Monday, May 30, 2011

New contest: Gold cup goals

The Gold Cup trophy: timeless, classic design

The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup begins in less then a week, with Costa Rica and Cuba getting things started in Dallas. The big match, for Canadians, is the Group C opener with USA in Detroit, which will be invaded by a horde of Canadian supporters.

The hardcore types that read this blog don't need extra incentive to pay close attention to this tournament, but I will provide it anyway.

Unlike the Voyageurs Cup contest, still ongoing because of weather, this competition requires little in the way of explanation.

You pick a player, he scores a goal, you get a point.

CONTEST RULES:
  • There are 12 Gold Cup participating countries. Their rosters are listed here.
  • For Canada, select three (3) players.
  • For Mexico and USA, select two (2) players each.
  • For the nine remaining countries, select one player from their roster, for a total of 16 players.
  • In your entry, specify country, and first and last name for each player.
Entries can be made by leaving a comment (not anonymously, obviously), or sending an email to blogdumpster@gmail.com. If we reach a certain threshold (say, 25 entries), there will be a prize. If not, you'll have to make do with a small ego boost.

Deadline is noon June 5th, though I'd probably let it slide if your entry comes in any time before the Canada match.

BUYER BEWARE: All teams submitted 23-man rosters. I believe only 20 make it to the tournament. Choose wisely, as I will not allow you to re-draft if one of your guys is shuffled off to the taxi squad.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The match that never happened


By now, if you pay even cursory attention to Canadian soccer (and if you don't, what the hell are you doing reading this blog?) you know that Wednesday's Nutrilite Canadian Championship second leg match between Vancouver and TFC at BMO Field in Toronto was first delayed due to lightning in the area, then abandoned due to an unplayable pitch.

There is no other reasonable way of looking at it other than to say that this sort of thing happens, but it sucks.

There is also no disputing the fact that Vancouver was hurt most by this unfortunate set of circumstances, while TFC stands to gain from it. At the time the match was called off, Vancouver was up 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) with each team having scored an away goal. With 30 minutes left to the trophy being awarded, it would not be overstating things to say the Whitecaps were in the driver's seat.

However, as evidenced by the picture accompanying this post, the right call was made and the match was abandoned. The competition rules set out what to do in the case of abandonment:
12. If the match is abandoned before the completion of normal playing time because of extreme weather or for reasons outside the control of the host team, the match shall be replayed in its entirety the following day, thus avoiding the considerable extra expense for the visiting team. If it is still impossible to play the match the next day for the same reasons, the match may be postponed by another day, provided both teams agree. If the match can still not be played on the third day, the expenses thus incurred by the visiting team shall be split between the two teams. A decision will be taken within two hours of the referee’s decision to abandon the match, in consultation with the two clubs concerned. In case of dispute, the CSA Organising Committee fixes the date and kick-off time of the match. Its decision is final.
In accordance with this rule, the match was originally to be replayed in its entirety Thursday morning, but when the pitch was deemed still to be unplayable, it was rescheduled for Saturday, July 2nd, three days following a Toronto-Vancouver MLS match at BMO.

Is this a good rule? The problem I see is if the rule decrees that the match must be replayed in its entirety, there is no way on earth it should be allowed to be scheduled for the next morning.

Consider this scenario, which could very well have happened:
  1. Suppose the match was abandoned at 80 minutes instead of 63 (a likely possibility if it had started a more normal start time instead of the late 8 pm kickoff). The rules make no allowance for declaring a match official before 90 minutes.
  2. Suppose additionally that the match, kicking off at 11 am the next day, was level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, thus necessitating 30 minutes of extra time and possibly penalties
Under this scenario, there is a strong possibility you would see several players playing 200 minutes in 17 hours on a pitch in far less than ideal condition. There is no better way I can think of to put the players' health in serious jeopardy.

If you are going to create rules that make it likely the match will be replayed on a weekday morning immediately following the abandoned match, in an empty stadium, I see no reason to play the full 90 minutes again. Just resume the match at the point at which it was abandoned, since you won't have a large ticket-buying crowd to please, and save up to 90 (or even up to 120) minutes of additional wear and tear. This sort of rule is in place in all kinds of leagues and competitions around the world.

As it stands, having the second leg played on Canada Day weekend is making the best of a bad situation. Vancouver players and fans will rightly feel hard done by, but ultimately the CSA's hands were tied. Toronto FC fans and players should be grateful for the second chance.



