Saturday, August 30, 2008

Canada roster for Honduras, Mexico qualifiers

(If you read this post in the first 24 hours or so that it was up, with a general attitude of WTF at the title - Canada roster for Honduras, Mexico friendlies - my sincerest apologies. These matches are qualifiers, and I hope there is very little that is friendly about them. The title has been changed)

The results may not all have been what we're looking for, but Dale Mitchell knows how to please with his player selections. For the first time, at least since the beginning of the Osieck era, there aren't any important players constantly being overlooked, and Canada's best are answering the call.

And not only is he calling the right players, Mitchell and the CSA are doing the right thing by bringing together a bigger group of 22 from which to choose for the next 2 qualifiers: 6 September in Montreal, and 10 September in Mexico. With nearly a full week to train together, the squad should gain some familiarity, but the extra bodies could come in handy in the event that one of the five Canadians on a yellow (Serioux, De Rosario, Hutchinson, Radzinski, and de Guzman) is punished on Saturday against Honduras.

The CSA published the squad yesterday; here's the list with a few corrections (Belgrade is in Serbia, not Croatia; Radzinski is now with Lierse of the Belgian 2nd division rather than Skoda Xanthi)

Player Pos. Team League
Lars Hirschfeld GK CFR Cluj Romania
Pat Onstad GK Houston Dynamo MLS
Greg Sutton GK Toronto FC MLS
Patrice Bernier M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
Jim Brennan D Toronto FC MLS
Julian de Guzman M Deportivo La Coruna Spain
Dwayne De Rosario M/F Houston Dynamo MLS
Rob Friend F Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany
Ali Gerba F Milton Keynes Dons England
Richard Hastings D Inverness CT Scotland
Iain Hume F Barnsley England
Atiba Hutchinson M FC København Denmark
Daniel Imhof D/M VfL Bochum Germany
Dejan Jakovic D Red Star Belgrade Serbia
Ante Jazic D LA Galaxy MLS
Mike Klukowski D Club Brugge Belgium
Kevin McKenna D 1. FC Köln Germany
Issey Nakajima-Farran M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
Olivier Occean F Lillestrøm SK Norway
Tomasz Radzinski M/F Lierse Belgium
Adrian Serioux D/M FC Dallas MLS
Paul Stalteri D/M Tottenham England

The same 18 players that were called for the Jamaica match are back. The four additions are Lars Hirschfeld, Olivier Occean, Ante Jazic, and Dejan Jakovic. Bringing in the extra keeper (Hirsch) and forward (Occean) are pretty logical moves considering the risk for injury in the first match. Ante Jazic provides more depth to the back line, although Marcel de Jong might also have been called. Dejan Jakovic, who was solid during the olympic qualifying tournament, is in his second senior camp. He played a handful of minutes with a 'B' team against Martinique earlier this year.

Jakovic is the guy with the big hair (#4)

Some more numbers:
Player Caps Goals
Lars Hirschfeld 22 0
Pat Onstad 56 0
Greg Sutton 11 0
Patrice Bernier 32 0
Jim Brennan 47 6
Julian de Guzman 33 4
Dwayne De Rosario 50 15
Rob Friend 19 2
Ali Gerba 19 9
Richard Hastings 49 1
Iain Hume 23 2
Atiba Hutchinson 37 2
Daniel Imhof 35 0
Dejan Jakovic 1 0
Ante Jazic 23 1
Mike Klukowski 16 0
Kevin McKenna 37 9
Issey Nakajima-Farran 14 1
Olivier Occean 16 2
Tomasz Radzinski 42 9
Adrian Serioux 16 0
Paul Stalteri 68 7
Total 666 70
Average 30.27 3.18

The extra players probably shouldn't have much impact on the starting lineup, at least for the Honduras match when all the players are expected to be available. If cards or injuries come into play, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Lars Hirschfeld may only have been invited as injury cover for Sutton or Onstad, but given Onstad's gaffe against Jamaica, and Sutton's inconsistent play for the national teams, I'd love for there to be a 3-way battle for the starting 'keeper position during the next week in Montreal.

Kluka is there, of course. We have reason to live.

My excitement level has been mounting for the last week or two, in anticipation of the Honduras match. So much so that I had forgotten that the clash with Mexico followed so closely after.

Maybe I'm stealing the thunder a bit from our special correspondent, but let's learn a bit more about those two countries:

Honduras:

Miss Honduras . . .

Mexico:

Hola . . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

CONCACAF Champions League: Viewing guide


Taking a break from the qualifying madness, here's a heads up on the beginning of CONCACAF Champions League madness.

In their quest to take on the region's best, Canada's best team, the Montreal Impact, begin tonight with a match against the best Nicaragua has to offer, Real Esteli.
Here's where to watch the opening leg from Stade Saputo:

In English:
En français:
  • le match sera diffusé en direct à 8 h, Radio-Canada, et sur le web
This should be an interesting one.

CBC preview.

(Head coach) Limniatis:

"If we stay disciplined defensively and capitalize on our offensive options, we will have success," Limniatis said on the team's official website. "We have respect towards them because they are here for the same reason we are.

"The first game is perhaps the most important because if you win, you put pressure on the other team during the second game."

(Midfielder) Patrick Leduc:

"If we play with the right intensity, we should have a good result," Leduc said. "We are expecting them to be a little more conservative and organized in front of their own net. We will have to put them under pressure and be aggressive to provoke things and finish off our scoring chances."

An article on the french CBC website (Mystère au Stade Saputo) mentioned that all the club had to go on was a single DVD of Esteli matches, so expect a bit of feeling out early on (just like a Friday night home alone - HIYO!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adopt-a-player: Early returns

Does he have a good left peg?

I adopted Mike Klukowski as the man for this blog during the current qualifying campaign.


We love the mullet man. Almost unconditionally. So imagine my dismay to read posters on the Voyageurs forum accusing him of being slow, and suggesting that Jim Brennan is a better fit at left back.

I'll be honest -- I wasn't watching my boy too closely after Pat Onstad broke my heart by letting in the Jamaica goal. I remember a sweet juke he made a little earlier on, and he got forward well to combine with Radzinski. He certainly, in my opinion, did nothing to lose his starting job.

If you look at the minutes played under Dale Mitchell, you'll find that Mike is a coach's favourite too, so don't expect him to be riding the pine any time soon.

Even two seasons ago, without the power bestowed upon him by his euro-mullet, he oozed awesomeness from every pore.



In Kluka We Trust.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

WCQ 2010 by the numbers: 3rd edition

There can be no arguing that Canada's 1-1 draw with Jamaica was profoundly disappointing. I can think of no better way to keep it from getting too personal than to delve into the quite impersonal world of numbers.

The qualifying campaign stats, to date:
Player Start Sub Mins Goals Yellow Red
Paul Stalteri 3
270


Adrian Serioux 3
270
1
Dwayne De Rosario 3
270 2 1
Pat Onstad 3
270


Atiba Hutchinson 3
270
1
Tomasz Radzinski 3
255
1
Julian de Guzman 3
227 1 1
Mike Klukowski 3
225


Ali Gerba 1 2 185 4

Richard Hastings 2
180


Issey Nakajima-Farran 2
172 1

Patrice Bernier 1 2 108


Adrian Cann 1
90


Rob Friend 2
85


Jim Brennan
2 60


Iain Hume
1 25


Marcel de Jong
1 8



And an overall look at the time on the pitch for all of Mitchell's selections, in his 10 international matches as coach:
Player Starter Sub Minutes
Stalteri, Paul 9
774
Klukowski, Mike 8
675
de Guzman, Julian 8
665
Hutchinson, Atiba 8
650
Radzinski, Tomasz 9
624
De Rosario, Dwayne 7
620
Nakajima-Farran, Issey 7 1 617
Serioux, Adrian 7
585
Onstad, Pat 6
540
Hastings, Richard 6
495
Bernier, Patrice 5 4 459
Gerba, Ali 4 3 426
Hainault, Andre 3 1 299
Friend, Rob 4 2 294
Hirschfeld, Lars 3
270
Cann, Adrian 2 1 225
Brennan, Jim 1 3 195
Hume, Iain 2 2 179
Imhof, Daniel 1 2 152
Peters, Jaime
2 91
McKenna, Kevin 1
90
Harmse, Kevin 1
90
Sutton, Greg 1
90
Nash, Martin 1
90
Williams, Chris 1
90
Reda, Marco 1
90
Gbeke, Charles 1
80
De Jong, Marcel 1 3 75
Occean, Olivier
3 75
Pozniak, Chris 1
65
Simpson, Josh 1 1 62
Jazic, Ante
1 45
Nsaliwa, Tam
2 37
Jakovic, Dejan
1 25
Ledgerwood, Nik
1 18
Johnson, Will
1 17
Simpson, Dave
1 10
Ribeiro, Antonio
1 5
Totals 110 36 9889




* Totals include non-FIFA sanctioned friendly vs Martinique, but not friendly against Danish club side Vejle BK

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blogcast delayed: Canada - Jamaica thoughts

Sportsnet delayed its broadcast of the match by several hours on most parts of the country, which makes me feel better about delaying my blogcast of the Canada – Jamaica qualifier by a few days. I've been off line for a week, and managed to track down a couple of download links without spoiling everything by seeing the result, so my analysis here is a genuine minute-by-minute reaction.

I'm writing this all out in a word processor, rather than the Blogger interface, because I don't want to come across any posts that will compromise my virginal eyes by hinting at the score or result.

Of course, the time elapsed means I have a little less urgency. Please refer to the official version, thanks to our part-time correspondent.

