Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Players Hard to Miss When It Comes to Footwear. Coaches Go Old-School

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Players Hard to Miss When It Comes to Footwear. Coaches Go Old-School

Article excerpt

Toronto's FC's boot room: Bring your shades

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TORONTO - Even in an otherwise drab season for Toronto FC, there has been a splash of colour.

It's in the MLS team's boot room.

Thanks to today's style of loud, bright designs for soccer boots, Toronto FC equipment manager Malcolm Phillips might want to consider donning shades when handling his team's footwear.

Fluorescent orange. Neon blue. Garish green. Hardly a smudge of black in sight.

"That's what they want. The young ones want the colours," said Phillips, a hint of sadness in his voice.

"They've got some really wicked colours nowadays," he added, with wicked clearly not a term of endearment in the Phillips lexicon.

Soccer boots have gone Miami Vice these days, but with electric colours taking over from pastels.

"When I first got my first shoes, they were black and white and that's all that was on offer," recalled the 47-year-old Phillips.

Not only are today's colours wild but they are mixed and matched, often making for an eye-popping palate.

"I don't know how many colours you can actually come up with. I think we've used most of the rainbow," said Phillips.

The colourful boots for the 28-man first team are all on display in a small room attached to TFC's stylish dressing room at its new training centre in Downsview Park in northern Toronto.

The players file through the room en route from the training field to their locker-room, storing the boots on wall pegs as they go. There are no name plates, the players remember where they are.

Each players has two or three pairs stored in the room. Those with individual shoe contracts might have as many as six or seven, some of which are stored in bags.

Phillips says new shoe models tend to appear south of the border first, although those with boot contracts tend to get them as soon as they come out.

Captain Torsten Frings is one of the few old-school players, even if his boot of choice is white. He wears a Nike six-stud model.

"He loves those," said Phillips. "He wears those every game."

Winger Joao Plata, currently on loan in his native Ecuador, likes the loudest colours.

"He wore every colour. It used to drive (former manager) Aron Winter mad," said Phillips.

Richard Eckersley wears electric blue and red.

"It's just a boot but we could only wear black when we were younger when I was at Manchester United," said the English defender. "The academy coach would never let us wear any colours so I think I'm trying to make up for it now."

Jeremy Hall is just as easy to spot in a boot that looks like it was carved out of an orange traffic cone, with black and yellow trim.

A member of the elite Generation Adidas sponsored class coming out of college, Hall says he wears what he is given.

"I prefer just the white basic cleats," the American defender confided.

Does anyone at TFC still wear black? …

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