Some of the readers of this blog will also be grateful for the second chance, as the result that looked most likely was not what they had picked in my Voyageurs Cup contest. Like with the real competition, for my contest this match never happened, and Eric Hassli is stuck on one goal since the goal he scored against TFC didn't really happen either.


Non-related: Umbro Canada and the CSA have finally opened up their online store for Canada merchandise. I must say I'm rather tempted by the long sleeve white, and this fine jacket.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fun with transfermarkt.de

It's the day when we celebrate a long-dead queen, but in reality what it means is we all have loads of time on our hands. What have I done with my time? Played around with the recently announced Canada roster for the Gold Cup and a German website called transfermarkt which lists player data for most of the world's players and, among other things, includes a putative market valuation.

And I've produced the following magnum opus:

player transfermarkt (€)
Atiba Hutchinson 3 500 000
Josh Simpson 2 000 000
Julian de Guzman 1 750 000
Mike Klukowski 1 500 000
Rob Friend 1 500 000
Kevin McKenna 1 250 000
Lars Hirschfeld 1 000 000
Marcel de Jong 900 000
Milan Borjan 800 000
Dwayne De Rosario 600 000
Will Johnson 600 000
Issey Nakajima-Farran 500 000
Jaime Peters 500 000
Ali Gerba 400 000
Nik Ledgerwood 400 000
Simeon Jackson 400 000
André Hainault 350 000
Dejan Jakovic 300 000
Pedro Pacheco 300 000
Tosaint Ricketts 300 000
Haidar Al-Shaïbani 200 000
Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault 200 000
Terry Dunfield 150 000
total 19 400 000

It's Canada's Gold Cup squad, ranked by the site's market valuation, in euros. To be honest, I don't have the faintest idea how these valuations are computed. As far as I can tell, there is no relation to actual transfer fees paid.

That said, I think the site has it mostly right. Hutchinson and Simpson are among the most successful Canadian pros, and the guys at the bottom are journeymen or longshot prospects.

My only two major quibbles are the following:
  • Is Terry Dunfield really the least valuable Canadian international?
  • How is Simeon Jackson valued so low?
Some notable Canucks who weren't selected:
  • Paul Stalteri: € 250 000
  • Iain Hume: € 1 250 000 (probably the craziest valuation of all!)
  • Tomasz Radzinski: € 300 000
  • Adrian Cann: € 150 000
  • Nana Attakora: € 150 000
  • David Edgar: € 750 000
By the way, at today's exchange rate of roughly 1.36 CAD = 1 EUR, the 23 players selected by Stephen Hart come out to a total valuation $26 547 428.

Not such a bad bargain.

Canada roster for Gold Cup

With the focus of this blog over the last month having largely been on the 2011 edition of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, the 2011 Gold Cup has really snuck up on me. It's only 15 days until the opening clash at Ford Field in Detroit against USA, and a mere 8 days until the warm-up friendly against Ecuador on June 1st at BMO Field.

On this holiday Monday, Stephen Hart announced the 23 selections that will make up his squad for the Gold Cup. Presumably the team that will face Ecuador will be drawn from the same pool.

# Player Pos. Team League Age Caps Goals
1 Lars Hirschfeld GK Vålerenga Fotball Norway 32 33 0
2 Nik Ledgerwood D/M SV Wehen Wiesbaden Germany 26 7 0
3 Mike Klukowski D/M unattached na 30 29 0
4 Kevin McKenna CB FC Köln Germany 31 49 10
5 André Hainault CB Houston Dynamo MLS 24 18 2
6 Julian de Guzman M Toronto FC MLS 30 44 4
7 Terry Dunfield M Vancouver Whitecaps FC MLS 28 2 0
8 Will Johnson M Real Salt Lake MLS 24 15 0
9 Rob Friend F Hertha BSC Germany 30 30 2
10 Ali Gerba F Impact Montréal NASL 29 29 15
11 Josh Simpson M Vestel Manisaspor Turkey 28 32 1
12 Pedro Pacheco M CD Santa Clara Portugal 26 3 0
13 Atiba Hutchinson M PSV Eindhoven Netherlands 28 52 3
14 Dwayne De Rosario F New York Red Bull MLS 33 56 15
15 Dejan Jakovic D DC United MLS 25 10 0
16 Tosaint Ricketts M/F FC Politehnica Timiþoara Romania 23 2 0
17 Simeon Jackson M Norwich City England 24 15 2
18 Milan Borjan GK FK Rad Serbia 23 2 0
19 Marcel de Jong M FC Augsburg Germany 24 15 1
20 Jaime Peters D Ipswich Town FC England 24 25 1
21 Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault M SC Preußen Münster Germany 22 3 0
22 Haidar Al-Shaïbani GK Nîmes Olympique France 27 1 0
23 Issey Nakajima-Farran M AC Horsens Denmark 27 24 1




