Friday, May 29, 2009

Do I have readers in high places?

From a CSA presser today: Canadians influence Canadian championship
This year, four of the five goals in the competition have been scored by Canadians. Toronto FC's Kevin Harmse scored in the opening 1:0 victory over the Impact de Montréal; Vancouver's Marcus Haber and Charles Gbeke both scored in a 2:0 victory over the Impact in Montréal; Ethan Gage scored the latest goal in a 1:0 victory over the Impact in Vancouver.

Only one goal was scored by a non-Canadian: Chad Barrett's goal in Toronto FC's 1:0 victory over Whitecaps FC at BMO Field.
From my match report after matchday 3:
It was also nice to see both goals scored by Canadian players. 3 of the 4 goals scored in Voyageurs Cup play this season have been scored by Canadians, with Chad Barrett providing the lone foreign goal.
From said press release:
Haber was briefly the youngest goal scorer in competition history; he also set the record for quickest goal in a Nutrilite Canadian Championship match (first minute). Gage, just three weeks from his 18th birthday, is now the youngest goal scorer in the competition's short history.
From my math report after matchday 3:
Marcus Haber's goal in the 1st minute was the quickest ever in NCC competition
. . . and from my report after matchday 4:
Last week Marcus Haber became, I think, the youngest goal scorer in Nutrilite Canadian Championship history. Now Ethan Gage holds the honour.
Coincidence?

Now, I'm not saying some CSA staffer is cribbing my blog for press releases. These are all fairly obvious facts, and make sense to be included in a report on Canadians in the Canadian championship. And even if this blog was used as a source I wouldn't really mind.

All I'm asking you to do is to draw your own conclusions.

While you're doing that, check out the latest developments in the Jacob Lensky saga.

My opinion: FC Utrecht aren't a bad side, and if he is committed to making a go of professional football, not a bad place to be. I always like having players in a country where I can read the language (you hear that Atiba -- get the hell out of Denmark!).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 4 Report

Just the facts:
Scoring Summary:
67' - VAN - Ethan Gage

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Jay Nolly; 4.Justin Thompson, 8.Wes Knight, 22.Takashi Hirano, 27.Jeff Parke; 7.Martin Nash, 16.Ansu Toure (18.Mason Trafford 90'), 19.Justin Moose (24.Lyle Martin 63'), 20.Ethan Gage; 14.Marcus Haber (11.Dever Orgill 87'), 98.Charles Gbeke


Montreal Impact
1.Matt Jordan; 2.Kevin Sakuda, 3.Adam Braz, 18.Leonardo Di Lorenzo (28.Peter Byers 79'), 25.Zanzan Atte-Oudeyi (14.Tony Donatelli 74'); 8.Sandro Grande, 21.Felix Brillant (19.Pa Amadou Gai 69'), 23.Stephen deRoux , 24.Simon Gatti; 12.Eduardo Sebrango, 17.Joey Gjertsen

Stupid headline: Caps make big Impact in Nutrilite Series
Not only is it a rather weak use of the impact pun, but while this tournament has been called various things, officially and unofficially, in its short existence, 'Nutrilite Series' is not one of them.

Simon Gatti's Ben Hur impression
:


Two paragraph analysis
I didn't watch the match. Instead, I was watching a PVR'd recording of Barcelona - Manchester United, which ended the way that I had hoped. Knowing the result in advance lifted the burden of nerves and emotions from the experience, so I was able to enjoy football for football's sake. Barcelona's play did not disappoint. I can say unequivocally that that is the best club football I have seen this year.

That said, it is perhaps a bit unfortunate that a large proportion of those who tuned into Vancouver - Montreal had already watched this superior display of football earlier in the day. From all reports, this Nutrilite match was sloppy and lacking in flow and urgency. Vancouver winning is good for interest's sake for the remainder of the tournament, but in the long run what is good for Canadian soccer is good soccer being played in Canada.

Analysis from people who actually watched the match is welcome. Use the comments section.


One (or two) sentence thoughts
  • Last week Marcus Haber became, I think, the youngest goal scorer in Nutrilite Canadian Championship history. Now Ethan Gage holds the honour.
  • Montreal need to get fitter, deeper, and younger in their squad.
  • This tournament might have gone quite differently for Montreal if defenders Stefano Pesoli, Cedric Jocqueviel, and Nevio Pizzolitto had not missed some or all of the action.

Bonus video archive info
I believe Radio Canada had a web broadcast of last night's match en français and an archived version should be available soon on their soccer page.


Canadian content report

Both teams started 5 Canadians. The difference, which reveals a lot about the present and future of both clubs, is that Vancouver fielded two Canadian starters 20 or younger (Haber and Gage), while the youngest Canadian starter for Montreal was Adam Braz, who is 27.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Justin Thompson 90
Martin Nash 90
Mason Trafford 1
Ethan Gage 90
Marcus Haber 87
Charles Gbeke 90
Total Mins 448


MONTREAL IMPACT
Adam Braz 90
Sandro Grande 90
Felix Brillant 69
Simon Gatti 90
Eduardo Sebrango 90
Total Mins 429


The pool report
Quite a number of people nailed the correct result of last night's match. The full list of precocious prognosticators: M@, Duane Rollins, squizz, Nuvinho, Joe Ross, Serie_AHH, Kevin Rollins, and nobuzz.

