Tuesday, April 29, 2008

¡Confirmação!

We've got Brazil on our minds!

The CP seems a source reputable enough to confirm my earlier rumour mongering:

Brazil to play soccer friendlies against Canada, Venezuela in US
17 hours ago

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil will play friendlies against Canada and Venezuela in the United States in May and June.

The five-time world champions will face Canada in Seattle on May 31, and Venezuela in Boston on June 6, the Brazilian soccer confederation said Monday.

They will be Brazil's third and fourth friendlies this year. It beat Ireland 1-0 in Dublin on Feb. 6, and defeated Sweden by the same score in London on March 26.

The matches will take place before Brazil's World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay on June 14 and
archrival Argentina on June 17.

Seattle's a bit far. Why can't they do these things somewhere closer like Minneapolis, or Grand Forks?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sightings / sitings

You'll have to pardon this ridiculous attempt at headline punning, but my head is still a bit light from an intense bike ride. Deal with it.

There are rumours of sightings of the new 2008 Canada shirt in stores. I can't confirm or deny these, but I can provide you with a picture (better than Zapruder-film quality, but not by much) of the new duds.
The jersey is hanging over the table. If you're questioning your eyesight, and asking yourself whether those are, in fact, polka dots, stop right now! The dots are from the future, and are like the Breathe Right strips of armpits.

The picture was taken at a press conference finally confirming Canada's home date against St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The match will be in Montreal on Friday, June 20th.

An article out today suggests that, assuming all favourites qualify, possibly 2 of the 3 home dates in the group stage will also be held at Saputo stadium. To wit:
Le stade Saputo accueillera les matchs qualificatifs du Canada contre Saint- Vincent-et-les-Grenadines et contre le Honduras, tout en ayant de bonnes chances de se voir aussi confier l'affiche la plus alléchante contre le Mexique.

[. . .]

Le premier, contre la Jamaïque, serait disputé au BMO Field de Toronto, le 20 août. Le second, contre le Honduras, aurait lieu au stade Saputo, le 6 septembre.

Le troisième et dernier, contre le Mexique, se déroulerait au stade du Commonwealth à Edmonton, le 15 octobre. C'est le site où les critères de rentabilité prennent le dessus puisqu'on peut accueillir 59 000 spectateurs au domicile des Eskimos.

Ce dernier rendez-vous n'est cependant pas coulé dans le ciment puisque les Eskimos accueillent les Lions de la Colombie-Britannique à leur domicile albertain, le 17 octobre.

For those of you not fluent in the language of love, allow me to translate:
Stade Saputo will host the qualifying matches against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Honduras, with a good chance of also the most attractive fixture against Mexico.

The first match [of qualifying], against Jamaica, will be contested at BMO Field in Toronto, on August 20th. The second, against Honduras, will take place at Stade Saputo on September 6th.

The third and last, against Mexico, will unfold at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, on October 15th. It's the most potentially profitable site, as the home of the Eskimos seats 59,000 spectators.

This last match, however, is not set in cement because the Eskimos are hosting the B.C. Lions on October 17th.
The article goes on to talk about possible conflicts regarding practice times and the quality of the pitch.

Take all that for what it's worth. Announcements this far in advance tend never to be set in stone, but if you've got money, you may have all the more reason to travel to Montreal (the only Canadian city larger than my own that I have never visited).

Keep fighting the good fight.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oh my!

Hey, gang. It's been a while. Before I deliver the meat, the piece de resistance of today's post, let me offer the following by way of explanation.

You see, at the beginning of the month I changed my work commute from a comfortable two-legged bus ride (that's a bus jaunt with a downtown transfer) to a two-wheeled sweaty grime-filled early morning (and late afternoon) cycle. So my prime blogging hours, which tend to correspond with the beginning of most people's prime dinner hours, have lately been spent in a more recuperative, and contemplative, post-ride state. My desire to shoot the shit, as it were, was somewhat lessened.

I feel that I snapped out of it a little this evening. My homeward journey was delayed by about 4 hours for a dinner invitation, and I was enjoying a rather pleasant cruise through the large semi-urban park in my city. So idyllic was the scene that, I shit you not, two Canada geese glided over my head just as I turned to gaze at 7 or 8 deer grazing in the cricket field.

This grabbed my attention for a few seconds, but the moment I returned my attention to the road, I had my first eye-large insect encounter of the riding season. Whether it was a large fly or a rock hard moth, I salute it for being out so early, even though it will surely be killed soon by a frost. In the meltier weeks I came home from my ride covered in mud and 6 months of street grime, but that seems a pleasure compared to six legs and a few wings in the eye. But the incident has jolted me from my non-blogging reverie, so I can bring you this.

Canada-Brazil! And Canada-Argentina!

Let's start with Brazil. This is but a rumour, but it's a rumour that has made it into the slightly vaunted world of print journalism. From the Seattle Times, buried in a report about the China-Mexico friendly in that city:

Next up, Brazil?

Seattle appears a likely destination for Brazil's national team, and soon, according to sources close to the situation who did not want to be identified.

The opponent would be Canada and the match would take place in the first part of June. Contract negotiations are ongoing.

Brazil is a five-time World Cup champion, most recently winning the title in 2002.


The words you are looking for are "Holy shit!" Of course, you can point out that since this event is at a neutral site, it is clearly a promoter looking to make money. And you can say that this is likely an Olympic warmup for Brazil's U23 side. But the early June date in question had first been scheduled for a friendly with Haiti, and then Guatemala, but even those Central American shitbaggers (who cancelled on us in January to play Argentina) would have to admit that our new dance partners are a step up.

