The waiting is the hardest part.”
Tom Petty (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Hard Promises, 1981)
Certainly, as a fan of Toronto FC, this feels like a long spell of the “hardest part.”
We’re a week away on a chance for redemption in MLS at home vs. Real Salt Lake. In turn, I’m dreading another week of avoiding even sideways glances at League Tables, Power Rankings or playing as TFC in FIFA 18 with “live form” enabled — any reminder that our (distracted, admittedly for all the right reasons) Reds currently sit at the bottom of the table.
And of course, as I’d bet heavy that nobody reading needs any reminder, we’re a week and change away from resuming our magical run in the CONCACAF Champions League. Semifinals, TFC vs Club America. First up, a visit to the church of BMO, and then a date with destiny in the Estadio Azteca, one of the premier soccer venues on the planet.
It’s kinda excruciating. Which got me thinking, which in turn led to this week’s hot take:
Is it fair to keep some of our depth/reserve players “waiting” indefinitely?
Let me say for the record — I have never been, nor will I ever be, anything resembling a proper athlete, to say nothing of a professional athlete, so this comes from a position of naiveté. It’s important that I own that if I’m going to start dropping bombs.
Nevertheless, you have to wonder what it feels like in, say, Jay Chapman’s shoes.
You’re 24 years old. You have an MLS Cup Champions ring (with your hometown club, to boot). Lots of ink has been spilled about your potential, yet you are still all but buried in the depth chart on a team that is hell-bent on adding quality to an already deep roster.
I wonder if TFC would consider loan options for the likes of Jay Chapman and Liam Fraser with all this midfield logjam.— Jamie Neugebauer (@Neugsie) February 23, 2018
It must seem like all you’re doing is waiting, and sport is a game for the young.
Sure, there are training sessions, practice matches, and team exercises. There’s mentoring under the starters and developing your mental toughness and physical fitness. These all have one thing in common, though: they aren’t meaningful games. The potential remains unexplored, and the clock is ticking.
In Chapman’s case, he’s also not seeing minutes with TFC II like a Ben Spencer or Jordan Hamilton. He’s in proper first team limbo.
Look at Jonathan Osorio, the only semi-starter on the first team without a contract into next year. The boy is playing like fire, and it’s easy to divine why; sure, he wants more minutes with TFC in 2018, but I doubt he’s unaware of this chance to show his worth to other suitors.
What’s great about the rapid ascent of MLS on the international soccer landscape is that Oso (cheeky back-heel or no) will have suitors both inside and outside the league. His tape will be seen by a lot of eyeballs.
Chapman, aside from an all-but-guaranteed by Can-Con spot in the starting XI for the Canadian Championship, has to put his fate in luck, injury, and squad rotation.
Can that possibly be enough for a professional athlete?
I love Jay Chapman. I think the sky’s the limit for the kid. I think he’s got a great chance to develop into a smart attacking midfielder in the vein of a Vazquez, and he’s already proven himself a hero in the team morale department.
But it could be argued that we’re stunting his growth by asking him to play cheerleader here when he could be playing leader somewhere else. To say nothing of the outside pressures — family, friends, the media, and agents?
Let there be no doubt — I would absolutely hate this with the power of a thousand suns. Much like I hated seeing Raheem Edwards go, though it can’t be argued that he’s seeing more minutes, at least in the early days, under Remi Garde than he expected to see here (he couldn’t anticipate the Morrow injury, neither could we).
It sure is a complicated relationship between fans and players.
Wouldn’t we be hypocrites if we chided players for making moves like this, when other guys, like Seba, came to us for many of the same reasons? Isn’t the attitude that would (naturally) produce a player hungry for minutes what we want at camp TFC? Can we then fault these guys for, essentially, doing what their told?
So what do you think? Is ‘the waiting’ just part of the game? Did the Jay Chapmans of the world “buy their ticket and have to take the ride”?
How would you feel if Chaps, or any other TFC player on the periphery, made a move for the sake of playing time? Is a little bit of hypocrisy encouraged, even necessary, in fan culture?
(Don’t even get me started on why I love/hate Star Wars; The Last Jedi)
Look at Jay Chapman, Vazquez essentially replaced him, as expected but then now TFC are still looking at other AM options instead of using him. Marco Bustos has essentially been cast out by Vancouver. It's a shame. Domestics aren't allowed to be "creators."— Vince Alvarado (@VinceByDemand) February 16, 2018
As always, to the comments! (where the magic happens.)
This week’s playlist:
After I grabbed the Tom Petty tune, which I, of course, selected for the double-word score article-title association, I went ahead and entered “Salt Lake City” into Spotify’s Search Box (I wanted to grab the Beach Boys track). Then I had myself a socio-political existential crisis.
There are literally thousands of songs entitled “Salt Lake City.” While this made assembling this week’s playlist easier — on the surface, at least — turns out there are thousands of terrible songs entitled “Salt Lake City.” It did beg the question; where are all the “Toronto” songs? Yes, I know there is a band named Toronto, but that’s a different beast altogether.
So this week’s salvo is a bit of an aural tour of songs named “Salt Lake City,” in tribute to our visiting opponents. There are some real barnstormers here (I’m partial to the PTO tune, sounds like a lost Hum classic), and some tracks that go all meta in that they are genre-tied to the wider SLC music scene, like agit-punk and folk music, and named after the city itself.
Though I avoided songs painting SLC in too positive a light (this ain’t a RSL playlist, after all), if you don’t put The Osmonds on an SLC-themed playlist, you haven’t done your job, and if track 11 on a TFC playlist isn’t “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode, a hex on both your houses!