Canada Archive

0

Canada avoids Haiti slip-up in tournament opener

Kadin Chung

Kadin Chung

Maybe it’s the new format — which makes it much more difficult for Canada to qualify for the U-17 World Cup than in he past. Maybe it’s the fact that the national U-20 team flamed out so spectacularly in its recent attempt to qualify for its age group’s World Cup. But there’s no denying that the Canadian sentiment towards this crop of U-17s is more muted than past years. There’s no chatter of who’s going to be the next Great Canadian Hope.

But, on Saturday night in Honduras, this group survived its first challenge of the CONCACAF U-17 Championships, with a 3-1 win over Haiti. Duwayne Ewart, Matthew Baldisimo and Kadin Chung got the goals.

For Canada, with the new format, there is no margin for error in matches against the so-called minnows. In years past, the round-robin would often see one ranked CONCACAF nation paired up with two lesser lights. Win the group, and you were well on your way to a U-17 World Cup berth or at least a playoff for a U-17 World Cup spot. ?

But, wisely, CONCACAF changed the format. For the smaller nations, sending a team to play just two games made little financial or developmental sense. You arrived and were eliminated in the blink of an eye. So, the new format sees the field split into two groups of six. Each team is guaranteed five matches in a compressed amount of time; so coaches are forced to utilize most of their squads — and, so, more players will get minutes of international action.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
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.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
4

Before you tweet about a Canadian player, read this first

10349900_1008071179208840_1372189140274955851_nSome days, writing about Canadian soccer is depressing. Some days, I swear to myself “this is the last article about Canadian soccer I’ll ever write.”

Of course, that would make some of my harshest critics very happy indeed.

I’ve been very public about Issue 5 of Plastic Pitch. A group of great writers are working on stories about our relationship with the American soccer system. Is having Canadian pro teams mixed into the American system good for the our country’s development in the game? Has it actually hurt us?

Through the last few weeks, I’ve been working to get Canadian players to tell their stories. Many Canadian soccer writers hear the tales about aborted contracts, bizarre under-the-table deals, broken promises, fly-by-night agents and the like. But players, understandably, are worried about coming forward. They don’t want to be seen as bad eggs, dressing-room malcontents or selfish players.

But, finally, slowly, some players are coming forward. Until the stories have faces, the system won’t change. But in the process of putting stories to paper, you can’t help but get snowed under by it all. You wonder if supporting Canadian soccer is like plunging into an endless pit of hopelessness. You understand how the cards are stacked against our players. Those stories will be (at least partially) told in the next issue. It will be by far the most important thing we’ve done.

There is something I want to address, though. Something I’ve thought hard about in the process of doing these interviews. We’re in that part of the NASL and MLS silly season (and right near the closing of the transfer window). So, the message boards and Twitter are filled with jokes about the number of Canadian players on Unattached FC. Many fans wonder “why doesn’t player A try to join NASL Team X or MLS Team Y? Why doesn’t he take a chance to play halfway across the world?”
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
2

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
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.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
0

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
0

Ecstasy and the agony: Larin feels the sting of defeat hours after being No. 1 MLS pick

Cyle Larin

Cyle Larin

Just hours after being taken first overall in the MLS SuperDraft, Orlando City SC striker Cyle Larin took to the field in Jamaica with the Canadian U-20 side.

And, deep into second-half stoppage time, Larin stood right next to Romilio Hernandez as the El Salvadoran forward buried the dagger-through-the-heart winner off a set piece. Keeper Nolan Wirth made a diving stop off the first attempt in the box. Larin, who was back in the box to help defend the set piece, had the rebound carom off of him before it fell to Hernandez, who slammed the ball in. Final score: El Salvador 3, Canada 2.

“It was a hard ball to handle and it came into the box really fast,” Larin said after the match. “It came over the first line and the ball bounced and it just it me and hit Nolan (Wirth) and it just kept bouncing everywhere and they just put it in. It went right to their player and he put it in. It was bad luck but hopefully in the next few games we’ll put this behind us and get the result we want and hopefully make it to the World Cup.”

With the heartbreaker, Canada’s under-20s now have two losses out of three games in group stage action at the CONCACAF Championships, and their hopes to qualify for the U-20 World Cup now hang by a thread.

Larin — who was one of two Canadians taken in the first round of the SuperDraft; Skylar Thomas went to Toronto FC — enjoyed a robust celebration with his teammates before the game. But Larin and the Canadian offence failed to trouble the El Salvadorans in the first half. Canada had only two shots toward target — and neither were on goal.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
0

Mind games or no mind games? Chinese utilized a strong lineup in loss to the Canadian women

Christine Sinclair

Christine Sinclair

Canada’s final game of the BaoAn Cup was by far the most intriguing of the tournament, even though the Canadian had already clinched the championship.

Why? Because Canada had to face the tournament hosts from China. In a few months time, Canada will open the Women’s World Cup with a group-stage game against the Chinese at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.

Before the BaoAn Cup, Canadian women’s team coach John Herdman mused that he could approach the game against China in one of two ways — he could play an experimental lineup that might keep the Chinese guessing all the way to June, or play a strong, first-choice team and get the psychological edge by beating the Chinese in their own stadium.

Canada won the game 2-1, with obviously first-choice striker Christine Sinclair scoring twice — one from the penalty spot. Herdman chose to start a strong lineup at least in terms of defending and attacking. But without the services of midfielders Sophie Schmidt and Diana Matheson, he had youngsters Jessie Fleming and Josee Belanger in the mix. Stephanie Labbe started in goal — and Erin McLeod has established herself as the clear No. 1; we’d expect to see McLeod playing the Chinese at the WWC. But, even though youngsters Fleming, Belanger and attacker Janine Beckie got significant minutes, you couldn’t guarantee that those wouldn’t be players you’d see facing China in June.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
2

Canada will send just 13 allocated players to NWSL in 2015

NWSL-Logo-516x340The Canadian Soccer Association will use only 13 of its available 16 allocation slots in NWSL this season.

Since the launch of NWSL, the CSA has paid the salaries of up to 16 Canadian players in that league, guaranteeing them slots in the top pro circuit in North America. On Wednesday, the list of allocated players for the 2015 season was announced, and there were only 13 names on it. (Find the list at the bottom of the document).

The CSA confirmed that it retained the ability to allocate up to 16 players in 2015. A CSA representative told us that some of the player who could have been allocated have chosen instead to pursue other opportunities outside of NWSL.

According to the CSA, “Canadian National Team players will remain in the Centralized Development Program to begin and train in that environment throughout the season, but will have the opportunity to participate in the first three to four NWSL matches before the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The NWSL will also a take brief 12-day break during the group stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada.”

Midfielder Desiree Scott, who left NWSL last season to play in England with Notts County, is not on the allocation list. In the current issue of Plastic Pitch, she said that she will decide where she will go after the Women’s World Cup, but was enthusiastic over a possible return to England. Interestingly, Rhian Wilkinson, who withdrew herself from the NWSL last season, will return in 2015.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share
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.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share