Europe Archive

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Scary thought: De Ro is STILL Canada’s best scoring option

Dwayne De Rosario

Dwayne De Rosario

So, national-team coach Benito Floro called in an experimental, youthful lineup to face Iceland in a pair of friendlies, the second of which was played Monday.

Canada lost the first game, 2-1. On Monday, the Canadians had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Iceland as Hólmbert Fridjonsson converted a second-half penalty after Manjrekar James committed a foul in the box.

With so many new, fresh faces on call in the two Florida friendlies, of course it would be the elder statesmen who would score both goals. Dwayne De Rosario, currently without a club, headed home a goal in the first game and scored from the penalty spot in the second. He now has 22 goals in his Canadian national-team career. He’s padded his lead atop the Canadian all-time scoring list.

De Rosario will turn 37 years of age in May. And he still remains our country’s best scoring option. The fact that De Ro is a necessity, and not a luxury, for Floro, is a sign of just how badly we have failed as a nation to produce goal-scoring skill players. When Canada begins World Cup qualifying this June, it would be hard to make a case for not having De Ro on the squad. It might be hard to make a case that he shouldn’t start.
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Iceland beats Canada in battle of not-ready-for-prime-time players

Dwayne De Rosario

Dwayne De Rosario

How to analyze Friday’s friendly between Canada and Iceland? That’s a very difficult question.

Sure, Iceland has been a rising power, and its success in Euro qualifying has been one of the great post-World Cup national-team success stories. But, for the first of two friendlies Iceland will play against Canada, the islanders started just two players who were part of the XI that beat the Netherlands 2-0 in 2014.

Meanwhile, Canada brought in a lineup that was a mishmash of selected MLS players, MLS academy prospects, some League1 Ontario talent, a select few guys who play off the continent and, of course, five unattached players.

These weren’t close to the teams that Icelanders will see when their team gets back to European qualifying or Canadians will see when their team begins World Cup qualifying in June.
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2

FC Edmonton signs Icelandic midfielder Oskar Orn Hauksson

Reykjavik's Oskar Orn Hauksson, left.

Reykjavik’s Oskar Orn Hauksson, left.

Last year in Edmonton, Iceland was all the rage. After direct-flight service to Reykjavik was launched, there were Icelandic festivals in the Alberta capital, Iceland-themed scavenger hunts, and even the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunlaugsson, came to visit. Pretty well everyone in Edmonton was either going to Iceland or knew someone who was going to Iceland. It had replaced the all-inclusive in Mexico as our vacation destination of choice.

It’s 2015, and Iceland has yet to show any signs of jumping the shark. On the day the Oscar nominations were made, the Eddies made their own Oskar announcement.

On Thursday, FC Edmonton announced that Iceland national-team midfielder Oskar Orn Hauksson will join the team on season-long loan from KR Reykjavik. The FCE front office confirmed that Hauksson cannot be recalled by Reykjavik during the term of the loan.

Hauksson started all but two matches for Reykjavik in 2014. He scored four goals. He played for Reykjavik in a 2012 Champions League qualifier against HJK Helsinki, and has also spent time with Norwegian side, Sandnes Ulf — a team which once employed Edmonton’s Tosaint Ricketts.
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Atiba Hutchinson can negotiate new deal in January: And he’s open to MLS move

15064416849_5a15726b3d_zAtiba Hutchinson, named Canada’s player of the year on Thursday, is nearing the end of his contract with Turkish giants, Besiktas. In January, he can start negotiating with other clubs unless his contract is extended before that time.

And, the Canadian says that he wants to stay, but he’s also open to moving on if the opportunity was right — and that would include Major League Soccer.

When asked if he’d consider talking to an MLS side in January, Hutchinson said “yes, especially if it was in Canada. I’m open to it if the interest comes, if things can work out and do what’s best for everybody.”

But, he said he’s really enjoyed his time with Besiktas. He said it’s the first time in three or four years that he’s regularly playing in his natural midfield position, and he feels that, at 31 years of age, he’s at his peak as a player. He said the fans in Turkey have treated him very well.
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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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Wild night at the U-20 WWC: Canada survives, Germany and China in 10-goal thriller

Player of the match (CHINA) Beiyan Zhu, right

Player of the match (CHINA) Beiyan Zhu, right

It really is something to try and pay attention to two matches at the same time — one in front of you at the stadium, and the other on the screen.

They are both so enthralling, so wonderfully bizarre, that you feel absolutely torn in two.

That was the situation for me on Friday night. And it was a refreshing reminder of why I love this game so damn much. As I watched Germany and China contest one of the most incredible matches in the history of the U-20 Women’s World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium, I had the Canada-Finland feed up on my laptop, seeing if our national side could recover from its opening game loss.

As I got back upstairs from the coaches’ press conference in Edmonton after a stunning 5-5 draw, I was able to get to my laptop just in time to see Nichelle Prince tuck in a goalmouth rebound to give Canada a 3-2 lead over Finland. After some wonderful work down the right wing from sub Janine Beckie, who had scored earlier in the half to begin the Canuck rally from two goals down, the ball fell so wonderfully to Prince.

