Tag Archive | "Toronto"

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Tébily in at TFC

Posted on 25 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Olivier Tébily has been signed by Toronto FC, confirming recent rumours that the French defender was on the verge of putting pen-to-paper with the Major League Soccer side.

The former Birmingham defender has been a regular at TFC training over recent weeks, with head coach John Carver finally getting his man on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re adding another experienced player to the squad,” Carver told the club’s website. “He’s had a good career, especially at Celtic and Birmingham. He’ll definitely improve the team with his versatility, as he can play either in the centre or on the right in the back.”

Tébily was a regular at center back, right back and central midfield for Birmingham over recent years, but he found first-team action difficult to come by in the Blues’ promotion season from the English Championship last year. His last senior appearance in English football came in October of 2006.

The Côte d’Ivoire-born defender’s contract with Birmingham was due to expire in June, but he reached an agreement with the midlands club to release him earlier this year. Tébily will add much-needed depth to the second-year club when Marvell Wynne and Maurice Edu travel to the Olympics in Beijing with the United States under-23 side this summer.

Tébily joins recent additions Laurent Robert and Amado Guevara as one of several new signings under Carver, who is also rumoured to be bringing in a new backroom staff as he looks to make his mark on the Canadian side.

Having already trained with Toronto’s players throughout the last two weeks, Tébily is expected to slot right into the side for Saturday’s match against Kansas City at BMO Field. Stay tuned to ASN for a forthcoming match preview on Friday.

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New era at TFC?

Posted on 13 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC fan sites were flooded with words of praise for the club on Sunday night, as those who weren’t part of the few that travelled to Los Angeles this weekend jumped online to celebrate their club’s first win of 2008. Read the full match report here.

The win gives TFC their first points of 2008, tightening things up in the Eastern conference early on and showing a vast improvement on the side’s 0 and 4 start to last year’s campaign. Three points from as many away matches is a decent return for the Reds, but having lost to two of their Eastern Conference rivals in the past two weeks meant that John Carver had to find a way to motivate his side to earn a result in Los Angeles.

The Galaxy had the best of the early exchanges but Greg Sutton was on hand to deny Landon Donovan on more than one occasion. Danny Dichio scored late in the first half after the Galaxy defence failed to clear a long ball from Guevara, but a lack of composure from the away side seemed to be at fault for Donovan’s quick equalizer. In the second, Jarrod Smith regained the lead for Toronto but a Donovan penalty pegged it back. In the late stages under the California sun, Jeff Cunningham’s late finish made it 3-2, and finally the Reds were able to hold on.

{democracy:4}

Toronto’s recent signings didn’t gel right away, getting overrun at times in the first half, but Greg Sutton’s goalkeeping kept the match in reach for his teammates. A lack of teamwork may have been at fault with Donovan’s instant reply to Dichio’s strike, but new boys Smith and Guevara shone in the second half.

Not only was it Toronto’s second away win in their short history, but this match may have marked a turning point for the young franchise in being the first time they had won largely against the run of play. The smash-and-grab raid reflected the Toronto forwards’ willingness to take their chances, which came with increasing frequency as Laurent Robert and Guevara asserted themselves in the midfield.

The one-touch passing in the side’s build-up to the third goal, after 80 minutes under intense heat, was a joy to watch — for arguably the first time since Toronto’s 4-0 win over FC Dallas last season, they were playing the beautiful game, well, beautifully. Guevara and Maurice Edu in particular were impressive in the center of the park.

One flaw in Toronto’s game was the slack defending from Marco Vélez, who may have lost concentration in the heat when he clumsily handled David Beckham’s cross to concede the penalty from which Donovan scored his second equalizer. Andy Boyens, the Kiwi centerback who made 23 appearances last season, has yet to play this year and is rumoured to be on his way out of the club to make room for the recent senior international signings.

Galaxy fans may have pointed to Cunningham’s manhandling of the last man back just ahead of his goal at the death, but in truth that goal had come just minutes after Beckham was lucky to avoid a call after making contact with a streaking Cunningham just outside the box.

Marvell Wynne covered a lot of ground on the right side and is quickly establishing himself as one of the league’s best fullbacks. Carver will be hard-pressed to adjust to his departure to the Beijing Olympics along with Maurice Edu later this year, with Kevin Harmse and youth player Nana Attakora-Gyan the immediate options to replace Wynne.

