Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Canadian depth chart: Wings

Now that I've got your attention, we'll get down to it.

No matter what formation Canada plays (and at this point, the likely candidates are 4-5-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, probably in that order), the midfield/forward ranks include players patrolling the left and right flanks, and trying to create offense. There is some, but not a lot, of depth at these options.

Let's have a look, shall we:

Right wing

Tomasz Radzinski (Xanthi Skoda, Greece)
34 years old / 36 caps / 9 goals

He may have already been included in the forwards depth chart, but late in his career he is spending more and more time creating chances from midfield, and particularly down the right flank. The number 34 jumps out at you (though compared to Onstad he's a spring chicken), but it's hard to deny that Radzinski remains an effective and often dangerous player (check out this clip in which he shows off his killer instinct). Given his age, the speed with which he goes after every ball, and the hot and humid climes of our Central American opponents, Radz may not be good for 90 minutes every time out, but if I'm coach, he's my starter.

Issey Nakajima-Farran (FC Nordsjaelland, Denmark)
23 years old / 9 caps / 0 goals

I am beginning to think that Issey is the future at this position. He is the second leading scorer with his club, and hasn't looked at all out of place in his appearances with Canada. He has speed to burn, and is good with the ball at his feet. His first Central American matches may be a baptism by fire, but that's the only way to find out if he's cut out to be on the receiving end of bags of Honduran piss. He's a regular starter in the same league as one of our premiere midfielders (Hutchinson), so his pedigree is solid.

Iain Hume (Leicester City, England)
24 years old / 22 caps / 2 goals

Iain has been in the picture so long that it is a bit surprising that he is only 24. But it is also surprising that he hasn't taken the bull by the horns and become a star, either for club or country. His goal against the USA in the Gold Cup last summer was huge, but besides that he hasn't done much for the senior nats (his other goal came against Luxembourg, if I'm not mistaken). At the same time, he has been great in various age group tournaments, so he has big game ability. He is fiery, with loads of speed, and for that reason I like him coming off the bench, either as a forward or winger. He hits a pretty decent free kick, which is something worth having.

Left wing

Dwayne De Rosario (Houston Dynamo, MLS)
29 years old / 45 caps / 13 goals

It's not really a question of whether Dwayne is the best at this position. (He is.) It's a question of whether this position is best for Dwayne. I think it is, especially since I like Imhof at defensive midfield, and Hutchinson and De Guzman both need to be in the middle as well. Dwayne scores a lot of great goals, and hopefully we'll see a buttload of those this summer, beginning against St V & G.

Josh Simpson (FC Kaiserslautern, Germany)
24 years old / 17 caps / 0 goals

Josh was thrown into the fire in the last WCQ campaign, and he wasn't yet ready for prime time. Just another of Frank Yallop's mistakes. But don't hold it against Josh. He's taken some real strides in his career, and when he's not serving a 4-game suspension, he's a dangerous player on the left side of midfield for FCK. He's another quick player and crosses it well with the left foot. He's probably most likely to see time coming off the bench.

Marcel de Jong (Roda JC, Netherlands)
21 years old / 1 cap / 0 goals

This is another player to watch for the future. While I think we got the raw end of the deal in our little Dutch tug-of-war (they got De Guzman the younger, we got De Jong), he could be a useful player. He could probably use some more seasoning.

Jim Brennan (Toronto FC, MLS)
30 years old / 44 caps / 6 goals

I don't know what kind of plans Dale Mitchell has for the TFC skipper. He's hard to figure. I don't think he has the pace anymore to be a first choice player at either left wing or left back. And there are better options in the middle as well. But a player of his versatility, experience, and leadership ability should be involved in the squad somehow. This position, should De Rosario for some reason be unable to fill it, would be one place he could serve a role.

To sum up . . . now with ordinals!

Right wing
1. Tomasz Radzinski
2. Issey Nakajima-Farran
3. Iain Hume

Left wing
1. Dwayne De Rosario
2. Everybody else

As always, the comment section is your forum for disagreement.

