Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Voyageurs Cup pool: 2014 edition

For the 6th year, we're running a contest to predict the outcomes in the matches of the Voyageurs Cup.

You really ought to familiarize yourself with the history of the competition -- no, not the cup itself, but the contest. A list of the winners and a final round up for each of the previous 5 years follows:
  • 2013 (winner: Brenton)
  • 2012 (Tuscan and Diego R)
  • 2011 (Free Kick and Casual Soccer Fan)
  • 2010 (Lank)
  • 2009 (squizz)
With a tweak to the format for the competition proper necessitated by the addition of a fifth team, the Ottaw Fury, the pool rules will adjust.

RULES
  • Participants will predict the final score of each of the first 6 matches over two competition stages: a) The initial two-legged play-in tie between Ottawa and Edmonton, and b) The two-leg semi final rounds between Vancouver and Toronto, and Ottawa/Edmonton and Montreal
  • At the conclusion of the semi-final round, participants will be asked to submit their picks for the two-legged final.
  • Total discrepancy from the final score of each match will be tallied. e.g.: If you predicted Ottawa 1 - 0 Edmonton for the opening fixture, and the final was 2-2, your discrepancy factor would be 3 goals (off by 1 for Ottawa, off by 2 for Edmonton). Lowest total score over all matches wins.
  • For these two-legged ties, the CSA is applying the away goals rule. If matches go to extra time, the scoreline after 120 minutes is the one that will be used for contest purposes.
  • In the case of an overall tie, a bonus will be awarded to anyone correctly prediction the tournament's high goal scorer.
  • Subsequent tie-breakers: First tie-breaker will be total number of exact scorelines. Second is total number of correct results (win/draw/loss). 
PRIZES

The lanterne rouge is a cycling term to designate the last-placed finisher in a race. The lanterne rouge will choose a team scarf from one of the tournament teams to be awarded to the winner.

Second and third paced prizes might come into play if the competition grows large enough, or if you have something you'd like to give away.

HOW TO ENTER

A
ll entries must be submitted via email in order for me to be able to solicit your final round picks in a timely fashion once the finalists are known. Any entries left in the comments will not be included; I'll try to contact you to get an emailed response.

Please include the following details in your entry
  • The exact score of each of the first 6 fixtures (in the correct order, please)
  • Your prediction for tournament leading goal scorer.
  • nickname to be displayed on the results page. If none is given, your real name will be used.
To make life easier for me, simply copy/paste the following into your email, and change the XXs into scores.


DATEHOMEAWAY
4/23/2014OttawaXXXXEdmonton
4/30/2014EdmontonXXXXOttawa
5/7/2014Ott/EdmXXXXMontreal
5/7/2014TorontoXXXXVancouver
5/14/2014MontrealXXXXOtt/Edm
5/14/2014VancouverXXXXToronto

Golden boot
: John Doe
Nickname: Real name will be used if none provided

I know some email programs will garble the formatting of that table, but don't worry about it, I'll figure it out.

Once the final two teams are known, you will receive an email inviting you to submit your second round of picks which are due prior to kickoff on May 28th.

All entries must be emailed to blogdumpster@gmail.com.

CONTEST DEADLINE: All entries must be received by 7:30 pm eastern (kickoff time) on Wednesday 23 April 2014, the day of the opening encounters.

I'm shooting for maximum participation, so if you have a platform for promoting this thing (twitter, blog, semaphore, etc.), I'd appreciate the support that way.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

International football is broken

In the 15 years or so during which I have been more than just theoretically aware of the existence of the Canadian national soccer team, this country has lost out on a number of talented players to other countries, mostly due to FIFA's rather arbitrary and far too generous rules determining national eligibility. Asmir Begovic and Jonathan de Guzman featured in a 5 year old post with the title "The Treason Scale". Lesser talents like Daniel Fernandes, Steven Vitoria, heck, even Jacob Lensky traded in the Maple Leaf for some more convenient option. Even the women have got in on the act, with Sydney Leroux now starring for the USA, though the inclusion of Lauren Sesselmann on Canada's women's team largely cancels that out. Only a recent software upgrade on the Voyageur's forums has allowed users to write the name of Owen Hargreaves without incurring the wrath of a censorship script.

It was once de rigueur to reference the too-quick naturalization of Brazilians by Arab petro-states as a sign of the growing pointlessness of national team football. But is there any bigger offender nowadays than Jurgen Klinsmann's USA?

