Monday, July 27, 2009

Rehash gold cup touney post Canada

So I went into the wilds myself for a week, well actually not the wilds, just Sauble Beach, but it did allow me not to have a high speed internet or television to watch the quaterfinal game against Honduras, and any of the other bogus junk that the CONCACAF tournament provided.

Which brings me to a segway, I found out about the Canadian result in the paper, and not even on my own onus, I was with my Portugeuse soccer loving friend (who is waiting for his team to not qualify for the world cup 2010), he has scavanged a paper from our hosts, and specifically the sports section, and he comes scurrying over to show me the results. He tells me to look and I know this can't be a good reason. I read the title "Honduras ousts Canada from Gold Cup" and then read the first line about Canada being left with a bad taste, and somehow in my quick glancing at the article I saw who the referee was, and promptly refused to read anymore of the article.

Since I've been back home I've been back home I watched the video call on youtube and have done my best just to forget about it. I've also pretended to not have written about the oncoming Canadian Hurricane, never again shall I do that. Again it's CONCACAF and Canada just can't seem to get a break, i think the idea that we should try host the tournament is a good idea, won't make it any better for us, but well at least we could maybe make some profit off the federation for once.

Moving onwards


So Mexico won the tournament last night, and if you were to ask me did I expect this after watching them play during the round robin portion of this tournament I would have said no, not in the least, and nor does it seem like they played that well in the quarter finals and semi finals. But long last they showed up for 45 minutes of soccer and win 5-0. How to explain this, other than saying that it is CONCACAF, where the mighty never get punished, and once again we are left with watching a team that played unorganized boring soccer for the first 5.5 games, showed up for the last 0.5 games and win a trophy. As most Canuck fans would think (why in the wide world of sports can't we get away with this?)

So Mexico is the gold cup champion of 2009, congrats, may you enjoy that title, and I'll go back to watching hockey games when the season starts and remind myself that they are probably in division 4 country hockey somewhere... again have you ever seen a Mexican skate on ice, cause I surely haven't.

Gold Cup All Tournament Team


- Congrats goes to Julian de Guzman and Mike Klukowski for making it to the 18 man roster Gold Cup tournament team. I will admit de Guzman looked exceptional during the tournament, and Klukowski continues to be a steady presence on the back line.

Canada

- As J said, the schedule for Canada is going to be quite limited for the next 2 years (until the gold cup shows up again) and will be limited in information, the next thing upcoming will be who is going to coach the squad, will we keep Hart in place, who did a solid job and the players like to play, or we will go elsewhere.
- As well Canada has some decisions to make it terms of development, will we finally see the CSA put a system in place for the juniors to get the coaching they need at the teenager levels in a proper club system, rather than just working province by province, and having a few kids excel over the rest.
- I'm sure J or I will keep you posted on any more information as we see it coming through, but it may be quiet times and we shall maybe have to diversify slightly from just conferring Canadian soccer.

On that note, I agree with J, I'll be putting on my oranje jersey and screaming Hup Holland for the year and a bit.

P.S. Now I'm not sure if I calculated right, but it looks like Kevin Elder (Pompey Canuck) has won the pool... I'll let J confirm that went he gets back from his latest trip into the woods.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Into the wilds: Weekend notes

Since Canada no longer has a part to play at the Gold Cup, I don't feel as great a need to apologize for extended absences from blogging. Still, I haven't posted since Monday and will be absent from the internet from Sunday until Thursday, which will be followed by another weeklong wilderness excursion beginning the following Sunday.

I don't want my more loyal readers to worry, so I've thrown together the laziest of blogging solutions: the omnibus links, news, and notes post.

