Columbus Crew Archive

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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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3

MLS deserves praise for explaining why Morrow’s red card wasn’t rescinded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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4

Julian de Guzman says he is considering a couple of “concrete” offers from NASL clubs

Julian de Guzman, centre, is flanked by Canadian women's national-team players Emily Zurrer and Desiree Scott at the West Edmonton Mall.

Julian de Guzman, centre, is flanked by Canadian women’s national-team players Emily Zurrer and Desiree Scott at the West Edmonton Mall.

Julian de Guzman has played in Germany and Spain; he’s been a Designated Player in Major League Soccer.

Is his next stop the North American Soccer League?

The veteran Canadian national-team midfielder, at the West Edmonton Mall Friday for the launch of the new red Canada kit, said he hopes to have a new team at the end of March. He’ll be with the Canadian national team for its upcoming Florida camp and its March 27 friendly against Guatemala and its March 30 match at Puerto Rico.

He confirmed that the “most concrete” offers he has on the table come from a couple of NASL teams. He wouldn’t name which NASL clubs have put offers forward, but he said he’s giving them some serious consideration.
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5

Canadians need to applaud Akindele for his rookie-of-the-year award

Since he has only turned down a Canadian national team invite — and has yet to turn down the Canadian program entirely, it’s OK to applaud Tesho Akindele’s major MLS […]

Since he has only turned down a Canadian national team invite — and has yet to turn down the Canadian program entirely, it’s OK to applaud Tesho Akindele’s major MLS award win as a victory for soccer in this country.

Akindele, who was born in Calgary, but grew up in the United States, was named the MLS Rookie of the Year on Monday. Akindele scored seven goals and added three assists during the MLS regular season for FC Dallas, and scored a playoff goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Between Akindele and the Columbus Crew’s Ethan Finlay, that’s 18 MLS regular-season goals out of players who, ahem, could be playing for Canada. National team coach Benito Floro has been tracking both players, but Akindele made headlines by turning down the invite to join the Canadian squad for its most recent friendly against Panama.

In the most recent issue of Plastic Pitch(CLICK HERE), Akindele told Martin MacMahon that he was gutted by Canada’s 8-1 loss to Honduras that eliminated his birth nation from the 2014 World Cup qualifying process. At that time, Akindele was keen on playing for Canada.
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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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Garber hints that Canadian-player rules in MLS may change: Why we need to look at minutes played, not roster spots

Don Garber

Don Garber

In a Facebook chat with fans held on Monday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber was greeted with the thorny question about Canadian players in the league.

Francis Ghanimé asked him: “Will Canadian players ever stop counting as internationals for American clubs?”

And this was the answer from the commish.

“We are working on a new approach to our international player rules as they relate to Canada. Stay tuned.”

We have asked MLS for more clarification on the issue.

But, we do know the rules as they pertain to Canadians are on the radar. We also know the Canadian Soccer Association has lobbied MLS to changes the rules so Canadians are seen as domestic players, league wide. This would then put MLS on an equal footing with USL-PRO, which allows Canadians to be domestics on U.S. clubs.

Right now, the Canadian teams are required to each carry three Canadian players on their rosters. On the U.S. teams, Canadians are counted as international players and take up roster space that many American teams would prefer to give to players from, well, sexier parts of the soccer world. Meanwhile, on Canadian teams, Americans are seen as domestics.

The timing is interesting. We know CSA has been pushing for changes for a while. But, now, the CSA has gone public with its stated goal of having Canada’s own “Division 1A” (CLICK HERE or see issue 2 of Plastic Pitch), and reports continue that NASL, CFL owners and the CSA are discussing the formation of a Canadian division — something that NASL won’t deny, but says it simply can’t comment on… at this time.

So, pressure is no doubt building on MLS.
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0

Crew’s Oduro named MLS Player of the Week

Dominic Oduro

Dominic Oduro

With an assist and a goal, Columbus Crew forward Dominic Oduro was named MLS Player of the Week.

Oduro got the most votes out of the membership of the North American Soccer Reporters. His performance Sunday helped the Crew keep its playoff hopes alive, as the men in yellow got a 4-2 decision over FC Dallas.

Oduro set up Jairo Arrieta’s opener and then, later in the first half, finished his chance with a shot that went just inside the post. Oduro’s goal was the Crew’s third marker of the game, and would eventually go on to be the game winner.
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0

MLS slaps TFC’s Osorio with two-game ban; De Santis gets a game

Jonathan Osorio

Jonathan Osorio

The MLS disciplinary committee has come down hard on Toronto FC rookie midfielder Jonathan Osorio.

On Friday, the committee slapped Osorio for a two game suspension for kicking a ball off the head of New York Red Bulls defender Kosuke Kimura during last Saturday’s match in New Jersey, which the Reds lost by a 2-0 count.

In the second half, just after Kimura hit the turf and the whistle was blown for a foul, Osorio kicked a ball that was next to the Red Bulls’ fullback. The ball ricocheted off Kimura’s head and a shoving match ensued between the two teams.

The referee in charge of the match deemed that Osorio’s late kick didn’t warrant even a yellow card. The Disciplinary Committee disagreed, stating that it was a case of “violent conduct” that warranted a fine and a two-game ban.

The question is, did Osorio have time to pull out of his challenge? It’s one of those situations that’s actually muddied by the use of instant replay. By slowing it down in replay, it looks as if Osorio has more time to pull out of the challenge than he actually did — and the play looks more malicious in nature when it slows down.

In actuality, there might be at most a second and a half that went by between the time Kimura went down, the ensuing whistle, and the kick. Could an average human being put together an intent-to-injure thought in that short of a time-span? That’s the question.
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0

Schallibaum: Crew continues to be the Impact’s “bête noire”

Dominic Oduro

Dominic Oduro

With Sporting Kansas City enjoying a weekend off and New York Red Bulls hosting Toronto later Saturday, this game against the Columbus Crew was an opportunity for the Montreal Impact to at least reduce the number of teams with whom it was deadlocked atop the MLS Eastern Conference by at least one team.

Unable to make the most of its chances, the Impact went down to a 2-1 defeat, playing a half-fast game that saw it unable to capitalize on most of the opportunities created by its uptempo play in the opening half. And, the Impact allowed a pair of goals in the final 45 to drop only its second game at home this season.

“They’re our bête noire,” said head coach Marco Schallibaum after the match. “We’ve played them three times without winning.”

“There wasn’t a lot missing today,” he continued. “A centimetre’s difference here or there and things might have been different but the game’s like that. Even though we came away empty-handed today we are still on track to achieve the objectives we set at the beginning of the season.”
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Keane’s hat trick earns him MLS Player of the Week nod

Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane

It was a weekend of spectacular goals in MLS, from Marco Di Vaio’s rocket to the corner in Montreal, to Federico Higuain’s audacious chip in Columbus (sorry, Toronto FC fans, for rehashing that).

But, when it came to the player of the week vote, Robbie Keane stood apart from the crowd. His hat trick — with all of the goals coming in the second half — gave his Los Angeles Galaxy the chance to rally from behind and claim a 4-2 win over Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake.

Keane’s hat trick earned him the most first-place Player-of-the-Week votes from the members of the North American Soccer Reporters.

Keane began scoring when the Galaxy were down 1-0. He scored with a shot inside the post, on the volley and then finished it off with a chip.
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