NASL Archive

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Weak Canadian dollar is bad news for Canadian soccer franchises

loonFor some businesses — a weak Canadian dollar is a good thing.

Professional sports is definitely not one of them. The Canadian dollar flirted with the US 80-cent mark on Thursday. And, the currency plunge will soon be hurting the bottom lines of Canadian MLS and NASL teams.

MLS and NASL teams aren’t forthcoming about the terms of their contracts. But the MLS Players Union sheds some light on how the salaries are paid out. According to MLSPU Executive Director Bob Foose: “All contracts are calculated in U.S. Dollars, players can then choose to have them paid in either, or a combination.”

So, according to the union, it’s the player’s (or agent’s) call when it comes to determining if the cheques are paid in American or Canadian dollars. And, it’s hard to imagine a player not choosing to get paid in the more stable currency — the Yankee dollar. In the NHL, where there are seven teams out of 30 are Canadian, contracts are paid out in U.S. figures — including Canadian players on Canadian teams.

Toronto FC has confirmed that all MLS salaries are in US dollars.

The salaries we see published by the MLS Players Union are all in American dollars. So, if Toronto FC has Designated Player Michael Bradley on for an MLSPU-reported salary of $6.5 million, that’s American dollars. So, as of Thursday’s exchange rate, Bradley’s salary is now at nearly CDN$8.05 million, and going up (in Canadian currency) as the loonie plummets.

Try this as a comparison: At the start of the 2014 MLS season, the Canadian dollar was at 90.2 cents US. So, a year ago, Bradley’s contract was worth about $7.2 million in Canadian bucks. This year, it’s over $8 million. And that’s all because of the plunging dollar.
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Back in the fold: Zebie signs deal with FC Edmonton

"Friendly Match"Allan Zebie didn’t take the most direct route to an FC Edmonton contract. But he got there.

On Thursday, the Eddies announced that the France-born, Canada-raised fullback — who played with Canada’s U-20 side in 2013 — has been signed. Zebie, now 21, joined the FCE Academy in 2012 but left to explore options in Europe. He had trials with Rangers, a club that once employed FCE coach Colin Miller (and is still close to his heart) and Leeds United. In 2014, Zebie returned to Edmonton and spent much of the season training with the Eddies.

Zebie said he only spent a week at Leeds, but had a positive first three days with Rangers. And then Murphy’s Law came into play.

“I was supposed to be there for a week, I was there, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then they asked me if I could stay another week. But then I got injured.”

Zebie hoped to get back to Rangers once he got healthy, but a deal never worked out.
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FCE fall-season opener conflicts with WWC final: How NASL blew the fall schedule

NASL_logo_previewThe NASL fall schedule came out on Tuesday. And one game sticks out like a sore thumb.

And that’s FC Edmonton’s fall season opener, which will go July 5 at 2 p.m. (local time) against the San Antonio Scorpions. Considering that the game still occurs in the Women’s World Cup window — the money is on that being one of the two fall-season games that will be hosted in Fort McMurray, though the club isn’t expected to confirm those dates till next week.

Oh, did I mention the World Cup window? Actually, the game will happen on the same day as the Women’s World Cup final. The FC Edmonton-San Antonio game kicks off just three hours before the big game at BC Place goes forward.

By playing on the same day as the Women’s World Cup Final, whether it be in Edmonton or Fort McMurray, the Eddies will likely be largely ignored that day. And, flights from Alberta to Vancouver are short in duration and plentiful in supply. So, chances are more than a few Alberta-based fans who could have been at the Eddies game will be in Vancouver for the big final. (Now, those odds are lessened if the game is placed in Fort Mac — as it will likely be treated as a special event).
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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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FC Edmonton signs Icelandic midfielder Oskar Orn Hauksson

Reykjavik's Oskar Orn Hauksson, left.

Reykjavik’s Oskar Orn Hauksson, left.

Last year in Edmonton, Iceland was all the rage. After direct-flight service to Reykjavik was launched, there were Icelandic festivals in the Alberta capital, Iceland-themed scavenger hunts, and even the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunlaugsson, came to visit. Pretty well everyone in Edmonton was either going to Iceland or knew someone who was going to Iceland. It had replaced the all-inclusive in Mexico as our vacation destination of choice.

