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Quintessentially Canadian Power Rankings, Week 4

Sam Adekugbe

Sam Adekugbe

This is a strange week for the Quintessentially Canadian Power Rankings. As MLS played through the international break, there were a few Canadians who would have been eligible for MLS minutes this week who are still with the Canadian national side, which beat Guatemala 1-0 on Friday and will play in Puerto Rico Monday night.

But, with Sam Adekugbe playing the full 90 and Kianz Froese coming in as a second-half sub, the Vancouver Whitecaps padded their lead when it comes to MLS teams giving minutes to Canadian players. But one word of caution; Toronto FC has one game in hand on the Whitecaps.

We also changed the way we do the list in week four. Why? We have headaches when it comes to four players. Kofi Opare got his first minutes of the season with D.C. United; but the Niagara Falls, Ont.-raised player has been with the U.S. U-20 squad, which puts into question his eligibility for Canada down the road. But D.C. United says, “on the international stage, Opare is eligible to play for the United States, Canadian and Ghanaian national teams.” Columbus Crew forward Ethan Finlay has yet to accept Canada’s overtures to join the national-squad. Tesho Akindele has not closed the door on playing for Canada, and there remains hope for Steven Vitoria playing for Canada down the road, we still count them. So, to deal with this confusion, we’ve created a NEW category for “maybes.” That is, players who aren’t sure-fire Canada-eligible players, but there still remains some hope for eligibility.
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FCE camp update: Lousy weather, great expectations

Ritchie Jones is seen in action against Tampa Bay.

Ritchie Jones is seen in action against Tampa Bay.

Three down, one to go.

After routing Jacksonville United 6-0, losing to Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 and settling for a 0-0 draw with the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday, FC Edmonton has just one last preseason game left on its schedule.

And while no coach will confirm or deny what the starting XI will be ahead of time, there’s a feeling that Tuesday’s preseason curtain-closer against Jacksonville United might give Eddies fans a closer idea of what the lineup will look like when Colin Miller and his troops begin the NASL season April 4 in the first-ever home opener for the expansion Jacksonville Armada.

Playing against JU, a team that likely won’t be out to kick the Eddies, the team can work on the few things ahead of the season opener.

Miller, said his team is impatiently waiting the start of the regular season. This is the third week the team will be spending in Florida ahead of the season opener, after spending three weeks indoors in Edmonton.

“The guys are gong 100 miles an hour and we’re just all waiting for the season to start. We’re ready. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the teams that have been in camp for eight or ten weeks.”
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Gone with the wind: Canada’s beats Guatemala in game ruled by the elements

The pregame festivities at Lockhart Stadium

The pregame festivities at Lockhart Stadium

The corner flags were straining. The palm trees in the background were bending.

It was a perfectly windy day in Fort Lauderdale, as the Canadian national team was able to nurse a one-goal lead after an early Marcus Haber goal — and came out with a 1-0 win over Guatemala.

With the wind at their backs, Canada pinned the Guatemalans deep in their own half through the first 20 minutes of the game. Clearances from defenders and Guatemalan goal kicks were knocked down by the wind.

The Canadians got their breakthrough when a Kyle Bekker corner kick was headed into the goal by Marcus Haber. It had the feel of a training-ground goal, as not one Guatemalan defender looked to move after Bekker delivered his swerving ball into the penalty area. Haber was absolutely unchallenged when he leapt to the meet the ball.

A couple of minutes later, midfield veteran Julian de Guzman lashed a volley from outside the box just wide of goal.

While Canada didn’t create many golden chances in the rest of the first half, the real test came in the second half. To play into the teeth of a strong wind, you need to keep possession by playing the ball on the ground.
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JDG’s Fury signing official just a week after he confirmed his NASL interest

deGuzman_closeThat didn’t take long.

Last Friday, at a publicity appearance at the West Edmonton Mall, Canadian national-team veteran Julian de Guzman made it public that he was looking at offers from a couple of NASL clubs. (CLICK HERE)

By the middle of this week, the Ottawa Fury hinted that the club would be making a major player-signing announcement — and that said player was a prominent Canadian.

On Friday, a week after JDG’s WEM declaration, it’s official. The Canadian midfielder will play for the Fury in 2015.

