CONCACAF Archive

8

Midfielder Granitto had options in Serie A and MLS, but chose FC Edmonton

Tomas Granitto

Tomas Granitto

In the autumn of 2014, Tomas Granitto had options. He had a pre-contract offer from Palermo of Italy’s Serie A. He had just auditioned for FC Dallas of MLS, and had an offer to attend training camp with that team in 2015.

But he also had interest from FC Edmonton of NASL. And, he decided to go that route.

“I knew that this would be the best choice for me,” says the central midfielder after the Eddies wrap up their second-day of on-field training at the Commonwealth Recreation Centre. “I knew that I could come in here and help the team out right away, to be a great support for the team.”

In 2013, El Salvador beat Australia in the group stage of the U-20 World Cup. Granitto was named man of the match. And it was El Salvador’s first World Cup win at any age level — that game announced to the world that the young central midfielder had arrived.

“It was a great feeling to be part of that first win in an actual World Cup, and an honour to be the man of the match of that game,” he says.

So, how did FCE coach Colin Miller get in the offer that won Granitto over? The first thing he had to do was sift through the many audition videos he gets from player agents. Most of them get cursory looks. But he was struck when he saw Granitto in action.
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1

A long MLS labour stoppage could act as a massive equalizer for Gold Cup, early World Cup qualifiers

2015_CONCACAF_Gold_CupAs soccer supporters in Canada, we certainly don’t want the MLS season to be interrupted by a long labour stoppage.

Even though the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLS and the MLSPU expired at the end of January, the sides realistically have until MLS First Kick in early March to hammer out a new deal in order to ensure that a full season can be started on time. But the sides remain on separate poles when it comes to the make-or-break issue: Free agency. And, with every report of a cancelled bargaining session or lack of progress, the worries increase that a labour stoppage will disrupt the season.

Let’s for a second imagine that we see a nuclear option: A labour impasse that stretches for a significant period of time. The Gold Cup comes up in July; Canada’s World Cup qualifiers begin a month before that. For Canada, this Gold Cup holds special significance as it acts as our qualifier for the 100th anniversary Copa America, which is set for the United States in 2016.

So, if MLS isn’t playing games, how would it affect the Canadian program?

Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani said that this country’s national team would end up faring a lot better than some of the competition.

“From the technical side, there are a handful of players in MLS who could be part of the team that would be at the Gold Cup. And it would hurt if those players weren’t playing. But, when you look at all the countries in CONCACAF, we might be one of the ones least affected by an MLS work stoppage. Certainly, it would not affect us like it would the United States, where the majority of their players play in MLS.”
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1

Dissecting another U-20 loss: Why didn’t Hamilton start for Canada?

Jordan Hamilton

Jordan Hamilton

Canadian coach Rob Gale has held to the same philosophy throughout the CONCACAF U-20 Championship; that he has to keep the squad fresh.

After losing two of its first three games at the tournament, Gale had some difficult roster decisions to make for Monday’s must-win date against Cuba. The Cubans won 2-1, and Gale’s rotation policy will now be under scrutiny.

He elected to keep Jordan Hamilton, who scored twice against Haiti in the opener and had some effective runs in a loss against Mexico, on the bench for the start of the Cuba game; instead, Cyle Larin got the job up top. Larin, unfortunately, has not lived up to the No.1 MLS SuperDraft pick hype throughout the tournament; he was ineffective in the loss to El Salvador, and headed the ball over the goal on his best chance of the game against the Cubans.

The decision to leave Hamilton on the subs’ bench at kickoff helped limit Canada’s goal-scoring options. And Hanson Boakai’s absence will force Gale to answer even more questions.
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2

Canada no match for Lozano’s class

Hirving Lozano

Hirving Lozano

You would have to forgive Canadian fullback Sam Adekugbe if he has a few nightmares on Monday night.

Adekugbe was given the thankless task of trying to mark Mexican forward Hirving Lozano, who loves to lurk on the right wing. And Lozano burned the Canadian time and time again as the Mexicans triumphed 2-0 in group stage play at the CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Jamaica.

The loss drops Canada to 1-1-0 and the goal difference is even.

But, make no mistake, even though Canada had a few scattered chances on counterattacks, the 2-0 scoreline flattered our boys. Had the Mexicans wore their shooting boots — and if goalkeeper Nolan Wirth hadn’t put on a Canadian man-of-the-match performance — the scoreline would have been (deservedly) more severe.

Let’s get back to Lozano. If you were a neutral, his performance was something to see. Lozano shows how far we still have to go in Canada to develop players. Before the tournament began, Canadian coach Rob Gale lamented how few of his players had played meaningful first-team minutes at a professional level. And, on Monday, the Canadians had to try and stare down Lozano, who already has played 17 Liga MX matches this season for Pachuca.

