Easter Treat
On the field the Lynx shine -- off the field, well, they're the same old Lynx.
by Paul Hendren
Saturday, April 11, 1998 11:02:16 PM
After experimenting with a line up that has pitted Toronto’s sophomore pro soccer team against lesser opposition the Lynx faced their first pre season test when northeast division rivals Rochester Raging Rhinos travelled to Southern Ontario for a two game series. 

Lynx head coach Peter Pinizzoto has been faced with the monumental task of retooling his entire line up while his Rochester counterpart Pat Ercoli is attempting to mould a virtual caste of all-stars into an unstoppable unit.  Adding fuel to the fire was the addition of Lynx alumni Darren Tilley and Pat Onstad to the Rochester line up.  Tilley is still disappointed at being unceremoniously dumped from Toronto’s line up last season and Onstad is happy playing in a soccer crazed American market where his vast talents will be appreciated.

Game One of the cross boarder encounter took place indoors in the climate controlled confines of the Soccer Centre in Vaughan (self proclaimed as being the “City Above Toronto”).  The game produced little in the way of excitement throughout the first half as both teams struggled to find their outdoor form.  Toronto appeared more interested in achieving a result than their American cousins and one could sense that the Rhinos were in cruise control for most of the match. 

At the 27th minute a serious blunder by Rhinos 'keeper Pat Onstad produced the first goal of the game.  After an ill timed back pass to Onstad the lanky goalkeeper’s poor attempt to clear
the ball ricocheted off of a charging Phil Caporella and into the Rhinos’ goal.  The first half ended with the home side up by a goal.

The second half provided the few hundred in attendance with an inspiring forty five minutes of soccer.   Lynx midfielder Bryan Ashton demonstrated that he is capable of playing in the A - League with his ability to dissect opposition defences with his meticulous passing.  Unfortunately the targets of precision were unable to convert.  Time and time again Luca Centrione, Ryan Gamble or Phil Caporrella were unable to beat former Syracuse Orangeman Josh Freeman in the Rhinos’ net.   The young Freeman , who is fighting for a third string spot behind incumbent Bill Andracki and Canadian Pat Onstad, played extremely well during his debut.  

With nineteen minutes remaining in the game Lynx goalkeeper Joe Ciaravino made a meal of a simple cross and lanky defender Michael Domm rushed in to pot the equalizer.  It appears that Toronto’s Achilles this season will be goalkeeping and the five ‘keepers in camp lack the experience of their predecessor Pat Onstad.   The final result of the game was a 1 -1 draw.

After the game Lynx President Enzo Iantorno, who also wears the hat as General Manager, identified the need to sign a natural goal scorer as being his main priority.  In the crowd during Thursday’s encounter was Torontonian Adolfo Mella, who played indoors this winter with the Montreal Impact.  Mella who netted 22 gaols this winter for his Montreal employer has a reputation of being a sniper and he  remains unsigned this summer for an outdoor club. One would think Mella would be a logical choice for the Lynx brass.

The second game of the back to back encounter was played on the plastic pitch of Lamport Stadium , a facility that may be home to Toronto’s A-League franchise once the wrecking balls invade Varsity. 

Game Two produced some comical moments and it was a far cry from the  classics that the same two teams produced last season.  Lynx forward David DiPlacido scored the only legitimate goal of the game at the thirteenth minute when he found himself alone in front of a helpless Rett Thompson.  Minutes before his tally DiPlacido also hit the cross bar after a brilliant service from Ryan Gamble.   The comic relief came with five minutes to play in the first half.  After collecting the ball cleanly an unsettled Rett Thompson in the Rhinos’ goal lost control of the ball after checking his throw and the ball sailed into his own goal.   A true highlight for the blooper real.  

The game ended with a 2 - 0 score line sending the large contingent of Rochester fans home with an empty feeling.   The only highlight of the afternoon was the play of youngster Danley Johnson who must have impressed the Lynx brass.  Listed as a defender in the Lynx roster the athletic Johnson impressed in an attacking role and he provided the few moments of magic during a rather dull contest.   One can see why Johnson was included in Tony Taylor’s squad during the recent Francophone Games in Madagascar.

Prior to the weekend series Canada Kicks learned that all is not well off the field for Toronto’s big league soccer team.  It appears that similar problems that plagued the team last year are again popping up in the board room.  Prior to Thursday’s contest Lynx Marketing and Ticket Sales Manager Peter Kovacs resigned after what insiders described as being serious philosophical differences with the Lynx owners.  Lynx President Enzo Iantorno attributed the separation to unfulfilled promises made by their former employee.   Iantorno has pledged that replacing Kovacs will not be problematic and that the political climate in the Lynx office will not influence the team’s performance on the field.  Kovacs was instrumental in helping his former employers secure their lucrative multi year deal with Puma and his resignation from the team must be considered a loss given his connections within the local soccer community.

Among the masses during Thursday night’s contest was Montreal Impact President Joey Saputo.  Saputo confirmed that rumblings about his NPSL franchise in Montreal are true and it is highly unlikely that the indoor Impact will be back next season unless he is able to negotiate a more economical lease agreement with Molsons Centre officials.   The NPSL has extended their deadline for Montreal’s decision until the end of May.

Saputo also stood by his well documented comments that Canadian A - League franchises are treated like second class citizens by the USISL.  He indicated that he hopes to see six Canadian franchises in the A-League before the new millennium to give Canadians a louder voice in the American dominated league.  Saputo blieves that talk of expanding into the National Capital Region is premature and he questions whether Ottawa is a large enough market for A - League soccer.  Saputo also expressed concern that his efforts to be included in the US Open Cup have fallen on deaf ears even though a percentage of his USISL dues goes directly to the United States Soccer Federation.  He indicated that the USSF subsidises many of the smaller American clubs who participate in the Open Cup and he believes that the Canadian Soccer Association is unable to assist due to their dire financial situation.


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