United States Archive

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A long MLS labour stoppage could act as a massive equalizer for Gold Cup, early World Cup qualifiers

2015_CONCACAF_Gold_CupAs soccer supporters in Canada, we certainly don’t want the MLS season to be interrupted by a long labour stoppage.

Even though the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLS and the MLSPU expired at the end of January, the sides realistically have until MLS First Kick in early March to hammer out a new deal in order to ensure that a full season can be started on time. But the sides remain on separate poles when it comes to the make-or-break issue: Free agency. And, with every report of a cancelled bargaining session or lack of progress, the worries increase that a labour stoppage will disrupt the season.

Let’s for a second imagine that we see a nuclear option: A labour impasse that stretches for a significant period of time. The Gold Cup comes up in July; Canada’s World Cup qualifiers begin a month before that. For Canada, this Gold Cup holds special significance as it acts as our qualifier for the 100th anniversary Copa America, which is set for the United States in 2016.

So, if MLS isn’t playing games, how would it affect the Canadian program?

Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani said that this country’s national team would end up faring a lot better than some of the competition.

“From the technical side, there are a handful of players in MLS who could be part of the team that would be at the Gold Cup. And it would hurt if those players weren’t playing. But, when you look at all the countries in CONCACAF, we might be one of the ones least affected by an MLS work stoppage. Certainly, it would not affect us like it would the United States, where the majority of their players play in MLS.”
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U20WWC: Our one-on-one interview with Canadian striker Janine Beckie

14441605254_65c9d3b977_kAt this time last year, Janine Beckie was looking forward to the U-20 Women’s World Cup, as a member of the U.S. national program. But, now, she’s a big part of Canada’s U-20 side, and scored the winning goal against North Korea that put her team into Saturday’s quarter-final match against Germany.

The sister of Ottawa Fury defender Drew Beckie, Janine was born in Saskatchewan but moved to Colorado with her family when she was very young. She has scored 26 goals in 45 NCAA matches for Texas Tech. Her brother played for Canada at the qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics — and most of their extended family is still in Saskatchewan.

After Beckie arrived in Edmonton with the U-20 team, we sat down for a one-on-one interview. Canada plays Germany this Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

What went through your mind after you scored against North Korea?
It was obviously great to get the goal, but, in my mind, I was thinking ‘let’s keep the lead’ and ‘let’s go for another one to win this game.’ There were thousands of things running through my mind, but the biggest was let’s hold on and come out of this game with a win.
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With Canada booked for Commonwealth U20WWC quarter-final, the comparisons to 2002 will begin

Kadeisha Buchanan and her Canadian teammates will be jetting off to Edmonton.

Kadeisha Buchanan and her Canadian teammates will be jetting off to Edmonton.

47,784.

It is a number that’s special in Canadian soccer history. And it’s a number that we all knew would, sooner or be later, be used as measuring stick for this year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Now that Canada has booked itself a U20WWC quarter-final date with Germany at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, that number has become relevant. It represents a shining star in Canadian soccer history, and also puts so much pressure on the venue organizers.

It’s a long shot that 47,784 or more spectators will show up at Commonwealth on Saturday for the Canada-Germany quarter-final. But we know it will be the comparison that will be used by so many members of the Edmonton and the national media.

In 2002, when Canada first hosted a FIFA women’s youth tournament — it was then known as the U-19 Women’s World Championship — a city fell in love with a Canadian team that featured teenagers Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang. And, when the final pitted these loveable Canadians against the arch-enemy Americans, it was a perfect storm for ticket sales. The 47,784 supporters who showed up set a standard for international youth soccer — men or women — that hasn’t been matched since.
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While Canada loses its opener, Germans send a message to U20WWC field

Theresa Panfil

Theresa Panfil

After seeing the Germans and Americans square off in the Group B opener at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, I can tell Canadian fans this much. Now that Canada has lost its opener (1-0 to Ghana at BMO Field), the best it can realistically hope for out of Group A is to scrap its way into second place. And that will mean, unless the world turns topsy-turvy, Canada would face the Germans.

Gulp.

After an incident-filled first half which saw both teams miss golden chances, the Germans simply dominated the Americans in the second half. The score was 2-0, but it could have been — should have been — 4-2 or 6-3.

But, even if some great chances weren’t converted, there is no denying the Germans weren’t worth a two-goal margin in this tournament’s group of death, which also includes Brazil and China.

“I don’t say it very often, especially to my team, but I am very proud of them,” German coach Maren Meinert said through a translator after the match. “They gave everything and, regardless of the outcome, it was a very good game. They played as a team.”
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Canadian defender Buchanan sends the Americans message after message in Winnipeg

14139001652_c03df59259_zFor the Canadian women’s national team, Thursday’s friendly against the United States didn’t quite feel like a preparation for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Coach John Herdman decided to populate three-quarters of his back four with teenagers — players who could very well be playing for Canada at the coming U-20 Women’s World Cup before they get shots to play in the big senior tourney in 2015.

