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Toronto FC & Jurgen Klinsmann

1986 FIFA World Cup

Image by mikkelz via Flickr

Before the 1986 World Cup final match between Argentina and Germany, I knew very little about German football, if anything at all. The only two names I’d heard of were Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller. At the time, I was under the same magical trance that all of the opposing players were under when playing against the great Diego Maradonna. His magical touch was second to absolutely none and had scored two of the best goals in World Cup history – one in a quarter-final match vs England and another in the semi final match vs Belgium. He was the first great from Argentina that I had ever heard of in my life (I was in my very early teens).

When I learned that this great Argentine team with Maradona was playing the final match against the “robot” like Germans, I thought 100% that Argentina would come out the champions. Well as we all know now, I was right about the prediction. Argentina 3, Germany 2 was the final score. I watched this match hundreds of times on my VCR and had every moment memorized.

One small incident that has always stuck in my mind was when Thomas Berthold used his arm that was in a cast to hit Jose Luis Brown, who was playing with a separated shoulder, in the shoulder. In my younger years I was ALL about fair play (I have since matured and realize no that it’s win at all costs!) so seeing this disgusted me. I wanted absolutely NO part of German football or German football players from that moment forward.

Over the years my opinion of German players and German football in general has changed quite a bit. I now hold them in some of the highest regard when it comes to the beautiful game. The German game is disciplined and very well-organized but I have still never been able to get over that Berthold incident so I have to admit, I’m a bit jaded. Unfortunately there have not been too many German players that show an extreme creative flare. In fact, I can only think of 1. Jurgen Klinsmann. One of the most prolific scorers in German football history, third only to Gerd Muller and Miroslav Klose. With great instincts, speed and strength, Klinsmann has earned my respect as a striker. However, he’s German so I am not able to quite give him all of  the respect that he deserves.

After a nightmare type season for Toronto FC, sweeping changes are a must. The organization must do any and everything within its power to right the ship. Another bad season is not the only thing at stake if nothing changes. The whole club will be in jeopardy. Since day one the teams strength has not been its play on the field but its fan support. Groups like North End Elite, Red Patch Boys, U-Sector and Tribal Rhythm Nation have emerged to make taking in a game at BMO field an amazing football experience. To put it bluntly, these supporters groups are PISSED and are rightfully demanding change.  So realizing this, MLSE has hired a consultant to help with the change process. The consultant is Soccer Solutions and a key member of Soccer Solutions is Jurgen Klinsmann.

In all honesty, had you asked me 5 years ago how I’d feel about a German coming in to run MY club, I would have said, “Thanks, but no thanks”. But when I saw the press conference announcing Klinsmann and Co on Thursday, I got a little choked up. I’m VERY passionate about the game and my home town team and to see a person with the stature of Jurgen Klinsmann sitting at a podium in front of a TFC logo laden background  completely blew my mind. Welcome to Toronto  Jurgen! I hope I get a chance to meet you before your agreement with the club comes to an end.

However, this surreal situation has my wondering why this move was made by MLSE. Is it really possible for a person to come in and fix 4-year-old problems in 6 months; part-time? Is it just coincidence that the announcement was made right before season seat renewals? Really, why was this move made? To blow smoke up the asses of those who care, to fool them into renewing? Is Klinsmann here to help or to collect a paycheck? I personally think that a person would need a longer period of time than six months to turn a team around. To me, six months is barely enough time to understand all of the challenges ahead and definitely not enough time to fix these problems.

I really hope that what we are observing is an actual genuine effort by all parties involved to make things better – to reward this amazing and deserving fan base. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

One thing for sure is that if changes don’t come soon, MLS soccer in Toronto is in serious jeopardy.

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