Before they kick off, one of my questions is answered: despite being a Bundesliga starter, Daniel Imhof isn't a starter for Dale Mitchell, indicating to me that Mitchell wants to field an offensive lineup.

The team: Onstad, Klukowksi, Hastings, Serioux, Stalteri, De Guzman, Radzinski, Hutchinson, De Rosario, Bernier, Friend.

I like the central pairing, and having Nakajima-Farran on the bench. Scratch that; Gerry informs me that Issey is injured. Good vocal support from the home fans so far.

5th: Rob Friend looks like he'll be able to have his way with the Jamaican central defenders. Not much doing so far, though.

8th: Friend has the first shot of the game, but it is far from dangerous. Bernier shoulders Ricardo Gardner to the deck and no foul is called. Good start from the officials.

10th: Julian de Guzman seems to be playing alone in front of the back four. It seems a bit of a waste of our best player, when Imhof is serviceable and would allow Julian to push forward into a more prominent role.

Radzinski fires well over from way out after some nice combination play involving Julian and De Rosario. Jamaica have shorter shorts than I had expected to see.

Nearly an own goal after De Rosario was fouled and flighted in a long-ish free kick. That would have been a dream start.

15th: De Guzman is fouled after weaving through four Jamaicans, and I feel the beginning of a chubby. As often as I disagree with Gerry Dobson, he is right on when he suggests that Julian could be the best midfielder in CONCACAF.

18th: Hutchinson had a long shot that looked dangerous until it hit a defender. The rebound nearly fell for Radzinski. Canada looks good, Jamaica doesn't, but I won't be comfortable until Canada puts a few in the net.

20th: Jamaica get some pressure for the first time, but the final shot sails wide. Nervous times.

24th: Dwayne De Rosario gets booked, and deserves it. He has to be smarter.

Hairstyles update: De Ro and Julian are both rocking the corn rows. I like de Guzman better with the 'fro, but who asked me? Most importantly, Klukowski is still kicking it with the euro-mullet.

30th: Canada has a foray into the box after a sweet juke by Klukowski. The heart only grows fonder.

Play is more even now, and Jamaica just had have a chance go wide.

40th: Even though I have the ability to pause, this match is thoroughly engrossing and far from comfortable. Watching Canada in a friendly or against St. Vincent is much easier on the ol' ticker. Onstad unleashes an F-bomb after a mediocre goal kick. Awesome.

Friend is called for a foul in the box, probably undeserved. Bernier hit the tantalizing cross. Of Canada's starters, I'd consider Bernier to be the most marginal selection, but he looks good.

45th: Radzinski gets fouled in the offensive third, and it's a booking as well for Jamaica. There could be no better time than to pop the opening goal. De Rosario hits it onto the top netting – so close.

Half time: You could say that nothing much happened, but I still may need to check my shorts. There have been no glaring mistakes from Canada, but they haven't been sharp enough yet. Jamaica don't look all that dangerous either, but all it takes is one mistake . . .

46th: I downloaded the second half file from a different source, and the quality is pretty shitty. Still, I think I'll watch it rather than sitting through a painful three hour download session.

WTF?!?!?! I don't think I can play the video quality: Sportsnet was asleep at the switch and were showing Canada's defenders while de Guzman scores!!! Boner or no boner? So confused.

I just saw the replay – high cross from the right by De Ro, Radzinski lays it back nicely with the side of his head and Julian slots it home. Verdict: boner!

CANADA 1 – 0 JAMAICA

I mentioned earlier how I was disappointed to see de Guzman in such a withdrawn role. Since that point, I've noticed Hutchinson dropping back just as often, giving de Guzman the freedom to go forward, and it paid off handsomely with the goal.

The next 40 minutes are going to be agonizing.

52nd: Son of a bitch! Onstad flaps at the corner and it goes in. Williams, who took the kick, is the scorer. Brutal.

CANADA 1 – 1 JAMAICA


I got sidetracked, but watched the whole game. It was a draw, 1-1, which is a terrible result for Canada.

I don't want to talk about it.


On a brighter note, Kyle's masterful live account of Wednesday's action was by far the busiest this blog has ever been. I should go away more often. I also must applaud his beer selection: when I lived in Holland, Bavaria was always a tasty, yet affordable (relative to the Amstels and Heinekens of the world). It's not available on the shelves in my neck of the woods very often.

I personally will be drowning my sorrows in the beer pictured below:

Never again.

Or maybe I should just pour it all down the toilet, as purchasing a Trini beer clearly cursed Canada.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Canada vs Jamaica Live Blog Full Game

Well this is where all the magic is going to begin tonight, so sit back and relax and enjoy the read and feel free to comment.

Quickie Pregame intro

Well tonight begins the second round of the WCQ 2010 Qualifying out of the CONCACAF division and Canada gets the show on the road against what most predict the weakest opponent in the group in Jamaica. As well Mexico will be taking on Honduras tonight in the other group 2 matchup and I will keep an eye on the match and provide any needed updates that are needed. But back to the reason we are here, CANADA.

