Rocket Robin

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  1. Result and details of the Saturday April 29, 2017 League 1 Ontario game between Aurora FC and OSUF (Ottawa South United Force) played at St Maximillion Kolbe High School in Aurora at 4:00pm. 7 min...OSUF Gabriel Bitar GOAL...OSUF Dario Conte cornerkick from right is low and Bitar one-touch shoots low 10 yarder from right into low left side of net. 43 min...Aurora FC Matthew Caguana GOAL...AFC Caguana receives pass threaded through middle and from 35 yards dribbles forward and shoots into the net past goalie Dylan Roisien. 47 min...OSUF Gabriel Bitar GOAL...OSUF Marco Natoli at 45 yards on left rolls ball forward and Bitar shoots 25 yard roller into right corner of net past diving goalie Alexander Jakma. 55 min...OSUF Walker Smith on run down left is pulled down inside box. Referee Jose Sanchez-Laros awards OSUF a Penalty kick. 56 min...OSUF Dario Conte GOAL...Conte blasts Penalty kick about 6 feet high to left side of net as goalie crumples to right. Final Score:...Aurora FC.......1........Ottawa South United Force.......3....... Attendance was about 50 on this cold afternoon with a strong gusty wind from the north. Because I drove here, I could go back to my car and switch to my parka and touque which I hadn't planned to wear until tonight's game between Masters FA and Woodbridge. Referee Jose Sanchez-Laros gave out three Yellow cards—all to Aurora players. Many offsides were called on both teams especially in the first half. Both teams became spooked by these calls and were each caught with a player passing the ball forward and teammates holding back from making runs and the ball rolling out of play. The referee took advantage of the hash marks for throw-ins like saying "take it at the 40" to stop players from cheating trying to get away with lining up ten yards downfield before putting the ball back into play. This is the first League 1 Ontario game played by OSUF who are the only new men's team added to the league this season. There are 16 teams again this year with the Ottawa team filling in the spot in the Eastern Conference vacated by Kingston Clippers, one of the original franchises who did not return to the league for a fourth season. Too bad as OSUF's closest rivalry by geography would have been Kingston. Now the Toronto area teams and Ottawa have a five hour bus trip to play each other. OSUF will be back next week Saturday night to play Masters FA Saints who schedule their home games for 9:00pm kickoffs! The quality of OSUF didn't really shine through until the second half with the wind at their backs. Aurora only won four games out of twenty-two last year, their first season. OSUF maxed their subs out at five (league maximum) four of them after they had the two goal lead giving more players a chance to say they played in the club's first L1O game and a reward for the long bus ride. Aurora made four subs—two were needed for injuries in the second half. This year Aurora moved from Sheppard's Bush to a schoolyard only about a kilometer north of last year's home. I asked a team official for the reason they switched homes. He said the facilities weren't satisfactory. Both places had field turf although the new field is laced with football hash marks. The old place had dressing rooms which looked like they were just trailers towed in and dropped off. The public washroom was just another trailer. He said they had no showers. I'd say both fields had the same capacity with aluminum stands for about 600. The new place however has their stands running from about the 10 yard line in the south to the 40 yard line in the north rather than being half on each side of the 55 yard line. I switched to the other side of the field from the stands at halftime as I was still waiting for the Aurora gamesheet and I could see a lot better from the sideline then the stands which were behind a running track that kept the stands 20 yards away from the sideline. The choice of this field is just an interim solution because there are plans for the club to build their own facility another kilometer north of this field at The Aurora Family Complex on some currently unused land the official said. My eyes glazed over thinking of an 8000 pop-up Canadian Premier League stadium but they are just looking for a place for their L1O teams and all their youth teams. Aurora FC will be back here next Saturday for a home game at 7:00pm against North Toronto Nitros. Rocket Robin robing@eol.ca @RocketRobin01
  2. MASL ANNOUNCES INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION More Expansion News Promised in Coming Months KANSAS CITY (April 7, 2017) – In a Press Conference on Thursday Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) Commissioner Josh Schaub discussed the future of the league, including the first MASL franchise in Canada. The MASL will kickoff in Toronto, Canada for the 2018-2019 season.   Led by CEO Sergio Giancola and President Peter Kovacs, the new group energized the press conference with their entry into the league. Kovacs spoke for the group as he explained the history of their journey into the MASL.   "17 years ago we went down to watch the NPSL All-Star game and our idea then was to bring arena soccer to Toronto," said Kovacs. "Last January we revisited the situation, and we started to do our due diligence. What really hooked us, our group went to Hermosillo, Mexico to see the second leg of the final and what an event that was. We made our decision then to go through the application process and I’m proud to say that in December 2016 the league accepted our application."   The team will play in the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, right in the heart of the Toronto metro area. They will begin play in 2018 in order to set up their staff and drum up local support of the franchise.   "We are very excited to bring in a group of this caliber to the MASL and to expand the league’s reach into Canada," said Schaub. "With the inclusion of Toronto, we will further the league’s fan base and the excitement of the game."   Kovacs closed out his remarks with a promise to the rest of the MASL.   "We are not coming into the league just to compete. We want to put a product on the field that will chase the championship right from the get-go."   Schaub also announced last night that the Brownsville franchise will resume play in 2017-2018 as the Rio Grande Valley Barracudas. The team will play in the 6,800 seat State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, TX. The MASL commissioner also noted that there were more announcements to come in the coming months.   ABOUT THE MAJOR ARENA SOCCER LEAGUE The Major Arena Soccer League represents the highest level of professional arena soccer in the world. The MASL features teams across North America, with teams playing coast-to-coast in the United States and Mexico. The MASL is currently incorporated as a 501(c)6 not for profit corporation formed to promote the business and sport of arena soccer.
