November 11, 2019--Rocket Robin's Soccer in Toronto 2019 Review (by Rocket Robin)

Rocket Robin's Soccer in Toronto 2019 Season in Review  
by Rocket Robin

November 11, 2019 

It's been quite a year for me with new leagues and teams but lots of the same old stuff.  I've realized this year 
was my twenty-fifth year of keeping my own web page going.  

I figured I attended a total of 77 matches in 2019 for teams playing around the Greater Toronto area.  

A brand new league started playing games this season.  It had been on the horizon for years and was even postponed 
for one year but at last now it was up and running.  I bought a season ticket to York 9 FC of the new 
Canadian Premier League as soon as tickets were available.  Full circle from me starting with North York Rockets 
of the Canadian Soccer League in 1988 (the team's and the league's second year of operation).  The CPL is the first 
cross-Canada professional league since the demise of the CSL in 1992.   I knew about half the roster of York 9 players 
from watching them play in League 1 Ontario over the last few years.  

I was able to catch all their fourteen home games in the Spring and Fall season, plus their three home games in their 
run in the Canadian Championship, and even two road games in Hamilton.  

York finished third in the Fall season, a long distance back from the two finalists Cavalry FC and Forge FC.  They had 
a problem with their home record.  There were three occasions where they hosted the 'last' place team at the time 
and lost.  Also their home attendance was the lowest of the seven teams.  The weather was not nice in the first few 
games of the Spring.  There were a few conflicts with Toronto FC games taking place downtown the same time or the 
same day.  Most fans think one game a day is enough.  The team put a lot of marketing into youth teams in the area 
but that didn't pan out as those teams would often be playing on the same day as York home games so they didn't take 
up the club's offer.  Looks promising next year as the ticket prices have been cut by about 50%.  

I obtained a press pass at the start of the season and never did use my front row ticket.  Early in the season there 
was cold or rain but by the time the weather improved, I wanted to be in the press box for the action and information 
given out.  Sometimes TFC games happening at the same time cut into the press core but I was always there and learned 
a lot.  

I ordered a personalized York 9 FC jersey early in the season that took months to fill.  With some team/league help 
I reordered and when it finally arrived I could see what the problem was.  They sent me two jerseys and on one they'd 
'Irbahimovic'-ed it.  (similar to Zlaten Ibrahimovic MLS jersey mispelling this year).  How can you misspell 
'Rocket Robin'?  Receiving the two of them explained it all and they would have thrown out the first one anyway 
so one I can wear around the house.  The club ensured my personalized SSH scarf (out of maybe 1000) was '#9' which 
was much appreciated.  

Although I gave up my season tickets to Toronto FC after twelve years (never missed a game!) I finally  got tired 
of them being down to one Canadian starter in their lineup (Jonathan Osorio in 2018) on a regular basis then being 
shouted down at a TFC Fan Meet'n'Greet with the MLSE management by the MC when I raised that complaint “Do you want 
to win or do you want to see Canadians?”.  I will say the management team gave a very diplomatic answer.  The MC 
(Gareth Wheeler) has gone on to be a play-by-play guy with the CPL on OneSoccer (while still working for TFC) 
and went apeshit when the Canadian team beat the USA last month. 

I still attended all fourteen home games of TFC II with their roster of mostly young Canadian players.  This season 
for the first they played at their training centre in Downsview which was so much closer to where I live than last 
year playing downtown.  The game times also worked for me...most were on Friday afternoons at 4:00pm.  That can 
partially be explained by the training facility with the stands not having stadium lights.  The team dropped 
to the USL's new 'League One' division.  It's a tier below where they played last year but it made the young team 
more fun to watch as they would win more often than any previous season, even flirting with a .500 record for much 
of the season.  There were only ten teams in that league and we got to see most teams twice so it was easier to follow 
the league as a whole.  Many of the TFC II players I watched had come through the TFC Academy system.  
Only disappointment is they didn't keep their TFC III (an U-19 team) in League 1 Ontario.  They joined the USSDA 
system and now play against similar age groups in the United States.  Now instead of playing some of the weaker 
L1O teams and winning 6-0 they can drive down to Ohio or Michigan and beat similar age groups of players 6-0!  
L1O at least allowed TFC III to 'play up' to have competitive games against older players.  I've heard there was 
a lot of pressure to join the USSDA system.  I did get to one home game—TFC U-19 beat Vardar (Michigan) 6-0 with 
the visitors only bringing eleven players and not being able to use any of their younger age groups to fill the bench.  
Some of the TFC II players played at the U-17 World Cup last month.  