We now have a three way tie for the lead the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Pool:

Difference Entries
3 M@, squizz, Nuvinho
4 Lucky Strike, Kevin Rollins, 3LionRoar
5 Duane Rollins, Joe Ross, Elvis, Joe Soccer Fan, Scott Hegedus
6 P, Kevin Elder, dyslexic nam, zeelew, Serie_AHH, coxon
7 J, Rob, PhilD, Simon B, Matt John Gregg
8 Lord Bob, Dan
9 maxg, Headhunting Canuck, nobuzz
10 Sam, vweyonlah


Tables

STANDINGS
Team W D L Pts
Toronto FC 2
0 0 6
Vancouver Whitecaps
2 0 1
6
Montreal Impact 0 0 3
0


TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Kevin Harmse Toronto
1
Chad Barrett
Toronto
1
Marcus Haber
Vancouver
1
Charles Gbeke
Vancouver
1
Ethan Gage
Vancouver
1


Next match: 2 June 2009: Toronto FC @ Vancouver Whitecaps

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 4 Preview

The Voyageurs Cup match clearly isn't the biggest match going on today. In fact, the other match was so big that, even though I was careful, I learned of the result (though not the score, so don't blab) well in advance of my 9 pm viewing appointment. There were a few things I needed to check online in the intervening time, and I thought if I pussyfooted around a bit, I wouldn't spoil the surprise.

Live and learn, I suppose.

I suspect if you wanted to keep yourself in the dark with tonight's match at Swangard Stadium between Vancouver and Montreal, you wouldn't have such trouble. Reason being that you will probably be in bed by the time its over, unless you're a left-coaster.

Details:


NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHDAY 2
VANCOUVER vs MONTREAL

27 May 2009

Swangard Stadium, Burnaby, British Columbia
10:30 pm et / 9:30 pm ct / 7:30 pm pt


Sportsnet will have live coverage in all regions.

I'll be honest-- I had planned on avoiding the internet entirely, and only decided to throw together a post because of my failing to remain ignorant of the Champs League result, and the magnaminous move by the 24th minute to send some traffic my way.

The game
Until Vancouver (and hopefully Montreal) establish themselves in MLS, it is likely that somewhere near the midpoint of the Voyageurs Cup, one of the two USL-1 sides will become the clear challenger to Toronto FC for the title. Vancouver's win at Saputo last week put the Whitecaps in position to make that challenge. A draw essentially gives TFC the title, while a Montreal win also makes for some problems. The only result that will take this competition down to the wire is a Vancouver win, which would be my desired outcome in any case.

I don't have much in the way of further insight, save for these comments about Montreal's lineup: The Impact's central defense, already missing Stefano Pesoli and Cedric Jocqueviel, will be without captain Nevio Pizzolitto due to suspension. On the bright side, Leo di Lorenzo, who is arguably Montreal's best player, will be back in the fold for the first time this season.

Press
I haven't been reading many soccer articles today, because of work, and the danger of accidentally running across Champions League news. But with the latter problem being made moot, here's an interesting one that provides more depth than the typical game-day piece in Canadian papers:

Dos Santos infuses Impact with European style

Marc Dos Santos wasn't born in 1974, when The Netherlands reached the first
of two consecutive World Cup finals, but he has come to appreciate the "total
soccer" style of play used by that team, nicknamed Clockwork Orange.

"It involved a lot of possession," the Impact head coach said. "A lot
of attacking play. At the same time, they never lost balance defensively. That's
what I like about that soccer. But it's very tough to get there because you need
players who, all of them, have to be very comfortable on the ball. It's one- or
two-touch soccer. It's a dream team."

[...]

"You do try to establish your own approach in terms of tactics, but
absolutely you take from here and there," he said. "After you analyze so much
soccer, so many tactical aspects from different teams, you start to identify
yourself closer to a methodology.

"That's what happened to me with the Dutch way of training and playing. But
also with the Portuguese after having lived there for so many years. I think my
identity, the coach I am today, is a big mix of what I saw in the past, what I
studied over the last 10 years."


I don't wish him particularly well tonight, but I am hopeful that Dos Santos has a bright future in the game in this country.



* * * * *


Canada plays Cyprus on Saturday, in a match none of us will see on TV. There have been some changes to the last lineup which I wrote about over the weekend. As I suggested, Marcel de Jong won't be available, as he will be trying to rescue his Roda JC from the drop in the Eredivisie.

The initial 17-man squad, less de Jong, was bolstered by two additions to make 18. Stephen Hart added Eddy Sidra (who?!) and D. Imhof to the squad. Not Daniel Imhof (an easy mistake to make, which the CSA did in their first press release on Tuesday) but his little brother Dominic, who toils somewhere in the Swiss pyramid.

This is more than a little bit of a letdown, as I was looking forward to seeing (or, rather, hearing about) a Canada squad with Imhof handling the defensive midfield duties, freeing up Julian de Guzman to attack Cypriots to his heart's delight.

Eddy Sidra, by the way, has represented Canada at the U20 level and has featured for the Cottbus reserves this season.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Canada roster for Cyprus friendly - the Real McCoy

After a puzzling Canada roster was published by the Cyprus FA, diehard Canadian soccer fans were left scratching their heads. The new roster, albeit still preliminary, clears up a few of the obvious mistakes of the first.

