TFC back to its ABCs

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:06 PM ET

TORONTO - Toronto FC has branded this season with a V. Its year five, and Roman numerals seem appropriate considering the ineffectiveness of both the outdated numeric form and the teams performance since entering MLS.

In letter form, V is less than appropriate. Victories have been few and far between. The effort to put together a winning team has hardly been Valiant. Prior dealings have been done under a Veil of secrecy and discontent. And the resulting response has been Vociferous.

The perceived Villain, Mo Johnston, is now gone. And the club and its supporters remain Vigilant to turn things around.

Whats in the past has to stay there. New professional management at Toronto FC has brought a professional attitude to the club. The tone is different and the hope is results will follow.

Its easier said than done for Head Coach Aron Winter and his group; short on Major League Soccer experience but high on aspirations. The goal is to win now, but the main priority is to win later.

Yet, a forgettable past has bred a hunger for immediate results. Those with such a craving will be left unsatisfied. Toronto FC is not in a position to win yet.

Forget the letter V, the talking point among Toronto FC faithful remains the P word. Playoffs. The fact Toronto FC has never qualified for the post-season combined with the City of Torontos incessant desire to be mediocre enough to make the playoffs without actually being championship quality, perpetuates such talk.

And thats why the P word needs to be banned. Please. No more talk of playoffs until the team proves otherwise. Take the lead of former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach, Jim Mora Sr., Playoffs?! Dont talk about Playoffs!

The average fans expectation for the team to compete is understandable. Toronto FC is in uncharted territory, being the failed expansion team thats remained out of the playoffs for the longest stretch in Major League Soccer history. Those who have staunchly supported the team despite on-field failures and raised ticket prices deserve better.

But once again, thats the past. And the new management crew is in the process of cleaning up the mess. Its a rebuild; an out-an-out dismantling of the disorder that resonated before.

The brutal assessment, whichever way you want to slice it its been a failed team, said Director of Player Development Paul Mariner. Youre not going to turn it around overnight we all think we can, but the only thing we can say to fans is give us a bit of time, we do know what were doing. Its a work in progress at the moment.

Winter and staff have spent the better part of two months discovering what they inherited. Players not in the plans have been jettisoned elsewhere, with more to exit still to come.

Its still evolving, said Mariner. Players either take to it or dont take to it. We want to get some stability, but we also need to factor in we need some help on the playing field.

Rebuilds require patience. The mind-set at Toronto FC is that its advantageous to cultivate young players talents from within the club, give them experience, and hope they develop with the system.

Winter is happy how his young players performed in training camp. Toronto FC prefers what they have in-house; evident with home grown signings of academy graduates Oscar Cordon, Matt Stinson, Ashtone Morgan and Keith Makubuya Thursday.

Winter wont rush his young players, but a club vision has been set. And its something that should have been set years ago. The lack of an established on-field vision has been Toronto FCs biggest failure, until now. Five head coaches and a revolving door of players later, management finally gets it.

I signed a contract and in the three years or so Im here, I want to win prizes and succeed, said Winter.

There is no guarantee his methods will bring success. And for Winter in 2011, its a case of if you dont have the horses; you cant run with the herd. His stable is far short on quality, but in his eyes the best is yet to come.

Year V will be a lot of things for Toronto FC. Progress is Vital, but playoffs are not.

twitter.com/gareth_wheeler

gareth.wheeler@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos