Is there a more restless fan base in Major League Soccer than the Red Patch Boys in Toronto? Doubtful. Their fan favorite has been shipped out of town, their captain just retired and their defense coughed up three goals to a rookie the last time they laced up their cleats
Red Patch Boys president Boris Aguilar takes the reins of MLSsoccer.com’s weekly Soap Box feature to air his thoughts on Preki, Nick Garcia and Mo Johnston, and put out an ultimatum for the club’s home opener against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday night at BMO Field.
MLSsoccer.com: How much patience do you guys have right
now for this team?
BA: There’s still quite a bit of patience, actually. We actually had a pretty good first half against New England the other night, we just had a terrible second half and we lost all the pace that we’d built up with the early goal. You could tell the players were angry and upset, and the morale was pretty low. But this week we’re going into a home opener against an expansion team, and the last thing we want to see is a second straight year with a loss to an expansion team. So of course there’s some pressure there.
were your thoughts when the club hired Preki as head coach?
BA: His track record was definitely pretty good with Chivas USA, so we had high expectations among the supporters groups and the knowledgeable fans here in Toronto. We knew we needed a coach with MLS experience, and with someone who would put a system in place that finds the right players and the right fit. We figured that with someone like Preki, we would be in good hands. We thought it was a great choice.
MLSsoccer.com: And his moves so far?
BA: It’s been a little difficult. The mentality that he’s brought in has been a little change for us, and some of the moves have been a little questionable. He’s gotten rid of some real fan favorites like Carl Robinson, and then obviously the Jim Brennan retirement was a very big deal for us. I guess we’re sort of waiting to see if some of these moves were the right ones or the wrong ones, but for the most part, supporters and sitting idle right now and waiting to become a bit more vocal.
move surprised you the most?
BA: Carl Robinson. He was a fan favorite. Marvell Wynne was a big one too, because I don’t think anyone saw that one coming.
MLSsoccer.com: What do you make of Jim Brennan’s retirement?
BA: We sort of knew it was coming, that it was in the plans either during the season or at the end of the season. But the fact that it happened when it did was sort of questionable, because we were wondering what the motive was. Was it to free up cap space? Was it to make that change in the roster? Or was it Jim Brennan playing 90 minutes and simply saying that he couldn’t play anymore?
MLSsoccer.com: Give me one word to describe Nick Garcia.
BA: As a player, he’s disappointing. As a person and a TFC representative, he’s done very well. But at the end of the day I see their on-field performance, and he’s been very subpar. As a supporter, I see him as a big disappointment.
MLSsoccer.com: What’s wrong with the defense?
BA: I know, it’s sort of frightening. When you see Stefan Frei get visibly upset with his back line, it’s disheartening to the supporters. You can tell he’s lost some confidence in his back line, and as a supporter, you start wondering what the heck is going on. We’ve shown a lot of patience with this team, but at this point, if the back line sort of gives up the way it appears sometimes, you have to start asking what’s going on and if these guys really want to be here.
MLSsoccer.com: How do the supporters view Mo Johnston?
BA: It’s very difficult with him. As a general manager he’s made some very questionable moves. He came into the league with TFC saying that he had this five-year plan, and here we are in the fourth year of this five-year plan. And we’re again in a rebuilding stage? It brings into question whether or he actually has a vision or if he’s just saying things to appease the fans and buy himself some time. Look at the way we got Adrian Serioux last season - great move, great guy. But we sort of gave up the spot that would have gone for Teal Bunbury, so that foresight gets called into question. He’s made some okay moves bringing De Rosario home and getting us a Designated Player, but we’re starting to question him whether or not he has a real vision for this team. And we’re starting to wonder if it’s really not there, so it might be time to move forward.
MLSoccer.com: Is he on the hot seat?
BA: Absolutely. Especially with Toronto getting the MLS Cup this year, there’s even more pressure when you hear guys asking if Toronto can even make the playoffs. And he absolutely knows it, you can tell by the way he conducts himself now. He’s lurking more in the background now, not the way he used to be out front talking with coaches on the sidelines. The pressure’s definitely on him, and hopefully with the supporters and the media getting on him, he can recognize that he needs to fix it now.
MLSsoccer.com: How important is getting a win in this home opener against Philadelphia?
BA: It’s an expansion team. I mean it’s not Seattle like last year; it’s a true expansion team. It’s very important for supporters, the team, fans, the media, Mo Johnston and the front office. As supporters, we really can’t accept anything less than a result this week. The message needs to be put out there that says we’ve been patient with this team for four years, and we need to see the effort and the results we were promised.