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FM 2012 Stories

Sydney FC: It’s business – not personal

Hello everyone and welcome back to a brand new episode of my Football Manager Story which came about a lot quicker than anticipated. We left off last time with at the start of the A-League season where The Sky blues crushed Melbourne Victory in the opening game of the season. Let’s see how things went over the next couple of months.

October 2016

The day after the Melbourne game I had just arrived for lunch at the Park Hyatt hotel beside the Sydney Harbour Bridge when the call came through. “How would you like to change that view of a bridge for a tower?” asked the caller. “We’re struggling to make the play-offs this season and with just 3 games left we think you are the right man for the job to turn things around”

It was Richard Peddie on the other end of the phone and the feeling like a fish out of water “Down Under “ the call of the Great White North proved to be too good to turn down and just like I was on a plane once more. Understandably the Sydney board were fuming though to be honest I felt a bit like Brian Clough after he walked out on Leeds all those years ago. Still, as Donald Trump says its business not personal.

**Authors Note

My apologies to any Aussie readers for ending this chapter of my current story so soon, I hope you continue to follow along.

So the Toronto Chairman had made things clear and this is how the table looked on my arrival at BMO Field. My old club Vancouver were battling Real Salt Lake for the Supporters Shield and would probably make the MLS Cup Final again.

After quickly arranging for a new front office team as I hardly had any staff my fist game in charge was was away to Chivas USA where we came back with a 2-0 victory using my old Vancouver 4-5-1 formation. Back at home we pummled New York to the delight of the home fans who hadn’ t seen such a convincing victory since back in July. We only needed a point in our final game to snatch a Wild Card spot which we accomplished that in Philadelphia thanks to young striker Richard Hunt who had been on my shortlist for many seasons but I could never entice him to Vancouver.

A brilliant first half performance by Columbian right winger Edwards Acevedo, scoring after 13 minutes and creating a second for central defender Ethan White ensured safe passage into the Eastern Conference semi-final round where we would face New York once more.

Wild Card:

In the first leg of the semi-final New York proved to be no match for us as again we put four gaols past them just had we did 12 days earlier. In New Jersey we held out for a draw which was enough to see us through to the final where we would meet Columbus.

Eastern Conference Final

Columbus had home field advantage for the final but that didn’t seem to bother us as we controlled the first 30 minutes launching attack after attack but frustratingly could not find a way through the defence. Against the run of play Columbus took the lead with a low driving ball into the box that caught everyone out except their forwards and so it was 1-0. Two minutes later a through ball by veteran DeGuzman found striker Kenny Cooper all alone in the box and he tucked it home for the equalizer.

Early in the second half Columbus created the go ahead goal in similar fashion to their first and for the next little while we struggled to make any impact and things were looking bad. With about 17 minutes later on came substitute Edwards Acevedo and within a minute of being on the field scored a cracking goal from 25 yards to tie the game up. That was all the inspiration the team needed and we came surging forward looking for a third and found it through Kenny Cooper just 4 minutes later. We locked down the defence and held on to the end to make it through to the MLS Final!

MLS Cup Final

We flew down to Frisco, Texas for the final where we met Western Conference Champions Real Salt Lake who had ended Vancouver’s run at a sixth straight MLS title. For us it would be our third in a row having lost to Vancouver in the previous two finals and we got off to a brilliant start as right from the kick off DeGuzman played a long searching ball from midfield that found Cooper who placed it into the net for a goal in under 30 seconds being the fastest ever in an MLS Final. From there RSL almost hit back immediately as they struck the bar but after that they rarely saw our penalty area and we failed to produce anything despite our attacking opportunities, so 1-0 at the half.

Having been reduced to 10 men early in the second half Real Salt Lake were helpless to stop a storming run forward by DeGuzman that ended with a through ball to left winger Verbeek whose first time shot rocketed into the roof of the net for goal number two. A burst of speed down the right flank and a cross ball into the box was met by Acevedo to make it 3-0 as our opponents defence crumbled. A rare corner resulted in a goal for RSL with 18 minutes left on the clock but defender Ethan White completed the rout with a goal of our own from a corner to finish off what was a sensational turn around in fortunes as just a few weeks ago not even the play offs seemed a reality.