Averages 26.87 21.57 2.48

At first glance, there seem to be few surprises here. A few posters on the Voyageurs board are bemoaning the absence of David Edgar, but a guy who only made 7 appearances this season doesn't make my team. There is the usual over-the-top criticism of Rob Friend, but as long as Stephen Hart insists on fielding a team that features a target striker Friend is one of the best options for that role. He was effective, without scoring, in recent friendlies against Belarus and Honduras.

What is more interesting with this roster are some of the general trends. The breakdown of which countries and leagues are being drawn upon is always interesting. This time around, we have:
  • North America - 7 players: Hainault, de Guzman, Dunfield, Johnson, De Rosario, Jakovic (MLS) and Ali Gerba (NASL)
  • Germany - 5: Ledgerwood, McKenna, Friend, de Jong, Beaulieu-Bourgault
  • England - 2: Jackson, Peters
  • Turkey - 2: Simpson, Klukowski (I am counting him since his last port of call was Ankaragucu)
  • Norway, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Romania - 1 each
Quite the contrast with the Gold Cup winning team of 2000, which drew heavily on Scotland and the English lower divisions.

While Canada has always drawn upon North American leagues for depth, this is likely the first time so many of the likely starters have been plying their trade at home.

Fans should be under no illusions that this is a young or developmental squad. It is veteran-laden. The listed average age of 26.87 should really be about half a year higher as I based the calculation on current age in years, not months and days. The core of the team is older, and if they were to qualify for 2014, would be almost entirely composed of 30-somethings. The youngest player on the squad is Beaulieu-Bourgault at 22, but his involvement (along with al-Shaibani and Nakajima-Farran) is likely to be peripheral. Even some of the internationally inexperienced guys like Pacheco (3 caps) and Dunfield (2) are in their late 20s.

All of these players are by now well-known to Hart and to Canadian fans. It is not difficult to imagine how these will be arranged in a 4-5-1 (aka 4-3-3). I wouldn't expect many differences between my starting XI and that which Hart will put out:

Simpson - Friend - Jackson

Hutchinson - de Guzman - Johnson

Klukowski - Jakovic - McKenna - Hainault

Hirschfeld

The real questions are:
  • Right back. Hainault can do the job there, but he is also one of relatively few options for centre half. Ledgerwood has played there but is not one of the strongest players on the roster. Hart tends to use Peters more in an attacking super-sub role.
  • De Rosario. He is a man of large reputation and ego. He could start at any of the 3 more forward positions, but I don't think he should be first choice for any of them. Can he handle that?
  • Left back. Marcel de Jong likely had the better season. Klukowski quit his team earlier this year because he wasn't being paid. Will he be fit and sharp?
This is always an exciting tournament, and I look forward to watching these players represent the Maple Leaf.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Voyageurs Cup Pool: Week 3 report

We are getting right down to it now. Despite a small amount of attrition -- readers who failed to submit picks for the final series matches -- the Nutrilite/Voyageurs Cup pool is going strong. It looks like it will be a close battle to the finish, with 9 entries in the top two positions. It seems rather unlikely that the winner will come from any further back than that.

The 1-1 scoreline from Wednesday's Vancouver-Toronto match was a popular one. A dozen or so predictions had it exactly right.

With such a glut of entries at the top, it seems likely that tiebreakers will come into play. Those who picked Maicon Santos as top goal scorer are well positioned, as he leads the goals table with one week to go.

Here are the scores after 3 weeks:

WEEK 3
Difference Entries
4 Free Kick, Russell Berrisford, CasualSoccerFan
5 fil, Austin da Silveira, Flemings, Heavy Red Flow, Cheeta, Guindon
6 Will C, Lord Bob, Bill Ault, Ivan Garcia, zooko62000, Massimo, KuBo, Grant, Duncan Fletcher, Ed
7 Theo, MM2, Ryan, Mr Impact, Mosho, Sam, RKR, Branden, Chew, thesecondyellow, Diego
8 J, pejnam, dyslexic nam, Seathanaich, kodiaktfc, feardafred
9 CapsFan79, StartingEleven, rmacvivar, Rudi, mattz, Medic1849, squizz
10 downsouth, JeremyMTL, Tuscan, soka, mulliganl, Mr. Caca
11 Jamonty, LWO04, Jay, Old Style Pilsner, nicotine, saviola7
12 Scottie, Juby
13 Pompey Canuck, Gareth
14 Sasha


