Monday, November 26, 2012

A thin red line

Player Age Age in 2016
Ante Jazić 36 40
Lars Hirschfeld 34 38
Kenny Stamatopoulos 33 37
Patrice Bernier 33 37
Kevin McKenna 32 36
Julian de Guzman 31 35
Michael Klukowski 31 35
Olivier Occean 31 35
Terry Dunfield 30 34
Atiba Hutchinson 29 33
Iain Hume 29 33
Pedro Pacheco 28 32
Dejan Jaković 27 31
Nikolas Ledgerwood 27 31
André Hainault 26 30
Marcel de Jong 26 30
David Edgar 25 29
Milan Borjan 25 29
Simeon Jackson 25 29
Tosaint Ricketts 25 29
Will Johnson 25 29
Lucas Cavallini 19 23

Canada's roster for last 2 World Cup qualifying matches of 2012.

Patrice Bernier has announced his retirement from international duty. Ditto skipper Kevin McKenna. But these surely aren't the only players who have played their last matches for Canada.

Exit stage left

The placement of the red line on this list -- the players selected for Canada's October qualifiers -- may be rather generous. It is meant to divide those likely to be in position to play some role in Canada's next World Cup qualifying campaign. The important matches begin in earnest in 2016.

Of the players to that took part in this most recent set of matches, only 'keeper Lars Hirschfeld and Ante Jazic, enjoying a late-career indian summer, would have found themselves on the wrong side of the line. Dwayne De Rosario, who missed the last two WCQs injured, would have been on the edge.

The point is that players north of 33 can not be counted upon to be making useful contributions to the team.

Are these losses worth grieving?

Perhaps it's my Mennonite upbringing.  Or maybe it's that I live in a city that never changes and tends to indulge in instant nostalgia for those rare exceptions (witness this coverage of the Winnipeg Stadium trough, or the fact that the opening of a furniture store is being treated like the second coming). Either way, I seem to be stuck with some conservative tendencies when it comes to change. Nature abhors a vacuum. I abhor major roster upheavals?

But should I? The core of the national team for the last decade has been made up of the likes of McKenna, Mike Klukowski, Julian de Guzman, Lars Hirschfeld and Dwayne De Rosario. All players have had successful professional careers, and surely have pocketed multiple millions as paid players. Yet they have accomplished approximately nothing while wearing the colours of their country.

Yet I have enough experience of bad sports teams (Winnipeg!) to have some appreciation of the difference between teams that have enough quality to occasionally produce hopeful moments (the Bomber teams of Matt Dunigan, Khari Jones and Kevin Glenn) and those that have no redeeming qualities (the rest). I am rather concerned that Canadian fans are in for several years of the latter.

The kids are not alright

Perhaps one ought not to be concerned about the farewells for those players above the red line, but the bottom of the list is of far greater concern. Apart from a Lucas Cavallini cameo, the 2012 WCQs did not feature any players currently under 25.  A core group of Milan Borjan, David Edgar, Will Johnson and Simeon Jackson is young enough and good enough to be important players for at least another half decade.

But if one operates under the assumption that footballers peak in their late 20s (surely you can find the research to back this up) these really ought to be the veteran leaders of a younger team.

And there is a dearth of names for the blanks that need filling in. Rewind the careers of Johnson, Edgar, Jackson four years, and you will find that these were already established professionals at a decent level, and a bet placed on their national team futures would have been a safe one. Yet apart from a possible headcase (Randy Edwini-Bonsu) and a future Rob Friend (Marcus Haber) there are few players that I'd be relatively confident in seeing on the pitch in four years time. Ashtone Morgan and ... ?


All of which is to say that supporting Canada's national team is going to suck. But you knew that already.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Canadian content 2012: Final data

Vancouver's 2-1 loss in Los Angeles in the MLS playoffs' first round puts a wrap on competitive action for the country's four competitive teams.  As always, the Canadian content for each match is reported in my spreadsheet.  Below are the club-by-club summaries.

As with the national team, one hopes that 2013 will have better Canadian success stories to tell.

FC EDMONTON
Competition CDN Total Percent
NASL Regular Season 16416 27529 59.63%
Canadian Championship 1235 1980 62.37%
Totals 17651 29509 59.82%

TORONTO FC
Competition CDN Total Percent
Champions League 1851 7920 23.37%
MLS Regular Season 7692 32634 23.57%
Canadian Championships 1625 3853 42.17%
Totals 9317 36487 25.54%

MONTREAL IMPACT
Competition CDN Total Percent
MLS Regular Season 2194 32509 6.75%
Canadian Championship 45 1980 2.27%
Totals 2239 34489 6.49%

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Competition CDN Total Percent
MLS Regular Season 132 33616 0.39%
Canadian Championship 0 3928 0.00%
MLS Playoffs 0 990 0.00%
Totals 132 38534 0.34%