Previous depth chart posts
[ goalkeepers | central defenders | fullbacks | forwards | def. midfield ]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Canadian depth chart: Defensive midfielders

Last summer, I embarked upon a rather ambitious project of ranking Canada's talent pool at the various positions. It turns out that it might have been too ambitious a goal, as I never finished.

Part of the problem is that when it comes to the midfield, naming the positions themselves can be a bit muddy. A second issue is that we still don't know what kind of formation Dale Mitchell prefers. If I work from the assumption that Mitchell adopts Hart's 4-5-1 that was successful at the Gold Cup, life will be a lot easier. So that's what I'll do.

But before you get ahead of yourself and start trusting my judgment, read my thoughts on goalkeepers, central defenders, fullbacks, and forwards, to make sure I'm not off my rocker.

* * *

Let me be clear about something from the start: the "defensive midfielder" doesn't refer simply to a midfielder with the ability to mark an opponent. This has been a very specific, and very useful, position for Canada. The defensive midfielder plays in front of the back 4 and has the role of blunting attacks and linking the back line and the midfield. I can't be sure about those matches that I haven't seen, but in the Gold Cup, this role was mostly filled by Martin Nash or Chris Pozniak.

Several of our players play this position for their clubs, so there are options. These include:

Daniel Imhof (VfL Bochum, Germany)
30 years old / 34 caps / 0 goals

One could argue that after Julian de Guzman, the next best professional credentials in Canada's squad belong to Imhof. He is playing in a big 4 league (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, though not necessarily in that order), plays 90 minutes almost every week, and unlike De Guzman's Deportivo squad, Bochum look a good bet to avoid the drop this season. He's not extremely athletic, but he is disciplined, and plays smart. He's not one for flashiness or dramatics, although this cracker of a goal from earlier in the season presents some evidence to the contrary. His only appearance for Dale Mitchell so far was as an emergency centre back against Iceland, but hopefully he'll get his chance to impress in his natural position in March against Estonia.

Patrice Bernier (FC Kaiserslautern, Germany)
28 years old / 27 caps / 0 goals

With his club, Bernier plays a similar role to Imhof. But FCK are a division down, in the 2. Bundesliga, and have some work to do to stay there at the end of the season. At the Gold Cup, Bernier was used more often in an advanced role on the wing, but with Mitchell at the helm, Bernier has been the man. Against Iceland, Costa Rica and South Africa, Bernier held the fort for 90 minutes in this role. Unlike Imhof, Bernier is a quick and skillful player, but is probably not as tactically savvy.

Adrian Serioux (FC Dallas, MLS)
28 years old / 11 caps / 0 goals

After Imhof and Bernier, there is a big step down to the next tier of players. Serioux is a solid vet, and MLS is likely the kind of league where he belongs. Reviews of his play last season for Dallas were generally good. He's known for his long throw-ins, which certainly are a weapon, but also for a bit of a nasty (or at least undisciplined) side. For that reason I prefer him at the defensive midfield position, rather than at centre back where he can also play. He follows in footsteps of Jason Bent as Canada's dreadlocked midfielder.

Martin Nash (Vancouver Whitecaps, USL)
32 years old / 38 caps / 2 goals

You might think we're scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit here, given that Nash is a USL player, and he's getting a little long in the tooth, but like his more famous brother, Martin is still a productive player. His presence at the Martinique friendly indicates to me that he is still in the picture, at least as a depth player, and his performance at this summer's Gold Cup showed that he still has something to offer. He's sharp at delivering set pieces and is a good passer overall. His speed, though, is lacking, which could be a problem against technical and speedy Central American opponents.

Chris Pozniak (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS)
27 years old / 21 caps / 0 goals

I'm not sure what to say here. Pozniak is a valuable player for Canada, but not as a starter. His versatility and ability to play almost everywhere on the field masks the fact that he doesn't excel at any of them. His professional resume (USL teams, lower division Scandinavian sides, utility man in MLS) are indicative of his overall talent, which is not significant enough for him to be a starter for Canada.


Jim Brennan could probably play this position. So might someone like Paul Stalteri, although both of these are more effective elsewhere. Kevin Harmse can a little bit as well, though he's a walking red card at this point. Julian de Guzman and Atiba Hutchinson have both played here for Canada, but I feel like their talents are best deployed further forward. This is an aging group overall, and there don't seem to be a great many promising young players at this position, so I'd imagine one of these 5 will be in the starting lineup in each of Canada's games this year.

