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Barcelona and Messi gives United a lesson in Football 101

May 29, 2011 2 comments

Wow the much hyped Champions league turned in to a total domination and made one team look like a MLS team and the other like one of the best teams of all time.

It is arguable that the current edition of Barcelona may go down as one of the best club teams ever assembled. Barcelona has been at the top of Europe for the past 3 seasons and look to be there for quite some time. The champions league final being played at Wembley gave United a slight home field advanctage but even that did nothing to help United who almost seemed like there was no hope for them in this contest, which is tough to say as Man United are also one of the best club teams in the world.

Other than the first 10 mins of this game, Barcelona dominated and Man Utd. seemed to spend the entire game running around like clowns to get possession of the ball. Even when Man Utd. gained possession, their inability to string together more than 4 passes in sucession made it a long night for them. I did not even know who was on the field for Man United as they had so little possession there was little mention of the players from the commentators other than the goalie, Van der Saar.

The statistics speak for themselves as the possession was about 2-1 in favour of Barcelona and the 3 goals were world class and Man Utd. always seemed like they were defending and on the back foot. Messi looked dangerous everytime he had the ball and his dribbling ability enabled him to blow by Man United defenders at ease. They almost seemed scared to move as Messi ran at them for fear of getting deked out of their shoes (like P-Nani did on the 3rd goal of the game).

Barcelona appears to have the complete football team from back to front and will definitely be at the top for years to come. Messi did seem to me to be overrated early in his career but now the accolades are deserved and he does have the potential to become legendary at the level reserved for Pele and Maradonna. He is already on pace to surpass them in terms of club and individual trophies, if Argentina is able to win a few world cups during the Messi era he will become the greatest of all time assuming he continues to perform as he has up to this time.

As for the game I think this Manchester United team were not as strong as some of their past teams but yesterday they were not even in the same league as Barcelona and looked totally outclassed. You could almost sense the feeling of hopelessness from the Utd. players as Barcelona continued to toy with them and do what they wanted on the field.

On a side note for those fans watching the telecast in Canada on sportsnet was it just me or was their a 2 second video delay that made everything the commentator said happen 2 secs before the video feed so you actually knew what was happening before you saw it on the TV! terrible job sportsnet!!

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Categories: Soccer

Columbus Who?

April 22, 2011 3 comments

This place is disgusting!

Have you ever been to Columbus Ohio? I really, really hope not. Unless you are a student of Ohio State University or a fan of food from x-NFLer Eddie George’s restaurant, there is absolutely NO reason to be there AT ALL. Trust me, I speak from experience. No I’m not proud to admit but I have made the drive. In all fairness to myself though,  I was drunk on MLSE cool aid and I love my hometown team.

Upon our arrival the first time, all of us sensed something different. Something off. Kinda like the feeling one gets driving through Buffalo – only worse. It did not feel safe but at the same time we didn’t feel threatened. It was really bizarre. And then there was the odour; this stench. Anyway, the reason we were there along with a couple thousand TFC supporters was to support Toronto FC. Unfortunately Columbus is the closest team geographically in the MLS to Toronto (c’mon Saputo!) so there was an artificial rivalry created to spark interest. We lost the match but we were a new team and they won the double that year so it was to be expected – but disappointing nonetheless.

After the match we decided to grab a bite to eat at this Mexican restaurant and we were taken by surprise when we saw a sign that said that guns are prohibited. You know there is a problem when you see a “No GUNS allowed” sign on the door of a family restaurant! The whole experience just turned our stomachs but for some reason we decided to give the town a second chance the following year – the year of the police and media debacle. NEVER AGAIN!

Who gives a rats ass about the Trillium Cup anyway? It’s kind of like the Carlsberg cup with the main difference being that at least the Carlsberg Cup brings some cool teams to BMO field – Club Atlético Independiente from Argentina being one. Bragging rights? I don’t need or want bragging rights over a place like Columbus. They are beneath us and should not be mentioned in the same thought – much less the same sentence as Toronto.

No Guns Allowed?

