Canadian Soccer Archive

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Much-maligned BC Place turf “likely” to be replaced before Women’s World Cup

BC Place

BC Place

The director of Canada’s Women’s World Cup stadiums said Tuesday that the much-maligned turf at BC Place will “likely” be replaced before the tournament kicks off in June.

Don Hardman, the Chief Stadia Officer for the WWC, was in Edmonton to meet with venue managers from all six Women’s World Cup venues plus 18 training facilities.

Hardman said that negotiations are going well with BC Place’s owner, PavCo, to replace the surface.

“I think it will be replaced,” said Hardman.

He said taking out the old surface and putting in the new turf should take 12-20 days.

“Those are tight time frames, but it can be done.

In February, the World Rugby Sevens were awarded to Vancouver, with BC Place set to host the first of four tournaments in 2016. Rugby requires turf with longer blades than the current Polytan surface. So, when that tournament was confirmed, it was a done deal that new turf would be installed in time for that event. The remaining question was if the new surface would be laid down in time for the Women’s World Cup.
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2

Quintessentially Canadian Power Rankings, Week 3

Marcel de Jong

Marcel de Jong

Four Canadian players made their MLS season debuts (or MLS debuts, period) in the third weekend of the MLS season. That boosts the number of Canadians who have played in the league so far in 2015 to 12.

But, take that with a grain of salt. The two strong leaders in minutes played by Canadians may never ever suit up for the Canadian national side — Philadelphia Union defender Steven Vitoria and FC Dallas strikes Tesho Akindele, who scored this past weekend. Because there is still more than a snowball’s chance in hell that either could play for Canada down the road, they are included in the list.

And five of the remaining 10 have seen nothing more than substitute minutes.

But it is encouraging to see Marcel de Jong get his second straight start (and full 90) for Sporting Kansas City, which puts him in the minute lead for Canadian players who actually have senior national-team caps. And Toronto FC had a bye week, so take the Reds’ numbers with a grain of salt.
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The new Canada kit

Victor Montagliani, Emily Zurrer, Julian de Guzman, Desiree Scott, Mike Shoemaker

Victor Montagliani, Emily Zurrer, Julian de Guzman, Desiree Scott, Mike Shoemaker


Canadian national-teamers Desiree Scott, Emily Zurrer and Julian de Guzman posed in the team’s new kits Friday. The new Umbro kits were unveiled at the flagship SportChek store at West Edmonton Mall.

Edmonton will have more games at the Women’s World Cup than any of the other host cities, including the first two Canada group-stage matches.

The men’s team begins World Cup qualifying in June and then will be in the Gold Cup, with a potential berth in the centennial edition of the Copa America on the line.

Since The 11‘s readers have always flocked to stories about new kits, here are some pics from the event, also featuring Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani and Umbro Canada Vice-President Mike Shoemaker.
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Julian de Guzman says he is considering a couple of “concrete” offers from NASL clubs

Julian de Guzman, centre, is flanked by Canadian women's national-team players Emily Zurrer and Desiree Scott at the West Edmonton Mall.

Julian de Guzman, centre, is flanked by Canadian women’s national-team players Emily Zurrer and Desiree Scott at the West Edmonton Mall.

Julian de Guzman has played in Germany and Spain; he’s been a Designated Player in Major League Soccer.

Is his next stop the North American Soccer League?

The veteran Canadian national-team midfielder, at the West Edmonton Mall Friday for the launch of the new red Canada kit, said he hopes to have a new team at the end of March. He’ll be with the Canadian national team for its upcoming Florida camp and its March 27 friendly against Guatemala and its March 30 match at Puerto Rico.

He confirmed that the “most concrete” offers he has on the table come from a couple of NASL teams. He wouldn’t name which NASL clubs have put offers forward, but he said he’s giving them some serious consideration.
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17

Put your money where your mouth is: Would you support a Canadian Div. 1 soccer league?

PP - Spring 2015 FINALThe latest issue of Plastic Pitch has certainly ignited a lot of Twitter debate and comments. Our look at Canada’s role in North American leagues certainly has more than a few of our readers calling for a Canadian-only first division or conference.

To get the issue: CLICK HERE for our Shopify Store
CLICK HERE for Apple
CLICK HERE for Google Play.

Last year, we heard the rumours about the North American Soccer League, the Canadian Football League and the Canadian Soccer Association discussing the formation of a domestic league or division. But, as NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson told us in Plastic Pitch #3, “It really is too early to talk about a Canadian division, but it is not something we think is out of the question. There is enough interest in Canada for pro soccer, I think it is something that could possibly work, but I don’t know when.”

Others have told me that it’s vital that a major title sponsor (think of Barclay’s and the Premiership) would need to come forward, with money that would help offset the massive travel costs. If the travel costs are mitigated, then more potential investors might come forward. But, without that big sponsor, it’s hard to get investors interested in losing the millions they’d need to lose for a decade or so as the league got off the ground. They wouldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
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2

Catching up: Canada’s U-17 loss, Week 2 of the Quintessentially Canadian Power Rankings

Steven Vitoria

Steven Vitoria

The last few days have been a whirlwind; and it’s meant I’ve had to a take the last 72 hours away from soccer.

Getting the fifth issue of Plastic Pitch to release required a massive push last week; as well, I have until the end of the month to finish the final draft of my latest novel for young adults. And, I am writing this post from an Austin, Tex. hotel room; last night, I attended the premiere of Malcolm Ingram’s new documentary, Out to Win, at the SXSW Film Festival.

(Full disclosure: I’m a partner in OTW’s production company.)