The players:

# Player Pos. Team League
1 Lars Hirschfeld GK CFR Cluj Romania
18 Kenny Stamatopoulos GK FC Lyn Oslo Norway
2 Nik Ledgerwood D/M TSV 1860 München Germany
3 Chris Pozniak D/M Dundee FC Scotland
4 Adrian Cann D Esbjerg fB Denmark
5 Kevin McKenna D 1. FC Köln Germany
6 Julian de Guzman M Deportivo la Coruna Spain
7 Paul Stalteri D/M Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany
8 Tyler Hemming M/F Charleston Battery USL
10 Tosaint Ricketts F Myllykosken Pallo –47 Finland
11 Richard Hastings D Inverness CT Scotland
12 Issey Nakajima-Farran M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
13 Jaime Peters M Ipswich Town FC England
14 Marcel de Jong M Roda JC Netherlands
15 Josh Simpson M FC Kaiserslautern Germany
16 Andrzej Ornoch F Esbjerg fB Denmark
17 Simeon Jackson F Gillingham FC England

Players dropped from the initial lineup include Tomasz Radzinski (busy with a promotion playoff), Patrice Bernier, and Rob Friend (injured). Taking their place are Tosaint Ricketts, who some will remember from the 2007 U20 team and former TFC player Tyler Hemming.

Hemming, Ricketts, and Simeon Jackson are all in line to receive their first Canada caps. The rest of the story, in caps and goals:

# Player Caps
7 Paul Stalteri 73
11 Richard Hastings 53
5 Kevin McKenna 38
6 Julian de Guzman 35
1 Lars Hirschfeld 27
3 Chris Pozniak 23
15 Josh Simpson 18
12 Issey Nakajima-Farran 16
13 Jaime Peters 15
14 Marcel de Jong 7
18 Kenny Stamatopoulos 5
4 Adrian Cann 4
16 Andrzej Ornoch 2
2 Nik Ledgerwood 2
17 Simeon Jackson 0
8 Tyler Hemming 0
10 Tosaint Ricketts 0

Total 318

Average 18.71






# Player Goals
5 Kevin McKenna 9
7 Paul Stalteri 7
6 Julian de Guzman 4
11 Richard Hastings 1
12 Issey Nakajima-Farran 1
13 Jaime Peters 1
17 Simeon Jackson 0
16 Andrzej Ornoch 0
15 Josh Simpson 0
14 Marcel de Jong 0
10 Tosaint Ricketts 0
2 Nik Ledgerwood 0
18 Kenny Stamatopoulos 0
1 Lars Hirschfeld 0
8 Tyler Hemming 0
4 Adrian Cann 0
3 Chris Pozniak 0

Total 23

Average 1.35

The inclusion of Marcel de Jong and Paul Stalteri is described as "subject to their club competition this coming weekend", according to the release. One assumes this means that de Jong will join the team if his Roda JC are eliminated in their relegation playoff, and Stalteri will be available if Moenchengladbach's result this weekend means that their match on the final day of the season, which coincides with the Cyprus friendly, has no relegation implications.

Despite being thin up front (none of the striker options in this bunch have ever scored for Canada), this is as strong a lineup as could be expected. I continue to be surprised by the inclusion of Julian de Guzman.

Nobody asked, but this would be my XI:

Hirschfeld

Stalteri - McKenna - Cann - de Jong Hastings

Peters - de Guzman - Ledgerwood - Simpson

Jackson - Ornoch

(Hastings swapped in for de Jong, since it looks as if he won't be available. See below)

In all likelihood, experienced players like Pozniak and Hastings will get the start, but it would be a shame if some the young guys, and particularly Simeon Jackson and Andrzej Ornoch, didn't get to see the pitch.

UPDATE: De Jong out? It sure looks that way. After spending some considerable time studying the arcane inner workings of the KNVB promotion/relegation system, it looks like Roda's 1-0 win today will keep them busy next weekend with a best-of-three series against either Cambuur Leeuwarden or FC Zwolle.

Looks like I'll have to re-think my starting XI.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 3 Report

Just the facts:
Scoring Summary:
1' - VAN - Marcus Haber (Gordon Chin)
17' - VAN - Charles Gbeke (Takashi Hirano)


Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Jay Nolly; 6.Wesley Charles, 8.Wes Knight, 22.Takashi Hirano, 27.Jeff Parke (4.Justin Thompson 30'); 7.Martin Nash, 16.Ansu Toure (12.Geordie Lyall 71'), 20.Ethan Gage, 28.Gordon Chin (19.Justin Moose 58'); 14.Marcus Haber, 98.Charles Gbeke


Montreal Impact
1.Matt Jordan; 2.Kevin Sakuda, 3.Adam Braz, 5.Nevio Pizzolitto, 25.Zanzan Atte-Oudeyi (23.Stephen deRoux 60'); 8.Sandro Grande, 9.Rocco Placentino (28.Peter Byers 76'), 17.Joey Gjertsen (21.Felix Brillant 70'), 24.Simon Gatti; 10.Roberto Brown, 12.Eduardo Sebrango


Stupid headline: Impact math challenged
It's not such a stupid headline, but it is a little puzzling until you realize that it refers to the Impact's dwindling mathematical chances at repeating as Voyageurs Cup holders and Nutrilite Canadian Champions.