It was a case of third time lucky for Toronto and after nine seasons in the MLS had finally won the the title.

So that’s it for this post and most likely isn’t what you expected but there you have it. I’m back in Canada and with Vancouver’s biggest rival. The task now will be to rebuild the team as there is a lot of veteran players and also to make an assault on the NACL at some point.

Thanks a lot for reading this update and I look forward to your comments.

 

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David Wiggins
8 years ago

Very surprised to see you move back to Canada! Winning the MLS so soon after your return must be very pleasing though!

Tom
Tom
8 years ago

Hey Kevin,
Congratulations on winning the MLS straight away after going back to where some may debate is where you belong. I must admit it was kind of a bitter-sweet feeling for me as I was enjoying your story in my home country Australia but I concede it was strangely pleasing to see my Melbourne Victory’s rivals Sydney FC go through such pain! Anyway, great work and keep on going!

Johnny Karp
8 years ago

Wow, what a comeback in North America! That was a wise and spectacular move Kevin, congratulations!

vaibhavc
vaibhavc
8 years ago

Wow, that was a fantastic comeback. Looks like your move was the right choice. Sydney must be feeling outraged though.

Martin F.M.J.S
8 years ago

Congrats Kevin on a successful move back to Canada and winning the MLS cup, you must be the most successful manager to have held the trophy :D. It is sad to see you leave Australia but I think you made the right decision to move. :D

Alex Murray
Alex Murray
8 years ago

I think it’s best to just go with your instinct when offered a new job as that should provide a story with more enthusiasm and longevity, so it looks like a wise decision. You’re making light work of the league wherever you go, another fantastic title.

Victor Baluta
8 years ago

Congratulations for winning the title and now you have to create a good team so you can fight with Vancouver for championship. I hope Toronto will be as successful as Vancouver. Good luck !

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Hey Kevin,
That was a bit of a shock but we all get those offers we can’t refuse so good luck back in Canada. It always makes an interesting story to watch someone create a legacy, in your case Vancouver and then return to try and topple the team they’ve made so strong.

On another note, it may just be me but the Sydney Harbour Bridge seems to look suspiciously like the Tyne Bridge here in Newcastle. :)

syemo
syemo
8 years ago

Suprised to see you move back to MLS so quickly. Would liked to see how you got on in the ACL. Well done on winning the MLS so quickly on your return cant wait to see on your next moves. You seem to like the challenge that the MLS imposes.

saltwater
saltwater
8 years ago

Didn’t see that coming! I think the title sums it up perfectly by the way. Surely the right move in the end and I can’t believe you’ve won it a sixth time in a row! Just incredible.
Will you be considering taking any players from Australia to America with you? James Brown seemed like a good asset back at Sydney.

Tegar Triemanudigdo
8 years ago

Surprising come back there, and congratulations for winning the MLS Cup.

Ana Garcia
8 years ago

Nice twist Kevin!! :)

Australia was like an extended holiday! One we would all like to do I think but back in Canada again and a very impressive start!

Congrats on the MLS title and will be interesting to see if you can build a team to compete in the NACL again, maybe try and pinch a few players from you old Vancouver side! ;)

Good luck as always!!

TheZiggy
8 years ago

I certainly didn’t see this twist coming at all. Well done on getting Toronto up into the play-offs and then storming to the MLS Cup.

Darren Smith
8 years ago

Wow that was a crazy twist to the story. I didn’t see this coming and especially for you to reach the play-offs with so few games left and also win the MLS Cup, that was an amazing feat to well done mate.

silva
silva
8 years ago

Big Shock :o , Good Luck at Toronto

Eoin Cowen
8 years ago

well done kevin, great mls cup win !! coming back from where you were and only having a few weeks! you must have been delighted.surprised to see you leave australia though !! good luck with toronto!

Bhargav
Bhargav
8 years ago

Haha well that was unexpected!

CsAtlantis
8 years ago

Wow that was a short stint Down Under, and now you’re back at the top with Toronto! :P

That was a quick turnaround getting into the playoffs and winning the MLS Cup Final, congratulations Kevin! Just have to get the Canada job now……..good luck!

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