Toronto FC Archive

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Montagliani’s vision: A Canadian Division 1A that “coexists” with MLS, NASL

Victor Montagliani

Victor Montagliani

The second issue of Plastic Pitch, released today, features a 16-page section on Canada’s bid for the 2026 World Cup, with stories from five different writers.

(For those new to us, Plastic Pitch is our dedicated magazine for iPad, smartphones and Android readers — you can get either issue 1 or 2 or subscribe through iTunes, Newsstand, Google Play or Amazon, links at the bottom of the article)

But, there’s one part of that World Cup section that’s sure to get a lot of attention. And that’s the stated Canadian Soccer Association goal of an all-Canadian Division One — or “1A,” as CSA President Victor Montagliani called it in our interview.

Say it with me. An all-Canadian league. Division one, not two or three or four.

Over the last year, I’d heard whispers about the possibility of an all-Canadian Division One. But getting anyone to confirm that… well, that was the thing. It was like the Great White Whale. Now, it’s out there. Officially. The recognition that Canada needs its own league; that we can’t redefine our developmental pyramid unless a Canadian Division One — which puts the interest of Canadian soccer at the forefront — is at the top.
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Issue 2 of Plastic Pitch: An in-depth look at Canada’s 2026 World Cup bid

PPitch2_SUMMER_UNCORRECTEDAs we enjoy the current World Cup action from Brazil, Canadians can wonder what it would be like to host the world 12 years from now.

Can we afford it? How far are we into our bid for the 2026 World Cup? What kind of support exists from CONCACAF? And what would happen to all of the hard work that’s already gone into the bid if FIFA takes the 2022 World Cup away from Qatar and gives it to the United States?

The second issue of Plastic Pitch, out today, features a 16-page section on Canada’s bid for the World Cup. Get it today on iOS(CLICK HERE), Google Play(CLICK HERE) or Amazon(CLICK HERE). For current subscribers, just grab the new issue when you open the app.
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The anticlimactic final: Montreal wins Canadian title

trophyIf you were to review the finale of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship, you might liken it to the final season of Dexter. The bizarre final episode of Seinfeld.

Like so many TV series that don’t really know how to end on a high note, the final impression of this year’s tournament to determine Canada’s soccer champion will be remembered as the denouement, not the climax.

Montreal won Wednesday’s second leg of the final 1-0 at home, giving itself a 2-1 aggregate triumph over Toronto FC. The goal, from Felipe, came off a rebound from a Marco Di Vaio shot that had crashed off the crossbar. The goal came at the death, as TFC was pushing men forward, playing four natural attackers, in hopes of erasing that Impact away goal from the first leg.

But, despite TFC’s heavy artillery up front, finishing the game with Jermaine Defoe, Luke Moore, Gilberto and Dwayne De Rosario looking to score, the Reds rarely looked like they wanted to score. The real story was that it took 82 minutes for the match to come to life. TFC’s Jonathan Osorio cut across Impact defender Karl Ouimette, and lashed a low shot across keeper Evan Bush. The ball came off the post.
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2

Jekyll-and-Hyde Impact gets vital away goal in Toronto

Justin Mapp

Justin Mapp

If there’s one thing that this year’s Amway Canadian Championship has taught us — it’s that you can’t possibly figure out the Montreal Impact.

This teams goes from “off” to “on” so often, it’s like the soccer version of a strobe light. It’s not as if this team goes from good to bad from game to game; you see the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformations at least a few times per game.

The Impact got a positive result, a 1-1 draw against Toronto at BMO Field, in Wednesday’s first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final. But how the Impact got there was anything but straightforward.

For the entire first half, the Impact looked as if it was doing it’s best not to threaten Toronto’s goal. Yes, it was a bit of a shock to have Nelson Rivas come back from a lengthy injury spell, make his first touch in the second minute, shake his head, and then leave the field. But professionals need to recover and focus.
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5

The Issey Nakajima-Farran trade: The kind of transaction MLS needs to avoid if it wants to be a world-class league

On Wednesday, Issey Nakajima-Farran celebrated a Voyageurs' Cup win with keeper Joe Bendik. On Friday, he was traded. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/BOB FRID

On Wednesday, Issey Nakajima-Farran celebrated a Voyageurs’ Cup win with keeper Joe Bendik. On Friday, he was traded. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/BOB FRID

It wasn’t a trade that would go down as one of the biggest transactions in MLS history, in terms of on-the-field pieces.

On Friday, Toronto FC sent Canadian national team veteran Issey Nakajima-Farran to the Montreal Impact for Collen Warner. Some allocation money was involved. Outside of the fact the Nakajima-Farran has been in and out of the national side of late, the news wouldn’t be making anyone imagine new glories for the two football clubs involved.

But, in terms of how MLS is seen, and how it wants to be seen, this is a prime example of how the league must change if it truly wants to be one of the world’s best by 2020.
Nakajima-Farran, a player who has spent most of his career abroad, came to Toronto FC just after the start of the current season. He scored some goals. He was still in the process of getting settled and, less than two months after first donning the TFC shirt, he was told he was getting traded.

Sure, no big deal, right? Trades happen all the time. It could happen to an NHLer or an NBA rookie or a baseball veteran.

But, that’s the issue. If MLS wants to attract talent from abroad to boost the league, it must eventually understand that strictly following North American practises — such as trading a player just a few weeks after he’s been offered a contract — don’t sit well in the global soccer marketplace. MLS must compete for talent with leagues that regularly pay for their players’ accommodations and transportation, and who guarantee a player will be settled for the length of his contract. If a player is to be sold, his agent is consulted. There are no surprises like showing up for training to find out you need to relocate to another city — and can you make the next flight?

