September 14, 2009
Mo's plan in full swing
By GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA
"If you build it, they will come."
-- The voice from the cornfield in Field Of Dreams
Toronto soccer buffs have been told that since the inception of Toronto FC, a main goal of the club was to develop Canadian soccer and provide a place where young talent in this country could ply its trade at the highest level possible.
TFC has been laying the groundwork for long-term growth of the Canadian game and establishing its Academy was a definite step in the right direction.
But when TFC was built, did "they" -- as in Canadians -- come to the club? Some did, but not for long because, quite frankly, they weren't very good.
In 2009, however, all that has changed, culminating with the signing of Canada's best player, Julian de Guzman on Friday.
No longer is TFC a team with former Canadian international Jim Brennan and a handful of other Canucks. The 2009 version also has landed Canada's other top player, Dwayne de Rosario, and added some homebrew muscle in Adrian Serioux. It has shown a lot of faith in developing local defender Nana Attakora, who will get a good hard look from the national team as well.
The process of going Canadian bodes well for TFC because its director of soccer, Mo Johnston, now is stressing quality over quantity.
Johnston has been handcuffed from the get-go because of the ridiculous Major League Soccer rule restricting its number of imports. It is even crazier considering it is the only MLS team with such a disadvantage, simply because it is Canadian. You would think being a North American player would be enough, but this is MLS, after all.
Even more encouraging, Johnston tells me that only the best Canadians will do and that at least two more Canadian recruits are on his radar.
The process of Canadian recruitment has been expedited in recent months. Let's call it a pre-emptive strike with Vancouver joining MLS in 2011 -- and Montreal following it through the MLS door -- creating an all-out recruitment war for top Canadians.
So, initiating this plan of attack now is an intelligent decision by the Scotsman.
Where Johnston will be challenged with this building model is during times of international competition. With MLS not recognizing the world calendar, which is asinine, having too many internationals is a detriment.
Luckily for Johnston, the Canadian team has been all too inactive. And 2010 is a World Cup year, so the trend of Canadian inactivity most likely will continue.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., has been working on this issue with the Canadian Soccer Association. The partnership seems amicable thus far but, in the future, no doubt MLSEL will wield any power it can to keep its assets at home instead of attending to international duty.
The end game is for the international calendar to be recognized and for the import ratio to be lessened and Johnston will continue to push for both.
Pause for the cause
Kudos to the Red Patch Boys. The TFC supporters club raised $5,000 at their Terry Fox head-shave charity event on Saturday, bringing their three-year total to $40,000.
Lack of class
Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor is a disgrace. A complete lack of integrity, respect and class was shown in his team's 4-2 win over his former side, Arsenal, on Saturday.
If running the full length of the pitch after scoring to mock Arsenal supporters, inciting crowd violence, wasn't enough, trying to take Robin van Persie's face off with his studs is downright disgusting.
There is no excuse for those kinds of actions. If Manchester City wants to show it is a class organization, it will punish Adebayor in-house before the league has its say.