We know you're probably inundated with a lot of impossible requests these days, and I'm sure our collective wishes are probably along those lines. But we've been pretty good this year (being one of the top MLS blogs on SBNation should qualify us, right?), so we hope that you can find it in your dear old heart to help us fulfill them.
First off, the opening three games are looking mighty rough. An opener in Vancouver against the Whitecaps, then inside the Skydome against Sporting KC, and then Olympic Stadium against the Impact -- three back to back games on artificial turf. It's enough to make us upchuck our rice pudding, given the age of some of our players. Remember last year when we lost Torsten for six weeks to the CenturyLink Field in Seattle, and then Danny to Gillette Stadium in New England? Let's just say Dave's hoping that the Reds can survive intact through all three of those games. Both of those injuries were major turning points for the worse last season, and we'd appreciate it if that didn't happen again.
One thing's for sure -- that would lead to a lot more roster stability. which is what Kristin is looking for. It's not pretty seeing players always being played out of position, either for kicks or out of sheer necessity to cover up holes. For one, the constant experimentation at centre back. This year alone, after the departure of the terrible Aceval -- if it wasn't Eckersley one week, it'd be O'Dea another. Then it could be Morgan a third and then Henry in a fourth, and so on...heck, who HASN'T been tried out at centre back, other than the 'keepers? This constant experimentation has to stop. Is it so hard for us to have our players play where they are best at, rather than having them play out of their places, and causing more headaches and heartbreak -- or at the very least, less mental errors leading to goals being scored against us?
And speaking of stability, we sure wouldn't mind a bit less off-pitch drama. For the past six seasons it's been nothing but negativity -- every time a player has left Toronto, be they Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario, or even Aron Winter there's always some sort of gripe they have with other TFC players, or with the organization as a whole. It's been a never-ending game of "He Said, He Said, No I Didn't, Yes You Did, Shut Up" for these past few years, and as a whole -- we're sick and tired of it. Maybe the hiring of Kevin Payne to head things up as president will help with accountability (and perhaps give us a convenient target when things go sour again -- but let's not go there), but all we want is just less off-pitch drama. No more cheque signings, no more on-air arguments. It's embarrassing to say the least.
Maybe, just maybe -- that bit of stability and a bit more unity (remember that old saying, "All for One"? Oh wait, that's on the collar of our shirts), could potentially mean we're going to get some meaningful games near the end of the season? Maybe it would be a tall order to ask for anything other than another Canadian Championship (although a fifth would be very nice -- John wouldn't mind seeing that), but to be able to not see another 0-and-9 start to a season, or a long 500-plus minute goal drought, or just not another ignominious record set -- and for once, actually have the group of games played after Labour Day somehow matter in our immediate fate, and not for how high we'll be in the upcoming SuperDraft. We're not expecting or asking for playoffs on the first go-around, but as long as we can still be in the mix and not be drifting farther and farther away, it would mean oh so much.
But most of all, there is just one wish that we are unanimous on, and the one we want the most (especially Duncan) -- and that is a modicum of respectability, served with a side of restored optimism. With one comes the other, and if you grant none of our other wishes -- please make it this one that you grant. For too long, this team has been on the wrong end of the punchline. Players come and players go and succeed elsewhere, and then spout all of their baggage when they land in those place -- some of them do end up flat on their faces (JDG), but we want the cycle of being perpetual joke fodder to end. Or failing that, something (no matter how minor), that we can lift our heads up high on, something to be optimistic about for once.
Yes, we know the future is bright with Luis Silva, Morgan, Henry, and now Agbossoumonde -- but for a long-suffering group that's been deadened to disappointment, any jolt of energy to jump start our passions once again would do wonders. We're not asking for a quick fix, just some sort of positive sign. None of us know what it could be -- but for our sake, we need that positive sign. Maybe it is finally some positive signs in that centre back situation, or maybe we safely navigate through those treacherous first three games with no major injuries that cause our season to go south. Anything, ANYTHING AT ALL that won't end up with us being the butt of the joke, I'm sure we'll be very grateful for.
Well, that's all we're looking for this Christmas from TFC. There's a few other things we're looking for individually, but hey...one thing at a time, right?
(Duncan, Dave, Kristin and John)
P. S. - I don't mean to pry, but whatever you've neglected to bring on Duncan's list before, please try to get it. He's rather cross at you. Oh, and John would like to NOT be lonely at New Years' again.