FC Dallas Archive

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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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2

Catching up: Canada’s U-17 loss, Week 2 of the Quintessentially Canadian Power Rankings

Steven Vitoria

Steven Vitoria

The last few days have been a whirlwind; and it’s meant I’ve had to a take the last 72 hours away from soccer.

Getting the fifth issue of Plastic Pitch to release required a massive push last week; as well, I have until the end of the month to finish the final draft of my latest novel for young adults. And, I am writing this post from an Austin, Tex. hotel room; last night, I attended the premiere of Malcolm Ingram’s new documentary, Out to Win, at the SXSW Film Festival.

(Full disclosure: I’m a partner in OTW’s production company.)

I got the chance to meet some incredible athletes, both Canadian and American, who have come out; and, the film is a reminder — to paraphrase Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler — of the power sport has when it comes to social change. It was my pleasure to be in the company of Dave Kopay, the NFL player who, in the early ‘70s, was the first “out” athlete; Canadian women’s hockey goalkeeper Charline Labonte and her partner, Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis; retired NBA centre Jason Collins and Wade Davis, former NFLer and the director of You Can Play.

And, well, when in Austin, let’s just say the whole town carries a mesquite smoke smell. So, yes, the barbecue is fantastic.

But, I did want to take the chance to catch up on a couple of things: The elimination of Canada’s U-17s from the U-17 World Cup picture and the second instalment of The 11’s Quintessentially Canadian Power Rankings. (For more on the methodology, click here).
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13

Introducing our new quintessentially Canadian MLS power rankings

mls-primary_colorLong-time Canadian international Iain Hume had an interesting take on Saturday’s “Canadian” MLS season-opener at BC Place between the Whitecaps and Toronto FC.

In a tweet delivered just as the game kicked off, Hume used the #farce hashtag to sum up his feelings about the game. With each team starting just one Canadian — Russell Teibert for the Whitecaps and Jonathan Osorio in TFC red — Hume wanted his followers to know he wasn’t happy.

But, looking at the rosters throughout MLS, you can’t help escape the feeling that Hume could tweet out #farce week after week. And, in the spring issue (#5) of Plastic Pitch, we’re going to take a cold, hard look at the leagues we share at the United States and how we’re treated. The issue, which will be out later in March, will ask the hard question: Does being in MLS or NASL or NWSL really benefit Canadian soccer?

And, in keeping with that theme, we’re going to launch a new sorta power-rankings system. Sure, most power rankings are just throwaway click-bait; the kinda of mind-numbing stuff we promise ourselves we’ll never have to write again each time we bang one out.

But this one is different. Throughout the year, we’re going to rank MLS teams (and NASL, too, once the season starts in April) on how many minutes they give to Canadians. We’re not going to wax poetic about U-23 teams or developmental sides; for Canadian soccer to move forward, we need to see players regularly moving from developmental squad to first team, not just more and more Bryce Aldersons (and, look for our interview with Alderson in issue 5 of Plastic Pitch). We also don’t really care that some teams might have a Canadian warming the bench. To benefit our national program, we need our players getting first-team minutes.
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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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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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Dear MLS, please kill the No. 4 vs No. 5 playoff game dead

MLSlogoplayoffsFor a guy who writes about soccer as much as I do, loves the game as much as I do, I surprise myself about how many times I wonder if there are too many matches being played.

The world would be a better place without the League Cup (we get to see who the big clubs put on the bench today!), meaningless friendlies, North American summer tours by European clubs… They are like the cheapest of Scotch; too much exposure to these things, and you might get so turned off that you forsake the good stuff, too.

And, if Major League Soccer cared about the integrity of its playoff system, it would do the world a favour and jettison the No. 4 vs. No. 5 conference playoff games.

Wednesday’s match, which saw FC Dallas end the Whitecaps season with a 2-1 win, was another example of why the No. 4 vs. No. 5 playoff game is a massive issue. The announced attendance was 10,279. Almost Chivas bad. But, as anyone in Sports Marketing 101 would tell you, what do you expect when a team is expected to sell playoff tickets for a game that happens on a midweek evening, just three days after the regular season ends?
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0

PLASTIC PITCH 3 is available now! “The Walking Reds” on the cover!

PPFALL2014COVERThe third issue of PLASTIC PITCH, our national soccer magazine, is out as of right now.

How to get PLASTIC PITCH? If you’re a subscriber, just update the Plastic Pitch app in your Android or IOS device. If not, you can get the App and magazine through iTunes, Apple Newsstand, Google Play and Amazon.

Halloween is coming up, so we decided on a Halloween cover. “The Walking Reds” cover combines soccer and zombies. Why? Because soccer and zombies were meant to be together. And it looks cool.

What will you find inside?
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Fleming: U-17 squad going to World Cup “found its form and character in Panama”

Sean Fleming

Sean Fleming

Coach Sean Fleming made a couple of significant additions to the core of his U-17 national squad, but warned that anyone who wasn’t with the team when it played at the CONCACAF Championships in Panama will need to do a heck of a job.

On Thursday, the Canadian Soccer Association released a list of 24 players who will represent Canada at this October’s U-17 World Cup. Of the 24, 21 are on the proper roster, while three are alternates. While FIFA has been notified which three players are alternates, who can only play in order to replace an injured member of the main roster, Fleming wouldn’t reveal which three were on the outside of the bubble.

Fleming will take the Canadian squad for a pre-World Cup camp in the United Arab Emirates, which begins October 5. Canada will begin the tournament in Dubai on Oct. 19, with a match against Austria. Canada will also face Iran and Argentina.

And it will be interesting to see if FC Dallas fullback Eric Davies and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency midfielder Kianz Gonzales-Froese (who also spent time with FC Edmonton) can make it into the roster. Gonzales-Froese missed the CONCACAF Championships in Panama due to injury. The midfielder competed for his native Cuba — he was born in Havana, raised in Winnipeg — in the previous U-17 championship cycle, but is legal to play for Canada in the UAE.

But Fleming warned that the Whitecaps’ Cuban-Canadian won’t have it easy. He’ll have to win a job. After all, the squad that went to Panama achieved its goal of making it to the World Cup.

“The squad found its form and character in Panama,” Fleming said.
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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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