April 19, 2012
TFC fans want wins, not friendlies
By Kurtis Larson, QMI AGENCY
Milos Kocic dropped an expletive following training Thursday after hearing of a potential TFC-Liverpool exhibition at the Rogers Centre in late July.
“There’s an open window where we have nothing at the end of May — like 20 days or something,” Kocic said of the multitude of media reports that have all but confirmed a July 21 date with Premier League side — a fixture that adds yet another match to a busy summer stretch.
From disbelief to diplomatic, Toronto’s No. 1 quickly moved away from a brief display of obvious hesitancy towards the match.
“I played the Bolton game (in 2010) and that was a great experience for me,” Kocic continued. “It’s a good idea to play younger players to maybe give them a chance to experience something like that.”
Already committed to eight league dates from June 30 to the beginning of August, should Toronto qualify for a fourth straight Champions League next month, an announced date against England’s Reds would see TFC play 10 times in five weeks — the optics of which has the club’s closest supporters up in arms.
Seeing it as yet another money-making venture for an organization that continues to struggle six years in, with player preservation the top concern among paying customers, many are already calling on head coach Aron Winter to trot out a lineup of reserves.
“Exactly,” said Kocic, when asked if TFC’s top brass should consider sitting a number of important players. “Maybe Quillan (Roberts) will get 90 minutes. That’s really not a bad idea.”
Former TFC standout Ronnie O’Brien would likely agree. Arguably the club’s best player during its inaugural campaign, the Irish midfielder sustained a season-ending knee injury in an exhibition with Aston Villa in 2007 — a reminder Kocic didn’t shy away from.
“I think coaches are smart enough not to play players that are important for the league and for what we are actually chasing,” Kocic concluded.
WINS FIRST, PLEASE
As TFC remains the only pointless MLS club ahead of MatchDay 7, the backlash from supporters’ groups has been marked.
How can a winless club be more concerned with scheduling extra dates — just three days after TFC is set to play a midweek league match at home to Colorado on July 18 — than preserving the health, fitness and legs of its players?
“There’s no hiding from the fact that (our) early Champions Leagues games maybe had an effect on some of our league performances,” Terry Dunfield said of the decision to tack on the extra game. “It’s not easy, but it’s part of MLS.”
Along with players, Toronto’s front office won’t want to be embarrassed in front home support. As we’ve seen in past mid-season exhibitions involving other MLS clubs, Winter will likely feel pressured into sending out a first-choice lineup for at least a half.
“I think it’s a game where you can make changes at halftime,” said Dunfield.
“You want to be competitive in every game for sure … Having these games is important for growing the game over here and getting new fans into the ground.”
If the club continues down a similar path against Chicago tomorrow afternoon, the Liverpool match might be all that’s left to play for come July.
THIS AND THAT
New York’s Rafa Marquez will serve his second suspension of the season after Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee handed the Mexican international a three-game ban for an incident that knocked San Jose’s Shea Salinas out of action for at least six weeks. Occurring behind the play last Saturday, cameras caught a blatant kick from Marquez that splintered the San Jose midfielder’s shoulder bone into four pieces … MLS legend Frankie Hejduk is set to retire from the game following 12 seasons in the league. Unable to come to terms with the L.A. Galaxy in January, the former U.S. World Cup veteran moves to the Columbus Crew’s front office as the club’s brand ambassador … League commissioner Don Garber says MLS would be interested in being a test league for goal-line technology. In an interview with SI.com, Garber suggested the league would move to implement the technology if approved in July by soccer’s rule-making body … In the same SI interview, the league’s top boss went on to say he remains committed to putting a second franchise in New York City and that a number of groups remain interested … After praising a Vancouver defence that didn’t concede for four straight matches to start the season, the Whitecaps have conceded three times in back-to-back games — most recently in a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City … The Wizards are on the verge of equaling the best all-time start to an MLS season. The L.A. Galaxy began 1996 with an 8-0-0 record. Sitting on seven consecutive results, with a win in Portland Saturday, K.C. will pull even with the Galacticos for best start to an MLS campaign … On 21 points through Week 7, Kansas City’s perfect record makes Toronto’s lack of points appear even more lousy.