Marcus Haber vs Adam Braz, a story in pictures:

Haber gets free . . .

but Braz always wins in the end.

Two paragraph analysis
I feel like there's a lot to write about this time. From a neutral's perspective (OK, I'm nominally supporting the Whitecaps) this match, and especially the first half, was the most exciting action of the tournament to date. The Vancouver goals were both well taken, and the Whitecaps were up 2-0 before Montreal even seemed to take an interest in the match. I don't know enough of the science of goaltending to say whether Montreal keeper Matt Jordan should have gotten to either Haber's or Gbeke's goal, but he did redeem himself later on with an excellent save from Justin Moose. Jordan's counterpart, Vancouver's Jay Nolly, did one better by completing a clean sheet, while facing a barrage of chances in the late first half and throughout the second.

Montreal was probably unlucky not to score, hitting three crossbars in the first half alone. At the same time, Vancouver defended well in the second half, and did the right thing by sitting back and not getting caught too often too far up the field, once they had taken their lead. Vancouver's defensive ride sight (mainly Wes Knight) was taken advantage of a bit in the second half, but it was a bend-not-break philosophy that got the needed result. It was a good approach for an away team. Despite all the near misses for Montreal, Vancouver deserved to win, just like they were the better opposition for Toronto in the first two matches. They are the 'non-Toronto' choice for this year's V-Cup.

One (or two) sentence thoughts
  • I'll take this French announcer pairing, with their lame "Justin Moose, cousin of chocolate mousse" jokes and hockey analogies, over Gerry Dobson/Craig Forrest or Nigel Reed/Jason de Vos. They are really nails.
  • Marcus Haber's goal in the 1st minute was the quickest ever in NCC competition and the first (and only, to date) scored by a Canadian-born Canadian. (Nash, Harmse, and Gbeke are born elsewhere).
  • Tonight I have no qualms about saying it: Gjertsen and Sakuda, two of Montreal's Americans, were pretty bad again, though Gjertsen's night would have looked a lot better had the shot he smashed off the crossbar ('le fameux transversale') gone in.
  • The ref, Steven del Piero of Toronto, had a rough night, missing some obvious calls, but nothing as controversial as penalty claims or dubious offside calls.
  • Montreal's defense was carved up on both Vancouver goals. It shouldn't come as a surprise, with centre backs #2 and #3, Stefano Pesoli and Cedric Jocqueviel, out injured and Adam Braz deputizing (and the ineffectual Sakuda taking Braz' spot at RB).
  • Montreal continued to miss Leo di Lorenzo, though I think Zanzan was a bright spot until he was substituted.
  • Roberto Brown missed a free header in the second half that can only be described as Chad Barrett-esque.

Bonus video archive info
If you missed the match or would like to watch it again, you can watch an archived version of the match with the Radio Canada commentary. Simply click here, and find the "Web diffusion: à revoir" section, and press play on the Vancouver - Montreal match.


Canadian content report

Montreal started 6 Canadians and Vancouver 5, with a few more entering the game as substitutes. I thought the young Canadians for Vancouver, Haber and Gage, acquitted themselves quite well. It was also nice to see both goals scored by Canadian players. 3 of the 4 goals scored in Voyageurs Cup play this season have been scored by Canadians, with Chad Barrett providing the lone foreign goal.

There was also the occasional all-Canadian tractor-pull foot-race between the not-exactly-fleet-footed Charles Gbeke, and the unsvelte Adam Braz.

MONTREAL IMPACT
Adam Braz 90
Nevio Pizzolitto 90
Simon Gatti 90
Sandro Grande 90
Eduardo Sebrango 90
Rocco Placentino 76
Felix Brillant 20
Total Mins 546


VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Ethan Gage 90
Martin Nash 90
Charles Gbeke 90
Marcus Haber 90
Justin Thompson 60
Gordon Chin 58
Geordie Lyall 19
Total Mins 497


The pool report
Today's result should not have come as a surprise to those who have followed the two clubs in USL-1 play this season, or who watched the two teams match up against Toronto FC, but it certainly caught most pool participants off guard. Only two readers predicted a Vancouver win, with Scott Hegedus' prediction of a 2-1 scoreline coming the closest.

Lucky Strike sits alone in the lead for the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Pool:

Difference Entries
2 Lucky Strike
3 M@, squizz, Nuvinho, 3LionRoar
4 Kevin Elder, zeelew, Elvis, Kevin Rollins, Joe Soccer Fan, Scott Hegedus
5 P, Duane Rollins, Rob, dyslexic nam, Joe Ross, PhilD, Simon B, Matt John Gregg, coxon
6 J, Dan, Serie_AHH,
7 Sam, Lord Bob, Headhunting Canuck
8 maxg, vweyonlah
9 nobuzz


Tables

STANDINGS
Team W D L Pts
Toronto FC 2
0 0 6
Vancouver Whitecaps
1 0 1
3
Montreal Impact 0 0
0


TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Kevin Harmse Toronto
1
Chad Barrett
Toronto
1
Marcus Haber
Vancouver
1
Charles Gbeke
Vancouver
1


Next match: 27 May 2009: Montreal Impact @ Vancouver Whitecaps

Voyageurs Cup Viewing Guide


Your guide to viewing tonight's Nutrilite Canadian Championship match between l'Impact de Montréal and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Les détails:

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHDAY 2
MONTREAL vs VANCOUVER

20 May 2009

Stade Saputo, Montreal, Quebec
8 pm et / 7 pm ct / 5 pm pt


Télévision:
Radio-Canada sports


L'Analyse
:
'Caps set for big clash in Montreal


Le live blog:
Le vingt-quatrième minute

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hors jeu?

