A nearly entirely revamped midfield, including new signings Laurent Robert, Rohan Ricketts and Honduran Amado Guevara, have helped TFC to gain the upper hand in their recent encounters. It's a good thing, I think.
But there's a species fast becoming extinct at the lakeshore stadium, and that's the Canadian player. A look at TFC's matches from this season reveal the following homegrown contributions:
|@ Columbus, 29 March 2008||Jim Brennan||90|
|@ DC United, 5 April 2008||Greg Sutton||90|
|@ LA Galaxy, 13 April 2008||Greg Sutton||90|
|vs Real Salt Lake, 19 April 2008||Greg Sutton||90|
|vs KC Wizards, 26 April 2008||Greg Sutton||90|
|vs NY Red Bulls, 1 May 2008||Greg Sutton||90|
With Brennan and Sutton putting in workmanlike efforts, it doesn't look too bad. After all, how often do you see Chelsea or Arsenal field a lineup with only 2 English players.
Wrong. Chelsea and Arsenal didn't receive a whackload of funding from the feds in order to promote the growth of the Canadian game. They don't play in a league which is intended to grow the domestic game.
On that front, if you take 'domestic' to mean American, TFC aren't doing so bad. They are developing two future American stars: Edu and Wynne. At the same time, Canadians are languishing on the bench and with the reserves, with promising talents being shown the door or asked to play for peanuts (12K a year) while dead weight like Todd Dunivant remains on the roster.
And the trend seems to be towards less Canadian participation after the season's start, not more. The bench, where Canadians should be in the majority if they aren't starting, had only one Canuck among them on Thursday: Kevin Harmse. And Harmse already had a place with another MLS team last year, so it hardly seems like Toronto FC is taking a chance on him.
Minute for minute, Houston Dynamo are nearly "as Canadian" as Toronto.
*** Aside: If you're scoring at home, the of 5940 total minutes, 1143 have been played by Canadians. That works out to 19%. ***
On the bright side Nick Dasovic has joined the TFC cause, so that's a cause for some optimism.
And before all you TFC fans get up in arms, remember I'm not one of you. I like the team, sure, but not enough to forget the promises that were made to actually do something to improve Canadian soccer. Especially with the sweetheart deal that MLSE got with the stadium. Once Vancouver or Montreal joins MLS I'll have a new favourite team to complain about but for now I'll wear the Maple Leaf on my sleeve.
And I won't post about MLS for a while, I promise, because there are bigger things on the horizon.