Nakajima-Farran took to Twitter right after the trade and put the hashtag #inhumane right next to MLS. He told his followers that he has to leave Toronto, even before his stuff arrives from Spain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fixture clash: Floro looking to add two MLS players to Canada’s roster for May friendlies

Benito Floro

Benito Floro

Canadian men’s national team coach Benito Floro is hopeful that he can negotiate the releases of a couple of MLS-based players for a pair of upcoming friendlies.

Floro said Thursday that going with an entirely European-based lineup for an upcoming camp in Austria — with friendlies against Bulgaria (May 23) and Moldova (May 27) — would leave the team short in two positions.

“I would need two MLS players for the two positions,” said Floro. “But we will have to depend on the MLS clubs if they will release them or not.”’
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New Voyageurs’ Cup sked: For NASL teams, short-term pain for long-term gain

PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/Bob Frid

PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/Bob Frid

If you’re a fan of FC Edmonton or Ottawa Fury, the Canadian Soccer Association’s announcement of the coming scheduling changes to the Voyageurs’ Cup may have you slightly perturbed. Or angry. Or furious.

That’s because, to accommodate the change to a new summer schedule for the Voyageurs’ Cup, no NASL team will be able to try and qualify for the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League.

But you shouldn’t be angry. Anything but. Really, the new scenario is the best thing the NASL teams could have asked for.

OK, let’s backtrack to the announcement made earlier Friday. To try and make more the Amway Canadian Championship — which has been plagued by poor ratings and terrible gates as it went head-to-head with the NHL playoffs — more fan-friendly, the CSA is moving the tournament to the summer, starting next year.

This year’s tournament, which begins April 23 with the first of a play-in two-game series between FC Edmonton and Ottawa, will go ahead as normal. The winner of the five-team tourney gets the Canadian spot in the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League.
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1

Impact loses control of playoff fate after season-ending loss in Toronto

Hassoun Camara

Hassoun Camara

The Montreal Impact’s players have a long day of scoreboard-watching ahead of them on Sunday and they have only themselves to blame. The Impact lost its last chance to control ots postseason fate, dropping a 1-0 result to Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday in both teams’ regular-season finales.

A win would’ve clinched third place in the Eastern Conference and allowed Montreal to avoid the knockout game between the fourth and fifth-place teams. Now, however, the Impact would happily take that all-or-nothing game since third place will be tough to manage.

“We’re disappointed today because everyone knows it was a big game for us… It’s hard to deal with that. It’s done now, all we have to do is wait tomorrow and see what will happen,” defender Hassoun Camara said.

The urgency of Montreal’s situation wasn’t apparent by how the Impact began the game. The lacklustre attack generated only five shots in the first half, none on goal and none of real danger save for an Andrew Wenger header that went reasonably close to the far post.
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3

Controversial penalty decision gives Fire the win over TFC, tightens playoff race

Mike Magee

Mike Magee

By losing in Chicago Saturday night by a 1-0 scoreline, Toronto FC has added a layer of drama to the final week of the season.

Mike Magee’s penalty-kick goal followed a controversial penalty decision. His 20th marker of the season put the Chicago Fire forward into a tie with the Impact’s Marco Di Vaio atop the MLS scoring race.

The Fire tied the Impact for third in the East, at 49 points. Each has a game to play. New England is a point back with one match left. Houston is also a point back, but has two games left. Philadelphia, in seventh, is three points back.

And, the Impact finishes the season next week in Toronto. So, you could argue that, by losing to Chicago on the same night the Blackhawks bested the Leafs (the Windy City really had its way with MLSE on Saturday, didn’t it?), Toronto FC actually put just that much more pressure on the Impact ahead of next weekend’s clash at BMO Field.

Magee scored after a penalty was awarded on a play that might remind some of the infamous 2012 Olympic women’s soccer semifinal between the United States and Canada. Back in 2012, it was an American free kick which struck Canadian defender Marie-Eve Nault on the arm inside the box, though it certainly didn’t look like she knew much about it, or that the arm/hand played the ball.
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1

Oh, so we’re talking about an MLS winter schedule again? Will it ever go away?

MLS-logoBack in 2010, just before MLS Cup kicked off in Toronto, league commissioner Don Garber addressed a packed media gallery.

And he talked about MLS going to a winter schedule.

“We’ve got to take the steps to figure it out,” said Garber. (CLICK HERE FOR THAT STORY)

Being in the media room at the time, and talking to soccer reporters from across North America, this was the gut feeling: That, as the United States was bidding for the World Cup at the time, the offer to go to a winter schedule wasn’t a serious one. The consensus was that Garber’s pre-MLS Cup presser was a bit of a dog-and-pony show in order to show FIFA that MLS was at least thinking about being a good international-calendar lapdog, which would, in turn, help the World Cup bid.

Of course, we all know how well that U.S. World Cup bid turned out. Qatar 2022!

So, when news hit Monday (again, sigh) that MLS might look at a winter schedule (courtesy the New York Daily News), a charge that the league denied in Philly.com, I couldn’t help but feel that this was a lot like November, 2010 all over again.

How so? MLS sees its story get out there about a winter schedule. It gets shouted down by its fans (as was the case last time) and we all go back to our normal March-December soccer lives. Once again, MLS can tell the rest of the world, “hey, we tried.”
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