While many of Canada’s players are in MLS academies, Lozano is playing senior matches in a league that’s much tougher than MLS.
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1

What’s the frequency, László? Canada opens up U-20 tourney with up-and-down performance

2015_CONCACAF_U-20_ChampionshipThere’s always something spectacularly bizarre about watching a Canadian national-team game stream from the fine folks at CONCACAF.

Canada had a very on-and-off performance Saturday in a 3-1 win over Haiti in their CONCACAF U-20 Championship group-stage opener. But, as coach Rob Gale predicted when he spoke to journalists on Friday, the squad featured a few notable hold-backs, as the team has to face Mexico within 48 hours. Cyle Larin, predicted to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming MLS Superdraft, came in only as a 70th minute sub right after Michael Petrasso buried the penalty kick to give Canada its third goal of the match. Hanson Boakai, the FC Edmonton wunderkind who has been nursing an injury, didn’t see the field.

But, for some reason, a CONCACAF technical staff member was asked to take a microphone and do a play-by-play to the best of her abilities. So, as the game went on, all we could hear was numbers being read out “Number 5, to number 7, to number 9…” It was like SPECTRE had taken over the game. And, near the end of the game, she asked someone named László for direction, on how Canadians could access the feed.

Along with terrible field conditions in Jamaica and bizarre officiating, it was another example of the surrealist theatre that only Samuel Beckett or CONCACAF could give us.
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1

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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5

Canada 0, Panama 0: Why boring can be beautiful

If you were a neutral and stuck out all 94 minutes of Canada’s 0-0 draw at Panama, well either you really, really love soccer or you’re immune to boredom. You could sit through a Kenny G concert and be entertained.

If you were a neutral and stuck out all 94 minutes of Canada’s 0-0 draw at Panama, well either you really, really love soccer or you’re immune to boredom. You could sit through a Kenny G concert and be entertained.

Tuesday night’s game certainly wasn’t a masterpiece. It was a foul-filled, choppy affair, with really only two scoring chances of note. In the first half, Canadian keeper Milan Borjan leapt to stop a dipping left-footed volley from Anibal Godoy; in the second half, Borjan made an outstanding point-blank stop of a headed effort from Panama’s Luis Tejada. The Tejada chance came after Canada was caught defending too deep on a free kick into the box.

But, with 33 fouls called in the game — 20 of them called against the Panamanians — the game stuttered. Even though Godoy saw his second yellow in the 69th minute, the best Canada could do was an injury-time snatched shot from Tosaint Ricketts that went so far wide of goal, it’s a stretch to refer to it as a legitimate scoring chance.
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2

Canada-Panama sort-of preview: Talking about the players who aren’t there

A Canadian men’s national team press conference just wouldn’t be a men’s national team press conference if there weren’t questions about players who aren’t with the program.

A Canadian men’s national team press conference just wouldn’t be a men’s national team press conference if there weren’t questions about players who aren’t with the program.

So, in keeping with what’s become a Canadian soccer tradition, we start off our coverage of Benito Floro’s conference call with updates on forwards Ethan Finlay, Lucas Cavallini and Tesho Akindele, none of whom are with the national team ahead of its friendly on Tuesday in Panama.

Floro said he is tracking the progress of Finlay, the Columbus Crew forward who scored 11 times this season. Finlay was born in the United States, but his dad is Canadian. Floro said he would need to see what Finlay can do in a camp, but he has been paying attention to the player.

As for Akindele, the Calgary-born FC Dallas rookie who turned down an invitation to join Canada for the Panama game, Floro was diplomatic: “He has a tough decision to make (between the American and Canadian programs). And, playing in MLS puts him closer to the U.S. national team.” But Floro was clear that Akindele still has time to make that decision.
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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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2

CSA president says Canadians should focus on qualifying for Copa America, not bellyaching over the process

Victor Montagliani

Victor Montagliani

On Thursday morning, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF made it official. The Copa America will be pan-American tournament in 2016.

There were shouts of joy, as the lucrative American and Mexican television markets will be ensured marquee match-ups between the two CONCACAF powers and the big boys from South America. Of course, the Americans and Mexicans would get two automatic qualifying spots for Copa America. It makes good business and sporting sense.

But, when it come to the remaining CONCACAF slots in the Copa America… it doesn’t seem very equitable to Canada.

The winners of the CentroAmerica tourney (which, by nature of geography, Canada doesn’t participate in) and the winner of the Caribbean championship (which, by nature of geography, Canada doesn’t participate in) each get spots in the Copa America.
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