Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Canada - Mexico, head to head

I've previously dug into the archives and had a look at Canada's all-time results against Honduras and Jamaica, the lesser of our semi-final qualifying round opponents. Digging into the Mexico results is a longer and more sobering task, so I put it off for a time. Mexico has bossed CONCACAF for quite a while now, and their results against Canada are evidence of that.

Canada visits Mexico on 10 September. The match is in Chiapa, not listed on the map.

History against Canada

As per usual, I hit up the RSSSF archives and the CSA page to cross-reference the results. One match was listed at RSSSF but not the CSA site, and is indicated in italics. It was part of a 3-team tournament called the NAFC Championship that was held twice in the 1940s, then again in 1990 (when Canada won), and for the last time in 1991, and the wikipedia page verifies that the match took place. Current MNT pool keeper Pat Onstad even started the match. Without any further ado, the results:

Date Location Result CAN MEX Competition
06/30/57 Mexico City, Mexico loss 0 3 WCQ
07/04/57 Mexico City, Mexico loss 0 2 WCQ
08/24/72 Toronto, ON loss 0 1 WCQ
09/05/72 Mexico City, Mexico loss 1 2 WCQ
10/10/76 Vancouver, BC win 1 0 WCQ
10/27/76 Toluca, Mexico draw 0 0 WCQ
10/22/77 Monterrey, Mexico loss 1 3 WCQ
10/18/80 Toronto, ON draw 1 1 WCQ
11/16/80 Mexico City, Mexico draw 1 1 WCQ
11/15/81 Tegucigalpa, Honduras draw 1 1 WCQ
12/06/83 Irapuato, Mexico loss 0 5 Friendly
04/27/86 Mexico City, Mexico loss 0 3 Friendly
10/06/87 Toluca, Mexico loss 0 4 Friendly
04/12/88 Victoria, BC win 1 0 Friendly
04/14/88 Vancouver, BC draw 1 1 Friendly
05/13/90 Vancouver, BC win 2 1 Friendly
03/14/91 Los Angeles, USA loss 0 3 Friendly
06/30/91 Los Angeles, USA loss 1 3 Gold Cup
04/25/93 Mexico City, Mexico loss 0 4 WCQ
05/09/93 Toronto, ON loss 1 2 WCQ
07/18/93 Mexico City, Mexico loss 0 8 Gold Cup
03/02/97 Mexico City, Mexico loss 0 4 WCQ
10/12/97 Edmonton, AB draw 2 2 WCQ
02/20/00 San Diego, USA win 2 1 Gold Cup
08/15/00 Mexico City, Mexico loss 0 2 WCQ
11/15/00 Toronto, ON draw 0 0 WCQ

Overall, playing against Mexico has been somewhat of a horror show. The numbers bear that out, with a 4-7-15 (win-draw-loss) record, and an all time goals/goals against mark of 16-57. I wish I could say that the bad results all came in friendlies and the Gold Cup, but that's not the case: in qualifying matches Canada has a 1-6-9 record.

If you're looking for a bright side, you need to look pretty hard. Canada has a respectable 4-5-4 record outside of Mexico (0-2-11 in Mexico!), 3-4-2 in Canada. Also, the association may have done well by choosing Edmonton as the host: Canada is unbeaten against Mexico in Western Canada (2-2-0).

I find it interesting that Canada hasn't played Mexico in almost 8 years. They met 3 times in 2000; twice during the dismal WCQ 2002 campaign. The other meeting was the memorable Gold Cup quarterfinal (Richard Hastings!!) which turned me on to following national team soccer in the first place.

Famous Mexicans

Now for the fun part. I hate to go with a wikipedia entry for something light-hearted, but I have to be consistent and go with the first google search result for 'famous mexicans'. The problem with Latin American countries is that most of their famous citizens are revolutionaries known for killing fellow citizens. All the names and events start to run together, and since I was dangerously close to not caring in the first place, I find myself resorting to cheap tricks like posting pictures with vaguely racist captions.

Carlos: He's as Mexican as fireworks and bean-induced diarrhea.