The match will begin shortly once I can find the starting lineups I will post them here. I'm excited to see how the Toronto fans react tonight and if the Canadian support can provide that 12th man that we are all hoping for tonight.

Starting Lineup for tonight
Canada
Jamaica
Official
Carlos Batres (Guatemala)

Beer of the Match













Yup I've picked a Dutch beer tonight, hoping that we can see some free flowing soccer out of our midfielder tonight, and also hoping that we can put the ugly DeGuzman bit to bed finally.

1st Half Underway

0 minutes, Canada is running a usual 4-5-1 tonight, with Rob Friend playing as the lone striker. I might mention thank goodness I own the cable package that I can see the game live on the Pacific channel, even if I live in Ontario, did I mention I now hate the Blue Jays.

2 minutes DeRosario commits a foul on a Jamaica, ref gives away the free kick and the Torontonio faithful let him know what they feel about it, thank goodness we have a full house tonight. For once it's a pro Canada crowd, not like the times we have seen other nations control the fans... ala Calgary 8 years back or so.

6 minutes The play has been stuck in the midfield for the most part, Canada controlling most of the possession early on, Jamaica has made one attack which failed quickly when the ball couldn't be controlled as it went passed the goal line.

7 minutes Rob Friend has a small chance on net, but it's Ricketts first safe of the evening, as he tries to show his goaltending prowess, the man needs a job right now with no club currently owning him.

10 minutes Jamaica is playing like the rasta man, a very lazy pace so far early on, very cautious and no real attacking so far. Canada on the other hand is trying to force the ball up the field early on, some nice passes but can't make that 3rd or 4th touch really count.

11 minutes Radzinski has a good from the left side outside the goal box and blasts it way over the bar. For a second there I thought I was watching a Jaap Stam penalty kick (Please refer to Euro 2000 against Italy).

13 minutes DeRosario has a free kick and almost has it go in as Gardner (captain for Jamaica) heads the ball just passed his net. Corner kick for Canada.

17 minutes Jamaica was taking over possession for a bit, but not moving forward, sort of like stuck in reverse over there. They really need a lucky egg or something to kiss, or a bobsled chant to move forward.

20 minutes Pat Onstad has his first work of the night, and it all ends in him taking a free kick, should mention that he now has his 56th cap and now leads Canadian goalkeepers in most caps earned for Canada.

23 minutes Patrice Bernier has a chance at goal and gains a corner off of it. The corner kick from DeRosario left much to be desired as it falls from the sky into the hands of Ricketts.

24 minutes DeRosario gains himself a yellow card with a clip to the feet of the Jamaican, pretty easy yellow card to call, he was no where near gaining control of the ball.

28 minutes Free Kick for Jamaica just outside the box, center left 5 feet away, free kick is taking and on target, right into the gut of Onstad who doesn't have to move in the least to safe the ball.

32 minutes Jamaica comes to life with a nice passing play, and has started to take control of possession in the midfield currently, almost comes with a goal as a header in side the box just goes passed the left side of the post.

34 minutes Canada has gone back to playing high school soccer and is just booting the ball downfield at the moment to get it out of harms way as Jamaica continues the pressure.

35 minutes Wolfe for Jamaica has gone done for a stoppage in play as his ankle sort of twists as he falls to ground, should be okay, but has stopped play for the moment as the Canadian team uses it as a water break.

40 minutes Canada has slowed down the tempo as well now and is taking time in moving the ball up the field, doing the old prodding and feeling technique against the very defensive Jamaican. squad.

45 minutes De Rosario with a long free kick in and this time Ricketts has to jump over Friend to get control on the ball and send it out on play... 1 minute of injury time has been added

45 minutes + 1 DeRosairo gets taken down by Andy Williams and a yellow card is giving out, a free kick is given 25 feet from goal on the left side for Canada. De Rosario just sends the ball over the net and that ends the first half.

Canada 0 -- Jamaica 0.

Half Time Outlook.
Canada has played well so far in the first half with only a few minutes of time when they have looked out of place and not ontop of the ball, no damage was done during those times. On the other hand they have been sloppy with the attempted passes into the box, along with not creating enough dangerous chances o
n the Jamaican keeper. Hopefully during halftime Dale Mitchell will address this issue with Canada and will continue to make sure that Canada owns the ball in the midfield, just a bit more patients needs to be shown to find the opening and space to create the goal. Jamaica having been together practicing for 8 months has shown it on defense with all the defenders knowing exactly where the other is and being able to close down the more skilled Canadian opponents. They will be happy with a draw tonight and will continue to have to press when they get the chances on the counter attack. For now I will go refill my Bavarian and get ready for the second half. If you have any question and comments feel free to add it here.

