I was hoping to not have to address this topic again for at least another couple of seasons - you know after the team had (hopefully) righted itself and was a competitive, fun team to watch. Instead I find myself revisiting words I wrote last year in regards to the Liverpool friendly. I could just let that post stand and swap out AS Roma for Liverpool and change the dates but no, I feel there are still things to say.
In the worst kept secret since Frings' retirement, the news leaked last night on twitter and via John Molinaro, that Wednesday's "TFC Special Announcement" will indeed be that Seria A's AS Roma is going to travel north to Toronto after the MLS All-Star game for a friendly against our Reds on August 7th. Joyous.
I realize that there are those that are excited about this game - that see it as a chance for underused and young players to get minutes, showcase TFC to a wider audience and bring new fans to Toronto FC. They will argue that TFC has nothing to work towards this year - no playoffs, no CCL - so why not play this game?
Why not? Here's why not:
- Depth - Or lack thereof really. TFC does not boast quality depth as anyone that has watched even 10 minutes of a Toronto game this season can easily see that with the exception of the midfield this is not yet a team that easily bounces back from losing key players to injury. We still see it every week with Ryan Richter (as one example) at RB - if both he and Ecks are out who steps in? Darel Russell? *crickets*
- Gold Cup - This relates directly to the above depth concern. With the Gold Cup ending a mere week before this 'game', Toronto will have several players readjusting to club play/dealing with injuries/dealing with fatigue - etc, etc.
- Schedule - So not only is this 'game' a week after the Gold Cup, it's smack in the middle of two league games. So that means 3 games in 7 days - why that's not taxing at all!
- New Fans - Ha! Seriously - show me when any friendly that TFC has played since its inception has so dazzled a fan of the other team that they rushed out and bought tickets to the next TFC match. Or to any TFC match. Sorry to the handful of you that were so charmed by our Reds after watching a friendly that you did indeed start coming to matches; but the vast majority? This does nothing - I repeat nothing to bring new fans to the our team or to MLS.
- Split priorities by TFC Management - Instead of seeking to bring us something "special" by setting up these mid-season friendlies, how about staying focussed on building the club? That's the kind of specialness I can get behind. This is not a distraction that the club needs - not for any reason. Until this is a stable, competitive club ALL of management's focus should be on building that club - not in arranging shiny, pointless distractions.
All in all this is another case of insulting the fanbase - no one is clamouring for a friendly - no one. I can't recall a single person I know that follows this club lamenting the lack of friendlies. Was there a secret vote to which we were not made aware? What we do lament is the ongoing state of our club. With small signs of improvement being shown so far in the month of June why pull the focus of the team and the players from continuing on that path?
In case you hadn't figured it out I will not be attending this or any other future mid-season friendly - especially in the middle of league play - to further line the pockets of the owners or to support such shiny distractions. For some other well written words on this topic please visit our friends The Yorkies for not one, but two excellent bits of writing on this latest round of foolishness. And then vote in our poll - will you be attending the friendly?