Canada Archive

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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.
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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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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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Coach Gale tries to ease the pressure on his U-20 players

14275595105_50b10f9dc2_mYou couldn’t shake the feeling that Rob Gale, the coach of the Canadian U-20 men’s team, was trying to keep the focus off the high-profile players on his roster.

After all, Cyle Larin is expected to go No. 1 in the MLS SuperDraft. In Hanson Boakai, he has an attacking midfielder who made a national splash when he outplayed guys 10 years his senior in the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship.

But, when Gale spoke the media Friday, ahead of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, he talked about rotating and managing his squad. He talked about all of his individual players as parts of the greater whole. And he warned off the media when it came to putting too much onto the shoulders of players like Larin and Boakai.

Gale said that, with the games coming fast and furious in Jamaica — beginning Jan. 10 when Canada faces Haiti — plans have been made to rotate the squad. He said plans have been made two or three games ahead of time to ensure that the players are as fresh as they can be.

“The players won’t be able to last that many games.”
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Canada’s latest roster is proof that there is no room at the inn for NASL players

Benito Floro

Benito Floro

If you’re a supporter of either the Ottawa Fury or FC Edmonton, you might be feeling that your teams got snubbed.

The roster for Canada’s upcoming friendlies with Iceland was released on Friday. With the European soccer season in full swing, only four players who play their professional soccer on that continent were called in. Iain Hume (Kerala Blasters) and Dejan Jakovic (Shimuzu J-Pulse) will make the trip from Asia to join the national team, which begins training January 12 in Florida. Canada plays Iceland on Jan. 16 and 19.

And a lot of the “North-American-based” majority of the roster is made up of unattached players, players from MLS academies, even League1 Ontario. The top U-20 players are with Rob Gale’s squad, as they prepare for the CONCACAF Championships.

Even when Floro faced the crunch of not having first- or second- or third-choice players readily available, he opted to ignore players on FC Edmonton and Ottawa. And that’s on a roster that looks like one where the coach has decided to bring in some players he has yet to see.

So, FCE’s John Smits, who won the 2014 NASL Golden Glove award for having the best goals-against average in the league, isn’t worthy of a call. Nor is FCE right back Edson Edward, widely regarded as one of the best fullbacks in the NASL — and proved late last season that he could also play a central midfield role.
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