Details of the Town Hall meeting of Toronto FC held
at the Rogers Club Room at BMO Field on Monday
November 19th, 2012 at 6:00pm.  This was the first
of the four scheduled meetings to be held tonight
and Wednesday night.

The meeting was called to order at 6:10pm.  Broadcaster
Dan Dunleavy was the MC introducing the participants
and taking the microphone around to those who signalled
that they had questions.

Dunleavy makes a joke about attending his first Neil
Young concert tonight (happening at the Air Canada
Centre) so he can get the meeting started.

On the stools at the front: (from left to right) 1. Paul Beirne (Senior Director, Business Operations) 2. Paul Mariner (Head Coach & Director of Soccer Operations) 3. Earl Cochrane (Director of Team and Player Operations) 4. Thomas Rongen (TFC Academy Director) Dunleavy was going to get right into questions but Mariner said he'd say a few things first. - he welcomed us. - he's excited to be part of this club. - TFC is a massive club but needs better players. - they've not abandoned the pillars of playing bright and attractive soccer. - the team will be entertaining. - the preseason will be six weeks starting January 19th. Man #1 asks: Does the system come first or the players? Mariner: - says the players decide the system. - we've got to use their strengths. - there is room to maneuver. there's a salary cap and three designated players. - it's important to keep the DPs injury free. - some players played too many minutes and too many games. - there was too much learning on the job. - we were burning out young players like Luis Silva who should not have had to play 30 games. - we should be like Houston who have 15 "go-to" guys. Man #1 again asks: What will you do in the preseason? Mariner: the players have been given off season programs. - they must come back fit! - they will be going to Florida after starting out at the Downsview bubble. Man #2 asks: What about the quote "we only need four players to be competitive/attractive."? Mariner: he likes our back five right now. - he likes our DPs if they are healthy! - we now need to fill our roster with blue collar guys. - he's found some in Europe. Cochrane: from a budget perspective, "Yes" they can fill their roster of who they need. - the team will be releasing some other players (besides the one's they dismissed last week). - they know they can't overspend. Man #3 asks: What's the scouting organization for TFC like? Mariner: we have the budget for scouts. - down in Mexico when they played Santos Laguna he realized that the country has 400 pro players out of a population of millions. TFC can certainly afford 2nd League players who are only making $20 or $30K. - he wants English speakers in the back line so they can communicate but up front it doesn't matter. - in Central America they have a scout. - for Europe/Scandanavia they have a scout (Earl Chapple sp?). - TFC have good scouting contacts because of all the people Mariner and Rongen know from their previous years working with other teams. Man #4 asks: Why was match fitness an issue last year? Mariner: we should have been much fitter at the beginning of the year. - there was then not a lot of training time when the season got started with them playing two games a week. - conceding late goals was part of the consequences. Man #5 asks: How are the new owners (ie Rogers/Bell) effecting the team? Beirne: there's been a shift between old owners saying "We never say 'no' to a GM" to the new owners saying "One goal--more aggressive." - the new owners are pushing hard. Mariner: they are behind us. "We hate losing". - knows we have to win. Man #6 asks: How are we keeping the core together? Cochrane: Yes, we are in that position. - we map in three, four, and five year locks. - we factor in age and development. - we know the new league feature will be less emphasis on drafts and more on academy development. - to sustain a team rather than the usual MLS feature of teams failing and winning then failing because of budget considerations and recouping costs. - we must make player development viable as we know some players will always be leaving. - Academies will be involved in selling players to other markets. Man #7 asks: Milos Kocic (goalie) says he must be Number 1! Mariner: Stefan Frei should have been #1 last year except for the injury. - hopefully when season starts you'll agree with my opinion when we win. Cochrane: Kocic is under contract. Dunleavy notices that Rongen hasn't said anything and wants him to talk about the Academy except if that's my question? Why Yes, how timely! Man #8 (wow it's me Rocket Robin wearing his CSL League jacket to look more official!) I say I want to talk about the new KIA Training Centre that just opened up and ask "Is it yours?" but I say I will cut them off as I want to outline three incidents in the last year that brought that into doubt. 1. Academy scheduled to play Montreal Impact Academy on a Friday but no one could get the lights to work so the game was postponed and MIA had to drive on to their next game in Niagara Fallls. 