If I were ranking them myself (which is kind of the point), it would look like this:

1. Daniel Imhof
2. Patrice Bernier
3. Martin Nash
4. Adrian Serioux
5. Chris Pozniak
6. "The field" (everyone else)

Correct me on any omissions or oversights in the comments.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A cautionary tale

Like any fan of Canadian soccer, I (yes, "I", I'm dropping the royal "we" as, let's not kid ourselves here, there's only one writer for this blog. If you're interested in joining the team, let me know) go to great lengths to watch Canadians play. It's frustrating watching national team matches over some Icelandic stream, but merely an interesting pursuit when it comes to our boys' club teams.

Yesterday was Louis Riel Day in our fair province, and instead of celebrating this treasonous SOB, I was dead set on watching Rob Friend in an important 2. Bundesliga match. Luckily, German matches are streamed on bwin, an online betting service.

The catch? You need an account, and money in it, to view the matches. The minimum payment is 10 EUR, and I duly paid up, intending to let the money sit there and just watch some football.

But the allure of the gambling tables is hard to ignore. I bet on the M'gladbach-Mainz match (I bet on Borussia and lost) as well as a friendly between Issey Nakajima-Farran's FC Nordsjaelland and Krylia Sovietov of Russia (I won a bet that fewer than 1.5 goals would be scored in the 1st half). Since I watched both matches on bwin and the bets were small (1 EUR or less), I didn't feel too badly about it.

This morning, though, I placed two more bets, just for the heck of it. Two good bets also, which doesn't bode well for staving off addiction: money parked behind Beitar Jerusalem against Maccabi Haifa, and another euro on Juan Ignacio Chela were winning propositions. And I bet against the Leafs tonight as well.
I had money riding on this guy?
I can only go on doing this until my account runs dry, and 10 EUR isn't a lot to lose, but I can see the slippery slope. I suppose the lesson is that being a Canadian supporter is dangerous to your financial well-being, in addition to the inherent mental health risks.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A man, a plan, a canal ...

I've got more action than my man John Woo
And I've got mad hits like I was Rod Carew

Sometimes when you're reading an article in another language, you latch onto a single word or phrase that you recognize. Reading this article, the phrase "Estadio Nacional Rod Carew" appeared. We can infer from the Beastie Boys Song "Sure Shot" that with all of these "mad hits", Carew must have been a baseball player. Wikipedia confirms this inference.
But why go on about about Rod Carew on a Canadian soccer blog? If you're Spanish, or good at guessing, you'll see that the article linked above is announcing a soccer match. With Canada. And Panama:
Las selecciones mayores de PANAMÁ y CANADÁ se enfrentarán el viernes 6 de junio como preparación al inicio de su participación en la segunda ronda de la eliminatoria de CONCACAF clasificatorio al Mundial Sudáfrica 2010.
A June 6th matchup between the 5th and 6th best sides in CONCACAF (4th and 5th if you prefer the FIFA version). It should be fun, and more importantly, excellent preparation for the beginning of qualifying a week later against St. V&G. As popular as it may be to get up in the CSA's grill about poor management, lack of funds, bad preparation, global climate change, the Suez crisis, and the writer's strike, they've done well with this deal.

If you're scoring at home, there are now 4 matches booked for the next 4 months: Estonia in March, Panama in June, followed by the two-legged qualifier with St. V&G.

And if you're nostalgic for a time when appreciation for white rappers was largely ironic, rather than the adulation now expressed for the likes of Eminem, check out this video.

... and maybe more quickly than expected, confirmation, in English, from our own association, of the match.

The Panama game will be part of our preparations for the qualifying process through 2008 . . . It will provide us with a quality CONCACAF opponent in a tough place to play.
Thanks Captain Obvious!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

FIFA rank recap, February

A Saturday quickie for all y'all. Must soon return to the NBA slam dunk competition, where some guy just dunked while blowing out a candle on a cupcake perched on the rim.

