In the past six months, the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL-Pro league and Toronto F.C. of MLS have become well-acquianted with one another. In fact, it could be said that Toronto F.C. may be enamored with the Dutch style.. And even that this fascination started with meeting the Dutch Lion owners, Dutch Lion Head Coach Sonny Silooy, and watching the Dutch Lions in July and culminated in signing a Head Coach/Technical Director in Aron Winter today who is not much different at all from Dutch Lions former Head Coach Sonny Silooy.

Toronto wanted a coach with experience in Ajax's style, "and they've come to the right man," Winter said today to USA Today after signing on with Toronto F.C..

Winter and Silooy's histories are nearly identical. Both players have over 230 caps for Ajax, both are in their mid-40's, both played for the Netherlands NT team, and both started their coaching careers as a Youth and Assistant coach at Ajax. Therefore, with two former Dutch Lion players likely headed to Toronto F.C. and TFC taking nearly the same Head Coach/Technical Director approach as the Dutch Lions did last year.. It may not be long until TFC are calling themselves Dutch Lions Toronto and painting their jersies "Orange." *sarcasm* (perhaps)

In fact, with the inclusion of Winter in Toronto, I have heard murmors that Silooy might end up declining offers from D.C. United and Philadelphia Union's academies, to join the coaching staff of Winter in Toronto now. As Winter and Silooy not only have much in common, but the two are also best friends.

The connections between Toronto F.C. and Dayton Dutch Lions F.C. over the last six months have been downright numerous... A thousand stories have connected Dutch Lions winger Bas Ent to the Canadian club over the past few months, and now Dutch Lions right back Evan Schwartz looks likely to be headed to the club as well.. So, with the inclusion of Dutch coaches Aron Winter and Bob de Klerk in the top offices of TFC, a very Dutch partnership between the two clubs seems even more likely.

Here's a little TFC-Dutch Lions timeline:

-at the beginning of July 2010, Toronto FC's Nick Dasovic scouted the Dutch Lions in a PDL game against the Toronto Lynx and made friendly contacts with the Dayton Dutch Lions front office.

-at the end of July 2010, TFC put Dutch Lions winger Bas Ent on trial, culmunating in 45 minutes in the TFC's "red" colors, for Ent, in a friendly against the Bolton Wanderers of the EPL. (Ent pictured below in that game)

-In the middle of November 2010, Bas Ent's Dutch third division club, Katwijk, spilled the proverbial beans that Toronto F.C. was in fact going to sign the Dutch left winger, by posting so on their club website. Katwijk posted this, despite the deal being only half completed, as both Ent and TFC were in an extended wait and see stage; since TFC did not have at the time a permanent head coach, GM, or technical director.

At that time, with Preki and Mo Johnston canned, Dasovic and Jim Brennan acted as only interim figureheads for TFC; However, both Brennan and Dasovic- who are still strong actors in Toronto's front office- had likely the most to do with Ent, and possibly had a lot of input in today's Dutch moves by TFC.

-Soon after that, at the end of November 2010, with MLS's rule changes for 2011 announced, Toronto F.C. knew they would have six, new roster spots to fill with players that were under-24. These under-24 players wouldn't count against the salary cap of TFC or any MLS club (both Ent and a lot of other Dutch Lion players were under-24).

-In mid-December, sources started mentioning, that because of this rule change, TFC were looking to sign Evan Schwartz of the Dutch Lions as well to pair with Bas Ent. As Dasovic dialed up his memory bank from that early July, Dutch Lions vs. Toronto Lynx match, and remembered that he fancied Schwartz as well.

Both Ent and Schwartz, were mentioned once again today on MLS-Rumors , as MLS-Rumors stated that both would be signed by TFC on Jan. 17. I can't confirm this and haven't heard it myself.

But, I did hear that both were headed to the club from Jan. 17 to Jan. 22 to train, but nothing was mentioned about signing either then nor could I report it at the time; but with it already out there- I can confirm that both are headed to TFC around that time but no clue whether it's just for glorified training or to be signed)... Nevertheless, both if signed, would likely have good chances at starting spots, despite being signed as under-24 reserves, as under-24 reserves are still considered part of the senior roster and TFC is weak in their positions.

-And finally, today, Toronto F.C. signs Dutch former Ajax player & current Ajax assistant Aron Winter as their Head Coach/Technical Director. A Head Coach that has so much in common with former Dayton Dutch Lions coach Sonny Silooy, it's scary.

-What's upcoming in January 2011 in this saga, likely two Dayton Dutch Lion players confirmed signed to MLS club Toronto F.C., quite possibly former Dayton Dutch Lions Head Coach Sonny Silooy joining Toronto F.C., and maybe the two clubs finally making their ever expanding, friendly acquiantance a partnership.

Partnership upcoming with Dutch Lions Toronto (*err umm* Toronto F.C.)?

Back in November 2010, when Dayton Dutch Lions President & Owner Mike Mossel first heard that Toronto F.C. wanted to hire his club's left winger Bas Ent, President Mossel stated that the Dutch Lions would "have to get something in return. Either an allocation from TFC or a partnership with TFC, but that the club wouldn't stand in Ent's way."

Basically, Mossel was stating that the Dutch Lions wouldn't ask for something too substantial from Toronto to nix a deal (that benefits the Dutch Lions viability here in the U.S. soccer world as well). As Owner/President Mossel was happy that Ent was gaining MLS interest, as an acquistion by MLS of Ent, other Dutch Lion talents, and Dutch Lion coaches is the best marketing tool for the Dayton Dutch Lions club. As the Dutch Lions connections with arguably the second best supported soccer club in North America (with over 22,000 fans at every TFC game) can cement DDL F.C. as a player in North America and not just another second division club.

The Ghost of Ruud Gullit

The question with Toronto FC's big name appointment of Aron Winter is whether a big name can succeed in MLS. And whether a big European name can take MLS serious or understand MLS (with it's non-European set of rules and small salary cap). The fact that Winter is a big Dutch name will make MLS fans think straight away of a second coming of Ruud Gullit. In fact, on bigsoccer forums, I saw Gullit mentioned at least 30 times in 20 or so minutes of browsing this story.

Gullit, who coached at the L.A. Galaxy in 2007-2008 (before American coach Bruce Arena turned them around in the past two seasons), was highly criticized in the book The Beckham Experiment by L.A. Galaxy players for never working on set pieces and for sometimes not even showing up to practice.

The good thing for Winter and Toronto F.C. is that Winter has never been considered the lazy type. Nor is Winter as flashy, ego-centric, or has had a bigger managerial job than Toronto F.C.. As before Gullit went to L.A. he was Head Coach at Chelsea and Newcastle United. So, I could see Gullit thinking "what do I have to achieve at L.A., I'm Ruud Gullit."

So, as long as Winter tries to make a difference and tries to instill that Ajax style by actually coaching at practice.. This should work out well, or at least better, for Toronto F.C.

Further, it depends on the personality of the head coach. Swedish (Euro) coach Hans Backe succeeded this past season at MLS club New York Red Bull... And Backe's success was probably because Backe had an open-mind (to learn the rules), a good assistant familiar with the rules and players (TFC might have Paul Mariner be Aron Winter's assistant for this reason), and didn't have an attitude of "what do you mean I can't spend 15 million pounds on a transfer!"
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