Dear Aron – Take the Voyageurs Cup seriously
I hope you are enjoying what I would bet is your first trip to Edmonton Alberta. And I hope that you enjoy your first taste of the the Voyageurs Cup, our little Canadian tournament that is your club’s path into qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Now I am sure that you want to succeed in this endeavour. And I am sure that your employers want the extra home dates and the revenue they can add to TFC’s bottom line. Last season there were two home dates in this tournament and of course an additional four Champions League dates because TFC managed to hold onto the Voyageurs Cup for a second consecutive year. An additional four home dates could be conservatively worth upwards of $1.8-$2.0 million in revenue not already budgeted for. And after committing upwards of $20 million for the new Academy project last week this windfall would certainly be appreciated by your bosses. Nothing looks better to the new boss then a cheque from out of the blue for $2 million!!!
I also get that you understand cup competitions from your playing days. You won the Dutch Cup twice. You also of course won the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners Cup as well to go along with the many league and international honours you earned on the field. You get the importance of these games to clubs and to fans. How could you not from your own experience?
And I am sure that you understand by now the scale of the job ahead of you here in Toronto. You have seen most of your players up close now for almost three full months and a I am sure you are getting a better handle by the day on what you have to work with, for better or worse, here in Toronto. And undoubtedly you understand, based on your public pronouncements to date since arriving here, the importance of instilling a culture at the club that embraces professionalism, structure and of course winning.
Now of course you have the little thing called MLS to worry about as well. I get that. You are heading to Seattle on Thursday morning to prepare for your match against the Sounders on Saturday night before you wing it back home to play the second leg against Edmonton and then three days later you take on league rivals Houston Dynamo here in Toronto. That Houston match will be the seventh match TFC plays in a twenty one day period I believe, with a cross continent road trip thrown in for good measure. That is not easy by any stretch.
And with injuries to worry about (Stefanovic, Gordon, Cann, Attakora and a recovering de Guzman all have health issues of varying degrees) on top of you still trying to figure out the best way to use the players on hand to succeed in your new system of play there will be without a doubt be a need for some squad rotation against Edmonton if you are to have any chance against Seattle on the weekend.
What I hope does not end up happening is you taking FC Edmonton not seriously enough. This game is their Cup Final/Home Opener/SuperBowl all rolled into one. And for many of your players they might be looking at this road stop in cold northern Alberta as an inconvenience. Unless Edmonton find a way to advance past your team, TFC will be the biggest club Edmonton will face this year. They will probably be playing in front of their largest crowd they will have for the year as well in a large stadium that seats 12 times the number of customers as their home field usually does.
And in case you have not had a chance to learn much about Canadian history or culture in your limited time here you need to know this about our country. Just about the only thing that unites most Canadians from coast to coast who live outside of Toronto is their pure hate of all things Toronto. There are nineteen Canadian players on their roster who would love nothing more than earn a degree of fame by beating big bad Toronto! I urge you to resist the temptation to rest all of your best players for this game. Resting some I get, but resting all??? Big mistake in my opinion.
If you and your boys can take care of business Wednesday night then the opportunity to play the Academy kids might come at home next week. That means that some of your starters that have played a lot recently may need to play here as well. Maicon Santos may be needed, Jacob Peterson, Tony Tchani and Javier Martina might be needed as well I would guess…. but hey, you are the coach here.. you know who is best suited to score an away goal or two on the road that gives you the flexibility next week of playing the Academy players.
My late dad always used to say to me “… don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today…”. That’s sound advice I think!
Tim “Bgnewf” Drodge
PS. And one final thing. Wear your thermals, the weather Wedneday night is clear with a low of -1 celsius.