Mexico Archive

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Canada’s U-17s fail to take advantage of chance to make up goal-difference gap

2015-CONCACAF-U17-Championship-logoThere’s an old sports adage that tells us that we shouldn’t criticize the wins.

But, for Canada’s U-17 team, the 3-1 win over Saint Lucia Monday at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Honduras comes about as close as we can get to the win that you’re not 100 per cent happy about.

Canada went into the game tied on points atop the Group B standings with Mexico, but trailed El Tri by five on goal difference. To improve the odds of winning the group, Canada didn’t just need to beat Saint Lucia, but throttle the islanders. Daniel Sagno, Duwayne Ewart and Ballou Tabla scored for Canada in a game it expected to win by more than two.

“I think there was an intensity level we didn’t have and I don’t understand that,” Canadian coach Sean Fleming said after the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Canada has left: How it can qualify for U-17 World Cup

2015-CONCACAF-U17-Championship-logoSo, after Friday’s encouraging (and maybe just a bit surprising) 1-1 draw with Mexico, Canada is sorta tied with El Tri at the top of the six-team Group B table at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. Both team have two wins and one draw.

But Mexico’s goal difference is +8, the Canadians are just three goals to the good.

To recap: Under the new format, the top team in the group gets an automatic entry into the U-17 World Cup. The second- and third-place finishers will play win-and-in playoff matches that also include the second- and third-place teams from Group A (but, under the new rules, they don’t necessarily cross over; the four teams would be ranked based on the points they got in the group stage; then it’s 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3).

Costa Rica and Panama have six points each, while Mexico and Canada each have seven. But the Costa Ricans and Panamanians have to play each other, so we know that one or the other (or both, if they draw) won’t get maximum points out of their remaining two matches.

So Canada knows this: Win one of its remaining two games, and it will be guaranteed a top-three spot and, at worst, a playoff game. (That’s because Canada already beat Costa Rica and wins any potential tiebreaker with the Ticos). But, there is still the chance to actually win the group, but goal difference is the issue.
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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.
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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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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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FCE’s Boakai and Jalali to join national U-20 side for the Milk Cup

Dale-Farm-Milk-Cup-logoFC Edmonton teenagers Hanson Boakai and Sadi Jalali will be leaving the team on Wednesday.

Why? So they can join the Canadian U-20 squad for the Milk Cup, a tournament to be held in Northern Ireland from July 27-August 1. Canada will face Mexico, China and the Irish hosts.

And, for Boakai and Jalali, it’s a chance to audition for Canadian squad going into the cycle for the 2015 U-20 World Cup qualification process. For Jalali, who scored his first career NASL goal on a penalty at the end of the spring season, it’s not a surprise to be named to the team. Much of the U-20 squad will be made up of the players who played at the U-17 World Cup in 2012 — and Jalali was a part of that team. A concussion forced him to miss the most recent U-20 national-team camp, but he was always a player you’d have thought would be in the rotation.

But, Boakai was part of the U-17 World Cup team in 2014; so he’s moving up in terms of age group. But, as arguably the best player of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship, and a player who has already earned a trial stint at Fortuna Dusseldorf, his stock may be higher at this moment than any other youth player in this country’s system.

“I’m one of the youngest ones, it will be a new family.”
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Canada loses U-17 Women’s CONCACAF final in penalties

Marie Mychele Metivier

Marie Mychele Metivier

Because both Canada and Mexico had already qualified for the U-17 Women’s World Cup by winning their semifinal matches, the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship final had the feel of a friendly.

After both teams played to a 0-0 draw in Jamaica Saturday, they went right to penalty kicks. No extra time (which is common practice at the U-17 level, as you don’t want teens playing 120 minutes). And the Mexicans triumphed in the shootout, 4-2 — as El Tri and the Canadian women shared in the schadenfreude of knowing that their American neighbours weren’t going to the World Cup.

“I’m really, really proud of the girls. If you look at what this team’s about, it’s about future national team players,” said Canadian Head Coach Bev Priestman on the Canada Soccer website. “I think losing on penalties it’s hard for the girls but ultimately, there have been some girls who stepped up in this tournament and are knocking on the door.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Canada qualifies for the Women’s U-17 World Cup with win over host Jamaicans

Marie Mychele Metivier

Marie Mychele Metivier

Canada will join Mexico and Costa Rica as CONCACAF representatives at the U17 Women’s World Cup.

As winners of the CONCACAF semifinals, held Thursday in Jamaica, Canada and Mexico earned their World Cup invites. Costa Rica qualifies automatically as the host nation.

The Jamaican supporters packed the stadium in Montego Bay for the semifinal against Canada. To rally the home nation, there was no charge to watch the game.

But the Canadian scored within three minutes to give the hosts a sober reality check, and went on to a comfortable 5-0 win.

And, in the irony of ironies, the Americans, who beat Canada in their final-group stage game to earn the right to play lower-ranked Mexico in the other semifinal, suffered a major upset. Instead of taking advantage of Mexico, the Americans lost in penalties after a 1-1 draw.
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Banner day for women’s soccer: Herdman extension, Calgary women’s program unveiled

Erin McLeod

Erin McLeod

This has been an absolute banner day for women’s soccer in Canada.

The Canadian Soccer Association announced that coach John Herdman extended his contract. He is now set until 2020, taking him through not only the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Canada, but the 2019 tournament as well. As well, a friendly was announced for Vancouver on Nov. 24, with Mexico providing the opposition — giving the fans in British Columbia to once again show the amazing level of support they provided during the Olympic qualifying tournament.

And, FC Edmonton finalized details of its elite youth women’s program that it will run in Calgary, following up on the women’s program that has been launched in Edmonton.

As for Herdman’s signing, the deal ends speculation that he might jump for the vacant England job.

“I was talking to my mom last week, and she told me that John might not be coming back,” said national-team keeper Erin McLeod, who was in Calgary Thursday for the launch of the elite women’s team. “I almost had a heart attack. He’s been so phenomenal for this group. For me, especially, I can’t imagine playing for anyone else.”

And she said that Herdman’s extension will bring some stability to the program.

“We don’t want to be known as that team that won the bronze medal once upon a time,” McLeod said.
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Canada improves its performance, but still falls short of Mexico

Colin Miller PHOTO: MEXSPORT/CANADA SOCCER

Colin Miller PHOTO: MEXSPORT/CANADA SOCCER

The last time Colin Miller saw someone dive to win a penalty in a high-profile game, he was kicked out of the match (and later fined) when Edmonton FC lost 3-2 in an Amway Canadian Championship semifinal game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

This time, however, Miller was a bit more diplomatic as he saw Marco Fabian con his way to earn Mexico a penalty in their 2-0 win over Canada at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.

“It’s not a penalty. I’m biting my lips here as hard as I possibly can,” Miller said, sporting a wry smile. “What I’m saying and what I’m feeling are two totally different things, I can assure you.”

Fabian’s penalty win that he then converted himself in the 57th minute, doubled the Mexicans’ advantage after they had taken the lead in the 41st minute on Raul Jimenez’s header off a corner kick.
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