Second Half
The second half is just underway, no changes made by either squad to start the second half in terms of substitutions.

46 minutes DeGuzm
an scores for Canada... 1-0 Canada, DeRosario with a nice cross across the goal to Radzinski on the far post who heads it back into open space to DeGuzman who slots it into the right post with Ricketts only gets a touch on the ball. *I would like to thanks sportsnet for not covering the play during the live portion of the goal as they were busy looking at the stands at that time... only in Canada, thank goodness for replays*

50 minutes Jamaica scores... 1-1... corner was conceded to Jamaica, and as the Toronto FC fans throw there streamers down at the corner spot on Andrew Williams (born in Toronto) and Pat Onstad knocks the ball in the net as he can't beat it up and over the goal.

53 minutes Andrew Serious picks up a yellow card quickly after the goal, and Canada is going to have to settle down quickly now and forget about that goal that just went in.

55 minutes Free kick taking by Williams and he puts it right on target on the net and Onstad has to put a good save and gets the bar over the bar for a corner kick, the streamers have come down again.









58 minutes Canada has gotten away with a blatant foul on DeGuzman and the fans let the Guatemalan know how they really feel about that call as he was pulled down from behind on a run forward to goal. *My Alan Partridge reference for the night, don't worry the video will still show up*

61st minute Canadian corner kick... they could cause trouble from here. DeRosario gets it onto the head of Friend who punches it into the ground and into the arms of Ricketts who plays the ball upfield.

63rd minute Jamaican Substitution is made as goal scorer Williams comes out and Luton Shelton is brought in to add some more defensive presence for Jamaica as they go for the draw.

64th minute Patrice Bernier is substituted out for Canada and Ian Hume is brought in for Canada, hoping to add some energy and pace to the game. I always love some fiery spirit as the sportsnet broadcasters enjoy saying about him.

66th minute Atiba Hutchinson is booked with a yellow card on a badly called foul that wasn't a foul, which he argues and will get booked for dissent as he bumped into the referee during the argument... it was accidental, clearly a Canadian error.

70th minute Canada had two great chances to add a goal but Ricketts makes two fantastic saves and just keeps both the balls out of the net, the pressure is being put on hugely by Canada right now. DeRosario and DeGuzman are the trouble makers right now.

72nd minute Off the corner Ricketts has just stood on his head again, as Friend uses his head and points the ball at the goal, which Ricketts gets his hand on again, and Jamaican defenders do well at clearing the ball.

74th minute Jamaica is showing pace as well right now as Goodison takes a long crack at goal and just misses, great pace being showing by both teams right now, this has been a really good second half.

75th minute Substitution being made by Canada as Ali Gerba comes in for Rob Friend.

79 minute Canada is pressing right now, but can't make that final pass at the moment as they try to find the open man in the box.

80th minute Hume almost connects with DeRosario for a goal even though it was his hand that was used on the ball that went over the goal, but it was the thought that counts right?

83rd minute 7 minutes to go, and Ricketts continues to control the balls that are crossed in the box for the most part, as Jamaica continues to remained organized in the back as Canada continues to press forward.

85th minute Ricketts saves a sure goal for Canada when he dives out and stops the DeRosario pass to Gerba streaking towards the front of the net.

86th minute DeGuzman strikes iron with his shot, as he hits the bar on his shot from 25 meters out, and Ricketts was beat cleanly, sadly it's on the wrong side of the bar.

88th minute Corner kick for Jamaica as Canada lets up just a bit after the DeGuzman shot and Jamaican's corner kick goes high up into the air that people are wondering if a space ship is invading earth... okay it wasn't that bad, but I haven't seen a corner kick that high it quite some time.

89th minute DeRosario has an open net as Ricketts misplaces the ball, and Goodison just gets his body in the way of the ball, and the game remains tie.

90th minute 4 minutes of added time for this second half, both sides have had chances now, this could go anywhere right now.

90th + 1 Another random foul called on Canada, just been noted that the fouls are 27 to 13 against Canada, do you figure that the ref might be slightly biased, just a pointed remark with some of the random calls he has made in this game.

90th + 3 Omar Cummings has a shot on goal for Jamaica as he has just come on for them, and again both teams have chances in this extra time period, as Hume comes streaking in for Canada and puts the shot on the far side of the post.

FULL TIME HAS BEEN BLOWN

Well a 1-1 draw happens, and well the Guatemalan official wins the award for crappy ending of a game with a quick whistle before 4 minutes is played. Now onto the game itself, full credit goes to Jamaica for the way they played tonight, great defensive effort on their part in keeping Canada at bay for most of the night. Canada played well and just needs to work on addressing at getting the ball into the feet of it's goal scorers, and making that final touch count. We have some time to work on that until our next game which is on Sept. 6th.One goaltending mistake on a set piece cost us the tie, as Onstad got caught going forward when he should have been back and couldn't get back and put enough on the ball to prevent it from going in. While we didn't get the 3 points that we had hoped for, atleast we don't have 0 and will just have to move on to Montreal and welcome Honduras into the stadium there, currently the Mexico vs Honduras game is 0-0 and I can only hope it remains a draw so that no team has gained an advantage yet it this group.