However (oh how I HATE this part), the Columbus Crew has been consistently one of the better teams in the entire MLS since TFC has been in existence. They even won an MLS Cup in 2008 and the 2008 and 2009 Supporters’ Shields. The team is completely different this year but after a shaky start against DC Untied in week 1, they have gone undefeated and have not conceded a goal in that period (3 games). They will also be coming to BMO Field knowing full well that they have NEVER  lost to TFC. They are the Trillium Cup holders and every time I hear that I can’t help but to think that maybe they should plant some trilliums outside Crew stadium….you know, to pretty the place up a bit!

The Reds look to be in tough this weekend but when you take a look at the situation, it’s not that bad. The law of averages will dictate that the Crew will lose eventually and they are not a very strong team (they have BMO reject Julius James) so I’m thinking a loss will come sooner than later.  They may have not conceded a goal in 3, they have only scored 2 in 3 (both in the same game). Then you have to hope that things can only get better at BMO after that horrific show last weekend against D.C.

There will be a couple of absences/changes to the TFC line up. Ty Harden is out on suspension and Adrian Cann is carrying a rib injury. So that leaves Nana and Jamaican International Dicoy Williams at the back in the middle. Out wide I think we’ll see Yourassowski get the start on the left with new addition Richard Eckersley on the right. Danleigh Borman has played well (not including the DC game) but there are a lot of games coming up so I see him being rested. In the midfield I see De Guzman and for some reason I also see Peterson back in the fray. Not because I think he’s playing well but because he seems to be a favorite of Winter’s for some unknown reason.  Tchani to me has not looked very consistent so something in my gut is saying he’ll sit; to maybe come on as a sub. At right-wing it should be Martina on the right with Santos on the left. Stevanovic NEEDS to sit. He’s a frustrating player because you see his talent, but something doesn’t seem right on the top floor. He tends to hold on to the ball for about a 5 count too long. He sometimes looks like the kid in the school yard who won’t pass the ball to the other kids. And when he losses it, he goes down injured – only to get back up after a few minutes, limp for a bit then demand that he get the ball back. I think sitting this one out would do him good. I also believe that Santos is not an attacking midfielder and should be played as an advanced striker or out on the left-wing. Up front I see Alan Gordon in the game since he says he should be ready. Now the biggest concern on this team to me is who to play in the attacking mid role. I’d like to say Cordon but I don’t think he’s there quite yet. But he will be sooner rather than later. That only leaves Zavarise which is not bad, but not the best either.

I’m predicting a 1-0 TFC win from a goal in the second half by Santos.


Oh and going back to that stench, we figured out the source. It turns out it was coming from the “Columbus Crew Massive” which is ironic because although we could smell them, we certainly could not hear or see them!!
Go Reds!

TFC Rebuild In Progress

April 16, 2011 Leave a comment

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Toronto FC continue their 3 game home stand against last years last place finisher D.C. United tonight.  The two sides last met in pre season action down in Charleston, NC  with the match ending in a draw. Charlie Davies scored for DC on that night with a well taken shot through the run of play (you mean it wasn’t a penalty?) and one of TFC’s new additions at the time, Mikael Yourassowsky, was sent off for a second yellow (sound familiar?) . Aside from those two occurrences, the match was relatively uneventful but D.C. looked as though they outplayed the Red’s and to me was the better team on the night.

Since that match there have been several key additions to the TFC roster, most recently the addition of defender Richard Eckersly, on loan from Burnley of the Npower Championship division in England. Eckersly was originally a product of Manchester United so he does have some degree of skill  –  since he was able to impress Sir Alex Ferguson, albeit a while ago. Eckersly fills one of the teams needs at right full back and at left back there are a couple of options such as, the previously mentioned Yourassowski and new comer South African Danleigh Borman picked up from the New York Red Bull in the Dero trade. In the centre of defence, last years rock solid combination of Nana Attakora and Adrian Cann are complimented by Ty Harden and Jamaican international Dicoy Williams – yet another depth signing.

In the midfield,  Jacob Peterson has been a reliable selection for Aron Winter and has played in every match this year. At the start of the year he was in the defensive midfield role with the injury absence of Julian DeGuzman. The arrival of Tony Tchani and Julian DeGuzman’s return to fitness means some decisions need to be made by Winter for this position, which is definitely a good thing.  When you include the potential of Nathan Sturgis, who to be honest has not looked that good this year but is supposed to have a pretty good upside,  TFC look to have a number of legitimate options in the central holding midfield role.

