TORONTO — It's early days in the MLS season, with on-field trends still developing.
So six weeks in, let's ignore the standings and instead offer up some style points on the three Canadian teams. Specifically their hair.
Unlike the NHL, NFL, CFL or even MLB, soccer players take the field without headgear. So like the NBA, they can show off a smorgasbord of style. You don't need a golazo, nutmeg or stepover to look good — or bad — in this game.
So here's one observer's take — full disclosure, a 50-plus male just happy he still has hair and spends pretty much no time taming it — on the most striking MLS hair north of the border.
It's hard not to start with Marco Donadel, the veteran Italian midfielder who can connect with a teammate anywhere on the pitch but who has clearly never met a comb. Donadel somehow has upped his hair game this season. He looks like he brings a Van de Graaff generator to every match for his own hair-raising experience.
While Donadel opts for a shocking au naturel, forward Dominic Oduro is to hair what NASA is to public transport. The charismatic Ghana international always sports a mohawk but that's like saying Beyonce always puts on a show. The degree of difficulty and variety — for both — are extreme.
Call forward Michael Salazar the Impact's Link. As in Clarence Williams III's character in the original version of "The Mod Squad," The Belize international sports a major-league 'fro. He doesn't have to do anything to look cool.
Cameron defender Ambroise Oyongo's head can be an artistic palate, with flashes of added colour.
If the quad is the cutting edge of figure skating jumps, U.S. international Brek Shea — unfortunately injured at the moment — has the soccer equivalent with an eye-popping double ponytail at the top of his repertoire. Shea's current hair arsenal also includes some kind of mini-net that looks like he forgot to don a wig before taking the field. Frankly, Shea's hairstyles are beyond my expertise.
Costa Rican international midfielder Christian Bolanos makes the list for his wide headband. It's just a way to control his curls but I can't help but think of hair-metal rockers whose headbands are attached to something artificial to reproduce past 'do's.
American forward Erik Hurtado is also hard to miss. His hair has more levels and colours than a wedding cake.
How much have times changed at Toronto FC? Mo Babouli, the Robert De Niro of Toronto FC when it comes to his many hairstyles, has hardly been seen this season. OK, the young Canadian striker has been sidelined with an ankle injury. But Babouli's ever-changing hair has not helped his visibility.
Panamanian midfielder Armando Cooper, meanwhile, has been hard to miss with a 'do that looks like he is sponsored by the Fuller Brush company. Some days, his angled mohawk would stop a low-flying aircraft. Perhaps more impressively, like cloud cover, the height of his hair seems to change daily.
Canadian forward Tosaint Ricketts represents the Cadillac of hair when it comes to TFC, however. It's like a garden of Baby Groots atop a butte.
Even the coaches get in the act.
Montreal's Mauro Biello, who sports an impressively wavy 'do, was swallowed up in a celebratory scrum after teenager winger Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla raced to the sidelines and jumped into his manager's arms after scoring a late goal against Chicago. Biello, perhaps remembering the need for a boss's decorum, eventually extricated himself. First thing he did was tuck his hair back behind his ears.
Toronto's Greg Vanney scores point for being stylish without seemingly trying. But he is clearly no stranger to hair product. On a good day, Vanney sports a mini-faux-hawk that would do Zac Efron proud.
Vancouver's Carl Robinson is a non-nonsense boss whose shaved-to-the-stubble choice of hair — a stylist would likely see it as the scorched-earth look — is living poof of the former Welsh international's pragmatic approach.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press