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About "Kurtis Larson"

Sun Media's leading soccer columnist, Larson has been following Major League Soccer since '96 and reports on the Canadian men's national team and Toronto FC. Follow him every week on Sun sites across Canada, Slam sports and in the Toronto Sun.

Canadian international Hume interested in MLS move

- May 31st, 2014

Iain Hume is one of the most accomplished Canadian strikers to ever compete in England, his close to 500 appearances at various levels is unmatched.

Now, after helping Fleetwood Town recently gain promotion, Hume is setting his sights on a new challenge — potentially Major League Soccer.

“I still think I have plenty to offer,” he told Canadian Soccer contact Max Bell, who operates across the pond. “I’m not closing the door on anything outside the UK.”

When the 30-year-old Hume left Brampton at 16, there were limited opportunities.

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“I’ve said that from the time MLS started in Toronto, it’s not something I’d ever say no to, provided everything was right,” Hume said.

“It’s good to have that level of football available back there. If that ever arose and I had a chance to play at TFC on a regular basis my family and friends would love it.”

Having appeared 40 times for Canada, Toronto supporters are well aware of what Hume offers – a tireless work rate to match a quality strike rate, both things head coach Ryan Nelsen cherishes.

“It’s obviously going to be in TFC’s hands,” Hume said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.”

Moldova extends Canada’s winless run to 16 games

- May 27th, 2014

Another day, another missed opportunity for Canada’s men’s soccer team to finally snap its unprecedented winless run.

Following a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria late last week, Canada drew Moldova by the same scoreline Tuesday in Mauer, Austria, extending its winless streak to 16 games dating back to a World Cup qualifying loss in Honduras two years ago.

Tosaint Ricketts’ 10th-minute goal off a corner kick cancelled Moldova’s opener in the seventh minute.

“We were unfortunate not to win the game,” Canadian coach Benito Floro said. “We played well but it wasn’t a bad result but it wasn’t good.

“This is the end of the first stage so the players are happy.”

Although he remains winless since taking over for Stephen Hart, Floro insists the Canadians will target a semifinal appearance at the 2015 Gold Cup.

Currently ranking No. 110 in the FIFA World Rankings, Canada will use games against fellow CONCACAF teams later this year to prepare for the tournament, which will serve as qualifying for the 2016 Copa America Centenario.

Canada hosts Jamaica in Toronto on Sept. 9 before travelling to Panama on Nov. 18.

Trade for Collen Warner makes sense for Toronto FC

- May 17th, 2014

The Reds can’t replace “The General.”

On Friday, they did their best to stem the tide.

Ahead of Saturday afternoon’s league tilt against the visiting New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC acquired Montreal Impact midfielder Collen Warner in exchange for Issey Nakajima-Farran.

With Bradley set to miss at least five MLS dates because of the World Cup, the Reds swapped a productive winger for a pressing need. Toronto FC, before Saturday, didn’t have a suitable option to sit in front of its back four.

Despite making the deal, Toronto FC still won’t have one Saturday. Warner will miss this weekend after receiving a red card in Montreal’s home loss to Kansas City last weekend.

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Without Bradley — and his replacement — the Reds could struggle to fend off a high-flying New York attack that currently employs Thierry Henry alongside the league’s goal-scoring leader, Bradley Wright-Phillips.

It underlines just how important it was for the Reds to get off the mark with a decent start — something Bradley, who spoke with the Toronto Sun before leaving for U.S. national team camp, reiterated to me this week.

“I’m somebody who hates to miss games,” Bradley told me by phone. “As excited as I am to go represent my country and play in a World Cup, there is still a part of me that is disappointed and frustrated that it means I have to miss games with Toronto.

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Issey Nakajima-Farran calls trade to Montreal ‘inhumane,’ probably doesn’t mean it

- May 17th, 2014

He either didn’t mean it, or doesn’t understand the word.

Either way, Issey Nakajima-Farran’s assertion that his trade from Toronto FC to Montreal Friday morning was in any way “inhumane” was a bit much.

Shortly after learning he’d been dealt, Nakajima-Farran tweeted:

Call it hyperbole. Nigerian terrorists kidnapping hundreds of school girls is inhumane. Playing professional sp orts is an earned privilege. The 30-year-old took a deep breath an hour later.

