November 17, 2018--Rocket Robin's Soccer in Toronto 2018 Review (by Rocket Robin)

November 17, 2018   Rocket Robin's Soccer in Toronto 2018 Review
(I had to revise this write up before I posted it because on Wednesday breaking news showed that the CPL 'acquired' L1O).  

This year I caught 96* games which was down slightly from my record of exactly 100 set in 2017 but I figured the decline 
was explained by TFC II playing some of their home games in Rochester and having two games moved to the visiting team's 
cities on short notice because of field conditions in Toronto.  Also I lost a weekend because of having cataract surgery 
but at least I can see better now.  *I had written 94 in November but recounted my L1O and found two more games.  

MLS Toronto FC  (24 games)  

I haven't missed a home game in the twelve years of the club's existence.  This year they started with a long run in the 
CONCACAF Club League before their regular season even started, retaining their Canadian Championship by winning the 
Voyageurs Cup, and losing the newly created Campeones Cup.  They failed to make the MLS playoffs.  

I was disappointed by the lack of Canadian players the team used.  Jonathan Osorio was the only regular starter.  
Other Canadians were either on the bench and might pick up some second half minutes or start if one of their American 
or foreign stars were injured.  The situation has gradually got worse not better from when the team first started.  
With an increase in GAM and TAM money the attraction of signing even more non-Canadians will make it less likely that 
Canadians will see the field.  When I brought this up at a meet-and-greet at the end of the season, the MC Gareth Wheeler 
said “Do you want to win or do you want to see Canadians?”  I answered to the TFC execs (who were more sympathetic) 
that I was going to follow the new Canadian league.  Ironically the wristbands we were given to get into to the stadium 
bar for this party was the same colour as the York 9 kit.   

I was glad I held out so many years to finally see the championship season of 2017 and the victory parade.  

USL Toronto FC II  (11 games) 
This was all the home games held in Toronto.  They had moved from the Ontario Soccer Season in 2017 to a hybrid 
of BMO Field and Lamport Stadium although Lamport was under major renovations for more than half the season.  Attendance 
plummeted from an average of 900 fans per game to between 100 to 200 at either downtown stadium.  These hipsters who had 
said they wanted the team in the city never showed up even after MLS games ended just one hour previously.  It could also 
be speculated that the owners were making sure the new CPL was frozen out of any downtown stadium.  USL put their average 
attendance at 810 (lowest of the 33 teams) but even that was padded by including home games held in Rochester NY 
and the one school day matinee game held at Monarch Park Stadium which drew 4000.  

The team won only 4 out of 34 games but that didn't bother me as I was able to watch the young Canadians that make 
up the majority of their squad many who I watched in previous years play in L1O for their TFC III team.  Next season 
they will 'drop' a division now that the USL has split their league and will also play out of their training facility.          

Canadian National Men's and Women's teams  (2 games)

I was able to catch one game each of our national teams.  I am able to watch the games from the press box and obtain 
post game interviews.  I offer the full audio of the post game press conferences which I feel offers more than the media 
outlets which select a ten second clip to fit in their sportscast.  I saw the Canada vs Dominica CONCACAF Nations League 
at BMO Field in Toronto in October.  I drove to Hamilton to see the women's friendly Canada vs Germany match in June 
which is a bit out of my way but it was a Sunday so traffic was not a problem.  They were also well represented 
at a soccer trade show in Downsview.  I may still have a few more years of being able to proclaim “I remember watching 
you years ago on the Toronto Lady Lynx!”.      

