Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday cup of coffee: FYROMantic comedy edition

This was a bad sporting weekend for me. In any match that was important to me, the wrong teams won. So I am focussing on this past week's lone positive development: Canada booking a friendly with Macedonia.

So along the way this morning, we'll be learning a little bit about this landlocked country, home to Alexander the Great.

Let's begin with the name: the country is Macedonia, but in this internet age of acronyms, many prefer FYROM.


F is for friendly

It is a habit, one that is hard to break, for Canadians to rag on the CSA at every opportunity. That is why it is so important to point out when they get something right.

And booking a November friendly, even when Canada has no important matches on the calendar, is the right thing to do. Pompey Canuck will argue otherwise, but beginning to evaluate the players that will form the core of the Canada squad over the next four years is an important task, and squandering two international dates this month would have been disappointing.

Rumour has it that Canada had been negotiating with the Czechs, which shows a level of ambition from the Association that we're not accustomed to. Even though that match seems not to have panned out, Macedonia is a good get, and should make for a fairly competitive match.

I expect to see a Euro-based squad, though I would not be disappointed to see a few out of season North American based players like Julian de Guzman or Nana Attakora included. Particularly interesting will be whether players like David Hoilett or Jacob Lensky would answer a call.

The fixture goes November 14th in the capital, Skopje. In the only previous head-to-head match between the countries, a friendly in Toronto, Canada came out victorious on a goal from the prolific Niall Thompson.


Y is for Your two favourite Canadian pro teams

This was the source of much of my weekend's disappointment. I was hopeful, maybe even cautiously optimistic, that Vancouver would pull off the upset in the return leg of the USL-1 final. I was also hopeful that the officiating would be better than we saw from a lady-ref Ms. Chenard at Swangard. On both counts, my hopes were dashed.

I aborted my live blog in frustration after the Montreal penalty goal. On my grainy stream it looked like a bad call, but upon further investigation, it was probably the right one. The sending off of Shaun Pejic however, a player finally starting to show why he spent his career in the English Conference, did get my hackles up as I had never before seen a straight red for dissent like that. The sending off ruined any chance of what had been an entertaining start turning into a terrific match.

Now that I have the emotional stuff out of the way, allow me to congratulate the Impact and coach Marc dos Santos. The man turned around a team that was falling apart at the seams after collapsing at Santos, Nutrilite embarassment, Sandro Grande drama, and a disappointing first half of the USL season. The veteran squad responded late to MDS, but the Impact won all 6 playoff matches and are deserving champions.

Nous sommes champions, n'est ce pas?

An RDS article explains how Montreal overcame adversity in '09, while a french CP hit runs down the match itself.

The Whitecaps also deserve to be congratulated. After winning the title last year, they blew up the veteran core of their squad and began a youth movement with a bevy of under 23 talent featuring at various points of the season. USL-1 rookie of the year Marcus Haber was the most impressive but Ethan Gage, Wes Knight, Luca Bellisomo, Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Mason Trafford and others all made important contributions at various points in the season.

They also should be congratulated for finishing on top of this year's Canadian content standings. Despite a final that featured minimal Canadian content on both sides, the Whitecaps top this year's list, barring a long Toronto FC playoff run that is very Canadian-heavy.

(Parenthetically, here are the final 2009 Canadian content numbers for both teams. I'll run the numbers with sort-of-Canadian Eddy Sebrango excluded after TFC wraps their season -- O'Brian White will receive the same treatment

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Competition CDN Total Percent
USL Regular Season 13034 29695 43.9%
Voyageurs Cup 1595 3960 40.3%
USL Playoffs 1990 5840 34.08%
Totals 16619 39495 42.08%

MONTREAL IMPACT
Competition CDN Total Percent
CONCACAF Champions League 762 1980 38.5%
USL Regular Season 11643 28637 40.7%
Voyageurs Cup 1780 3941 45.2%
USL Playoffs 1686 5940 28.38%
Totals 15871 40498 39.2%


Ending parenthetical.)

On the 'Caps press side, a CP article explains that I wasn't the only one upset about the red card shown to the otherwise abysmal Pejic.



R is for Rankings, FIFA-style

The newest edition of the FIFA rankings are out, and Canada made a nice jump. 13 spots, to be precise, which can be attributed to the uglier results of 2008 (umm, I don't want to talk about it . . .) being devalued as they age.

Canada sits 53rd overall, and more importantly, 5th in CONCACAF. It is important to maintain a high position in the CONCACAF table, in order to avoid another Group of Death in qualifying for 2014.

Our Thracian friends (I mean Macedonia, see how I dropped some knowledge there) are 66th.



O is for Overseas obsession (the Eredivisie)

In case you've forgotten, the team that I follow most closely is the alphabet-spanning AZ. They are a part of the Dutch Big Four, along with Feyenoord, PSV, and Ajax. Perhaps it is time to include Twente (they could probably take the Rotterdam side's place) as they have moved into first place after a 3-2 win over my AZ over the weekend.

PSV and Ajax were also winners this weekend by 1-0 and 4-0 scorelines respectively, while Feyenoord dropped a derby match against Sparta 2-1.

Data relevant to our Eredivisie pool includes goals from Luis Suarez and Mounir El Hamdouai.

See for yourselves the table and top scorers in the most pleasing teletekst format.



M is for Music of Macedonia



Yes, this is 2009, not 1989.



Lots to talk about today, but running out of space and time. Here are some quick hitters.

7 comments:

philip said...

Great post, I always enjoy your blog.

J said...

It's always great to hear that from readers, philip. Tell your friends.

kirev said...

There's no FYROM. It is an invented "acronym" nowhere in use. If you refer to the UN provisional reference it is "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and shouldn't be shortened and it is for within UN.

Canada uses our constitutional name - Republic of Macedonia, or Macedonia. MK, MKD, .mk and so on...

And expect a good match :)

J said...

kirev,

I stand corrected. Thanks for the info. But the FYROM name sort of held that whole post together so I won't bother changing it.

I do look forward to a good match. Canada doesn't often win these European friendlies against decent sides, and I'm expecting a draw at best.

I'm glad you stopped by, and I must say you're a lot more cordial than your Bosnian neighbours who recently paid their respects at a fellow Canadian soccer blog.

kirev said...

And I forgot to mention that it is considered highly insulting and derogatory...

In august we almost ;) beat Spain, so my bet is like two nil for Macedonia :)

J said...

If I were a betting man (I'm not), I'd say it will be 2-1 for Macedonia. But I'm hoping for 1-1 or 1-0 Canada. Our team hasn't played since July, so it's hard to know what kind of squad they will bring together.

kirev said...

Told ya`. And betting is fully legal in Macedonia... :)