I guess this qualifies as my first off-season rant for WTR. It was inevitable, I suppose.
Guys, for real, I can’t effin’ wait for the season to begin, because that means this off-season is over.
The off-season of our discontent.
Fun Fact: There have been enough bombs dropped on TFC fandom in recent weeks to qualify as an act of war.
Can we still call it silly season if the inmates are running the asylum?
First, it was #beztocrew: what started as a whisper in some dark corner of the internet, rightly dismissed as utterly insane, refused to die. Spoiler Alert: it was, in fact, the truth — Bez had been given ‘an offer he couldn’t refuse’, and like that, he was vapour. Cue a tsunami of WTF that drowned us in ennui.
That tsunami carried in Bez’s replacement: insta-hire Ali Curtis and his binder of destiny. To be fair, Curtis was next in line for a GM job in MLS — any GM job, really. He’s been on deck since NYRB and it was only a matter of time. For the record, I’m glad we got him. TFC have had great successes bringing in talent with something to prove/a chip on their shoulder.
Ali Curtis, however, comes to us pre-loaded with uncertainty. After all the ink spilled about TFC going “all-in for 2019”, we go and hire a GM famous for tightening purse-strings and #playingthekids, on the eve of a contract year for all three of our DPs — the highest-paid DP trio in the whole league, and one of the oldest on average.
Welp. An immovable object meets an unstoppable force.
And really, how could we possibly forget our DPs are chasing new deals, with all the IG trolling, ‘heartfelt interview’ hustle, and unconfirmed rumours from abroad mangled beyond recognition by Google Translate?
And then, yesterday, this — Victor Vazquez is moving to an unnamed club in Qatar, By his own request.
Like many of you I suspect, these bombshells induced cycles of all five stages of grief. I posted a ton of “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” comments across the social medias. I engaged in some embarrassing back-and-forths that betrayed the emotional whirlpool within. I mourned the impossible reality of both a drawn-out and sudden death to TFC 2017.
Through it all, I searched for voices in the din that offered some kind of positivity. I yearned for someone, somewhere, to offer a lifeline in a sea of butt-hurt, knee-jerk, and rage boners.
The absolute best I could find was a heady dose of some hard truth: soccer is a business. Sentimentality has no place in the business of Soccer. This is doubly true in a capped league such as MLS.
So can we really fault Victor for jumping at the opportunity to finish his career in a softer league for more money and a pipeline into coaching when he retires? Can we be mad at the front office for jumping at the chance to cash in on a 32-year-old, injury-plagued player they got for free? Can we even be upset with this Qatari pop-up league, that some say is little more than an expensive sham to appease FIFA on the eve of an already-controversial World Cup?
How about throwing shade at Bez for, at the very least, a good shot at fulfilling the old “hometown boy come home, make good” narrative?
It’s funny I mentioned “narrative” above, because I think that is the crux of my struggle. it’s the narratives that have me so twisted, or better yet, the dichotomy between the sports narratives I’ve subscribed to - the “all-in for 2019” TFC, as example — and the cold unfeeling logic of the almighty buck.
Sure, we can camouflage money and its unending pursuit in all manner of flowery prose as distraction. We can use words like “opportunity”, and “stability”, to disguise monetary greed as altruism but, in the end, as always, It’s all about the Benjamins.
l guess I don’t like it when the hard reality of the real world crashes into the quasi reality perpetuated by sport. I wanted VV to retire a red. I want MB4 to stay here forever and eventually coach the first team (I wanted Benoit, too). I want Seba to set up his Toronto-based soccer academy and fill the entire Bridle Path with his shoe collection.
It’s about time for a question, no?
How have you been dealing with the last month in TFC-land? Anger? Denial? Begrudging Acceptance? Have you made your peace with the business of soccer? Can you help me make mine?
I’d love to hear your war stories — when was the first time your sentimentality was tested by the team you love (doesn’t have to be TFC specific)? How did you deal with it?
Can’t life be as simple as a Thamesmen song?
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST:
...is all about the Moolah. 19 of the best songs (IMHO) about Loonies and Toonies. At least we can tap our feet and snap our fingers while the world burns:)