Yes, soccer fans, I know it's been a minute but now that the Major League Soccer off-season is just about over I figured it's to jumpstart this blog.
Good news for TFC and MLS fans. Around MLS Cup time I had a conversation with Star sports editor Mike Simpson and we decided it's time to expand the Star's MLS coverage. Last year we covered TFC but never said much about what was happening in the rest of MLS. Strategies like that work when you're covering a team like the Marlies because, honestly, few sports fans around here care about them and even fewer give a damn what's happening in the rest of the AHL.
But TFC's different. Here you have a group of dedicated soccer fans who care deeply about the team, and another group of sports fans beyond them who want to start caring because they've hear the TFC buzz and want to get involved. That type of readership demands and deserves a little more.
In '07 readers sent me my share of hate mail (expected), praise mail (unexpected) and constructive criticism (much appreciated). I think I did a pretty good job covering TFC last season. I wasn't perfect, but I held it down.
But looking back on TFC's first season I think my coverage lacked context. During the week I'd write about TFC, then every weekend some team would materialize at BMO Field to play against them, then disappear again. LA Galaxy got some special attention because Becks played with them. We gave some extra juice to Houston because they had Dwayne De Rosario.
Overall, though, we didn't cover TFC the way we covered the Raptors, Leafs, Argos and Jays. We covered TFC in isolation, and not as part of a league. That tactic works the first year, but is less effective as your audience grows and their interest deepens.
So we're going to make a few changes this year. Can't say exactly how it all will work out, but I know that to put TFC games in their proper context I need to follow the entire league, so that will happen this season.
Also, if the budgets allow it, I'll make it to a few more road games in 08. Last season I flew out to the season opener against Chivas USA, and that was it. But last year also showed us that readers at home pay close attention to what happens on the road, and a simple AP story won't always satisfy them. Readers want road game coverage tailored to their interests, so that's what we're trying to provide this year.
Doesn't mean I'll reach every road game.
But I'm confident I'll get to the important ones.
I realize that means hitting the season opener, and while there are much more glamourous places to be than Columbus in late March, I'm willing to do it in the name of expanded coverage.
Plus, I could use the Aeroplan points.
-- Morgan Campbell