As for the on-field ramifications, Toronto FC swapped a useful wide player for an immediate need.

In return of Nakajima-Farran the Reds received holding midfielder Collen Warner, a player with close to 100 MLS appearances over five seasons that could provide balance to a TFC midfield that’s without Michael Bradley and Jeremy Hall.

Had TFC’s front office not pulled the trigger it would have been forced to use Kyle Bekker and Jonathan Osorio, both in their sophomore season.

Nakajima-Farran exits BMO field having scored two goals in five MLS matches. Both he and Warner are ineligible to compete in the Canadian Championship final later this month.

Bradley comments on Eddie Johnson’s World Cup exclusion

- May 14th, 2014

I asked U.S. national team linchpin Michael Bradley what he thought of Eddie Johnson being left off the U.S. roster yesterday. He told the Toronto Sun it doesn’t matter what he thinks:

“I think for any of us who have been part of the group over the last four years, when you get to this point there are going to be tough decisions. All over the world the reality is that tough decision have to be made when it comes to choosing a roster for the World Cup.

“I know how disappointed Eddie is. It doesn’t change what he’s all about. It doesn’t change what he has given our team during the last stretch. It’s just… At the end of the day, Jurgen felt like the way he was piecing his roster together that this was the best way to go.

“At the end of the day that’s the only person whose opinion really matters.”

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Canadian Championship: Plenty to look forward to in Round 2 between Reds, ‘Caps

- May 14th, 2014

TORONTO - The first go-around ended with a forearm shiver and goal-box brouhaha.

After Vancouver’s Kekuta Manneh cut Toronto FC’s lead in half in stoppage time last Wednesday, a moment of madness ensued.

Dwayne De Rosario drove an arm into Manneh’s face.

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Reserve ’keeper Joe Bendik said some, uh, unpleasant things to say.

And Toronto FC’s bench, despite going up 2-0 through Michael Bradley moments before, looked dejected knowing full well they’re in a much more difficult place heading into Wednesday night’s return leg.

Welcome to the Canadian Championship, a domestic Cup competition with a boat load of bizarre history regardless of its infancy.

The Miracle in Montreal (2009).

The Stomping at Saputo (2013).

The Monsoon in May (2011).

Jun Marques Davidson’s disgraceful dive in 2012.

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This tournament has seen it all.

And with Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson intending to trot out another young lineup Wednesday night, the Reds should be pissed. After all, the Whitecaps, unlike Toronto, don’t have an MLS game at the weekend. There’s no reason for them not to play a near-first choice lineup containing the likes of Pedro Morales and Matias Laba — an XI that offers them the best chance at securing passage to the Canadian Cup final.

But in Robinson’s mind, they don’t need to. A 2-1 opening leg loss — away goals is the first tie-breaker — at BMO Field demonstrated that.

“I think it will be a mix,” Robinson said of his team sheet. “Obviously, we don’t have a big squad anyway so it’s probably going to be a youngish team again. It’s going to be a team that I think can go out and win that game.”

It’s easier to rest first-choice players when you’re surging up the MLS table. The Whitecaps are unbeaten over their past four MLS fixtures, which includes dates against L.A. and Salt Lake.

Because of that, Robinson can treat Wednesday differently. He can make his intentions known: If they lose, the Robinson-led Whitecaps will point to youth development. If Vancouver progresses, it’s merely an added bonus at TFC’s expense.

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Toronto FC recalls Daniel Lovitz from Wilmington (USL)

- May 13th, 2014

A Toronto FC official confirmed to me Monday that second-round draft pick Daniel Lovitz has been recalled from a loan stint with the Wilmington Hammerheads of the USL.

A current TFC player will not be sent down in his place.

Selected 24th overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Lovitz has a goal and an assist through five USL games this season.

The 22-year-old has impressed at the minor-league level by all accounts.

Defoe ‘devastated’ to be left off England’s 23-man World Cup roster

- May 12th, 2014

TORONTO – At the start of the season, Jermain Defoe “hoped” England manager Roy Hodgson was watching.