I got the chance to meet some incredible athletes, both Canadian and American, who have come out; and, the film is a reminder — to paraphrase Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler — of the power sport has when it comes to social change. It was my pleasure to be in the company of Dave Kopay, the NFL player who, in the early ‘70s, was the first “out” athlete; Canadian women’s hockey goalkeeper Charline Labonte and her partner, Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis; retired NBA centre Jason Collins and Wade Davis, former NFLer and the director of You Can Play.

And, well, when in Austin, let’s just say the whole town carries a mesquite smoke smell. So, yes, the barbecue is fantastic.

But, I did want to take the chance to catch up on a couple of things: The elimination of Canada’s U-17s from the U-17 World Cup picture and the second instalment of The 11’s Quintessentially Canadian Power Rankings. (For more on the methodology, click here).
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11

ISSUE 5 OF PLASTIC PITCH: What is Canada getting out of participating in U.S.-based soccer leagues?

PP - Spring 2015 FINALWhen a magazine comes out, its all shiny and brand-new to the reader.

To the editor, it’s the end to a long process that takes months to come to fruition.

And, Issue 5 of Plastic Pitch, out now, represents our most pain-staking effort. This issue is a labour of love, of passion for the Canadian game — and asks questions about our Canadian identity within the game. It should easily become the most talked-about issue we’ve put out.

It’s our biggest issue ever, and all of the features relate back to a central theme: Is Canada benefitting from having teams in U.S.-based leagues? Is it the way forward, or do we need to find a new solution?

Inside, you’ll find:

• A look at a history of promises and pledges MLS has made to Canadian soccer fans, many of which we’re still waiting to see followed through;

• Paul Hamilton, David Monsalve and Shaun Saiko talk about the difficulties of being Canadian players in a North American league. You’ll read about contract offers that skirt minimum wage. You’ll read about Monsalve’s trial with the Jacksonville Armada, and how the team looked for ways to get him U.S. status so he wouldn’t count as an import. And Saiko opens up about a move from FC Edmonton to the Montreal Impact that went from being a sure thing to blowing up.
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Canadian women don’t score much in Cyprus, but give up even less

Christine Sinclair PHOTO: Ville Vuorinen

Christine Sinclair PHOTO: Ville Vuorinen

Before the Cyprus Cup kicked off, Canadian national women’s team coach John Herdman talked about how important it would be for his players to remain organized. He talked about how vital it was for the team to keep its shape.

Throughout the tournament, he emphasized how it was key for his players to keep things tight.

So, maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t fret too much about Canada losing the final to England by a 1-0 score on Wednesday. Lianne Sanderson’s goal came as both teams coped with driving rain. And, the goal was the only time in three group-stage games and the final that Canada conceded. One goal against in four matches — well, not an entirely terrible return.

If the emphasis of this tournament was on defence, we shouldn’t worry too much that Canada scored just four times in four games in its final major tournament ahead of the Women’s World Cup. Right? Wrong. Of course we’re going to worry. The slate of 1-0 and 2-0 results in the Cyprus Cup — which generally attracts what Herdman refers to as the “second-tier” teams while the major powers go to the Algarve Cup — is not going to give Canadian fans the confidence to believe we’ll be able to find a lot of goals outside of our top target striker, Christine Sinclair.
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1

Canada’s U-17s fail to take advantage of chance to make up goal-difference gap

2015-CONCACAF-U17-Championship-logoThere’s an old sports adage that tells us that we shouldn’t criticize the wins.

But, for Canada’s U-17 team, the 3-1 win over Saint Lucia Monday at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Honduras comes about as close as we can get to the win that you’re not 100 per cent happy about.

Canada went into the game tied on points atop the Group B standings with Mexico, but trailed El Tri by five on goal difference. To improve the odds of winning the group, Canada didn’t just need to beat Saint Lucia, but throttle the islanders. Daniel Sagno, Duwayne Ewart and Ballou Tabla scored for Canada in a game it expected to win by more than two.

“I think there was an intensity level we didn’t have and I don’t understand that,” Canadian coach Sean Fleming said after the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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13

Introducing our new quintessentially Canadian MLS power rankings

mls-primary_colorLong-time Canadian international Iain Hume had an interesting take on Saturday’s “Canadian” MLS season-opener at BC Place between the Whitecaps and Toronto FC.

In a tweet delivered just as the game kicked off, Hume used the #farce hashtag to sum up his feelings about the game. With each team starting just one Canadian — Russell Teibert for the Whitecaps and Jonathan Osorio in TFC red — Hume wanted his followers to know he wasn’t happy.

But, looking at the rosters throughout MLS, you can’t help escape the feeling that Hume could tweet out #farce week after week. And, in the spring issue (#5) of Plastic Pitch, we’re going to take a cold, hard look at the leagues we share at the United States and how we’re treated. The issue, which will be out later in March, will ask the hard question: Does being in MLS or NASL or NWSL really benefit Canadian soccer?

And, in keeping with that theme, we’re going to launch a new sorta power-rankings system. Sure, most power rankings are just throwaway click-bait; the kinda of mind-numbing stuff we promise ourselves we’ll never have to write again each time we bang one out.

But this one is different. Throughout the year, we’re going to rank MLS teams (and NASL, too, once the season starts in April) on how many minutes they give to Canadians. We’re not going to wax poetic about U-23 teams or developmental sides; for Canadian soccer to move forward, we need to see players regularly moving from developmental squad to first team, not just more and more Bryce Aldersons (and, look for our interview with Alderson in issue 5 of Plastic Pitch). We also don’t really care that some teams might have a Canadian warming the bench. To benefit our national program, we need our players getting first-team minutes.
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