TFC 2014

Winsome and Lonesome


Remember what this felt like?

Back from the Bye Week

This feels like a good moment to drop back into Better Red regularly again.

2014 has been a tricky season for me, as a weekly contributor. The past two campaigns had drained my will. My reserves of hope and faith were really low. The hype of off-season changes had me praying it wasn’t delusion before disappointment, again.

But the TFC of 2014 is most definitely a new team. Very much improved. And they could not have started better, with wins three out of the first four games. Half of last season’s total just like that. It was hard not to be giddy.

While they were healthy, Michael Bradley and Jermain Dafoe looked to be worth every penny spent on bringing them here. Julio Cesar too. I think Gilberto also will make an impact at some point soon.

Some injury problems tested the depth of the team early this year. Clearly less potent than the best 11, the B squad showed it deserves some respect. A win on the road was no small contribution.

Two sour losses later, in forms that looked familiar to TFC traditions (like a late game faltering goal), I feel we have reached some sobering reality about what lies ahead.

At a respectable 3 – 3, Toronto FC  have shown that the roster has the power to perform. Three losses merely prove that the Reds are still a new team with lots of ground to cover together as teammates.

If this team can stay healthy until the World Cup break in June, I think Toronto FC can remain a top contender in our conference. I know there are weak points in the depth of the roster, but they proved it isn’t as big a gap as many jaded and stung TFC fans had feared.

This team is looking winsome and also kind of lonesome.

TFC are a much better team for 2014. Michael Bradley alone is a force to be respected. I saw lots of envy in the league and the press that played up TFC’s early success. Even if our wins weren’t live demos of virtuosity, the team looked capable and dangerous.

With the early hype fading now, the Reds are going to find fans keen for a more solid bond. They need to prove to us that our swelling loyalties aren’t misplaced.

Lovely as Bradley and Dafoe are in our colours, past heartache is still so fresh. We need some consistency and success. When that happens, TFC fans are going to be bananas in-love with this team like never before.

Some not rotten weather would be nice this weekend. The wind is blowing New England Revolution into town. And they are ripe for the defeating. Rumour is that TFC might field their best 11 too.

I’m betting on a TFC victory.

And the Revs owe us a lot of these. (On account of their turf eating Danny Koeverman’s knee).

Foospaper | TFC 2014

Party Time Referee

TFC 2014

Starting Elevens?

Fantasy Formations

Now that all the big deals are official, I have been consumed with thoughts of how the new TFC will look on the pitch.

This is purely an exercise in day-dreaming. So, I am assuming that TFC figure out some way of keeping Señor Laba and Bright Dike in the roster. I am also assuming that the new roster may beg a change in formation from the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 that dominate in the MLS. Arguably, there is now enough depth and talent in the forward and midfield ranks to innovate. That said, the back line may not yet be ready to stray from those basics formations.

I would love to see Ryan Nelsen’s notebooks now.

Any votes for what we’re likely to see?




Dafoe                             Gilberto


De Rosario                        Laba/Osorio                        Bradley                                     Rey



Morgan                      Morrow / Henry                      Caldwell                             Bloom



Continue reading “Starting Elevens?” »

TFC 2014

2013’s Payne could be 2014’s Pleasure

TFC’s management hydra: “Leibatchenksen”

MLSE haters and TFC doubters, Timmy L has just gone “all-in” on 2014

Anyone who has lived in Toronto knows the whiney old tune. It gets sung year in and year out. The chorus has lasted a generation for fans of the Maple Leafs. It’s almost two decades now for the Raptors. And Toronto FC is closing in on a 10 bag of seasons too.

The song is the epic about the evil old Scrooges at MLSE who smugly reap monster profits and never care about their teams winning trophies. No doubt there is some truth to those verses. And maybe those greedy old suits are guilty of some of those charges.

Anyone with half a mind for business would know, however, that it’s totally ridiculous to accuse any corporation of not wanting winners in its stable. All of those teams and all of their ancillary products become ever more valuable with those victories.

It’s certainly understandable that fans would tire of the frustration and the futility. Those greedy suits sucking our pockets dry and shredding our loyal hearts are an easy target too. From the outside, it often seemed like the profiteer could be spending more on the substance of those teams in search of lasting success.

New corporate owners are in charge now. And a new leader has taken the MLSE helm. His mission is to make winners of all three teams.

In the case of Toronto FC, Tim Leiweke, MLSE’s new boss, has just dumped a big pile of chips on the table. The true price tag of acquiring Jermaine Dafoe and Michael Bradley are not yet public. They may never be, as the MLS likes to keep such details private.

There is no doubt Bradley and Dafoe are big steps up in terms of talent for TFC. The MLS is already winning with their decision to play in Toronto. Top talent joining the League will always be good publicity.

MLSE’s commitment to raising its stake in the game is commendable. To the players’ credit, it could not have been an easy decision to enlist for duty on a ship that has never really been seaworthy. Whopping sums must be involved.

Great as their reputations are, and popular as they may be with fans, these players are still unquantifiable contributions to the greater mission. Bradley and Dafoe remain unproven commodities for TFC until they can reliably deliver on the pitch.

Kudos to Leiweke, though. Toronto FC are certainly in their best position ever going into a new season. Only time will tell if these big bets will pay off.

TFC 2014

DE heRO or DEROgue?

Dwayne De Rosario

Welcome back to Malvern’s finest, and TFC’s still leading goal scorer.


Always the HeRo

Yes, he’s older. Yes, some unfortunate stuff  went down between the man and TFC last time around. Critics might call him ego driven or over the hill or even ungrateful. And yes, he could wash out this season without ever making a major contribution.

I just wouldn’t bet on that.

Dwayne De Rosario’s return to play in his hometown is unqualified good news for the Reds. That’s because there is one character trait DeRo has that will always be valuable:

DeRo is a big-game player.

He is the guy who makes something out of nothing. He’s the guy who rises to the occasion when it really counts. Among Toronto FC’s seven MLS seasons and dozens of rostered players, DeRo is the only one you can point to who ever brought that to the pitch.

The 2013 DC United team he played for was hampered by injuries, including his own, and was consistently horrible in running to a last place finish in the league. Nevertheless, DeRo lead that squad to win the US Open Cup. No surprise, really, those big games are his best.

In his first stint in TFC red, he was that hero. He brought the team up.

Last time, it sometimes seemed like he had to do it on his own. His teammates on the field and the management backing them really weren’t a high enough calibre. It could make him seem like a ball hog, and a ‘me-first’ kind of player. Though, that really seems unfair.

In San Jose and Houston, he also had a proven talent for serving up opportunities for other goal scorers. Maybe Brian Ching could offer some testimony there. 

Surely this year, with mounting expectations of Dafoe and Bradley, there will be games when injuries and tactics and morale are all flagging under the pressure. Those are the moments TFC will appreciate having DeRo around again.

As long as he’s healthy, DeRo will always show up when somebody needs to deliver. That alone, makes his return to TFC one of the best developments of this off-season.

Starting or coming off the bench, scoring or feeding others, DeRo is a guy you want on the field when the pressure is high and the competition is hot.

Dwayne – whatever hair design you show up with, whatever goal celebration you peacock, it’s good to have you back.