And what can we take from this? First, that the West Edmonton Mall is now a legitimate spot for sniffing out soccer scoops. Please, Canadian Soccer Association; have more events at the Mall. But it proves that, as a journalist, you never know when news will come your way. Last week, the scoop came in a store that’s maybe 100 yards from a pirate ship and less than a three-minute walk to a massive indoor waterpark.
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All access: Fury, FC Edmonton road games to be streamed on TSN GO in 2015

imagesFC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury supporters will be able to access the majority of their teams away-game broadcasts this year via TSN GO.

The North American Soccer League announced its broadcast plans for this season and, as expected, the pay-per-view NASLLive platform is gone. ESPN3 is now the base for all U.S. broadcasts save for the New York Cosmos, whose rights are held by ONE World Sports. Canadians can’t legally access ESPN3 streams, but there is a plan in place to ensure the fans on the northern side of the border can see the away games.

When the Eddies or Fury visit eight of the nine U.S. teams (minus the Cosmos), the games will be streamed on TSN GO. Cosmos games can be accessed through ONE World.
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Why we in Edmonton should see Minnesota’s move to MLS as bittersweet

10659388_10152654651984494_3033798155037099486_nBeing in Edmonton on the day that the Twin Cities officially gets the nod as the next MLS franchise is well, kinda bittersweet.

Let’s face it; the Eddies used to have a decent rivalry with Atlanta a couple of years back because the teams didn’t necessarily like each other very much. But, really, it’s hard to pinpoint who is supposed to be FCE’s rivalry team. Ottawa? No. Except when we play each other, we all kinda cheer for Ottawa because the club is committed to giving Canadians minutes on the field.

But, with the Flyover Cup — a supporter-driven initiative which sees the winner of the FCE/Loons season series get the award — it should be Minnesota who is our closest rival. But, in a weird way, the Loons are kind of like the Eddies’ best frenemy. We’re the cold-weather cities in a league filled with tropical teams; we’re united in our sense of isolation from the rest of the NASL.

And our matches against each other, well, they’ve been excellent. The interaction between supporters has been great. It won’t be forgotten that the Dark Clouds, the main support group for the Loons, raised money when they found out about the fire that devastated the town of Slave Lake, north of Edmonton, back in 2011.

I have a lot of respect for the organization; whenever they’ve come into Edmonton the team has been great to deal with. Coach Manny Lagos has always been open with our broadcast team.

So, it’s kinda like seeing a best friend get married; you are happy for the guy, but you know your relationship will change.

Minnesota United will move to MLS in 2018; and while there will no doubt be those die-hard factions of NASL supporters who will see the team’s move as some kind of betrayal, the fact is this: The Loons’ acceptance into MLS is very, very good for NASL.
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MLS deserves praise for explaining why Morrow’s red card wasn’t rescinded

Justin Morrow

Justin Morrow

Major League Soccer is regularly criticized over its lack of transparency; allocation money, draws held to assign players to teams, we’re not even 100 per cent sure of the roster rules governing the 2015 season because, well, they haven’t been posted by the league as of yet.

So, when the league does make itself more transparent, it deserves to be pointed out — and lauded.

Case in point; on Wednesday morning, the league announced that it an independent panel had rejected Toronto FC’s appeal of fullback Justin Morrow’s red card. Two weekends ago, Edmonton-based referee Dave Gantar ruled that Morrow’s slide tackle had denied Columbus forward Ethan Finlay of a goal-scoring opportunity and sent off the defender. The replays looked to indicate that Morrow in fact got the ball on the challenge.

The incident was sent to the review panel, made up of three officials — one from the Canadian Soccer Association, one from the U.S. Soccer Federation and one from the Professional Referees Organization (PRO), the body that administers officiating assignments in MLS.

To win an appeal, it’s not good enough to get two out of three votes. The board has to be unanimous.

And, in stating why the appeal was rejected, MLS was clear that the lack of unanimity was the issue. The league stated the panel members “were not unanimous that the referee had made a serious and obvious error in the send-off.”

So what we know from this is that the opinions on the panel were mixed. Some thought that Morrow should be taken off the hook, and others didn’t. It gives fans some needed insight into the obstacles a team or player must overcome in order to overturn a referee’s decision.
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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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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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