Monday, November 30, 2009

Eredivisie contest: End of November update

November's up, winter hasn't quite arrived yet in Winnipeg, and the Riders lost because they can't count. All is right with the world.

Things are beginning to look a little more right with our Eredivisie contest as well. Here's how things stand:

Pompey Canuck 118
Headhunting Canuck 114
J 108
Lord Bob 85

And in detail:

AZ 25 Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ) 7
Ajax 35 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 17

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 108
Headhunting Canuck
AZ 25 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 17
PSV 39 Balazs Dzsudzsak (PSV) 8

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 114
Pompey Canuck
PSV 39 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 17
Ajax 35 Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord) 5

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 118
Lord Bob
Ajax 35 Keisuke Honda (VVV) 5
FC Utrecht 26 Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ) 7

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 85

AZ seem to have stabilized their season, which is somewhat gratifying. Their Champions League hopes have been dashed, and their ticket to Europa league is hanging by a thread (that thread is a road win over Standard Liege on the last Champs League matchday). Instead, they seem to be focussing on the domestic campaign, which has yielded a string of good results.

Jeremain Lens (7 goals) has taken over the scoring burden for the almost-healed Mounir el Hamdaoui, and they have stopped leaking goals.

FC Twente continue to lead the league, thanks largely to the goal scoring exploits of Costa Rican forward Bryan Ruiz, but I don't expect that to last much longer. PSV are the class of the league, and Ajax keep scoring 5 goals a game against mid-table sides.

Things are close enough at the top to keep things interesting in the 7th or 8th best league in Europe.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Instant pick-me-up

If you're ever feeling down, I'm sure this video will cheer you up:


Friday, November 20, 2009

Weighing in

Everyone has an opinion on the Thierry Henry handball. (What's the saying about opinions and assholes again?) Reaction to this incident has been anything but conservative, so much so that even soccer neophytes have an asshole opinion about it.

I wouldn't be worth my bloggerly salt if I didn't at least weigh-in on this issue.

First, let me make it abundantly clear: It is entirely regrettable that this happened. Games ought to be decided by the players on the pitch, not a missed referee's decision. As much as penalty kicks are a poor way to decide, on account of the significant element of chance and randomness, there is some skill involved there (just ask Simeon Jackson or Iain Hume). Going out due to an officiating mistake is brutal, and any Canadian fan will have felt this kind of sting by now. Nothing compared to the sting of Irish fans, though.

Ireland were hard done by, and I'd have no big complaints if the replay was granted. I'd also have no complaints if it wasn't. This is sport and things like this happen.

What I do have trouble with are the following:

1. Thierry Henry being outrageously piled on for being a "cheat"
I've played soccer. So, probably, have many of you. I've been guilty of the occasional handball. Everyone has: it's an instinctual act when the ball comes near to you. Sometimes I was caught, others I wasn't. I can tell you for damn certain that when I managed to get away with it, I didn't stop playing and call over the ref and inform him of my misdeed.

A handball, in case you were wondering, is an infraction on the laws of the game. However, the laws of the game are filled abundantly with lists of other infringements. I could go on ranting about this, but Vs poster Jeffrey S kills it in his analysis:
The game of soccer does not distinguish between the majority of rule breakages, they are almost all the same. Only a few are considered worse and get cards, and a few are even worse and warrant sanctions and suspensions. But they are all rule breakages and the game only conceives playing by the rules and breaking the rules. So for even those mistakengly calling rule breakage "cheating", a deliberate foul is cheating, as much as a deliberate hand ball, a deliberate push, a deliberate jumping off the defensive wall and attacking the ball on a free kick before the whistle is blown. All boot tackles and elbows, all shirt tugging, all diving, even taking off your shirt to celebrate a goal. It is all the same, they all consitute breaking the rules. Which is how they are treated, and should be treated, as rule breakages, nothing more.
Henry is under immense scrutiny because his action resulted in a critical goal, but if he had gone unpunished for a deliberate handball in the 38th minute that didn't result in a goal, nobody would be calling for a lifetime ban or any of the other ridiculous sanctions I've heard thrown about.

There are people to blame here, but not Henry. I nearly puked after hearing smarmin' Sharman get way up on his high horse on this issue during yesterday's Footy Show podcast (or maybe it was because I buried myself on a bike ride when I am clearly no longer in cycling shape).

2. The attitude that Ireland "deserved" to go through
Guess what: this is sport. People don't deserve anything. You either win or you don't.

