Rocket Robin

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About Rocket Robin

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  • Birthday 11/30/1999

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. November 27, 2016 League 1 Ontario 2016 Awards Luncheon my take on that afternoon at: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o400.htm
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. October 15, 2016 League1Ontario League Championship Final Vaughan Azzurri 4 FCLondon 2 my take on game at: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o073.htm
  12. October 5, 2016 Aurora United FC 4 Master's Futbol 2 my take on the game at: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o072.htm
  13. October 2, 2016 Woodbridge Strikers 5 Aurora United FC 0 my take on game at: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o071.htm
  14. October 2, 2016 Toronto FC Academy 2 North Mississauga Panthers 0 my take on the game at: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o070.htm
  15. September 30, 2016 Durham United FA 2 North Toronto Nitros 3 my take on the game at: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports16/16l1o069.htm