On the eve of the 2010 Nutrilite Canadian Championship opener between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact at BMO Field, everyone associated with Toronto FC (players, coaches, MLSE, supporters, reporters) is being asked by the Globe and Mail’s Paul James to take a long hard look in the mirror.
In his most recent column, James attempts to quell the current witch-hunt for TFC Technical Director Mo Johnston. While Johnston, and MLSE, has made a number of mistakes in the past, Johnston appears to be making the difficult moves required to push the club in a more positive direction, James writes:
Lay blame in the lap of Johnston for assembling the group of players in the first place, but you have to hand it to him, he is the one who has made the decision to hire Preki. In supporting him, he has allowed the new coach to remove 12 of the players he brought to the club. Whether right or wrong, Mo has facilitated Toronto FC moving into a new direction. It in many ways could be construed as good leadership – well, assuming they make the playoffs.
I have to agree with James here. It’s not worth dropping the axe on Johnston right now, this early in the season, with no suitable replacement available. Give Johnston this season, have some faith in Preki, support the players who are clearly working hard, and enjoy having professional soccer in Toronto.
When Toronto FC entered the MLS it was a very positive sign that soccer in Canada could move forward. While it has in many areas – increased awareness and interest in the professional game being two of them – it has obviously fallen short on the technical side of things.
Pulling the game forward requires careful listening to the important stakeholders in the game (including the fans) without being duped into naive conclusions and then succumbing to agenda mongering or crass information.
And that’s what should happen tonight at BMO Field when Toronto FC defends their Voyageurs Cup. This competition is one of the best things to happen to soccer in this country in a number of years. Between Montreal’s fantastic run in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2008 and Toronto FC’s astonishing 6-1 victory in Montreal last year, the NCC has given us a couple of great storylines and hopefully the plot will thicken once again this year.