But FIFA had their monthly release this week of their rankings. It's a slow period, so not much to report that we care about. But we repeated our analysis from the other day, with just the February FIFA rankings. Here is the WCQ group power poll:

Group A (USA, Guatemala, T&T, Cuba)
Average CONCACAF rank: 7

Group B (Mexico, Canada, Honduras, Jamaica)
Average CONCACAF rank: 4

Group C (Costa Rica, Guyana, Haiti, Panama)
Average CONCACAF rank: 8.75

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rankings redux: group of death

Yesterday's attempt at an aggregate zonal ranking has led to further pontification about the rankings and the upcoming qualifying cycle. The preliminary draw took place in November, with the process spelled out in a single page including all regions (.PDF)

In CONCACAF, barring any upsets in the knockout rounds, the qualifying groups look like so. Note the average ranking, with a lower number being an indicator of higher overall strength:
Country Rk
Group 1
Guatemala 9
Trinidad and Tobago 11
Cuba 10
Average 8

Group 2
Mexico 1
Jamaica 8
Honduras 3
Canada 4
Average 4

Group 3
Costa Rica 4
Guyana 13
Panama 6
Haiti 7
Average 7.5

Using the average alone as an indicator, it is clear that Canada's Group 2 is the most challenging. Two other indicators underline this point: the strongest team is in the group (Mexico) and the group also lowest-ranked of the group (Jamaica) is ranked higher than the lowest in Group 3 (Guyana), and in fact is ranked above all of the teams in Group 1 except the USA.

In a post last year
, we questioned the assignment of teams to different 'pots'. CONCACAF, rather curiously, chose to use the May 2007 rankings to assign teams into pots, when more recent rankings from October and November were available. The cynic might guess that this was designed to help Jack Warner's T&T, who in May 2007 were still a Pot B team, but had dropped to 10th in the region by the fall.

So Canada's group is the group of death. Don't let anyone tell you any different. 3 of the top 4 teams in the region are in the group, and Jamaica is no slouch either.

(And don't think the 'aggregate ranking' approach is just a smoke screen to provide excuses for Canada. We could use the FIFA numbers, and might do so at a later date, and these produce the same results: Group 2 is by far and away the toughest, going by the numbers.)

Good stuff in the comments, good enough that we'll add it here.

From Sam:
Yeah. Note: The twelve teams there are ranked 1-13, with number 12 (St Vincent & Grenadines) excluded. And who has to play them?
A dose of reality (and optimism?) from JoeSoccerFan:
I agree that this is the worst of luck, and that the rankings used were suspect.

However, at the end of the day we need to beat Honduras to make it through...which we likely would have had to do in the hex round anyway!

On the positive side, once we make it through to the hex, the competition should be a little easier with Honduras and Jamaica gone.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Concacaf Rankings: February

Introducing a new feature, to appear on the second Monday of every month.

You'll notice at the top of the screen that we claim to be "A football (that is, soccer) blog, with an emphasis on statistics, rankings, Canada's national teams and goings-on in CONCACAF". Lately, there's been plenty about the Canadian national team, or those who have chosen to absent themselves from it, but little about rankings or CONCACAF business.

That all changes now.

Any idiot can take a look at a few different set of rankings, throw together a spreadsheet, and average them out. Since we don't like to take the FIFA edition as authoritative, that's just what we've done.

The rankings, besides fifa, that we feel alright about recommending to you include the elo, ziaian and roon ba (this one has rather cool looking stylized flag logos).

