Rocket Robin's Soccer in Toronto 2014 Year Review--December 18, 2014

There's many years when don't do a year end summary but I want to get one 
out this year before we start 2015.

League 1 Ontario-—(I went to 45 games)...This was a new 10 team league that 
started this spring with an 18 game schedule and two group Cup competition.  
Because this league was still organizing well into the spring they didn't 
get the greatest stadium times for games.  As the season wore on many 
of the teams had roster problems as some of their best players left for 
University teams in Canada and the USA by August.  Attendance with a few 
exceptions was sparse especially as the season wore on.  Glamour team 
Toronto FC Academy drew only 70 fans when they had over 2000 at a barbecue 
held at their training facility for their MLS team on this same ground just 
two hours earlier that day.  

Highlight for me was being plucked from the sideline in Pickering at the 
last moment to act as the colour commentator to help the Rogers Community 
Channel broadcast their game of the week.  I'd never done anything like 
this before and it made a change from taking notes for my webpage.  
Regrets?  I didn't get to see the Internacional de Toronto team play before 
the league revoked their franchise.  Other extreme was Toronto FC Academy 
whom I went to 14 of their games and spotted before game time in one 
of their end of season games that they'd only listed ten starters and 
I saved them from burning off a substitute when I pointed the omission 
out.   A criticism from outsiders about the league is that there are 
so many GTA (Toronto) area teams but the two outsiders—Kingston Cataraqui 
Clippers (finished last) and Windsor Stars (only club that had to forfeit 
for no showing) both rescheduled games on short notice and had trouble 
bringing enough players to Toronto games as the season wore on to have 
bench strength.   One thing that still bothers me about the season 
is that the league stats don't add up.  278 goals for and 279 goals 
against!  I told the league chair at the championship game and then 
the interprovincial cup game and e-mailed their office even showing them 
the correction and no changes have been made.   

Canadian Soccer League (only one, the Championship game)...Following 
League 1 Ontario meant something had to go and that was this league now 
down to ten teams.  I'd followed the league since 1995.  They lost two 
franchises from the previous season—Windsor Stars jumped to League 1 
Ontario and St Catharines Roma Wolves were caught between the two leagues 
when it was time for them to commit and disbanded their pro team.   
For the first time in league history a team ran through the entire 
season including playoffs undefeated—York Region Shooters.  
The most common questions I got asked this year is which league has 
the better calibre of play?  The CSL has in general older, more 
mature players and the only league so far that has professionals.  
Right now I'd say the CSL has the advantage but that may/should 
change if they are starved for young players avoiding them to play 
for a certified league.  

Toronto Lynx (six of seven games)...They failed again to make the 
playoffs in the PDL league of the USL soccer pyramid.  Their record 
in 14 games was 2 wins, 9 losses, 3 ties for one of their worst 
seasons.  I saw them win once and tie twice this year.  Because 
of scheduled repairs to Centennial Stadium (although the Lady Lynx 
were able to play there), the Lynx ended up playing all but one 
of their home games at Sheridan College in Oakville.  All games 
had to be matinees or early evenings as there are no lights at this 
stadium.  Best laugh of the year was when a Michigan Bucks player 
scored the winning goal and 'dove' into the painted sky blue mascot 
bear in the endzone and 'swam' to celebrate.  It really pressed the 
limits of the distance I want to drive but it is only supposed to be 
for just the one year.  I've followed the team since their beginnings 
in 1997.  

Toronto Lady Lynx (four of six games)...I only saw them score one 
goal in the games I attended—I missed their two games against London 
where they added more goals.  This was the first year they didn't make 
the playoffs since 2009.  Just last year I was writing about over 50% 
of the current Canadian National teams had played for the Lady Lynx 
or the previous W-League team Toronto Inferno.  This year the only 
Lady Lynx Nat team player was Ashley Campbell who is listed on the 
Cdn U-20 team.  Two of their best players from 2013—Kadesha Buchanan 
and Ashley Lawrence decided to play for Ottawa Fury.  [Late breaking 
news is the owners of the Fury have decided to no longer operate 
a W-League team].  Because of my knowledge of Centennial Stadium over 
the years, I ended up running the stadium clock and making announcements 
by the time the season was over.  

Toronto FC (17 league games, 2 Canadian Championship games, 1 exhibition 
game)...I wasn't as upset that the team did not make the MLS playoffs for 
their eighth straight season—it was more the frustration that for 
at least six of their weekend games the transit system (TTC) had part 
of the subway routes closed for either track or signal upgrading which 
added hours to my travel times as I detoured onto other routes to get 
through.  Also a streetcar route right from the subway to the stadium 
was closed for its second straight year and only reopened with two games 
left in the season.  I arrived early enough at each game to be one 
of the first fans allowed inside and made sure I waved to the Canadian 
referees who I've followed since my CSL days and TFC assistant coach 
Jason Bent who I followed since his days as coach of their Academy team.  
Thanks for waving back guys!  Next season brings an additional section 
to the East side.  I certainly hope they add enough extra washrooms and 
concession stands to handle the larger crowds.  One reason the stands look 
unfilled at the beginning of games and before the first half ends and 
after the second half starts is that people beat the rush to use the 
facilities and yet aren't back by the time the game restarts.   

Canadian National Team  (1 game)...I only attended one national team 
game in Toronto this year.  On September 9th I went to the men's Canada 
vs Jamaica friendly game.  Latest breaking news this month is that 
Toronto will host one of the groups in the 2015 Gold Cup in July.

I didn't go to any of the FIFA U-20 Women's tourney games.  Toronto 
hosted two Canadian team games and there were a few other games but 
I decided months earlier there was little I could add to the coverage 
and there would be times that conflicted with my other commitments.   

Attending 76 games across the league's was my limit.  Next year there 
will be even more to watch...Toronto FC has obtained a USL Pro team but 
at the time of writing, they have not announced where they will play.  
League 1 Ontario has announced they will start a women's division in 2015.  
If I do follow these new teams/league it will just cut into my coverage 
of the teams and leagues I already write about.  

Many thanks to team officials supplying me official game sheets, game 
officials that answered my questions to double check yellow cards, and 
players recapping who gave them assists on their goals.  

I'd also like to thank my 92 year old father.  I went on leave from 
my other job a few years ago to work as caregiver for him.  It is 7 days 
a week but only half days and flex hours so it gives me time to attend 
all these games.  He is a true Blue Patch Boy—a soldier who served in the 
Canadian army in WW2 through England-France-Belgium-Holland-Germany 
and now lives at Sunnybrook Veterans Residence in Toronto.  

Rocket Robin

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