Here's one that you should all know.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Help Wanted

I've already mentioned that I messed up my summer schedule and won't even be near a television when Canada plays Jamaica on August 20th. That's bad news for me, sure, but it's also bad news to anybody who wanted to supplement their viewing experience by following a live blog of the match from yours truly.

You see, my live blogs of Canadian matches have been some of my most popular posts, in terms of visits. In fact, they are the only popular posts to appear on this blog.

Pleasing my readers is what it is all about, and what better way for me to please my readers than to ask somebody else to do it for me.



Here is what I am proposing: You (not all of you, but hopefully at least one) live blog the Jamaica match for me. I'll add you as an author on this blog, you can contribute a few posts in the lead up to the match, since I'll be incommunicado between the 17th and the 23rd, but most importantly, you keep tabs on the action with a live blog post during the match. This live blog may include:
  • disparaging remarks about the opponent nation, perhaps making reference to that country's abuse of the English language, underperforming economy, weed habit, etc.
  • keeping the readers up-to-date on what beer is lubricating your thoughts -- for example, I just became intimate for the first time with a Singaporean brew, a not unpleasant experience
  • cleary biased play-by-play and commentary
  • such details as time of the match, and to what lengths readers will need to go to view it live (it is likely the Jamaica game will appear live on at least one of the Sportsnet regional feeds)
  • liberal use of the phrase 'soccer boner'
I could lie and say you stand to gain much in the way of prestige and experience from this assignment, but to be honest it will be pretty thankless. I can cut you in on some AdSense revenue when my account reaches the payment threshold in a few years, but really, you should be doing it for the love of the game.

Any takers? Leave a comment and we'll be in touch.


For an idea of what you'd be getting yourself into, check out some past live blogs (listed in reverse chronological order):

Canada - SVG: live blog
Euro '08: Netherlands - Italy live blog
Brazil Participation: It's a live blog!
Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew live blog
Vancouver Whitecaps - Los Angeles Galaxy live blog
U23: Canada - USA live blog
U23: Canada - Guatemala live blog (?)
U23: Canada - Haiti live blog
U23: Canada - Mexico live blog

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Whitecaps to MLS?

This has been the rumour in sports betting circles for a while now, and yesterday's press conference, featuring Martin Nash's brother, makes the Vancouver bid official.


The CBC article:

NBA superstar Steve Nash announced Friday that he has invested in the Vancouver Whitecaps as part of the team's bid to bring Major League Soccer to the city.

The Whitecaps currently play in the United States Soccer League First Division, one level below MLS, but are looking to become one of two expansion teams that will begin play in MLS in 2011.

Nash said he would not be a majority owner, but will put a significant amount of money toward the project. Nash will join current Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot.

"I am really excited to be a part of the Whitecaps organization and play a role in our application to join Major League Soccer," said Nash. "This new partnership is a great fit for me. My passion for soccer and commitment to the community is well aligned with the Whitecaps vision."

"The Whitecaps are one of the top professional soccer clubs in North America, and Vancouver is a world-class city," added Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "We have a strong and dedicated ownership team, a clear vision, and have demonstrated leadership in soccer in North America."

Nash, a two-time most valuable player in the NBA, is a longtime soccer fan and his younger brother Martin currently plays for the Whitecaps.

MLS commissioner Don Garber announced Thursday that the league's board of governors approved plans to expand by two teams by 2011.

Garber said cities that were reviewed in the meeting as possible expansion candidates include Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Atlanta, Las Vegas, Portland and St. Louis are also being considered, as is a second team in New York.

Garber did not say when a decision would be made as to which cities will be granted an expansion club.

But Montreal and Vancouver are thought to have strong chances.

One name that has been bandied about as potential owner of a expansion club is George Gillett Jr., an American businessman who owns the Montreal Canadiens.

Launched in 1996, MLS has grown from a modest eight-team league that garnered little attention from the sports media to a 14-team operation in 2008 that features one of the most famous athletes on the planet, David Beckham.

Toronto FC, the first Canadian club in MLS, joined the league in 2007.

MLS will expand to 16 clubs with the addition of a team in Seattle in 2009 and Philadelphia in 2010.