  3. Result and details from the Friday April 7, 2017 USL game between Toronto FC II and Rochester Rhinos played at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan at 7:30pm. Final Score:.....Toronto FC II.......0......Rochester Rhinos.......0.... Attendance was announced as 523 on this brutally cold and windy evening. Temperature was only + 3 Celsius. Toronto had an inch of snow fall overnight and although it had melted by the late afternoon, because they must have shoveled the turf, there was a border of snow just a few feet from the sideline and each end zone. I figured about 100 fans or more left at halftime especially the ones with young kids. Thankfully TFC II head coach Jason Bent gifted me a full length TFC parka at the TFC II SSH event a week and a half ago so I didn't even mind the aluminum benches that make up the stands. Man of the Match (who I assume is always a TFC II player) was named as T&T defender Jelani Peters. He had a few key stops by diving headers and a magnificent block at 69 minutes by doing the splits to poke the ball away from RR Ryan James who otherwise was in alone at 20 yards. He injured himself on that play but returned to the game. Fellow TFC II T&T forward Aikim Andrews was fed passes but was either checked off the ball before shooting or rolled softies to the goalie or wide of the net. Goalies Angelo Cavalluzzo of TFC II and Tomas Gomez of Rhinos earned shutouts for their teams. Other best non-scoring chances were at 19 minutes with RR Kennardo Forbes taking his third cornerkick from the right side within two minutes had RR Wal Fall head at 10 yards up the middle that the goalie jumped for but the ball hit the top of the bar for a goal kick. 43 minutes had RR Kennardo Forbes take a 35 yard freekick from the right and RR Darius Madison headed a 7 yarder wide left of the post. 51 minutes had TFC Ben Spencer roll a pass to his left for the charging Ryan Telfer at the 30 yard line. He rolled a cross from near the end line and the goalie beat Aikim Andrews to dive on the ball at 3 yards even with the left post. 74 minutes had RR Kenardo Forbes take a cornerkick from the left and RR Ryan Felix headed a 12 yarder down the middle and TFC Dyvind Alseth headed the ball away at 3 yards on the right post. 90 minutes had RR Jordan Dover chip a ball from 20 yards on the right that goalie Angelo Cavalluzzo caught on the left post a split second before RR Rayane Boukemia got his head to it from 3 yards. Ryan Telfer had an injury time shot that he rolled down the middle from 20 yards just wide left of the post. Referee David Barrie gave out three Yellow cards and all in the second half in a game that wasn't rough at all. I don't think any players felt like going in for sliding tackles on the hard turf tonight. TFC II list 14 Canadians on their roster out of 28 players listed. Sounds good except that tonight there were only three of them starting (goalie Angelo Cavalluzo, and midfielders Ryan Telfer and Malik Johnson). Midfielder Sergio Camargo came in at halftime just as Johnson left. The Rhinos have two Canadians on their roster and used both for the full 90 minutes. Jordan Dover played well in defence. I watched him play the last two years with Durham United in League 1 Ontario. I watched midfielder Ryan James back in 2012 when he played for TFC Academy in the CSL and for TFC in the MLS Reserve League. TFC Academy kids were paraded to the center circle at halftime. They looked about age 12. From the MLSE Presidents Breakfast it was mentioned that TFC won't be running an academy for players under age 14 starting this year (except for the kids already in their program). Sounded like the last player introduced was Mason(?) Vanney—ohoh probably the MLS head coach Greg Vanney's son. Greg is the uncle of TFC defender Eric Zavaleta. So not enough Canadian players got on the field for my liking. This year there are only three subs allowed in USL games so that limits their opportunities. TFC is not operating a PDL team any longer so although PDL rosters are mostly stocked with NCAA players on summer break, TFC got a lot of minutes for TFC II and TFC Academy players. MLSE president Bill Manning said he wants to help the proposed new Canadian league as long as it doesn't operate in Toronto so what would be easier for him than announcing that TFC II is now known as Winnipeg FC and they can dump the production of entertaining 500 fans expecting the bumpkins not in the GTA to think this is the big league? Tsubasa Endoh seems to be the only player from the MLS dump- down remaining with TFC II. He took all the corners and most of the freekicks tonight with mixed success. Kennardo Forbes did the same for the Rhinos. TFC II captain this year is returning defender Mitch Taintor. He was featured on the two-page match program but was subbed at halftime. There was no weather advantage for the home team as Rochester is just across Lake Ontario on the American side. Maybe MLS Atlanta will be at a disadvantage in the city tomorrow but then they beat Minnesota in a snowstorm a few weeks ago! TFC II's #1 goalie Mark Pais was recently signed by the MLS team because of the long term injury to Clint Irwin. TFC didn't let Irwin just sit around. He'd been promoted all week by TFC as a reason to come to tonight's game. He was in the autograph tent in the south end. How would he sign a near black picture postcard? With a silver coloured Sharpie! I gave him a list of game reports I'd written in 2011 when he played for Capital City FC (Ottawa) in their one season of existence in the CSL. Most interesting will be his game against TFC Academy when Jordan Hamilton scored on him and the opposing goalie Angelo Cavalluzzo was Red carded. He was tonight's TFC II goalie. Rhinos have replaced their forwards this season. Steevan Dos Santos now plays for Ottawa Fury (oh-oh that's TFC II's next game!) Christian Volesky now plays for Saint Louis FC and last week was named USL Player of the Week. His teammate includes Wesley Charpie who was a TFC II defender last season. Mark Pais played for Saint Louis last year (not a trade between clubs). I wonder if in the back of his mind he thought he'd have the chance of moving up to play in the MLS by moving to an MLS 'II' team? Fans were given a soccer ball keychain on the way in and a fridge magnet (comparable to the one we were given last week at the MLS team's game) on the way out. Home team players each threw a mini ball into the crowd after the national anthems. This was the home opener for TFC II. This was freakishly cold but it can't be unexpected at this time of year. Of course better weather would be certain if the game was played in the daytime—this weekend as the MLS TFC team is playing Saturday, Sunday afternoon would have been better. TFC II opened with three games on the road to start the season—Arizona and two games in Florida. They now go on another three game road trip and aren't back until Saturday May 13th when they play Bethlehem Steel at BMO Field at 6:00pm--right after the MLS game. Rocket Robin robing@eol.ca
  4. and it you like pictures see this at http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports17/17tfc241.htm and page down!
