Europe Archive

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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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2

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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1

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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1

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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0

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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7

Aird’s Canadian repatriation the highlight of the U-20 roster

Fraser Aird

Fraser Aird

The Canadian Soccer Association released the names of the U-20 players who have are currently in Sunrise, Fla. for a week-long camp.

And one name jumps right out at the Canadian soccer supporter. Fraser Aird.

Aird has been the subject of will-he-or-won’t-he talk regarding his international future. Would he play for Canada or would he play for Scotland? And his appearance at Canada’s U-20 camp is helping confirm recent speculation that he’s ready to don Canada’s colours at both the junior and senior levels.

The teen, who is with Rangers, was placed on Canada’s 35-player long list ahead of last year’s Gold Cup. Then-Canada coach Colin Miller had tried to use his longstanding connections with Rangers to try and convince the teen to come play for his birth nation. Miller spoke with Rangers’ manager Ally McCoist last year to try and sell the parties in Scotland on the benefit of having Aird play for Canada. (CLICK HERE)

As a former Rangers player who represented Canada, Miller was hoping the connections would go a long way. But Aird didn’t play for Canada at the Gold Cup, so many of us pessimistic Canadians had pretty well assumed that the teen had committed to Scotland. After all, Aird had previously played for Scotland’s U-17 and U-19 sides.
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1

Canada announces roster for Czech Republic and Slovenia friendlies

Karl Ouimette

Karl Ouimette

Karl Ouimette will have the chance to earn his first national-team cap.

The inclusion of the Montreal Impact defender was the most notable item on national team coach Benito Floro’s roster for friendlies against the Czech Republic (Nov. 15) and Slovenia (Nov. 19).

The roster, announced Friday, also features three unattached players — all-time Canadian leading scorer Dwayne De Rosario, who had his contract option declined by D.C. United last week, Issey Nakajima-Farran and Stefan Cebara.

“From here to the first official games [qualifying matches], it’s important to focus on our level of play,” said Floro in a release issued by the Canadian Soccer Association. “It is necessary to pay attention in how we defend and attack so for me the best result is to take it step by step to improve our level.”
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1

Canadian striker Gigolaj waiting on DFB clearance before he can play with Hertha Berlin’s reserves

Elvir Gigolaj in his Hertha BSC kit.

Elvir Gigolaj in his Hertha BSC kit.

It’s a familiar refrain for Canadian soccer players trying to make it abroad: “Waiting on paperwork.”

For London, Ont.’s Elvir Gigolaj, that’s the case. He’s currently training with a Hertha Berlin reserve team, Hertha BSC Amateure II, but the former FC Edmonton and St. Mary’s University striker is waiting for the chance to step onto the field.

“Things are well, currently training with Hertha Berlin,” Gigolaj said in a message to The 11. “Don’t have clearance from the DFB to play yet.”

Gigolaj was cut loose by FC Edmonton in the break between the NASL spring and fall schedules, after an injury-ravaged early part of the season.

In 2011, Gigolaj was the buzz player coming out of CIS. For the Huskies, he scored six times in three AUS conference playoff games. And even though his St. Mary’s squad lost to the University of Victoria in the CIS final, it was clear that Gigolaj was the player of the tournament to watch. He scored in a quarter-final win over McGill. He scored twice in the semifinal triumph over the University of Alberta. And, in a losing cause, he scored against UVic.
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0

Slovenes say they’ve booked a friendly with Canada

sloveniaThe Slovenian Football Federation announced that its men’s national side will host Canada in a Nov. 19 friendly.

Canada is already booked to play the Czech Republic on Nov. 15, and having back-to-back games will allow new coach Benito Floro a chance to have an extended look at the team, which hasn’t scored in eight consecutive international matches, including a goalless run at the Gold Cup.

The Slovenes indicated that a deal to play Canada was made after an initial push to play Ireland in the November international window didn’t come to pass. The Irish play the Poles on Nov. 19.

Canada’s most recent international match saw it lose 3-0 to Australia, and concede a goal almost immediately after the opening kickoff.
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9

What will happen with beIN Sport’s Canadian service after Jan. 6 deadline passes?

beINTo call beIN Sport’s rollout of its online Canadian service a “soft launch” might be a bit of an understatement.

A couple of weeks ago, beIN Sports launched its online service for Canadian viewers, beIN Sport Play Canada. According to host Jeremy St. Louis, the service will be available on a free basis until Jan. 6.

The network holds the Canadian rights to La Liga, Serie A, League Championship and Ligue 1 Games and, before the launch of the online service, that monopoly had aggrieved Canadian viewers. Why? Because the company does not have the CRTC’s blessing to broadcast over the domestic airwaves.

The CRTC does not regulate Internet broadcasting.

But, it took until Thursday for beIN’s head office to actually acknowledge the existence of beIN Sport Play Canada. It was included in a release about this weekend’s coverage of the Real Madrid-Barcelona El Clasico. In said release, there was a brief sentence about how Canadian fans can view the big game using the online service. That was all. One line.

The 11 has been regularly in contact with beIN’s reps in the U.S., and we’ve submitted and then been asked to resubmit our questions about their plans for Canada. Mum is still the word from beIN’s head office when we ask if there are plans to approach the CRTC for a proper broadcast licence, or if beIN will try to add more Canadian programming (such as bidding for MLS, NASL or Canadian-national-team rights when they come up). We’ve asked how much the online service will cost after the Jan. 6 deadline.
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