Soccer In Toronto 2005 Summary by Rocket Robin
November 16, 2005
Another season of Soccer in Toronto ended about a month ago and I finally get around to writing a summary of how the 2005 year went. I ended seeing about as many games as last year although that's not what I was thinking when the year started. There were both disappointments and pleasant surprises in the year.
USL Toronto Lynx--The biggest disappointment of the year in this city had to be the onfield performance of the Toronto Lynx. Finishing with a league worst 3 wins, 17 losses, and 8 ties was the worst performance in league history and 12th place in the 12 team league. An opening start of six games on the road resulted in two ties and four losses and didn't get much better when the team returned home. The roster had some early injuries of Shawn Faria and Joe Mattacchione that hurt their midfield and some late arrivals from indoor league soccer but overall the roster wasn't good enough for first year coach Hubert Busby Jr. First place finishing team Montreal Impact raided the Lynx roster late in the season for the second year in a row this time taking David DiPlacido and Charles Gbeke this year and not giving the Lynx any players in return. Attendance gradually sank as the season wore on. Media coverage dried up despite the marquee value of new media director Dick Howard as the team lost game after game. There were times during the year when I thought this was definately the last year of this franchise. I don't know if the results on the field can get any worse than this year.
W-League Toronto Lady Lynx--This was the biggest highlight for me of this year. The franchise as the Toronto Inferno in 2004 had a record of 3 wins and 11 losses and not enough of a roster to have the proper substitutions until late into the year. The team was bought in the off-season by the owners of the Lynx and recruited better players. While the bulk of the Canadian national woman's team still plays for Vancouver Whitecaps Women, the team had players with National team experience even if it was from younger age groups. The team finished with an 11 win, 3 loss, 0 tie record and second place finish in the Northern Division behind the eventual playoff finalist Ottawa Fury. Kim Warner was the leading scorer of the league with 15 goals while playing only 12 games. Attendance was fantastic with games rivalling the men's team which was a contrast with the 50 to 200 fans that the Inferno would draw.
The CPSL---This league added a team to make 12 franchises and relocated a team for 2005. I didn't notice an increase in attendance this year so I don't know where any marketing effort went. The league was very lucky without having to reschedule any games until the last month of the season when weather played a factor with postponing quite a few games. In fact I think it couldn't have been done without the folding of one team resulting in three forfeits (Durham Storm) during the crowded last week of the regular season. Hamilton Thunder had to play their last few home games out of town because of a dispute regarding rent of their city stadium. The playoffs were a fiasco with the standings being revised under protest, scheduled games not over before the lights went out in them, and a team having no substitutes because someone protested that five players were from a different region. The final game was the best game of the year with Oakville Blue Devils (the relocated Metro Lions) beating Vaughan Shooters (losing finalists three years in a row) 2-1 in overtime with Ryan Gamble scoring the winning goal in his final game before retiring. I was able to see every one of the teams at least four times this year. Durham Storm and Hamilton Thunder had their franchises revoked and it seems doubtful that Laval Dynamites will be back with the crippling amount of travelling they had to do during the year. On the other hand, the league has permitted a rebranding of themselves to allow 'ethnic' franchises a place in the league which may inspire some replacement teams to join.
Internationals---Last year it was mentioned that I didn't say anything about any of the international games that were played in the city last year at such places as the SkyDome between two travelling teams. Well although I've had the opportunity to go to games like this, I let them pass because it's not what I'm following. This year I let pass games at the Rogers Centre (same place, new name). I do like international games and saw Canada's Under 17 team play Scotland twice at The Ontario Soccer Centre and club teams Dungannon Swifts (Northern Ireland) against the Lynx and Cruzeiros (Brazil) play CPSL Toronto Supra (well actually it was Cruzeiros development team).
The Future---One of the reasons I kept this editorial so late was the prospect once and for all of Toronto getting a new stadium built. Late last month for the fourth time a new stadium was proposed which needed to pass for this city to be able to host a portion of the 2007 FIFA Men's Under 20 World Cup. The proposal this time involved a 20,000 seater at Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto and got private enterprise involved with MLSE (Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment) to parley their involvement in getting an MLS franchise for this city in 2007. This agreement has now been finalized and the soccer landscape will definately be changed in the next two years which may bring to an end the Toronto Lynx and Lady Lynx franchises in this fragile market.
During the off-season I will be gradually filling in more details of the CPSL games I was only able to give a short summary during the season was on while covering the Lynx and Lady Lynx, working at my full time job and looking after my elderly parents.
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