Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New contest: WCQ Group Stage Goals!

New contest! Exclamation point in the title!

Partly to build off another successful year of the Voyageurs Cup prediction contest, and partly as a strategy to maintain my interest in the qualifying group stage when Canada is mathematically eliminated with two match days to go, I'm launching another contest.

This one is simple: you pick some players, they score some goals, they get some points.

There are 12 teams in this round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.  Some you know well, others you don't.  For that reason, you get to pick a few more players from the bigger teams, and from Canada of course.

Naturally, you should be doing your research on Canada's Group C opponents as well, so they'll have more representation.

The links below will take you to the Wikipedia page for that country's national team, which barring a flurry of furious googling, is the best way to see who their current players are.  Send me an email with the correct number of players from each country, or better yet, copy and paste the spreadsheet below.

All entries are due by noon June 8th.

Select 3 scorers from: Canada
Select 2 scorers from each of: Honduras, Cuba, Panama (Group C), USA (Group A), Mexico (Group B)
Select 1 scorer from each of: Jamaica, Guatemala, Antigua and Barbuda (Group A), Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guyana (Group B)


GROUP COUNTRY PLAYER
GROUP C Canada


Cuba

Honduras

Panama

GROUP A USA

Antigua and Barbuda
Guatemala
Jamaica
GROUP B Mexico

Costa Rica
El Salvador
Guyana


So copy and paste that gaudy montrosity, and email your picks to blogdumpster@gmail.com.  Or just send them to me without the spreadsheet.  But choose wisely.

There will be a prize.  Probably.  You'll have to wait and see what kind of state I'm in after the final match day of this round on October 16th.

Don't forget to tell your friends!

(Did I make it clear that each goal scored by a player you selected gets you a point? Good.  Now you know).

Monday, May 28, 2012

Canada roster updates

It is not uncommon for there to be changes to a Canada roster after the team has been announced. Niggling injuries, stubborn clubs, even players deciding to play for other countries often prevent all of the first choice team from getting together.

Never, though, have I seen an injury as serious as the one that has taken Josh Simpson out of the lineup for June's qualifiers, and the rest of 2012's matches as well.

Josh suffered a fracture to his leg and is expected to take at least 8 months to recover.  The tweet below was typical of the reaction of many fans:

I'm heartbroken for Josh, who must be crushed to be missing out on WCQ, possibly the last chance for him in his career.  But I'm not ready to take part in the collective wailing and gnashing of teeth, nor am I ready to admit that Canada's chances are well and truly fucked now, or at least no more than they were already.

Simpson is an attacking wide player.  He has some speed, though not as much as he once did.  He sometimes links well with those around him.  He has scored 4 goals for Canada, but only one against a quality opponent.  I thought he was ineffective at times in Canada's matches last fall.

His absence creates a whole in attack, but Stephen Hart should take this opportunity to consider fielding a more defensive lineup. Canada scored in all but its last match the last time they reached this round, but failed to keep a clean sheet in any of them.  If they can tighten things up defensively their chances will be greatly improved.

In any case, Simpson's injury has necessitated the following change:


Player Pos. Team League Age Caps Gls
IN





Dejan Jakovic D DC United MLS 26 11 0
OUT





Josh Simpson M Young Boys Bern Switzerland 29 43 4


This is clearly not a like-for-like swap.  Word is that Adam Straith was originally called to a 23-man squad, but was left off the list due to a late injury.  Dejan Jakovic's return to health came at an opportune time for Stephen Hart; his selection had nothing to do with Simpson's injury.  It's not all bad news for Straith -- he has signed a new deal with his current club FC Saarbruecken.

It remains to be seen what Hart will do to fill the void left by the Simpson injury.  It's possible he'll select another player and run with a 23-man squad for now, though the only men that could adequately fill Simpson's spot on the field are either too old (Tomasz Radzinski) or intransigent (Junior Hoilett).  Another option would to be consider adding a player in a slightly different position.  Patrice Bernier had a great game for Montreal on the weekend, and could add some offense out of midfield.

I'll be sure to keep you updated (no more than 5 days late, I promise!) on any other roster moves.