You can view your own picks as well as everybody else's selections here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Voyageurs Cup Week 3 report

VANCOUVER 1 : 1 TORONTO

Goals:
Eric Hassli 64', Maicon Santos 73'

Stupid headline: With the Impact out of the tournament, the obvious puns have been shelved. Instead, I'll link to the best match report I've read so far, from Marc Weber (The Province): Whitecaps dominant, but denied victory

Story in pictures
Davide Chiumiento and goal scorer Eric Hassli engage in a Vulcan mind meld (I had to look that up -- I've never seen an episode of Star Trek).


Three paragraph analysis

For the third competition week in a row, I was a bit distracted by another sporting event on another channel, though not as much as in previous weeks. The Canucks took care of business, and for the longest time it looked as though Vancouver was going to as well. The first half was a fairly even affair, but if, like in boxing, you had to give the round to one side it would have to have been the Whitecaps. They forced Stefan Frei into a few uncomfortable moments, and also surely were happy to see midfielders Tony Tchani and Jacob Peterson off injured. One of the replacements, Matt Gold, was almost the most invisible player on the pitch (tough for a ginger-headed bloke), second only to the much hyped, but in this match very useless, Joao Plata.

However, the real drama of the match came in the second half. It was 45 minutes of largely one-way traffic, a symphony of posts and corner kicks largely at the south end of the pitch. It opened with one of the most stone cold penalty claims you'll ever see (Cann chopping down Camilo) blithely ignored by referee Silvio Petrescu. It featured a clear back pass by miserable left back Dan Gargan picked up by Stefan Frei with no penalty awarded. It included a number of Vancouver shots striking the woodwork. It included a brilliant left-footed strike by Eric Hassli to put the Whitecaps up 1-0. But it was all undone by a seemingly innocuous ball from Nick Soolsma tapped in by Maicon Santos (I insist it was an own goal by Janicki as I've yet to see a replay showing Santos clearly striking the ball, but nobody else seems to think so).

Perhaps a microcosm of Vancouver's season, the game showed a Whitecaps team that was better by leaps and bounds on the night, but also one that couldn't pick up a result. If it reflects poorly on anyone, it is coach Teitur Thordarsson, who can't be happy that his team hasn't won at home since MLS first kick, and keeper Jay Nolly, who is competent enough but rarely makes the big save. The away goal puts Toronto FC firmly in the driver's seat, and it would require an epic collapse for them to fail to claim a third consecutive Voyageurs Cup. A 1-0 win would have been a near-perfect result for Vancouver, but now Toronto can go home and play for a 0-0 draw. I half expect them to start the match with 5 defenders, the same formation in which they finished the match yesterday.

Attendance check: 15,474. Toronto fans who would criticize this low-ish number need be reminded what it is like to live in a city where the NHL team is in the playoffs. It's been a while.

Canadian content report
Toronto boosted it's Canadian content due to the Tchani injury (replaced at half by youngster Oscar Cordon) while I wonder if Vancouver would have been better served with more Teibert and less Salinas.

TORONTO FC
Adrian Cann 90
Julian de Guzman 90
Oscar Cordon
45
Total Mins 225


VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Terry Dunfield
90
Russell Teibert
7
Total Mins 97

SCORING TABLE

TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Maicon Santos Toronto 3
Alan Gordon Toronto 2
Terry Dunfield Vancouver 1
Ali Gerba Montreal 1
Mouloud Akloul Vancouver 1
Eric Hassli
Vancouver
1



Maicon Santos is now alone as the overal scoring leading.

NEXT WEEK

The final leg of the final series. Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps at BMO. 8 pm et / 5 pm pt on Rogers Sportsnet.

The away goals rule will be in effect, including in extra time. Therefore:
  • If either team wins outright over 90 minutes, they are champions.
  • Toronto becomes champions with a 0-0 draw.
  • Vancouver are winners with a goal scoring draw of 2-2 or higher.
  • A 1-1 draw over 90 minutes takes the match to extra time. A scoreless extra time leads to penalties, but if teams score an equal number of goals, Vancouver win.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mailing it in: Obligatory FIFA rankings post

Lots to talk about these days in Canadian soccer: women play today vs Swiss, Nutrilite Canadian Championship finals getting started tonight, roster speculation for Ecuador friendly, Gold Cup.