That Montreal is also in the mix should come as no surprise; the mention of Ottawa is a relatively new one, however, and makes the situation a bit more complicated. To me it seems unlikely that MLS would admit three new Canadian franchises in the near future, and with Nash on board, the Vancouver bid seems like a slam dunk, so an Ottawa bid might hurt Montreal's chances.

The Canadian media can be too bullish at times, so it's good to see an American source trumpeting Canadian expansion.

Headline: Canadian expansion looks imminent for MLS

MLS moved one step closer to the outright naming of Montreal and Vancouver as their two newest franchises today by officially announcing the league's intent to expand by two more teams in 2011.

I like the sounds of it. Montreal and Vancouver making the leap to MLS is good for soccer in Canada, but only if Canadian players get to play. And it would be nice to have a few new USL franchises to provide a place for the next tier of Canadians to get a shot, although the understanding is that the Whitecaps will continue to field as USL-1 team in addition to their MLS franchise.

* * * * *

For more pie-in-the-sky pro soccer development in Canada, check out the facebook page for Winnipeg Pro Soccer.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

VCup Canadian Content FINAL

I returned to civilization from 4 days of canoeing and hiking to read that the Montreal Impact have returned to their position as the #1 team in Canadian pro soccer.


I could go on and on, congratulating the team on its 7th straight Voyageurs Cup, or on knocking off the MLS darlings from Toronto, but I'll merely post my final Canadian content tally and let the numbers speak for themselves.

Match Starters Subs Mins % mins





Montreal



vs Toronto 4 2 426 43%
vs Vancouver 6 1 526 53%
at Vancouver 5 2 473 48%
at Toronto 5 2 439 44%
Totals 15 5 1425 47%





Vancouver



at Montreal 5 1 450 45%
vs Montreal 5 3 480 48%
at Toronto 5 2 458 46%
vs Toronto 4 2 381 38%
Totals 15 6 1388 45%





Toronto



at Montreal 3 0 270 27%
vs Vancouver 2 0 180 18%
at Vancouver 1 1 95 10%
vs Montreal 2 0 180 18%

Congratulations to all teams involved in this inaugural tournament, but especially to the two sides that made it a Canadian tournament.

The first opponent for the Impact in the Concacaf Champions League is Real Esteli FC of Nicaragua.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Canada - Honduras, head to head

I began yesterday's post with some ambition: it was to be a detailed statistical rundown of Jamaica's social, political and footballing history and present, but I quickly ran out of steam. I did quite enjoy compiling the head-to-head record of the Reggae Boyz against Canada, and was quite interested in the results, particularly Canada's all-time home record against the Jamaican team.

Canada's away date will be played in San Pedro Sula.

History against Canada

So, with a little help from our friends (RSSSF and CSA) I put together a chart of Canada's all time performances against their second WCQ opponent, Honduras. A breakdown against Mexico is in the works, but it is longer and uglier and deserves its own post.

Date Location Result CAN HON Competition
11/09/80 Tegucigalpa, Honduras loss 0 2 Friendly
11/12/81 Tegucigalpa, Honduras loss 1 2 WCQ
12/11/83 San Pedro Sula, Honduras loss 1 3 Friendly
12/14/83 Tegucigalpa, Honduras loss 0 1 Friendly
08/25/85 Tegucigalpa, Honduras win 1 0 WCQ
09/14/85 St. John's, NF win 2 1 WCQ
10/02/87 Tegucigalpa, Honduras draw 1 1 Friendly
06/28/91 Los Angeles, USA loss 2 4 Gold Cup
04/04/93 Tegucigalpa, Honduras draw 2 2 WCQ
04/18/93 Burnaby, BC win 3 1 WCQ
01/10/96 Anaheim, USA win 3 1 Gold Cup
05/30/00 Winnipeg, MB win 3 1 Friendly
09/04/04 Edmonton, AB draw 1 1 WCQ
10/09/04 San Pedro Sula, Honduras draw 1 1 WCQ
07/02/05 Burnaby, BC loss 1 2 Friendly

Overall, Canada has a slight losing record against Honduras, a 5-4-6 mark (wins - draws - losses). More encouragingly, Canada is 4-1-2 outside of Honduras, and 3-1-1 in matches played on home soil. The lone loss was in a friendly; Canada is 2-1-0 in competitive matches at home to Honduras, including the clincher in St. John's that sent les Rouges to the World Cup.