Offside or not offside? You be the judge:




Hint: It's not offside.

Slowing it down even further, to the world of still photographs. The moment the ball was played.

It's not even that close.

Now, in interest of fairness, if anybody wants to submit to me a link to the two "clear penalties" that should have been awarded to Toronto, the alleged existence of which are used to argue that Montreal was not hard done by overall, you're more than welcome.

(If you don't have the foggiest notion of what I'm talking about, clue yourself in).


NOTE: Please don't go spamming my comment section telling me how Toronto had 17 shots and Montreal only 3. All I want to do is draw your attention to a controversial decision that was clearly wrong. I'm not trying to argue that Montreal should have won the game, only that they should have had 1 goal.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coaches on the move

Upon arriving home from work this afternoon, I immediately headed over the the Winnipeg Free Press sports section to see what kind of lame headline had been chosen for last night's match between Toronto and Montreal. I was expecting something typical, like "Montreal fails to make Impact against Toronto". The Impact pun, as always, is a must.

Instead, two somewhat surprising pieces of coaching news caught my eye. Surprising not only for their content, but because the FP's rather sparse soccer coverage all of a sudden featured a bevy of wire stories.

Impact fire Limniatis, name Marc Dos Santos interim head coach

MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact dumped John Limniatis as head coach on Thursday, a day after a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC.

[...]
"Since the match against Santos Laguna (in the quarter-finals of the Champions League), it was felt that the team had no continuity," said De Santis. "When there is no result, it becomes more difficult for the coach.

"We analyzed the situation over the last three months and we thought it was time to make a change before things got worse."

A variety of reasons for the firing have been suggested. The team's slow start in USL play and the meltdown against Santos in the CCL quarterfinals are among the popular explanations. It is also very likely that the firing and the recent 1-game suspension of Sandro Grande by the team are not unrelated.

Old Yeller is being put down.

I think it would be shortsighted to suggest that last night's result had a lot to do with it, since all in all, it wasn't that bad. Back in September, I briefly suggested that Limniatis might make a suitable replacement for Dale Mitchell, which makes me glad I'm not running things soccer-wise for Canada.

Speaking of Sandro Grande and the loss to Toronto, the bald-headed midfield maven took responsibility for the loss, in a rather strange way: by implicating himself and two of his teammates:

Grande: «Testo, Sakuda et moi avons fait perdre le match» (Grande: "Testo, Sakuda and I lost the match)

And, to be honest, I have a hard time disagreeing, though I'd also throw Joey Gjertsen into the mix.

I don't know a lot about Marc dos Santos, but apparently his credentials are solid. Limniatis, apparently, will be allowed to stay within the Impact family, which means he'll probably be punching the clock at a cheese-packing factory somewhere.

* * * * *

The other piece of news, less surprising, though even less likely to appeal to many reading the Winnipeg sports pages:
Louis van Gaal not taking any AZ Alkmaar players to Bayern Munich

The last I had heard, van Gaal to Bayern was only a rumour. Van Gaal coached AZ to an Eredivisie championship this past season, and an automatic Champions League berth, so I'd be happier if he had stayed.


Louis van Gaal (x2)

Looking for some reaction from someone closer to the scene, I searched google.nl for 'az blog' and checked the first result.

The reaction:
Louis van Gaal als trainer van FC Hollywood… Zou er een club zijn die de trainer meer op het lijf geschreven is?

Hoe dan ook, Van Gaal heeft er veel zin in. En terecht ook, al is het natuurlijk geen makkelijke club waar hij tot medio 2011 aan de slag gaat. Bayern is toch een beetje het ajax van duitsland. Er moeten prijzen gewonnen, en het publiek is daarmee tamelijk verwend in de loop der jaren… Het waren trouwens niet de minsten, die vandaag in Amsterdam waren om de laatste zaakjes te regelen: met Karl-Heinz Rummenigge en Uli Hoeness was er toch in ieder geval een brok aan internationale voetbalfaam! Als we de Duitse media mogen geloven, heeft Dirk Scheringa overigens niet moeilijk gedaan en omdat AZ geen contractsom vraagt speelt Bayern München in de zomer van 2010 een oefenwedstrijd in Alkmaar.
My translation:
Louis van Gaal as manager of FC Hollywood . . . Could there be any club better suited to him?

Of course, Van Gaal wants the job. And to be sure, it is no easy club that he will work for until mid 2011. Bayern is like the Ajax of Germany. They have to win trophies, and the support has become rather spoiled over the years . . . The last, but certainly not least, details were tied up today in Amsterdam: in any case, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness in town there was no shortage of international football celebrity! If we can believe the German press, Dirk Scheringa [ed: AZ president] didn't make the signing difficult, and because AZ didn't demand a fee Bayern Munich agreed to a friendly in the summer of 2010 in Alkmaar.
The fans don't seem too broken up about it, which means they probably saw it coming for some time.