concacaf rank fifa elo ziaian roon ba aggregate
rk country zonal overall zonal overall zonal overall zonal overall zonal overall
1 Mexico 1 15 1 11 1 14 1 19 1 14.75
2 United States 2 20 2 29 2 25 2 27 2 25.25
3 Honduras 3 54 3 41 3 43 3 40 3 44.5
4 Costa Rica 6 69 4 52 4 53 4 55 4.5 57.25
5 Canada 4 56 5 53 5 63 5 57 4.75 57.25
6 Panama 5 64 6 66 6 67 6 66 5.75 65.75
7 Haiti 8 73 8 74 9 87 7 76 8 77.5
8 Jamaica 10 98 7 68 8 81 8 80 8.25 81.75
9 Guatemala 11 105 9 80 7 78 9 85 9 87
10 Cuba 7 71 10 84 12 103 10 89 9.75 86.75
11 Trinidad and Tobago 9 78 11 87 10 90 11 90 10.25 86.25
12 El Salvador 14 135 12 105 11 101 12 96 12.25 109.25
13 Guyana 12 129 13 127 14 154 13 119 13 132.25
14 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 13 130 14 130 13 146 14 125 13.5 132.75
15 Barbados 15 142 15 133 15 158 15 141 15 143.5
16 Suriname 18 152 16 149 16 163 16 149 16.5 153.25
17 St. Kitts and Nevis 17 151 18 165 18 165 20 167 18.25 162
18 Grenada 23 176 17 157 19 168 17 151 19 163
19 Bermuda 16 147 21 172 20 169 26 182 20.75 167.5
20 Antigua and Barbuda 19 156 22 173 21 171 22 171 21 167.75
21 Netherlands Antilles 24 179 20 171 23 176 19 166 21.5 173
22 Nicaragua 20 158 24 180 22 175 21 170 21.75 170.75
23 St. Lucia 26 181 19 168 17 164 27 185 22.25 174.5
24 Dominican Republic 21 164 23 175 25 179 23 172 23 172.5
25 Belize 32 201 25 181 24 177 18 163 24.75 180.5
26 Dominica 27 188 27 186 27 190 24 179 26.25 185.75
27 Cayman Islands 28 191 26 185 26 187 30 195 27.5 189.5
28 British Virgin Islands 29 193 28 191 28 191 28 190 28.25 191.25
29 Puerto Rico 30 196 29 192 30 198 25 180 28.5 191.5
30 Bahamas 22 174 31 198 32 204 29 194 28.5 192.5
31 Turks and Caicos Islands 24 179 32 213 29 195 31 203 29 197.5
32 Aruba 32 201 30 194 31 203 32 206 31.25 201
33 US Virgin Islands 32 201 33 215 34 209 34 222 33.25 211.75
34 Montserrat 32 201 34 219 33 207 35 225 33.5 213
35 Anguilla 31 198 35 220 35 215 33 220 33.5 213.25

So there you have it.

Tomorrow, we will have a look at the expected groups for the semifinal round of World Cup Qualifying, and we'll use these numbers to show how Canada is stuck in the Group of Death, again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

So long


2008.02.07: A more lucid response. And another who doesn't get it at all.

And, the next day, some more good analysis of the situation.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

The same poll has been running in our sidebar for a long time now, and despite a recent flurry of voting, it's time for a change. Since the poll will likely be changed by the time you read this, the question was "Which country will Jonathan de Guzman choose?"

The results were rather more optimistic than is actually warranted (Canada 15, Netherlands 3, for those who can't be bothered to click through). The pessimistic choice is now more possible than it was before, with De Guzman to receive his Dutch passport within weeks:

ROTTERDAM (ANP) - De Canadees Jonathan de Guzman krijgt binnen enkele weken officieel zijn Nederlandse paspoort. Dit maakte Feyenoord donderdag bekend.

De Guzman kwam als jonge tiener naar Rotterdam om bij Feyenoord te gaan voetballen. Vorig jaar besloot hij een Nederlandse paspoort aan te vragen. Omdat hij langer dan vijf jaar hier woont, kon dat zonder al te veel problemen.
Doordat De Guzman nu een Nederlands paspoort krijgt, kan hij uitkomen voor nationale selecties van de KNVB.
The Canadian Jonathan de Guzman will officially receive his Dutch passport within a few weeks. Feyenoord announced this on Thursday (January 31).

De Guzman came to Rotterdam as a young teenager to play football for Feyenoord. Last year he decided to apply for a Dutch passport. Since he has been in the country over five years, this is a possibility.
Since De Guzman now will be receiving a Dutch pasport, he can participate in national teams of the KNVB (Dutch football association).
The other important fact is that the passport makes it easier for Jonathan to play for any other large clubs in Europe, which we hope is the main motivation. Feyenoord's recent poor form has been accompanied by a poor stretch from De Guzman, so hopefully that keeps Marco van Basten from getting any ideas.