  • Dwayne De Rosario had to refuse an MLS all-star invite because of a prior engagement, but Wednesday's game will not be without Canadian content. 41-year old Pat Onstad was called in to backup Kasey Keller at age, while Salt Lake's Will Johnson has been selected to replace the injured Shalrie Joseph.
  • Apparently Canada's Gold Cup squad had not one but two unattached goalkeepers. We all knew that Greg Sutton was out of work after having been released by Toronto, but now we learn that Josh Wagenaar after rejecting a contract offer from Yeovil Town. He has spent a few days training with the Vancouver Whitecaps in preparation for a trial at Falkirk, but also with the goal of getting on the radar of that team. Not a bad move with MLS 2011 on the horizon.
  • TV viewers looking for their soccer fix this afternoon should look no further than our good friend SRC (or as English Canada likes to call it, the French CBC). The Trophée des Champions match takes place today at Stade Olympique in Montreal, and Montreal Impact vice-prez Richard Legendre is confident that they will beat the attendance record of 30 500 for the match, with 28 000 tickets sold as of Thursday for the match between Guingamp and Bordeaux. Apparently not all players have done their homework on Canada, with Bordeaux midfielder Alou Diarra spending far too much time and energy worrying about swine flu. (3 pm et / 2 pm ct / noon pt, Radio-Canada, streamed live at radio-canada.ca)
  • The Gold Cup final goes tomorrow, and I couldn't be more excited. In a surprising twist, Mexico and the United States will be battling for the honours. (Ok, sarcasm off). I'm sure the match will be on tv somewhere, but the matchup and the fact that I'll be sitting on a bus at the time are cause for profound disinterest in where it might be found on the dial.
  • The more important matchup tomorrow is between readers Kevin Elder aka Pompey Canuck of Think it all in, and P aka OOT's first contest winner. The results going into tomorrow's match:

Entry Goals
P 17
Kevin Elder 17
Andrew Bates 14
J 13
M@ 10

  • The two blogging national teamers have both weighed in in the aftermath of Canada's Gold Cup exit. Greg Sutton went the conspiracy theory direction, while the more thoughtful and erudite (and French) Patrice Bernier had a somewhat more nuanced arguments. Both are excellent reads, but I prefer the latter. From his essay:

    L'appel d'un tir de pénalité contre le Honduras en quarts de finale sanctionnait une faute inexistante. Le défenseur Paul Stalteri a été puni pour obstruction alors que le joueur hondurien aurait plutôt dû être montré du doigt pour sa manoeuvre dangereuse (une bicyclette). On connaît la suite : Walter Martinez a trouvé le fond du filet pour porter la marque à 1-0, qui allait tenir jusqu'au sifflet final.

    À mon avis, l'erreur va cependant au-delà de cet appel douteux. L'arbitre qui était d'office pour le match était d'origine latine et donc plus enclin à sanctionner un style physique à la nord-américaine, où les duels épaule à épaule sont plus courants et vigoureux. Un arbitre issu des Caraïbes aurait assuré une plus grande neutralité.

    As a strong proponent of bilingualism, I don't feel as though I should translate this for you. But the salient points are that: on the play where the penalty was called, Walter Martinez should instead have been whistled for a dangerous play (high kick); and that because of the difference in styles between North American and Latin American teams, a referee from the Caribbean, which stands in contrast to both, would have been a better choice. This is a good idea, and a principle which could be instituted for all CONCACAF matches. CONCACAF essentially has three regions (North America, Central America, Caribbean), and in a match between teams from different regions, a referee from the unrepresented region should be assigned to the match.
  • While the shit has clearly hit the fan in Montreal with the Impact, the Vancouver Whitecaps aren't letting their eastern brethren stretch their lead too far in the contest for most dysfunctional dressing room. After a blowup at practice, which involved a headbutt, St. Vincent international (and Philips Bakery customer, no doubt) Wesley Charles has been released from the squad. As always, the take from some canadian guys . . . is most entertaining.

I had worried that with the calendar for Canada's national team looking pretty barren over the next few years, I might not have the motivation to devote any time or effort to this blog. I have other interests, sporting and otherwise, that mustn't be neglected. However, I know now that I don't have to waste any time with the 2009 CFL campaign, as Winnipeg's coach makes Dale Mitchell look like Alex Ferguson.

So I'll dig deep, scrape the bottom of the barrel, and regale you with whatever Canadian tales of football I can find. I'll keep watching our pro sides, and live vicariously through the Oranje in 2010.

In other words, keep watching this space.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday numbers

Gold Cup: Tuning out

For obvious reasons, I don't much care about the rest of the Gold Cup. Canada lost out in a way which left room for both disappointment in the team (most especially their lack of finishing ability), and mild rage at incompetent or corrupt CONCACAF officiating (thanks, Mr. Aguilar!)

For those who will keep watching, I hope you enjoy the inevitable USA - Mexico final next Sunday. I won't be watching (though I wouldn't have been able to watch had Canada made it anyway).

There remains some Gold Cup business to take care of. The standings in the Gold Cup Goals Pool:

Entry Goals
P 17
Kevin Elder 17
Andrew Bates 14
J 13
M@ 10

With 3 total matches remaining, it looks like M@ is essentially out of the running, and Bates and I would need to get pretty lucky to contend at all. I look forward to this 2-way showdown.


Canadian content

If you look at the sidebar to the right (and this of course won't work for you who are only reading a feed), you'll see that for the first time this season, Montreal has surpassed Vancouver as the pro team fielding the most Canadian content.

