Far be it for me to be an apologist for Toronto FC. I have on many the occasion been critical of the club and of course for what has stretched now into five full seasons of MLS futility. And in a lot of cases that criticism had been more than deserved.
This 2011 season has of course now ended and the scribes and pundits have started their own look back in one form or another trying to put the season and how it ended into some sort of context.
Toronto Star columnist and “journalist” Cathal Kelly is one of them weighing in on TFC as they head into the off season. He wrote an article in the Sunday Star that was more hatchet job than analysis… more a superficial meaningless analysis of a few stats with next to no context behind them… more a petulant dig that in fact contradicted a piece he wrote just a few days earlier. Suffice it to say I took some serious umbrage to what he wrote and I thought it might be fair to take a look at a few of the salient points he made to make his point (such as it was) and take a stab at trying to explain why I think frankly he is full of it with his so called analysis.
Here is the article Cathal wrote on Sunday after the New England game: http://bit.ly/remOp4
And here is the one he wrote after the Dallas Game last Tuesday: http://bit.ly/nlfb7J
“…By every objective metric, this club is no further along now than they were on Day One…” Cathal Kelly – Toronto Star – October 22, 2011
Yes MLS playoff qualification eluded TFC this season. And most Toronto FC observers, professional or otherwise, were likely in agreement that the Reds had little to no chance of making the post season if asked that question before this campaign had started. Aron Winter felt that he had to blow up the team he inherited from Mo Johnston and even with a lot of questions ahead of 2012 and a lot of holes still to fill I think it is a bit unfair to say that TFC at the end of 2007 was as good a club as TFC currently is at the end of 2011. Not only is it a bit unfair I think its a flat out incorrect assertion that Kelly is making here.
“…The 2-2 finish flattered the hosts. Most of the crowd on hand fled before the team had a chance to clap their appreciation. Maybe it was the cold. Maybe they’ve decided that applauding every phony victory is counterproductive…” Cathal Kelly – Toronto Star – October 22, 2011
I assume by “phony” Cathal is talking about the Champions League victory last Tuesday in Dallas that saw the Reds get into the knockout stages of the North American club tournament for the first time in three consecutive attempts to do so. Maybe Cathal missed Terry Dunfield throwing his jersey into section 113. Maybe he was too busy in the press box to see the entire club (managers, players and staff) do a full lap around the stadium clapping for the fans. Oh well, he must have had a deadline to meet, or some cocktail party to get to.
“…For right now, it’s time to savour a long overdue success for the team and its suffering fans. More than a sense of accomplishment, Toronto’s victory will birth a renewed hopefulness for next season with the current one coming to an end at BMO Field on Saturday…” Cathal Kelly – Toronto Star – October 19, 2011
Funny how a victory Cathal Kelly himself was calling a success and the birth of renewed hope for TFC next season on Wednesday in three short days turned into a “phony” victory. Perhaps the “birth of renewed hopefulness” line did not tie into the TFC still sucks and abandon all hope ye who enter here narrative he was trying to paint on Sunday.
“…Team boss Aron Winter acknowledged…systemic problems in an unusual way. He took out a full page ad in the Saturday Star’s Sports section that read like a personal mea culpa…” Cathal Kelly – Toronto Star – October 22, 2011
Funny that Cathal chose to critique Aron Winter and Toronto FC on this point. Yes MLSE did pay for a full page ad in the Saturday Star Sports Section. And yes to a degree it was full of platitudes that were likely written by a PR flack. But for Kelly to criticize this really is completely disrespectful. Not only did TFC probably pay thousands of dollars for the ad, but not one single solitary word about Toronto FC, other than the advertisement TFC paid for, appeared in the Saturday Sports Section of the largest newspaper in the city of Toronto.
Perhaps Mr. Kelly should focus his laser beam like criticism for a newsroom/employer that feels that a story about baseball players drinking beer and eating greasy food on the road is somehow more important than presenting any meaningful content or analysis about TFC’s last game of the season, which was apparently the case on Saturday. Frankly I can’t blame TFC one bit here. If they had not paid for the ad tens of thousands of Star readers might not have known a game was even happening. If I was Tom Anselmi and I was disrespected like this I would be calling the Star publisher Monday looking for a big refund!
“…If Winter left the field looking mildly ticked off at this final performance, his charges appeared satisfied or no good reason…That’s one way to look at it. That unexpected (Champions League) win (in Dallas) papered over a great many disappointments. However it would be wrong to think of it (Champions League qualification) as a turning point…” Cathal Kelly – Toronto Star – October 22, 2011
Kelly is entitled to his opinion, and he is welcome to it.But opinion is not fact.
And since there are no guarantees in sport he may very well be right in his opinion at the end of the day. I for one disagree with him. For the first time the Reds achieved a win that not only symbolizes what many feel are better times ahead but also shows that there has indeed been progress in the year Aron Winter and company have been in charge . TFC is far from the finished article, on that myself and Mr. Kelly are in full agreement. But calling what has been accomplished, particularly post Frings and post Koevermans a disappointment and completely changing his printed position in three short days as to the importance of what happened in Dallas last week looks like either sloppy journalism at best or at worst just a selective interpretation of the facts to suit an agenda that myself and many others have already come to see that this gentleman appears to hold.
In my opinion Kelly likes the sound of his own voice and when it comes to Toronto FC in five years now he never let fairness or his ability to turn tack in a few short days get in the way of his “narrative”.