Details of the Tuesday March 27, 2017 Toronto FC II Season Seat Holders ticket pickup held at the KIA Training Centre between 6:00pm and 8:00pm in Downsview.
I wasn’t planning on getting there right at the beginning but seemed to hit every green light and found a shortcut roadway from the north that was still open from last year and found myself at the entrance before anyone had been let in. The bubble was still up at this time of year although I’d seen a tweeted photo of the MLS squad earlier today training outdoors which made sense as they will be playing their season opener outside at BMO Field on Friday night so they better get used to the cold weather. I didn’t notice nor expect any of the first team at tonight’s event.
I was looking forward to, yet partially dreading writing up this event because I’m not good with names. Even outside with fellow fans I’ve forgotten names but mentally refer to them as ‘autograph collector guy’, ‘photo taking guy’, ‘maintenance-guy-from-the-building-where-I-used-to-work’. Just say hello but don’t say their name.
Oh oh! The players were all wearing red polo shirts but no name tags. Let’s see how I do! First check in by the entrance. There is a bit of a hold up but it was caused by a group of boys chatting with some of the players helping man the reception desk. There’s my TFC II rep Alex Adamo. The list is confined to one page—no more than 40 to 50 names. “Not many season ticket holders!” I blurt out. Oops. Of course they could be one name per pair/foursome/group of tickets I offer. Alex said that not every SSH would come here tonight. I estimated later that there was constantly an average of 100 fans during the evening. Further along the desk a player put his hand out to say hello. I had to ask who he was. “Mark Pais”. Oooh the goalie who earned the shutout for the team on Saturday in their season opener away to Phoenix Rising. Now what did I want to ask him? “You played for Saint Louis last year and you tweeted that you were glad you were coming to Toronto but some of your older tweets thanked the St Louis fans–your hometown, why did you leave?” He answered that it was a change of coaches and of the team’s philosophy and he was happy that a new opportunity arose in Toronto. I’ve read that this season TFC II defender Wesley Charpie plays for Saint Louis but that is not related to Pais’ move.
I was given an envelope which contained my season’s ticket stuck together like linked sausages. A smaller link of just two tickets were for the games at BMO Field because it is possible that some TFC II fans are not going to the MLS game earlier in the day. No fan declaration letter from the MLSE brass nor TFC II seat cushion like last year. Still a great deal at $96 for 16 games—that’s less than the price of one of my ‘premium’ tickets for the MLS team.
I walked a gauntlet of players lining the staircase upstairs. Ok not so bad I do know about half the players. I wanted to piece a roster together of TFC II and TFC III. TFC II has actually started their season so there were eighteen plus news releases had announced signings and a recent ‘loan’ of six players from their MLS roster.
Midfielder Liam Fraser! He played the full 90 minutes in all three games for the Canadian U-20 team in CONCACAF qualifying in Costa Rica. Soccer is a good way to see the world.
There’s TFC II’s assistant coach Chris Pozniak. There’s no PDL team this year (also the USL has reduced the number of subs per game from six to three) so it will be tougher to get playing time for everybody. Fourteen less games to evaluate talent! I’d written down a roster of TFC III players (last year known as TFC Academy) from the last League 1 Ontario game I saw them play on October 2nd last season. I asked if he could check off who would NOT be back. There’s still a month before the L1O season begins so the roster is not finalized. Danny Dichio is the TFC III coach this year taking over from Stuart Neely who left the organization to coach in Delta BC. I told him I had a feeling MLSE Bill Manning said they are willing to help the new CPL league as long as they don’t operate in Toronto and offered up the TFC II roster. That might mean one day he might announce that the entire roster has become FC Winnipeg! No PDL team, no more operating TFC teams for players under the age of 14, maybe he’d jettison the TFC II team operating up in Vaughan and their loyal 700 fans! Winnipeg could help with player salaries. MLSE cost cutting?