Thanks to all for reading and commenting, feel free to add any comments you want on this page, and J will be back on Saturday to probably watch a taped edition of the game and add his comments, hopefully he doesn't mind my blogging, it was a fun experience and hopefully I'll have another kick at the can sometime at this, thanks to all those that read this tonight.

Aurevoir and bon nuit, might as well respect both official languages. And Because this never grows old, as promised some Alan Partridge. If you have never seen this before, just watch it and laugh, if you have seen it before I don't have to explain it at all.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Where to watch the game.

Greetings all,

In anticipation for the game on wednesday, which is now less than 48 hours away I just wanted to give a quick update for where the game will be shown on the television, especially for those Canadian readers. And if you want to watch the game and follow along the live blog I will be happy to attempt to entertain you with my wit and poor humour.

VS

Yes I do realize that this is men's soccer, but clearly we already win the pageantry battle, and well again it's my poor humour at work.


So for those of you wish to watch the game on the television and have digital cable you'll be happy to hear that sportsnet will be showing the game. The key though is you need to have either the sportsnet west or pacific channels in order to watch the games, because of Blue Jays baseball, the East and Ontario channels are tape delayed (reminder that I blame both CSA and Sportsnet on this little issue). So if you have all the channels of sportsnet, tune into the Pacific or West channel on Wednesday at 7:30 pm ET, 8:30 AT, 9:00 Newfie time,6:30 pm CT 5:30 PM MT and 4:30 PM Pt (I figure I would cover all angles). And if you can spare some time join me hear and add your own wit to this game as well.

And because I can do this, time to post a little youtube video to end the post. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Handing off

My brief fling with women's soccer is over after three dates (1, 2, and 3), and heartbreak. Probably suffering from similar, though undoubtedly more profound, heartbreak, Canada star Christine Sinclair provides a nice segue by fighting Olympic tears to bash Jason de Vos and the men's program.

FTA:

Pellerud has his critics.

Jason DeVos, a former men's national team member who has been working as a television analyst, said Pellerud's methods are outdated.

Instead of playing a kick-and-run style, the women should play a more possession-focused game, said DeVos.

Pellerud was blunt in his reply.

"He can start to look at my record," he snapped.

Sinclair was more acid.

"The men's team is not at the Olympics," she said. "It's a shame to hear men's players saying that when they are no where."

Interesting. There are couple of strange leaps in logic in Sinclair's statement. One is that she build from a false premise: Jason isn't on the national team, and hasn't played there for 4 years, and has been too old for the Olympic program for over a decade. Second, the Olympics aren't the pinnacle of men's soccer achievement. For evidence of that, you need not look beyond the fact that Belgium, of all countries, qualified for the semi-finals. Belgium!?!

On the broader issue of the men's team being "no where", I'd say Canada's position as a 50th-60th ranked country in a field of over 100 competitive teams isn't much different than the women's spot as a 9th or 10th ranked team among 20 or 30 nations that actually invest in women's soccer. Sinclair has it all wrong, though it's up to the MNT to start proving that, starting this Wednesday.

Handing off duties for a while

Speaking of this Wednesday, I'll be carefully tucked away somewhere, in a tent or a stuffy cabin. I trust our caretaker manager to provide excellent liveblog commentary of the Canada - Jamaica tilt. Any other posts he wants to put up here throughout the week are more than welcome, and I expect they'll be action at his own blog as well.

The next time you'll here from me will likely be next Saturday evening, with all of my fresh thoughts on a game that is three days old.

I would be remiss if I didn't grace you all with some prognostication in the form of a prediction. I'm hoping that the Jamaicans will still be suffering a ganja hangover after Usain Bolt's massive victory in the 100m, but it won't matter. Canada is the better team, and it is time to start showing it.

PREDICTION: CANADA 2 - 0 JAMAICA

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Liveblogging the ladies 3: Canada vs USA

Women's Olympic Soccer - Group Stage
CANADA VS SWEDEN

Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai China
15 August 2008
6 am ET / 5 am CT / 3 am PT

Live on CBC
Internet: CBC Olympics Live Video

The earlier start time of this match makes it a tough sell for me. But, on the other hand, nothing would be sweeter than a Canada win over their long-time rival in the Olympics. Even if I only manage to tune in for the 2nd half, you'll see something appear in this space.

Preview: Canadian women to take on U.S. in Olympic soccer

The bad news is that Canada has a dismal record all-time vs the U.S. The CBC article linked above lists 42 matches and a record (W-D-L) of 3-4-36, though that doesn't add up right. In any case, we trust them that it's not good.

