Surly internationals hurting TFC

GARETH WHEELER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Food poisoning is the worst.

But, the good thing about burying your head in a bucket for 24 hours is having a lot of time to think and reflect. Not about what fast-food joint ruined your weekend, but on a busy and eventful week of soccer in Toronto.

Deep breath -- first thought; forward Carlos Ruiz and his trade to Toronto.

Historically, Central American players have had a lot of success in MLS. Ruiz is no different, making Toronto FC's trade for him earlier this week a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, his achievements on the field don't disguise the red flags raised because of his poor attitude. The shenanigans he pulled during the trade process to TFC this past week, and making himself unavailable for Saturday night's match, are completely inexcusable.

All week, Ruiz reportedly was unreachable, not answering phone calls from the league or TFC. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, there's something called a cell phone, on which anyone can be reached at any time.

Being incommunicado is a choice, rather than an excuse.

If three full days isn't enough time to return from international duty, then you know where his commitment lies.

The same thing goes for Amado Guevara, who found it difficult to return on time from international duty earlier this season. Guevara is the team's most talented player, and Ruiz, upon his arrival, will be the team's most natural goal-scorer.

Both players missing games has cost TFC points, and the team lies just two points out of a playoff spot.

COSTLY CALLS

Guatemalan official Carlos Batres had Canadian soccer fans seeing red during the World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica on Wednesday.

Although there wasn't one call that cost Canada points as happened during its 2008 qualifying campaign, Batres' officiating was sub-par and took the flow out of the game, playing into the hands of the stagnant Jamaicans.

It may sound like a broken record, but CONCACAF officiating is too inconsistent, and it would be a shame if it cost Canada in the long run, yet again. Players can deal with poor officiating, if the officiating is bad both ways.

But on Wednesday, what counted as a foul for Canada clearly didn't count as the same for Jamaica. Say what you will, but the constant whistle-blowing for aggressive Canadian play took the wind out of its sails and nullified its home-field advantage.

ANOTHER CRITIC

Canadian men's national team head coach Dale Mitchell openly criticized the FieldTurf at BMO Field, saying he's glad his side doesn't play on the surface again in 2008.

Surprise, surprise -- yet another critic.

But even more surprising, for the first time Mo Johnston went public in addressing the pressing need for a grass field at BMO.

What's interesting are the comments came at the same time TFC lost its best up-and-coming player in Maurice Edu. Although Edu drew a fair ransom for his transfer to Scotland, Mo's inability to bring in an appropriate replacement left him open for criticism. Thus, cue Johnston's convenient comments about his inability to bring in players because of the turf.

Make no mistake about it, players have refused to play for Toronto simply because of the FieldTurf. Namely, forward Darren Huckerby, who would have been the perfect fit for the team.

Yet, his apprehensions about playing on the turf led him to San Jose, where he has been tearing up the league ever since.

But the timing of Mo's outcry makes it seem like he's trying to cover his own back. The turf has been an issue since Day 1, nothing has changed. But the pressure on Johnston has mounted.

Blaming the lack of players coming through the door at BMO on the turf takes the pressure off him in the short-term. But the fact remains, Mo hasn't brought in a marquee player to take this team to the next level.

The upper brass at MLSEL can't be happy about Johnston's emphatic statements. Sources say a move towards getting grass into BMO already was in the works, but it realistically won't be in place for years to come.

That's what happens when you have governmental commitments and responsibilities in place.

It would have been better for the organization if Mo had kept his mouth shut and let the process play out.

Instead, fans and media will continue to cover this story, as long as the FieldTurf hurts the product on the field.


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