With three points in the bag, Toronto will be confident ahead of their home opener against Real Salt Lake on the 19th — but one look at the standings reveals just how competitive the league is. After TFC’s win, only four points separated first from seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Rohan Ricketts has joined up with the squad and may start against Salt Lake, while rumours of Olivier Tébily taking Vélez’s starting spot in the backline before next week persist on fan sites. If the club’s performance against the LA weather, players and arguably the official is anything to go by, they may make a serious push for a debut appearance in the league playoffs come October.

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TFC, new signings head to Hollywood circus

Posted on 11 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC’s 0 and 2 start to the 2008 Major League Soccer season has some fans looking angrily back towards last year’s inaugural campaign, where they lost their first four matches going scoreless in the process. A 2-0 loss in Chivas last year was followed by a 4-0 rout in New England, and it was deja vu this year, with the club falling by a deuce in Columbus and looking set to lose by four at DC United. There was one crucial difference, however, as Maurice Edu popped up at the death to send a looping header past United keeper Zach Wells to make it 4-1 — a minor blip on the scoresheet, perhaps, but a moment that could resonate with the confidence of Edu and his TFC teammates.

Ahead of Sunday’s visit to LA Galaxy, Edu, who was last season’s rookie of the year, will be joined in the midfield by two new arrivals. Laurent Robert joined the club in time to take part in the DC loss and looked bright, but it was a case of being the best of a bad bunch against the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup semifinalists. Another attacking player, Amado Guevara, has been signed in time for the LA trip and is likely to slot in at the head of a five-man midfield with Edu and Carl Robinson behind him.

The Honduran midfielder, 2005 league MVP with New York Red Bull, has been playing in his native country with Motagua after falling out with Chivas USA management at the start of last season. While his temperament means that the top MLS clubs weren’t lining up to re-sign the enigmatic midfielder, the BMO Field faithful are hoping that a sold out stadium with a passionate fan base will bring the best out of Guevara. Until his signing, the club were lacking options in midfield, forced to play either a flat four or a five-man line with youngster Tyler Hemming in the center.

With the midfield set, the only question marks for the Reds relates to the starting positions at the front and back. Head coach John Carver will have to choose between Jeff Cunningham’s pace and Danny Dichio’s power at the business end of the pitch, while defenders Tyrone Marshall and Marco Velez weren’t at their best in Washington, conceding two goals in the first six minutes. The alternative, New Zealand international defender Andrew Boyens, doesn’t seem to have made an impression on Carver in preseason despite a fine 2007 campaign.
More signings could be on the way to Toronto. Former Birmingham defender Olivier Tébily has been spotted on trial in the Queen City having dinner with Robert. The French defender would offer much-needed stability to the back line, and will have been hoping to impress Carver along with fellow triallist Rohan Ricketts. The ex-Barnsley winger would fill a gap on the right side of TFC’s midfield.

For Los Angeles, starting a season with a healthy David Beckham is better than any new signing, although new arrival Carlos Ruiz has provided much-needed ammunition up front. Along with Landon Donovan, Beckham struck against traditional rivals San Jose Earthquakes last week to earn the club’s first win of 2008. LA will be looking to make it two wins from two at the Home Depot Center and pass the .500 mark after starting the season with a 4-0 loss in Colorado.

Each squad has one player who might have some inside information on the opposition. Canadian Kevin Harmse was a regular in Ruud Gullit’s Galaxy squad last season, the hard-tackling foil to Beckham and Donovan’s flair. He joined up with Toronto in the offseason, and while Harmse will miss out on the LA game after his ejection in DC, his knowledge of their tactics will almost certainly have been utilized by the TFC management. Striker Edson Buddle went in the opposite direction early last season, and much has changed at both clubs since his move, but he knows first-hand what it’s like playing alongside Danny Dichio and — from this brief spell in New York — Amado Guevara.

Much is at stake for both sides, with Toronto eager to enter their home opener on April 19th with at least one point in the bag. Finding a winning momentum early on could be the difference in TFC’s playoff hunt. For manager Gullit and his Los Angeles side, every home game means pressure to succeed in front of the HDC crowd and the world media. Much will depend on how quickly the Canadian club’s new signings adjust to life in their new surroundings, with a trial by fire awaiting them in LA.

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