In scouring these old results, I determined that as recently as 1981 (qualifying for the '82 World Cup), an entire World Cup qualifying group was hosted in a single city or country over a period of 3 weeks. In that year, Canada played El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, and Cuba, all in Tegucigalpa. How shitty must that have been?

Canada has never met Honduras in Montreal, or even the eastern time zone. Home dates have been played at Swangard (2x), Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Newfoundland. In San Pedro Sula, where Canada will play Honduras on October 11th, Canada is 0-1-1 (they are 1-2-3 in their other Honduran escapades, all matches taking place in Tegucigalpa).


Famous Hondurans?

The only other part of yesterday's attempt at thoroughness that I enjoyed was my rundown of famous Jamaicans. It's easy to do: you can play along at home. All you need to do is head over to Google (or your favourite search engine), type in 'famous Hondurans' (or 'Jamaicans' or 'Mexicans' or 'Vulcans' -- you get the idea), choose the first search result, or whichever page looks most amateur, and then ridicule these so-called famous people for being little known or of little service to their country.

Today's edition:
José Cecilio del Valle (1780–1834), a member of the French Academy of Sciences, was an intellectual, a political leader, and the author of the Central American declaration of independence. Francisco Morazán (1799–1842) was the last president of the United Provinces of Central America, which lasted from 1823 to 1839. Father José Trinidad Reyes (1797–1855) founded an institute in 1847 that became the National University. Outstanding literary figures were Marco Aurelio Soto (1846–1908), an essayist and liberal president; Ramón Rosa (1848–93), an essayist and biographer; Policarpo Bonilla (1858–1926), a politician and author of political works; Alberto Membreño (1859–1921), a philologist; Juan Ramón Molina (1875–1908), a modernist poet; Froilán Turcios (1875–1943), a novelist and writer of fantastic tales; and Rafael Heliodoro Valle (1891–1959), a historian and biographer.
If you can tell me a single thing about any of these without googling them, you're a better man (or woman . . . and ladies, I'm single!) than I. Bonus points if you can give me the definition off 'philology' of the top of your head (hint: it's not stamp collecting -- that's philately).

America Ferrera: disloylal to the Honduran cause?

Wikipedia's lengthier listing includes a few names I half-recognize: director Hype Williams, and Ugly Betty, although the country's claim to her is as tenuous as England's claim to a certain OH (Honduran parents, but born in California).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WCQ opponent preview: Jamaica

A quick statistical run down is always a great way to gloss over real stories and match-ups, while emphasizing irrelevant numerical outcomes.

I've got low motivation these days, but as frequency of posting is a key driver of traffic, and blog traffic is pretty much the only thing that can improve my self-esteem, I need to get busy. This seems like an easy way to do so.


Country facts
(cribbed from the spooks):


  • Natural resources include bauxite, gypsum and limestone ... ganja?
  • Population: 2,804,332 (if you don't include the other millions or so living in Toronto).
  • Government is a constitutional parliamentary democracy (holla!)
  • GDP per capita: $7,700
  • Canada is #2 buyer of Jamaican exports.

History against Canada

I can't be certain of the results. I consulted two sources: the excellent RSSSF archives page (which unfortunately cuts out after 1999) and the CSA match archives, which conflicted on the date of the April 1997 match (my table sides with the CSA).

Date Location Result CAN JAM Competition
03/13/85 Montego Bay, Jamaica draw 1 1 Friendly
03/17/85 Kingston, Jamaica draw 0 0 Friendly
04/05/88 Kingston, Jamaica loss 0 4 Friendly
04/07/88 Montego Bay, Jamaica draw 0 0 Friendly
07/03/91 Los Angeles, USA win 3 2 Gold Cup
10/18/92 Kingston, Jamaica draw 1 1 WCQ
11/01/92 Toronto, ON win 1 0 WCQ
08/01/95 Toronto, ON win 3 1 Friendly
04/13/97 Vancouver, BC draw 0 0 WCQ
09/07/97 Kingston, Jamaica loss 0 1 WCQ
09/02/99 Toronto, ON win 1 0 Friendly
09/04/06 Montreal, QC win 1 0 Friendly
10/08/06 Kingston, Jamaica loss 1 2 Friendly

If you're scoring at home, stop! It breaks down thusly: in 13 matches, Canada has a record of 5-5-3 (win-draw-loss). In official competition (WCQ/regional championships), it is 3-1-1, 2-1-1 in WCQ.

