This week is a huge week for the Chicago Fire that could potentially determine their fate this season. Three points stand between them and a playoff spot and this Wednesday's game against Toronto FC is the game in hand over the Houston Dynamo and the New England Revolution.
Ahead of Wednesday's match, Dave Rowan, a writer over at Waking the Red, has been gracious enough to answer some questions about Toronto FC. Below are our questions for Dave, and his responses. Dave also had questions for us, which can be found here.
1) It seems like TFC was courting Max Urruti for six or seven years, and he's gone within two weeks of finally signing. How bad did the kid look in practice? (via Sean Spence)
Well not to bring accuracy into this but it was six months that Toronto spent chasing Urruti but when Kevin Payne was fired from his position as General Manager last week it removed his biggest ally from the club. With Urruti slated to become a DP next season he would have taken up a spot that Tim Leiweke would rather see used on a big name, Beckham type, signing in the coming months. By all accounts there was nothing in his 37 minutes of playing time or training that indicated he was going to be a bust so the coaching staff must have seen something that the rest of us did not in his 24 days with the club.
2) How many more years of turmoil before the fans of TFC just stop going to games? Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for TFC? (via Adam Merges)
The magic number for TFC fans seems to vary from person to person. I know some people who were season seat holders from day one but gave up their seats in recent years and I know others who will be going to games as long as their are games to go to no matter how bad the team is. There is a lot of big talk though these days about just what it would take to push fans over the edge. Some seemed to be hanging out around the edge after the Urruti trade but as any sports fan will tell you the teams you care about are like drugs and just saying I am going to quit is not enough.
As for the light at the end of the tunnel I think the best thing we can do at this point is stop searching for that light as fans. We have gotten our hopes up like some sort of annual tradition only to have them dashed at some point in the season. For now it already looks like #Preason2015 time with next season looking to be yet another rebuilding year.
3) What's the overall feeling on possible renovations to BMO Field that leads to a ground share with the Argonauts? Do the facility upgrades outweigh the current exclusive nature of the stadium? (John Jenzeh)
There are some fans who have been trying to look at it logically and see how an improved BMO Field would be a good thing for Toronto FC and sports fans in the city. That would require them to do the renovations right and really put the needed money into turning BMO into something state of the art and making sure they get the absolute best surface for both clubs needs and bring in moving seats so that soccer fans on the ends of the stadium don't wind up being stuck miles back from the end of the field.
The problem is that most fans don't have faith in MLSE to ensure that things are done the right way and figure it would mean ruining the intimate feeling that BMO currently has and mean the return of the turf that the club sold Maurice Edu to get rid of. If it goes down that way it would probably push quite a few more fans over the edge. Hopefully it doesn't come to that and the Argos get their own home in a part of the city with better transit access.
Joe Bendik; Jonas Elmer, Gale Agbossoumonde, Steven Caldwell, Richard Eckersley; Bobby Convey, Jeremy Hall, Darel Russell, Alvaro Rey; Andrew Weideman, Robert Earnshaw
As I was putting together this post, one of Dave's answers spurred me to ask him a follow up question, so I shot him an email.
You mentioned that Tim Leiweke would rather see a DP spot used on a big name, Beckham type, signing. I know Junior Hoilett is not a big, Beckham type signing, but he is a pretty good player, he is Canadian and I've heard rumors linking him to TFC as far back as 2011 when Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League. Also, Ryan Nelson and Hoilett were teammates last year at Queen's Park Rangers. Is this just a bunch of nice coincidences, or could Hoilett be playing for TFC in 2014? (via Mark O'Rourke)
Opening the Junior Hoilett can of worms is always dangerous for soccer fans north of the border. It is hard to imagine him coming to play for a club in Canada when he is not even willing to commit to playing for the Canadian National Team.
The links between Junior and Toronto FC have more to do with the fact that he does spend his offseason at home in Canada and this past summer both he and his younger brother, Janeil, spent a couple of weeks training with Toronto FC.
At this point in his career I think that Hoilett is focused on proving himself in England and moving beyond being the player who has been relegated in his past two Premier League season. If he moves from QPR it is clear that there is enough other clubs interested in him to make it almost impossible to imagine him signing for TFC.
It is far more likely that we will see TFC going after players like the ones they were linked to this past summer or the type that keep being liked to LAG. Guys like Diego Forlan, Francesco Totti, or Maxi Moralez are far more likely to be the kind of targets they go after. It will probably be a while before we see another Canadian DP at BMO Field.
Once again, thank you, Dave.