Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vancouver Whitecaps: Canada's most Canadian pro team!

* * * ALL DATA NOW FINAL! * * *

I mentioned in my previous post that I would reprise the Canadian content theme when Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact finished up their final matches of the season. But the combined appeal of messing around with spreadsheets and avoiding homework was too much. While I waited for last night's episode of Survivor to download (sue me --- not for downloading copyrighted material, I mean, but for liking such a played out reality TV concept), I crunched the numbers for Montreal and Toronto. The nearly final tables (to be updated when Toronto and Montreal play their final matches on Saturday and Tuesday respectively) are as follows:
So, in addition to being USL Champions, the Whitecaps are winners by virtue of having deployed the most Canadian lineup over the course of the season.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Competition CDN Mins Total Mins % CDN
USL Regular Season 16558 29622 55.9%
USL Playoffs 3177 4912 64.7%
Voyageurs Cup 1962 3960 49.5%
Totals 21697 38494 56.4%




MONTREAL IMPACT
Competition CDN Mins Total Mins % CDN
USL Regular Season 13262 29502 45.0%
USL Playoffs 1932 3940 49.0%
Voyageurs Cup 1878 3923 47.9%
CONCACAF Champions League 3216 7920 40.6%
Totals 20288 45285 44.8%




TORONTO FC
Competition CDN Mins Total Mins % CDN
MLS Regular Season 6706 29596 22.7%
Voyageurs Cup 725 3960 18.3%
Totals 7431 33556 22.1%

The numbers speak for themselves, but allow me to get a word in edgewise:
  • Across the three teams, the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, aka Voyageurs Cup, had the lowest Canadian participation rate (39% compared to 41% for regular season matches and 58% for USL playoffs)
  • Only 5 Canadian players for Toronto FC played more than 100 minutes on the season
  • By way of comparison, Toronto's 22.5% Canadian ratio in regular season play is only 8% higher than that achieved by the Houston Dynamo, with 2 Canadian players.
Final numbers will follow when the final whistle has blown on Montreal and Toronto's seasons.

2008.10.26 update: Numbers for Toronto FC above are now final.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday afternoon roundup

I know that the odds and ends/roundup format is just about the laziest thing a blogger can do. However, there are a bunch of things worth mentioning, but not deserving of their own post. So, bulleted list, here we come:
  • The Canadian players vs Mitchell soap opera becomes more interesting every day. Rob Friend has caused a bit of a stir in a Bild article (auf Deutsch) where he says he won't play for Canada again, as long as Dale Mitchell is in charge. I like Friend a lot as a player, but if playing time is the issue, it's hard to argue with Ali Gerba's production.
  • The Montreal Impact finish out their 2008 season tonight in Cancun. The match has significance with respect to seeding for the quarterfinal round of the CONCACAF Champions League. A win or draw, and Montreal finishes as first seed; a loss and they are second. A preview (francais) suggests an interesting starting lineup for Montreal, with several key players (Matt Jordan, Nevio Pizzolito among them) being given the night off. (9 pm ET 10 pm ET; CBC Bold / CBCSports.ca)
  • My Canadian content post has quickly become one of this blog's most viewed, thanks to a bit of spamming on my part, and links from a few other soccer websites and forums. But it's still lagging way behind this post, which gets a lot of Google Image hits. The Canadian content table will be finalized after tonight's match.
  • I watched the World Futsal finals on CBC this weekend. I don't get the hype. It's like basketball, but less interesting. The penalty shootout, on the other hand, is a thing to behold. Keepers, with no gloves, facing blasts from about 7 yards.
If you can, watch the Impact match tonight. It will be the second last involving a Canadian team in '08 (Canada - Jamaica on November 19th will be the last), and probably the more likely of the two to feature a Canadian side winning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Canadian content final report: Whitecaps edition

I reported on the Canadian content of teams competing for the Voyageurs Cup back in June and July. At the time, the intent was to get in a few digs at TFC, but ragging on them now is a bit like beating a dead horse. Still, I promised to provide some final numbers for the year.

It's a bit of a slog, and there are sure to be inaccuracies, but I've worked through the stats for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Here they are, quick and dirty:

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Competition CDN Mins Total Mins % CDN
USL Regular Season 16558 29622 55.9%
USL Playoffs 3177 4912 64.7%
Voyageurs Cup 1962 3960 49.5%
Totals 21697 38494 56.4%

I used the USL stats page for USL regular season matches, and the Whitecaps match reports for USL playoffs and Voyageurs Cup (Nutrilite Canadian Championship) matches.

If you go back and compare these numbers to those compiled back in July, you'll notice that this time around the Whitecaps are listed as having a higher Canadian content ratio for their Voyageurs Cup matches this time around. I'm not certain of the reason, but I am more confident in the current numbers than the old ones. After I finish up with the Impact and Toronto FC, I'll fix the old tally.