Then, the Toronto FC striker netted an opening-season brace in Seattle after announcing his intentions.

Either Hodgson wasn’t interested or Defoe’s start to his MLS career wasn’t enough.

Either way, the 31-year-old was left off England’s 23-man World Cup squad Monday, named to the team’s seven-person “stand-by” list instead.

In Defoe’s place go Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck, Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Southampton’s Rickie Lambert.

Despite naming just seven defenders to his team, Hodgson elected to add an additional midfielder to England’s roster instead of adding a fifth striker, which very well could have been Defoe.

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Toronto FC’s leading goal-scorer is expected to remain with the Reds for the duration of the summer barring injury to one of England’s attackers.

“It’s difficult,” Defoe told BBC Radio. “I did feel like I had a good chance of going because I’ve been in most of the squads. I just felt like I’ve done enough.

“To miss out I feel devastated to be honest.”

One BBC Radio host shoved the knife in a bit further, asking Defoe if moving to MLS hurt his World Cup chances.

“You can say that, but at this same time I wouldn’t change anything,” Defoe added. “If I would have stayed at Tottenham and not played, what would have happened?

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Mariner reflects back on time coaching Toronto FC

- May 3rd, 2014

Former Toronto FC bench boss Paul Mariner, who now provides colour commentary for the New England Revolution and ESPN, has fond memories of his former club.

He spoke with the Toronto Sun in the visiting TV booth prior to TFC’s 2-1 loss to the Revs Saturday afternoon.

“I was elated to get employed by MLSE,” Mariner said, remembering back to win he was both hired and fired by the club.

“I got a phone call from (former MLSE executive) Tom Anselmi, who said he wanted to see me. That’s my fondest memory: Walking into Anselmi’s office and getting the job.”

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Under Mariner, Toronto FC lost just one of 10 games during the 2012 season before disaster struck.

“The obvious turning point was Koevermans going down,” Mariner said.

From there, the Reds finished the season winless through 14 games.

“Up until the Koevermans injury I thought we were going to be OK.”

Former club president Kevin Payne sacked Mariner shortly thereafter.

But that doesn’t mean TFC’s former bench boss isn’t keeping an eye on his former club.

“It’s staggering,” he said of TFC’s off-season signings. “It’s a very exciting team going forward.”

As for coaching, he says he’s happy staying in the booth.

“There’s nothing like it when you get a win, but it’s the dark days that hurt you,” Mariner said. “You can’t dwell on it. A couple of beers, drain your sorrows, and then back at it.”

Reds lifeless (soulless) in disappointing 2-1 loss to Revs

- May 3rd, 2014

TORONTO - A disastrous first-half gaffe wasn’t the difference in Toronto FC’s 2-1 loss on Saturday.

Neither was head coach Ryan Nelsen’s questionable lineup.

Or the assistant referee, who despite TFC’s post-game claims didn’t play a role against the New England Revolution.

At issue is something far more concerning: Toronto FC has lost its soul.

The collective soul that saw the Reds grind out a stunning win in Seattle — followed by a road win in Columbus — has been sucked out of this club.

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For whatever reason, it’s gone without a trace.

“We have to learn how to win at TFC,” Nelsen said. “It seems that if we concede at home it’s the worst thing that ever happened.”

On Saturday, the Reds were in complete control until a Doneil Henry giveaway saw New England’s Patrick Mullins cancel Jackson’s opener with a stunning long-range effort.

At 1-1, Mullins’ equalizer should have forced TFC to raise its level.

Instead, heads hung, on-field squabbles ensued and Jackson, whose sixth-minute opener provided a hopeful start, nearly got sent off.

At a certain point, the Reds, along with the 22,591 in attendance, were waiting to lose.

As in season’s past, it eventually happened.

A bizarre decision to allow the Revs to retake a late corner turned into a missed Justin Morrow clearance, which turned into Henry handling the ball inside the area.

Referee Mike Geiger correctly pointed to the spot before the resulting Lee Nguyen penalty issued TFC a third-straight loss.

“That pass on the first goal, that’s my fault,” Henry admitted post-game. “At the end of the day, I have to get better. That’s on me.”

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