2009 Canadian Content Summary
Team Matches Cdn Mins Total Mins Percent
Montreal 21 9176 20731 44.3%
Vancouver 19 8289 18805 44.1%
Toronto 23 8053 22770 35.4%

Interesting that Montreal's climb up these rankings have coincided with their rapid descent down the USL-1 standings (though we should also note that the Whitecaps aren't doing so hot either).

Montreal might have trouble fielding strongly Canadian-flavoured lineups in the future now that they have released midfielder Sandro Grande.

Owner Joey Saputo on the firing:
"Sandro's act was completely unacceptable and our organization does not tolerate such behaviour," Impact president Joey Saputo said in a statement Monday. "We have therefore taken the necessary disciplinary measures. Regardless of the circumstances or the player involved, violence is not accepted in our club."
Saputo hasn't yet had much to say about Marc dos Santos playing keepaway with, and then pushing, a Rochester player trying to take a throw-in. I guess that kind of incident (and if anyone has found a photo of this, let me know) isn't covered in his guide to professional conduct.



With no important Canada matches on the horizon, and Montreal and Vancouver struggling, this is becoming quite the depressing summer of soccer. Though not as bad as last summer and fall, I suppose.

Toronto had better beat Puerto Rico, or things will really start to get grim.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Canada - Honduras redux

Two items that should make it pretty clear how the match last night went down.

First, quotes from none other than Mr. Julian de Guzman:
"I was really disappointed with the officiating, with this particular game. If I had a chance to make a tackle on this ref, I wouldn't even think twice," said a disgusted midfielder Julian de Guzman.

"It's pretty obvious that would be bad business for CONCACAF if Canada was to make it to the finals or semifinals. I mean we don't bring in the crowds that CONCACAF would like," he added.

And now, a game. Penalty or no penalty? You make the call.

Go to 2:40.

Hint: The correct answer is "No penalty!"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Canada - Honduras: Game day preparations

CONCACAF GOLD CUP
CANADA vs HONDURAS

18 July 2009

Philadelphia, PA
5 pm et / 4 pm ct / 2 pm pt

Live on Rogers Sportsnet in all regions
Online streaming video: myp2p // rojadirecta

There will be no liveblog here, unless my esteemed colleague does the deed.


Other game day essentials:

Some visual aides as well:


First, if you need to get any more edgy ahead of the match, or you need to get your angry on:




And keep this one queued up, just in case we need to get celebratory in a few hours time:


Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday catch all

It's the day before the game before the game before the final. At least that's how I like to think about it.

Canada - Honduras goes tomorrow afternoon in Philadelphia in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, and I couldn't be more excited. At least there is no way I could get more excited about a team that flopped out of World Cup qualifying and doesn't have a permanent coach.

There's a nice article on the Gold Cup site which profiles Will Johnson and the attitude he and his teammates have towards the tournament:
"Ever since I started playing for Canada, no one ever expects us to win anything so there's never any expectations or things like that," Johnson said. "I don't think winning the group is enough to make a statement. We need to go, and continue our run in order to make a big statement for this association."
Amen. However, I am tired of reading lines like this:
While Canada is without regulars Dwayne De Rosario and Jim Brennan, who remained with Toronto FC, the younger players are getting experience training with the likes of Julian de Guzman, Atiba Hutchinson and Patrice Bernier.
I'm not the biggest Dwayne De Rosario fan and I don't think he makes this team any better if he's here (you can ask me why), but I'll grant that he is still an important player for the NT. But reporters that assume that Brennan is both a) a regular, and b) an important omission, are nothing short of reprehensibly lazy.

How far out of the picture is Brennan? Let me count the ways:
  • He basically told the CSA, under the last coach, to go fuck themselves. I think the feeling is likely mutual, and he hasn't even been called since.
  • He is at best second choice for the left back spot for Canada, but I have him ranked third best. Mike Klukowski is miles ahead, and Marcel de Jong is a more useful player as well.
  • He's not even the best Canadian defender on his own team (hey there Adrian Serioux!)
  • He's too old to be called for any more meaningful matches. His career is on the decline, and he has no future with Canada.
With that out of the way, here are some other CAN-HON tidbits:

Canada soccer all Hart: Some interesting hints about whether Stephen will throw his hat in the ring the next time the permanent job is open, which I guess is now.
Canadian soccer fans also can appreciate that whenever Hart has been named interim head coach, he gets results.