But all I have the time (actually motivation) to post about just now is the latest FIFA rankings story.

The relevant info from the May FIFA rankings:

Canada dropped one spot to No. 76, sandwiched between Estonia and China.

The United States is the top team from CONCACAF, the soccer confederation that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, at No. 22.

Canada ranks seventh among CONCACAF nations behind the U.S., Mexico (No. 28), Honduras (No. 43), Jamaica (No. 55), Costa Rica (No. 56) and Panama (No. 67).

Canada's June 1st friendly opponent, Ecuador, dropped 8 spots to 64th.


Look for posts tomorrow recapping the Vancouver - Toronto match (10 pm et / 7 pm pt on Rogers Sportsnet) as well as updating the stadings in the Nutrilite contest (get your final predictions in now if you haven't done so yet).

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Voyageurs Cup Pool: Week 2 report

Let me begin with my apologies to two of my entrants, feardafred and Guindon. Both are French Canadians (NDP voters?) with the same first name containing accented letters. Both emailed entrants were diverted from my Inbox by Gmail's very likely racist spam filter. They're both in, which brings the total of entries up to 75. Which probably meets another prize threshold. I'll have to check the original post.

One thing I already have checked in the original post is how I would deal with matches going to extra time, as was the case with yesterday's Vancouver-Montreal tilt. I clearly stated that the score that would be considered for the purposes of this contest is the tally after 120 minutes. So yesterday's match goes as 1-1, not 1-0 for Montreal, which was the score after 90 minutes.

The field has really become stretched out after two weeks and four matches. In all likelihood the winner will come from one of the entries at 3 or 4, but I will still be soliciting final round picks from everyone who entered. If you entered via email, expect something from me within the next day or two. If you entered on the Voyageurs' boards, I will request your picks for the Toronto-Vancouver final there.

Here are the scores after 2 weeks:

MATCHDAY 1
Difference Entries
3 Russell Berrisford, Cheeta
4 Free Kick, Bill Ault, fil, CasualSoccerFan, Guindon
5 Theo, Will C, M@, Ivan Garcia, f10, Austin da Silveira, Massimo, KuBo, Flemings, thesecondyellow, Heavy Red Flow, Ed
6 Lord Bob, Ryan, Daniel, ThiKu, Keano, kodiaktfc, zooko62000, RKR, Grant, Duncan Fletcher, lamycnd, Branden, Diego, tarnado
7 J, MM2, pejnam, Mr Impact, dyslexic nam, Seathanaich, mulliganl, Mosho, Sam, mattz, Chew, feardafred
8 CapsFan79, ESG Shawn, nazzer, Tuscan, TripleA, Soccerpro, StartingEleven, Mr. Caca, Medic1849, nicotine, Aird, squizz
9 Pompey Canuck, downsouth, JeremyMTL, soka, LWO04, rmacvicar, Jay, Rudi, saviola7
10 Gareth, Jamonty, Bluesman, Old Style Pilsner, gizmo fan 2
11 Scottie, Redcoatsforever, Juby
12 Sasha

If you want to feel even worse about your picks, try this on for size: If you are at 7 or worse, you would have done just as well, or better, if you had predicted 0-0 for each match.

You can view your own picks as well as everybody else's selections here.

Voyageurs Cup Week 2 report

TORONTO 1 : 0 EDMONTON

Goal
: Alan Gordon 21'

Stupid headline: None this week. Perhaps the headline writers are still exhausted from the election. Here's a good match report from that socialist rag: the Toronto Star

Story in pictures

Alan Gordon celebrates after tying teammate Maicon Santos for the Voyageurs Cup scoring lead

Two paragraph analysis

Unlike last week, when I was watching the Habs along with those NDP-lovin' Quebecois, I was able to catch the majority of the action in both games. It is difficult to know what to take from the Edmonton-Toronto clash, seeing as the result had all but been decided after Toronto's 3-0 win away last week. But Aron Winter fielded a squad that very much resembled a first choice MLS roster, while Edmonton had a weakened team on the field, largely necessitated by injury and suspension. Given that, I was quite surprised that Edmonton seemed to hold their own throughout the match. Both teams passed the ball around well, at times, while at others they gave away the ball too cheaply. Edmonton lacked the quality ball in the final third, while Toronto produced quality only 2 or 3 times, one of which resulted in the Gordon goal.

