Let’s start with the good news — Toronto FC won that wide-open, end to end goal fest that was Friday’s home fixture against Minnesota United. Pozuelo Pozuelo’d. Super-sub JHams went and bagged himself a brace. The new Parley x Adidas x MLS kits looked super-sharp, if insanely overpriced at $100+ and deliberately understocked to all but ensure fist-a-cuffs at team stores from sea to shining sea.
The new hybrid SISGrass pitch looks SICK. By all accounts it seems like it played as well as it looks.
Snazzy. Covered the good column with word-count to spare.
Moving on to the bad news ...
i) I wasn’t there, on account of ‘family’, and ‘holidays’, and all that ‘life’ stuff that gets in the way of proper soccer fandom. Even worse, I had to share what little TV time I had with a family of rabid Leafs fans. So yes, I wasn’t part of the rain-soaked cheer-fest and my FOMO meter is high.
ii) Even on the TeeVee, perhaps especially so- it’s become crystal-clear that our defense is in some woeful shape. We are quickly getting found out around the league. Ciman is beyond rusty, Mavinga has regressed, and Moor is made of glass. Moor to the point (ahahaha), our man Drew seems to be the only defensively-minded player on our entire first-team roster. TFC 2019 have a backline of wannabe attackers, and it shows. We can surely get far on the strength of our attack, but we aren’t going toe to toe with the elite teams in MLS until we adopt a more nuanced game plan then “you score 3, we’ll score 5”.
iii) Nothing puts a damper on an already damp win like a bit of good old insubordination. After subbing out late with some “hamstring tightness”, TFC God Josmer Volmy “Jozy” Altidore went all knee-jerk and turned the post-game press-scrum into the set of the Jerry Springer show, dropping some serious bombs and beefing with his boss, club president Bill Manning. Charlie gave us the full transcript here, and was nice enough to also include the full transcript of the star turn by Captain Michael Bradley on damage control, he himself not immune to blowing his stack on the regular.
We’ve been holding our collective breaths at WTR HQ with respect to Jozy and his health. After all, we have WTR’s resident doctor, Tej Sahota, and his prognosis for Jozy’s future wasn’t exactly unicorns and rainbows, even before we re-upped on his contract:
we spoke about this on the #TFCLive season opener @FootyTalksLive podcast with @mitchelltierney @JeffreyPNesker @BTFR17. unfortunately, these aren’t one off injuries, pulled hamstrings and quads will be a constant in Jozy’s career from here on out. https://t.co/hZXMc2tXka— Tej Sahota (@boatical) April 22, 2019
It doesn’t take a degree in Psychology to infer why Jozy is so upset and unguarded. He’s an insanely competitive athlete staring down the barrel at a career-ending (or at the very least, career-shortening) injury under both intense public scrutiny and internal anxiety. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that both the original outburst and this follow-up Instagram post — with intentions set firmly on ‘troll’ - seem to have been so quickly forgiven by club and supporters.
So it looks like all is well in the world. Hugs have been exchanged, apologies given and accepted, trainers re-hired, and the requisite talking points disseminated across the social medias like dominoes in a light breeze:
Manning says that he met with Altidore this morning to clear the waters. He says that the meeting ended with "a great big hug and a smile on Jozy's face."— Michael Leach (@MLeach680News) April 22, 2019
That’s all well and good, but what about consequence? Surely Jozy should pay some price for losing his cool and airing his dirty laundry in public?
When asked if the club would fine or suspend Altidore for his actions on Friday night, Manning declined to comment stating that he would prefer to keep that in house. #TFCLive— Michael Leach (@MLeach680News) April 22, 2019
Here’s yet another example that Bill Manning’s “massive ego” is more willing to eat the sh*t sandwich than let internal affairs play out in the public sphere. I love this guy. He could’ve gone low but he didn’t. Again. The very definition of “speak softly and carry a big stick”.
Toronto FC president Bill Manning downplays rift with Jozy Altidore over Italian trainer. But rift, however short, doesn't look good on a team whose motto is "All for One." Photo by @EwokSpock #TFCLive https://t.co/TtFBGNyplS pic.twitter.com/oyOYn4VErB— Neil Davidson (@NeilMDavidson) April 22, 2019
Exactly, Mr. Davidson, EXACTLY.
If you ask me - it’s time to see the big stick - because it isn’t just Jozy that seems to have lost the plot/forgotten the command structure of the organization and the etiquette required, nay expected, of a professional athlete.
It’s starting to feel like once a week, a TFC first teamer takes to the socials to drop some kind of cryptic troll-bait that throws TFC-Land into a frothy mousse of “WTF was that all about” insta-panic.
And it has to stop. Not only is it maddeningly unprofessional, but this whole ethos can be traced back to a certain petulant Italian’s exit-strategy, the infamous burn-everything Instagram post that did more to tarnish his legacy than hardball negotiations and eventually taking the money.
We wanted that kind of attitude removed from the club, not echoed through the ranks.
As I was drafting this, Jozy offered up a heartfelt apology on the twitter (with the 2019 aesthetic hallmark of ‘heartfelt’ - the screen-cap from a mobile-phone notes app):
My take? Very well written, and certainly takes ownership of an emotional outburst. Shows me that at the very least, there are two adults in the room. That “pulled from my deepest me, unfiltered” screen-cap hits me right in the feels.
But does it matter? Is everything suddenly a-ok, or is this a stop-gap to the next emotional outburst, expressed by proxy via Jozy or another?
While I can certainly empathize with “letting my emotions get the better of me” because I am a human being. I’m still allowed to get on my soapbox here because I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE, and therefore I am not held to the same standard. If I was making millions a year to play soccer within a multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment conglomerate, you can be damn sure that I would censor myself, as required, and as befitting my continued employment.
Let’s get to the comments/magic section - Do you agree that something is rotten with respect to the ongoing PR disasters in TFC-Land or do you think this is all fine and dandy as long as the quality of play remains?
Is this just down to the social media-fied world we find ourselves living in? Par for the course in an industry of huge egos, such as professional sports?
What would you do if you were Manning and the Front Office?
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST:
Is a fun lark on the topic at play - with double the sass and triple the tongue-in-cheek. As always, work-in-progress. Send me your recommends below, in the comments!