Wednesday April 7th, 2004
Toronto Lynx Press Conference Travelodge Hotel in Toronto
by Rocket Robin
The scheduled time I read months ago was 10:00am but the actual start was 11:45am when Lynx co-owner called the conference to order. About 75 was the attendance (not counting players or club officials). The small head table was made up of Nicole Hartrell, new head coach Duncan Wilde and assistant Billy Steele.
Nicole Hartrell thanked those in attendance in particular Dick Howard and new sponser Oakville Infinity Nisson. She said the time is making strides to become an institution because now the team is in its eighth year and intends to stay around. She's proud of the Toronto Lynx Youth program and its teams and the Lynx new head coach and 'sidekick'. The expression sidekick for assistant coach then became a continuing joke during the rest of the conference as well as her repeated knocking over of Fan590's podium microphone. There are five pro teams in Canada and they're now having a national presence with maybe Hamilton, Ottawa, and Winnipeg joining eventually and maybe Halifax. This would make a strong division of the A-League. [Notice that's WITHIN the A-League] The challenge ahead also includes getting a new soccer stadium in Toronto. Lynx execs are meeting with the Argos next week for a possible York U site. However Plan 'B' if that doesn't work is to work with the CSA stadium group to build something. She then introduces new Head Coach Duncan Wilde who she compares to the Energizer Bunny of battery life fame for his energy and hard work.
Duncan Wilde takes the podium and jokes he's under "no pressure" after Hartrell's introductory buildup. He's proud of the soccer academy program and glad to have 'sidekick' Billy Steele as his partner.
He said he's spent hours watching Lynx video tapes to analyze the squad and their opponents. Also it's important that they have a deep, flexible lineup for the weekend road trips for such things as the narrow field for home games and the wider field for some road games.
He thinks that the East will be stronger than the West because of the alignment and their traditional finishes.
The team now has set up a supporter's club.
The team's main endeavor this season is to score more goals and he feels they've kept the defense strong as ever even with the departure of goaltender Theo (Zagar).
The new goalkeeping coach is John Moreira.
The medical team is headed up by Dr Robert Gringmuth for his eighth year.
Duncan Wilde now introduces the new squad after the Lynxster mascot, The Lynxster.
The new captain of the team is midfielder #5 Shawn Faria!! Back for his third year.
The goalkeepers will be #1 Richard Goddard (a veteran of A-League Charlotte Eagles and CPSL Ottawa Wizards). Import Also as goalie is #22 Bryheem Hancock who played for A-League Atlanta Silverbacks the last two years. Import
Now the players by number:
#2 Andres Arango (defender) came back to his hometown of Toronto in the Mauricio Vincello trade with Montreal.
#3 Lewis Blois (defender) Import. Played in Norwich City in England in previous years and the last few years in UK non-league football.
#4 Joe Mattacchione (defender/midfielder). Now in his sixth year with the Lynx.
#6 Aaron Steele (defender) Rookie from England but won't count as an import because he's a Canadian resident. The coach's son.
#7 Kris O'Neil (midfield) Import. From Edinburgh Scotland. Played with Hearts of the Scottish league up to 2001.
#8 Rumba Munthali (I let him write his name in my notebook as neither I nor the coach was sure of how to spell it). He's a Canadian. He can play midfield or defense. The Lynx just signed him at 7:00pm the night before!
#9 David DiPlacido (midfielder) was absent as right now he's in the MISL playoffs. Wilde joked that he hoped his team gets knocked out of the playoffs so he will be able to make the trip to the Lynx's Puerto Rico training camp.
#10 John Barry Nusum (forward) Import from Bermuda. Leading scorer of A-League Atlanta Silverbacks last year with seven goals.
#11 Igor Prostan (midfield) Rookie is currently recovering from a knee injury.
#12 Marin Pusak from Brampton is also out with an injury.
#13 Jamie Dodds (neither of these two players plus #8 were listed in the team guide)
#14 Tyler Hughes (defender/centre back) 'The Scud' will be encouraged to unleash his hard accurate shot from anywhere inside the halfway line.
#15 Adrian Serioux (defender) is also currently injured. Wilde joked "Don't limp" when he made his way to the front. Sixth year with Lynx.
#16 Josue Mayard (defender) Second year with Lynx.
The Lynx captain Shawn Faria came forward and gave a short speech. He thanked the new coaches for keeping the core of the team but filling in the roster with good young quality players. He offers no predictions for 2004 but sees hard work and making the playoffs as the goal.
Duncan Wilde is back and talks about the Academy Program. Ian Hume is the best graduate he's ever had come through his Premier Soccer Academy which has now combined into the Toronto Lynx Academy. They have four teams for this year entered in the Super-Y League starting with the U-15 age group but he toured with their U-13 and U-14 over to the UK and met with success. Four players on that tour were invited back to try out with Premier club youth teams.
The new coach for two of the youth teams, the U-15 and U-16s is Brett Molson who holds an A-License from the USA. Also introduced from that group were U-15 captain Anthony Durrand played with Oakville and U-16 captain William Mitchell.
The U-17 team is away in the Dallas Cup and so far won both their games 1-0 and needs one more win to make the quarterfinals. The team was only formed in January but has already won the Ottawa/Kanata Indoor Cup against other Super-Y team opponents. The coach is Tom Croft and the captain is John Jonque.
U-19 head coach introduced is Danny Stewart and his assistant is Paul Diablo. The captain of that team is his son Chris Diablo. U-19 goalie Cameron McKay trains with the Lynx pros and does the laundry (more laughter).
[I recognize Danny Stewart and confirm later with Billy Steele that he did in fact coach the CPSL Durham Flames (before the dreadful 2003 team). He worked the line at the GM plant in Oshawa in those days and Steele confirmed he still did. I asked Steele about training all these players and then having some other team draft them but he explained how the team will have first right's to their academy players].
Duncan Wilde concludes that he has picked the best players available to take the trip to Puerto Rico.
Nicole Hartrell says the club still has some of its allotment of Celtic-Roma tickets for sale.
Duncan Wilde offers a big welcome to wheelchair bound Jim Ellis of Toronto Emeralds who helped him get his coaching start in Canada. Nicole had been waiting to thank him too saying he promised to come all the way from Barrie.
The press conference ended at 12:30pm and media and players joined the buffet line. The Lynx Dance team (eight teenage girls were there today) danced to Usher's "Yeah". Well, this is the number 1 song in North America again this week.
I joined a table to eat and discussed for the second time today the Lynx's brutal schedule. Lynx play the other teams in the Eastern Conference twice plus one extra game on the road against Montreal, Rochester, and Syracuse and play one extra home game against Puerto Rico, Richmond, and Virginia Beach. They play home and away once against three of the seven team Western Conference Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Since four teams make the playoffs from each conference, the record of .450 may make the Western playoffs, but probably .600 would be needed to make the Eastern playoffs. Someone noticed with concentrating the early schedule with Montreal and Rochester, the Lynx could be finished from a playoff run by the middle of June. Consensus among us seemed to be to expect Montreal and Rochester to make the playoffs and expecting defending champions Charleston to grab a third spot, which will be a struggle to get the one other spot open. Lynx finished last in the tough Northeastern Division last year with an 11-13-4 record.
Highlights from the press conference have already been shown on OMNI news Portuguese edition. Sportsnet was also recording it too.
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