League 1 Ontario (58 men's games, 1 women's game)   

I always try to see each men's team at least three times during a season which is getting harder with now 17 teams.  
It's most difficult for me for the teams that don't have their home games in the GTA.  This year I only got to see 
Windsor TFC twice (they finished last and colleagues have said “You didn't miss much).  I did make up for it by every 
other team a minimum of four teams and two of them, (TFC III and Sigma FC) eleven times!  The league is very kind 
to me by printing off game sheets of each team.  The 'media' copy is for me unless a game is being Livestreamed.    
The one women's game was the L1O Cup Final so I could say I saw one of their best.   
The TFC III team played a compressed schedule to finish a month earlier than the other teams so they could join the 
USSDA league like the other MLS team academies.  The competition is supposed to be better but results I've seen with 
them restricted to playing their own age groups have them winning by lopsided scores.  When they played L1O teams 
and the OPDL provincial league they were had great teams but playing up an age group or against adults in the L1O 
they would find competitive games more often than the USSDA system.  

Canadian Premier League  

The league hasn't played any games yet and at the time of my writing they haven't signed any players but I saw the 
beginnings of this league.  I drove to Hamilton on February 1st to see the introduction of league commissioner 
David Clanachan and his early visions of the league.  I was at the Vaughan City Hall on May 10 to see the launch 
of York 9 FC (the first team in the league to be officially launched).  They were soon bypassed in memberships 
by the other cities introduced one per week over the next few months.  I was at a World Cup Final watch party hosted 
by York 9--first time I had been on the new branch of the subway--and had fun.  York 9 also hosted a celebrity 
All Star game in September to reintroduce myself to team execs and CPL officials.  I attended the two days 
of CPL trials in Vaughan in mid October (one of the seven cities) to watch how the tryouts worked.  I expect to see 
lots of L1O players through trials like that (there were some L1O players who tried out in other cities), 
the recently held U-Sports draft, and those players who were pre-scouted.        

Writing for on-line journals:     

I do post game recaps to my web site and links to message boards The Voyageurs, Red Patch Boys, and after 
a long absence, Big Soccer.  

Waking The Red    I wrote articles for TFC II (and for a short time a L1O game of the week summary) for their 
site for the first time.  This was just what I wanted because it included post game interviews.  Near the end 
of the season the team team reorganized their media accessibility.  So I heard it indirectly that they decided 
'to limit access to one reporter from each media outlet'.  That meant from the mob of four reporters crowding 
around, they'd be down to three.  I was able to get audio after that from WTR's James Grossi—I have to thank him 
when he pointed out I was holding my new phone backwards for interviews making it difficult to hear 
my own recordings.  I did finish my obligation with Grossi's recordings but had another problem as I was somehow 
signed out of the site and couldn't log on and the technical help provided was negligible.  I could only read 
my stories from another computer or phone.  I don't expect to be back next season.         

Northern Starting Eleven   At the end of 2017 with no other content to post except from me because of TFC's long 
playoff run, the editor told me to stop posting because he decided he didn't want game recaps anymore.  The 2018 
season started and look---game reports are here for much of his content.  Rather than complain about the double 
standard I didn't contact him again.  

My presence on Wikipedia continues to increase with now 339 links as reference to biographies of teams and players.  
I don't know how to edit their pages but an editor 'shotgun pete' with my permission has used any game reports 
and photos from my site as he wants.  

My plans for 2019 if all goes well:
I didn't renew my SSH tickets for TFC.  While I didn't like the usual 2+ hours to get home after their games the 
gradually decline over the years of using Canadian players (with the now new Canadian league promising better 
than 50% homegrowns) was the main reason for my decision.  I expect there to be some overlap of games between 
TFC and York 9 (and someday a Mississauga team?).  I have asked through the CPL and York 9 whether I can cover 
the team independently—which for me means able to conduct post game interviews but have received mixed answers 
on that.  I obtained my York 9 tickets on the first available day.  I got to choose the middle of the front row 
so shouldn't have to worry about being disturbed by getting aisle seats.  I expect to continue attending as many 
L1O games as I can.  Although TFC II is scheduled to play next season at nearby (to me) BMO Training Centre 
in Downsview, I think my plate will be too full to continue with them.  
With TFC not making the playoffs and with the CPL not starting until April it's finally given me a long off-season.  

Best wishes to my readers for a safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for 2019!  

Rocket Robin  Rocket Robin's Soccer In Toronto website  
twitter @RocketRobin01  

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