* * *

If you're still in the voting mood, the new poll is up. The subject matter is a set of matches 4 months away, so you have plenty of time to consider your answer. Or vote early and vote often.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dept. of Records

We had been maintaining our own set of records with respect to all-time caps and goals for Canada. However, the CSA site now appears to have a decent handle on these, and we will no longer make the effort.

One stat we will continue to track is our "Minutes under Mitchell" database. So far, in 4 official matches (the Vejle friendly is not included for obvious reasons), a total of 34 players have been used. Julian de Guzman continues to lead in the minutes played category, while a whole host of players (including Charles Gbeke, Adrian Cann, Dave Simpson and Chris Williams, among others) are unlikely to add significantly to their totals in 2008.

Here is the list:

Minutes under Mitchell

Player Starter Sub Minutes
de Guzman, Julian 3
Stalteri, Paul 3
Bernier, Patrice 3
Radzinski, Tomasz 3
Nakajima-Farran, Issey 2 1 220
De Rosario, Dwayne 2
Hirschfeld, Lars 2
Klukowski, Mike 2
Onstad, Pat 2
Serioux, Adrian 2
Hainault, Andre 2
Hume, Iain 2 1 154
Gerba, Ali 2
Hutchinson, Atiba 2
Imhof, Daniel 1 1 135
Brennan, Jim 1
Cann, Adrian 1
Harmse, Kevin 1
Hastings, Richard 1
McKenna, Kevin 1
Nash, Martin 1
Reda, Marco 1
Williams, Chris 1
Gbeke, Charles 1
Occean, Olivier
3 75
Pozniak, Chris 1
Simpson, Josh 1
Friend, Rob
1 29
Jakovic, Dejan
1 25
Ledgerwood, Nik
1 18
Johnson, Will
1 17
Simpson, Dave
1 10
De Jong, Marcel
1 6
Ribeiro, Antonio
1 5
Totals 44 13 3949

* Totals include non-FIFA sanctioned friendly vs Martinique, but not friendly against Danish club side Vejle BK

The total minutes don't divide evenly (4 matches * 11 positions * 90 minutes = 3960), due to the Stalteri red card against South Africa.

We welcome any corrections from any loser bored enough to go through the numbers that carefully.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

MNT Winter Wrap-up

2008.02.04: FINAL correction
An official match report from the CSA about the Martinique match is finally available. Unlike previous reports, this one indicates that Tyler Rosenlund and Paris Nakajima-Farran did not earn their first caps. Whoever put together the initial report might have confused cautions with substitutions, going by the time in the match when they occurred. Check the final report for yourselves.

Here's how the minutes were distributed between the two matches. Keep in mind that caps are only awarded for the Martinique match.
Name Starter Sub Total
Dwayne De Rosario 180
Marco Reda 180
Martin Nash 180
Adrian Cann 180
Issey Nakajima-Farran 175
Chris Williams 170
Charles Gbeke 155
Adrian Serioux 155
Kevin Harmse 133
Chris Pozniak 125
Pat Onstad 90
Dejan Jakovic
55 55
Tyler Rosenlund
47 47
Greg Sutton 45
Josh Wagenaar
45 45
Antonio Ribeiro
30 30
Dave Simpson
25 25
Paris Nakajima-Farran
10 10

Key midfielders De Rosario and Nash, as well as the central defence pairing of Cann and Reda, played every minute, with Issey playing all but the last 5 minutes of the Martinique friendly.

It also seems likely that our resident thug, and David Beckham's bodyguard, Kevin Harmse, earned a red card in the Vejle match (according to the Danish report). As per the rules of the friendly, he was sent off, but could be replaced. In this case, Rosenlund came on in his place.