  5. March 28, 2017 USL Toronto FC II--TFC II Season Seat Holder Ticket Pick-Up Event (by Rocket Robin) Details of the Tuesday March 28, 2017 Toronto FC II Season Seat Holders ticket pickup held at the KIA Training Centre between 6:00pm and 8:00pm in Downsview. I wasn't planning on getting there right at the beginning but seemed to hit every green light and found a shortcut roadway from the north that was still open from last year and found myself at the entrance before anyone had been let in. The bubble was still up at this time of year although I'd seen a tweeted photo of the MLS squad earlier today training outdoors which made sense as they will be playing their season opener outside at BMO Field on Friday night so they better get used to the cold weather. I didn't notice nor expect any of the first team at tonight's event. I was looking forward to, yet partially dreading writing up this event because I'm not good with names. Even outside with fellow fans I've forgotten names but mentally refer to them as 'autograph collector guy', 'photo taking guy', 'maintenance-guy-from-the-building-where-I-used-to-work'. Just say hello but don't say their name. Ohoh! The players were all wearing red polo shirts but no name tags. Let's see how I do! First check in by the entranceway. There is a bit of a hold up but it was caused by a group of boys chatting with some of the players helping man the reception desk. There's my TFC II rep Alex Adamo. The list is confined to one page—no more than 40 to 50 names. "Not many season ticket holders!" I blurt out. Oops. Of course they could be one name per pair/foursome/group of tickets I offer. Alex said that not every SSH would come here tonight. I estimated later that there was constantly an average of 100 fans during the evening. Further along the desk a player put his hand out to say hello. I had to ask who he was. "Mark Pais". Oooh the goalie who earned the shutout for the team on Saturday in their season opener away to Phoenix Rising. Now what did I want to ask him? "You played for Saint Louis last year and you tweeted that you were glad you were coming to Toronto but some of your older tweets thanked the St Louis fans--your hometown, why did you leave?" He answered that it was a change of coaches and of the team's philosophy and he was happy that a new opportunity arose in Toronto. I've read that this season TFC II defender Wesley Charpie plays for Saint Louis but that is not related to Pais' move. I was given an envelope which contained my season's ticket stuck together like linked saugages. A smaller link of just two tickets were for the games at BMO Field because it is possible that some TFC II fans are not going to the MLS game earlier in the day. No fan declaration letter from the MLSE brass nor TFC II seat cushion like last year. Still a great deal at $96 for 16 games—that's less than the price of one of my 'premium' tickets for the MLS team. I walked a gauntlet of players lining the staircase upstairs. Ok not so bad I do know about half the players. I wanted to piece a roster together of TFC II and TFC III. TFC II has actually started their season so there were eighteen plus news releases had announced signings and a recent 'loan' of six players from their MLS roster. Midfielder Liam Fraser! He played the full 90 minutes in all three games for the Canadian U-20 team in CONCACAF qualifying in Costa Rica. Soccer is a good way to see the world. There's TFC II's assistant coach Chris Pozniak. There's no PDL team this year (also the USL has reduced the number of subs per game from six to three) so it will be tougher to get playing time for everybody. Fourteen less games to evaluate talent! I'd written down a roster of TFC III players (last year known as TFC Academy) from the last League 1 Ontario game I saw them play on October 2nd last season. I asked if he could check off who would NOT be back. There's still a month before the L1O season begins so the roster is not finalized. Danny Dichio is the TFC III coach this year taking over from Stuart Neely who left the organization to coach in Delta BC. I told him I had a feeling MLSE Bill Manning said they are willing to help the new CPL league as long as they don't operate in Toronto and offered up the TFC II roster. That might mean one day he might announce that the entire roster has become FC Winnipeg! No PDL team, no more operating TFC teams for players under the age of 14, maybe he'd jettison the TFC II team operating up in Vaughan and their loyal 700 fans! Winnipeg could help with player salaries. MLSE cost cutting? TFC II head coach Jason Bent helped me check off another few names and also fill out the rest of the TFC III coaching staff. Neither Pozniak nor Bent know which TFC players may play for the still operating PDL K-W United team but Bent says that the coach is a scout for TFC. Pozniak is also an assistant coach for TFC III so will be able to recommend players to move up. They referred TFC III as their U-20 team. Last year their L1O team was referred to as U-17. I sympathized with Bent for last year having to juggle his roster on short notice for such things as to accommodate rehabbing MLS Clint Irwin in goal who allowed four then five goals in his first TFC II games. I got to talking to him about the editor of one site I write for deleting all my posts for the TFC PDL team as the team no longer exists. That's not the only site that revises history. Bent himself didn't just become TFC II head coach in November 2014 but he was the assistant coach of the MLS team since 2011 and I'd get to games early and wave to him after he'd arranged the pylons for the player warm up and I watched him as head coach at the first ever TFC Academy game in 2008 in the CSL when they upset the previous year's champs Toronto Croatia at Lamport Stadium. Pozniak I used to cheer for on Toronto Lynx starting back in 1999. There's other sites that revise history. Raheem Edwards started L1O in 2014 on Internacional de Toronto (a team that folded before I had a chance to see them) and finished the year with ANB Futbol (same TFC PDL editor deleted ANB history so you can't read about 14 year old