Mariner & Cochrane
Mariner & Cochrane

First off apologies for not posting my promised post game video after the all too familiar loss last week in Columbus that officially ended Toronto FC’s 2012 campaign that in reality was over way back in May of this year on the back of the 0-0-9 start to the MLS campaign and of course being turfed out of the Champions League by Santos Laguna (the first time, not the second).

Frankly getting motivated as a supporter to talk about this team without spitting out bile and hopelessness is becoming harder and harder to do.

If you missed the game last week in Ohio here is how it all went down:

  • TFC had a depleted lineup due to injury
  • Mariner played many many players out of position
  • Toronto had a short bench
  • The Reds ran like they were running in caramel
  • Columbus scored late to win the game

So in essence you missed nothing out of the ordinary, namely another hopelessly inept loss away from home played by what in retrospect was one of the absolutely worst teams to have ever been assembled in the relatively short history of Major League Soccer. How truly sad is that eh?

And now the campaign is over and the lockers are being cleaned out. Many players that we saw on this roster will be gone never to return. And more questions than answers remain for 2013.

Will Toronto FC mortgage the future (such as it is) by allowing the current Brain Trust to wheel and deal like Mo circa 08/09 did in a short sighted attempt to improve quickly at the expense of any true period of long term respectability? Is it going to be about the team and a solid future for once or is it going to be about the management team desperately rolling the bones to keep their jobs?

With all that in mind a question I think worth asking is has the recent bad publicity caused by remarks from the Manager driven the reputation of the club even farther into the depths? You can take your pick here folks from some of the more recent highlights:

  • Spitefully telling Julian de Guzman that he was trading him to the heat of Texas as some sort of punishment.
  • Publicly berating Orlando coach Adrian Heath who is alleged to have changed his mind on joining the TFC coaching staff and re-upped with his NASL side instead.
  • Publicly stating that he would not have taken Luis Silva where he was taken in the draft last season.
  • Allegedly being involved in dust ups/exchanges of less than family friendly language with fans in the stands behind the touchline at some BMO Field home games late in the campaign.

Signing talent to a doormat club like Toronto FC is going to be hard enough. Bringing in much needed soccer IQ into the front office is a huge challenge as well. With those two realities I just don’t get the purpose of Mariner speaking specifically about Heath and de Guzman publicly in such a disrespectful way. I get that there might be issues but I only see the club being hurt when these types of pronouncements are made for all to hear. Nobody is helped.

 But Paul Mariner is coming back. Yes indeed the two men who will be returning to run the club are TFC “Brain Trust” Paul Mariner and Earl Cochrane.  They are coming back to a club that scored forty eight goals in forty eight games in 2012. They are coming back to manage a club that in all competitions this past season kept a clean sheet in only five of those forty eight games. The club is letting a Manager who presided over a fourteen game losing streak in the league keep his job going forward after he replaced another man who had a nine game winless streak in the league earlier in the season… a streak that cost him his job. Mariner and Cochrane can try to deflect criticism upon Aron Winter all they wish to by selectively feeding gullible media types like one such scribe who rocks a bald head and big glasses, who perhaps fancies himself the new Matt Lawton, one sided half truths about their previous boss. But me thinks most of us can see what that is all about.

And let’s not forget about Mr. Cochrane and his share of responsibility for where this club finds itself. He of course was the point man on the DeRo saga that did not of course shower the club in honour or glory. He also was the person responsible for signing Joao Plata to a new deal this past off season then denying to Toronto fans that he had left the club days after Plata was seen in Quito holding up his new team’s shirt for all to see completing a loan deal days before TFC was willing to announce that one was done.

Mariner and Cochrane are of course getting the chance to continue at the say so of Tom Anselmi. Anselmi remains the de facto President of the club even after his promotion into the corner office recently vacated by Richard Peddie at MLSE. There is no sign on the horizon of what most of us have clamoured for for years, namely the hiring of a President of the team who can provide the overall leadership at the top of the pyramid that could perhaps stop the infighting within the front office and provide some consistentcy.

Frings, Koevermans and Hassli, TFC’s three high priced Designated players are all injured. Two of them are coming off surgery. Who knows four months away from the start of the next campaign if they can contribute, or for that matter will they even be here.

I could go on, but I think the picture is pretty clear. TFC is a mess on and off the field. And most, if not all of the good things that happened in 2012 (50,000 at the Rogers Centre for the Champions League, Luis Silva emerging, Darren O’Dea signing, the Academy facility opening, Ashtone Morgan establishing himself as a MLS quality player) all mean next to nothing in the face of the onslaught of bad news. The Rogers Centre game feels about as far away as Dichio 23:13 or the “Montreal Miracle” are at this point.

I spite of it all I have renewed my seats for 2013. I will be there. In spite of all of this I still love this team. It’s my club. It’s part of my family and you don’t walk away from family. Sometimes family needs tough love. Sometimes they need a good rollicking. But you can do all and still SUPPORT. Some of you have already walked away. As paying customers that of course is your right. Losing is not fun. But I guarantee this, when the good times come (and they will one day!) you will regret not being there.

2013 might not be much better than 2012 turned out to be for Toronto FC. But I will say this with as much belief and sincerity as I can muster. It won’t be worse than 2012 was.


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