BIG SPORTS & BIGGER OPINIONS
Last season, Toronto FC was without doubt the best team during the 2017 MLS regular season. Finishing on 69 points, Toronto FC finished a whopping 12 points (or four games) clear of the next best team – New York FC.
So what has happened since?
Over the course of a relatively productive offseason, the team lost a few ‘bit-part’ players like Armando Cooper, Benoit Cheyrou, and Steven Beitashour, however this alone is no reason for the team’s dramatic form slump to start the 2018 season.
Their star players, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco, and first-choice goalkeeper Alex Bono all stayed at BMO Field, and coach Greg Vanney also remains at the helm. They then added Dutch defender Gregory Van Der Wiel, Brazilian Defender Auro, and former Spainish Under 20 midfielder Ager Aketxe to an already strong squad, and overall, it was widely acknowledged that the team had improved its playoff caliber roster.
The 2018 season however has started poorly – very poorly in fact. Just seven points from a possible 27 has Toronto FC sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference, already 10 points out of the final playoff spot.
Is it too early to write off Toronto FC? Of course. However if they can’t find a way to work things out quickly they will place themselves in serious danger of missing the playoff for the first time since 2014. That would be an absolute travesty given the strength of this team on paper.
What’s been in the water of the Football Association and A-League’s offices https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/a-quoi-sert-le-viagra/ recently? Some of the decisions seen in recent weeks have been bewildering at best.
In particular, the stance taken and penalties handed down over Dean Bouzanis’ racist slur over the weekend was, in my opinion, not even close to being sufficient. While I accept the Melbourne City goalkeeper swiftly apologised, and will undergo an education course after slurring Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha in Saturday night’s A-League derby, this, and a five game suspension, simply isn’t enough.
While greatly improved in recent years, the racial tension which still exists in various levels of soccer is still concerning, and the incident in question provided the Association with an opportunity to take a serious stance in eradicating it from the game. If it were up to me, Bouzanis would have been made an example of, and nothing less than a 10-game suspension should have been handed down.
Some believe this is too harsh a penalty for a ‘heat of the moment reaction’ however there’s simply no place for racism in sport – or any facet of life – and harsh penalties help send a strong, clear, message.
Quiet simply, I think the Association has missed the mark in its handling of this saga.
Next week I’ll tackle the highly emotive expansion debate…