If you haven't already, see my thoughts on the original 22-man roster.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Voyageurs Cup FINAL Matchday Report



Toronto FC are winners of the Voyageurs Cup for the 4th straight season.  As much as geographically, and theoretically, I'm neutral, I always find myself cheering against Toronto in these matches.  But congratulations to Toronto; they were the better team over two legs against Vancouver, and I'll have no problem getting fully behind them in CONCACAF Champions League.

Here's how it all went down.

TORONTO 1:0 VANCOUVER

Goal
: Reggie Lambe 83'
Sendings off: Julian de Guzman 57', Sebastian Le Toux 58'
[match stats]

Headline: Whitecaps master the art of losing ugly (Vancouver Sun)
Fantastic summary of a disgraceful performance by the left coasters

Story in pictures


As much as it pains me to say it, Toronto deserves to have the trophy hoisted by their most overrated player.



One paragraph analysis

Maybe the "worst team in the world" label is contagious. Airborne, and only Canadian teams are susceptible.  Vancouver certainly played that way.  I've watched a half-dozen Whitecaps matches this season, and the two matches in the last two weeks against Toronto have been by far their worst.  But it wasn't enough to lay an egg on the pitch; both teams conspired to bring the sport into disrepute with some truly shameful shit early into the 2nd half.  Julian de Guzman kicked off a moment of madness by judo-tossing Sebastian Le Toux into the turf, before he earned a red card for an unjustified (but un-dangerous) slap to the face of Jun Marques Davidson, who needed a full minute on the floor to recover.  When Sebastian Le Toux earned his second yellow in the same skirmish, I was sure it would bode well for the 'Caps since he had been spectacularly awful to that point.  It was not to be.  A game with no flow was finally put out of its misery by a Reggie Lambe strike in the 83rd minute, and Toronto's supporters deservedly celebrated soon after.

Attendance check: 13,777 at BMO Field, the smallest non-Edmonton crowd of the tournament

Canadian content report
No Canadians on the pitch or the bench for Vancouver, nor did a single Canadian see the pitch in the tournament.  I'm not thrilled about this, but why should they care what I think?  Toronto had 4 Canadian starters.  Julian de Guzman had the early shower, and Terry Dunfield had a brief cameo.



TORONTO FC
Adrian Cann90
Ashtone Morgan90
Doneil Henry90
Julian de Guzman57
Terry Dunfield6
Total Mins333


TOP SCORERS
PlayerTeamGoals
Sebastien Le TouxVancouver2
Eric HassliVancouver2
Ryan JohnsonToronto2
Reggie LambeToronto2
Atiba HarrisVancouver1
Darren MattocksVancouver1
Yashir PintoEdmoton1

Toronto have qualified directly to the group stage of CONCACAF Champions League, which will proceed under a new format this coming fall.  Under the new program Toronto will be placed in one of eight 3-team groups, from which the quarterfinalists will advance.  The first of 4 group stage matchdays falls between July 31st and August 2nd.

VCup contest: FINAL STANDINGS

Toronto FC put their name on the Voyageurs Cup for the fourth straight year in a shambles of a match last night.  Congratulations to them and all the rest.  Of more immediate importance to my readers, however, is the result of this blog's prediction contest.  Unlike the match itself, this wasn't properly decided in regular time:


FINAL STANDINGS
Difference Entries
5 Tuscan, Diego R
6
7
8 ThiKuBC, mulliganl, Drew Shaw, coxon, zooko62000, Casual Soccer Fan, Russell Referee
9 Soka, Matt, B_Like_Fonz, Keano
10 Mr. Impact, Scott Bennett, jzpassion4footy, KodiakTFC, Duncan Fletcher
11 Tim McMurphy, Duane Rollins, LUFC, Free Kick, Pejnam
12 Sam, Yvan, Theo Gauthier, StartingEleven
13 Jamonty, Kevin Elder, Papae Noel, Latetedefred, TorontoSubbuteo, KZ
14 Clayton Annis, Scottie
15 Benjamin Massey


(you can view the detail of each entry here)


Tuscan and Diego R distanced themselves from the pack but couldn't shake each other.  They both had the same Golden Boot winner (Sebastian Le Toux, who tied with Ryan Johnson, Reggie Lambe, and Eric Hassli for the actual honours).  I did make up some other tie-breaking procedures but, frankly, I'd rather just hand out two prizes.

