The Starting 11

Michael Bradley

THE STARTING 11: Signs that this TFC season wasn't as bad as everyone thinks

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Get used to it you cesspool reading vocal minority. You negative Nellys (see what we did there?) need to look on the bright side of life with TFC. Like... it hasn't been 10 years without playoffs... yet. And stuff like that! Yes 2014 may have dropped out of the unzipped Vanney Pack and hit the soon-to-be-Argos turf with a thud, but this season had some tremendous positives as well.

THE STARTING 11: Obvious Questions Omitted From The End-of-season Presser

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Though everyone's favourite TFC fake news outlet was totally invited and even had our press passes FedEx'd over, we couldn't possibly make it due to our prior engagements and all of those other end of season press conferences we had to cover, the outro interviews came and passed with slightly more than a whimper, but a plethora of typical soundbytes.

THE STARTING 11: Ways that Toronto FC players spent their bye week

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SPRING BREAK! Woooot! Ok, not quite a kegger on Daytona Beach but TFC players and staff have had a few extra days off to relax recently. So while you toil away in whatever corporate ant farm is destroying your soul... take a moment to think of those more fortunate than you and how they spent a lovely spring week.

THE STARTING 11: Derogatory nicknames Americans call Michael Bradley

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He's got no hair but we don't care...  In four matches he has vaulted easily to become one of MLS' premier players. There is an argument that he is CONCACAF's finest talent at the moment. He carries the USA's World Cup hopes to Brazil on his shoulders this summer. He plays in Canada. What a conundrum for our mega-patriotic friends to the south!

BMO field

THE STARTING 11: Advantages to having so many Montreal Impact fans visit BMO Field

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Toronto and Montreal. Rivals in so many things. Language, culture, business, terrible mayors, Prime Minister-themed airports and who Upstate New York wants to take to the prom. No list of inter-city rivalries of course would be complete without sporting interests. Whether it is real football, Canadian American football or ice football, these two great cities love to battle it out.

THE STARTING 11: Hidden features in the BMO Field expansion plans

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Phase One: "How interesting!" Phase Two: "Look at that roof!" Phase Three: "Say what in the whatnow? Aww nuts." Yes, in the words of a guy who used to work around these parts - "get used to it." BMO Field is being expanded into a 30,000-seat, gleaming Euro-style stadium suitable for an ambitious MLS club with visions of grandeur.

THE STARTING 11: Things that Toronto FC supporters gain from the BMO Field expansion

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Get used to it.
Go ahead, call us lazy. Tell us we're phoning it in. After 7 years of covering TFC, you are what you eat.

To be fair, today's "Greatest Hits" Starting 11 is topical. When it first appeared on the site, "Argos to BMO" was still in the rumour (but who are we kidding - this deal was done a year ago) stage.

Jermain Defoe

THE STARTING 11: Things that Jermain Defoe missed about being in Toronto

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Winter is comin'
He's back! Our l'il lord and saviour Jermain Defoe has returned from the nightmarish hell that was re-habbing a devastatingly injured groin... or something. Whatever. With Canada's apparent Third World medical facilities, Defoe has spent much of the summer back in England doing his best to prepare for a playoff push and #goals.

THE MATCHUP: Catching Fire... (With Bonus STARTING 11 - Yours Free with Purchase!)

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Great Lakes fever! CHICAGO VS. TORONTO

- Because TFC are attempting to become a fairly solid club away from home. Fun and weird isn't it?

THE STARTING 11: Trillium Cup privileges

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Take that, Budweiser FA Cup!
We have banged on for years now how the Trillium Cup is a farcical corporate faux trophy. Despite TFC's exciting comeback victory on Saturday, the reward for winning the annual series of matches between Columbus Crew and The Reds is still lame-o. To watch a player like Jermain Defoe look at the local tin-cup and sort of lift it in sort of victory is all a bit cringe.

Toronto FC

THE STARTING 11: TFC coach employment perks

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Let's face it - if Toronto FC coaches were wild animals, they'd occupy the endangered species list somewhere between pandas and unicorns. Since the club's inception, a wide array of motley crews (not Motley Crue cuz that would be awesome) have patrolled the sidelines under a number of different managers.

THE STARTING 11: Worst jobs at TFC

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Not the parade Leiweke had in mind Happy Labour Day you wacky labourers. On the day where we appreciate the value of the working man and woman in society/weep giant tears that summer is over, we also take a closer look at local employer/dream killer - Toronto FC. Many of you would surely like to land a job working for your beloved club but before you shine up your resume, take a look at these less-than upwardly mobile BMO Field careers.

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC-related CNE Attractions

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Also how TFC chooses managers  Hot dogs are being corned; Judas Priest mirrors are being shined; ice-cream and waffles are about to make sweet, sweet love; and, the Polar Express really wants to go faster! Yes it's time once again for the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto's annual goodbye to summer/ carny-folk's annual hello to your sister.

THE STARTING 11: Ways that Toronto FC is trying to be more Brazilian

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ARRR-GOOOOS!!! Brazil! It's so hot right now! The nation that brought us the nut, flip-flops and modern pubic hair fashion is on everyone's lips. As hosts of the World Cup, this South American giant is under the global spotlight and our local club Toronto FC has noticed. Always an outfit looking to promote the crap out of something, The Reds plan a massive Brazilian makeover to cash in on the samba rhythms.