2. The game was rescheduled for the week between the end of the regular season and the playoffs because it had playoff implications and this time the field was being used by four permit holders playing rec soccer and one playing ultimate frisbee so we had to wait on the coldest night of the year until they were off. 3. Rogers Community channel was going to broadcast four or five TFCA games but backed off when they were told they couldn't dig any holes at Downsview to sink their lightning rod/grounding rods. Rogers settled on week old Mississauga games to fill their time slot. Rongen: The Academy is a vision of the club and is very important. - there will be 125 players in the Academy next year. - there was a transition from operating partly at BMO to moving to Downsview part way through the year. - we now have our facilities functioning. - field space will not be a problem. - there will be less drafting and more home grown players. - we are well ahead of other MLS teams in that regard. - we will be the leaders of Canadian player development. - we have 90% of the best players in the Greater Toronto area. - the Academy will develop and sell players. - we will operate from age 9 and up. Man #9 (maybe it was a descendent of Lee Van Cleef?): says he has a Good, Bad, and Ugly summary: Good as in best event: The game against Los Angeles at Rogers Centre. Bad--the constant player turnover. Ugly--from the Toronto Star article: ----the bad trade of Julian de Guzman for next to nothing and the MLS league office shooting down TFC signing Swedish international defender Mellberg. Why did TFC have to take a bullet for the league whereas Los Angeles can get away with everything? Why does the league restrict TFC? Mariner: Joao Plata is still our player. - the fans must see that Plata is young but inconsistant. - it was decided to send him back home to his home club to improve. - he's coming back in January. - internationals must be better than "1 in 6" because of international limits. [I think he was referring to one great game in six total games]. - he can't comment on Mellberg. Cochrane: TFC have established a link with the league and will continue to do that. - he won't talk about the past. - Plata was loaned out for two reasons--it was to continue to develop AND it was also for financial (salary cap) reasons. Mariner: while he was in Sweden last week everyone was talking about Mellberg and this incident has helped put TFC on the map over there because Mellberg is an icon in their country. Beirne: the league wasn't prepared for TFC in 2007 and their fan success. - TFC was an afterthought after paying their entry fee. - MLS had a mandate to develop American soccer. - their success helped bring the other Canadian teams into the league. - the league has actually now begun to address Canadian development. - the process has been an evolution that will change in time. Man #10 asks: Plata. Why sign him then loan him back? Cochrane: because we started 1-9. - we didn't want to stagnate his development. - we then could address problems in the defence with $$$. Man #10 again: Why cut Academy grads but you didn't play the three of them? Why? Now they've lost their NCAA eligibility. Rongen: two players were not good enough. [Cordon and Makabuya] - the previous regime was overzealous to sign them. - Lindsay never came back to the level where he was two years ago before having his injury. - the team will not sign any Academy players before they can play first team football. - they won't sign any Academy players this year. - they will put Academy players in NCAA schools if it will help their development. - we have enough 'young' players already (eg Silva, O'Dea, Henry, Morgan). Mariner: we take care of our players even on these cut players. - it is a cut throat business. Cochrane: Lindsay cut was the hardest thing he's ever had to do. - it was gut wrenching--(sniff). Lady #11 asks: What is the relationship between MLS and CSA and TFC after the dismal result of Canadian national team qualifying? Cochrane: there are/will be five Canadian clubs and they have a pivotal role in Canadian development. - he's a personal friend of Holger Osiak and knew his plan. - these teams will be drivers of youth development. - we also need local clubs to buy in. - we must be in lockstep to succeed. - the relationship between MLS and CSA and TFC is good now. Lady #11 again asks: What about the private Academies? Rongen: the OSA have extablished for 2014 a long term player development league rather than relying on local club teams. - this league will take care of U13,U14,U15,U16 and have the best facilites and best coaches etc. Man #12 asks: Youth? You're encouraged by young players but fear then panic and will not play them? Mariner: we can only win so many games with 'kids'. - young players will make mistakes. - the young need to play games but maybe in other leagues. - they will eventually come about. Dunleavy has to stop the meeting (because there will be another group coming in soon). - He says Wednesday's town hall will be broadcast live on the TFC website. (Cochrane answers me later that it will probably be the late one) The meetings over but I corner Paul Beirne to ask three questions: 1. about the Chicago game being bumped in the schedule and then Liverpool takes their spot. - he answers that it was Chicago who asks for the rescheduling so they could play an international and then the Liverpool game just fell into place. [I came home and checked on the Chicago website and found that on that day they did play Aston villa and lost 1-0]. 2. What if TFC doesn't advance to the final of the Canadian Championship when they've sold tickets to TWO championship games? - they may end up playing somebody else but not on that midweek night OR they may end up giving a refund. 3. FIFA dates last year cramped the schedule. This year? - there will be some FIFA weeks this year too. - Canada will be in the Gold Cup in July. We got a TFC Academy notebook on our way out. It's blank. Rocket Robin

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