The stat that jumps out for me is the record in the T-dot: a solid 3-0 record, with only a single goal conceded over the three matches. In fact, Canada has never lost to Jamaica outside of that country, but their record on the island is not so good (0-4-3). It really speaks to how important it is to put one in the win column when Canada visits Kingston on November 19th.


Jamaica in the World Cup

All of the teams in Canada's group have qualified at least once for the World Cup finals, something that is not true of the other groups. Group C, in fact, includes only one team that has previously played on the biggest of stages: Costa Rica.

Jamaica's history is unremarkable save for their surprise qualification for France '98:

Famous Jamaicans


This far-from-exhaustive list of famous Jamaicans contains only three names I recognize, and two of them are sprinters that went on to compete for other countries (Ben Johnson and Linford Christie). The other is our favourite pot-smoking reggae icon, Bob Marley.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bad timing

If you were to ask me what the two biggest Canadian soccer matches of the summer will be, I'd tell you the following:
  • The final Cup match between Toronto FC and Montreal, a de facto final of the round-robin tournament. Takes place 22 July at BMO Field.
  • The World Cup Qualifying opener against Jamaica. 20 August at BMO Field.
I just consulted my summer schedule, and I won't be around for either of the matches. I won't be there in person, nor will I see them on TV. I won't even be able to find the result until a few days later, because I'll be in the wilderness, for work-related reasons, cut off from all civilization.

While you're watching Canadian soccer, here's where I'll be.

So no live blogs. I may attempt the ever popular three-days-delay blog, but only if I can maintain a cone of silence and download the matches.

Woe is me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

VCup Canadian Content UPDATE

After the 5th match day:

Match Starters Subs Mins % mins





Montreal



vs Toronto 4 2 426 43%
vs Vancouver 6 1 526 53%
at Vancouver 5 2 473 48%
Totals 15 5 1425 48%





Toronto



at Montreal 3 0 270 27%
vs Vancouver 2 0 180 18%
at Vancouver 1 1 95 10%
Totals 5 0 450 18%





Vancouver



at Montreal 5 1 450 45%
vs Montreal 5 3 480 48%
at Toronto 5 2 458 46%
vs Toronto 4 2 381 38%
Totals 15 6 1388 45%

The single Canadian starter fielded by TFC ('keeper Greg Sutton) and the 5-minute cameo appearance by Kevin Harmse represent the lowest Canadian participation rate of the tournament so far. The suspension to Jim Brennan for accumulated yellows is the real reason, but I'm surprised that dead weight like Robert and Cunningham are given chance after chance to succeed, while young players with potential like Gabe Gala languish on the bench.

The match was a good one, I am told (I was out at a local establishment at the time, alas, no TVs in our area). The result, a 2-2 draw, eliminates Vancouver from contention, even though it is a good performance by the Whitecaps, going unbeaten against the MLS side over two games. The CBC gets it all wrong with their headline: Whitecaps deal another blow to Toronto FC.

Unless the headline writer is imagining an emotional or psychological blow, Toronto FC suffers minimal damage with the result. A loss would have been trouble: they would have needed to beat Montreal by a significant margin on July 22 in order to hoist the cup. But a win against the Whitecaps would have the same effect as a draw: Toronto FC needs only to win by a single goal against the Impact to be champions.

By the way, with his two goal performance yesterday, Eddy Sebrango is the leading goal scorer in the tournament (2 total).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Voyageurs Cup on TV

This is a quick heads up about the Vancouver Whitecaps - Toronto FC match tonight in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

It's not on the main CBC network live, but you can watch the whole thing online at the CBC Sports website. In addition, Gol TV is carrying the match, so if you get that channel, you're in luck.

