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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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Afternoon delight: Day games, Colin Miller’s pitch, sell Matt Van Oekel on move to FC Edmonton

Matt Van Oekel

Matt Van Oekel

FC Edmonton keeper John Smits won the NASL Golden Glove award by posting a league-best 0.90 goals against average. He finished just slightly ahead of Minnesota United’s Matt Van Oekel, who came in with a 0.95 GAA for the league’s best team over the course of the combined spring and fall seasons.

Now, the two are teammates. On Thursday, the Eddies announced the acquisition of Van Oekel.

“I am looking forward to working with John,” Van Oekel said Thursday. “John is an excellent goalkeeper. I know that there are some things that I can learn from him, and I think there are some things that he can learn from me.”

The Eddies also have Canadian keepers Tyson Farago, who earned a team-of-the-week nomination when he made his lone start in the final week of the season. Christian Kaiswatum, promoted from the academy ranks in 2014, is the fourth keeper.

With Smits and Van Oekel in the fold, FCE has clearly put itself way ahead of the NASL pack when it comes to goalkeeping depth. This is one department where Edmonton ranks at the top of the league.

“He is arguably the best goalkeeper in the North American Soccer League (NASL),” FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller said in a release. “This is also a great signing for John Smits, Tyson Farago and Christian Kaiswatum — they will be able to work with someone who is experienced and knows the league very well. The competition for places also really heats up with his addition. I’m very excited about Matt’s decision to come to Edmonton.”
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Sinclair wins Player of the Year honour for 11th straight time; says she has become a more complete player

sincy2014She’s Canada’s all-time leading scorer, but she only scored once for the national team in 2014.

But the drop-off in goal production didn’t stop Christine Sinclair from being named the Women’s National Player for the 11th straight year. You’d have to go back to 2003 to find someone else other than Sinclair (Charmaine Hooper, for the trivia buffs) who has won the award.

Sinclair also scored seven times for the Portland Thorns of the NWSL.

While she said that the drop-off in scoring has weighed on her mind, Sinclair insisted that she’s become “a more complete soccer player” under the tutelage of coach John Herdman. She said that she’s become more of a leader on the team, and she’s also been asked to perform other tasks than simply go up top and score goals. She’s been asked to drop into a midfield role on occasion.
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PLASTIC PITCH 4 is out today!

10349900_1008071179208840_1372189140274955851_nIssue 4 of Plastic Pitch is out today!

What will you find inside?

• We profile Canadian keeper John Smits, winner of the NASL’s Golden Glove award;

• We sit down with Desiree Scott to talk about her decision to leave NWSL for England, and how she feels about Canada’s preparations for the Women’s World Cup

• Canadians in indoor soccer; a look at the Milwaukee Wave and its Canadian coach, Giuliano Oliviero, and its Canadian star player, Ian Bennett. And we look at how the new Major Arena Soccer League could finally stabilize the pro indoor game in North America

• We look at the birth, successes and trials of League1 Ontario.
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Canadian keeper Monsalve confirms move to America de Cali

David Monsalve

David Monsalve

David Monsalve is looking to go where no Canadian has gone before. Soccer stardom in Colombia.

The former Toronto FC and FC Edmonton keeper confirmed Monday that he has signed with America de Cali, which plays in the country’s Primera B — its second division. But America is a club that has traditionally played with the big boys of Colombian soccer and will look to return to the top flight.

America won five straight Colombian championships in the 1980s; the team won three titles in the 1990s.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here so far with the team,” Monsalve wrote in an e-mail to The11.ca/Plastic Pitch. “It’s a dream for any footballer to be playing for a club as big as America is. It’s a club recognized all over the world and a club that got as far as the finals of the Club World Cup. It’s a top-quality club that expects nothing but the best from its players and it’s a challenge I welcome with open arms. It’s one step closer to my dream of playing and being an integral part of a Colombian football team.
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Teams visit WWC sites: Commonwealth praised, BC Place blasted

“The turf in Vancouver, in my opinion, is not good enough for the World Cup.”

PHOTO ABOVE: Dutch coach Roger Reijners, Australian coach Alen Stajcic, Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, Swiss coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

The days following the Women’s World Cup draw has seen the coaches and managers of the 23 visiting teams travelling throughout Canada and checking out the venues.

Managers from Sweden, Switzerlands, the Netherlands and Australia were at snow-covered Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Tuesday. Organizers were able to plow out a strip of turf from underneath a heavy blanket of the white stuff so the coaches could actually inspect the playing surface.

All four of the managers said they are making preparations for a World Cup played entirely on turf. The Dutch played all of their home qualifiers on turf and will play all upcoming friendlies on turf, said coach Roger Reijners.

