Tuesday, January 08, 2008

POTY and other detritus

The end of a year and the beginning of another generates far more introspection and retrospection than is likely necessary. Top 10s and other "best of " lists abound (for example, this blogger nails my musical tastes for '07). But in Canadian soccer, where actual events, especially good ones, are few and far between, these forms of analysis are as necessary to sustaining the life of a fan as is photosynthesis to a plant.

We posted weeks ago about the Voyageurs Player of the Year contest, including our own preferential ballot (De Guzman, De Rosario and Friend, in that order). The Canadian Soccer Association has its own version of the award, with balloting open to media and people within the various soccer hierarchies. In an effort, we suppose, to engage the wider population, a "Fan's Choice" award has been announced, conveniently with the same set of nominees as the other award. The following sentence from the news release in particular caught our attention:
Unlike the player of the year vote (based on performance, voted by coaches and media), the CanadaSoccer.com Fan's Choice is based on popularity.
Ignoring, for the moment, the implicit assumption that coaches and media would vote based on some criteria other than popularity, the idea that fans should vote based on popularity, rather than performance, is an interesting one. Kind of like a junior high student council election. You don't really care if they manage to finagle a video dance at the end of the year, you vote for the cool kid and not the guy from the math club.

But since most Canadian soccer fans don't know much about the players besides their performance, popularity and performance tend to be strongly correlated.

Anyway, here are the nominees for the CSA awards. I've left off the female names because frankly, and I apologize here ladies, I don't really care (the links will take you to the players' CSA profile pages):
- Julian de Guzman -Scarborough, ON
Team: Deportivo la Coruna, Spain
MNT in 2007: 10 appearances (10 starts), 868 mins, 2 goals
Other highlights: Named Gold Cup MVP
- Dwayne De Rosario -Scarborough, ON
Team: Houston Dynamo, MLS
MNT in 2007: 8 appearances (8 starts), 698 mins, 5 goals
Other highlights: Named MLS Cup MVP in Houston's win, scored game winning goal
- Rob Friend - Rosetown, SK
Team: Borussia Moenchengladbach, 2. Bundesliga
MNT in 2007: 4 appearances (3 starts), 290 mins
Other highlights: 2nd leading goal scorer in German 2nd division
- Ali Gerba - Montreal, QC
Team: FC Ingolstadt 04, 3rd division Germany* (see more below)
MNT in 2007: 7 appearances (5 starts), 375 mins, 4 goals
Other highlights: His old team in Sweden won the league, but he had very little to do with it. Enjoyed a successful, but brief, loan spell with AC Horsens of the Danish Super League
- Richard Hastings - Prince George, BC
Team: Inverness Caley Thistle, Scotland
MNT in 2007: 8 appearances (8 starts), 720 mins
Other highlights: Anchored strong defense in June's Gold Cup tournament
- Atiba Hutchinson - North York, ON
Team: FC Copenhagen, Denmark
MNT in 2007: 9 appearances (9 starts), 728 mins, 1 goal
Other highlights: Played in UEFA Cup
- Ante Jazic - Halifax, NS
Team: LA Galaxy, MLS
MNT in 2007: 6 appearances (6 starts), 540 mins
Other highlights: Played with Mr. Posh Spice
- Pat Onstad - Vancouver, BC
Team: Houston Dynamo, MLS
MNT in 2007: 5 appearances (5 starts), 450 mins
Other highlights: Top goalie in MLS, won MLS Cup, still ticking at age 40
- Paul Stalteri - Etobicoke, ON
Team: Tottenham Hotspur, England
MNT in 2007: 10 appearances (10 starts), 889 mins, 1 goal
Other highlights: Was 11 minutes away from playing every minute in 2007, when he was red carded against South Africa.
- other selection

Since we've already offered JdG, DDR and the Friendly Giant as our top 3, we don't feel the need to handicap the race any further. We don't really feel the need to make fun of this CSA over this part:
Fans can email their Fan's Choices to rscott@soccercan.ca with the title "CanadaSoccer.com Fan's Choice" in the subject line
but we'll do it anyway. Email? Really? The most low-tech of the high-tech methods available to you? So email (ugh) in your votes, if you must.

We listed Ali Gerba above as belonging to FC Ingolstadt 04, of the German 3rd division. The consistently awesome Canada World Cup Blog scooped us with this one, and scooped our feelings about the move.

A sampling of what Sam had to say (but please follow the link, as it's all good):

Gerba, who impressed many at the Gold Cup and who is included on the ballot for the Canadian Player of the Year Award (although that ain’t saying much), who didn’t play much with his former club, IFK Göteborg, but enjoyed some decent success with AC Horsens of the Danish Super League this year, scoring four goals in fifteen games (according to Wikipedia).

Now, as much as Ingolstadt is not a glamorous club by any stretch, they’re possibly not as bad as one might be led to think at first glance. The club was actually founded no earlier than 2004, when the city’s two clubs, ESV and MTV merged together as one. They were thrown into the fourth tier of German football, the Öberliga, and finished second (not enough to be promoted, how cruel!) in their first season, but finished head and shoulders above the rest in their second campaign and are doing mighty fine where they are now, currently fifth, where they finished last year as well.

Perhaps he'll join some Canadians in the 2. Bundesliga season (although hopefully Friend and McKenna's teams have both promoted by then). And it sure beats not playing at all.

2008.01.09: Cite your sources. While we stole half a post from Sam, there are also legit purveyors of information who have covered the Gerba move. This article recounts an Ingolstadt training session to open the second half of the season, which carries the name Mission:"Promotion to the Second Division" ("Aufstieg in die Zweite Bundesliga"). Don't expect a Tom Cruise movie or anything, but at least these Ingolstadt cats have ambition.

Contained therein is a Gerba blurb(a):
Ali Gerba trifft

Einen Sieger im Trainingsspiel gab es auch: Ali Gerba. Der kanadische Nationalstürmer erzielte den einzigen Treffer und machte auch sonst eine gute Figur. Beweglich, robust und torgefährlich präsentierte sich der 26-jährige Neuzugang vom IFK Göteborg. Auch der groß gewachsene Mittelfeldallroundmann Markus Karl (SpVgg Greuther Fürth) machte einmal mit einem satten Distanzschuss auf sich aufmerksam.

We can only translate so much by guess and check German, so here's the fish:
Ali Gerba meets

There was a winner in the training play also: Ali Gerba. The Canadian Nationalstuermer obtained the only hit and made also otherwise a good figure. Mobile, durably and torgefaehrlich the 26-jaehrige new acquisition of the IFK Goeteborg presented itself.
We can help you a bit:
  • The headline "Ali Gerba meets" should read "Ali Gerba scores. "
  • Nationalstuermer = national team player
  • 'the only hit' = the only goal
  • torgefaerlich = literally goal dangerous, you should get the idea
  • 26-jaehrige = 26 year old
So he's off to a promising start.

Oh yeah. We'd almost forgotten why we started this post in the first place. The Voyageurs contest has come and gone, and Julian de Guzman is the winner. See here for the full rundown. DDR was second, Lars Hirschfeld and Pat Onstad tied for 3rd with the exact same number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place votes, and Rob Friend was 5th. So congratulations to Julian. We wouldn't be surprised if DDR grabs one of the two CSA awards , so it is good the elder De Guzman earns some recognition for his efforts.
Here's to a jumpin' year in '08

1 comment:

Sam said...

Thanks for the cred Jon... but I gotta say we don't have the same musical tastes :D