The Good, The Bad and The Payne of TFC

TFC President Kevin Payne is the lone, gunslinging stranger in town. And the town may not trust him.
by Sonja Missio   |   Monday, January 21, 2013

Red Dawn Rising - column on Toronto FC (TFC) & the Toronto Ontario soccer scene

A friend of mine asked me if I was going to write about the MLS Draft instead of Ryan Nelsen’s recent appointment to head coach of Toronto FC. I told him despite my promise last week, that yes, the draft would be more of a focus this week.

“But you don’t know anything about the draft!” he exclaimed.

“I know,” I replied, “so I am writing about Spaghetti Westerns.”

I love Spaghetti Westerns.

(Editor’s note: A Spaghetti Western is a subgenre of Western films, typically with an Italian director. The plot usually involves a lone hero finding a town and correcting the evils.)

I love everything about them: the tropes and devices, the villains and heroes, the musical scores and settings, and the fact that Lee van Cleef is a total babe.

Therefore, I present to you Once Upon a Time in the 416 – a look at what has been going on in Toronto over the last few weeks.

The Good

To begin with, I have calmed down over the whole Ryan Nelsen hiring. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s stupid and I am not sure how legal it is to have a player who is committed to two teams, but whatever (Nelsen currently competes for Queens Park Rangers in the EPL, but has been hired as TFC’s coach). I am at peace with the appointment now and I have decided to give the man a chance.

Besides, it’s TFC President Kevin Payne I am more suspicious of and not his new sidekick Nelsen. The sidekick always ends up being the best part of a Spaghetti Western. He’s fun, quirky and, while not always right, he always acts as the medium between the people and the lone stranger. It is the sidekick that keeps everyone together.

Speaking about new sidekicks, Toronto FC has acquired two promising players from the MLS draft: Kyle Bekker (third overall pick) and Emery Welshman (16th overall pick).

Both picks are 905’ers (just one area code away from Toronto) with Bekker hailing from Oakville and Welshman from my hometown of Mississauga. Both players are great representatives of Canadian soccer and, better yet, both claim to be Toronto FC fans.   

And we all know that no one wants to see Toronto win more than its fans.

The Bad

Under Payne, TFC has done a lot of wheeling and dealing for extra allocation money. You could say that Payne has a fistful of dollars (Get it?). Anyway, I have convinced myself that this extra allocation money is preparation because Toronto has a “big name buy” in the works.

I am also convinced that that this “big name buy” is Chelsea’s Frank Lampard.

While I realize that Lampard is an unrealistic expectation (though, if it’s true, I am a genius), I do expect a player of the same caliber. Essentially, I believe that money is designated for a world class player and not on some gamble that the club hopes will work out.

I am hoping for a big name to be signed to the club; not so he can draw crowds, but so he can bring experience. This is especially true because our new coach is lacking a bit in managerial leadership. If I am unsure of TFC’s coach leading the team, I am hoping for at least a little bit of guidance on the field.

The Ugly

I’ll be honest: I don’t trust “Payne’s Plan.”

While ultimately Payne is not the worst of our supposed saviours, in my opinion, he has had too many radical revolutions for my soccer-conservative mind to take. Whether ludicrous coaching appointments or last minute draft choice changes, quite frankly Payne has not given me any reason to trust him.

Consider this: He seems to expect TFC fans to follow him with blind faith and the hope that everything will work out for the best. And I’d be willing to do so, because Lord knows my perseverance when it comes to blind faith.

But that’s part of the problem.

Toronto fans have been trying the blind faith route for over half a decade and it hasn’t worked yet.

But there’s hope, my fellow Toronto disciples, because if I know one thing to be true in life, it is the one thing I have learned from Spaghetti Westerns.

It is the lone hero – the least likely, with no reason to – that saves the town. Leone’s Lesson is to trust the stranger whose past you don’t understand, but who’s here to help because they “knew someone like you once.” 

In other words, Payne is going to save this town.

I am trusting Payne because while I have no reason to, I also have no reason not to; he is my Man With No Name.

The Conclusion

Toronto FC’s future is really uncertain and things may go down the toilet. But, if (and when) Payne’s Plan does work out, I will eat my hat.


Univ. of Guelph, Univ. of W. Ontario, Brock University
Club Domestic:
Toronto FC
Club Foreign:
Supported Udinese since birth, TFC was her own stupid decision; writing on her masochistic relationship with soccer started after. Doomed as a Canadian - Friulano - Swiss - Filipina. Searching for Juventini actually from Turin and running for FIFA Prez.