Watch for final Canadian content stats for Toronto and Montreal when those teams complete their seasons.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Moments like these . . .


. . . are the reason that we can wait 4 years between meaningful matches without going crazy.

I'm not sure if I managed to make it completely clear during the live blog, but Tomasz Radzinski was brilliant against Mexico on Wednesday. He had mused beforehand about that being his final match for Canada and, if so, what a way to go out. (It was pretty convenient for him to get a yellow card for his shirtless goal celebration, thus earning a suspension and making the question of calling him up against Jamaica moot). If only he could have slid his last attempt a foot or two to the right and he would have had the game winner as well. Tomasz is 34, so it makes sense for him to exit stage right, but he was also the best player on the pitch for Canada, and seemed full of energy. In theory, I'm all for getting the next generation some experience in preparation for qualifying for 2014, but if Radzinski made himself available for next year's Gold Cup, I'd call him up in a second.

Here is the second to last edition of the WCQ 2010 stats:
Player Start Sub Mins Goals Yellow Red
Paul Stalteri 7
630
1
Mike Klukowski 7
565
2
Adrian Serioux 6
540 1 2
Atiba Hutchinson 6
540
1
Tomasz Radzinski 6
457 1 2
Dwayne De Rosario 5
450 2 2
Julian de Guzman 5
407 1 1
Ali Gerba 4 3 404 6

Richard Hastings 5 1 363


Lars Hirschfeld 4
360


Patrice Bernier 4 2 316
2 1
Pat Onstad 3
270


Issey Nakajima-Farran 3
240 1

Rob Friend 3 2 237


Andre Hainault 2
180 1

Kevin Harmse 2
180
1
Iain Hume
4 155
1
Jim Brennan 1 3 135


Marcel de Jong 2 1 123


Adrian Cann 1
90


Kevin McKenna 1
90


Chris Pozniak
1 51


Olivier Occean
1 9


Charles Gbeke
1 1



A few points:
  • Like Radzinski, our boy Klukowski is suspended for the Jamaica match. So nobody will pass Paul Stalteri in minutes played in this campaign (he has played every second so far). Stalteri -- against all odds -- has avoided suspension in the 7 matches to date.
  • Ali Gerba's 6 goals in this campaign are the most ever in a qualifying year, all the more impressive as it took only 7 games. We can also put to rest the notion that he only scores against minnow stations; his 6 goals include 2 against Mexico.
  • The midfielders that finished the match against Mexico, Canada's best result, were Paul Stalteri, Patrice Bernier, Kevin Harmse, and Chris Pozniak. Think about that.
Highlights of the match:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canada - Mexico live blog

CONCACAF WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP B
CANADA VS MEXICO

15 October 2008

Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta
9 pm ET / 8 pm CT / 6 pm PT

Live on Sportsnet West & Pacific (digital cable only)


Other streaming options available at rojadirecta and myp2p.


While we wait for the starting lineups, let's learn about Mexican culture.

cha-lu-pa (n): boat shaped, fried corn-tortillas, garnished with sauce, lettuce and onions

If Canada gets 4 goals tonight, everyone gets free chalupas!

While some of us are still mourning this disaster of a qualifying campaign, others are looking ahead to the next time around. Unto the Dogs goes deep into which players might be part of the picture for 2014 qualifying. It's a must read.

Lineup for Canada:

CANADA: Hirschfeld, Stalteri, Hainault, Hastings, Klukowski, Serioux, Bernier, Harmse, De Jong, Radzinski, Gerba

Ignore the positions listed on that ESPN site. We all know that Gerba isn't a defender. Likely alignment is 4-4-2.

6th: I'm watching a justin.tv stream right now (roommate has the tv right now, and what he is watching is surely more important). Canada is under siege. Expect it to stay that way.

11th: It looks like Serioux has taken over Stalteri's right back spot. Only 4 matches too late. Stalteri is playing in the centre of midfield with Harmse.

12th: HOLY SHIT!! Gerba scores on a 30-yard strike. He hurtles the ad boards and celebrates on the track. The supporters section is loving it. Bittersweet, but we'll take it. 1-0 CANADA! Sven-Goran looks worried.

Gerba forces a corner on another chance. It's early, but it looks to me like Mexico's central pairing can't handle Ali G.

20th: Gerba is feeling it. He just tried a bicycle kick, which was blocked by a defender.

Can anyone tell me what product "Bimbo" makes? The ads are all over the stadium. I hope someone in Canada is earning some coin on this Mexican corporate invasion.

29th: Unlike Saturday, Radzinski and Gerba seem to be on the same page. They nearly combined on a one-two sending in Ali G.

32nd: Hirschfeld makes a good punch on a cross, and seconds later De Jong clashes heads with Mexico's #6. Mexico gets a FK in a dangerous spot. Seeing the replay, it looks like Marcel got the ball. Bad call.