These were my thoughts in tweet form before deciding to elaborate:



American fans like to cite Giuseppe Rossi as their man who got away. He's a decent player and would probably be a starter in the USA's current set-up, but they've more than made up for that with Klinsmann's German shopping spree. The six guys referenced in the series of tweets above are:

  1. John Brooks. Born and raised in Berlin
  2. Alfredo Morales. Born and raised in Berlin
  3. Jermaine Jones. Born and raised in Frankfurt
  4. Daniel Williams. Born and raised in Karlsruhe
  5. Fabian Johnson. Born and raised in Munich
  6. Terrence Boyd. Born in Germany to an American serviceman and German mother. Lived briefly in New York before returning to Germany with his mother.
Now, before I get too critical, let me remind Canadian fans that squads over the last decade have included Marc Bircham (his grandfather spend a few years in Winnipeg, or something), Will Johnson (born in Toronto but moved shortly thereafter to England and then USA), Marcel de Jong (born in Toronto, then moved as a youngster to Holland), Pedro Pacheco (who cares), and Sesselmann and Rachel Quon on the women's side.

But never have we fielded a squad like Klinsmann's team against Ukraine where 40% of the team has spent less time in the USA than Justin Bieber has.

I've said before that international football is largely pointless when one can trade nationalities so easily. In the case of many of these "American" players, their passports are legit, being born to USA servicemen, but it certainly puts to rest any notion of a connection between the health of the game in a country, and the strength of its national team. When one is a darkhorse World Cup threat largely on the strength of a 70-year military occupation of a European ally, isn't there something wrong?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tracking Canadian content in 2014

For the nth consecutive year, I'm tracking the percentage of total minutes played by Canadian players for each of the countries now 5 professional teams, with Ottawa Fury making their debut in 2014. The tracking takes the form of a Google spreadsheet with a game-by-game participation of Canadian players, and occasional tweets giving an updated Canadian content table. A summary of the data appears in the right-hand sidebar when viewing the blog.

If you're a bit thick, or not spreadsheet-inclined, here's a snapshot from Toronto FC, last year's most Canadian MLS side.



The spreadsheet includes:
  1. Canadian content details, including individual players, for each match, and a link the official match report. Note not all matches will have total minutes played of 990 due to sendings off.
  2. Matches are by competition-type, which can include: regular season (NASL and MLS), Voyageurs Cup, Champions League, and (god willing!) playoffs. Friendlies (pre-season, mid-season or other) are not included. Matches from the most recently begun competition will appear at the top.
  3. A totals summary for all competitions. The team's overall rating is a simple bit of math: (totalMinsByCdnPlayers/totalMinsByAllPlayers*100)

As is often the case, some might debate which players ought to be considered Canadian. My rule of thumb is that players ought to be eligible to play for a Canadian national team. NASL rosters are still in flux, but these are the players for Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver on their official rosters.

Toronto: Kyle Bekker, Dwayne De Rosario, Jordan Hamilton, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan, Jonathan Osorio, Quillan Roberts

Vancouver: Sam Adekugbe, Bryce Alderson, Marco Carducci, Russell Teibert

Montreal: Patrice Bernier, Maxime Crepeau, Zakaria Messoudi, Karl W. Ouimette, Maxim Tissot

If you would like to debate nationalities, proceed to the comments section of this post. I am aware that Wandrille Lefevre (Montreal) could potentiality obtain Canadian citizenship and become eligible for national team participation shortly.

Past editions (final summaries): 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

Friday, January 03, 2014

Minutes under Floro

New gaffer Benito Floro was in charge matches in the second half of 2013. He had plenty of opportunity to see the talent (or lack thereof) in the Canadian national set-up, as he fielded 34 different players over the course of those matches.

These players were: 

PlayerStartSubMinsYR
Doneil Henry43561
Adam Straith43562
Nik Ledgerwood42941
Dwayne De Rosario42821
Tosaint Ricketts4260
Marcel de Jong425011
Pedro Pacheco3223
Jonathan Osorio22192
Ashtone Morgan13181
Lars Hirschfeld2180
Stefan Cebara21180
David Edgar2180
Andre Hainault2180
Kyle Porter21176
Kyle Bekker13174
Russell Teibert12164
Simeon Jackson3138
Kenny Stamatopoulos2135
Milan Borjan11135
Issey Nakajima-Farran11111
Julian de Guzman291
Dejan Jakovic190
Atiba Hutchinson190
Marcus Haber190
Samuel Piette385
Karl W Ouimette184
Nana Attakora2621
Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé257
Daniel Haber255
Keven Aleman2491
Iain Hume145
Terry Dunfield243
Caleb Clarke18
Jackson Farmer14