In past years I left it up to the lanterne rouge to decide which team scarf the winner would receive.  Ben Massey surely wouldn't have let that power get to his head, but this year I am offering no such consolation.  It's a big WCQ summer and we need to be all-in behind the national team.  The winners will be receiving a Canada scarf or other Umbro swag from the CSA store.

Thanks to all for participating.  I hope you'll stop by and read my other posts from time to time.  And rest assured if this blog is still alive and kicking in a year's time, we'll have the contest up and running again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Preliminary roster for USA friendly, WCQs

Stephen Hart announced last Thursday the 22 players that will be in camp in preparation for the June 3rd friendly against the USA, and World Cup qualifiers June 8th in Havana and June 12th against Honduras at BMO Field.

The elect will be gathering today in the southern USA (I'd assume their usual training ground of Sunrise, FL) for 3 days before moving north for a week.

Twitter was abuzz with the novel way the roster was introduced: a youtube video!



While youtube is so 2005, and the big dance floor groove is very 1993, it's still light years ahead of most CSA communications (the player and match data on the website has still not been recovered) so it gets a thumbs up from me.

As to the roster itself:


# Player Pos. Team League Age Caps Gls
1 Lars Hirschfeld GK Vålerenga Norway 33 38 0
18 Milan Borjan GK FC Vaslui Romania 24 6 0
22 Kenny Stamatopoulos GK AIK Stockholm Sweden 32 8 0
2 Nik Ledgerwood D SV Wehen Wiesbaden Germany 27 15 0
3 Mike Klukowski D Manisaspor Turkey 31 34 0
4 Kevin McKenna D FC Köln Germany 32 56 11
5 Andre Hainault D Houston Dynamo MLS 25 24 2
15 David Edgar D Burnley FC England 25 8 0
19 Ashtone Morgan D Toronto FC MLS 21 2 0
21 Ante Jazic D Chivas USA MLS 36 29 1
6 Julian de Guzman M Toronto FC MLS 31 53 4
8 Will Johnson M Real Salt Lake MLS 25 24 1
11 Josh Simpson M Young Boys Bern Switzerland 29 43 4
13 Atiba Hutchinson M PSV Eindhoven Netherlands 29 56 4
16 Pedro Pacheco M CD Santa Clara Portugal 27 5 0
20 Samuel Piette M Fortuna Dusseldorf Germany 17 0 0
23 Issey Nakajima-Farran M Brisbane Roar Australia 28 24 1
7 Iain Hume F Preston North End England 28 34 5
9 Tosaint Ricketts F Politehnica Timişoara Romania 24 10 3
10 Simeon Jackson F Norwich City England 25 26 6
14 Dwayne De Rosario F DC United MLS 34 65 19
17 Olivier Occean F SpVgg Greuther Fürth Germany 30 23 5




Goals 66





Avg age 29.52





Avg caps 26.5



Summary numbers
The 22-man squad, from which an 18-man game day unit will be selected for the WCQs, includes 3 keepers, 7 defenders, 7 midfielders and 5 forwards.  There are 6 MLS players, 3 each plying their trade in England and Germany (4 if you count Samuel Piette, see below), 2 in Romania, and the remainder from a scattering of other European leagues.

Disputed data?
The CSA release has a few errors: Milan Borjan is incorrectly listed as playing for Turkey's Sivasspor, a team he left in January.  He's made 15 consecutive starts for Vaslui, a team that looks likely to earn a place in Champions League qualifying.  Issey Nakajima-Farran is listed as playing with Australia's Brisbane Roar, but is rumoured to have signed with AEK Larnaca of Cyprus.  Sam Piette, who trained with FC Metz this past season, will be spending the next with Germany's Dusseldorf, despite being listed by the CSA as unattached.

It does not smell like teen spirit
The team's average age is 29 and a half.  Due to the vagaries of spreadsheets and calculating with dates, it is likely actually half a year older.  Remove "just there for the experience" guy Piette, and it is well north of 30.  There should be no illusions about the fact that this is the last kick at the can for most of these players, possibly even relatively youthful stalwarts like Atiba Hutchinson and Josh Simpson.

Back problems?
There has been some not-inconsiderable handwringing about the situation at left back.  A dismal performance by Mike Klukowski in his most recent friendly appearance has some fans concerned about that position.  Klukowski has been a personal favourite for some time, and I was indeed concerned by that performance, and his recent unsteady club situation.  But I think he'll take the opportunity to bounce back and with youngster Ashtone Morgan and the steady Ante Jazic waiting in the wings (see what I did there?) left back should be well taken care of.