Errata: We begin with a correction. It's not our fault, really. The initial match reports from the Martinique friendly included Paris Nakajima-Farran in the starting lineup for Canada, but it was in fact his brother. Gerry Dobson sets the record straight:
Let's also identify, for the record, the starting eleven. Pat Onstad was in goal. From right to left, Chris Williams, Marco Reda, Adrian Cann and Chris Pozniak at the back. Martin Nash was in as the holding midfielder with Adrian Serioux and Kevin Harmse in front of him. Issey Nakajima-Farran -- not his brother Paris -- patrolled the right wing with goal scorer Dwayne DeRosario on the left. Charles Gbeke was the lone target man up top.
In the same article, he mentions talking to players about their travel experiences (including a fishing boat ride from St. Lucia to Martinique), but doesn't manage to get the details about the substitutions. We do know that all the field players made it into the game (Sutton and Wagenaar remained on the bench.

Vejle friendly: The fog of war seems to have been lifted from the Canada - Vejle friendly, as we have a pretty good idea of who played and when. And who won. And who scored. An embarrassment of riches.

A photo from the match. Gbeke, likely. Nice residential neighbourhood, too.

Canada won 2-0. The lineup looked like this:

Canada: Sutton (Wagenaar 46), Pozniak (Jakovic 60), Reda, Cann, Williams (Paris Nakajima-Farran 80), Issey Nakajima-Farran, Nash, De Rosario, Harmse (Rosenlund 43), Serioux (Ribeiro 65), Gbeke (Simpson 75)

Goals: Gbeke 10, Issey Nakajima-Farran 40

What have we learned from this Caribbean experiment? Don't take a St. Lucian at their word. If De Rosario is in the squad, Canada will score goals. The CSA brass actually don't do too badly at throwing together last minute matches. We always knew Martin Nash was good on set pieces, but maybe had forgotten (the Gbeke goal came from a Nash corner).

Hopefully Dale Mitchell had a few more valuable insights about his team as well. Of the players at this camp, only a handful have a realistic shot of playing a big part in World Cup Qualifying. These include: Onstad, Issey Nakajima-Farran, and De Rosario. Harmse, Pozniak and Serioux might be expected to play bit parts. Others, including Rosenlund, Jakovic, Wagenaar, and Paris, will likely have a part to play with the U-23 Olympic squad, which gets busy pretty soon.

There should be little activity on the national team front until the Estonia match at the end of March. Until then, we'll have to find more mundane items to report on. And when we hear definitively about player participation in the Martinique friendly, we'll update our records.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday quickie

Having run out of countries to play, Canada has lined up a match against a club side for this weekend, which was originally when the Nats were to play St. Lucia.

The opponents are Vejle Boldklub, of the Danish First Division. The name sounded familiar, and that's when we realized this is the former club of Issey Nakajima-Farran. The younger Nakajima-Farran, Paris, should be familiar with this team, as they play in the same league.

Anyway, the match will be played at 11:00 am EST, this Sunday in Florida, which shows how important a match it's expected to be. There's also some other sporting event on Sunday evening which we hear is pretty popular.

An interesting blurb from the CSA's slightly expanded Martinique match report (we learn that Dave Simpson appears to have had a good match):
The Canadian squad has been training together in Florida since 20 January and arrived in Fort-au-France, Martinique by boat on Monday. The Wednesday night match was played at the Stade Louis-Achille. They fly to St. Lucia on Thursday for a day of training before heading back to Florida to complete their camp.
Now, we claim no experts in matters marine or seafaring, but Florida to Martinique is a considerable jaunt by boat. See the map yourself (Martinique is near bottom right, Florida is to the north off the map). What is likelier is that the CSA kept their St. Lucia travel plans and boarded an island-hopping boat to Martinique just for the friendly.

Quickie Predickie: That felt dirty, just typing it. Knowing very little about the calibre of Danish First Division football, nor about the calibre about certain players of this Canadian team, including one who regular plays Danish First Division (2nd tier, mind you, below the Superliga), this prediction is pulled out of thin air.

Canada 1 : 1 Vejle BK

Caps don't count, rankings are affected (nor were they for the non-FIFA sanctioned Martinique friendly), so we won't much care about the result either way. Still, it's a good chance for some players to show off to a pro club, and to Dale Mitchell.

Hopefully, the information vortex around this one won't be quite as impenetrable as for the Martinique match. Vejle fan forums will surely be a good source of details.