What I detected (call me crazy) is a certain prejudicial undertone that people would rather have a bunch of hardscrabble and hardworking pale-skinned gingers who never see the sun advance to the World Cup on the strength of their pluck and moxie; over a clearly more metropolitan and talented group of players that are massive underachievers. It's like the Don Cherry syndrome in hockey, a man who'd rather have a team of plumbers than virtuosos.

It's as if people equate diligent hard work with fair play. And they're right! After all, we all know that Ireland protested the result after they were gifted this shocking penalty:

Oh wait, they didn't? But you said . . .

I'm more inclined to listen to Roy Keane on the matter (as much as it pains me):

"They can complain all they want but France are going to the World Cup. Get over it.

"If I'd been there in the dressing room after the game, I wouldn't be talking about the handball. I'd focus on why the defenders didn't clear it. They should've cleared it.

"I'd be more annoyed with my defenders and my goalkeeper than Thierry Henry. How can you let the ball bounce in your six-yard box? How can you let Thierry Henry get goal-side of you? If the ball goes into the six-yard box, where the hell is my goalkeeper? These are skills and lessons you learn as a schoolboy.

"Ireland had their chances in the two games and they never took them but it's the usual FAI (Football Association of Ireland) reaction - 'we've been robbed, the honesty of the game...' It's rubbish."

He's a bit harsh, but as often is the case, also correct. He cites the same penalty decision in the article, and the FAI are rightly cast as hypocrites.

This much is fact: Ireland were the better team for at most one half of soccer over the two-legged tie. They lost at home, and couldn't tack on an extra goal after they scored early in Paris.

I don't mean to argue the inverse: that France deserve to go through. The "deserve" argument should be dead and buried. But if you're beholden to it, there's no way you could argue that they deserve any less to be in the World Cup than do Ireland.

For my money, France are a more interesting team, but that has nowt to do with any of this.

Hey, look over there: New FIFA rankings!

Canada dropped 4 spots to 57th (in case you're wondering, Poland and Macedonia remained in 56th and 66th respectively). We're also 5th in CONCACAF, though I'd need Pompey Canuck to tell me whether this is high enough to avoid the bad juju come the draw for the next qualifying round.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Macedonia and Poland: What did we learn?

Like everyone else, I was as excited as I was shocked to learn that Canada had booked itself two friendlies in this November international window, considering the lack of important matches on the horizon. It signalled that the CSA might in fact consider not cheaping out, and giving its coach time to develop a team for the critical tournaments two and three years down the road.

As with all things Canadian soccer, the payoff was less than the promise. The games itself against 66th ranked Macedonia and 56th ranked Poland (at least until the new rankings tomorrow) were dire and dour respectively. Canada failed to score, showed themselves to be vulnerable in defense, and were largely uninspired in midfield.

So, what did we learn?

1. Canada is lacking in creative attacking players

Tomasz Radzinski, who is almost 36, was our most dangerous player over the course of the matches. Enough said.

2. Canada is not dangerous from the wide positions.

Whether it was the wing players from the run of play, or set pieces, Canada could only manage a few semi-dangerous balls from out wide. The most tantalizing crosses generally came from defender Mike Klukowski, both on set pieces and open play.

3. Canada needs new blood at the back

We all know Paul Stalteri will keep getting called until he breaks the caps record. I'm fully on board with this and largely share this man's opinion. Soon after though, he should be put out to pasture. We need new options at right back. Stalteri was called for a penalty against Macedonia, and while it was likely a dive, it was still a reckless challenge. In the centre of defense, Kevin McKenna and especially Richard Hastings are too slow to be of much use. Dejan Jakovic looks like he's a man for the future, but we need other options.

I personally hold very little hope that David Edgar will amount to much (I know I'm alone in this position) but he should be tried, along with Nana Attakora, and even Adam Straith.

4. English lower division strikers should not be our penalty takers

No need to explain.

5. Goalkeeping depth is an issue

Lars Hirschfeld showed his rust and was a disaster for the first 60 minutes of the Poland match, but his shot-stopping instincts saved the day until he got his head into the game. Josh Wagenaar was adequate against Macedonia, but needs a full-time starting gig. It certainly doesn't help that none of Canada's pro teams start a Canadian in goal.

6. Julian de Guzman is not the same as he was in 2007

Whether Julian is permanently in decline or just not in form is yet to be determined, but he looked like TFC Julian in these two matches, not Deportivo/Gold Cup MVP Julian. He looked uninspired, a step slow, and not as strong on the ball as we are used to seeing.

7. Canada is disadvantaged by the CONCACAF qualifying process

Unless you make the Hex, you only get 8 WCQ matches. In Europe you get 10 over a much shorter period. The teams Canada played against clearly showed the kind of mettle and team toughness that is earned over a series of high-pressure matches.