Lots of speculation about a replacement, but I'll try not to worry about that for now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 2 Report

Just the facts:
Scoring Summary:
35' - Chad Barrett (Jim Brennan)

Montreal Impact
1.Matt Jordan; 2.Kevin Sakuda (12.Eduardo Sebrango 63'), 3.Adam Braz, 5.Nevio Pizzolitto, 7.David Testo, 8.Sandro Grande, 9.Rocco Placentino, 10.Roberto Brown (24.Simon Gatti 75'), 17.Joey Gjertsen (21. Felix Brillant 72'), 25.Zanzan Atte-oudeyi, 26. Cedric Jocqueviel

Toronto FC
24.Stefan Frei; 3.Nana Attakora-Gyan, 4.Marco Velez, 11.Jim Brennan, 15.Adrian Serioux; 16.Marvell Wynne (Chad Barrett 16'), 2.Sam Cronin, 33.Carl Robinson, 20.Amado Guevara (Fuad Ibrahim 88'), 14.Dwayne De Rosario (Kevin Harmse 74'), 8.Pablo Vitti

Ejections
71' - David Testo

Stupid headline: TFC get their revenge on Impact
Ok, so it's not such a stupid headline. The idea that anyone was out for revenge in this match is a tad ludicrous, but as headlines go, it's not that bad. I'll let the WFP and others take a crack at it, and perhaps by tomorrow morning we'll have a new winner.


Obligatory goal celebration photo(s):

Again, just one photo to report.


One paragraph analysis
More than the last match against Vancouver, Toronto was in control. They had more chances, and might have won by a larger margin had Dwayne De Rosario and company brought their shooting boots. Still, all of Toronto's possession didn't create a lot in the way of chances. Instead, the bulk of the close calls came after poor clearances by Montreal's defence, and bad passes out of midfield. In the end, after Testo's sending off, Montreal created a bit and the play improved.

One (or two) sentence thoughts
  • It was very convenient of the feed, which was direct from the BMO scoreboard, not to show a replay of the Montreal offside goal. I thought it was onside, and it was definitely close enough to deserve a second look, just like the foul just outside (and it was outside) Montreal's penalty area that was replayed several times.
  • Sandro Grande is clearly out of sorts, or dealing with something, as he was industrious but rather sloppy.
  • I hate to look like I am picking on Montreal's American players, but Testo, Gjertsen, and Sakuda were really poor with their passing. The other American, keeper Matt Jordan, was excellent.
  • Too many crowd shots. The TFC fans are beginning to seem far to self-congratulatory for my liking.
  • Montreal was best in the last 20 minutes after Testo's sending off. Not your typical situation where a team rallies because it is a man down, but because Testo was a black hole out there, wasting every ball.
  • This game would have been much different if two of Montreal's better defensive players, Leo di Lorenzo and Stefano Pesoli, were healthy. Jocqueviel did well, but Zanzan was a bit of a mess.

Canadian content report

The teams each started 4 Canadians, and a few more were brought on throughout the game. I've already mentioned that I thought Sandro Grande was poor. Dwayne De Rosario was excellent to start, but began to fade before he was replaced. Nana Attakora looked good for Toronto, and if Marvell Wynne's injury is anything serious, should get a serious run of playing time in the near future. Rocco Placentino hit a great shot to score on the 'offside' play, and had other moments as well.

TORONTO FC
Nana Attakora 90
Jim Brennan 90
Dwayne De Rosario 74
Adrian Serioux 90
Kevin Harmse 16
Total Mins 360


MONTREAL IMPACT
Adam Braz 90
Nevio Pizzolitto 90
Sandro Grande 90
Rocco Placentino 90
Eduardo Sebrango 27
Felix Brillant 18
Simon Gatti 15
Total Mins 420


The pool report
A fair number of people nailed the correct score of tonight's match: M@, Nuvinho, dyslexic nam, Joe Ross, Lucky Strike, Serie_AHH, Kevin Rollins, Joe Soccer Fan, 3LionRoar, PhilD, and Simon B.

Lucky Strike and 3LionRoar also had the correct scores last week, and now lead the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Pool:

Difference Entries
0 Lucky Strike, 3LionRoar
1 M@, squizz, Nuvinho, zeelew, Joe Ross, Kevin Rollins, Simon B
2 J, P, Kevin Elder, dyslexic nam, Elvis, Serie_AHH, Joe Soccer Fan, coxon
3 Sam, Lord Bob, Duane Rollins, Rob, Dan, PhilD, Matt John Gregg, Scott Hegedus
4 Headhunting Canuck
5 maxg, vweyonlah
6 nobuzz

Tables

STANDINGS
Team W D L Pts
Toronto FC 2
0 0 6
Montreal Impact 0 0 1
0
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 0 1 0


TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Kevin Harmse Toronto FC 1
Chad Barrett
Toronto FC
1


Next match: 20 May 2009: Montreal Impact @ Vancouver Whitecaps

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 2 Preview

I haven't yet updated my style guide to include clarification on whether I should be referring to Canada's national championship as the Voyageurs Cup or Nutrilite Canadian Championship. There is merit to either name.

For titles I like to use the V-Cup name because it's shorter.

