Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday cup of coffee

In an effort to keep posting on this blog somewhat regular, I've chosen Monday as a day to chain myself to my blogging chair (or bed) and write a quick roundup of topics that you may or may not be interested to learn that I'm interested in.

Keeping things regular is the reason for the post title. Yes, a coffee-as-laxative shit joke. Funny, right?

Ornoch signs with Heracles Almelo
Last week, I felt as though I was pretending to the Canadian Woodward and Bernstein to the Andrzej Ornoch transfer rumours, posting obsessively about what really is a minor development in the grand scheme of things.

Since the story warranted only two paragraphs in nearly every outlet that carried it, perhaps I shouldn't have been so excited. On the other hand, for Andy O, it is likely good for him to get out of Denmark where he wasn't one of the coach's favourites, to a place that is willing to give him a chance.

Ornoch training with Almelo

The contract is for one year, with a 2-year option.

* * * * *

Canadian pro teams in action
The Whitecaps, Impact and Toronto FC were all in action this weekend, and all earned draws.

For Vancouver and Montreal, who are in a playoff position, and whose nearest chaser, Miami, have clearly given up the chase, I guess it's not all bad. For Toronto, who need points, a road draw is a positive step, but not really enough at this point in the season.

Canadian content this weekend [Player (mins)]
Toronto: 292 minutes [Nana Attakora (90), Dwayne De Rosario (90), Jim Brennan (90), Ali Gerba (22)]
Vancouver: 395 minutes [Chris Pozniak (90), Gordon Chin (35), Martin Nash (79), Mason Trafford (11), Marcus Haber (70), Randy Edwini-Bonsu (20), Charles Gbeke (90)]
Montreal: 278 minutes [Adam Braz (90), Nevio Pizzolitto (90), Eduardo Sebrango (21), Mauro Biello (77)]

Reports: [Montreal 1:1 Carolina] [Vancouver 1:1 Rochester] [Seattle 0:0 Toronto]

* * * * *

Eredivisie report: AZ are in first, and all the big teams except Feyenoord (1-1 draw with Twente) were winners this weekend.

Also a winner is sometimes contributor to this blog Headhunting Canuck, who has submitted his picks for my season long Eredivisie pool. That makes two of us.

Picks so far:
Yours truly: AZ, Ajax; Mounir el Hamdouai (AZ), Luis Suarez (Ajax)
HH: AZ, PSV; Luis Suarez (Ajax), Balazs Dzsudzsak (PSV - this pick is brought to you by the letter 'Z')

I'm extending the deadline indefinitely, so there is more than enough time for you to get in. I've also figured out my scoring algorithm: your score will be calculated as follows

(total points from two teams selected) + (total goals from players selected * 2)

Have fun with that.

* * * * *

Canadian soccer blog post I enjoyed this week: Reference to the Canadian Football fan
Bob of Maple Leaf Forever provides character sketches of the various levels Canadian soccer fandom. His characterization of TFC fans is particularly apt.

Non-soccer blog post I enjoyed this week: The future is so yesterday: A synth-pop timeline
Synth-pop is one of the more embarrassing of my musical peccadilloes. Equally embarrassing is that I had to look up how to spell both "embarrassing" and "peccadillo", just to be sure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whither supporterdom

Let me begin with a story:


One of the few things apart from soccer that I do tend to obsess about is cycling. Not spandex/Lance Armstrong/Tour de France style road cycling, though that would be fun if I had the money. Rather, cycling is a mode (my only mode) of transportation. I like it because I am cheap (poor) and it is a convenient form of exercise as well.

Last night, the weather gods in Winnipeg were so kind as to assent to a calm evening without rain, a rare commodity in these parts this season. No better time for a ride, I thought.

There are plenty of better places, though. Allow me to describe Winnipeg from the wheels of a cyclist:
  • the only hills are old garbage dumps and overpasses
  • curb lanes of most roads look like the Kabul - Kandahar highway (scratch that: I just googled some images of that roadway and the tarmac is pretty pristine. Maybe they look more like this).
  • where recreational paths exist, they are clogged with wide women walking three-wide, and seniors crusing on bikes at 5kph
Even still, I seem to manage. The lack of topography, and the dangers posed by the roads to bicycles are the reason I've been getting around on old ten-speeds with the gears stripped off. They do the trick, and every so often I'll pass a group riding in spandex. And last night, I wanted to make the best of it.

So I enjoyed a nice cruise of a dozen or so kilometres through one of the few nice locales in the city, and beyond, and then turned around.