In 2007, Hart led Canada to an impressive run to the Gold Cup semifinals, where a brutal officiating mistake by Mexican referee Benito Archundia cost the Canucks a tying goal against eventual tournament champion, the United States.

When Dale Mitchell took over as coach, Canada's World Cup qualifying campaign fizzled. Now, Hart is back and Canada is undefeated at the Gold Cup, despite MLS all-star Dwayne De Rosario staying with TFC this time around.

But will Hart make a push to drop the interim tag?

"It's no secret, I applied the last time. But the upcoming scenario is different," he said.

Hart said that, after the Gold Cup, the coach of Canada must embark on a three-year plan to get ready for World Cup 2014 qualifying.

"(The job) is something I am going to take into consideration," he said.


On an unrelated note, if you're from South Africa, and you've come to this site searching for a preview or history of Canada-Honduras matchups, welcome. Care to explain the sudden spike in attention from the 2010 WC host nation, which has accounted for about 20% of my traffic over the last two days?


If you're keen to make some money, most online bookies have Canada as underdogs, paying as much as 3 to 1. Honduras were underdogs earlier in the week.



USL: Something in the water?

The 2009 season hasn't been kind to the USL's Canadian entries. Both Montreal and Vancouver finished well in last year's campaign and into the playoffs, and the Whitecaps ended up champions. This year, both teams are struggling.

Vancouver's struggles are understandable: they've gone to a younger team in order to lay the foundation for their 2011 MLS squad. Even with a young squad, they nearly won the Voyageurs Cup until the debacle at Saputo.

Montreal has stunk, before and after that unfortunate evening. But that's when things started to get crazy.

First it was Vancouver. 30+ year old players Wesley Charles and Charles Gbeke got into it, and were suspended for two games:

Zapruder film of the incident

Then the troubles shifted east. To wit:

Friendly chokehold

In a match in Minnesota, underperforming Impact veterans Sandro Grande and Mauro Biello got into it. Sandro has since been suspended.

Now the problems have gone right to the top. Impact coach Marc dos Santos has been suspended for pushing a Rochester player on the neck after the Rhino tried to retrieve the ball from dos Santos for a throw-in.

This shitstorm will get worse before it gets better.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Canada vs Honduras all-time

This is a reprise of an old post from those heady days before the beginning of the semi-final round of World Cup qualifying, part of a series in which I also preview Jamaica and Mexico and looked at our records historically against those teams.

Canada's record against Honduras isn't great, especially recently (as we remember all to well, or have conveniently erased from our memories):

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


Wins 5



Draws 4



Losses 8


Of course we have the two losses from World Cup qualifying, but Canada is also winless against Honduras in their last 5 matches, and hasn't beat the Hondurans in a competitive match since the Gold Cup in '96.

The win in 2000 was a friendly in Winnipeg, my stomping grounds then and now. Sadly I didn't make it out to that match, or the other win in Winnipeg that year, a 1-0 win against Panama in WCQ after it was too late. Of the three Canada matches in the 'Peg that year, I only made it out to the 0-0 draw against Cuba, which remains my only Canada cap.

The difference between Saturday's match and more recent history is that Canada is on a good run of form, while the team Honduras has brought to this Gold Cup is a true 'B' team.

Canada can and should win, and it would be a small but sweet measure of revenge for the losses in 2008. As long as there are no injuries to key players, I feel like Canada should take the match 1-0 or 2-1.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't look now, but ...

THE STEPHEN HART ERA
Date Opponent Location Type CAN Opp Result
09/04/06 Jamaica Montreal Friendly 1 0 Win
10/08/06 Jamaica Kingston Friendly 1 2 Loss
11/15/06 Hungary Szekesfehervar Friendly 0 1 Loss
03/25/07 Bermuda Hamilton, Ber. Friendly 3 0 Win
06/01/07 Venezuela Maracaibo Friendly 2 2 Draw
06/06/07 Costa Rica Miami Gold Cup 2 1 Win
06/09/07 Guadeloupe Miami Gold Cup 1 2 Loss
06/11/07 Haiti Miami Gold Cup 2 0 Win
06/16/07 Guatemala Foxboro, MA Gold Cup 3 0 Win
06/21/07 USA Chicago Gold Cup 1 2 Loss
05/30/09 Cyprus Larnaca Friendly 1 0 Win
06/30/09 Guatemala Oxnard, CA Friendly 3 0 Win
07/03/09 Jamaica Los Angeles Gold Cup 1 0 Win
07/07/09 El Salvador Columbus, OH Gold Cup 1 0 Win
07/10/09 Costa Rica Miami Gold Cup 2 2 Draw
Totals


24 12


Wins 9




Draws 2




Losses 4





Stephen Hart may not be the permanent solution as men's head coach. But he is putting together quite the resumé right now. A fair question: were Dale Mitchell's pre-hiring qualifications for MNT manager (2 qualifications for U20 WC with decent results in the competition, and a miserable 2007 U20 WC after no qualifying) better than Hart's current curriculum vitae?