But Swiss coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said that the venue that will host the World Cup final simply isn’t good enough. She said that Commonwealth’s turf is just fine — and the turf is good quality. But the Polytan surface she saw at BC Place worried her.
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Without a CBA in place, there’s a “possibility” union action could see Montreal, DCU forfeit CCL matches

“The Collective Bargaining Agreement is scheduled to expire on January 31, 2015,” Foose wrote in an e-mail. “When it expires, the obligation not to engage in a work stoppage also expires. I do not want to comment on when or if there would be a work stoppage. All I can say is that unless there is a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, there is always the possibility of a work stoppage.”

The Montreal Impact is scheduled to be in Mexico on Feb. 24, as the team is scheduled to open its two-match CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final with Pachuca. Two days later, D.C. United is scheduled to meet Alajuelense in Costa Rica.

But what if those games are forfeited by the MLS sides — because the players are in a work-stoppage situation?

Unless a new deal is reached quickly, there’s a good chance that there will be no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place between MLS and its players union in February. The current deal expires in January and the sides are only in the first stages of negotiations.

Now, it needs to be stated that in 2010, when the union and the MLS only came to a deal just days before the start of the league’s regular season, the CCL matches went on unaffected.

But that don’t-play option is open to the players if there is no CBA in place.
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After two years with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Canadian defender Oliver Spring commits to Duke

“Israel was incredible for me. I had two fantastic years playing there. But I felt that it was time for a new challenge.”

Later this month, Oliver Spring will arrive in Durham, N.C. and will unpack his things. He’ll have a lot of dark blue Duke sweatshirts. In January, the Toronto native will begin classes at Duke, and begin training with the soccer team.

After two years with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth division, the centre back has committed to Duke, and will play with the team in the 2015 season.

Spring will turn 20 years of age in 2015.

Spring said that there were more than a few U.S. schools that were interested in him, but when he made his preliminary list, Duke was near the top — because of its mix of academic and athletic notoriety*.

And, when he first visited the campus, he knew that Duke was where he wanted to go. Coaches John Kerr and Michael Brady made him feel welcome.

“The feeling on the campus was incredible,” said Spring.

“Israel was incredible for me. I had two fantastic years playing there. But I felt that it was time for a new challenge.”
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It’s official: Calgary Foothills will play in PDL in 2015

The club, which will hold tryouts in early January, will play in the PDL’s Northwest Division. The division features teams from along the Pacific Coast in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia — so the Calgary team will face some significant road trips, as will their rivals when they have to head east across the Rockies.

The PDL has confirmed that Calgary Foothills will join the league for the 2015 season.

The club, which will hold tryouts in early January, will play in the PDL’s Northwest Division. The division features teams from along the Pacific Coast in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia — so the Calgary team will face some significant road trips, as will their rivals when they have to head east across the Rockies — and into the Mountain time zone.

The Vancouver Whitecaps won’t field a team in PDL this year, as it will focus on the new USL-PRO team that will play out of the University of British Columbia. But we can hope that a rivalry develops between Foothills and the Victoria Highlanders.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our club and the soccer community of Calgary to see high-profile soccer return to this great sporting city,” Calgary Foothills FC Technical Director and Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said in a release issued by the PDL. “Since being a part of USL in the early 2000s, it has always been a personal goal of mine to return to USL with another team from Calgary.
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Fury pulls the plug on its W-League program

In late July of 2012, after scoring late in regulation time to tie the championship game, the Ottawa Fury women’s side won the W-League title in the shootout.

Two years later, and the Fury’s W-League team is no more.

In a briefly worded statement, the Fury announced that it will no longer be fielding a team in the W-League.

“The Fury has been an elite W-League team for more than a decade and we are very proud of the incredible on-field success of our players and our teams,” said Fury FC President (and USL hall of famer) John Pugh in the release. “We thank the fans for their support and hope they enjoy watching the many players with Fury connections that will play in this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

The team said that cutting the women’s team was a “business decision”

Since 2000, the Fury have won the second-most games in the W-League and are perennially a contender to go the league’s final four. Coach Dominic Oliveri has done a wonderful job in creating what was arguably the best women’s soccer program in North America outside of NWSL.

The Fury has been home to many women’s national-team players, such as Marie-Eve Nault, Kelly Parker, Christina Julien, Diana Matheson and Rhian Wilkinson.

In 2014, notable Canadians Kadeisha Buchanan, Bryanna McCarthy, Christabel Oduro and Shelina Zadorsky spent time with the Fury.

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