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TFC are in a mess and that’s a fact!
October 26, 2009, 5:15 PM
Filed under: Chris Cummins, Mo Johnston, Toronto FC

What an absolute shambles.

I have to admit, I decided on Sunday not to write a 2009 Toronto FC obituary. Plenty of others will do it and I can leave my thoughts to tapings of television shows and podcasts. However, we now live in a Twitter/Facebook world and what people want, they get.

So, in the spirit of Rafa and Fergie here goes.

FACT – There needs to some serious repercussions following Saturday’s humiliating performance in New York.

FACT – This cannot start and end with the coach.

FACT – Chris Cummins was leaving this club before Saturday’s debacle, practically sticking the proverbial two fingers up at the club on his way out, so the club, and management, cannot just allow his departure to be the sole reason for them to change direction.

FACT – There are major divisions inside that dressing room. They were there throughout the season and only now are we learning about them. Incredibly, we are learning about them from a rookie in Sam Cronin but at least he was man enough to step up in front of the microphones postgame on Saturday. (Not sure where the captain of the team was, by the way).

FACT – While we are on the subject of the captain, this needs to change. Just as people, rightly or wrongly, will hold Cummins accountable for the divisions in the locker room, the same has to be laid at the door of Jim Brennan. Brennan seems like a decent enough guy but at the end of the day he is the leader of a group inside that locker room that have been in battle together for nine months and have come out of it even less united than they were when the pre-season began. He is also painfully past his best on the field. Rumours are rife about retirement and if that happens in the offseason the team will be better for it. At the end of the day, Brennan, who was never blessed with a lot of pace, has lost a step and is a defensive liability. Following the nonsensical trade of Todd Dunivant in the offseason, there was no cover for Brennan in that position, forcing Cummins to play a formation in 3-5-2 that was cool a decade ago until it became incredibly exposed by sides who employed fast wide players.

FACT – Ah wide players, there’s a nice thought. It really is absolutely amazing that a team with ZERO wide players made it so close to making the MLS playoffs. Spare me with the Marvell Wynne answer also. Wynne is a right back, and nothing else, for a reason. His pace enables him to go one-on-one with the speedy left wingers in the MLS but going forward he is a technical nightmare. I am amazed he remembers to take the ball with him when he makes the runs. The fact that players such as Dwayne De Rosario, Pablo Vitti, Chad Barrett and Sam Cronin were all, on occasions, played out wide only shows how important the position is. The fact that none of them took to the position well shows just how unbalanced this team was from the beginning.

FACT – Sam Cronin is a good player and has the potential to be a solid player in the MLS. However, Mo Johnston knew full well when he drafted him that he was a central player (this is where he performed so well for Wake Forest) yet still took him ahead of a defender (the team’s biggest need). I actually feel sorry for Cronin. He was a victim of a terribly constructed roster and was forced to play out of position for the ENTIRE season.

FACT – (I know I only have a short amount of time to base this on but…) Julian De Guzman is being used all wrong by this team. De Guzman is a great talent but on a team that doesn’t control the ball well he needs to be more involved. During the talk of his impending arrival many words were written and spoken about how this signalled the end for midfielder Carl Robinson. However, I could never work that out and still can’t. Robinson is the perfect player to play with De Guzman, in any formation. Toronto FC didn’t play millions of dollars for a midfielder to sit in front of the defence and give the ball to game-changers in front of him. Unfortunately, Robinson’s late-season injuries robbed us of seeing the two play together and forced De Guzman into that role but had there been adequate depth to the squad then a central midfielder like Cronin should have taken the ‘Robinson role’ allowing De Guzman to be the attacking central midfielder.

FACT – For those reasons, De Guzman will desperately hoping Robinson returns to Toronto FC next season.

FACT – Amado Guevara has to go. I give Guevara a lot of credit for the way he has changed his game but his continued desire to drop deep, coupled with his 300K contract, means he needs to be moved on. He will also have two eyes firmly on South Africa in 2010.

FACT – Football is a simple game. Get good defenders and you will win more games than you lose. The fact that, after three years, this is still the biggest problem (and with the lack of goals, that’s saying something) is nothing short of disgraceful. For the bulk of 2008 season, the combination of Marco Velez and Tyrone Marshall were repeatedly torn to shreds but anyone with a remote football brain knew that Marshall was the better player yet he wasn’t given a chance to play next to a more accomplished defender. A year later and neither are here and the replacements have been no better. Adrian Serioux, not a natural central back, should never play that position for the club ever again and the acquisition of Nick Garcia is one of the worst in the short history of this franchise. In fact, seeing that the rights to Ali Gerba were also involved in the deal, makes it THE worst deal in the history of the club. Mo Johnston may well have taken $450,000 in cash out of the MLSE bank account and set it on fire in the middle of BMO Field.

FACT – Mo Johnston has made a reputation for himself of giving out laughable contracts. Garcia and Gerba aside, the money given to Pablo Vitti is nothing short of a miracle. What actually merited Vitti getting close to 300K in the first place? The fact that he was from Argentina and good on a video game? Vitti arrived in Toronto with a reputation of a goalscorer, despite having never scored goals anywhere he’d been. Johnston was remarkable passive when it came to Vitti. A man who never shy’s away from cutting players should have known as soon as he saw Vitti have no desire to get in the box what he had signed yet stuck with him. As I have eluded to in the past, Vitti is now a client of First Wave Sports so don’t be surprised to see him back next season.

FACT – Talking about bad contracts. Its now 15 months since Toronto FC acquired Chad Barrett from Chicago, where he scored 18 goals in 82 appearances. Apparently, two months into his tenure at BMO Field, Johnston saw enough to give him a four year deal close to 200K per year. Staggering. For the record, Barrett has 9 goals in 42 appearances for Toronto FC. It takes him five games to get a goal.

FACT – Dwayne De Rosario had a good season but not a great season. Sure, it was hard playing with some of the players he did but he absolutely disappeared down the stretch. In fact, he disappeared the moment he was no longer ‘the man’ when the DP arrived. I’m just saying.

FACT – The job of becoming Toronto FC’s next coach is one that isn’t that appealing right now. Unless, MLSE are willing to sign a big fat check to entice a big name, why else would anyone want the job? They clearly will not be in charge and will have to answer to Mo Johnston and coach Mo Johnston’s players. They, like all of us, have read the reports of dressing room unrest. They know the squad is incredibly thin and even more unbalanced. Year three was the year they wanted to make the playoffs. Year four may prove to be a massive test to get to that unless big changes take place at BMO Field this winter and, folks, I’m not talking about the grass.

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[…] Mo: I don’t know that he deserves any presents after the teams he’s delivered the last three seasons to some of MLS’ best […]

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