A TFC road game means a rare Saturday off for me. This might change next season, especially if readers make enough noise and TFC contends for a playoff spot, but for right now we're still happy to run Associated Press stories about TFC's out of town games.
|Tough to compete with TFC fans, especially when they break out the Danny Dichio song.|
But even on a "day off" I've got to keep my eyes and ears attuned to TFC's exploits, so I wandered into the Shoeless Joe's at King and Dufferin to watch Saturday's game against FC Dallas (with my left eye. With my right I watched Quinton "Rampage" Jackson dismantle Dan Henderson at UFC 75 to become the first undisputed champ in mixed martial arts history...that's a big deal to some people...I'm one of them).
I refuse to discuss the game here. We've got all week to write about the x's and o's and the ongoing soap opera that is TFC's inaugural season. And besides, the game left me with plenty to think about beyond the 2-0 scoreline:
He's my favourite designated player by far, and Saturday's game simply re-affirmed why I admire this guy.
Just one season into the David Beckham rule, it's too early for a verdict on whether it's wise to allow teams to break the bank to sign aging foreign stars. I'm sure New York fans think Juan Pablo Angel (14 goals in 18 games) was worth the gamble, but in LA the knee and ankle injuries that have ended Beckham's season must have fans wondering whether he was really worth that record salary -- which works out to $328,282.83 for each of the 198 regular season minutes he played.
In Chicago Cuauhtemoc Blanco (2 goals, 4 assists, 7 games) is earning his Beckham Rule money ($2.67 million).
The soccer purists in the press box think I'm nuts, but I can't watch this guy. No offense to him. I appreciate his vision and his touch and the accuracy of his crosses, corners and free kicks...
Yes, those free kicks make for spectacular highlights, but until one of those opportunities arises, watching him is about as exciting as watching poker. Except poker players run faster.
In a late July match at BMO Field one Chicago goal kick zoomed so close to Blanco's scalp that it almost touched his hair. He could have put a forehead on it if he had just bothered to jump.
But he didn't.
The ball rolled harmlessly into Toronto's zone.
Again, nothing personal, and again I'm not denying his skills, but it just seems like I've got Blanco's game figured out: cruise around doing as little as possible until it's time to take a free kick or a corner. Then you make magic happen. Call it the Dell Curry approach to soccer.
No disrespect to Curry either. Former Raptor, fine player and a great shooter, but nobody ever accused him of being exciting.
And that's why I was so glad Denilson signed with FC Dallas last month. I remember him from Brazil's World Cup Squads in 1998 and 2002. He's instant excitement, all stepovers and nutmegs and other tricks whose names I haven't yet learned from GOLTV commercials.
Now, I realize that a suitcase full of fancy tricks doesn't make you a winner, otherwise Rafer Alston would be the NBA's best point guard. And yes, I noticed that his highlight film contains a lot of dribbling but not many goals. But as a soccer non purist I reserve the right to be impressed by flashy play that accomplishes nothing, and nobody's flashier than Denilson.
When folks talk about MLS hair (and yes, sometimes people really do) they usually mention three members of the L.A. Galaxy: Abel Xavier, because he has yellow hair; Landon Donovan, because he has next to no hair; and David Beckham, because he has David Beckham's hair.
It's time we added one more name to the discussion: FC Dallas' Juan Toja. Look at this straight from the 80s hair. He was probably a toddler last time that hair was in style, but I give him credit it for wearing it that way. It takes guts to walk around in 2007 looking like a castoff from an '80s rock band. Saturday night against TFC he had it coiffed so he looked like the lost, Latino member of Honeymoon Suite. Anyone on this blog old enough to remember them? New Girl Now? Wave Babies? What Does It Take?
Toja could be Johnny Dee's stunt double.
3. How far will you go for your FC?
The level of home team spirit at the bar Saturday night impressed me. I've sat through Leafs games at sports bars before, and witnessed blue clad fans screaming at the TV as the good guys stumbled through yet another loss. But Leafs Nation can't compete with the Red Patch Boys, TFC's biggest supporters group. These guys brought drums to the sports bar. I repeat, they were banging drums inside the sports bar. Clapping in unison. Singing the Danny Dichio song even though Dichio's injured ankle will probably sideline him for the rest of the season
That's dedication, but even it has limits.
I mean, I don't think any of those guys would go to the penitentiary for TFC. Nor do I think they would start shootouts (with pistols, not penalty kicks) with opposing fans. And I can't see them muscling in for a cut of the transfer fee if/when TFC sells a hot prospect to a European club.
But according to si.com's Gregory Sica, that's all part of the job for the average Argentine soccer hooligan.
Toronto's supporters seem tame in comparison.
And we're all thankful for that.
- Morgan Campbell