You can point out that Hart has only been at the helm for friendlies and the less-than-prestigious Gold Cup, but he also wins. Which you couldn't say about Mitchell.

By the by, Hart has now coached exactly as many Canada matches as Mitchell ever did. In those matches, the GF-GA differentials for each: Hart -- 24-12; Mitchell -- 20-25.

Some people have pointed to an improved attacking style of play under Hart, but more impressive has been his ability to organize a back four when given time with the team (Stalteri-Hainault-Hastings-Klukowski at GC 2007; Stalteri-McKenna-Jakovic-Klukowski in GC 2009). Remember that Canada did manage to score in every WCQ game in 2008, but leaked goals all over the place.

I'll say it now: If Stephen Hart is the man in charge at the beginning of the next round of World Cup qualifying (only 3 long years away), I won't necessarily lose my shit.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gold Cup Goals Pool: After the group stage

I am returned to civilization, windburnt and sore in the paddling muscles, but otherwise intact. Needless to say, one of my first acts upon returning was to queue up a download of the Canada-Costa Rica match without learning of the result (now old hat for me; leave a post in the comments if you want to acquire this skill).

The weeklong break between the group stage and quarterfinals will allow me (and the headhunter, if he wants to share posting duties for the remainder of the tournament) to stretch out some of my thoughts and numbers.

Entry Goals
P 11
Kevin Elder 10
Andrew Bates 10
J 9
M@ 8

The full details are available in a highly unreadable format here.

After taking an early lead, M@ has stumbled a bit and our grad student friend (and owner of the Radzinski doll) takes the lead. A tight race, to be sure, and unlikely to be decided before the final.

Speaking of the final, it happens to fall on the date upon which I will be making another (work-related) excursion, this time into the semi-wilderness of southwestern Manitoba. If Canada should advance that far, I will be kicking myself harder than usual.


Tomorrow: I'll chime in with some analysis, quantitative and qualitative, of the group stage, and particularly the matches that I actually watched, against El Salvador and Costa Rica.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hurricane Canada acquires target... Honduras

Well, I know on the boards around none of us predicted that Canada would come out of the group stages undefeated, and sitting on top of the standings of Group A with 7 points. But look now... that is exactly where we sit at today in the Gold Cup tournament. We have not been in this position since 2000 (remember that year, that year where we won the tournament) and all of a sudden things are looking a little sunny side up.

Calm before the storm

So let's turn this into a storm front or weather related project. I've decided that Canada is like a Hurricane coming into this gold cup and hear me out on why I think this. First off, we had the initial storm that was brewing last year where we failed to qualify for the world cup, after some dubious coaching and in doing so ran a few players off the team. Then it sort of just fizzled away. We had silence, calmness, not much happening for Canadian soccer players in general and in terms of figuring out how to proceed with the men's national team.


Brewing storm

First game in the gold cup and we play a pretty good game against Jamaica and get ourselves a goal in the first half to give ourselves a 1-0 lead. We hang on for the win and gather confidence from the victory and the Team Canada storm has begun to build.








The storm is coming together







Our next game we play the fiesty El Salvador squad, which we play our best game of the round robin, we control the game and this storm gets to form into a tropical cyclone, there is movement.











Finally the big test, versus Costa Rica, we go down quickly when Sutton boots the ball to midfield into the feet of a Costa Rica player, who turns the ball up quickly to the striker, who catches Sutton away from his goal and loops the ball over him as he trips and falls to the ground. We come back and place one of the best crosses in a long time... for a second I thought I was watching the Dutch team cross a ball in, as it was a brilliant cross and a beauty finish to knot the game at 1. Then we score another one and Costa Rica comes back with one more. 2-2 at the end of the 1st half. We keep the score like that to get a draw using a B rated squad. The storm has now fully organized, each member has gotten more comfortable with one another and Hurricane Canada is here.
Hurricane Canada in all its glory




Highlights from the Costa Rica vs Canada Game


So tonight we acquired the target, and it is Honduras. Our vast nation, with plenty of trees and water to dump on Honduras is ready to take the next step and qualify for the semi finals of the Gold Cup.