Mexico scores on the free kick, which was an absolute bullshit call.

40th: Mexico is back in control of the game. Let me state once again how terrible the call was that gave Mexico their goal.

42nd: Hirsch just made a huge leg save on a play that was clearly offside.

HALF TIME: It's 1-1, which is probably as good as anyone could hope for. Canada is running around a bit, but with the midfield they have out there, I'm not surprised. (Did you ever think you'd see a midfield of De Jong, Bernier, Stalteri, and Harmse in this campaign? Ouch!)

Once again, what an absolutely horrendous call on the de Jong foul that ended up with the free kick goal. Shocking, if this were not CONCACAF.

Looking at Canada's bench, players who should come on at some point in the 2nd half include McKenna (listed as F/D for this match), Iain Hume (if he and Mitchell are on speaking terms), and Charles Gbeke (late, for Radzinski, so Tomasz can get a proper send off).

I guess I missed it, but De Jong already was subbed out for Chris Pozniak after 39 minutes. I don't think he actually returned to the field after being elbowed in the head and whistled for a foul. That's a blow, because Poz, useful though he may be, doesn't have anything close to De Jong's offensive talent.

52nd: Gerba sends in a long cross field ball that isn't played well by the Mexican keeper, and Radzinski taps it in! He celebrates by posing shirtless by the corner flag, and I think I got a boner of happiness!

RADZ! 2-1 CANADA!!!

I know getting eliminated this early is worse than getting a sack of flour in the junk, but helping eliminate Mexico would be a nice consolation.

58th: Hirschfeld is on his game tonight. He just made a big save off a shot in the aftermath of a corner. If only he'd played in Toronto, that fateful night.

62nd: SON OF A TRANNY WHORE (just for you, Sven). Mexico equalizes on a perfect header. 2-2.

Radzinski has been causing more trouble. I'm going to miss that guy. Poz gets a boot to the hip, but gets up.

73rd: Still 2-2. Watching Radzinski try to combine with Pozniak is like a guy playing chess with another playing checkers.

14,000 fans in attendance, probably half Mexicans.

HOLY LORD! Stalteri off the bar from 40 yards.

Radzinski is running the show. I don't think I can say it any other way.

83rd: Bernier plays Radzinski in alone with a perfect ball, but Radz misses by a foot. That would have been a boner and a half.

If you've been following my live blogs, you know that I can't handle the last 10 minutes of a close match. But we have a break because Hirschfeld just knocked over Hastings. We're in the final minutes of time added on. Radzinski has been a virtuoso tonight.

OH FUCK. Kevin Harmse with a silly foul on the same spot where Mexico scored in the first half.

No dice, game over. I need a drink.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Canada - Mexico game day post

Canada plays Mexico tomorrow in Edmonton, and I'm not even close to caring about it. Sure, I have bigger things on my mind that I'm not happy about, but a qualifying match when you're already eliminated, players are quitting on the team, and the coach refuses to resign, is hard to get excited about.

The Footie Fool has more on Mitchell being Mitchell.

For now, here are details on where and how to watch the game:

CONCACAF WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP B
CANADA VS MEXICO

15 October 2008

Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta
9 pm ET / 8 pm CT / 6 pm PT

Live on Sportsnet West & Pacific (digital cable only)
Streamed live at Sportsnet.ca

Other likely options for internet streaming video will be found at MyP2P and rojadirecta.

My understanding is that tickets for this match haven't been moving quickly (and I can't blame Edmontonians on this one), but for those going to the match, make it a great send off for Canada's second best player this cycle, Tomasz Radzinski.

There's been a significant shakeup in the Canada roster since Saturday, so it's worth posting the roster again. Of note, Atiba Hutchinson and Rob Friend have been allowed to return to their clubs, and while it's not mentioned in the CSA release, Dwayne De Rosario and Dale Mitchell have agreed to disagree and won't be collaborating in the near future:
But Mitchell lost the services of another player - at least temporarily - after electing not to summon Dwayne De Rosario for Wednesday's game with Mexico following a discussion with the influential Houston Dynamo attacking midfielder.

"It was a good conversation and I prefer to leave it at that," Mitchell said Monday night from Edmonton.
Gbeke has been added while Adrian Serioux returns after having served his suspension. The CSA continues to list Julian de Guzman in the team, but I'll assume that's an error, one of many in those parts.
Player Pos. Team League
Lars Hirschfeld GK CFR Cluj Romania
Dejan Jakovic D Red Star Belgrade Serbia
Mike Klukowski D Club Brugge Belgium
Kevin McKenna D 1. FC Köln Germany
Andre Hainault D FK SIAD Most Czech Rep.
Paul Stalteri D/M Tottenham England
Patrice Bernier M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
Tomasz Radzinski M/F Lierse Belgium
Ali Gerba F Milton Keynes Dons England
Richard Hastings D Inverness CT Scotland
Marcel de Jong D/M Roda JC Netherlands
Adrian Serioux D/M FC Dallas MLS
Chris Pozniak D/M Dundee FC Scotland
Kevin Harmse D/M Toronto FC MLS
Charles Gbeke F Vancouver Whitecaps USL
Iain Hume F Barnsley FC England
Joshua Wagenaar GK Yeovil Town FC England

There are rumblings about a falling out between Hume and Mitchell as well, but I don't want to throw any more shit at the fan, so I'll leave that alone for now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

So that's what it looks like to celebrate a win . . .