The greater concern for me is the opposite flank.  Nik Ledgerwood is a Hart favourite, for some reason, and has started 6 of Canada's last 10 matches in that spot. This does not inspire confidence.  I recently went to great lengths to explain why Atiba Hutchinson should be played in that position, but barring this unlikelihood, the man for the job is Andre Hainault.  Hainault is one of the top players for Houston Dynamo.  He is not a Dani Alves-like attacker from the right side, but such a mentality is probably the last thing Canada needs.  The only concern is that Hainault is also a leading candidate for a central spot, and with David Edgar and Kevin McKenna the only other centre halfs in the squad, it looks a bit thin.

Am I being too forward?
What I am most interested to see is who will be leading the line for Canada.  The obvious candidate is he of the terrific Bundesliga promotion season, Olivier Occean.  He is not quite the target forward in the Rob Friend mould, but hey, he all know how well that worked out for Canada anyway.  He is strong and can hold up play but his goal highlights show a decent combination of speed and technique to complement that strength.  However, I've recently developed the notion that Dwayne De Rosario should be Canada's central forward.  To my mind, it's the only position where he can have some effectiveness without being a liability defensively.  I certainly prefer him there than in a traditional #10 role.  Lets also not forget that De Rosario's next goal will put him alone atop Canada's all-time list (let's not worry that fully a third of those goals, including his last 4, are penalties).

Of the remaining forwards, I like Josh Simpson and Simeon Jackson best.  Iain Hume and Tosaint Ricketts do similar things, but at this stage in their respective careers I think Ricketts does them better.  Issey Nakajima-Farran is listed as a midfielder, but expect to see him as wide-playing super-sub, if he see him at all.

4-3-3, yeah you know me!
Don't expect Stephen Hart to depart too far from his preferred 4-3-3 (4-5-1) lineup.  Here's what I expect to see (if you read the 'graphs above you'll know this isn't the lineup I'd choose).

(L-R)
Simpson - Occean - Jackson 
De Guzman - De Rosario - Hutchinson
Jazic - McKenna - Hainault - Ledgerwood
Hirschfeld

Put me down for the following players, however:

Simpson - De Rosario - Jackson
Johnson - Hutchinson - De Guzman
Klukowski - McKenna - Edgar - Hainault
Hirschfeld

This all kicks off in 13 days.  Crazy, right?  See thee rise, taste the soup, allez les rouges, and all the rest!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 3 Report


Nothing quite like a long weekend to catch up on the news of the the mid-week.  Later today, I'll have some thoughts on Canada's 23-man squad for June's USA friendly and World Cup qualifiers against Cuba and Honduras.  And Friday I posted the standings after the penultimate stage of my Voyageurs Cup contest.

But now, on to the final round first leg this past Wednesday between Vancouver and Toronto

VANCOUVER 1:1 TORONTO

Goals
: Ryan Johnson 66', Eric Hassli 90+'
[match stats]

Headline: Eric Hassli rocket saves Whitecaps' night (Victoria Times-Colonist)
There is no more succinct way to summarize the happenings in this match.

Story in pictures
Much was made of this celebration. Get over it.

One paragraph analysis

For a team that is now 0-0-9 in MLS play (yes, I list draws before losses, deal with it) Toronto showed something that I was not expecting in this match.  That something was competence.  This was not a dominating performance and Toronto were not clearly the better team, as some fans on Twitter were suggesting.  On the other hand they were not clearly worse, as has been the case in most of their matches this season.  Their defense held save for Hassli's moment of inspiration (see below) and they generated enough chances to make one count.  The much-maligned Julian de Guzman, who to these eyes has been one of Toronto's best players this year, was a creative force and the man responsible for the touch of class that Johnson was able to convert for the 1-0 goal.  As for Hassli, just watch the video again for the 100th time.

Special Eric Hassli GOLAZO! video edition





Attendance check: 14,878 at BC Place

Canadian content report
No Canadians on the pitch or the bench for Vancouver.  Toronto seem to have established a core Canadian five in recent matches, at least with the demotion of Aceval and the slow recovery by Torsten Frings allowing Dunfield into the matches.