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC plans during the World Cup

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Also available on 8-Track
The most holy of all holy months is but days away. More than any other event on the planet's social calendar, the World Cup is responsible for the most fake sick days, "doctor's appointments" and mini-flag related injuries. Personally I'm thinking of contracting a mystery ailment called a "sepped bladder" to get some time off.

THE STARTING 11: Surprising items found during the BMO Field Easter Egg hunt

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Happy Easter Monday to our Christian observers/chocolate bunny observers. To the rest of you - happy Monday? Sure. Easter of course is where millions celebrate JC's (not Julio Cesar) big comeback victory over AS Roma in the egg fields near the stadium where Beitar Jerusalem now plays. We think.

THE STARTING 11: TFC Google searches

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"Parade routes... I'm Feeling Lucky"  If there's one thing Toronto FC has always struggled with - it's erasing their history. The front office have been doing their best recently to bloody big deal their way out of the past but even the most well-connected staff needs some research help sometimes.

Tim Leiweke

THE STARTING 11: Things that Tim Leiweke wants to accomplish before leaving Toronto

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Drake (feat. Tim Leiweke)  Well that was a bloody quick deal. A day after vehemently denying his departure from MLSE, that very same glorious corporation announced Tim Leiweke's exit as their head honcho by next summer at the latest. While Leiweke blew into Toronto like a hurricane, he leaves on a mysteriously short-term breeze.

THE STARTING 11: Things that Toronto FC supporters gain from 'Argos To BMO'

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"You'll never know we're here sakker fans..."  2014 marks the seventh year of us writing about Toronto FC/Mo Johnston-baiting on this here site. Not one year has gone by without us getting our knickers in a twist about the potential move of the Toronto Argonauts PointyEgg Club packing their nomadic hobo sack and landing in "Our House", BMO Field.

Major League Soccer

THE STARTING 11: Rewards for beating Bayern Munich in the MLS All Star Game

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The most hipster club of all time.
According to many, the 2014 MLS All Star Game was one of the best versions of this annual match. Of course it's still an All Star Game so being called the "best one" is akin to being the tallest midget. We are not really fans of the "Late Mid-Summer Not-Quite Classic" but hey, we probably aren't the target audience.

THE STARTING 11: Baldomero Toledo pastimes

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No two words strike fear into the hearts of MLS supporters more than: Baldomero Toledo. The name is whispered in terror across pre-match terraces; alerted across new media like an oncoming tornado warning... grown men have shed single dramatic tears of impending doom upon its utterance. He is but one man but if he has been selected to officiate your MLS match you can be sure of one thing.

THE STARTING 11: Potential Miami club names

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The 2015 Miami home and away kit  In Don Garber's quest to expand Major League Soccer to 84 clubs by 2019, the Commissioner looked to David Beckham then looked south. No, not at Beckham's southern regions (pervs) but at America's dangly bits... Southern Florida. Hot on the heels of Miami Fusion FC, MLS hopes that with the harnessed star power of international tight undergarment pioneer Beckham, the league can finally crack the South Beach nut.

World Cup 2014

THE STARTING 11: Signs that you are already suffering World Cup withdrawal

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That could totally work on the TTC It's over! We thought it was something special but you just got up and packed your bags. Well... it was a great month... we'll always have Rio. Yes, the FIFA travelling road show/circus of corruption that is the World Cup has torn down their gold and diamond-encrusted tents leaving us waiting for four long years and a reunion in Russia.

THE STARTING 11: Rejected alternatives to World Cup penalty shootouts

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Hey, we know that dude! There really isn't a more heartbreaking way to go home from the World Cup than by being on the losing end of a penalty shootout. Years of qualifying, training, preparation and group stage victories can all be cut short by a goalkeeper's glove or the wide shot of a nervous kick-taker.

Canadian Championship

THE STARTING 11: Sequel titles for the Canadian Championship Semi Final 2nd Leg

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Heading to Vancouver with a one-goal lead but with the sword of the away goal hanging over TFC's heads, you wouldn't think that ramping up the excitement for Wednesday's match would be difficult. However, in the world of promotions you can never hype too much and in the tradition of terrible movie sequel titles, the 2nd Leg deserves a boost.

THE STARTING 11: Ways to make the Canadian Championship tournament more popular

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Solid midfielder  The Canadian Club Championship - we still like to call it the NutCan because it sounds dirty - and the quest for the Voyageurs Cup is a great little tournament. There have been some terrific matches and plenty of drama in the tournament's short history. It was also TFC's only glimpse of glory in the wasteland that was 2007-2013.

The Rest

THE STARTING 11: Things that TFC supporters are most looking forward to

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The final match of a losing season is often used by football clubs as a chance to try a few different things and give a few youngsters a run-out as a prelude to brighter days. Supporters can often find crumbs of solace in these displays to warm them through the off-season. TFC finished their losing season (8 in a Series of 30) with another thrilling night of VanneyBall (TM) and left the supporters with these great morsels of optimism as we head towards 2015.