Congratulations to the Vancouver Whitecaps on winning the USL-1 title!

Two-goal man and man of the match, Charles Gbeke, has been called up to the Canada squad for the Mexico match on Wednesday. This is a puzzling move, to be sure, unless there is an injury to Gerba or Friend. No offense to Gbeke, but he's a 30-year old USL journeyman who surely isn't the future of the national team at the striker position.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Post mortem

Canada won't qualify for South Africa 2010. In fact, if you don't count Gold Cups, Canada won't play a meaningful match until 2012.

It's Thanksgiving, which is supposed to be a fairly upbeat holiday, what with the gratitude and all. For that reason, I'll avoid too much negativity in this post. Instead, I'll leave it to the pros.
It's not your fault, Mike.

CBC: World Cup disappointment: Canada just isn't good enough (Jason De Vos)

CBC: Canada eliminated from World Cup contention (Just the facts in this one)

Globe & Mail: Time to abolish the CSA (Ben Knight)

Edmonton Journal: Mitchell should pay price for failed World Cup bid


If you read just one article, choose the De Vos one. He's the only guy to admit that the players, as well as Mitchell and the CSA, need to shoulder some of the blame for this embarrassment.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Honduras - Canada live blog

CONCACAF WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP B
CANADA AT HONDURAS

11 October 2008

San Pedro Sula, Honduras
9:30 pm ET / 8:30 pm CT / 6:30 pm PT

Live on Sportsnet West & Pacific (digital cable only)
Streamed live at Sportsnet.ca

Last stand? (Please ignore the overt racial overtones!)

More information:
Group B standings:
Group/Grupo B
Group/Grupo BGP/PJW/GD/EL/P+/-PTS
Mexico33007:29
Honduras32015:36
Canada30123:51
Jamaica30121:61

As always, keep checking back for more.

In-game comments (now with more reader participation) will go live in the box below.


If you're interested in watching Mexico - Jamaica, try this link. There is currently some small debate on the Voyageurs site about which result is better for Canada. Mathematically a Jamaica win opens up more possibilities for Canada to advance, but a Mexico win would put them through to the next round, leaving them little to play for on Wednesday in Edmonton.

And on the off chance that you'll be interested in watching this evening's Toronto FC match (at FC Dallas), it is being streamed live at CBCSports.ca. The second half will coincide roughly with the 1st half of the Canada match, so hopefully you have your priorities straight.

Dale Mitchell has selected a very interesting starting eleven for the match:

CANADA: Hirschfeld; Harmse, McKenna, Hainault, Klukowski; Stalteri, Hutchinson, Bernier, De Jong; Radzinski and Gerba

It's listed as a 4-4-2. Stalteri moving into midfield is one big change. The other change is 3 new players in the back four. One of them is Harmse. I will be shitting bricks all night.

If you're confused, and not sure how to access the live content, click the 'play' button in the applet above. I'll provide periodic updates in plain ol' text as well.

Low tech half time update:
I'm far too nervous to do the live thing today, although our other guy is holding down the fort pretty well. Canada's makeshift lineup had a good half. You might have called it a great half if not for some defending that was a step slow and was punished. I'm not sure, but I think it was either McKenna or Hainault.

So it's 1-0 Honduras. Klukowski has been excellent, of course, and De Jong has been surprisingly good. But it's Tomasz Radzinski who has been the man so far. If Dale Mitchell takes him off for Iain Hume in the 60th minute, I'll probably stop watching.



It's over
. (Ok, so there are two minutes left. Whatever. I turned off the TV, Honduras up 3-1). I'm amazingly unpissed off. Mitchell coached a good game today, given the players at his disposal. Harmse was shockingly unshitty. Canada played hard, and lost on quality of finishing, and lucky bounces that went the other way.


Mitchell should obviously be fired, but on the basis of his previous work, not tonight.

Canada - Honduras game day preview

Canada's players in San Pedro Sula, standing about and looking confused. Will tonight be more of same?

This is a catch-all post for all things pre-game that I think of throughout the day.

Now here in Canada, we often complain about the quality of our soccer media. In a football-mad country like Honduras, I'd like to imagine that they are held to a higher standard. Which makes the following kind of funny:

POSIBLES ALINEACIONES

[... Honduras lineup omitted because I don't give a shit...]