Adonijah Reid lighting up the league and who now was drafted by FC Dallas). I told him of my scheduling in the last few years how I could squeeze in so many games (TFC, TFC II, TFC PDL, Cdn Nat games when in Toronto, plus 41 L1O games) while on special leave from work so I could become a caregiver for my father. "You're always coming to our games!" he said. I wanted to take a tour of the building so went back downstairs (yes I saw it as recently as last year) but waited for the previous one to end. While I was waiting Bent came along the hallway as there must have been a second stairway and put a TFC parka in my hands. "For your years of support" he said. I of course thanked him. The parka I wore tonight has certain stretches that have faded in the sun and there's duct tape on a sleeve to patch a huge tear when I caught it on a door. Maybe not quite as bad as the Dolly Parton song. Was it because I told him my father had died in October? No it doesn't matter. I asked him on the way out if I could tell anyone or keep it a secret. No, he said it was fine. Looks like two players are going to show me around. Yes midfielder Luca Uccello I recognized. I said I remembered his father from the final home game of last season as a home-builder and one of the sponsors of the team. They had a draw for a KIA car and the winner became the owner of the car whereas the MLS team's grand prize was a two year LEASE of a KIA car! I had to ask who the other player was. Matthew Srbely. Oh the first professional player in League 1 Ontario I said. Yep. Yes I had been asking L1O chair Dino Rossi Jr each year if there were any pros in their semi-pro league yet and he always said no. I knew there were a few players who made some money teaching at some of their academy summer camps or doing office work but this was the first player signing pro contract and staying with the league. First stop the TFC (MLS) dressing room. Last year I couldn't step inside but this year it was OK. A full size ping-pong table in the middle of the room. Next a room with a swimming pool and jacuzzi. I told the guys I remembered this when it still had paint cans as the team offered a tour of the facilities and the building wasn't finished in time. The gym/weight room. These were being used as there were some Academy players training in here. I only could recognize one person—one of MLS head coach Greg Vanney's red-headed kids watching the workout. I didn't notice Vanney there tonight. Next the TFC II dressing room. Well it's only about one-third the size of the MLS team. Interesting I opened up my notes so I could write three more TFC II player names that were taped on to the change cubicles. Ryan Telfer also had a taped on name as he's such a new signing. Next was to go inside the bubble. There was a full size turf field where TFC III plays its games. There were a group of kids holding a practice there. Uccello speculated they may the the U-12s. I heard at the President's Breakfast last month that they will be keeping their spots it's just in future years TFC will not be operating with any teams under 14. I also offered up a story of how the Centre was flooded one rainy fall night and three inches of water was washing down the halls. Ok well now the tour is over and I went upstairs to have something to eat. Players were in the cafeteria along the hall to chat. Sausage rolls and swish-kabobs of pieces of fruit. Coffee and cookies for dessert. I asked which player was Ryan Telfer. He scored the only goal in the opening game win last week. I read he played for York University and Vaughan Azzurri but I hadn't got to see him play in any Vaughan games—the teams often played on the same weekend and some players were on both squads. I told him I looked in my own records and found that I'd only watched him play one game and that was for Mississauga Eagles of the CSL in 2012 when he came on as a sub against Niagara and I honestly don't remember that game. My write-up of that game is linked on his Wikipedia page! Well I'll see him this year and am glad to watch Canadians play. Some messages on the message boards ranted about the lack of Canadians with TFC but that was refuted by counter messages. I'd counted 11 Canadians on the USL site for TFC II. The lack of any Canadian defenders so far is a concern for me. The count (done by other message board members is about the same as last year). Expect more Canadians when they settle in from returning from the national U-20 and U-23 teams. Let's compile my roster lists from all the sources I have: Toronto FC II goalies Mark Pais, Angelo Cavalluzzo defenders Lars Eckenrode, Brandon Onkony, Mitchell Taintor midfielders Aidan Daniels, Liam Fraser, Brian James, Malike Johnson, Anthony Osorio, Luca Uccello, Jordan McCrary, Matthew Srbely forwards Shaan Hundal, Ricardo John, Ryan Telfer, Ben Spencer plus loaned down from TFC: defenders Oyvind Alseth and Brandon Aubrey; midfielders Tsubasa Endoh, Markey Delgado, Jay Chapman and Raheem Edwards and names taped to cubicles in TFC II dressing room: Luis Pereira midfielder from Panama Jelani Peters midfielder from T & T Aikim Andrew forward from T & T Bubacarr Jobe midfielder has been loaned out to Skovde AIK in Sweden. Toronto FC III of League 1 Ontario: (so far) goalies Brogan Engbers, Sunny Dhaliwal, (and Phil Di Bennardo?) defenders Steven Furlano, and Jacob Maurulto-Robinson midfielders Matthew Srbely, Nicholas Osorio, Cyrus Rollocks, Dante Campbell, Malik Smith, Kota Sakurai, Glenn Muenkat, Armando Caracciolo, and Marko Mandekic. Forwards Richie Ennin Bent and Pozniak helped me check off that defenders Klaidi Cela and Marko Maletic and forward Reshon Phillip would NOT be with TFC this year. Bent listed this year's TFC III coaching staff as: head coach Danny Dichio assistant coach Chris Pozniak goalkeeping coach Phil Boerger physio Andy Choi equipment manager Frank Russo team administrator Jordan Custoreri Well that list confirms that all three Osorio brothers are still in the TFC family. Meanwhile on the other side of the world earlier today the Canadian U-23 team defeated Qatar 2-0 with goals from TFC first team player Jordan Hamilton and