THE STARTING 11: Things that Toronto FC are giving thanks for

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It's that most wonderful time of the year again when Canadians celebrate getting a draw against Turkey in the Great Pumpkin War. Never forget the nutmeg we lost in Istanbul. On this most solemn of days, it is right to give thanks for the things we often take for granted. This "GivingThanksDay" (what a great name for a holiday - we should TM that) is one not overlooked by the players and staff at TFC who are individually giving thanks for:

THE STARTING 11: Chivas USA rebrands

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Well that's it Toronto FC supporters. Our long, heated rivalry with Chivas USA is likely over. The next time we see them - whether that is in 2015 or beyond - they will likely have a new name, look and philosophy. The idea to have a satellite Chivas Guadalajara in Los Angeles was not a bright idea from the beginning, akin to TFC having been branded Toronto Arsenals or something to that effect.

THE STARTING 11: Other things that Ryan Nelsen did to anger Tim Bezbatchenko

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It just wouldn't be a season with Toronto FC without a high profile sacking. We've regularly said goodbye to managers, coaches, GM's, presidents and now even a Brennan! While the firing of Ryan Nelsen wasn't an utter shock, the timing did catch many by surprise. However, it seems like tension between the manager and the general manager Tim Bezbatchenko had been bubbling for a while.

THE STARTING 11: TFC-related roadside attractions on Highway 401

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"No Maxim, no!"
The "401 Derby" between TFC and Montreal Impact is not only one of MLS' most fierce rivalries but also one with a heavy flow of supporter traffic between the two cities. Connecting Toronto and Montreal is of course the mighty Highway 401 (and then something called an Autoroute 20 in Quebec).

THE STARTING 11: Wasted puns due to Sporting Kansas City's re-branding

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Wait for it...
From a football league point of view, we think the re-branding job done by Saturday's opponent Sporting Kansas City was aces. Any time a MLS club shakes their former roller hockey nickname, an angel gets his wings. Looking at you Impact. That being said, the rainbow madness that was Kansas City Wiz/Wizards was always such a nice pun-filled bonus for blog hacks like us.

THE STARTING 11: Ways TFC can make the Spurs friendly more entertaining

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Definitely not this fun  We have banged on for years here about our dislike for mid-season friendlies. We still think they are money-grabbing, energy-wasting injury magnets but we have always understood your attendance if your childhood club was the opponent. (So mail your letters calling me a hypocrite to "P.

THE STARTING 11: Rejected Toronto FC Victoria Day events

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"Leave one alone Jermain!"  The best thing about long weekend Mondays is that there are no TFC fixtures scheduled. You see, if there were a match, TFC would have found a way to pimp out Queen Victoria and her 19th Century hotness all in the name of cross-promotions. While we will still have to sit through the club pandering to every cultural group in Toronto and the King Club Patio (Hell's Official Party Zone!

THE STARTING 11: Strange TFC injuries

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The Bloody Big Deals have turned into Bloodied Big Deals at BMO Field as Toronto FC's depth charts are being stretched to their limits. Results like Saturday's tepid loss to Colorado are not to be unexpected with so many key players out to injury while new ones seem to keep cropping up. The Reds are faced with quite a challenge at the moment but the club has a long history of dealing with injuries, some of them quite unusual.

THE STARTING 11: Ways Toronto FC celebrated their win in Seattle

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"More than enough to drink at home..."  Well that was a bit of fun wasn't it? It's far too early to start planning any parades but even the most optimistic of your TFC supporters didn't honestly expect an opening day win in Seattle. But alas, on the backs of their shiny new signings, The Reds bagged 3 points and deserved a little post-match celebration!

THE STARTING 11: TFC Oscars Introductions

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What is the only thing longer than sitting through one of TFC's "Five Year Plans"? The Academy Awards ceremony. The annual homage to Hollywood's finest (except the shameful ignorance towards Scott Baio's 1982 opus "Zapped!") usually runs for about 30 hours, testing the most dedicated viewer. A bit like 2013 at BMO Field.

THE STARTING 11: Toronto FC Disney films

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The De Rosario and Hscanovics of underwater cheque signings If you can't beat em', join 'em. If you can only manage a draw, hell why not join 'em as well. It seems as if options for MLS springtime friendlies are a choice between a trip to Disney World or playing Russian Roulette with sunstroke in Arizona.

THE STARTING 11: Ways that Toronto FC spend the long weekend

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From our family to yours...
Family Day. The ancient Mesopotamian holiday where Canadians (Some, not all. Suck it New Brunswick) are forced to choose a member of their family to give up for Lent. Or something along those lines. Either way... DAY OFF! Even though they may not work the human drudgery that is 9-to-5 living, professional footballers enjoy themselves a long weekend as well.

THE STARTING 11: TFC criminal investigations

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TFC "Club Escobar" 3rd kits - get 'em while they're hot!  There was a fair share of hand-wringing in TFC land when the name Bradley Orr was linked with a move to the club. After all, Orr did serve actual jail time in 2006 for an "incident" outside of a Bristol nightclub. Possibly the Club Escobar of West England.