As for tonight's match:

The details

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHDAY 2
TORONTO vs MONTREAL

13 May 2009

BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
8 pm et / 7 pm ct / 5 pm pt


TV Guide

The unfortunate truth is that tonight's match isn't televised. But before you go and step in front of a bus, consider the following (legal) online streaming options to watch Toronto-Montreal live:
  • Toronto FC TV: Some of you may recall the pre-season TFC matches that aired here. Rumour has it that there will be no commentary for tonight's match.
  • Corus Sports: Télédiffusion en français, avec Jean-Phillipe Bertrand et Francis Millien à l'analyse.
If I'm around for the match, I'll probably tune in to the French broadcast.


Live blog
None here, but 24th minute correspondent Andrew should be handling the duties.


Previews in print
montrealimpact.com: Impact plays first game to defend its title Wednesday in Toronto

Unwieldy headline. Choice quote:
“It would be great to kick off the tournament with a good result there," said midfielder Rocco Placentino, who registered at least one point in each of the last three games. “We will try to defend our crown but we know it will tough. Even though we did not get the results we wanted in the last games, we are going there with confidence. We want to win the cup again.”
Toronto FC: Ready for Montreal

Ifs and buts, candies and nuts, etc.
The Montreal Impact are a walking reminder of what might have been for Toronto FC.

If only the Reds had converted one of several late-game opportunities in a 1-1 draw with the Impact last July 22. If only TFC had done a better job of defending the corner kick that the Impact converted to equalize the game after an early Reds goal. If only TFC had been able to overtake Montreal and win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, then it might well have been 55,000 fans at Toronto's Rogers Centre in February, rather than at Montreal's Olympic Stadium for the Impact's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal home tie with Santos Laguna of Mexico.

Toronto Sun: Upset stomach, upset result?

H1N1, NE1
? See, I could work as headline writer for the Sun too!
Toronto FC coach Chris Cummins plans to unveil the club's secret weapon for tonight's Nutrilite Canadian Championship match against the Montreal Impact at BMO Field.

A gigantic bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

Actually, the Reds apparently are recovered from a bout of food poisoning that levelled at least four players prior to the club's game last Saturday against DC United at RFK Stadium, although Cummins admitted yesterday that forward Danny Dichio still was not feeling great, nor was midfielder Carl Robinson, who was forced to miss the enthralling 3-3 draw.
CBC Sports: Montreal Impact begin defence of Canadian title
It was an improbable run that captured the imagination of soccer fans across Canada.

Now, the Montreal Impact are gearing up to try to do it again.

Derby or not a derby?
Derby! Not a derby! Who the fuck knows, or what's the difference?

For some reason, this is the first image result for "arguing semantics". In any case, the trip from Montreal to Toronto is more than a light-rail commuter train ride's distance.


Prognostication
My official prediction, as recorded in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Pool, is a 2-1 Toronto win. I'm beginning to wish I had chosen 1-0 for TFC, or a 1-1 draw, instead.
  • Most wildly optismistic Toronto predictor is, well, a whole host of guys (gals?) who predicted a 2-0 Toronto win.
  • There aren't a lot that are bullish on the Impact's chances, as Headhunting Canuck was the only one to pick a Montreal win (1-0).
Any late entries into the pool, before tonight's kick-off, will only start 4 points out of the lead.

Bonus celebrity look-alike coverage
The featured athlete at the CSA site this week is none other than Nutrilite Canadian Championship leading goal scorer and Seth Rogen doppelganger Kevin Harmse. And the latest photo of Harmse is his Rogen-iest yet:

Harmse.


Rogen.

Should be a fun match.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Voyageurs Cup history in a nutshell

A quick history lesson

Winners

The Montreal Impact have won all 7 editions of the Voyageurs Cup, including the 2008 tournament which was marketed as the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

This is what the competition has been like so far. (Hint: Ken is Montreal)

Top goal scorers
The top scorers from 2002-2008 are:

PLAYER TEAM(S) GOALS
Eduardo Sebrango Montreal/Vancouver 12
Ze Roberto Montreal 10
Ali Gerba Toronto Lynx 8
Charles Gbeke Toronto Lynx 5
Mauricio Vincello Toronto Lynx/Montreal 4
Mauro Biello Montreal 4
Nikola Budalic Toronto Lynx 4
Nikola Vignjevic Toronto Lynx/Edmonton 4
Oliver Heald Vancouver 4

[full list] [sources: 1/2]


Preview of Wednesday's Toronto-Montreal tilt, en francais: Grosse semaine

Monday, May 11, 2009

This is how rumours get started

I'm growing a bit tired of the NHL playoffs, which is one reason that I was spending time this Monday evening perusing the referral stats for this blog. What caught my eye was a user who arrived on this blog having searched for 'andrea lombardo kilmarnock'.

I know for a fact that I've never written a post that joins these topics. But, lo and behold, Lombardo's wikipedia entry was updated 22 April 2009 to suggest that he is on trial and expected to sign with Kilmarnock FC of the Scottish Premier League.

This all comes as a bit of a surprise given how poor Lombardo was in his time with Toronto. For those who have already forgotten the man, he was a longer-haired, Canadian version of Chad Barrett, though somehow slower and more snake bitten.