former TFC Academy player (2010 to 2012) Michael Petrasso. Almost ready to leave and I asked Alex Adamo if TFC II media guy Adam Krueger was here. Yes right near the exit. I told him I liked his game reports giving a complete listing of the lineups. (a lot of teams don't list the rosters and even the USL website doesn't list all the subs—ie if you didn't get in the game you weren't there!). I pointed out that I was the guy who privately tweeted him that his TFC II preview had listed midfielder 'Brain James' which no spellchecker is going to catch. "He may be a smart midfielder but he's still only 'B-R-I-A-N' James". I told him a short story of the early internet days when someone started a fan site for the leader of the Beach Boys 'Brain Wilson' and didn't get many hits. Time to drive home and decompress before I go swimming tonight. I guess I was inside for just over an hour. How much will I remember? Later I realized I'd forgotten to look for their trophy case to see if I could see the Voyageurs Cup. That would have been another boast as I could have said that I helped pay for it when the Voyageurs fans were raising funds in 2002. TFC II's first home game is Friday April 7th at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan at 7:30pm against Rochester Rhinos although before that they still have two road games against Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B. Rocket Robin robing@eol.ca twitter @RocketRobin01
  6. If you'd like to hear the entire 22 minute press conference as a sound file you can hear it on my site at http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports17/17cana01.htm
  7. March 17, 2017 Canada Soccer--Announcement of new Canadian Men's national team coach (by Rocket Robin) Details of the press conference held Friday March 17, 2017 at 10:00am in the Pier 4 Room of the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in downtown Toronto. Attendance was about thirty people all formally invited by the Canadian Soccer Association with two days notice. Before it started everyone knew about the appointment. When I first received the e-mail, I didn't know and wondered why anything about the 'Canada's men's national team' would be announced in Toronto as the team will be playing Curacao on June 13th in Montreal and that would be the place to pump up the enthusiasm. Ooh maybe it's the announcement of the new Canadian league? That's been overdue and keeps getting delayed. Hmm. Then I started getting twitter messages and e-mails that it was to announce a new head coach it made some sence. Toronto the 'media capital of Canada'---when the Canadian Women's team played a friendly in Vancouver, the result didn't make Toronto's papers (time zones) and by the next day it was old news. Also I asked Richard Scott after the conference whether Zambrano could speak French. No! English and Spanish. Well English speaking Toronto solves that. I always thought Benito Floro could have used a translator just because he was so soft spoken. A small head table on an elevated stage had the President of Canada Soccer Peter Montagliani, newly announced Men's Head Coach Octavio Zambrano and Victor Montopoli, General Secretary of the CSA. Montagliani and Zambrano gave opening remarks before taking questions from the media. Montagliani immediately announced Zambrano as the new head coach of the Men's team but also supervision of the entire men's side of the program from U-15s right to the Senior team. The CSA wanted to change the structure of the entire program so there's be "uniformity" and "one voice". Secondly it is because Zambrano has so much experience in all the coaching he's done. He then outlined briefly the wealth of experience OZ brings to the position. PM thinks this will be the most challenging position OZ has faced. Even more challenging than CONCACAF is ourselves! Meaning the Canadian culture and negative mindset that we have and we've only started to shed it in the last four or five years. OZ has some excellent instincts for the game, he's a winner, not afraid to take on challenges. We're confident he's the right person for the job. OZ starts by expressing his deepest gratitude to all the people of the CSA for making him feel welcome. We have a responsibily not only to the first team, the Olympic team but the grassroots level and all the national teams in between. With them we must create an identity of football. To ensure that Canada reaches not just the next level but the highest level. "I feel I've prepared all my life for this job!" "I am thankful and will not disappoint". Next the new Umbro Canada soccer jersey is unveiled. It's all white with red trim, letters and numbers. I can't see a difference between it and other jerseys over the years. Click click click! Go the cameras. The two of them turn it around and it reads 17 and Zambrano. Now questions from the floor: Kristian Jack TSN: VM what made it stand out that OZ was the right guy? VM: experience factor but also the ability to take on the role for the program. James Sharman Sportsnet: OZ well known for turning around teams quickly but at the club level, what's your biggest challenge at the international level? OZ: I've spoken to quite a few colleagues and international coaches while doing my research. The selection process of the player is the most important. Making sure they have the right quality. The BEST of the Canadian squad is a good group...young guys coming up and guys that have been scouted. A different guy from TSN: VM Too many voices? What did OZ sell you on in terms of development? What is his philosophy? OZ answers first: age 3 to 12 is the age of discovery. It is a critical time as we must achieve a total mastery of the ball. Ie wel should be able to teach any technical ability that the game requires. Then at age 12 or 13 game strategies but we have to have the skills first. As we work on the first team (priority) we should also be looking after the bottom half/the grass roots Teach and monitor that the skills are being taught. VM: Not just OZ's ability to do the job but it's more a cultural thing. Canada one of the few places where we have a lack of respect for