NOTES:
  • I copied the template from a previous spreadsheet but found myself deleting the "G" and "A" columns because they were both empty. Sigh.
  • In general I tend to follow things closely, but entering the name "Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé" was the first time I remember seeing it at all. Jackson Farmer falls in the same boat.
  • If Adam Straith and Nik Ledgerwood, both who can be useful players, are among the top minute-earners in 2014, we might be waiting a while longer for the next win.
  • Similarly, if Tosaint Ricketts is pulling the most time at forward, the goal drought will continue. But are there better options?
  • Interestingly, the keeper minutes were about as evenly distributed as they could be with 3 guys over the case of 5 matches: 180 for Lars Hirschfeld, and a game-and-a-half each (135) for Kenny Stamatopoulos and Milan Borjan.
MATCHES:
Canada 0 - 0 Mauritania (8 September 2013)
Canada 0 - 1 Mauritania (10 September 2013)
Canada 0 - 3 Australia (15 October 2013)
Canada 0 - 2 Czech Republic (15 November 2013)
Canada 0 - 1 Slovenia (19 November 2013)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Canadian content on Canadian teams in 2013

As you might have notice if you've been watching this space, blogging activity has slowed to a standstill. I've made nary a comment on the Benito Floro hiring, Canada's winless year, Montreal's meltdown in Houston, or anything else really, since summer.

I could introduce a litany of excuses including a busy start to the work year, moving into a new house, a tortured week spent with no internet, but the truth is it was a hard time to be excited about Canadian soccer.

I'm not sure anything has changed, but you can nevertheless expect some end-of-year housekeeping posts in the coming weeks. This is one of them.

I've tracked the percentage of minutes played by Canadian players for Canada's pro teams since 2009. The purpose of this exercise, at the beginning, was to test the notion that bringing professional soccer to this country will bring along with it more professional opportunities for Canadian players.

I can't say I've come up with a conclusive answer to the question. At first glance, the 2013 numbers are not encouraging. None of the MLS sides played Canadians for even 20% of the available minutes. Edmonton, playing in the NASL where next year they will be joined by Ottawa, managed a final number of 37.3%, a proportion that declined over the course of the season under Canadian manager Colin Miller.

And yet there are encouraging signs. In MLS, after Patrice Bernier, the next busiest Canadian players were the Toronto FC trio of Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, and breakout man Jonathan Osorio. Rusell Teibert, 20 years old, also played a big part in Vancouver's season, especially in the early going, and led the team in assists (tied for 5th in MLS).

Regular watchers of FC Edmonton will be discouraged by the defenestration of Shaun Saiko, and the dwindling Canadian presence in their team over the course of the season, but some young players emerged including 17-year old Hanson Boakai.

As always, determining which players qualify as Canadian is not always easy. For example, I have counted Mallan Roberts (Edmonton) as Canadian all season, after hearing he was on course to earn his citizenship, but did not do so for Montreal's Wandrille Lefevre, who finds himself in a similar situation. Neither were year-long starters which won't greatly affect the numbers, but with further news regarding their allegiances I may have to go back and tweak a little.

Without further ado, here is the data. The full game-by-game breakdown can be found here.

FC EDMONTON
CompetitionCDNTotalPercent
NASL Regular Season88732461736.04%
Canadian Championship1027194152.91%
Totals99002655837.28%

TORONTO FC
CompetitionCDNTotalPercent
MLS Regular Season58043356017.3%
Canadian Championship731198036.9%
Totals65353554018.4%

MONTREAL IMPACT
CompetitionCDNTotalPercent
MLS Regular Season3324336449.9%
Canadian Championship630396015.9%
Champions League36939149.4%
MLS Playoffs0978.0%
Totals42334150610.2%

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
CompetitionCDNTotalPercent
MLS Regular Season1867335785.6%
Canadian Championship36039609.1%
Totals2137365485.9%

The numbers for the MLS sides are the lowest, cumulatively, they have ever been. This may speak to the improved quality of the league but, if so, also signals that Canadian players are falling behind. Or it might not. Small sample sizes, and all that.

For comparison's sake, here are the end-of-year reports going back to 2009.
  • 2012 (Edmonton 59.8%, Toronto 25.5%, Montreal 6.5%, Vancouver 0.3%)
  • 2011 (Edmonton 77.3%, Montreal (NASL) 21.4%, Toronto 19.1%, Vancouver 5.8%)
  • 2010 (Montreal 35.4%, Vancouver (NASL) 34.0%, Toronto 32.8%)
  • 2009 (Vancouver 42.1%, Montreal 39.2%, Toronto 37.6%)
  • 2008 (Vancouver 56.4%, Montreal 44.8%, Toronto 22.1%)