Target Acquired


The big question in the end is, will anyone be able to see the hurricane coming, or will the boards be up once again around Sportsnet network?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Canada vs Costa Rica Preview

Concacaf Gold Cup
Canada vs El Salvador (Crew Stadium)

Columbus, Ohio
7 July 2009
7 pm ET / 8 pm CT / 4 pm PT

Live on Rogers Sportsnet.ca
East 8PM Atlantic
West 4 PM Pacific Time
Internet: 24th minute, video feed once found (If you have one, post in comments)

Well tonight is the night where Canada can continue to work on increasing the winning streak that they already have going on. Currently at 4 unbeaten games (take that Dale Mitchell), we can now safely say that Stephen Hart can get more out of his players than Mitchell every did. I would personally like to thank sportsnet to showing the game again only in two zones. I don't care how much you like baseball, sell the bloody rights to either the baseball game or soccer game to someone else to show in that area. It's unbelievable how they can continue to only serve half the public with their shows. That being said, I will not be able to do the liveblog tonight, thank fully I found myself going to watch this two blokes instead.

I promise i will avoid writing about walking 500 hundred miles in my post here, though I am tempted to walk the 500 miles to the sportsnet upper management to give them a good kick in the pants.

Anyways moving on, because of the disaster of a game that was played last night between Mexico and Panama (1-1 score and 4 red cards and a fan throwing contest), we can now officially say Canada has qualified for the quarterfinals. Which has already made this tournament ten times better than our qualification setup for the world cup was. Again it just reminds us that we should be in top 2 of our group when we qualify, or so the Gold Cup tells us.

So tonight we get to determine what place we shall fall, depending on the result, so let's put our prognostic cap on and take a gander at what this may be.

Canada wins tonight or draws: They will finish first in the group. This means they will play the 2nd place opponent in group B (looks to be either Haiti or Honduras), I would suspect it would end up being Honduras as they have the easier last game matchup when they face Grenada, not the easiest of matchups, but one that is do able in terms of getting a victory and moving to the semi finals.

Canada loses by 2 goals and less than what El Salvador makes up against Jamaica: This will push Costa Rica to 1st, Canada to 2nd and El Salvador to 3rd. This would mean we would face 2nd place in group C. Which by the way is a horrible group, Mexico looks terrible and could quite lose to Guadeloupe and set up a 2nd round clash with Canada. While Mexico doesn't look good, i still wouldn't want to face them with a bunch of rabid Mexican fans around. Yes I'm going to give Guadeloupe the win, the scrappy French colony has look liked it wants to win and cause a raucous again, much like 2007.

Canada loses by 2 or more goals, and El Salvador scores a pile: This will drop us to 3rd and give us a nightmarish matchup with the United States. Best to avoid this now and just hope we can meet them in the semi finals and get our revenge from them then.

So really a draw or a win tonight versus Costa Rica would be the best, save the Canadians from worrying too much about the scoreboard in the other game. Finished 2nd would be nice as it would avoid the Americans until the finals, the only team that has looked tough so far. But hey, Canada never likes to do it the easy way.


The matchup issues at hand


I'm just going to go over a couple of points of what might make it trouble for Canada tonight against Costa Rica and leave it like that.

The Turf: For the first time they are going to playing on artificial turf. The players hate it, De Guzman really hates it, and the Costa Rica players practice on this stuff at their facility. Giving them an advantage.
The Fans: The game is in Miami, which will have a very pro Costa Rica crowd out. Though Canada has had to deal with that all tournament, but this may be the loudest it has been yet. Another advantage Costa Rica.
The Players: From Stephen Hart's comments, it seems that their are some injuries at hand in which he will maybe give some players a rest. Again with already being qualified Canada does not have the pressure to go out and get the win... though if they were smart they would go get it, just to keep the wheels turning.
Cards: 4 Canadian players have yellow cards so far, expect them either not play very long, or be very generous with the space they provide Costa Rica tonight. With cards getting wiped at the end of this round robin Canadian players will be extra cautious tonight.

Anyways my prediction for tonight is a draw will take place between the two teams.

If you want more preview information you can always check out this fabulous links
World Cup Canada Blog
Canucks Abroad on Twitter
Voyaguers Website

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Just checking in

I'm back at home base for 24 hours before I head out on another excursion. Time for a few important items:

Gold Cup Goals Pool Standings

Entry Goals
M@ 7
Andrew Bates 6
Kevin Elder 4
P 4
J 4

All of us picked Ali Gerba, so that part was a wash. M@ also had two goals from Romero in El Salvador's win over Costa Rica, and picked 2 of the 6 different Americans to score in the tournament.

