From Canada Kicks:

The Irony of Canadian Soccer
LYnx finish season with impressive "road" victory.
by Paul Hendren
Tuesday, September 08, 1998 08:11:19 PM
  TORONTO (September 7, 1998)   It has been a problem that has plagued Canadian soccer for years.  The local team is usually held in contempt by the masses gathered at Varsity Stadium while visiting teams from abroad are treated like royalty.  Monday's encounter between the A - League's Toronto Lynx and Iranian Azadegan League champions Persepolis was no different. 

The game even carried the irony to a new level. The friendly encounter  in Toronto was rumored to be the last big match at historic Varsity Stadium before the wrecking balls invade Canada's soccer shrine during the winter months.  The irony lies in the fact that the Toronto based team was actually an invited guest of the event while the team from a far away land played host.  The public address announcer bellowed out details in Farsi and even mis-pronounced several of the Lynx player's names during the introductions. 

The passage ways of the stadium were filled with Persepolis' souvenirs - not the Lynx merchandise that was common place during the A - League campaign.  It was apparent that Toronto were strangers in their own home ground.  To make the afternoon even more bizarre was the presence of a high ranking Canadian Soccer Association official decked out in a bright multi -colored Iran '98 T-shirt. Mehrdad Masdoudi , Iranian by birth but Canadian by citizenship, holds the lofty position as Manager of Communications and Information Services for the Canadian Soccer Association.  The personable Masoudi made his presence felt throughout the game by cheering wildly for his beloved Persepolis team  and hanging his head in disbelief when his soccer heroes were being embarrassed by the young Canadian team.

The Lynx were worthy of the victory outplaying their Iranian competitors in every facet of the game.  Persepolis are a formidable unit boasting five World Cup stars as well as several others with international experience.  The stars of the team are colorful goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh and exciting youngster Mehdi Mahdavikia. It has been well documented that Persepolis' main weakness is their sole reliance on Mahdavikia to score goals.  The talented young Iranian International was a non factor in Monday's game with Rick Titus and Peter Sarantopoulis demonstrating little respect for his immense talents.  

The Lynx roster was bolstered by guest player Dwayne DeRosario who time and time again wheeled his talented legs into the offensive zone creating havoc for the Persepolis defenders. Payravani and Rabirafar were also struggling to contain the pure speed of Martin Dugas who frequently left his opponents in his dust.  When tested at the other end Lynx goalkeeper Theo Zagar played like an experienced veteran worthy of a shot at the number one position next season.

Thirty eight minutes into the game DeRosario was taken down in the penalty area and the Lynx were awarded a penalty.  Serbian import Nikola Vignsevic made no mistake from the penalty spot forcing a chorus of boos and insults from  the large contingent of Iranian supporters in Varsity's west grand stand.  Persepolis stepped up their attack in the second half forcing Zagar to make a spectacular save. Knowing that their opponents would be pushing forward Toronto forwards Adolfo Mella and Kevin Holness exploited the weakened Persian defense at will.  With less than 20 minutes to play Kevin Holness sealed the victory when he found himself alone in front of a helpless Abedzadeh. As cool as a cucumber Holness placed the ball off the post and inside the goal.  A piece of skill that was missing from his play for the better part of the A - League schedule.

The final score line was Toronto Lynx 2 - Persepolis 0.  While leaving the press box, well known radio personality Peter Irvine turned to yours truly and asked "Are these the same Lynx?"  Given Toronto's impressive 'away' victory at home the prospects for 1999 don't look all that bad.

One must question if Canadian Soccer's official media liaison was enjoying the outcome of his first taste of professional soccer this year in the land of the Maple Leaf.

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