Tune in to see if TFC will field more than a single Canadian player in their starting lineup.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

VCup Canadian Content

This is really a partner to yesterday's long-winded post on the Voyageurs Cup. And if you couldn't get through that one, don't despair: according to a recent article in The Atlantic, the interweb is destroying memory and the ability to focus on reading more than a paragraph or three at once.

This one is shorter: a quick glance at the on-field Canadian content from the 4 matches played so far:

Match Starters Subs Mins % mins





Montreal



vs Toronto 4 2 426 43%*
vs Vancouver 6 1 526 53%
at Vancouver 5 2 473 48%
Totals 15 5 1425 48%





Toronto



at Montreal 3 0 270 27%
vs Vancouver 2 0 180 18%
Totals 5 0 450 23%





Vancouver



at Montreal 5 1 450 45%
vs Montreal 5 3 480 48%
at Toronto 5 2 458 46%
Totals 15 6 1388 47%


[data source]

* The number of Canadian minutes as a percentage of total minutes played for Montreal in the first game could actually be a tick higher, because as a team, they had fewer 'player-minutes' in total. Stefano Pesoli earned the tournament's only red card to date, so the total number of minutes played by all Impact players that night was fewer than the normal 990. I chose, however, to use the percentage to indicate the portion of the maximum possible number of minutes on the field that were awarded to Canadian players.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Voyageurs Cup

In all the excitement of a busy June for Canada, it was easy for me to overlook one of the most positive developments in Canadian professional soccer in recent memory. And maybe even not so recent history.

In fact, my only real memory at all of Canadian professional soccer is sitting with a dozen or so 10-year olds from my soccer team in a blustery Winnipeg Stadium and nearly catching a ball that was cleared off the rock hard turf and into the stands for a throw-in. I couldn't tell you if the Winnipeg Fury won or lost that game, but they lost in the end when they folded in 1993.

* * * *

That was then, this is now. Toronto FC made a big splash in MLS last year, but much like the Blue Jays or Raptors, the effect on soccer was mostly regional. But when word came out that Canada would have an entry into the newly formed (reformed? renamed?) Concacaf Champions League, a new tournament was born.

Well, not quite. Six years ago, the Voyageurs got together and bought a trophy, and handed it out to the team that performed best in the all-Canadian matchups of the A-League/USL-1 schedule. Montreal have been Voyageurs Cup champions each year, so far.

The format for 2008 is different: since Toronto doesn't play Vancouver or Montreal in league matches, a round-robin tournament would have to be played outside of regular league schedules, with each team playing twice at home and twice away.


Enough with the basics. The fun part is that Toronto FC and their legions of rather awesome (but still quite self-loving) fans likely expected to walk over the opposition. After all, they are the big boys with high-priced talent. All the Whitecaps have, however, is Steve Nash's brother.

I was trying to come up with a dynamite analogy, comparing the three teams to the brothers on the show Home Improvement: TFC is Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), with clearly more talent than the other two; Vancouver is Brad (Zachary Ty Bryan), rugged, good looking (?), and oldest; and Montreal is Mark (Taran Noah Smith). He was weird, and even went goth for a bit, while the Impact are French.
TNS: Coming soon to Stade Saputo?

The only problem is that all three of their careers more or less plummeted and JTT even went gay, some say (not that there's anything wrong with that . . .) I am more hopeful for all of the Canadian teams in this tournament. Randy (TFC / Thomas) did go to Central America or something to do good deeds during the final season of the show (pursuing better acting gigs that never came) which might a good sign for TFC, as the winner of the Cup will play a Nicaraguan qualifier. But Zach Ty Bry simply disappeared after HI's run (he earned a soccer scholarship on the show, but that doesn't help for the purposes of this badly constructed metaphor), while Smith crashed and burned spectacularly, including a failed teenage marriage.


All this is to say that while TFC obviously has the better pedigree, the competition on the field has been closer. The first match was a tight 1-0 affair won by Toronto at Stade Saputo, followed by back to back 2-0 wins for Montreal against Vancouver. Most recently, Vancouver knocked off Toronto 1-0 at BMO Field, the first home loss of the year for Toronto. That match was full of all the diving, cheating, and complaining you'd expect from a Central American tilt, but Canadians Jim Brennan and Jeff Clarke were responsible for most of it.

