TFC: No more Mr. Niceguys

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:32 PM ET

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston plans to borrow a page from the playbook of old time Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe today when his expansion Major League Soccer side opens its home season in front of 20,000 fans at BMO Field.

He said he wants his team to lay a beating on the Kansas City Wizards right from the opening kick, much the way Smythe exhorted his NHL hockey teams in the 1950s to win on the ice and in the alley.

Johnston said he was angered at the physical liberties the Wizards took against his team Wednesday in the first game of the home and home series that resumes today.

"We got pushed around by (Nick) Garcia and (Jimmy) Conrad, that's for sure," the coach said yesterday after the team's final practice for big debut. "I can guarantee you that it won't happen (today)."

Johnston said that the first TFC player the Wizards will meet as they step on to the field turf at BMO will be his new enforcer/midfielder Danny Dichio, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds of muscle.

"Garcica and Conroy challenged every ball, every aerial against our players," he said. "They won't do that against Danny."

Dichio will be playing his first MLS game after signing with Toronto last week after a decade as a feared foe in the English premier league.

Due to visa issues he could not accompany the team to Kansas City but he said he's ready to deliver punishment to the opposition this afternoon.

"I see my role as exactly that -- bring a physical presence to the team," Dichio said. "I am going to try to bruise the defenders a bit and clear a lot of chances for our strikers."

Asked if it would be his role to create havoc on the pitch, Dichio answered in the affirmative.

"That's why I came over here," he said. "(MLS) has never seen a player like me. It might not be pretty at times, but if that's what it takes to win then that's what I'll do."

The 32-year-old Dichio stands out among his teammates with his bald head and menacing glare that he carries during practice.

But he said he hopes that he'll be able to stand up for those teammates and help them forget Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Wizards.

"I know the guys have a lot of revenge on their minds because they have had three days to let the 3-0 loss sink in," Dichio said. "I am looking forward to the game; we will be giving (the Wizards) a different look this time."

Dichio is also expected to be the missing catalyst in midfield that will get the ball to talented striker Alecko Eskandarian.


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