Canada in first place in Group A
Awesome. All I saw of the Jamaica match was the one-minute highlight package they showed on Sportsnet which suggested that Canada might not have given a good 90-minute effort. But I managed to download the El Salvador match without learning of the result and was pleased with what I saw.

Canada often tends to play down to the level of their opponents, but against El Salvador they showed that they were a class above. The finishing still needs work, but the midfield display by Julian de Guzman and especially Atiba Hutchinson was dominant. The only players who played a below-average match for Canada, for my money, were Josh Simpson and Greg Sutton.


Because it doesn't get old . . .
Ali Gerba celebrating yet another goal.


I'll be back on Monday with more coverage, a more detailed summary of the goals pool, and hopefully some photos of fish I catch on the weekend.

And again, many thanks to Headhunting Canuck for keeping the place up and running while I'm away.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Canada vs El Salvador Live Blog

Well click on the link below and join the blog. Bring your best joke, or your drink of choice to the party tonight.



Tonight's Beer of the Night


Now the Mill St. Wit Beer is a smooth summer beer and always needs an addition of the following below. Cheers and enjoy the game.

Gold Cup Game 2 Preview

Concacaf Gold Cup
Canada vs El Salvador (Crew Stadium)

Columbus, Ohio
7 July 2009
9 pm ET / 8 pm CT / 6 pm PT

Live on Rogers Sportsnet.ca
East 10PM Atlantic
Ontario 9 PM
West 6 PM Pacific Time
Internet: Liveblog here, video feed once found (If you have one, post in comments)

Well Canada got themselves a victory to start off these tournament on a strong note and the squad will look to put their best foot forward going into this next match with El Salvador. With El Salvador's win over Costa Rica on Friday night, the two squads expected to do the poorest in the group will face off in a chance to be alone in 1st place and qualified for the next round.


Canada's first game against Jamaica was a well deserved victory, though the play wasn't as clean or offensive as one would have liked to see. The team controlled play at various times, but also broke done a couple of times to allow Jamaica some quality chances. Greg Sutton kept the team in the game early on in the 2nd half, which allowed for Ali Gerba to slot one home for the Canucks for the victory.

Stalteri spoke on Monday with reporters and stated what is needed to be imporved on for tonight's match up versus El Salvador.
"Tactically, we weren't spot on but we were close."

"We will need to maintain possession of the ball, rather than chase the ball defensively as we did a bit too much of that against Jamaica"
Stephen Hart said in practice on Monday that his player are quietly confident group.

"You can see the players are bubbly and enjoying the practices, and for me that's how I judge the mood of everything,"

Canada will be making one roster change for tonight's game against El Salvador as Kevin Harmse is slightly injured and stayed in Los Angeles to work on regaining his match fitness level.


Tonight's matchup will be a battle of the middle field battle, as El Salvador will try to go up the middle against Canada to begin their play. Jamaica tried this last game and was stuck to trying to work the wings and were for the most part slowed down through the middle. Canada will have a destinct height advantage against El Salvador backs and will look to get some quality crosses into the box. Look for Canada to try spring it outside with their 4-3-3 formation and try to get the crosses in.

Canada will need to be careful with their match fitness level, as they still need to play the full 90 minutes, they took a few minutes off in the 2nd half and Stephen Hart noticed it and has addressed it before the matchup tonight against El Salvador, especially since they are an extremely quick squad.
So come join us out of the rain for tonight's matchup against El Salvador... I'll be live blogging it starting around 8:45 EST. We can only hope sportsnet gets over their idea of tape delaying matchups by 5 minutes.

Bringing back the old contest... I have gotten back to the beautiful people idea. This time I did some research, so we have both contestants from the 2008 Miss Universe. You can decide for yourselves what you think.








vs

















What they are saying elsewhere on the intraweb.
Sportsnet Preview
World Cup Canada Blog Preview
24th Minute: Interview with Stephen Hart, and de Guzman
Some Canadian Guys: El Salvadorian Straws
The Voyageurs


Friday, July 03, 2009

Liveblog Canada vs Jamaica Gold Cup

Get your youtube on

Watch this space.


