TFC Wrong to Attack CSA in Public

Nelsen and Payne should focus on improving performances rather than attacking CSA in public
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, July 04, 2013

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

Toronto FC employs many young Canadians, something that the club is also ready to pride itself on. This, however, comes with a price, given that MLS often does not take a break during international play, as 4 players were called up to Canada’s 2013 Gold Cup squad.

Ryan Nelsen and Kevin Payne, respectively the manager and president of TFC, went out of their way last week to criticize the Canadian Soccer Association. Their criticism placed the club as a victim and argued Toronto FC had done much to help the CSA, including letting the soccer governing body use Toronto FC’s facilities when in town, and a continued use of Pat Onstad as goalkeeping coach.

It is possible to find some sympathy for Toronto FC and Nelsen. The team is struggling and facing a Montreal team that is performing well and have not had any call-ups for the Canadian Gold Cup team.

The culprit is not the Canadian Soccer Association. Canada is playing its 1st game in Los Angeles on Sunday, and allowing players to stay in Toronto would give them only 1 day of preparation. It is hard to imagine any national association that would accept that.

Toronto FC is a victim of 2 things. First of all, MLS scheduling. As long as MLS continues league play during international competitions, this is a situation that will continue to reappear.

But Toronto FC is also sitting in the hole it dug itself. The TFC management knew that the Gold Cup was coming. They, hopefully, knew that CSA had decided to go with a youth strategy to rebuild the program. All 4 players called up from Toronto FC had been called up before.

How can this come as a surprise? It might be easier for a quality team like the Los Angeles Galaxy to plan their way around the Gold Cup, but for a team that has made defeat the norm during its entire existence, to play the blame game rings hollow.

This is also why this should have been a private dialogue between Toronto FC and the CSA, and not a media feud. Being a USSF board member, Payne should also understand the role the Gold Cup plays in improving a country’s soccer quality and should have abstained from criticizing the CSA.

And the aforementioned Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact game? TFC managed to play to its usual self, getting a 3-1 lead but conceding 2 goals in the second half to end with a 3-3 draw.

With or without its national team players, Toronto FC played the same way it always does. Jonathan Osorio, Doneil Henry, Kyle Bekker and Ashtone Morgan wouldn’t have stopped Darren O’Dea from making a defensive error less than 25 seconds into the game or stopped the team from giving up 2 goals in the second half.

That would probably have happened no matter what.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.