Canadá: Lars Hirschfeld; Paul Stalteri, Richard Hastings, Mike Klukowski; Patrice Bernier, Atiba Hutchinson; Tomasz Radzinski, Iain Hume, Jim Brennan, Ali Gerba y Rob Friend.

(source)

This lineup would be pretty silly, even if not for the inclusion of Jim Brennan, who isn't part of the Canada squad for the foreseeable future, given his outburst of self-preservation.

But even giving this Honduran sportswriter clown the benefit of the doubt, do you really believe that Dale Mitchell will play with three at the back? It looks as if the semicolon (;) is used to delimit keeper/defense/mid. This alignment is a 3-2-5, a highly unorthodox formation, even for Mitchell.

The excellent, although infrequently updated, Unto the Dogs includes some far more rational and informed lineup speculation in his latest post.

* * * *

I'm not going to say much about the latest player to take shots at Mitchell and the CSA, conveniently ignoring their own uninspired play over the last few months. All you really need to know is that I am disappointed, and so should you be.

* * * *

I'm not sure what the live blog is going to look like tonight, but whatever form it takes, it is sure to be fuelled by overwrought emotion and beer. For tonight's drinking, I'm staying as close to home as possible. In fact, I'll be drinking my roommate's beer, as he's gone home to Saskatchewan for Thanksgiving. A local brew, and a good one:

Proost.

If you've got your beer in the fridge already, or you'll be draining the taps at some local establishment, what is it you'll be drinking to celebrate/forget tonight's match?

* * * *

I provided viewing instructions in my last post, but I'll add them again, to be clear. For tonight's game, your options are:

TV: Rogers Sportsnet West, but only if you have a digital package that includes all 4 regional Sportsnet channels.

Live stream: Sportsnet.ca -- a link should be available closer to match time. This may or may not be available to viewers outside of Canada.

P2P: Several options may be available. Also, check rojadirecta.

Liveblog: This will be the place.

Wherever you watch, the game starts at 9:30 pm et / 8:30 ct / 7:30 mt / 6:30 pt

Friday, October 10, 2008

It sneaks up on you

Maybe it's that Canada's dismal results in the first 3 matches of qualifying have me down, or perhaps it's just that other things in my life seem more important right now (I put sweet new bar tape on my bike last night, only 7 bucks!) Whatever the case may be, the fact that Canada will be playing two World Cup qualifiers over the next 5 days hasn't really hit me.

30 hours from now, it could all be mathematically over, instead of the depressing state of limbo that things are now in. On the other hand, in the unlikely event of a Canada win, the series of events that would lead to qualification for the hex would become significantly less improbable.

There are things to be encouraged about in Canadian soccer, if not in the current qualifying campaign. The Montreal Impact are all but through to the quarterfinals of CONCACAF Champions League play. They could only be derailed by a series of outcomes even more improbable than what is necessary for Canada to advance from this group.

And as good as it was when Canada beat Colombia in the Gold Cup final in 2000, and even though things seem to have gone downhill since then, I can tell you that the quality of Canada's soccer team has vastly improved over the last 8 years (yes, it was that long ago). I watched the match (with some liberal fast-forwarding) this afternoon looking for inspiration but found none in the style and quality of play. A telling sequence in the second half included Martin Nash springing Jeff Clarke into the area, who was fouled by the keeper, and the resulting penalty was put away by Carlo Corazzin. All A-League/USL players who had a brief cup of coffee in the British lower divisions. This was a team that included a CSL (then CPSL) player on the bench, and where missing Davide Xausa and Paul Peschisolido as starters was considered a big hurdle to overcome. Pedigree aside, the play on the pitch was ugly, disjointed, and not near the standard that we've seen from our boys lately, even in their last 3 losses.

What am I trying to say? I don't know. Maybe I'm preemptively looking for upside to console myself tomorrow night. Maybe there still is reason to believe.

It's all a little melancholy, not the kind of sentiment I'd like to have leading up to a match. So in order to change the mood, I'll abide by the title, if not the content, of this blog post.

Prognostications are unwise, but I don't care. Since a draw would probably be the most unsatisfying result, that's probably what it will be.

PREDICTION: CANADA 2 - 2 HONDURAS

And I would be remiss if I didn't provide detailed viewing instructions for tomorrow's match, because the way Sportsnet buries their Canada coverage, it can be hard to find.