Another on loan addition that has already made his mark on the team is Swiss born Serbian under 20 International Alen Stevanovic. He and  new comer Javier Martina make what potentially may be the best winger tandems in the MLS. Throw in Alan Gordon who was acquired from Chivas USA in exchange for Nick Labrocca and it is clear that Aron Winter has some capable attacking options – not to mention newly ordained captain Maicon Santos, Canadian International Gianluca Zavarise and the speedy native of Ecuador, Joao Plata.

At the start of the season, Winter declared that he would need two players at every position and he is just about there. He only needs to shore up the attacking midfield and right back positions and his puzzle will just about be complete. On the eve of the signing window closure, TFC’s management team was on the radio and made it know that a designated player signing is not in the works….yet. Folks stay tuned; when the summer transfer window opens, making more quality players available, TFC will be in the headlines – yet again! This time for good reason.

Getting back to the match vs D.C. this evening, things will be different; much different. I predict TFC will come out ahead on this one but then again in reality, they have to!!

Who are Sports best Athletes

April 15, 2011 3 comments

Well this is an age old question that came up the other night where most great conversations take place..At a sports bar. While spending some time with some friends and Alexander Keith we had a brief debate about which sport has the best athletes? Well let me first eliminate some sports that I have heard actually people paid to talk about sports on TV suggest. Golf more specifically Tiger, No Way! Golf is for people who are retiring why am I even trying to give examples, it’s golf!! Baseball, Uh No, unless you are playing in the middle of the field you are doing very little on the field and you get a break every inning. Football, well these guys tend to be quite athletic but I will elimate them, because 1 they play half a game as there is a defence and and on offence. Also the actual action on a football field is about 5% of the allotted time to play the game as most of the time nothing is happening the game is on pause. I will narrow the debate to 3 sports – Hockey, Basketball and yes – Soccer. In all these sports you play continuously, you play offense and defense, you use your entire body and when you look at the average player they are in physically good shape. (Some of the guys you see playing football or baseball could not be put in a rink, a ball court or a soccer field.). My vote goes to the Soccer players as I think although Hockey would likely be the hardest sport for the average person to play because it involves skating. The debate with my arguement comes down the high impact and high intensity of Hockey and Basketball vs Soccer. Reason being in Soccer most players play the full game (90 Mins). Much longer than Hockey or Basketball and do not get subbed off at all. In Hockey you take 90 sec shifts and may play 20 mins on a given night and in Basketball you tend to have most guys play 30-40 mins a night. I mean the stats for Soccer players is crazy when you see how much a player runs during a game. Even if you dont have the ball you are in constant movement whether on offense or defence. However one could argue the pace of soccer is much slower than basketball! But at the same time since Hockey and Basketball are North American and created in the birthplace of the mighty dollar. The average 48 min Basketball game or 60 min Hockey game takes 3 hours to watch from start to finish while a soccer game may take 2hrs. The soccer game is constant with no breaks other than halftime. Hockey and Basketball games tend to have numerous breaks in addtion to quarter ends and period ends. TV timeouts allow for the players to get numerous breaks that allow them to play the so called heavy minutes. Also for Hockey the inclusion of a stick and equipment devalue the athleticism of the sport, where Basketball and Soccer is man and ball strictly.

Categories: Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer

Was it that bad? Really?

March 20, 2011 1 comment

Ok so TFC lost to the Whitecaps in the 2011 season opener 4-2 and I’m sensing from what I’ve been reading online that, “TFC is a disgrace”. A disgrace – really? They scored 2 goals on the road! They did this ONLY 3 times last year – against San Jose (May 29th W 3-1), Houston (Sept 18th W 2-1) and Seattle (Oct 2nd L 3-2).  Can we chill out a bit there please? Not only that, last year, if the team put together 3  consecutive passes it was a shock. They had 60% of the possession against the Whitecaps – 60 PERCENT!! That alone is a sign that things will be different to me.

