I finally got around to listening to Kevin Payne’s appearance on the Fan 590’s Soccer Show last Thursday night earlier today. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/12TNNM9

One particular thing he spoke about on the show in retrospect kind of got my goat.

The first step was to be competitive in every game. I think we’ve done that. We have not been significantly outplayed in a game. We only lost one game by 2-0 and the second goal in that game was scored in the 93rd minute... (Kevin Payne – Sportsnet 590 Radio– July 10, 2013)

Fast forward if you will two days hence to Toronto’s next match, away to Sporting Kansas City, the team that the Reds defeated in that memorable (and sadly rare to this point) ‘home’ victory at the Rogers Centre last March. From the first seconds until the last Toronto FC was out hustled, out classed and dominated from one end of the field to the other by a team that just a few months ago Toronto looked competitive against.

It was far and away the worst outing for Toronto FC in League play this year.

And this came on the heels of what I think is a low point for Mr. Payne in his tenure as President and General Manager for Toronto FC and that is the absolute shabby way then Captain Darren O’Dea was unceremoniously hustled out of the team hotel, put back on a plane to Toronto and told that he was no longer a member of Toronto FC.

And according to his post game Twitter posts Darren was somewhat unawares:

That kind of directly disputes what the club said in its terse press release sent out roughly an hour before kickoff last Saturday evening:

“…Darren O’Dea went back to Toronto to finalize a transfer. As per club policy we will not discuss terms and cannot provide any further information at this time…”(Toronto FC Press Release July 13, 2013)

`Went Back` and `Sent Back` are two very different things.

Head Coach Ryan Nelsen did not exactly cover himself in glory either when addressing the O’Dea banishment when he stated the following post game:

He got a contract from Ukraine and it was one he couldn’t turn down…. He wanted to go. It was a good opportunity for him….” (Ryan Nelsen media Scrum – July 13, 2013)

`He wanted to go` and `Not what I want! Not got a choice` are also two very different things. To date O’Dea has not signed with anybody.

Being the most expensive defender with the largest salary cap hit in this collection of parsimony called Major League Soccer always meant that unless he was the second coming of Paolo Maldini there would be a target on his back. Good as he was for TFC sadly he was not Maldini good. 

I do get the argument surrounding the necessity for this move. Most sane fans get this. One of the first things this club needs to do to truly turn the corner is to get its salary cap situation under control, something that has been frankly out of control I would submit since the heady days of `Trader Mo` in 2009. And this contract as it was structured was a salary cap millstone.

But God Damn It there are ways to do this!

Back during the controversies surrounding DeRo and his sojourn at Celtic and his salary controversy in Toronto I came down on the side of the club. I thought that the player was in the wrong and that the club was telling the truth. In retrospect did those of us who agreed with this point of view get it wrong? Is the management running this club simply incapable of telling the truth?

Why did TFC feel the need to state that this was essentially Darren O’Dea’s doing when in actuality it looks quite clear that this was done at the behest of the team? Why did the team feel that they needed to try and pass the responsibility for this (dare I say it logical) decision off of their own shoulders and onto the back of the player?

This is the most disheartening part of this story for me, not necessarily that a good player who I liked and dare I say it was just about one of the only players who played for the badge and the fans during the dark days last year when Paul Mariner was running out the string on the Titanic like 2012 campaign, was actually leaving. The most frustrating part is this – If you have aspirations to be a good team, if you have aspirations to make the FUCKING PLAYOFFS once this decade then simply put you need to treat your players, the only ones capable of getting you to where you want to be, better than this.

If a player needs to go then say so with the force of your convictions. But be honest about it.

Darren O’Dea leaving Toronto, along with the ‘retirement’ of Danny Califf plus allocation space from the trade of Luis Silva to DC United last week sets the table for the impending moves Payne and Nelsen plan to make to remake the squad for the run in this year. But ask yourselves this. If you were a player who was approached to come here to play for Toronto would not the way that the club has treated a good citizen like Darren O’Dea not give you pause?

This is a small world getting smaller. Football is a world community and the Internet means that a player thinking of heading to a new club he may never have heard of before is but a few mouse clicks and ‘Google Translate’s’ away from finding out for themselves what is actually going on at their prospective new employers.

If Toronto FC aspires to get better on the field perhaps the first thing they should focus on is getting better off of it!


  1. Agreed Tim. Add to this the rumours I’ve heard about how Payne handled the Torsten Frings “retirement” and I can say with little hesitation that I’m not comfortable with the club’s new leaders. That being said, they are tasked with building a winning team and we know they have tricks up their sleeves right now. Let’s see what they can achieve. I would like to think that they could do it with some class though.

  2. Duncan Green

    Sadly i agree Tim…TFC has to start being more honest in player movement..O; Dea should have stayed..he was not breaking the bank salary wise..also making better deals..no offence to Cailiff but he was finished before he came to TFC, and the club should have known that..Danny K is also finished time to move him on at sesons end

  3. You don’t know .. I heard O’dea wanted to leave because he was offered more money elsewhere.

    Unless you know what happened don’t speculate.

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