That's when it all started to feel a little off.

First, a little clicking noise, loud enough to ring through the music on my ipod.

Then, I navigated through a minefield of windshield glass in the middle of a bike-only path (don't ask me how it got there!).

Finally, as I took a corner, my rear wheel started to bump around far more than it should have. Turns out I must have picked up a wood staple somewhere a little bit earlier, and this probably was the source of the erstwhile clicking noise.

A flat. 10k from home. No tools or patches.

Needless to say, I didn't enjoy the next couple of hours. While riding the streets of Winnipeg is pleasurable merely due to lack of alternatives, pushing a bike down those self-same streets is a real bore. If it weren't for the dry wit of a certain Karl P. on the old ipod, I might have ditched my bike in the river in a fit of anger and carjacked someone.

C'est la vie.


I tell this story by way of analogy. To me, yesterday evening perfectly encapsulates in but a few hours the feeling of being a Canadian soccer supporter, especially in a place like Winnipeg, far removed from any sort of flirtation with pro soccer.

The over-arching theme: Even when you're trying to make the best of a bad situation, it all goes to shit.

I'll leave it to the readers to connect the rest of the dots.

So when I read a post like squizz's excellent entry on what the future holds for Jonathan de Guzman, I kick myself for even thinking of being hopeful.

But really, in these dark days with no matches on the horizon, and no pro team within 800 kilometres (hello Minnesota Thunder!) there isn't much else to get excited about.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Picturesque Time

There are times when I get bored, and when I get bored I begin to look at the past and therefore I look at the Canadian failure.

So get out your darts and start throwing them, first one to get a bulls eye can be the next coach of the national team.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ornoch update

Such is the state of affairs for Canadian national team supporters that closely following the trial of a fringe national teamer with a mid-range Eredivisie side is the most fun I've had here in weeks.

As I reported here earlier this week, midfielder Andrzej Ornoch of Esbjerg fB was on trial with Heracles Almelo of the Dutch first tier. That trial ended with today's training session.

The word out of Holland is that a decision won't be made until next week, but early returns are positive:
Canadees Ornoch mag waarschijnlijk nog even blijven

ALMELO - Heracles Almelo neemt pas volgende week een besluit over Andrzej Ornoch, die deze week drie dagen op proef was in het Polman Stadion. De middenvelder (die vrijdag 24 jaar werd) maakte de afgelopen dagen een positieve indruk op de trainingen. Hij is fysiek sterk, kan achter de spitsen spelen en heeft een goede uitstraling.
The headline is a bit tricky to translate; I suppose Canadian Ornoch can probably stay for now is a decent attempt. The rest:
Heracles Almelo won't make a decision until next week about Andrzej Ornoch, who spent three days this week trialling at Polman Stadion. The midfielder (who turns 24 on Friday) made a positive impression these last three days in training. He is physically strong, can play behind the strikers, and makes a good impression.
The report from the club site is equally positive, and suggests that Ornoch is one possibility to fill the #10 role with the club, which has been notably unfilled for some time.

In other fringe Canadians abroad news, Tossaint Ricketts (who?!) is currently in the top 10 in scoring in Finland's top league. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breaking news: Andrzej Ornoch to Almelo?

From Voetbal International:
Heracles Almelo verwelkomt Canadese international

Andrzej Ornoch heeft zich gemeld in Almelo. De 23-jarige middenvelder krijgt de kans een contract met Heracles te verdienen.

Ornoch staat nog onder contract bij Esbjerg fB, maar komt bij de Deense club weinig aan spelen toe. De middenvelder, die drie interlands voor Canada op zijn naam heeft staan, krijgt tot en met vrijdag de gelegenheid de technische staf van Heracles te overtuigen.

Ornoch genoot zijn opleiding bij het Canadese North Scarborough Soccer Club, waar ook de broers Jonathan en Julian De Guzman hun carrière begonnen. In afgelopen twee seizoenen kwam hij voor Esbjerg fB tot vijftien wedstrijden.
My translation:
Heracles Almelo welcomes Canadian international

Andrzej Ornoch has arrived in Almelo. The 23-year old midfield will have the chance to earn a contract with Heracles.

Ornoch is still under contract with Esbjerg fB, but had played little with the Danish club. The midfielder, with 3 Canada caps to his name, will have until Friday to impress the Heracles technical staff.

Ornoch is a product of the North Scarborough Soccer Club, where brothers Julian and Jonathan de Guzman also began their careers. In the last two seasons, he appeared in 15 matches for Esbjerg.