Canada has played Brazil before, with surprising success, at different age groups, most recently a 3-game friendly tour prior to last year's U20 tournament. The result isn't all that important, but a high quality opponent should have the boys primed for a much easier set of matches later in June with St. VAG.


Now for Argentina. This goes second, if only for the fact that this is an age group friendly, and the De Rosario's, De Guzman's and Stalteri's of the world won't be involved. Google News doesn't turn up anything for this one, but the Voyageurs thread on the topic includes a poster for the event (from the Russian promoter of all Argentinian friendlies -- don't ask) and sales start soon, so it appears to be the real deal.

Being an U20 match it doesn't excite me as much, although any time the boys play on home soil is a good thing.

The real announcement we're all waiting for is when and where the home leg of the St. VAG qualifier will be played (the scuttlebutt is Friday night in Montreal). I'm too poor to be making travel plans, but I would like to get my television watching and drinking plans for that weekend in some semblance of order well in advance.


Stay tuned for news on these matches and others. It's looking to be an exciting summer of soccer. And TFC just won a game, so it must be well into June by now (ZING!).

Monday, April 07, 2008

Qualifying groups: Canada shafted?

As promised, a look at how the aggregate CONCACAF seedings break down by group:

Country Rk
Group 1
USA 2
Guatemala 7
Trinidad & Tobago 10
Cuba 11
Average 7.5


Group 2
Mexico 1
Jamaica 8
Honduras 3
Canada 5
Average 4.25


Group 3
Costa Rica 4
Guyana 13
Panama 6
Haiti 7
Average 7.5


Of course, these are only the expected groups. Upsets are possible in the preliminary round, although it is the lower ranked sides (Cuba, T&T, Guyana, for example) that are more likely to be knocked off, further weakening the already weaker groups.

I can only bitch about this so much. When it comes right down to it, Canada needs to be able to beat all of the teams in its group (with the possible exception of Mexico) and whether that happens early on or in the Hex doesn't matter all that much. I'll keep doing this periodically, if only to satisfy my spreadsheet fetish, but it's becoming clear to me that the games on the field are what I find interesting.


In other news, while Canada's U23 squad failed to qualify for Beijing, the ladies are a step away. I don't devote much of my attention to women's soccer, but I'll be sure to tune in if they make it to the Olympics. A few members of the team are pretty easy on the eyes, which doesn't hurt one bit.

You can catch the match on the ever-awesomer CBC Sports online stream Wednesday night.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Concacaf Rankings: April

I ran a first edition of this feature back in February, hoping to make it a monthly thing. Clearly I haven't been able to abide by my schedule ("Introducing a new feature, to appear on the second Monday of every month.")

My attention during the middle of March, however, was elsewhere. I don't think I've disappointed too many people by not abiding by that timetable.

Here is another edition of how the Concacaf sides measure up, again according to fifa, elo, ziaian and roon ba.

concacaf rank fifa elo ziaian roon ba aggregate
rk country zonal overall zonal overall zonal overall zonal overall zonal overall
1 Mexico 1 16 1 11 1 12 2 16 1.25 13.75
2 United States 2 28 2 18 2 19 1 13 1.75 19.5
3 Honduras 3 43 3 41 3 41 3 31 3 39
4 Costa Rica 6 72 4 52 4 52 4 61 4.5 59.25
5 Canada 4 62 5 56 5 65 5 65 4.75 62
6 Panama 5 69 6 67 6 69 6 70 5.75 68.75
7 Guatemala 8 95 9 85 7 81 9 86 8.25 86.75
8 Jamaica 10 103 7 70 8 87 8 83 8.25 85.75
9 Haiti 9 97 8 75 10 93 7 80 8.5 86.25
10 Trinidad and Tobago 7 93 10 86 9 91 10 88 9 89.5
11 Cuba 11 112 11 87 12 105 11 91 11.25 98.75
12 El Salvador 13 128 12 110 11 100 12 107 12 111.25
13 Guyana 12 113 13 127 14 154 13 120 13 128.5
14 Barbados 14 137 14 129 15 156 14 126 14.25 137
15 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 16 142 15 134 13 148 16 132 15 139
16 Grenada 20 157 17 153 16 163 15 128 17 150.25
17 Suriname 19 155 16 149 17 164 17 147 17.25 153.75
18 St. Kitts and Nevis 18 150 20 169 19 168 20 167 19.25 163.5
19 Antigua and Barbuda 15 140 22 172 21 172 22 175 20 164.75
20 Bermuda 17 146 19 168 20 169 26 181 20.5 166
21 Netherlands Antilles 22 163 21 170 22 174 19 164 21 167.75
22 Belize 25 176 24 179 23 176 18 163 22.5 173.5
23 Dominican Republic 23 166 23 178 25 179 21 174 23 174.25
24 St. Lucia 30 185 18 166 18 165 27 185 23.25 175.25
25 Nicaragua 27 180 25 181 24 177 23 176 24.75 178.5
26 Puerto Rico 24 168 28 191 30 198 24 178 26.5 183.75
27 Dominica 28 181 26 185 27 189 25 179 26.5 183.5
28 Cayman Islands 29 183 27 189 26 187 30 202 28 190.25
29 Turks and Caicos Islands 21 160 32 213 29 195 31 203 28.25 192.75
30 British Virgin Islands 31 193 29 193 28 193 28 194 29 193.25
31 Bahamas 26 178 31 198 32 204 29 196 29.5 194
32 Aruba 33 202 30 195 31 201 32 205 31.5 200.75
33 US Virgin Islands 34 202 33 215 34 209 33 218 33.5 211
34 Anguilla 32 199 34 219 35 215 34 220 33.75 213.25
35 Montserrat 35 202 35 220 33 207 35 225 34.5 213.5

Some analysis, perhaps, in the days to come.