TFC II head coach Jason Bent helped me check off another few names and also fill out the rest of the TFC III coaching staff. Neither Pozniak nor Bent know which TFC players may play for the still operating PDL K-W United team but Bent says that the coach is a scout for TFC. Pozniak is also an assistant coach for TFC III so will be able to recommend players to move up.
They referred TFC III as their U-20 team. Last year their L1O team was referred to as U-17.
I sympathized with Bent for last year having to juggle his roster on short notice for such things as to accommodate rehabbing MLS Clint Irwin in goal who allowed four then five goals in his first TFC II games. I got to talking to him about the editor of one site I write for deleting all my posts for the TFC PDL team as the team no longer exists. That’s not the only site that revises history. Bent himself didn’t just become TFC II head coach in November 2014 but he was the assistant coach of the MLS team since 2011 and I’d get to games early and wave to him after he’d arranged the pylons for the player warm up and I watched him as head coach at the first ever TFC Academy game in 2008 in the CSL when they upset the previous year’s champs Toronto Croatia at Lamport Stadium. Pozniak I used to cheer for on Toronto Lynx starting back in 1999. There’s other sites that revise history. Raheem Edwards started L1O in 2014 on Internacional de Toronto (a team that folded before I had a chance to see them) and finished the year with ANB Futbol (same TFC PDL editor deleted ANB history so you can’t read about 14 year old Adonijah Reid lighting up the league and who now was drafted by FC Dallas).
I told him of my scheduling in the last few years how I could squeeze in so many games (TFC, TFC II, TFC PDL, Cdn Nat games when in Toronto, plus 41 L1O games) while on special leave from work so I could become a caregiver for my father. “You’re always coming to our games!” he said.
I wanted to take a tour of the building so went back downstairs (yes I saw it as recently as last year) but waited for the previous one to end. While I was waiting Bent came along the hallway as there must have been a second stairway and put a TFC parka in my hands. “For your years of support” he said. I of course thanked him. The parka I wore tonight has certain stretches that have faded in the sun and there’s duct tape on a sleeve to patch a huge tear when I caught it on a door. Maybe not quite as bad as the Dolly Parton song. Was it because I told him my father had died in October? No it doesn’t matter. I asked him on the way out if I could tell anyone or keep it a secret. No, he said it was fine.
Looks like two players are going to show me around. Yes midfielder Luca Uccello I recognized. I said I remembered his father from the final home game of last season as a home-builder and one of the sponsors of the team. They had a draw for a KIA car and the winner became the owner
of the car whereas the MLS team’s grand prize was a two year LEASE of a KIA car! I had to ask who the other player was. Matthew Srbely. Oh the first professional player in League 1 Ontario I said. Yep. Yes I had been asking L1O chair Dino Rossi Jr each year if there were any pros in their semi-pro league yet and he always said no. I knew there were a few players who made some money teaching at some of their academy summer camps or doing office work but this was the first player signing pro contract and staying with the league.
First stop the TFC (MLS) dressing room. Last year I couldn’t step inside but this year it was OK. A full size ping-pong table in the middle of the room. Next a room with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. I told the guys I remembered this when it still had paint cans as the team offered a tour of the facilities and the building wasn’t finished in time. The gym/weight room. These were being used as there were some Academy players training in here. I only could recognize one person—one of MLS head coach Greg Vanney’s red-headed kids watching the workout. I didn’t notice Vanney there tonight. Next the TFC II dressing room. Well it’s only about one-third the size of the MLS team. Interesting I opened up my notes so I could write three more TFC II player names that were taped on to the change cubicles. Ryan Telfer also had a taped on name as he’s such a new signing. Next was to go inside the bubble. There was a full size turf field where TFC III plays its games. There were a group of kids holding a practice there. Uccello speculated they may the the U-12s. I heard at the President’s Breakfast last month that they will be keeping their spots it’s just in future years TFC will not be operating with any teams under 14. I also offered up a story of how the Centre was flooded one rainy fall night and three inches of water was washing down the halls.
Ok well now the tour is over and I went upstairs to have something to eat. Players were in the cafeteria along the hall to chat. Sausage rolls and shish-kabobs of pieces of fruit. Coffee and cookies for dessert.
