Canadian Soccer Archive

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The elephant in the room: CFL is the forgotten partner in the Women’s World Cup turf-vs.-grass debate

imgresWhen it comes to the looming legal action against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association over the decision to stage next year’s Women’s World Cup on artificial turf surfaces, there are some rather large elephants in the room who are choosing to remain quiet.

And those are the Canadian Football League teams. They stand to have further disruption to their seasons if the owners of the multipurpose stadiums being used for the WWC would have to tear up the turf and lay down grass.

On Friday, a deadline imposed by the lawyers for U.S. star Abby Wambach and her cadre of anti-turf allies went by. All FIFA did to, ahem, mark the occasion was to publicly confirm that an independent company has been hired to ensure that all of the game and practice fields in the Canadian host cities will meet the highest standard for artificial surfaces (CLICK HERE). So, the next step would be for Wambach and co. to follow through on their threats and take the Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA to task through a human-rights tribunal or, maybe, eventually to court.

Now, I’ve read through the legal briefs, and I’ve gone through a lot of the pro and con articles out there. But, one thing no one talks about, whether it’s from Wambach’s group or those who say we can lay down grass and then pull it up (CLICK HERE), is how it affects the other users of the stadiums.

There is definitely an arrogance out there amongst the anti-turf crowd; because the movement has been spurred outside of Canada, they have very little idea about the stadiums being used. They don’t seem to understand that these are shared, multipurpose facilities. In 2014, the Canadian Football League was quite accommodating, having the Edmonton Eskimos clear out of Commonwealth Stadium in order for U-20 Women’s World Cup matches to be played there. Next year, the sacrifices will be greater; the Ottawa RedBlacks, the Eskimos, the BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will all have their seasons affected.
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FIFA to send independent company to “ensure” quality of Canada’s Women’s World Cup turf

fifa-logoFIFA is going to contract an independent inspector to ensure that Canada’s artificial turf fields are indeed good enough to host a Women’s World Cup.

After the Executive Committee wrapped up its meetings in Zurich, FIFA made this announcement: “Regarding the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada, the executive ratified the decision to assign an independent company to travel to Canada in order to test pitches and training fields to ensure they fulfil the FIFA quality requirements.”

The Canadian Soccer Association says it will not make any comments about the timing of FIFA’s announcement, as this was a directive that the Association already knew about. It confirmed that the process of vetting the fields has actually already begun. Surfaces in Edmonton and Moncton are already approved. The goal is to have approval of the match surface and two training fields in each of the host cities.

American star Abby Wambach is leading a group of elite women’s players who have launched legal action against the exclusive use of artificial turf at next year’s Women’s World Cup. They claim the use of turf is a case of gender bias, as no men’s World Cup has ever been staged on artificial turf.

FIFA approves the use of artificial turf for international matches, as long as the surface meets FIFA’s star-rating system.
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6

FC Edmonton expands Academy, adds U-16 program

Jeff Paulus

Jeff Paulus

According to owner Tom Fath, FC Edmonton won’t break even until Clarke Stadium is expanded and the team is drawing an average of 8,500 fans a game.

Since an expansion of the stadium isn’t in the cards yet — and the team has broken the 4,000-ticket mark just twice this season — the fact that the NASL club continues to grow is a testament to the Fath family’s commitment to the game in Canada.

On Wednesday, the club announced it is expanding its Academy program. It is adding a program for U-16s. So, next season the team will have both a U-18 wing and a U-16 section to develop local soccer talent.

“The addition of a U-16 program is another positive step in the growth of the FCE Academy,” said assistant coach and FCE Academy supervisor Jeff Paulus in a release issued by the club. “Not only is this positive step froward for the future goals of FC Edmonton, but it also cements FCE as an important member of the Canadian Soccer Associations player development pathway.”
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5

USL-PRO silent on status of Canadian MLS teams’ bids for affiliates

uslThe deadline to apply for a new USL-PRO franchise fell on Sept. 15.

A day later, the USL brass won’t say much about which MLS teams will have new affiliate teams in place for the 2015 season. That includes the three Canadian MLS sides.

In 2013, USL forged an to become the developmental league for MLS. In 2014, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact confirmed their wishes to have USL affiliates for the 2015 season. Toronto FC has been rumoured to also be looking at having a direct affiliate in 2015, after failing in an earlier bid to secure an affiliate team in Hamilton.

But, when asked about who could be in and who could be out, USL President Tim Holt said Tuesday that the process of adding teams is still ongoing.

“USL PRO remains in the process of determining the roster of teams for the 2015 season, including any additional expansion teams. This includes several MLS clubs evaluating the opportunity to launch a USL PRO franchise. Any such official announcements will occur once agreements have been finalized.”
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Floro gets his first Canadian win as the home team scores three, count’ em, three!

Benito Floro

Benito Floro

It was a glass half-full kind of night, wasn’t it?

Canada beat Jamaica 3-1 on Tuesday at BMO Field. It marked the first time our national men’s team scored more than a single goal in game for the first time since Oct. 12 2012; that was a 3-0 win over Cuba in World Cup qualifying, which came directly ahead of that 8-1 loss in Honduras which wiped out all hope of Canada qualifying for the World Cup.

Yup, I did it; I managed to immediately contrast Canada scoring three goals at home with giving up eight goals. That’s the cynicism that needs to be beaten out of the average Canadian soccer follower. It’ll take more than one win in a friendly at home to beat it out of me. Gah.

