Duncan Fletcher , of Waking The Red, answers my questions about the upcoming weekend game between Montreal and Toronto at BMO field. We talk rivalry, a look at the future and a glimpse at the post-mortem for both clubs.
Question 1 : Long time no see Waking The Red friend :-) .
I think you're selling it a bit short really, especially from the TFC side of things. We've been looking for a better rival than Columbus for a long time, and i think the amount of fans that travelled to that game at the big O speaks to that. TFC managament have offered to pay for a ticket and limited transportation to the season opener at the big O for everyone who renews their season ticket, so there could well be a big crowd again.
It would be stronger on our side of things if the team was more competitive, it really has crushed any kind of optimism or fight out of all but the hardiest of souls. Even with that, there were plenty of fans hoping Montreal would keep that run of good form going just enough to keep their playoff hopes alive so they could be crushed in Toronto.
If it ever gets to a stage where both teams are doing well and fighting for playoff spots or more it'll really heat up. Or, you know, if Impact fans trash our stadium again, that'll build the bad blood. It'll come, give it time.
a) How have the newcomers satisfied you in the short-term and long-term as a whole?
The mid season transfer window was pretty underwhelming really, we got a mix of the mediocre and the overpriced. Andrew Wiedeman, Quincy Amarikwa and Freddy Hall showed themselves to be fringe MLS players at best. Darren O'Dea is a decent signing, and he's improved the defence. Then you see his salary, over $400,000 guaranteed and realise we paid way too much to get him, the sort of salary that will hinder our attempts to build real depth in the squad as a whole over the long term. As for the short term, well we haven't won a game since he arrived, and while that's by no means entirely his fault, it hasn't been a raging success.
b) The biggest name among the new-comers would be Eric Hassli. Any interest from fans and media to see him sign back with Toronto FC?
Hassli was a very exciting signing at the time, but it was a curious one, a panic buy, a rental for a season that was already done (for those who may argue otherwise, if Danny Koevermans didn't get injured, would he have been brought in? No.). He was injured when we signed him and has picked up further injuries so hasn't ever really got going, though he definitely improves the team when he is out there. It should be interesting to see if he is brought back, there was talk of trying to negotiate a non-DP deal and that would be ideal, but if he doesn't sign then that 2014 1st round pick we gave Vancouver will look awfully foolish.
Question 3: Without wanting to start the official post-mortem with you, Toronto FC was already giving chances to younger players early in the season. With many changes and trades, is the plan any different for the last 2 games of the season?
Every game there's always talk of playing for pride and a place on the team next year, but every game there's only a certain amount of players who get given that chance. Paul Mariner seems to have already decided who he likes and who he doesn't like, and it seems like there's plenty of youngsters in the 'doesn't like' pile, while there's a few who keep getting played no matter what. Barring injuries, Ashtone Morgan, Luis Silva and Aaron Maund, Andrew Wiedeman and Reggie Lambe, all relative youngsters will be out there. Academy graduates and soon to CSL stars Oscar Cordon and Keith Makubuya will not.
Once again a big thank you to Duncan and all the crew at Waking The Red for helping Mount Royal Soccer integrate the realm of SBNation blogging and MLS. You can read my awesome duper answer to Duncan's questions at this magical link.