Toronto FC's annus horribilus has continued, and the problems aren't even on the field this time. This team's already seen a franchise-worst losing streak led into the worst start in MLS history and turned into a coaching change that gave them their seventh head coach in six years to go with their league-worst 1-10-0 record, so, of course the next logical step was to have three players arrested for public intoxication. That's what happened in Houston Monday morning following a late-night brawl outside a nightclub that resulted in Miguel Aceval, Nick Soolsma and Luis Silva being taken into custody. It's not exactly the news TFC wants just ahead of Wednesday's match with the Dynamo, and it's just another example of the problems with this team.
The players involved aren't exactly superstars: Aceval and Soolsma are both battling injuries and haven't played much, and while Silva was the club's top draft pick this year (fourth overall), he's only seen limited playing time this season, mostly as a sub. Still, having three of your players out partying at 2:30 a.m. not long before a game is never the greatest news in the world, and having them involved in a brawl and eventually arrested is much worse. If it was just the party, sure, it could be justified; although it's not the best look, it wasn't the night of a game, and Aceval and Soolsma are unlikely to figure in Wednesday's action anyway. Having players getting overly drunk, getting involved in a brawl and apparently resisting arrest (Silva reportedly took off after confronting police, but was chased down) is problematic, though, and it's not exactly like Toronto FC needed more bad news.
In the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively minor story. It's probably just going to lead to fines for the players involved, and while a public intoxication arrest isn't great, that's certainly better than if they'd been charged with assault (always possible following in a brawl) or resisting arrest. It does suggest that TFC's issues may run deeper than merely the on-pitch results, though; there's nothing wrong with players going out together, but a group of players being out that late shortly before a game, getting publicly drunk, engaging in a brawl and winding up in jail isn't the team-building atmosphere you're generally looking for (unless you're John Madden's Oakland Raiders, and they managed to avoid condemnation for their antics by actually being good, something TFC is not at the moment). It also leads to an interesting challenge for new head coach Paul Mariner; only a couple of weeks after taking the helm, he now has a discipline problem on his hands. We'll see how he responds, and if he can find a way to start making positive news rather than the streak of embarrassments TFC has produced this season.