So, back to the glass-half-full bit. Yes, Canada’s first two goals came on set pieces, and the third goal was the result of a howler from Jamaican keeper Andre Blake — who certainly did nothing to convince his Philadelphia Union bosses that he deserves a shot between the sticks in MLS action anytime soon. But, still, three goals! And, for coach Benito Floro, his first win as Canada’s boss! For a Canadian team that can’t afford to slide any further down the CONCACAF rankings, it’s something that will go some way to build belief that, maybe, just maybe, this country can score some goals at the next Gold Cup and maybe, maybe, maybe, qualify for the Copa America.
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8

Floro’s choice of Canadian goalkeepers offers food for thought

Milan Borjan

Milan Borjan

Canadian national men’s team coach Benito Floro has released the roster ahead of Sept. 9’s friendly in Toronto against Jamaica.

Of course, it is now the job of the media to second-guess him. And, specifically, I’ll look at the goalkeeping department, where veteran Kenny Stamatopoulos has been named to the team, along with Milan Borjan, who is unattached at the moment, and Quillan Roberts, the kid who was recently recalled from the USL back to Toronto FC, but isn’t seeing any MLS action.

Yes, Borjan is a veteran, but he doesn’t have a club. Roberts doesn’t have the club experience to help Canada’s senior team, yet. And there are other options out there. David Monsalve starts regularly at AC Oulu in Finland’s second division. His team is on an eight-game undefeated streak. Yet he hasn’t received any contact from Floro (I spoke with Monsalve yesterday — dropping a major hint towards what to expect in the “Passports” section of Plastic Pitch’s autumn issue).
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U20WWC: Prince’s injury was a harbinger of bad things to come for Canada

Nichelle Prince

Nichelle Prince

At the 15-minute mark, the Canadian team got bad news — and a bad omen. Striker Nichelle Prince had to leave Saturday’s U-20 Women’s World Cup quarter-final due to injury.

And, facing the tournament-favourite Germans in front of more than 22,000 fans at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, the Canadians lost their top central striking option.

Canada would go on to lose 2-0; but the home side did create plenty of chances that result in scuffed shots, tame efforts right at the keeper, or headers over the bar. In terms of possession and territorial play, the Canadians matched the Germans. But, where the Germans took advantage of their opportunities, Canadians scoring chances went begging.

And Prince had to sit on the bench to watch most of the game.
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0

U20WWC: Our one-on-one interview with Canadian striker Janine Beckie

14441605254_65c9d3b977_kAt this time last year, Janine Beckie was looking forward to the U-20 Women’s World Cup, as a member of the U.S. national program. But, now, she’s a big part of Canada’s U-20 side, and scored the winning goal against North Korea that put her team into Saturday’s quarter-final match against Germany.

The sister of Ottawa Fury defender Drew Beckie, Janine was born in Saskatchewan but moved to Colorado with her family when she was very young. She has scored 26 goals in 45 NCAA matches for Texas Tech. Her brother played for Canada at the qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics — and most of their extended family is still in Saskatchewan.

After Beckie arrived in Edmonton with the U-20 team, we sat down for a one-on-one interview. Canada plays Germany this Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

What went through your mind after you scored against North Korea?
It was obviously great to get the goal, but, in my mind, I was thinking ‘let’s keep the lead’ and ‘let’s go for another one to win this game.’ There were thousands of things running through my mind, but the biggest was let’s hold on and come out of this game with a win.
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Canadian teens Roserie and Arora crack Jacksonville Armada’s developmental roster

Chaim Roserie

Chaim Roserie

The Jacksonville Armada begins play as an NASL expansion team in 2015. But, on Wednesday, the team announced its 25-man developmental roster as it looks ahead to next season — and two Canadian teens are on it.

Seventeen-year-old Uday Arora and 15-year-old Chaim Roserie are the two youngest players on the Armada developmental squad’s roster — and both are from the Toronto area. Most of the players on the Armada’s developmental roster are in their mid-20s, and one is as old as 28.

Roserie hails from Mississauga, and has played for the West Toronto Cobras and Mississauga Falcons. On the roster, the Armada has him listed as a U.S. national, though Roserie has played his entire youth career in Canada and attends St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga. Roserie already has his own official website, which you can access HERE.

Arora has played for the ANB Futbol Academy, based out of King City, Ont. He’s an attacking midfielder.
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With Canada booked for Commonwealth U20WWC quarter-final, the comparisons to 2002 will begin

Kadeisha Buchanan and her Canadian teammates will be jetting off to Edmonton.

Kadeisha Buchanan and her Canadian teammates will be jetting off to Edmonton.

47,784.

It is a number that’s special in Canadian soccer history. And it’s a number that we all knew would, sooner or be later, be used as measuring stick for this year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Now that Canada has booked itself a U20WWC quarter-final date with Germany at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, that number has become relevant. It represents a shining star in Canadian soccer history, and also puts so much pressure on the venue organizers.

It’s a long shot that 47,784 or more spectators will show up at Commonwealth on Saturday for the Canada-Germany quarter-final. But we know it will be the comparison that will be used by so many members of the Edmonton and the national media.

In 2002, when Canada first hosted a FIFA women’s youth tournament — it was then known as the U-19 Women’s World Championship — a city fell in love with a Canadian team that featured teenagers Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang. And, when the final pitted these loveable Canadians against the arch-enemy Americans, it was a perfect storm for ticket sales. The 47,784 supporters who showed up set a standard for international youth soccer — men or women — that hasn’t been matched since.
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