With nearly two weeks until the next game TFC took it easy at practice today. Small squad, slow pace.
Olivier Tebily and Laurent Robert were absent. They've each returned to England to retrieve some belongings and take care of some unfinished business. Don't expect them until next week.
Same with head coach John Carver, who went back home to sell his old house.
But Nick Dasovic was there.
You might remember him as the guy who coached Canada's under-23 national team inthe CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in March. If you really follow the soap opera that is national team soccer you may also remember him as the guy who helped guide Canada to the tournament semifinal after just a single 10-day training camp and a couple of low-level tuneup games.
Now that I think of it, I saw him Friday, too, walking around after the reserve team game against New York. I remembered his face -- even said hello to him when we passed in the hallway -- but only put a name to it until this morning, when I realized it was the same guy I'd seen in Nashville looking flustered after Canada's 3-0 loss to the U.S. in the CONCACAF tourney.
Anyway, he's here, but he's not here.
Insofar as he's on the field, working with players, tricked out in team sweats and (presumably) getting paid, he's here.
But he's not officially here because the team is still waiting on some league paperwork to clear before they formally announce his arrival.
Apparently the hold-up isn't anything major, otherwise he wouldn't be on the field. But it's enough to keep him from speaking to the media about why he came to TFC and how he left things with the CSA.
|AARON LYNETT/TORONTO STAR|
|TFC's paper parade.|
That'll come later.
Pardon the Streamers
This might already be old news in the soccer blogosphere, but Mike Wilbon and Dan Lebatard devoted two frenzied minutes of discussion to TFC and their fans on Friday's episode of Pardon the Interruption (be patient....it's after the Buzz Bissinger anti-blog rant).
Evidently, Wilbon doesn't like streamers.
In fact, he hates them. Says they're bush league, and that TFC's fan's antics are a big reason that folks in the U.S. refuse to take soccer seriously.
Now, I respect Wilbon. We're not buddies or anything, but I've met him a couple of times and he seems real cool. I mean, in the big picture we're nowhere near equals. If sportswriting were soccer I'm TFC and he's Man U. But we're both graduates of the World's Greatest J-School and members of NABJ, which makes us peers of sorts.
If I haven't made it clear enough, I think highly of the guy.
But I think he's wrong about the streamers.
Not saying MLS doesn't have some bush leagueishness it needs to overcome if it wants to reach mainstream sports fans on this continent, but showering Claudio Reyna with tissue paper doesn't even rank among the top 10 things making this sport look bad to Americans.
* Bush league is playing soccer in a baseball stadium with the fans so far away from the action they couldn't reach the field with streamers even if they wanted to.
* Bush league is a minimum salary that can barely cover the cost of Raptors tickets.
Cost of a personal seat license for seats near the bench at a Raptors game in 2008-09: $12, 888.89 (Cdn) before taxes.
Anything available in the Sprite Zone?
Compared with all that, streamers are, well, just what they are: a harmless expression of home team loyalty; fun for the fan and annoying for the target.
Has the novelty of streamers worn off for a lot of people (like me)? Of course it has. But I'd rather see streamers every week than see TFC fans graduate to throwing batteries, baseballs or shuriken.
Streamers aside, you've got 20,000 fans that show up every in a league where average attendance is less than 16,000, and they do it despite transit strikes (like the K.C. game) or crappy weather (like last Thursday). Unlike a lot of other MLS spectators, they'd even be here if Beckham never signed.
Can't call that Bush league.
And the streamers?
Just another sign that fans actually care.
By MLS standards, that's big time.
-- Morgan Campbell