Our Blog on Monday commenting on Ali Gerba’s “tell all” interview with The Score has certainly fuelled some debate the last couple of days. Great to see, as the more debate we can all generate about Canadian football, the stronger state that it is in.
The more interest we can generate in the Vancouver MLS franchise at the same time, then the more our job is getting done in spreading the Caps word.
The 24th Minute blog asked some serious and pertinent questions about my statement that I feel that the Whitecaps will find themselves in the MLS playoffs before Toronto do. Even tonight’s excellent It’s Called Football podcast were discussing the topic.
What is behind my confident claim? Am I slavering pish? Can I back this up with facts? Well without time travel, no, it’s all assumptions on both sides of the argument for now, but obviously that’s what the internet was built for!
What I do know is that Vancouver certainly gives the impression of entering the MLS in a more organised fashion than Toronto FC did in 2007.
They have worked very hard in the last year to make sure that they have some talented individuals in the right roles.
By bringing in Tom Soehn as Director of Soccer Operations, they have secured the services of a man who has been around the MLS since 1996, both as a player and a manager who knows what it takes to win in the League and secure silverware at that level. He may not have that glowing playoff resume but it’s still a better MLS record than some.
The biggest coup as far as I’m concerned is bringing Paul Barber over from England to become the Caps Chief Executive Officer. A man of his standing is not going to leave his role at Tottenham Hotspur, a club he has supported all his life, if he didn’t know something special was happening in Vancouver. He is not here to fail. He knows the game inside and out and he has contacts and plenty of them.
Toronto on the other hand have Maurice Johnston. My fellow Scot’s career is very familiar to me – as a player. He has been a flop as a manager at two MLS clubs, now and he is being proven to be a flop as a Director of Football as well.
Don’t kid yourselves Toronto fans. If MoJo had what it takes to be a football manager do you honestly think he would be hanging around the MLS? He’d be back in Scotland or the UK after being headhunted by one of his former clubs. Even in Celtic’s worst plights in recent years, Johnston was nowhere on their list of potential new managers. Rangers, Hearts and even Partick Thistle would have no interest either. Now why would that be?
With MoJo at the helm, TFC are going nowhere, certainly not the playoffs, and he also shows no signs at all of going anywhere else, any time soon. Preki isn’t going to be the answer when MoJo is still backstage.
Those are some of the reasons that I feel the Caps will be in the MLS playoffs before TFC will. Notice I am saying playoffs and not winning the whole shebang. Even Mr Optimistic me wouldn’t go that far. Not just yet, but all you need are the breaks once you get that far.
Of course I’m realistic enough to know that success isn’t primarily achieved off the pitch but on it.
A lot of talk is focussing on the fact that the MLS draft is going to be diluted next year due to Portland having to share it with us and the Caps having the whole Canadian national player rules imposed as well. The current Caps roster features eleven Canadians incidentally. TFC has it’s five domestics that they need.
Remember that these draft players aren’t the best that the League has to offer or haven’t shown that to be the case so far anyway. The Caps have taken on some interesting players to assess this season. Players that could definitely make the grade in the MLS. How many we will take, or be allowed to take with us when we step up always confuses the hell out of me with all the weird rules with discovery players, development players and all that farcical stuff that spoils the MLS.
There is very little difference I feel in the top NASL/USL players and the bottom MLS ones. In fact I’d favour the former on many occasions.
I know this wasn’t the case for Seattle when they joined last season and even those players who did make the step up didn’t see that much action. That’s how it’s worked for them. They’re not us. We seem to be planning more carefully with who we’re assessing. We have some of the cream USL crop from recent years.
Just because the MLS fans aren’t seeing these players week in, week out doesn’t mean they can’t do the business. I think a lot of MLS fans are deluded about the actual quality of play in the League. A lot of it is crap and I know crap, I’ve watched enough of it in Scotland over the years.
Vancouver will also have the advantage of being an active team joining the League. If a decent core of players can be kept together and allowed to be brought on, they will know each other well and be more of a unit than the continuing ragtag TFC squad that has had so much turnaround in their four short years of existance.
Bringing through players, possibly with lower salaries, may also allow us to go for the three designated players and who knows what quality that may provide us with? Although I think we will stick with just the two in our first year and I would expect them to be of a hell of a better quality than Julian De Guzman. 8 goals in 233 career club games (wikipedia stats before someone nails me on that!) is not worthy of taking a DP position at any MLS club.
Obviously no-one knows what the future holds in store for either team. I’ll either be right or wrong in my playoff assertions but I still firmly believe them. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a fun road getting that answer and 2011 can’t come soon enough.