I asked which player was Ryan Telfer. He scored the only goal in the opening game win last week. I read he played for York University and Vaughan Azzurri but I hadn’t got to see him play in any Vaughan games—the teams often played on the same weekend and some players were on both squads. I told him I looked in my own records and found that I’d only watched him play one game and that was for Mississauga Eagles of the CSL in 2012 when he came on as a sub against Niagara and I honestly don’t remember that game. My write-up of that game is linked on his Wikipedia page! Well I’ll see him this year and am glad to watch Canadians play.
Some messages on the message boards ranted about the lack of Canadians with TFC but that was refuted by counter messages. I’d counted 11 Canadians on the USL site for TFC II. The lack of any Canadian defenders so far is a concern for me. The count (done by other message board members is about the same as last year). Expect more Canadians when they settle in from returning from the national U-20 and U-23 teams.
Let’s compile my roster lists from all the sources I have:
Toronto FC II
Mark Pais, Angelo Cavalluzzo
Lars Eckenrode, Brandon Onkony, Mitchell Taintor
Aidan Daniels, Liam Fraser, Brian James, Malike Johnson, Anthony Osorio,
Luca Uccello, Jordan McCrary, Matthew Srbely
Shaan Hundal, Ricardo John, Ryan Telfer, Ben Spencer
plus loaned down from TFC:
defenders Oyvind Alseth and Brandon Aubrey;
midfielders Tsubasa Endoh, Markey Delgado, Jay Chapman and Raheem Edwards
and names taped to cubicles in TFC II dressing room:
Luis Pereira midfielder from Panama
Jelani Peters midfielder from T & T
Aikim Andrew forward from T & T
Bubacarr Jobe midfielder has been loaned out to Skovde AIK in Sweden.
Toronto FC III of League 1 Ontario: (so far)
Brogan Engbers, Sunny Dhaliwal, (and Phil Di Bennardo?)
Steven Furlano, and Jacob Maurulto-Robinson
Matthew Srbely, Nicholas Osorio, Cyrus Rollocks, Dante Campbell,
Malik Smith, Kota Sakurai, Glenn Muenkat, Armando Caracciolo, and Marko Mandekic.
Bent and Pozniak helped me check off that defenders Klaidi Cela and Marko Maletic
and forward Reshon Phillip would NOT be with TFC this year.
Bent listed this year’s TFC III coaching staff as:
head coach Danny Dichio
assistant coach Chris Pozniak
goalkeeping coach Phil Boerger
physio Andy Choi
equipment manager Frank Russo
team administrator Jordan Custoreri
Well that list confirms that all three Osorio brothers are still in the TFC family.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world earlier today the Canadian U-23 team defeated Qatar 2-0 with goals from TFC first team player Jordan Hamilton and former TFC Academy player (2010 to 2012) Michael Petrasso.
Almost ready to leave and I asked Alex Adamo if TFC II media guy Adam Krueger was here. Yes right near the exit. I told him I liked his game reports giving a complete listing of the lineups. (a lot of teams don’t list the rosters and even the USL website doesn’t list all the subs—ie if you didn’t get in the game you weren’t there!). I pointed out that I was the guy who privately tweeted him that his TFC II preview had listed midfielder ‘Brain James’ which no spellchecker is going to catch. “He may be a smart midfielder but he’s still only ‘B-R-I-A-N’ James”. I told him a short story of the early internet days when someone started a fan site for the leader of the Beach Boys ‘Brain Wilson’ and didn’t get many hits.
Time to drive home and decompress before I go swimming tonight. I guess I was inside for just over an hour. How much will I remember?
Later I realized I’d forgotten to look for their trophy case to see if I could see the Voyageurs Cup. That would have been another boast as I could have said that I helped pay for it when the Voyageurs fans were raising funds in 2002.
TFC II’s first home game is Friday April 7th at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan at 7:30pm against Rochester Rhinos although before that they still have two road games against Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B.