TORONTO FC
Adrian Cann90
Ashtone Morgan90
Doneil Henry90
Julian de Guzman90
Terry Dunfield90
Total Mins450


TOP SCORERS
PlayerTeamGoals
Sebastien Le TouxVancouver2
Eric HassliVancouver2
Ryan JohnsonToronto2
Atiba HarrisVancouver1
Reggie LambeToronto1
Darren MattocksVancouver1
Yashir PintoEdmoton1

If you count the goal Eric Hassli scored against Toronto in last year's final that "never happened" he is tied for the all-time lead with Dwayne De Rosario at 4 goals.

NEXT WEEK
2012.05.23: Vancouver at Toronto  8 pm et / 5 pm pt

This match might be the only important match Toronto plays the rest of this season.  Vancouver will have a difficult time matching their intensity.

Friday, May 18, 2012

VCup contest: Matchday 3


There's only one match left to be played before the Voyageurs Cup is awarded.  Meanwhile in my contest, things seem to have been narrowed down to a two-horse race.


MATCHDAY 3
Difference Entries
3 Diego R
4 Tuscan
5
6 ThiKuBC, mulliganl, coxon, Casual Soccer Fan, Rusell Referee
7 Tim McMurphy, Theo Gauthier, jzpassion4footy, Drew Shaw, zooko62000, Keano
8 Mr. Impact, Soka, Duane Rollins, Matt, Duncan Fletcher
9 KodiakTFC, Free Kick, B_Like_Fonz
10 Sam, Yvan, Jamonty, Scott Bennett, LUFC, Latetedefred, Pejnam
11 Kevin Elder, Papae Noel, StartingEleven, TorontoSubbuteo, KZ
12 Ben Massey, Clayton Annis, Scottie


I've taken a look and Diego R has predicted a 2-1 win for TFC at BMO next Wednesday while Tuscan has called a 1-1 draw.  By my calculations, that means things could end in a dead heat, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Despite some people being well out of contention, there was very little attrition (people who did not submit their finals picks after the semifinal round).  And some canny predicting as well: 9 entries had Wednesday's 1-1 scoreline exactly right.

You can view all the entries here.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Confirmed callups for June WCQs, USA friendly

My understanding is that the players invited to the Canada training camp ahead of the USA centennial friendly and World Cup qualifiers in Havana against Cuba and in Toronto against Honduras will be made available for all three matches.

While we await the official announcement of Stephen Hart's 22-man squad, which is expected Thursday, I'll be keeping a list of players already confirmed via other sources.


PosNameClubAgeCapsGoalsSource
FSimeon JacksonNorwich25266[source]
DDavid EdgarBurnley2380[source]
M/FIssey Nakajima-FarranBrisbane Roar27241[source]*
DAshtone MorganToronto FC2120[source]*
DAndre HainaultHouston Dynamo25242[source]
MPedro PachecoHouston Dynamo2750[source]


I am loath to cite a player's twitter feed as a source (as is the case with Nakajima-Farran) but it is hardly as though I would suffer much from loss of credibility. Same goes for a poster on the Voyageurs who claims a "reliable source" (Morgan), even if said poster is typically on the mark.

By the way, I'm cribbing most of this news from a similarly-themed thread over at the Voyageurs board.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 2 Report


Another week, another Voyageurs Cup matchday report 4 days late.

TORONTO 2:0 MONTREAL

Goals
: Reggie Lambe 2', Ryan Johnson 38'
Ejection: Richard Eckersley 16'
[match stats]

Headline: Toronto FC finally has something to celebrate, blanks Montreal in Canadian event (Calgary Herald - CP)

Story in pictures
3 players, not a single foot on the ground


One paragraph analysis

The spin from some TFC fans lately is that there's is a team that wins the big games.  I'm not sure moving on to the next stage of the Canadian Championship erases the stink of the worst MLS start ever.  Furthermore, the team has never played in the sort of big games (playoffs) they should be striving for each season.  Still, they do seem to have Montreal's number in this competition.  Lambe's deflected strike was a lucky start to the game, and after the deserved sending off of Eckersley a 10-man Toronto side outplayed a Montreal team who gave a performance that was, to be frank, a total disgrace.