If it's true that he is close to catching on with a Scottish side, then all power to him. He could probably use all the help he can get. If anyone can corroborate this story (or rumour), or can prove otherwise, please fill me in.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Late entries accepted

The more the merrier in the soccer pool.

If you feel like you missed the boat by having missed the deadline to enter the Voyageurs Cup / Nutrilite Canadian Championship Pool, you're in luck. I am once again extending my world-renowned generosity by offering you the chance to join a last-placed tie, and to predict the remaining 5 matches. Entry details are in the afore-linked post. Post your entry as a comment to this post, or the original, or send me an email.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 1 Report

Just the facts:
Scoring Summary:
3' - Kevin Harmse (Dwayne De Rosario)

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Jay Nolly; 2.Marco Reda (8.Wes Knight 14'), 6.Wesley Charles, 18.Mason Trafford, 27.Jeff Parke; 7.Martin Nash, 16.Ansu Toure (20.Ethan Gage 76'), 19.Justin Moose (22.Takashi Hirano 66'), 23.Vicente Arze; 9.Marlon James, 98.Charles Gbeke

Toronto FC
24.Stefan Frei; 3.Nana Attakora-Gyan, 4.Marco Velez, 11.Jim Brennan, 16.Marvell Wynne; 5.Kevin Harmse, 8.Pablo Vitti, 20.Amado Guevara; 8.Pablo Vitti (7.Fuad Ibrahim 78'), 14.Dwayne De Rosario, 19.Chad Barrett (9.Danny Dichio 73')

Stupid headline: Whitecaps can't stay out of Harmse way
To be fair, the Winnipeg Free Press doesn't just reserve stupid puns for soccer headlines. The leading headline in the sports section this morning was Sweep taste of success.


Obligatory goal celebration photo(s):


Just one this time.


One paragraph analysis
I've already read a few people complaining that this was a boring game. Some of the more myopic TFC fans are claiming their side dominated. Neither was true. Compared to this weekend's TFC - Columbus clash, this was both a more exciting and more even match, at least in the second half. I didn't see much of the first. The difference between this match and a regular TFC game is that instead of giving the ball away via useless long balls forward, both teams traded possession by missing short passes in midfield. Worst culprits were Arze and Moose for Vancouver and, no surprise, Robinson for Toronto.

One sentence thoughts
  • It was nice to see that the only goal scored was an all-Canadian connection (Harmse from De Rosario)
  • Martin Nash is clearly old and slow and left all kinds of space in midfield, but also hit a bunch of those inch perfect long balls of the kind Xavi was spraying around in yesterday's Chelsea-Barça clash.
  • Really classy of Toronto fans to boo Marco Reda for limping off the pitch after he had suffered what was pretty clearly a decent concussion. NOT.
  • The nice thing about rainy night games at BMO is that the pitch doesn't look as ugly.
  • Is it just me, or did Vancouver improve noticeably after they brought on their 17-year old wunderkind Ethan Gage?

Canadian content report

It was strange hearing Gerry Dobson mention off the top of the broadcast that Toronto would be fielding 4 Canadian starters, while Vancouver would only start 3. I thought he had to be wrong. As is so often the case, he was. I'm not sure which of Vancouver's 4 Canadian starters he was omitting (Trafford, Gbeke, Nash, or Reda). Hopefully none of the latter three because, as a MNT broadcaster, he should know that these guys are Canadian. Maybe it's an honest mistake, since none are born here.

Still, due to injuries and Cummins fielding a not-quite-first-choice lineup (Cronin was rested, not hurt) Toronto actually edged out Vancouver in Canadian minutes.

TORONTO FC
Nana Attakora 90
Jim Brennan 90
Kevin Harmse 90
Dwayne De Rosario 90
Total Mins 360


VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Marco Reda 14
Mason Trafford 90
Martin Nash 90
Charles Gbeke 90
Ethan Gage 14
Total Mins 298

Kevin Harmse is only the third Canadian player to score a goal in the tournament, after Eduardo Sebrango with 2 last year, and Martin Nash with 1. There still hasn't been a Canadian-born player to score in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship (though there have been many in the longer history of the Voyageurs Cup). Harmse and Nash are both born in South Africa, while Sebrango grew up in Cuba.


The pool report
Five people got the exact scoreline for last night's match: 3LionRoar, Lucky Strike, zeelew, squizz, and Yours Truly.

All the rest of the scores from the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Pool:

Difference Entries
0 3LionRoar, Lucky Strike, zeelew, squizz, J
1 M@, P, Kevin Elder, Nuvinho, Dan, Joe Ross, Elvis, Kevin Rollins, Simon B, Scott Hegedus, coxon
2 Sam, Lord Bob, Duane Rollins, Rob, dsylexic nam, Serie_AHH, Joe Soccer Fan, Headhunting Canuck, Matt John Gregg
3 PhilD, nobuzz
4 maxg

If you'd still like to enter, you can predict the remaining 5 matches, though I'd have to slot you into a tie for last place at +4. With a higher number of entries than originally expected, I may also have to develop a few new tiebreaking metrics.


Tables

STANDINGS
Team W D L Pts
Toronto FC 1 0 0 3
Montreal Impact 0 0 0 0
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 0 1 0


TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Kevin Harmse Toronto FC 1


Next match: 13 May 2009: Montreal Impact @ Toronto FC