If you're in eastern Canada, you'll need the digital package. The match is live on Sportsnet West and Pacific at 9:30 pm et / 8:30 ct / 6:30 pt. Be there or be square.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Live blog: Joe Public humiliation

Do you like that sweet before and after post title? I bet you did! Anyway, before I start riffing on Joe Public FC and their lame website, here are the details of tonight's match:

CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP C
MONTREAL IMPACT @ JOE PUBLIC FC

8 October 2008

Marvin Lee Stadium, Tunapuna, T & T
8 pm ET / 7 pm CT / 4 pm PT

Live on CBC Bold and streamed online at CBCSports.ca



Some pre-game thoughts . . .
  • Tunapuna??! Are you kidding me?
  • Montreal can win their group if everything falls into place today. Who would have thought that when the groups were drawn? They're like the anti-Canada.
  • This is the 42nd (43rd?) competitive match for the Impact this season.
  • The Joe Public manager claimed his side would win 4-0 in a news conference following the match back in September at Saputo, won by the Impact 2-0.
  • On the website: I'm no expert on web design, but I'm certain that neon green is unattractive and off-putting, no matter how you use it. In combination with red and blue, it is simply ghastly.

The Montreal Impact website provides a live tracker for all of their matches (click on "Sommaire du match" or flip to the English version of the website and find it yourself).

The starting lineup (for Montreal, I could care less about Joe Public's eleven)

IMPACT: Matt Jordan, Leonardo di Lorenzo, Simon Gatti, Cedric Joqueviel, Stefano Pesoli, Tony Donatelli, Sandro Grande, Rocco Placentino, David Testo, Peter Byers, Joey Gjertsen.

Uncharacteristically for Montreal there are only 3 Canadians among the starters (Grande, Placentino, Gatti). However, 5 of the 7 bench players are Canadian.

(Look for an in-depth post on the Canadian content at the Canadian pro clubs this season, once WCQ is over).

By the way, did you know that Midnight Madness is on right now at The Brick?

1st minute: Nigel informs me that this game isn't in Tunapuna, but at the main stadium in Port of Spain. This is a place of bad results for Canadian national teams, but I think the Impact will reverse the Trini voodoo.

Jason de Vos calls Figuero, the Joe Public keeper, a "mistake waiting to happen". It reminds me of when I was in elementary school and kept calling my friend an "overweight mistake" until he threatened to tell. Both are harsh, although de Vos seems to have some evidence for his assertion.

5th: Placentino scores! The shot goes right through the net, even though there wasn't a lot of power on it. Donatelli made a good cross, but the defending was pretty bad. I don't think it's likely that the Impact will be beaten by 4 goals. 1 - 0 Impact

9th
: The Impact play some really scrambly house league style defense, and the ball falls to a JP player who ties it up. 1 - 1. It really would be a shame not to get the full 3 points from this match, considering the last two group stage matches are against tougher opponents.

12th
: The play isn't the smoothest, but there's certainly a lot of action in this one. Di Lorenzo whips a sweet cross across the field, and then Donatelli scores on a nice left-footed shot from outside the box. 2-1 Impact.

19th
: Joe Public are so vulnerable on the counterattack it's not even funny. . . OK, it's funny. I wish I could come up with some "How vulnerable are they?" one-liners that aren't outrageously offensive.

29th
: There are a lot of Italian names on this Impact team. Donatelli, Grande, Pesoli, Di Lorenzo. And Placentino, of course.

36th
: Montreal is starting to become disorganized at the back and Limniatis is starting to lose his shit. Causation or correlation?

43rd
: Grande-Gjertsen-Byers-GOAL! I think I popped a little boner on the sweet pass by Grande. Canada could use that kind of skill couldn't they? 3-1 Impact.

HALF TIME
: I get the impression there aren't a lot of readers for this one. Maybe I'll get back to my schoolwork for a bit.

FULL TIME
: I bagged the homework for now and watched the 2nd half. There wasn't a lot in it, as Montreal sat back comfortably and waited out Joe Public. Donatelli eventually got another goal on a slick set up from Gjertsen and some indecisive keeping from Public's Figueroa.


4-1 final. Nigel and Jason were discussing where Montreal will play if they go through (which now is all but a certainty) when the quarterfinals are held in February. Olympic Stadium being the answer they offered. I'm not big on soccer being played indoors and on an artificial surface, but as much of waste of taxpayer's money that that stadium has been, it sure looks nice.

Sweet.

That would look awfully nice with about 40,000 black and blue clad Impact supporters.

A penny for your thoughts (and other thoughts)

Who does he think he is with no sleeves? Rafael Nadal?

Brennan quits national men's soccer team
(yesterday, the headlines for the same article read "Brennan demands changes to national soccer team" which was a bit rich for a guy on the way out).

What do you think?

Other bloggers speak:

The Footie Fool:
If there wasn’t so much dirt swirling around the CSA and Dale Mitchell’s relationship with the team, then you could write off Brennan’s comments as sour grapes. He has been called away from TFC and, some would argue, has been underutilized when called during this WCQ campaign. But because the persistent rumblings of mismanagement, both on and off the pitch, keep swirling around, you have to think that Brennan is not the only one harbouring these types of feelings towards both the CSA and Mitchell.
Or, if you prefer, his much shorter analysis that he posted in the comments here: "Good points. Bad timing. Nice tat's."

