Once one stops learning that is when we start to decline. Over the seasons it has seemed like TFC has changed, sometimes little by little for the better. But at the end of the day the organization has failed to learn. After the new year I usually look around at my svelte and successful friends in jealousy. Once the envy passes I make my new years resolutions, looking to be as fit and successful as my friends and neighbours. Passing on this jealous form of resolution making to Toronto FC here are some resolution that TFC can take away from our neighbours down the 401 and up the 416.
This past season Ottawa Fury FC reached the NASL final. In order to play in the final, the club implemented certain philosophies that made the team more stable. The first step that the club took in order to achieve success was the recruitment of Canadian players and coaches. Bringing in Canadian players and coaches allowed the club to gain a connection with the fans while simultaneously helping the game of soccer in Canada.
Soccer in the lower North American leagues is a more desperate game. What I mean by that is since the contacts in leagues like the NASL and USL are short term, teams have to adopt a win now mentality. With the Ottawa Fury operating in a system where players only stay for 1 or 2 years. This means that only the best available players get signed. Canadian soccer players are not considered the best but they also don't get a chance to play in order to become the best.
Luckily, the Fury avoided the status quo and decided to sign Canadian players to their roster. The club brought up Carl Haworth from the successful Fury PDL team into the NASL team. Ottawa Fury also brought in other Canadians like Mason Trafford, Mauro Eustaqio in the clubs inaugural season. Other Canadian players on the Fury squad are back up goalkeepers Marcel DeBellis and Waleed Cassis. In the second season, the Capital club bound together the whole roster with the signing of CMNT captain and midfield maestro Julian De Guzman affirming the clubs Canadian status.
Nowadays, it seems like the Canadian national team is gradually getting stronger. Eventually in order to truly grow the game Canada will need good Canadian coaches. Ottawa Fury also contributed to that by bringing in a mostly Canadian staff: led by the Montreal born brothers Marc and Phil Dos Santos and a former Canadian international Martin Nash, the Ottawa Fury FC really developed a Canadian identity.
For some of the largest clubs in the world a tactical philosophy or a playing style is ingrained in the DNA of the club. Marc Dos Santos decided to adopt a counter attacking 4-3-3 formation as the clubs philosophy. Every player was taught the playing style and a learned their role. For example, in the Fury formation whenever a player drops out the substitute knows the system so well that they can fill in quite easily.
During the last NASL season the Ottawa Fury lost players through injury and through international call ups, an issue that exists with every team. So what they did is teach the backup players how to come into the starting XI. A soccer season is a long and gruelling one. It takes more than eleven players to be successful. Luckily Fury's back five played almost every minute of the season, but there was a lot of rotation in midfield and in attack. No matter the personnel on the field, the approach to each game was the same.
Toronto FC lost a lot of players to injury and to international call ups. Yet Greg Vanney seemed have to alternate his lineups based on a random whim. Obviously it is very hard to replace players like Giovinco and Bradley in the starting XI but plans have to be made. Toronto FC has some international calibre players who will miss weeks upon weeks at a time during the season. Other players will get injured as the MLS season is always full of casualties. If Vanney wants to lead Toronto FC a little deeper into the post season he will have to find and teach his squad players how to come in and make an impact in the first XI.
Now most importantly after getting a philosophy in place, clubs must stick by the philosophy. Recently Ottawa Fury FC had a major exodus of players and staff. Marc Dos Santos and a few starting players were lost to other teams in the USL and the NASL. The ownership group of the Ottawa Fury FC brought in a replacement head coach in Paul Dalglish the son of Liverpool FC great Kenny Dalglish. Even though Paul Dalglish lost a lot of players he has stated that he will keep by the clubs main philosophy of recruiting Canadian players.
Like any new years resolution just coming up with one is not enough. Sticking by it is what matters. If Toronto FC wants to succeed it needs to figure out its resolutions and keep by them no matter who is working or playing for the club. Perhaps being jealous of our neighbours and friends is not so bad. Sometimes they can make us become better people. Hopefully with Ottawa Fury FC's success last year Toronto FC will strive for the better.