I also continued to attend League 1 Ontario games this season.  I figured I went to forty despite the shorter season 
this year and not holding a League Cup.  I was able to catch every team a minimum of three times which can be difficult 
with teams like Windsor, London, and Ottawa being beyond my driving range and having to wait for their visits 
to the Toronto area.  It turned out the team I saw most often thanks to their long playoff run was Masters FA Saints 
whom I caught nine times.  Only one Women's L1O game for me but it was the championship game. 

Canada's national teams continue to play the majority of their home games in Toronto and I was invited to all three.  
The women played an exhibition game against Mexico in the spring before heading off to the Women's World Cup.  
The men played two games in the CONCACAF Nations League in hopes of moving up the rankings in the region and earning 
a spot in the Hex—a much easier way of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.        

One big surprise for me was the start of the web app 'OneSoccer'.  It was a way to watch/rewatch games and highlights 
of CPL and national team games and the panel shows are enjoyable.  I was one of the first to sign up using a discount 
I had as a York 9 season ticket holder.  I came across some connection lag issues especially at the beginning but things 
have improved.  It would be better if they could post replays of games sooner.  They now post the entire game day show 
so if I have the time I'll be able to watch all the pre and post and halftime interviews.  Next season the price for 
me is free with my 2020 SSH ticket.   

I had a few problems during the season.  After the years of waiting for the game to start and getting a free ticket 
to the inaugural CPL game in Hamilton as I was a SSH with York 9, I turned down the club provided bus ride so I could 
come home on my own, my old 1995 Dodge Spirit broke down the beginning of that week and couldn't be replaced.  I quickly 
bought a replacement so I could get to the game...turned out alright although I balked when I got to Hamilton and was 
shown a parking spot to back into in the space.  I just hadn't had enough time to practice that manoeuvre and apologized 
and parked in the open spot beside it.  More minor problems were a tree branch fell in my backyard from the wind 
and severed my telephone line which cut off my internet...second time in 15 months...but Bell got me reconnected within 
three days.  Also my cellphone suddenly stopped getting network service and I had to replace it after my provider 
couldn't fix it.  

This year I wasn't writing for any outlet.  I asked one of them and they said “We've decided to move in another direction”.  
So a month later a younger guy was writing a very similar style but not as often to what I'd turned in previous years.  
It was also suggested that I try an online US publication for my TFC II stories.  They couldn't pay me (not a surprise) 
but wanted to have my stuff as exclusives (not even rewritten for my own pages) so I turned them down.  I want my writing 
as a legacy not to have them delete it maybe as soon as the season is over.  I like the praise I get when people discover 
my writings such as this year when my new financial planner mentioned after our second meeting that he'd found my site 
and was 'marking out' that he could read about himself and his friends' time in the CNSL/CPSL league more than decade ago.   

Not writing for others saves me some editing time when I can just write for myself.  Soccer message boards and twitter 
posts is how I let the world know.  Certainly increasing my twitter followers to more than 365 is what I'll try to do 
for next year.  

I found out there was something I could offer different than others and that was full audio recordings of press conferences 
and player interviews.  I had started that from the last years of national team games because sports news shows would 
only give 15 seconds of comments and columnists would maybe quote three lines.  I can post the entire 12 minutes if they 
go on that long.  I really got into it this year from the first CPL game where I noticed the OneSoccer app did not post 
any comments from the Forge coach.  As the weeks went by I noticed they would cut to the press conference 'in progress' 
and cut out when they wanted and their archives didn't have them stored.  I also did an early season post game chat with 
all 16 of the League 1 Ontario coaches about their goals for the year when they'd hit the GTA.  

I had sent some soundfiles to podcasters and one used one of them but soon appeared to fizzle out.  Some of the podcasters 
frequency slowed down or stopped as the season wore on.  

I'd like to thank the kind people I came across during this season from the national team media liaison officers down to L1O 
players that I've ever asked after a game “Who passed you the ball for your second goal?” so I could give proper credit 
for an assist.  

In the off season I have some housekeeping to do with adding pictures and lineups to my L1O reports which I fell behind 
on the frills when so many games came all at once.  

Otherwise I look forward to the start of the 2020 season and wish all my readers a Happy New Year!      

My stuff us not behind a paywall!  

Rocket Robin
twitter  @RocketRobin01   

back to 2019 York 9 FC index

back to 2019 Toronto FC II index

back to 2019 League 1 Ontario Men's index