Joe Ross at the Score:
I've have some mixed feelings about this outburst. On one hand, I applaud any effort by a Canadian player to call out how crappy the set-up is at the CSA.

[...]

On the other hand - last time I checked - Canada's actually still in this thing, despite all the doom and gloom. Yeah, I don't really think they'll qualify. But I'm saying there's a chance.

And if there still is a chance, it's not really the right time to throw the coach under the bus and perhaps further unsettle the squad - especially when he's getting criticism from almost every corner of the Canadian soccer media. Perhaps waiting until they are mathematically eliminated would have been more helpful to the cause.
This is all sound and reasonable analysis, which tends not to be much fun.

I was trying to come up with a good analogy (sports, politics, movies, or otherwise) that would best convey the idea of a fringe contributor with a bad attitude lashing out at the coach after he had not been called up. The problems with the CSA are obvious and known to many, and I'm sure Brennan isn't alone in his views among the players. But Brennan doesn't come off looking good on this one, and I'm sure some other national teamers won't appreciate having their efforts sandbagged in this way either.

I suppose it all comes back to Mike Klukowski who was snatched the left back role and will beat all comers who try to take it away.


Last but not least, Fire Dale! Well, maybe not. Or not for this reason. But I was sure Mitchell would listen to my quite logical argument that Will Johnson should be the one called into the squad to replace Julian de Guzman (injured). But Mitchell, in his finite wisdom, has selected Nik Ledgerwood instead. The article begins thusly:
Ein weiterer Löwe auf dem Weg zur Weltmeisterschaft 2010 in Südafrika? Nikolas Ledgerwood wurde kurzfristig für die Qualifikations-Länderspiele der kanadischen A-Nationalmannschaft gegen Honduras und Mexiko nachnominiert.

Auf dem Weg zur WM 2010 treffen die „Ahornblätter" am 11. Oktober auf Honduras und am 15. Oktober in Edmonton auf Mexiko. Nationaltrainer Dale Mitchell nominierte den 23-jährigen Mittelfeldspieler des TSV 1860 für das Team Canada, dem auch der Gladbacher Rob Friend und der Ex-Bremer Paul Stalteri angehören. Ledgerwood rückte als Ersatzmann nach, flog am Mittwoch über Miami umgehend zur Nationalmannschaft.
Babelfish is your friend.

And as much as I thought that the logic behind a Johnson callup was overwhelming, I have to give Mitchell and the CSA credit for calling in an extra midfielder, instead of cheaping out and playing with a short bench.


Please don't forget: The Impact may be out of the USL championships after being beaten by Vancouver, but they are still in excellent shape in the Concacaf Champions League. A win in tonight's match (CBC Bold, CBCSports.ca, 8 pm ET) against Joe Public of Trinidad combined with a good result in their group's other match would clinch a spot for Montreal in the next round.

I might be up for providing a live blog of sorts, complete with questionable remarks about Trinis and one-sided commentary, if I can get through a pile of schoolwork in the next few hours.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Who will replace thee, JDG

There's news, and it's bad, regarding one of Mitchell's selections for Honduras and Mexico. From the Footie Fool:
Well, as if this WCQ campaign could stink anymore, it has now completely gone from crap to shite. Reports from the Deportivo website (via squizz) say Julian De Guzman is injured and out for 2 weeks. No DeRo, no Serioux, no De Guzman.
Ok, I was trying to soften the blow a little above by referring to our best player as merely "one of Mitchell's selections". This sucks. If it was a different player, I would be giving a cynical spiel about the club trying to protect their man from getting hurt in a pair of no-hope international matches. But I'm willing to give this de Guzman the benefit of the doubt. (The other de Guzman, on the other hand . . .)

Now, call me crazy, but of the three absences that the Fool is lamenting, Serioux might be the most important. De Guzman was brilliant against Jamaica, but was indifferent at best (a less generous soul might choose a different descriptor) against Honduras and Mexico. Dwayne De Rosario has been invisible since padding his national team stats against St. Vincent. Serioux has, among other things, scored a goal, put the hurt on a few opponents, and been one of the best players for Canada.

(It pains me to be agreeing with a coach who by all rights should be out the door, but he thinks Klukowski has been the man so far, which means Jim Brennan can stay home where he belongs:
"Mike Klukowski for me has been one of our better players, if not our best player over the three games," Mitchell said. "For those guys (Brennan and Jazic), they've got matches with their teams and I felt it was better they stayed with their teams and played -- rather than come away for 10 days and maybe be not be involved as much as they would like with us."
Boner!)