If a transfer goes through, then that's all the more reason for you to follow the Eredivisie more closely by joining the 'Hou je van voetbal?' challenge!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Contest: Hou je van voetbal?

I think that I am fairly unique in that I am far more interested in the goings on of the Netherland's Eredivisie (Dutch top flight) than the battles of the EPL's top 4 for supremacy, and the remaining 16's fight for European crumbs.

In order to create an army of soccer fans with similar proclivities to mine (perish the thought!), I introduce my newest contest. I'm calling it Hou je van voetbal?, which is Dutch for "Do you love football".

(As an aside, imagine whispering 'Ik hou van je' into your sweetheart's ear. Not the most romantic language, is it. No wonder their population isn't growing).

The contest is simple. You must select:
  • 2 teams that you believe will finish in the top 2 at the end of the season. Order doesn't matter.
  • 2 goalscorers that you think will finish at the top of the goal scoring table.
If you think the early returns (3 games in, so far), will help you in your quest, check out the current table and top scorers.

Deadline is whenever you decide to get me your picks There will be a prize. Probably something cheap and Dutch-themed. No entry fee. Exact scoring system, in the case where there is no perfect entry, is TBD.

Email me to enter, or leave a comment with your entry.

My picks:
  • Teams: AZ and Ajax
  • Goalscorers: Mounir el Hamdouai (AZ) and Luis Suarez (Ajax).

If nothing else, this is an excuse for me to publicly track the ups and downs of the 7th or 8th best league in Europe.

Also today: The occasionally entertaining Masshole and columnist Bill Simmons has an article up describing his experience watching USA - Mexico at Azteca.

His tactical understanding may be a little naïve, or perhaps he simply lacks the vocabulary to talk about soccer; to wit:
The Mexicans dominated the next 80-plus minutes, finding a flaw in our defense (left side, back middle of the field) and picking it apart much like a basketball offense would exploit an undersized defender in the low post.
I'm not quite sure what left-side/back middle is intended to mean, nor do I quite grasp the basketball analogy.

Still, it's interesting that such a diehard big 4 (or in his case, 3) spot guy is getting on the soccer bandwagon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Canadian content 2009: What's in a nationality?

I spent an hour or so this morning catching up on my Canadian content spreadsheets for the Whitecaps, Impact, and Toronto FC. In doing so, I was confronted with a question.

The question: Should I classify O'Brian White as Canadian?

Sure, he's repped Jamaica at youth levels, and most sites list him as Jamaican, though the newspapers seem not to know about this. On the other hand, I've been counting Eduardo Sebrango as Canadian for the past two years (he has Canadian citizenship, and hasn't played for Cuba since immigrating, obviously) so to be fair to TFC I have been including him.

Have thoughts on this issue? Leave a comment.

I don't expect it will make a whole lot of difference, as White likely won't pile up a whole lot of minutes this year.

At the end of the year, I'll compile final tables with and without the 'questionable Canadians' (White and Sebrango -- not sure of any others on Canada's pro teams at the moment).

A look at the numbers to date:

Competition CDN Total Percent
CONCACAF Champions League 762 1980 38.5%
USL Regular Season 9085 19760 46.0%
Voyageurs Cup 1780 3941 45.2%
Totals 11627 25681 45.27%

Competition CDN Total Percent
USL Regular Season 9384 19795 47.4%
Voyageurs Cup 1595 3960 40.3%
Totals 10979 23755 46.22%

Competition CDN Total Percent
MLS Regular Season 7180 20750 34.6%
Voyageurs Cup 1570 3960 39.6%
CONCACAF Champions League 646 1980 32.6%
Totals 9396 26690 35.2%

Vancouver and Montreal in particular have been trotting out a lot of Canucks lately, but Toronto has also upped their Canadian content, and should be fielding a fairly Canadian XI once Nana Attakora returns to full health.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Gold Cup Goals Pool

The final tally is in. With a final that saw Mexico put 5 goals past the United States, you might think it would have shaken things up a bit in the virtual competition. Not so. Our man Kevin held his lead.

The final standings:

Entry Goals
Kevin Elder
Andrew Bates 16
J 14
M@ 10

I'll try to make pay out the enormous winnings ($15!) ASAP -- either today, or when I once again emerge from the mountains a week or so from now.

Other interesting stories, like Toronto's bad loss to Puerto Rico in CCL qualifiers, Julian de Guzman finally saying no to TFC, the regular Impact and Whitecaps news, and the like, are certainly being covered on other blogs and I encourage you to read them while I'm gone.