Ya sure they lost to an expansion team in front of a national audience but to make it seem as though they are the same or worse than last year is completely ridiculous. Last year we played the expansion Philadelphia Union 3 matches into the season, at home and barely and I mean barely squeaked out 3 points. I would say that beating an expansion team that played with only 10 men from the 33rd minute 2-1; when the game winning goal was a penalty kick in the 81st minute is far worse than losing to a team that is indeed new to the MLS but has been in existence since 1970.

Aron Winter has had to teach basic fundamentals like passing and moving into space since he’s been in charge. He has had to start pretty much from scratch with just about everything with this team and he’s only had about 6 weeks to do it so far. To have a newly formed team that had to be taught the things one would assume were taught to players at age 10, maintain possession 60% of the time against professional opposition is absolutely estounding – yes I said it. TFC’s performance was astounding.

Lets not call in the firing squad just yet people. I know it’s frustrating being a Toronto sports fan in general but try not to let your frustrations overlap. If TFC continues to show improvement like they did against the Cap’s, they will be good – really good……someday!

TFC 2 DC United 2

March 12, 2011 1 comment

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Toronto FC has wrapped up their pre-season with a draw against last seasons bottom of the table team DC United. Although the Reds did not look overly impressive, signs of improvement were apparent.

On loan striker and former U.S. international Charlie Davies got United on the score sheet first with a nicely taken shot that left Frei in the Toronto goal little chance. Then newly signed TFC midfielder Gianluca Zavarise was taken down in the area leading to a successful penalty shot taken by skipper Dwayne Derosario evening the score at 1-1.

Shortly after, Maicon Santos was sent in on goal by Frei and the Brazilian made no mistake slotting the ball past Canadian keeper Pat Onstad making the score 2-1 for Toronto.

Things were looking good for TFC until trialist Mikael Yourassowsky was shown his second yellow card for a careless tackle in the defending third. DC was able to capitalize on the man advantage leveling the score at 2’s but was not able to put the resilient Reds away as the match ended 10 men TFC 2, DC United 2.

To me the real story was the post game interview with Adrian Cann and coach Aaron Winter. Have a look for yourself  at the link below and if this doesn’t tell you that Winter is in control of this team then nothing will!

http://torontofc.neulion.com/tfc/console.jsp?catid=2&id=2856

TFC Starting Lineup:

Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Nana Attakora, Ty Harden, Mikael Yourassowsky, Natan Sturgis, Oscar Cordon, Dwayne De Rosario, Gianluca Zavarise, Jacob Peterson, Maicon Santos

Substitutes: Adrian Cann, Javier Martina, Matt Stinson, Matt Gold, Keith Makubuya

Ugly finale to MLS season

November 23, 2010 2 comments

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I had to comment on the MLS Cup finale which to me was a display of some truly ugly soccer. I consider myself to be a soccer fan and I will often watch soccer regardless of who is playing. Most of the MLS games I watched this year involved TFC and I was happy to say that TFC improved drastically over the course of the year but ended up finishing like they started and missing the play-offs again.

When I watched the final MLS game this year I was quite unfamiliar with Colorado and Dallas but it seemed that these two teams must have made it to the final not by beating the other teams but by beating up the other teams. It was one of the ugliest games I have seen in a long time and for this to be the marquee match to the end season with supposedly the 2 best teams in MLS was a shame and a mockery and a horrible way to showcase the MLS as a league trying to gain credibility. The lack of skill displayed by both teams was very apparent has it seemed like neither team was able to string together a collection of passes. The defence on both teams seemed like they were told to kick the ball as hard as they could anytime it came near them and the rest of the players must have been told to kick the other team anytime they came anywhere near them. At one point I thought I was watching Sockey and I think Brian Burke should try to draft Connor Casey as he tried to take down everything within sight. I saw a mild glimmer of hope on the first Dallas goal which was a rare moment of skill and a truly nice goal. But the game remained chippy and was capped off by 2 ugly Colorado goals which gave a fitting end to a crappy game. I was hoping for penalties as this would have been more fitting as neither team deserved to win in my eyes. Perhaps a good referee would have helped the game as this ref seemed happy to watch players kick the crap out of each other for 90 mins. And this was a ref who supposedly had a history of giving cards out like a pimp at a night club.

In the end, Colorado wins on the basis of 2 ugly goals to 1 nice goal and gives a whole new meaning to the term winning ugly!