The excellent Wikipedia page for the tournament will fill you in on the more prosaic details, like goal scorers, lineups, etc. With two big matches remaining, Montreal are in the driver's seat, and a Vancouver home victory next Wednesday would almost clinch the 7th straight title for l'Impact.

I'm in the 'anybody-but-TFC' crowd (I'm just jealous), and Vancouver would need to win huge next week to have any shot, so my support is fully behind the Impact, who play at BMO on July 22nd to end the tournament.

Don't miss any of the action. It's been great so far!

You might be wondering why I have chosen not to use the official name for the tourney, the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Nutrilite doesn't seem all that bad; they're a vitamin company (healthy!) and they have Ronaldinho, the second-most horse-faced player in Spain (can you guess #1?), as a pitch man. But it turns out Nutrilite is owned by Amway, a company between Mormons and JWs on the annoyance scale.

Ronaldinho wearing the ever popular all-green strip of Team Nutrilite.

More importantly, the Voyageurs Cup is an important fan-supported tradition that has come a long way in the last half-decade, and deserves continued recognition. The winner of the Canadian Championship will be awarded the cup, and hopefully will be proud to call themselves Voyageurs Cup Champions.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

FIFA rankings: July

Do you see how quiet it gets here when there's no national team action to report on? Did you miss me?

The real reason for the radio silence in these parts is that I've been buried by work (don't feel too sorry for me -- my job includes several hours a day of playing FIFA 2008 on the Xbox), and a true sign of that is the fact it has taken me two full days to report on the latest edition of the FIFA rankings.

You might be tempted to look at Canada's 17 place free-fall (to 77th), and call it evidence that we've all been drinking the kool-aid a bit too much with the recent optimistic performances. But if you look at the other CONCACAF sides, only Jamaica (+4), Cuba (+26) and Suriname (+58!!WTF>!?) gained spots among the top 10 in this month's rankings. Group rivals Mexico (-5) and Honduras (-11) were also among the droppers.

A little birdie tells me that the reason is that Canada's back-to-back thrashings of Belize come off the books this month, although that should be offset by the similar beatings laid on St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A significant factor is also that last June's Gold Cup matches lose a chunk of their value as they are now a full calendar year in the rear-view. Yes, it's been that long. Canada drops to 5th overall in CONCACAF behind Panama, who have been eliminated from qualifying after 2 matches.

It would be hypocritical of me not to do my Group of Death report this month, even if all the teams in Group B have lost a bit of steam. Group A is looking a little more decent, but the real travesty is Group C:
CountryPtsZonalOverall
Group 1
USA 780230
Cuba438678
Trinidad and Tobago35810102
Guatemala35111104
Total192729314
Average481.757.2578.5




Group 2
Mexico906119
Honduras624348
Canada441577
Jamaica373994
Total234418238
Average5864.559.5




Group 3
Costa Rica433779
Suriname396887
El Salvador26212117
Haiti25914119
Total135041402
Average337.510.25100.5


Other Canadian news (aside from playing Xbox 360, I've been checking the Voyageurs site almost hourly):
  • Dejan Jakovic (one of the most popular search terms for this blog) signs with Red Star Belgrade
  • Adrian Cann, of the two-Adrianned central defense pairing, signs with Andrew Ornoch's Esbjerg fB in Denmark
  • Patrice Bernier signs with Issey Nakajima-Farran's FC Nordsjaelland after being given the boot by FC Kaiserslautern
  • Iain Hume stays in the Championship in England signing with Barnsley.
  • A rumoured move for Dwayne de Rosario to join Atiba Hutchinson at FC Kobenhavn? Here is some confirmation of the rumoured FCK move in the Danish press.

By the way, if any of you missed the Nutrilite Canadian Championship/Voyageurs Cup tilt between Toronto and Vancouver on Canada Day, count yourself unlucky. You missed, among other things, Jim Brennan mixing it up with former MNT teammates Jeff Clarke and Martin Nash, a masterful display of non-finishing from TFC, and a ridiculous shirtless celebration by Jeff Cunningham on an offside goal. Nash scored a penalty to give Vancouver the 1-0 win, making the remainder of the tournament quite interesting, to say the least.