Attendance check: 15,016 at BMO Field

Canadian content report
Patrice Bernier put in a short shift, yanked at half time by skipper Jesse Marsch.  Toronto featured five Canadians, led by an impressive performance in the middle of the back four by teenager Doneil Henry.



MONTREAL IMPACT
Patrice Bernier 45
Total Mins 45


TORONTO FC
Adrian Cann 90
Ashtone Morgan 90
Doneil Henry 90
Julian de Guzman 90
Terry Dunfield 33
Total Mins 393



VANCOUVER 3:1 EDMONTON

Goals: 
Yashir Pinto 54', Sebastien Le Toux 75', 87', Darren Mattocks 93'
[match stats]

Headline: Caps unleash goal rush to sink underdogs (Vancouver Sun)
Some brief but colourful writing in the headline. 


Story in pictures:

A well-deserved moment of celebration

One paragraph analysis
Edmonton were full value for their 1-0 lead, bringing them within one of leveling the aggregate score.  Martin Rennie had gambled that a B+ squad would be able to finish the job in Vancouver, but saw a rather listless performance from his team to that point.  The insertion of Sebastien Le Toux into the lineup paid immediate dividends and it quickly became apparent that this would not be Edmonton's day.  Still, a good performance from the NASL side, particularly the strong attacking play from winger Michael Cox and midfielder Shaun Saiko.  Vancouver will advance to take on Toronto in the final for the second straight year, and despite their embarrassing loss yesterday to New England, should be considered the favourites.

Attendance check: 15,011 at BC Place

Canadian content report
One might have expected youngsters Russell Teibert or Bryce Alderson, both of whom made the substitutes bench, to see the field in this one.  No such luck.  Edmonton again fielded a strong contingent of Canadians.


FC EDMONTON
David Monsalve 90
Antonio Rago 90
Paul Hamilton 90
Shaun Saiko 77
Chris Kooy 90
Kenny Caceros 90
Matt Lam 90
Michael Cox 55
Kyle Porter 35
Paul Craig 9
Total Mins 716




TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Sebastien Le Toux Vancouver 2
Eric Hassli Vancouver 1
Darren Mattocks Vancouver 1
Atiba Harris Vancouver 1
Reggie Lambe Toronto 1
Ryan Johnson Toronto 1
Yashir Pinto Edmoton 1


NEXT WEEK
2012.05.16: Toronto at Vancouver  8pm pt / 11 pm et

CONTEST UPDATE
The contest standings have already been updated.  If you entered the contest, you should have received an email requesting your scores for the two-legged final.  If you did not receive that email, send your picks to blogdumpster@gmail.com

Friday, May 11, 2012

VCup contest: Matchday 2

Thanks to all the participants into my annual Voyageurs Cup contest.  4 of the 6 matches have come and gone, and the standings now look like this:


The work computer does not cut/paste spreadsheets well

While it does seem like Tuscan and Diego have separated themselves from the pack, it's not out of the realm of possibility for anybody all the way down to a difference of 8 to have a shot.

You should all be receiving an email today requesting your picks for the finals.  A more comprehensive look at matchday 2 may (or may not, it's nice weather after all) come this weekend.

You can view all the entries here.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Canadian Championship: All-time data

With the most important all-Canadian soccer competition fully upon us, I've had an inkling lately to look a little at the accumulation of data over the first four years of the Canadian Championship.

I spent literally in the high double digits of minutes compiling some spreadsheets listing each player to take part in the competition, from Abdus Ibrahim to Zourab Tsiskaridze.

The data are too comprehensive to list in a post (180 players in all have taken part over 4 years), but you can take a look at the spreadsheets yourself.  There are separate sheets for each year of the competition, as well as for each team, in addition to a master list of all players.

Google Docs: Canadian Championship 2008-2011

If you're the kind of 21st century cat that can't be bothered, and prefers to digest info in 140-character chunks, here's a bit:







Sunday, May 06, 2012

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 1 Report and Contest Update

It's been a busy week.  This serves to explain in part why a report on Wednesday's Amway Canadian Championship matches is being published on a Sunday night.  I only watched a handful of minutes from the Whitecaps-Eddies match, and not a moment of the Toronto-Montreal snoozefest, so my analysis may be even further from the mark than usual.

