readily. However if you don’t have history all you can do is make it, and that is what players and clubs are doing. For me that is the most exciting thing about my decision to follow Major League Soccer; the chance to watch history being made.

Saying all of this I can’t of course write an article without having a moan. I had to chuckle despairingly when I noticed that only 4 of the 11 starters who faced San Jose Earthquakes had played more than 8 games for Toronto. And when you hear that 38 different players have appeared for Toronto this season it goes without saying such inconsistency will damage their (admittedly already below average) performances so far this season. How can any team have a half decent season when every time a player hints at showing any promise he is traded for two or three distinctly more average players.  In fact I have been put off buying a shirt in case while they are printing Nick Soolsma’s name on the back he moves to DC United. I would argue the trading system favours the bigger MLS teams, if a player gets wind of a bigger club wanting him the likelihood is he will go. Yes you get a player or players in return but the chemistry of your team is completely different. As an outsider watching in, I can’t see the sense in it.

Finally it has been pointed out to me by a few individuals that there may have been geographical errors on my part, and it is conceivable that Toronto FC are perhaps not my local MLS side. However, the colour red now runs through my veins. I dream about Danny Dichio’s (scrappy) goal exactly 24 minutes into every night’s sleep. Would I switch allegiance to another extraordinarily mediocre MLS team? I would rather die, or at least break a bone or two. There is no question now that I am TFC through and through, I even have a novelty mug that proves it.



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10 responses to “History- My MLS Journey Continues

  1. I think I have a problem with the Eastern Conference. There’s some basic things like the fact that the league table (or standings as they are called) has the points scored in the furthest left column leaving goal difference dangling on the right hand side. It takes a moment to realise that WDL is replaced by WLT (T is for tie). Having to face this after fixtures which are played on mm/dd/yy dates in a game called soccer is all a bit too much really for me. And then, we have the ‘surnames’ of the teams – Revolution (as in New England Revolution), Fire (as in Chicago Fire) and Bulls (as in New York Red Bulls). There’s an European flavour too as we find Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City – not quite the same ring of excitement as Dinamo Bucharest or, for that matter, Loughborough Dynamo. And, what’s more, how dare Sporting Kansas City think they are the same as the mighty Sporting Lisbon. There is, of course, the obligatory United and City, but fair play to you, Sir, for suppporting a team with no ‘surname’ – just plain old Toronto FC. I expect Toronto FC will one day will qualify for the Europa League and play endless games against teams from Greenland, Falkland Islands and Guatemala. Rock on TFC.

    • Many MLS fans bemoan the often cheesy surnames that plague many of the clubs but others embrace it. Surnames are a part of all north american sports so its no surprised MLS adopted the idea to make the game appeal to the larger American audience. Many of the clubs (like the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers) have been around in some form for 30+ years so the name is part of their history. Over time though, I think you will see teams move towards dropping the surnames. Before the start of this season, the Kansas City Wizards rebranded themselves as Sporting KC. As a side, I think its ridiculous that clubs try to use non English naming styles for an English League. “Sporting” KC, “Real” Salt Lake or even “FC” Dallas as opposed to Dallas FC. That’s just the nature of the sport here. Most casual North American fans (and commentators) can comprehend a club being named just for its city. I even heard an announcer in a Toronto FC match refer to Toronto as “FC” as if it was their surname. (Btw, the commentating in the league is by far its worst quality).

      To be fair, most European clubs have nicknames (Red Devils, Blues, Spurs, Baggies, Black Cats) that just don’t appear as surnames

      • That’s exactly it – North American teams tend to have their nickname as part of their name. At least, there are no teams with ampersands in their name – they are growing band in England. I’ve never liked teams with ampersands in their names – it reveals a shotgun wedding at some point in their history.

  2. Borga

    Bleed red, piss yellow. Eat it, Columbus!

  3. TFC OZZ

    I was one of the first 100 TFC season-ticket holders before the team had chosen their name or even built a stadium, and I gotta tell you that the way you speak about this team just makes me believe that you’re just as passionate for the club as I am. Great posts, keep ’em comin!

  4. Yohan

    Jimmy, you picked helluva time to support the Reds. You know you’re a TFC supporter when you start describing the team using ‘our’ instead of other pronouns.

    Re: MLS trade system
    Trade system within MLS does not favour ‘bigger’ teams in MLS. (parity ensures that no team is really a ‘bigger’ team) In fact, I’d argue that a trade system gives teams more control over players, so you don’t get a lot of player whining like you get in Europe. Because of restrictive salary cap, a player can’t just go to another club for a bigger wage; there has to be an interested team with big enough salary cap first. (there are some exception cases, like how Dwayne DeRosario basically forced Houston to trade him to Toronto)
    So a player might want to play for LA or NY. But in reality, most MLS players are just happy to have a job.

    Re: TFC roster turnover
    Don’t sweat too much over TFC roster turnover this year. Yeah, the numbers are ridiculous, but Winter and Paul Mariner exercised their muscle to kick out players who aren’t good enough, and who won’t play for Winter. So a lot of junk from previous years got let go. I expect the roster to more or less settled going into next year, with couple of fringe players leaving and few others (please a stud CB and a good AM) in the off season.

    On to Pumas game on Wed!

    • TFCRegina

      RE: DDR and Houston

      The league actually had more of a hand in that than DDR.

      DDR wanted to go, but the league felt that he had been a huge servant to MLS in the past (4 MLS Cups for the Dynamo and Earthquakes, plus multiple MVP performances) and that he could make a huge impact in Toronto. So, MLS essentially said they had to trade him.

      The rest was just making sure Houston was adequately compensated for their loss.

  5. Love the blog Jimmy. One more thing you didn’t mention regarding history. I’m not sure if you forgot or didn’t know, but Columbus and Toronto already have a history, In fact, Toronto had 2,500 supporters at Columbus’s first game in Crew Stadium. Their matches every year are now known as the the Trillium Cup, after official flower of the state of Ohio and coincidentally the official flower of the province of Ontario. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trillium_Cup

  6. Great blog Jimmy. Love to see your already willing to bleed Red. If you think the trade system is a little odd, take a gander at the MLS Transfer system.

    The articles are a little dated but a great read. Some of the goodies of the system include roster spots, allocation money, DP’s and the special “list” for returning USMNT players.

    Also, I’m not sure if you’ve come across this yet but the league just recently put together an Almanc highlighting its (brief) history. It gives a great perspective on where the league was even five years ago and where its going. http://www.mlssoccer.com/soccer-almanac

    I’ll also second Yohan’s comments. As I’m sure you’ve found (or will find) in your TFC research, the club has had a revolving door of coaches and players over its first five years. Aron Winter and Paul Mariner came in this year with a proper long term vision for the club but first needed to move players that would fit the system. I think you’ll see a lot more stability in the club’s roster next year and hopefully better results with that stability.

  7. Weusc Chris

    from one of the many who joined early and have bled red for the last 5 years, don’t get too comfortable with that sweet feeling after 90 minutes of solid play and a W. this team has a way of putting the bitter back into the sweet. i would rather avoid that kick-in-the-nuts feeling that comes with a late game give away, but this team has been addicted to such things this season (or forever?). disappointment has a way of finding us.
    welcome aboard and pass the tums.

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