the system. Not the result of not getting the (game) results because other countries also don't get results. We already have coaching books/strategies. It's all there, follow it. The problem is people want to pull off the training sessions from Everton Football Club rather than using the resources we have here. We have an amateur environment and it's killing us. That's one of the reasons we have to grow on the professional side. We're starting to do that but it's the early days. Anthony Totera from Red Card: When you were in the process of taking this position with the promise of a league that will be set up here in Canada so you can have a look at more Canadian talent? OZ: It is the utmost importance that we have our own league! I commend VM, PM and everyone for making sure this is done. There are a lot of player that are a lot peripheral players at the highest levels of North America and Europe. They are there but they are not playing/getting quality minutes! The league will give them that opportunity. It will also give me a chance to monitor them and interact with the coaches. We will not rely on the MLS environment. We will make decisions for the benefit of the Canadian players. [I was 'marking out' for this answer as I watched Toronto FC play Philadelphia Union on the weekend with TFC having no Canadian starters. Also even TFC II have been making announcements for new goalie from St Louis USA, new Finnish guy signed etc]. Kristian Jack TSN: (for VM) Other countries head coaches are strictly evaluated for results on the field. This feels different. An enormous job! Should there be patience shown if the results don't come very quickly for the senior squad? VM: Yeah there has to be patience but we have to accelerate the attitude that winning is important. There's a guy sitting behind you—our U-17 coach—trust me, he likes to win [that is Paul Stalteri]. He (PS) also knows he has a job on the development perspective but he's not going to just go there, he wants to qualify. You can't undermine development for an attitude of winning (winning is part of development). The problem with that in the professional environment we must balance winning and development. Because we are mostly in an amateur environment we don't balance that we get into an ugly parent syndrome. Winning is '1A' if development is '1'. Richard Scott from CSA: For our first home match in Montreal, OZ talk about your passion. OZ: We can't step onto the pitch without having the passion to win at all costs but fairly. We've been happy to participate but we've not been keen enough to think that we can win. If you don't have the fire to make that extra move to go all in then you won't be part of this program. Anthony Totera again: Have you decided on your coaching staff? Also are you going to try to convince some of the players that have not committed to Canada to play for us? OZ: Yes (for second question) me and the CSA must try to convince the players that this is a big issue for us and we truly want him to have the honour to wear the Canadian jersey. We must say the right thing to make them commit. Very important to engage with them. First question he introduces his staff (who were not there). Fitness Trainer Norberto Salamanca all his exercises involve the ball. Assistant coach Javier Livia will bring his knowledge of Europe. Assistant coach Michael Findlay will stay on. He has a knowledge of Canadian soccer. Zak Abdel as goalkeeper coach has worked with OZ since LA Salsa days. Experienced and great at finding young players. Wrap up and instructions for break out sessions given. Thank yous. After the former part of the press conference, the reporters broke up for individual interviews with Montagliani and Zambrano which meant the camera crews shoved their way in to pick up the sound bites. Some of this would be picked up on the lunchtime news and it was being tweeted about while the conference was in progress. I certainly couldn't compete with this. I heard the very end of Montagliani answering questions about the new Canadian league. He said there'ld be a MINIMUM of six teams to start. Some teams may join by the second year. He said he only has six weeks left of his three year term as president of the CSA. (he has been elected as head of CONCACAF). He said it was "a tough decision but the right decision". I asked Anthony Totera about if he'd heard when there may be an announcement but all he would say was "soon". Paul Stalteri was there and he remains the men's Under 17 head coach. I pointed out to the Toronto Star reporter Laura Armstrong that for the last five days the print edition of their paper has published the MLS Standings with 'New York' (as opposed to New York City) holding both first place in the East and second place in the West (instead of Houston). Do you think if it was an error in the hockey or baseball standings that this would carry on for an entire week? There's my niche! The Periscope broadcast of this press conference has disappeared and video will be squeezed to 20 second clips for the sports news. I have the entire 22 minutes of the formal press conference which I can post! I expected reporters would place their recorders, phones, etc on the table like the last Toronto press conference but no one did so I didn't either. I am behind the times. Good thing I was in the front row and my two little Sandisks (one for back up) picked up good enough! Rocket Robin robing@eol.ca
