Another game, another shot at one of the few teams Toronto FC has actually beaten this season in Sporting Kansas City. Remember back in March, the first 'home' game under the latest new regime. 2 goals from the seemingly lethal Robert Earnshaw and an exciting outing from John Bostock allowed for a bit of hope that maybe Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen were going to hit the ground running and finally give Toronto's long suffering fans a team to be proud of. At the very least it seemed we finally had settled on a man with experience and previous success in the GM position, signalling stability at least in that position for a few years right? The last time we'd have to totally start again right?
Here we are again, same opposition, same situation, embarking on another new plan. Tim Bezbatchenko was announced earlier today as TFC's new GM. Experience not required, we'll go with someone doing the job for the first time, that'll work, what was that Peddie quote? A nice little job for him to learn some stuff by. Yeah, that sounds about right. Judging by his previous experience as a contracts guy with MLS and what was detailed at the major announcement, he won't be having a major say in the direction of the club as some had hoped, instead this is now very much Ryan Nelsen's team, along with a couple of big signings from Tim Leiweke. More details about that were given out in a Supporters Group meeting on Thursday night, apparently two players, roughly 30-31 years old, one from Serie A, one from the EPL, both of them probably not getting to Toronto until after the World Cup, ie halfway through the 2014 season.
So, #preseason2015 it is, once again it's all about selling hope for the future rather than focusing on what's happening now. We're going to be frightening, don't you worry your little heads about the fact that we're currently as terrifying as a de-clawed kitten.
Might as well take my cue from above then, not too much point in trying to really analyse this game, but there's a couple of things that give it some kind of meaning for TFC. A point will take them above last year's total, but 3 points would be needed to catch up to a suddenly disappearing Chivas USA for 17th place, to slightly weaken Vancouver's draft position.
Are either of those results likely? Maybe, though it might depend on which players are unavailable. Is Richard Eckersley fit again, or will we get to see if Mark Bloom can build on a more or less positive first game in New York. Is Robert Earnshaw fit again, if not is Bright Dike ready to start, or is it Justin Braun up front? It's a bit alarming that Andrew Wiedeman seems to be a guaranteed starter right now, but there we are. The other concern is of course Jonathan Osorio, will he be suspended for his inadvertent/sinister (delete as appropriate) smashing of the ball into Kosuke Kimura's face? As of the time of writing the Disciplinary committee hadn't announced any kind of ruling, who knows when they will, but if he's out, then TFC's creativity gets even lower.
I'm not expecting much at all, but a morbid sense of obligation and curiosity means I'll be there, and hey, here's another reason that might convince you. The Supporters Shield is going on tour around the league and is in Toronto this weekend (insert only time we'll ever see it in Toronto joke here), it will be at Shoeless Joes before the game from 1:00 to 3:00, roughly, here's the full details via the Red Patch Boys.
Over the past year, supporter groups from across Major League Soccer worked together to fund, design and deliver a new Supporters' Shield to replace the previous trophy. The shield is given to the team who has the most points at the end of the regular season. To celebrate the hard work and combined contribution from supporters across the league, a "Tour of the Shield" was set up to ensure it visited every club during the 2013 season.
This coming Saturday, the Supporters' Shield will be in town and we'd like to invite all TFC supporters to come down to see the shield and celebrate the hard work of supporters across the league. We will have the shield with us at Shoeless Joe's (1181 King Street West) starting at 1:00PM to approximately 3:00PM for supporters and fans to see it and even take their picture with it.
The shield was funded independently by supporters across the league (contributions from all groups involved in its creation). In order to help cover these costs and the ongoing maintenance, a limited amount of scarves have been created and will be available for purchase at Shoeless Joe's.The scarves will be sold for $20 each and all proceeds will go towards the shield itself. For more details on the the shield and the tour please visit the Supporters' Shield Foundation website here: http://supportersshield.org/
The shield is a direct result of the cooperation of the Independent Supporters Council; for information about the council please visit their website here: http://independentsupporterscouncil.com/
Finally the new Supporters' Shield shares a strong connection with Toronto as it was designed, built and brought to a realization by members of our very own Red Patch Boys.
Also, it'd be overly cynical of me to not mention that TFC are setting up donation boxes/bins/whatever at gates 1 and 3 where you can donate 'lightly used soccer equipment' to Play It Forward to support Second Kicks, who distribute it to needy communities throughout Canada and the World, which is a genuinely good cause, more details of what they do here, well done to TFC for helping them out.
So there we go, a 1,000 word 'preview' with 2 paragraphs looking at the actual game. That seems about right.