It’s sure been awhile since my last official post under the 6oaW guise. I’ve defo been lurking around playing “community manager” though. Dishing out some hot takes, dropping recs, handling the odd news blast, and letting my freak flag fly on on the first (of many) slightly inebriated game threads from my seat at the church of BMO. That was a fun gag. It almost made the result (?) bearable.
First, some housekeeping, as I’ve been a very busy beaver over the last few months, and there have been several false starts on columns I really should have got around to.
On my recent honeymoon, my wife was agreeable enough to let me indulge not one, but two soccer itches. I really did win the lottery - my beautiful wife and the beautiful game
Our first stop was Barcelona, so yes, yours truly got to see the GOAT, Lionel Messi, in his natural habitat - the heralded palace of football that is Camp Nou. Despite the fact that Barcelona had already clinched the La Liga title, and despite the fact that we were only a week removed from the second annual massive Champions League semi-final meltdown, the experience was bucket-list stuff. The ground is delightful, the pitch immaculate, and that team ... hoo boy. As Messi ran up the middle, taking on the entire Getafe XI by himself, I turned to my wife and said “Pretty sure we’ll never see this kind of talent on the regular.” Lionel Messi is special.
Next, we hit Belgium, because beer, and on our first day, travelled to Antwerp and caught a playoff tie between RC Antwerp and Gent. It was pretty easy to censor ourselves when Canadian Phenom Jonathan David scored for the opposition, as we weren’t sitting in the away section, and that place was more than a hair over the line into scary-ville. There was enough pyro, beers, and passionate to the knife-edge of hooliganism support to keep us well quiet. I mean, you can still smoke ciggies at your seat. I hope that ably paints the picture.
I took a bunch of pics and videos. I had grand designs to write a big op-ed about the live soccer experience across two European nations. I put fingers to keyboard and struggled through a few drafts that all felt too much like the equivalent of being forced to watch your first-cousin’s detailed slideshow after a cruise vacation. It was a whole lot of “I went to Europe and saw some soccer, and you didn’t”. So I sh*t-canned it.
However, if you want to watch my slideshows — be my guest — I’m certainly not going to force you. or bribe you with snacks. If you do bite, however, see if you can detect my cackling in the BG. I am just about delirious with happiness.
Fair warning, I was feeling pretty Vérité when I cut these together:
Next, I found myself engaged on a month long gig in Winnipeg. So naturally I found a way to fold in some Valour FC action on my weekends, get my soccer fix. I hit an open practice, an away game at the Supporter’s Local, The King’s Head (vs. Forge FC, of all the teams), and a home match vs. Cavalry. I simply can’t speak highly enough of Red River Rising, the Valour FC supporters group. Those peeps are simply mad for football and showed me such unbelievable hospitality. The CPL isn’t even a year old and to have this kind of switched-on, passionate support grow up organically around the league ... wow. Plus, they have a friggin’ cowbell.
To be sure, it’s an interesting scene for domestic footy in the ‘Peg - similar to Forge in that they are blessed/cursed with an existing CFL ground - dissimilar in myriad and fascinating ways. They certainly are up to the challenge. They are up to some great things. My CPL Love is far deeper as a consequence of getting to know those cats. Plus - they gave me my own VFC red card as a keepsake, which they later explained is a tradition going back to the heady days of the Winnipeg Fury. That’s awesome.
And yes, I threw my loose pics and vids into something shareable, emphasis on the ‘threw’, though if I could give myself a pat on the back, I’m pretty pleased with my song selection:
Phew, those videos were hanging like an albatross around my neck. No promises I won’t repurpose them later and come good on my promise of those long and drawn out op-eds, but at the very least my little rough-cut doodles are now free to roam the interwebs.
Now to the matter at hand - the sorry state of Toronto FC.
In a recent column for the MLS mothership, Bobby Warshaw pulled zero punches and came up with perhaps the best encapsulation I’ve seen of the current state of our team:
“Toronto FC . This is getting a little old. You’re at home with nearly your first-choice lineup available against a team below you in the standings -- you gotta win that game. Instead they drew 1-1 against Orlando.
There’s too much talent on that Toronto team to be stuck in a playoff scrap.”
Certainly, these are sentiments that run in tandem with the general pulse of TFC Land. I would only add that’s it’s getting more than “a little old”. It’s getting downright ridiculous.
We are now 2 years into hearing that #tfclive are a better team than their results.....that they are good enough to compete for the title....that there is too much talent to be dropping points.— Toarea Fan (@TOareaFan) August 11, 2019
What if it’s not so?
The latest cosmic jibe? After waiting forever, we finally got our new TAM wingers, only to watch them ride the pine (after the requisite training injury, of course).
This season seems to be shaping up into 2018, part deux.
The #VanneyOut crowd is in full voice, naturally. But are they right? Is this really all on Vanney?
I mean, our “Sport Science” division is obviously a sick joke, something has to be up in the locker room, and to add insult to injury, the Soccer Gods have decidedly not been smiling on us of late, but still.
Is something broken, or is this just more bad luck?
If something is broken, is it Vanney’s duty to fall on the sword?
I‘ve kept it open, so we can get takes from all sides below, in the comment thread. See you there.
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST:
... is a double-sized plethora of tunes designed to background your deep pondering of the state of our beloved reds and who should get/keep the keys to the first team car. As always, if you think I missed any bangers, let me know in the comments.