It's more instructive to look at recent matches.
Date Location Result CAN USA Competition
06/21/08 Suwon, Korea loss 0 1 Peace Queen Cup
05/10/08 Washington, USA loss 0 6 Friendly
04/12/08 Juarez, Mexico draw 1 1 Olympic Qualifying
01/16/08 Guangzhou, China loss 0 4 Four Nations
05/12/07 Frisco, USA loss 2 6 Friendly
11/26/06 Carson, USA loss 1 2 Gold Cup
07/30/06 Cary, USA loss 0 2 Friendly
07/03/04 Nashville, USA loss 0 1 Friendly
02/03/04 Shenzhen, China loss 0 2 Four Nations
10/11/03 Carson, USA loss 1 3 World Cup

Recent history is also bad. If you're looking for a bright side, you'll notice that in the only 3 true competitive matches, they have 1 draw, a 1 goal loss and a 2 goal loss. Seven of the matches were played away, and the most recent match was as close as I expect tomorrow's encounter to be.

As mentioned previously, the US team is somewhat in disarray in these Olympics, and their best player, Abby Wambach, won't play in the tournament due to injury. The Americans can be had, and there is no time like the present.

Remember to keep checking in bright and early Friday morning.

I just set my alarm clock for 5:08am. Good Lord!

It's ridiculous o'clock and I'm ready for action. Did you know that it's still dark in these parts at 5:15 am?

15th
: I may be ready for action, but it appears Canada wasn't, because they are already down 1-0 after 15 minutes. Not good!

The teams appear to be playing in a downpour. And just now, LOUD thunder.

19th
: Canada just made a goalkeeping sub: Karina Leblanc replacing Erin McLeod. I can see no reason for this other than injury, unless the first goal was a real howler. More bad news for Canada.

Livescore lists the U.S. scorer as A. Hucles in the 12th minute.

There was just another big thunder-crack, and the officials have sent the players off the pitch with 20 minutes gone in the first half. This delay presents me with an interesting dilemma. It seems silly for me to waste these precious moments not sleeping. Yet if slumber overcomes me, it's unlikely I'll return to blog any more of this action.

* RAIN DELAY *

The potential upside to this stoppage is that if it is long enough, I can resume watching the match at a less ungodly hour. I'm back to bed now, though.

After a 90 minute delay . . .

The delay was long, and I've been drifting in and out a bit since the match restarted.

However:

30th: Canada has the ball in the U.S. end, but isn't doing much with it until Christine Sinclair unleashes a 30 yard blast that flies into the top right corner! Great goal which makes it 1-1.

HALF TIME

Sleep kept me from seeing more than 20 minutes of the first half, and a good portion of it was played under terrible weather conditions, but this has been one ugly display of soccer. I've been hard on the Canadian tactic of giving away possession by thumping the ball constantly up the pitch, and others more qualified to pronounce judgment have levelled the same criticism against coach Even Pellerud. But in this match, the Americans have adopted almost the same approach, only slightly better.

To be completely fair, Canada probably doesn't deserve to be level at this point. But that's not how the game works, and it is nice to come out on the lucky side once in a while.

The sun is shining into my room now, making sleep a less likely possibility for the rest of the match; I'll try to be a more constant companion.

To start the 2nd half, Canada use their second substitution, bringing Brittany Timko on for Melissa Tancredi. This likely pushes either Lang or Sinclair into more of a central forward role.

50th: Nothing doing so far. Both teams are still playing sloppy. If it counts for anything, it seems like Canada has more vocal support, or at least has fans placed closer to the mic.

Maybe it's just me, but Emily Zurrer seems to be having a poor match. It's disappointing, because she was quickly becoming one of my favourites (I think I have a thing for left backs).

57th: USA get a free kick near the end line but don't manage to trouble Leblanc. Danger averted.

More chances for the US, and now a corner.

63rd: The Americans are getting the better of the play right now, for sure. Canada is keeping a lot of players back, which takes the danger out of some of these USA attacks, but also makes Pellerud's strategy of "direct football" even less effective.

69th: Franko picks up a yellow card slicing down an American, but looks bad-ass doing it. Thug life!

USA gets a breakaway after a misplay between Candace Chapman and her defensive partners, but Leblanc saves it and the danger is cleared.

78th: Canada is looking more positive now, winning more 50/50 balls, and playing more passes along the ground. Sinclair just had another long shot saved.

87th: Kara Lang plays a nice ball in for Timko, who collides with the defender and the keeper. The stretcher comes on to pick her up. It looks like the USA keeper, Solo, hit her in a few places with her knee, and Timko is looking rough. It would be unfortunate for Pellerud to be forced into using a sub for a player with less than a half of running.

END OF REGULAR TIME

It got a little hairy there at the end. Leblanc was forced into a couple of saves, and Canada had a couple of half chances at the other end. Timko was too hurt to continue, so the lovely Jonelle Foligno was brought in to replace her.