  8. Details of the TFC Presidents Breakfast held on Friday February 24, 2017 at Real Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Toronto from 8:30 to 10:30am. E-mail said "Breakfast will be provided and we may have a surprise in store regarding the new 2017 jersey". The presentation got started at 9:30am with a stage of TFC broadcaster Luke Wileman as the MC; former player Steven Caldwell who it was announced in his intro will now be on all the TFC broadcasts; Bill Manning president of TFC; and Tim Bezbatchenko general manager of TFC. Of course the players and head coach are still in Florida for the team's preseason so we didn't expect to see them here today. Manning answered his own 'proud of the team question' with a statement of the team having unfinished business for 2017. He thanked the fans and the media for their support. He said he held the position for eight to ten years for Real Salt Lake and their fans were uneducated whereas Toronto fans were very knowledgeable about the history of soccer in Toronto then he name-dropped Metros Croatia, the Blizzard, and the Lynx. A short video was shown named 'Dawn of the Reds'. There was a quote of 'the streets run red' and a soccer ball on fire, a little girl looking out her bedroom window at night and seeing rioters (oops supporters) with torches on the street. [Sorry guys I'm ignorant about the new TV shows with zombies etc so I go back to historical quotes I've seen from dictators about the streets running red with blood.] The video is on their website so I expect the chief demographic will have previewed it and loved it before it came out. Manning continued by saying he thought TFC were the best club in the league from August until the end of the season. We want to win the MLS championship but also have longevity (like LA Galaxy during their five championship years). To achieve this it starts with a core of players instead of rebuilding the club each year (like early TFC teams). Wileman and Caldwell now looped some softball questions at Manning and Bezbatchenko. Manning answered the Sebastian Giovinco-to-China rumours that were circulating back in January. He said those reports were greatly exaggerated. Because Seba had said he was happy in Toronto, they weren't worried but to be polite he and the agent listened to all the offers. Manning warned us he was going to tell a joke about teams wanting to talk to Seba with "where's my cheque?" which drew the only boos of the morning from the crowd but he had told us it was a joke. Manning said the team this morning was unveiling a new jersey but BMO who he called "The Bank of Soccer" even though they also sponsor Montreal Impact will continue to be on the jerseys and this year EVERY TFC team will have the BMO logo on their jersey (including academy teams). A short video of every TFC jersey since 2007 was shown in a game highlight package (I was more intent on watching some of the players shown to bring back my own memories). Jerseys have included red, gray, black/onyx, and the blue hoop on white for last year's heritage games but mostly the jersey's have been red 90% of the time. A lady was brought onstage who I assumed was from BMO but the acoustics weren't the best and she wished good luck to the team for the season starting on Saturday (oops that's next Saturday). Caldwell now asked Bezbatchenko questions: Q. How to rally the boys right after the season ended? A. How incredibly far they've come, they were a bit short finishing third, they want to be a contender EVERY year, from midway through the season to the MLS Cup they were the best team in the MLS. This year there's a chip on their shoulder and unity. Q. The two new signings? A. We do have a strong core that we wanted to keep on the team. They have kept 14 of the top 15 game minutes leaders from last year's team. There was just some 'tweaking' required for teams that were starting to sit back on us....that's the reason Victor Vazquez was signed as he can break down opponent's defenses. He played for Cruz Azul but because last year he wasn't getting the playing time he wanted and his family didn't like living there, we obtained him for TAM money. Chris Mavinga is a defender at left back and will provide depth for Justin Morrow. He played in Russia but didn't like the environment and was loaned to some French clubs. He will be a competitor with Nick Hagglund for a starting position. Bez continued: Forward Tosaint Ricketts, goalie Clint Irwin, and defender Benoit Cheyrou (big applause from attendees) were all re-signed. He praised new player Sergio Camargo (midfielder). It's the 21 to 30 spots on the roster in player depth that are still being determined. Caldwell question: Video replays? TB answers: MLS will start video replays because of FIFA starting this initiative. There will be an extra assistant referee able to review plays in the press box. It can be a real game changer but will only be used to review goals, penalty kick calls and Red cards. We're excited by this new tech. Ex players Dwayne DeRosario and Danny Dichio were now introduced to wave to the fans. Fan questions were now taken: Q. An embarrassment of riches? A (by Tim B): Everything is on the table, that is playing time must be earned! Peoples' jobs are on the line. There's a culture of pushing players through the Academy. There will be an opportunity in the Canadian Championship to use younger players. More home grown players will advance. Q. What happened to the Academy below age 14? A (by Bruce M): The team wanted to be widespread so instead of just having 20 players they want 200 in the 10-13 age groups until they reach age 14. It will raise the level of competition. He used the example of how DeRo came up from local teams. They are not getting rid of their own 10-13s, we're getting smarter. [A team official from North Toronto Nitros was at my table and helped flesh out the meaning for me]. TFC had a bad reputation of poaching players from other clubs and then cutting them leaving them to drift back to their old teams. Now it looks like they will let the 10-13s (except the ones already in their system) stay with their own clubs but just be called in to training sessions, workshops etc. Q. European players for MLS? The prospects MLS will be able to attract players when European Nat team coaches discourage it? A (by Tim B): China and Russia are limited to attracting players despite the money offered. TAM money will attract and influx of European players. Worldwide, players are attracted to North America because of safety concerns and the reliability of the players getting paid! (examples of Europa league teams three months behind in payroll). Manning adding that "Seba should have played for Italy at Euro 2016" drew the biggest spontaneous applause of the morning. Q. (from member of supporter group Tribal Rhythm Nation): Replay technology? Can teams use it? (like the NFL challenge flag). A (by Tim B): No! Only the referee assistant in the booth can use it. It will be a locked booth (haha). It is a good thing to try it out. Bill M thanked the Tribal Rhythm Nation and the other five fans support groups for uniting last year. (big applause from the attendees). Q. Is Raheem Edwards getting a contract? A (by Tim B): We will let the player and the player agent know first. We are looking at him to fill a role so stay tuned! Q. How did you get the supporter groups for such authentic looking videos? A (by Tim B): The camera crews were excellent etc.... There was a player video shown for the crowd (because the players are actually in Florida in preseason). Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco rotated through a series of answers. On consistency question 'we all know the system, we have the same end goal but go one further. Jozy added they are all 'must win' games, don't give up silly points. Michael added "treat every game equally". Jozy on fans 'we have 12 men'. Seba said 'we can feel the energy'. Wileman bragged about Seba learning so much English in the last 12 months. True but I still think there were some awkward pauses in his answers. Wileman said merchandise was 20% off (third reminder already!) Wileman and Caldwell broke up the meeting at 10:30am although it wasn't a surprise as they were ticking off 'time for two more questions', 'one more question'... Wileman then bragged about a plan for a backwards running race in the parking lot against Caldwell during a TFC broadcast. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Alright! My time to get busy. The crowd headed for the exits and Manning was mobbed by pro reporters (don't these people get interviews with the players and staff everyday already?...when do fans ever get to ask questions?) I saw a chance to ask Tim B some questions while he waited for his turn in the scrum and that's why his time was limited. OK. I confirmed with him that there will be no Toronto FC team in the PDL this year. He said TFC III will not be all Under 17 like it was last year (I noticed on the website they were being called U-20). He said TFC III will be the first pro team in League 1 Ontario as some of the players will be under contract. He said the team will still be young but will have some returning college players play in the summer. (I confirmed with L1O chair Dino Rossi last season that there were no pros in the league—although some of the players pick up some money at kids summer camps). Now Bezbatchenko was called to the scrum but over there was Danny Dichio! Great he is the coach of TFC III for this season as Stuart Neely who I saw back in November at the L1O awards banquet gave up that position a few weeks later to go off to Delta BC to become head coach of South Delta United SC. My questions for Dichio: No PDL club, USL (ie TFC II) new rules down to three subs a game instead of five last year how will all your players find time to play? DD: TFC will still have a relationship with PDL but it will mean loaning returning university players to PDL teams. K-W United was mentioned and we both gushed about Sergio Camargo who did the TFC Academy (2010 CSL Rookie of the Year Award while with Toronto FC Academy II), Coastal Carolina U, Syracuse U, and K-W United road. Wilmington dropped back to PDL this year so maybe they could take some players I suggested. I gave the example of L1O player Kota Sakurai (1016 L1O Young Player of the Year) who split time between the TFC teams in L1O, PDL, and USL last season as being one who would be limited by lack of opportunities. Dichio said Kota will be attending Dartmouth College from August onward. Now it's my turn to leave! I had a question in reserve about TFCs relationship with the new CPL league that I wanted to ask Tim B but he had left when the scrum ended. That one I might get a chance to ask someone at the TFC II season seat holder ticket pick up (an underling said they were still working out the details of that at this time). Let's see if the pro reporters asked something about it for tomorrow's papers! Rocket Robin robing@eol.ca
  9. The PDL schedule was released at the beginning of the week and by not showing a listing for Toronto FC it looks like the TFC PDL team is gone! K-W United is still in. While the 50 or so fans might miss them, with USL adopting a three subs a game limit and no PDL team, it leaves less playing time for such guys as midfielder Kota Sakurai who got into a lot of games and won League 1 Ontario honours as 'Young Player of the Year' with TFC Academy.
  10. TFC II sent out renewal e-mail notices for 2017 season. A SSH like I was last year gets 16 games x $6.00 = $96.00 (bonus a pair of tickets to the MLS team's Canadian Championship match). If you renew by Feb 6th. [last year it was 15 games x $5.00 = $75.00 That's season tickets for the equivalent of one game of my TFC (MLS) SSH ticket. Only risk here is the USL schedule hasn't been released yet.
  11. TFC II sent out renewal e-mail notices for 2017 season. A SSH like I was last year gets 16 games x $6.00 = $96.00 (bonus a pair of tickets to the MLS team's Canadian Championship match). If you renew by Feb 6th. [last year it was 15 games x $5.00 = $75.00 That's season tickets for the equivalent of one game of my TFC (MLS) SSH ticket. Only risk here is the USL schedule hasn't been released yet.
  12. November 27, 2016 League 1 Ontario 2016 Awards Luncheon my take on that afternoon at: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o400.htm
  13. November 12, 2016 My take on the second leg of the Canadian Division 3 National Championship Inter-Provincial Cup between Vaughan Azzurri and CS Mont Royal Outremont http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o074.htm
  14. Rocket Robin's Soccer In Toronto year end editorial for 2016... 83 games in the GTA area so far this year! http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16cana03.htm
  15. Rocket Robin's Soccer In Toronto year end editorial for 2016... 83 games in the GTA area so far this year! http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16cana03.htm