After an awful beginning to the game, which saw Finnish striker Juliette Kemppi punish a mistakes from Canadian keeper Kailen Sheridan and then pounce on a giveaway from Canadian defender Sura Yekka, the home side was able to rally. And the Canadians held on to that 3-2 score.

The Germans and Chinese had just wrapped their 10-goal marathon in a torrential rainstorm, as news spread that Canada had just scored to make it 2-1. No, wait, 2-2. Two of the subs brought on by coach Andrew Olivieri, Beckie and Valerie Sanderson, had scored within two minutes of each other.
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While Canada loses its opener, Germans send a message to U20WWC field

Theresa Panfil

Theresa Panfil

After seeing the Germans and Americans square off in the Group B opener at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, I can tell Canadian fans this much. Now that Canada has lost its opener (1-0 to Ghana at BMO Field), the best it can realistically hope for out of Group A is to scrap its way into second place. And that will mean, unless the world turns topsy-turvy, Canada would face the Germans.

Gulp.

After an incident-filled first half which saw both teams miss golden chances, the Germans simply dominated the Americans in the second half. The score was 2-0, but it could have been — should have been — 4-2 or 6-3.

But, even if some great chances weren’t converted, there is no denying the Germans weren’t worth a two-goal margin in this tournament’s group of death, which also includes Brazil and China.

“I don’t say it very often, especially to my team, but I am very proud of them,” German coach Maren Meinert said through a translator after the match. “They gave everything and, regardless of the outcome, it was a very good game. They played as a team.”
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Stats show link between number of draws and playoffs; are there lessons there for MLS?

MLS-logoAs of Thursday, 31.7 per cent of Major League Soccer’s game end in draws.

That’s not a number that falls far from the conventional soccer wisdom that says that between a quarter and 30 per cent of all games will end in ties. But, probability changes as the game evolves. And, if you look at other leagues around the world, the 30-per-cent-draw figure isn’t such an accurate reflection of how the game is being played nowadays. The rate of draws is actually closer to 20 per cent, if you look at the major Euro circuits.

In the previous English Premier League season, just 78 of 380 matches ended in draws — or a shade above 20 per cent. Major League Soccer has seen 61 draws already, in just 192 games played so far in 2014.

In the previous Bundesliga campaign, 64 of 306 matches ended in draws. Just a bit under 21 per cent, and consistent to the English trend. In Spain, 86 of 380 matches were even after full time, a rate of 22.6 per cent. A little higher than in England or Germany, but nowhere close to MLS.

In the 2013 season, MLS had a 25.4 draw percentage. Slightly higher than the elite-European-league norm, but 2014 is trending upwards, thanks to the likes of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Chicago Fire, who each have drawn more than half of the games on their schedules (and, so fitting, played to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday).
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Canada scores again in draw with Moldova, while RBC ad burned into brains of supporters

The stream: It was a nice idea, but the execution... not so much.

The stream: It was a nice idea, but the execution… not so much.

I woke up bright and early this morning (had a TV appearance, so I was up and at ‘em at 6 a.m.) and, before heading out the door, checked to see if the Canada-Moldova friendly would be available anywhere online.

I always check the opposing nation’s official site first; it can often give you some leads on whether or not the game will be broadcast in that country. And, lo and behold, the Moldovan Football Federation had this message for all to see — that the Canada-Moldova game would be webcast live via UStream, through the MFF site. I Tweeted it out and was surprised by the amount of retweets, especially by my followers in the West. Like, what time do you people get up?

Oh, the excitement of not having to find a feed on a site where the game is consistently interrupted by requests to chat with potential Russian wives or anime porn!

The stream, coming from what appeared to be a secret Austrian location, fired up right before the national anthems. I was treated to an RBC ad in French. Then, a bit of “O Canada.” Then, the Blue Spinning Wheel of Death. The feed reloaded. The RBC ad again. The blue wheel. Wheel. RBC. Wheel. RBC. Occasionally, the feed would get to point where it would play the whole ad, and I’d see shot from the game, and background chatter that sounded like the kitchen at a really good party. Then, the blue wheel again.

But, thanks to Twitter, we learned that Moldova had gone up a goal just six minutes in thanks to Eugen Sidorenco, who plays his club football in the Russian second division.

Then, came the Twitter chatter of a Canadian goal. There was discussion on whether it came from open play. Then came the confirmation: Tosaint Ricketts had scored after a corner. Andre Hainault headed the ball into the danger area and Ricketts finished.
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A goal! A goal! Canada scored a goal!

Atiba Hutchinson

Atiba Hutchinson

Canada didn’t win the game, but the men’s national side earned a moral victory.

For the first time in 14 long months, Canadian soccer supporters could celebrate a goal scored by the men’s national side. An actual goal.

In case you’ve forgotten what a goal is — and how could we blame you — that’s when the whole of the ball crosses the opponent’s goal line, in between the goalposts and under the crossbar.

That goal allowed Canada to earn a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria in a friendly played on Austrian soil. Judging by the empty seats, most of the locals didn’t take advantage of the fact that tickets for the game were going for the bargain-basement price of six Euros each.

The goal came off the foot of veteran Atiba Hutchinson, who put his penalty kick just inside the post after teammate Tosaint Ricketts was kicked in the face by a Bulgarian defender.
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