This has been far from a dominant or even confident performance by the ladies, yet they are tied after regular time with the #1 team in the world. If the men's team was in a similar position, I'd be popping a soccer boner about now, so I suppose I should try to be excited.

There must bea pile of Canadians tuning at work as the feed is bogging down a bit. I may need to abandon ship and head to the TV downstairs.

OVER

A Hawaiian hoodrat named Kai with some disgusting body ink scored in the first half of extra time. If the play wasn't offside, it was awfully close. Canada throws everything forward but can't equalize.

I hate the USA.

The women made a massive effort and I'm glad De Vos finished the game by praising that instead of criticizing Pellerud's naive tactics, even though he was right to do so. The tournament showed that Canada has a good team, but needs to play more modern football to have success in the future.

[CBC summary]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Canada roster vs Jamaica

Dale Mitchell has released his roster for the World Cup qualifier against Jamaica, to be played next Wednesday, 20 August 2008, in Toronto:

# Player Pos. Team League
1 Greg Sutton GK Toronto FC MLS
2 Daniel Imhof D/M Bochum Germany
3 Mike Klukowski D Club Brugge Belgium
4 Kevin McKenna D 1. FC Köln Germany
5 Adrian Serioux D/M FC Dallas MLS
6 Julian De Guzman M Deportivo La Coruna Spain
7 Paul Stalteri D/M Tottenham Hotspur England
8 Jim Brennan D Toronto FC MLS
9 Tomasz Radzinski M/F Xanthi Greece
10 Ali Gerba F Milton Keynes Dons England
11 Richard Hastings D Inverness CT Scotland
12 Issey Nakajima-Farran M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
13 Atiba Hutchinson D/M FC København Denmark
14 Dwayne De Rosario M/F Houston Dynamo MLS
15 Patrice Bernier M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
16 Rob Friend F Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany
17 Iain Hume F Barnsley FC England
18 Pat Onstad GK Houston Dynamo MLS

By the numbers:

CAPS
Player Caps
Paul Stalteri 67
Pat Onstad 55
Dwayne De Rosario 49
Richard Hastings 48
Jim Brennan 47
Tomasz Radzinski 41
Kevin McKenna 37
Atiba Hutchinson 36
Daniel Imhof 35
Julian De Guzman 32
Patrice Bernier 31
Iain Hume 22
Ali Gerba 18
Rob Friend 18
Mike Klukowski 15
Adrian Serioux 15
Issey Nakajima-Farran 14
Greg Sutton 11
Total 591
Average 32.83

GOALS
Player Goals
Dwayne De Rosario 15
Kevin McKenna 9
Tomasz Radzinski 9
Ali Gerba 9
Paul Stalteri 7
Jim Brennan 6
Julian De Guzman 3
Atiba Hutchinson 2
Rob Friend 2
Iain Hume 2
Richard Hastings 1
Issey Nakajima-Farran 1
Greg Sutton 0
Daniel Imhof 0
Mike Klukowski 0
Adrian Serioux 0
Patrice Bernier 0
Pat Onstad 0
Total 66
Average 3.67

There are no real surprises here. Ali Gerba had been without a club for most of the summer, but it is hard to keep his goal scoring ratio out of the lineup. Kevin McKenna hasn't played for Canada since the South Africa friendly last November, but it is hard to argue against the inclusion of a 1. Bundesliga player (this roster includes 3: McKenna, Daniel Imhof, and Rob Friend).

Iain Hume is a player that had been on the bubble in my mind, but at this point he probably deserves the outside mid/forward supersub role more than a player like Josh Simpson or Jaime Peters. Lars Hirschfeld is omitted because he isn't starting for his club, while Greg Sutton gets the #1 jersey. We'll see if that means he's a starter on his home turf at BMO Field.

The shifting geography of professional teams is always interesting to keep an eye on. The breakdown for this group:

MLS - 5 (Sutton, Serioux, Brennan, De Rosario, Onstad)
Germany - 3 (McKenna, Imhof, Friend)
Denmark - 3 (Hutchinson, Nakajima-Farran, Bernier)
England - 3 (Stalteri, Gerba, Hume)
Spain, Greece, Scotland, Belgium - 1 each (De Guzman, Radzinski, Hastings, and Klukowski, respectively)

This is a strong group, quite likely the strongest Canada has ever assembled, and I'm excited to see what they're able to do against Jamaica. Of course, I won't find out until 3 days after the fact, but you'll be able to enjoy the experience live, or at least on tape delay (yes, it's a possibility -- get up in Sportsnet's grill a bit about that!).

Our adopted son Mike is in the roster of course, and expect him to start and play well next Wednesday.

Other bloggage:
Footie Fool: Canada names roster for WCQ against Jamaica
Unto the Dogs: Canada v. Jamaica: Thoughts on the Selections