On to the reports

MONTREAL 0 : 0 TORONTO

Goals
: none
[match stats]

Stupid headline: Toronto FC, Impact play to scoreless draw in Amway Canadian Championship (National Post)
Even the headlines about this match were boring.

Story in pictures
Father time makes an appearance
One paragraph analysis

The conventional wisdom is that a draw favours the visitors, but it's hard to imagine either team being satisfied with the result.  Aron Winter's men (for now) parked the bus in front of Milos Kocic's goal, surely an admission that they were dealing with a more talented opponent.  Recent MLS results would support this judgment.  Still, it leaves all to play for this Wednesday, and it wouldn't be a shock for Toronto FC, who have only one win in 2012 (a 2-1 Champions League victory in Los Angeles) to get another when it matters.  Any scoring draw puts Montreal through to the final.

Attendance check: 13,405 at Olympic Stadium.

Canadian content report
I'll have to go back and check, but I can't recall any nights in past editions of the tournament when two teams failed to field a single Canadian.  Montreal (a naturalized Eddy Sebrango notwithstanding) and Vancouver did the trick on this night.  Three quarters of the TFC back line were Canadian on this night, and they managed to keep a clean sheet.


MONTREAL IMPACT
none 0
Total Mins 0


TORONTO FC
Adrian Cann 90
Ashtone Morgan 90
Doneil Henry 90
Julian de Guzman 90
Terry Dunfield 89
Total Mins 743


FC EDMONTON 0 : 2 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

Goal:
Eric Hassli 19', Atiba Harris 41'

Stupid headline: Vancouver Caps FC Edmonton (Toronto Sun)
Do headline writers live such a miserable existence that such menial puns bring them some semblance of joy?


Story in pictures:

Shaun Saiko (pictured) took an early shower in last year's V-Cup opener.  Here he is looking  sharp in FCE black.

One paragraph analysis
Few gave Edmonton much of a chance in this tie. Only two of the 40 entries in my prediction contest had them advancing, and only a handful had them getting a result in the home leg.  A 2-0 loss was possibly a bit harsh and by all accounts Edmonton keeper David Monsalve could have done better on the first goal.  Vancouver fans will be heartened by the work teenager Omar Salgado has been doing on the wing. With a comfortable lead heading home, the Whitecaps would do well to field a less experienced lineup on Wednesday.

Attendance check: 2,077 at Commonwealth is a disappointing crowd for what is arguably FC Edmonton's biggest match of the year.

Canadian content report
Vancouver had none, but Edmonton had the usual strong Canadian contingent.


FC EDMONTON
Paul Hamilton 90
Fabrice Lassonde 90
Shaun Saiko 90
Dominic Oppong 84
Kyle Porter 77
David Monsalve 90
Matt Lam 69
Chris Kooy 6
Paul Craig 13
Total Mins 609


MONTREAL IMPACT
none 0
Total Mins 0



SCORING TABLE


TOP SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Eric Hassli Vancouver 1
Atiba Harris Vancouver 1


NEXT WEEK
2012.05.09: Montreal (0) at Toronto (0) - 8 pm et / 5 pm pt
2012.05.09: Edmonton (0) at Vancouver (2) - 8 pm pt / 11 pm et

CONTEST UPDATE
It's only the first week and already we can throw the notion of a perfect tournament out the window.  With the larger glut of entries at the bottom of the table, a few have separated themselves at the top:


MATCHDAY 1
Difference Entries
1 mulliganl, Tuscan
2 tmcmurph, ThiKuBC, Drew Shaw, Diego R, Casual Soccer Fan
3 Benjamin Massey, Theo Gauthier, Scott Bennett, Duane Rollins, Keano
4 Jamonty, jzpassion4footy, KodiakTFC, Matt, Max, zooko62000, MikeP, Pejnam, AllonThePitch
5 Sam, Mr Impact, Yvan, Soka, Kevin Elder, coxon, Clayton Annis, LUFC, Free Kick, Russell Referee, Duncan Fletcher, Latetedefred, StartingEleven, Kapoue, B_Like_Fonz
6 Papae Noel, Scottie, Yielly, TorontoSubbuteo, KZ

Co-defending champ Casual Soccer Fan is not far off in a 5-way tie for third, but Voyageurs board regulars mulliganl and Tuscan share top honours after week 1.

You can view all the entries here.