Top notch coverage of Canada's team at the Gold Cup, and a preview video shot in Winnipeg a stone's throw from my pad by a couple of intrepid reporters.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Gold Cup *Game #1* Preview

Here we go, Canada vs Jamaica, game #1 for Canada in the Gold Cup Round Robin, time to get all the Cool Running jokes out of the way before I continue this post. If you haven't watched Cool Runnings, rent it and watch it, it's what I remember from my childhood as one of my favourite movies of all time to watch. If you have never seen it and don't want to movie ruined, skip the next few sentences. Jamaica doesn't end up winning the gold medal, which makes the story so much more heartfelt than movies like the Mighty Ducks. Now that I've just rehashed that moment out of my head. Here's another little story with regards to the Jamaicans.


I had a professor who taught me, who was in the 1988 Olympics as a bobsledder. He went and told our class how he had been involved in the bobsledding and asked us if we had watched Cool Runnings. Most of us responded with that we had. His response to that; "Well we beat them" , now only because they crashed out but hey, we won't tell the nation of Portugal about that anytime soon.

So let's get into the soccer preview.

Concacaf Gold Cup
Canada vs Jamaica (Home Depot Center)

Carson, California
3 July 2009
8 pm ET / 7 pm CT / 5 pm PT

Live on Rogers Sportsnet.ca
Ontario 8 PM
West 5 PM Pacific Time
Internet: Right here for a liveblog

Stephen Hart gets his troops ready to battle those pesky Jamaicans who have sort of soiled our record against them as of late. We also have a revenge factor to get across here, as the last time we played the Jamaicans... 9 months ago we lost to them 3-0 and were completely knocked out of world cup qualifying. So time to get ourselves some Jamaican patties and get our lucky egg out of underwear and try to get a victory.

Paul Stalteri will be leading the troops into the match, his 75th cap, leading all those who are on the roster this tournament. With the 3-0 victory, all of sudden Canada hopes seem to have been given a big rise, that's if you read the media on sportsnet, tsn and even the score. Ali Gerba will hope to continue his goal scoring ways and finding a knack for the net. While the defense led by J's boy Mike Klukowski will hope to keep the goal sheet clean. Starting goaltending for Canada is unsure at this point, as it's between Sutton and Wagenaar and as of this time no roster updates have been released. Will hope to get them up before the blog starts for the game tomorrow.

Jamaica currently ranked 65th in FIFA rankings, and 5th in the Concacaf region will look to put a beating on Canada who is ranked 92nd and 11th in Concacaf region. They will try get their tournament started much like their world cup group qualifying ended, and that is on a winning streak. Jamaica will have a new coach at the helm as John Barnes has been replaced with Theodore Whitmore.

Jamaica in their two friendlies this month, dispatched Panama 3-2 and the Cayman Islands 4-1 and their young and very local squad is very ready to take on anyone in group A. The Reggae boyz forum seems quite confident that the Canadian squad will be an easy match for them.

Jamaica's Official Gold Cup Squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers- Donovan Ricketts, Dwayne Miller;

Defenders – Ricardo Gardner, Ian Goodison, Claude Davis, Damion Stewart, Tyrone Marshall, Eric Vernan, Rafe Wolfe;

Midfielders – Demar Phillips, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Jermaine Johnson, Jason Morrison, Rodolph Austin, Oneil Thompson;

Forwards – Ricardo Fuller, Luton Shelton, Dane Richards, Nicholas Addlery and Omar Cummings


Courtesy of: The Reggae Boyz

So get ready, get your cowbells out and let's enjoy the ride. Now since I did this last time and J had to remind me, I needed to think of some type of competition between the two nations... I'm avoiding any pagaentry debate this time.

Bob Marley vs Celine Dion





























Well this competition has to go to the Jamaicans... only because Bob Marley has a soccer ball and I really wish our top musician was someone other than someone who sang a song for the movie Titanic. Feel free to come up with your own idea and post it into the comments section.

Come back tomorrow for the liveblog, feel free to share your thoughts and bring something cold to drink... I know I for sure will have a beer of choice ready for the match.

What other blogs are saying before the match.
Footie Fool: Backwards Sportsnet
CanadianSoccerBlog: Drink and watch the game at a pub
Canada World Cup Blog: Preview of Game 1 with Predictions

Quick hits

A few notes before I leave the digital world for a little while:
And, to get the blood boiling a bit in advance of tomorrow's match:



Finally, I've blogged on more than one occasion about using the US Open Cup results as a statistical basis in the argument about the relative strength of USL-1 and MLS. MLS teams played in the competition over the last few days.

I don't have time to expand on the implications, but the results from the last two days:
MLS record vs USL-1 sides: 2 wins, 2 draws*, 1 loss

USL-2 sides made a little noise as well
MLS record vs USL-2 sides: 0 wins, 2 losses

* Matches decided by penalties counted as draws