It was always going to be a difficult task for Edmonton to advance out of this pairing. They will be happy with the experience and ready to test themselves against less taxing NASL competition. Toronto's situation is more puzzling. Why field your best team when a less talented group could have done the job? And what of the injuries to Gordon, Tchani, and de Guzman? If serious, they've got bigger problems than facing the Whitecaps in the final.

Attendance check: 17,937. Not a sellout, but then the regular MLS games haven't been played to full houses lately either.

Canadian content report
Edmonton was minus a few Canadian regulars but plugged in some Canadian reserves. Adrian Cann and Julian de Guzman featured for TFC, after neither played in the first leg.

TORONTO FC
Adrian Cann 90
Julian de Guzman 72
Total Mins 90


FC EDMONTON
Kyle Yamada 90
Niko Saler 90
Paul Hamilton 90
Dominic Oppong 73
Antonio Rago 90
Sam Lam 90
Chris Kooy 90
Kyle Porter 90
Paul Craig 28
Total Mins 731


VANCOUVER 1 : 1 MONTREAL (after extra time)

Goals:
Ali Gerba 84' (pen), Mouloud Akloul 114'

Stupid headline: Caps have impact on the Impact (Montreal Gazette)
We see 'impact' puns in the headlines nearly every time the team plays, but this is probably the most lazy use of that wordplay I've seen to date.

Story in pictures:

This game, really, was all about the Rotund One

Three paragraph analysis
If yesterday evening's first match lacked for drama, this one more than made up for it. Traditional rivals at the division 2 level, this was the first time Vancouver welcomed Montreal as theoretical inferiors. The match largely bore that out, but too often Vancouver squandered good buildup with sloppy passing and errant shooting near the 18. And then Dave Gantar happened.

With Vancouver looking fairly comfortable defending the clean sheet, circumstances conspired to produce a penalty. Whitecaps fans may argue with the call, but I think Mr Gantar on the whole got it right. Anthony Le Gall (I think) whipped in a terrific cross from the left. Ali Gerba left the impression that he meant to attack it. Alain Rochat had his arms draped all over Gerba and seemed to impede his progress to the ball. As Gerba was lining up to take the kick, Rochat signed to his coach Teitur Thordarson by holding his thumb and index finger a few inches apart as if to indicate that, yes, there had been a bit of contact there. Gerba was cool under pressure, and suddenly we were back on.

The first half, though not poorly played, was somewhat pedestrian. The second upped the drama and the quality. Second half additions of Salinas for Vancouver and Mayard and Ribeiro for Montreal increased the attacking skill. The 30 minutes of extra time was near-to-epic, if you're a fan of either team. In the last 15, again Mr Gantar left an impression. With Camilo making a mazy run just above the 18, he had his heels clipped. A free kick was the right call. Rochat, the guilty party on the penalty, struck a terrific free kick that was deflected by a Ribeiro handball (wouldn't that have been an interesting decision), saved by Montreal's Bill Gaudette, and smashed home by the large Frenchman, and seeming fan favourite, Mouloud Akloul. Good news for Vancouver, yet because the away goals rule applies also to extra time (I hate this!), Vancouver still had to sweat. And they were nearly made to pay as Ali Gerba, after 120 minutes on the pitch, played the ball out wide and then full on sprinted into space to meet the cross, and spilled the wide open header onto the post on essentially the last gasp of the match.

If you've got in on TiVo, watch the last 15 again. This is why this tournament matters. With the 1-1 draw, Vancouver advances 2-1 on aggregate to meet Toronto over the two-legged final.

Attendance check: 16,611. Similar to Toronto's crowd earlier in the evening.

Canadian content report
Montreal followed the exact same Canadian starting/substitution pattern as last week (as well as in one of their NASL games) where Pizzo and Gerba start, and Mayard and Ribeiro are brought on at exactly 75 minutes. Terry Dunfield and Russell Teibert both played a full 90 for Vancouver, but only Dunfield was allowed to continue playing into the extra 30 minutes.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Terry Dunfield 120
Russell Teibert 90
Total Mins 210


MONTREAL IMPACT
Nevio Pizzolitto 120
Ali Gerba 120
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard 45
Antonio Ribeiro 45
Total Mins 330



SCORING TABLE

TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Maicon Santos Toronto 2
Alan Gordon Toronto 2
Terry Dunfield Vancouver 1
Ali Gerba Montreal 1
Mouloud Akloul Vancouver 1












All 3 of week 1's goal scorers were making their Canadian Championship debuts.

NEXT WEEK
No matches next week. The final kicks off 18 May 2011 as Toronto visits Vancouver for the first leg.