It’s 2015, and Iceland has yet to show any signs of jumping the shark. On the day the Oscar nominations were made, the Eddies made their own Oskar announcement.

On Thursday, FC Edmonton announced that Iceland national-team midfielder Oskar Orn Hauksson will join the team on season-long loan from KR Reykjavik. The FCE front office confirmed that Hauksson cannot be recalled by Reykjavik during the term of the loan.

Hauksson started all but two matches for Reykjavik in 2014. He scored four goals. He played for Reykjavik in a 2012 Champions League qualifier against HJK Helsinki, and has also spent time with Norwegian side, Sandnes Ulf — a team which once employed Edmonton’s Tosaint Ricketts.
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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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4

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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Boakai the sole Eddie to make Canada’s U-20 roster

Hanson Boakai  PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Hanson Boakai
PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Hanson Boakai will be going to the CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica, but he’ll be the only FC Edmonton player making the trip.

The 18-year-old FC Edmonton midfielder was on coach Rob Gale’s final roster for the U-20 CONCACAF Championship, which is a qualifying tournament for the 2015 U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Canada begins the tournament with a Jan. 10 match against Haiti; but its group-stage fortunes will likely hinge on the result of the Jan. 12 match against Mexico.

But two other FCE prospects, striker Sadi Jalali and defender Mark Aleksic, who had received long looks from Gale in previous U-20 camps, didn’t make the final cut. But, it needs to be noted that this generation of U-20 players is arguably the deepest this country has produced. It will feature the likes of Cyle Larin, who could be a top MLS SuperDraft pick if he chooses to go that route, and Toronto FC striker Jordan Hamilton. Whitecaps keeper Marco Carducci is already a member of his club’s senior roster. Luca Gasparotto is playing at Airdrie in Scotland, and midfielder Michael Petrasso is on loan to Notts County in England.
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Afternoon delight: Day games, Colin Miller’s pitch, sell Matt Van Oekel on move to FC Edmonton

Matt Van Oekel

Matt Van Oekel

FC Edmonton keeper John Smits won the NASL Golden Glove award by posting a league-best 0.90 goals against average. He finished just slightly ahead of Minnesota United’s Matt Van Oekel, who came in with a 0.95 GAA for the league’s best team over the course of the combined spring and fall seasons.

Now, the two are teammates. On Thursday, the Eddies announced the acquisition of Van Oekel.

“I am looking forward to working with John,” Van Oekel said Thursday. “John is an excellent goalkeeper. I know that there are some things that I can learn from him, and I think there are some things that he can learn from me.”

The Eddies also have Canadian keepers Tyson Farago, who earned a team-of-the-week nomination when he made his lone start in the final week of the season. Christian Kaiswatum, promoted from the academy ranks in 2014, is the fourth keeper.

With Smits and Van Oekel in the fold, FCE has clearly put itself way ahead of the NASL pack when it comes to goalkeeping depth. This is one department where Edmonton ranks at the top of the league.

“He is arguably the best goalkeeper in the North American Soccer League (NASL),” FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller said in a release. “This is also a great signing for John Smits, Tyson Farago and Christian Kaiswatum — they will be able to work with someone who is experienced and knows the league very well. The competition for places also really heats up with his addition. I’m very excited about Matt’s decision to come to Edmonton.”
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PLASTIC PITCH 4 is out today!

10349900_1008071179208840_1372189140274955851_nIssue 4 of Plastic Pitch is out today!

What will you find inside?

• We profile Canadian keeper John Smits, winner of the NASL’s Golden Glove award;

• We sit down with Desiree Scott to talk about her decision to leave NWSL for England, and how she feels about Canada’s preparations for the Women’s World Cup

• Canadians in indoor soccer; a look at the Milwaukee Wave and its Canadian coach, Giuliano Oliviero, and its Canadian star player, Ian Bennett. And we look at how the new Major Arena Soccer League could finally stabilize the pro indoor game in North America

• We look at the birth, successes and trials of League1 Ontario.
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