Esky Says Hello
Greetings from Toronto, a fun, sophisticated, beautiful and diverse city -- one of my favorites (except for the traffic). MLS made a wise decision coming here.
Attended Toronto FC's training session this morning at the new BMO Field. Very nice place on the shores of Lake Ontario about a mile west of city center. It will be rowdy Saturday. Be sure to read my feature story on the club and its supporters in Saturday's editions.
As for Alecko Eskandarian, he says he misses D.C. (and D.C. United) but is loving his time up here. He was living in a hotel for a long time, but then moved into an apartment a block or two from Skydome (now known as Rogers Centre). Until his furniture finally arrived this week, he was sleeping on an air mattress.
Keep reading below for more of his thoughts.....
On facing DCU for the first time: "I can't wait. It's going to be really weird going up against guys I've been playing with the last four years. I'm sure there will be some laughs, but it's going to be fun. I'm definitely excited for it. They are in a tough spot right now being in last place, and we are just a new team trying to get our feet wet and on a bit of a roll, so it should be interesting."
On text-messaging with Soehn: "He text-messaged me the other day when I missed the game [with a calf injury]. He called me a wuss. He tore his calf last year so I had given him a lot of grief. I told him even if I had a broken leg, I'd be playing against D.C. He didn't text me back after that."
On being traded: "Shock. It was definitely unexpected. No one ever spoke to me about it or hinted about it. I was very comfortable there and got along with the coaches and players. I guess it was a business decision that happens, and you just have to take it and move on."
On D.C. and Toronto: "Soccer wise, the fans in D.C., I always thought they were the best in MLS but being here, I'd have to say, hands down, we have the best fans and the best support. But I have nothing but fond memories of the fans in D.C. and actually still keep in touch with them. City wise, Toronto is a lot bigger than I thought it was, so D.C. is definitely smaller."
On wanting to prove something Saturday: "For me personally, I haven't scored yet this season, so I have to prove to myself I can score some goals and help my team and do my job. And obviously, you want to show the team that got rid of you that they made a mistake."
On the soccer culture in Toronto: " We were on the front page of the paper the other day. In no American city would soccer ever be on the front of the paper. [Um, sorry, but you're wrong, Alecko! Sincerely, Soccer Insider] It doesn't matter if they won the championship, it's never the front page cover, but over here it is and people care about it. Just walking down the street, the fans are into it. They are just genuinely excited and behind us. ...
Where I'm from in New Jersey, it's a melting pot of cultures, but everyone here unites. In Jersey, we're united to boos at the MetroStars or whatever."
On D.C. this season: "I think they are still a good team. In most of the games, they've actually outplayed the opposition and just been unlucky not to score or had a couple defensive miscues, but that's normal. We had that here in Toronto as well - games where we thought we had done well and all of a sudden we lose a game. They're still a very solid team. There's no way I would write them off. I think they will be fine."
On what happened to DCU last year: "A lot of people said we were overworked and it showed at the end of the year, but I don't think so at all. We had some injuries, we had an X on our backs because we started so well and teams started playing us differently, tried to get an early goal and then sat back defensively. I thought the New England game [in the East final] was one of the best of the year and that's how it goes."
On Toronto's fatigue of playing a third game in a week: "I'm sure there'll be some heavy legs after a tough game against Chicago and in the rain Wednesday, but I don't think it will be a problem. We're going to come out the same way and play our game and hopefully get them back on their heels and have them worry about us and our fans."
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