And a large, boisterous crowd in Winnipeg — kudos to the city for doing a great job getting butts in seats on a weekday evening on a night when there’s a full slate of NHL playoff action on the TV — saw Canada take a first-half lead, only to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Three teens — Kadeisha Buchanan, Sura Yekka and Rebecca Quinn — all went the full 90 for Canada. Herdman had said he needed to get his young players into friendlies against a-list opposition, but even Mr. Spock would have let out a yelp of surprise to see Canada decide to stare down Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux with a crew of teenagers.
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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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Canadian loss to Americans made all the worse because of Richards injury

Mika Richards

Mika Richards

It’s one thing to see a professional player down on the turf for a long period of time, and then stretchered off the field. But at least you can say to yourself that hey, that’s a pro on the field, (s)he knows the risks of playing the game. That’s why that person gets a paycheque.

But, when a teenage amateur player — on the field because of national pride and the chance to develop her young career — lays on the ground, it’s a lot harder to watch.

Canadian defender Mika Richards was on the turf for several minutes. And it put Canada’s 2-0 loss to the United States in a different light. Yes, Canadian keeper Rylee Foster made an outstanding double save on the ensuing American penalty kick but, with the game already lost, and Canada down to 10 players, it didn’t feel all that glorious. After all, these two teams’ final U-17 Women’s CONCACAF Championship group-stage game wasn’t a do-or-die affair; both had already qualified to move on.

Late in the match, after losing the ball to U.S. forward Mallory Pugh, Richards chased down her quarry from behind and tugged on the American’s jersey. Pugh went down, and in the process of going to the turf, her elbow looked to inadvertently crash against Richards’ face. But, replays showed that Richards was actually going down in pain before the contact was made. After the incident, Richards was motionless on the pitch for several minutes, being attended to by medical teams. Meanwhile, the referee placed the ball on the spot — after all, Richards did foul Pugh in the penalty area — and waited for the Jamaican hosts’ volunteer crews to take the injured player off the pitch. And, as Richards was strapped to the stretcher, she was sheepishly shown a yellow card for that initial shirt-tug.
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How we see the NWSL Final: Portland (Team Canada) vs. WNY Flash (Team USA)

Karina LeBlanc

Karina LeBlanc

Outside of the family members of Canadians Jodi-Ann Robinson and Bryanna McCarthy, its hard to imagine that too many people on this side of the border will be cheering for Western New York Flash to beat the Portland Thorns in Aug. 31’s NWSL final.

After all, the Flash is home to Abby Wambach, the player who reminded referee Christina Pedersen about the time-wasting rule in the 2012 Olympic semifinal between Canada and the United States. Pedersen’s ensuing call against Canadian keeper Erin McLeod shifted a game that Canada was winning 3-2 at the time — and helped the Americans get the game to extra time, where they won it. Wambach has further endeared herself to Canadian supporters with her criticism of the decision to play the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf, a move endorsed by FIFA and which was part of Canada’s bid package.

Wambach, whether she cares or not, is seen as about as anti-Canadian as a foreign sporting figure can be in this country. So, in our eyes, that makes her No. 1 seed Flash, which hosts the final thanks to a 2-0 semifinal win over Sky Blue FC, as the brash U-S-A! U-S-A! group.

Robinson and McCarthy are depth players for the Flash, so that Canadian cheer-for-our-own urge is lessened.

Meanwhile, even though Alex Morgan — who scored the U.S. winner in that Olympic semifinal — plays for Portland, it is clearly Canada’s team. Christine Sinclair didn’t score in the Thorns come-from-behind 3-2 extra-time semifinal win over FC Kansas City, but Canada’s all-time leading scorer netted eight times for Thorns this season.
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Herdman on Canada’s women’s team: I am looking for strikers

John Herdman

John Herdman

Wanted: Strikers. Requirement: Canadian passport or lineage (we’ll help with the passport).

That’s the clear message coming from Canadian women’s national team coach John Herdman. In a conference call with media Thursday, he said the country’s striker shortage is a massive problem.

“If anyone in Canada has players up front, there’s definitely some shirts available,” Herdman said.

Going into the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which will open in exactly two years at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, Herdman said he has a team that, based on the core of his roster, will have an average age of 31. He said that statistics show that the World Cup champs usually have an average player age of 27 to 28. He needs to bring youth into the team, and he desperately needs to find secondary scoring behind Canada’s all-time leading goal-getter, Christine Sinclair.
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As Canada defends against charges of racism, Quebec flouts turban policy

quebec colourOn Monday, Canadian-American forward Sydney Leroux tweeted and accused Canadian fans of using racial slurs against her. It was later clarified that she wasn’t talking about Sunday’s emotionally-charged women’s friendly at BMO Field between Canada and the United States, but the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver.

The U.S. Soccer Federation made no complaint in 2012, so Leroux’s accusations of racism in Canada should blow over. Or, should have blown over. But, just hours before Leroux’s tweet, the Quebec Soccer Federation voted to ignore a Canadian Soccer Association directive, which asks its provincial members to allow Sikh headgear on the pitches.

That directive was issued to force Quebec’s hand, as the provincial organization continued to ban turbans, even though they’re allowed in other parts of the country.

So, it’s hard for Canadians to be indignant about racism claims when our second-largest province makes a high-profile decision that makes headlines around the world. Seriously, you Google “turban” and “soccer” and you’ll find pages and pages of links to stories about the Quebec turban ban.

Awesome, in a way that a car crash is awesome.
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