The de Guzman injury sucks, but the real tragedy would be if Mitchell doesn't call somebody up to replace him. With Julian scratched, there are now only 17 bodies for the Honduras match, and even though DDR has been poor, he's a warm body that plays midfield. Remaining midfielders include Atiba Hutchinson, Patrice Bernier, Chris Pozniak (umm...), and Kevin Harmse (gulp!), and wide players Tomasz Radzinski, Marcel de Jong, and maybe Iain Hume.

There are two reasonable options and I mentioned these recently: Will Johnson and Sandro Grande.


Sandro Grande
Pros: He's played for Canada before (12 caps, 1 goals); he's on a good run of form at the moment for the Montreal Impact
Cons: He's likely exhausted, although Montreal's schedule has opened up a little bit with the Impact losing out to the Whitecaps (nice 'impact' pun in the headline, hack) in the USL semifinals. Also, his defensive midfield role is the one spot where Canada's roster has depth (Bernier, Harmse and Poz all play or have played in this role for club and country).

Will, getting sliced down, on the right.

Will Johnson

Pros: Also seemingly on a good run of form, he is an automatic 90 minute player for awkwardly named Real Salt Lake of MLS. In addition, he has the box-to-box skills and high work rate that Julian brings to the table when he's in the mood. He's made his commitment to Canada clear with numerous performances at various levels, most recently the Olympic qualifiers with the U23s.
Cons: We've never really had a chance to see if he can perform at the full international level. He has played a total of 38 minutes over 4 caps, without making much of an impression.


You've probably already guessed that I favour Johnson. The 'unknown' factor might actually work in his favour, given the less than awesome performances we've come to expect from some of the known quantities.

Really, though, I'll be pleased if Mitchell and the CSA have the cojones to be make any sort of supplemental selection. Johnson, Grande, heck, even Martin Nash would have been a decent choice if the 'Caps weren't playing the next day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Canada roster for Honduras, Mexico qualifiers

Some of the contributors over at the Voyageurs forum are losing their shit over Dale Mitchell's selections for the next two qualifying matches, particularly the selection of Kevin Harmse and leaving Jim Brennan behind.
Harmse

Rogen

We're not big fans of the Pineapple Express either, but it's a depth move and Brennan hadn't done much useful for Canada anyway. Other surprises are the return of the Wizard of Poz, Chris Pozniak, and Josh Wagenaar coming into the squad to backup Lars, instead of Greg Sutton or Pat Onstad.

As always, you can consult the official version, but my quick and dirty summary of the player called up should be all you need:

Player Pos. Team League
Lars Hirschfeld GK CFR Cluj Romania
Chris Pozniak D/M Dundee FC Scotland
Mike Klukowski D Club Brugge Belgium
Kevin McKenna D 1. FC Köln Germany
Andre Hainault D FK SIAD Most Czech Rep.
Julian de Guzman M Deportivo La Coruna Spain
Paul Stalteri D/M Tottenham England
Kevin Harmse D/M Toronto FC MLS
Tomasz Radzinski M/F Lierse Belgium
Ali Gerba F Milton Keynes Dons England
Richard Hastings D Inverness CT Scotland
Dejan Jakovic D Red Star Belgrade Serbia
Atiba Hutchinson M F.C. København Denmark
Marcel de Jong D/M Roda JC Netherlands
Patrice Bernier M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
Rob Friend F Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany
Iain Hume F Barnsley FC England
Joshua Wagenaar GK Yeovil Town FC England
Dwayne De Rosario** M/F Houston Dynamo MLS
Adrian Serioux** D/M FC Dallas MLS

** Serioux and De Rosario are unavailable for the Honduras match due to suspension. Expect them to play against Mexico.

All-time caps and goals:
Player Caps Goals
Lars Hirschfeld 24 0
Chris Pozniak 21 0
Mike Klukowski 18 0
Kevin McKenna 37 9
Andre Hainault 11 0
Julian de Guzman 35 4
Paul Stalteri 70 7
Kevin Harmse 6 0
Tomasz Radzinski 43 9
Ali Gerba 21 10
Richard Hastings 51 1
Dejan Jakovic 1 0
Atiba Hutchinson 39 2
Marcel de Jong 4 0
Patrice Bernier 34 0
Rob Friend 21 2
Iain Hume 25 2
Joshua Wagenaar 1 0
Dwayne De Rosario 52 15
Adrian Serioux 18 1
Total 532 62
Average 26.6 3.1

I have a hard time getting too worked up about these selections. The dream is dead, or close to it, and there is no reason to believe Canada will play any worse with Poz, Harmse, and de Jong on the bench than when Imhof, Occean and Brennan were riding pine.

If you're as worked up as I am about the Montreal Impact's recent triumphs, you might want to make the case for Sandro Grande, but with the fixture congestion they've been dealing with (a figure I heard is a match every 2.8 days since August) he could probably use the rest.

I still think Will Johnson would have been a good choice, although the ridiculous MLS move to play on international dates complicates that a bit.