8. Polish internet streaming video is better than Macedonian internet streaming video

9. I need to swear off live blogging

I had fun both times, but I've now blogged five losses in a row for my favoured teams (Canada x2, Impact x2, Whitecaps x1).

Your thoughts? I'm looking forward to seeing what matches are scheduled in 2010 (even home dates!?!) and finding out the composition of the squad for the annual January Caribbean holiday. We need new blood.

To wit:

We can stop calling: Kevin McKenna, Paul Stalteri (once he gets the record), Richard Hastings, Tomasz Radzinski (unless he wants to keep playing)

Probably could do without: Patrice Bernier, Iain Hume

That's almost half of the starting lineup from Macedonia.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Canada - Poland live blog

Despite the poor record of teams subjected to my liveblogging (chronicled here) there really is no better way to be taking in a midweek friendly from eastern Europe.

The details:


Bydgoszcz, Poland

Wednesday, 18 November 2009
5 pm local / 11 am et / 10 am ct / 8 am pt

Join the fun.

On Radzinski

For those few that will be writing stories about tomorrow's Canada-Poland friendly in Bydgoszcz from a Canadian perspective, the best storyline in the game is Tomasz Radzinski. He was born in nearby Poznan, moved to Canada as a teenager, and has had a successful career as a professional and international for nearly two decades.

So what are we to make of Tomasz Radzinski, Canada international?

We could do worse than to start by looking at the numbers. For the full national side he has 45 caps (43 starts), and has scored 10 goals in those appearances. Both numbers are smaller than they might have been.

Radzinski's finest Canada moment, so far?

Let's start with the goals: for a striker who has scored against such teams as Man United, a 1 in 4.5 games strike rate for Canada is hardly impressive. But we know that under some of Canada's previous managers, Radzinski was (mis)used in a wide midfield position. This limited his scoring influence and definitely rubbed him the wrong way.

This tactical snafu may also be a contributing factor in the low cap total for a man who earned his first 14 years ago. Radzinski never liked this role, and famously refused to answer a call from Holger Osieck and was out of Canada's plans from 1998 to 2001. Before there were Whoregreaves and Judas de Guzman, there was the Rat, a man vilified by Voyageurs for his seemingly me-first attitude.

But he has come back and has most definitely been embraced by the Canadian soccer fan. Heck, the now-fan favourite even put on one of the Voyageurs "Sack the CSA" t-shirts back in the last WCQ cycle. That the Vees would decide to welcome Tomasz back into the fold suggests to me that a one-time turncoat like Jonathan de Guzman could even be welcomed back should he choose to come into the Canada fold, though I should allow for differences between refusing to play and selecting another country.

Did he know what he shirt he was putting on?

It is sad that Radzinski in his prime did not play for Canada. But it is simultaneously gratifying and discouraging that at nearly 36 years old he remains Canada's best attacking player. When he made the move to lower division Belgian side Lierse in fall of 2008, it seemed a step into semi-retirement. Yet he is that team's best player, and I fully expect him to be Canada's best tomorrow as well.

So, in a long winded way, we've come to the crucial question. Is Radzinski's potentially emotional return to Poland his last act playing for Canada? It would certainly be a fitting gesture for a man likely too old to be of much use by the next time Canada plays an important competitive match in 2011.

But there is evidence to the contrary, first and foremost of which is the product on the pitch. In two of his last three matches (vs Mexico in Edmonton, and vs Honduras in Montreal) Radzinski was far and away Canada's best player, and his injury after being dumped into the ad hoardings at Stade Saputo spelled the beginning of the end of Canada's World Cup qualification hopes.

And now this, from Stephen Hart:
“Tomasz has been a big influence for our national team, but more importantly he is an excellent role model for our younger players,” said Hart. “Historically, Canada has not had the strikers of Tomasz’s quality. For me it’s never about the age but more about how the player performs. As long as he continues to perform I will gladly continue to call him.”
If at one point he let his selfishness get in the way of representing Canada, that is now hardly the case, and he is the consummate professional. Given the rash of defections from the Canadian setup, it can hardly hurt to have a role model like Tomasz at every camp from now until he decides it's no longer worth it for him to show up.

I know I have mad man-love for Mike Klukowski, but I can make room in my heart for another Polish-Canadian.

(You surely noticed that both of the pictures of Radz I picked have him semi-clad . . .)

Related: Another man with love for Radzinski, and who is more effusive with is prose.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday cup of coffee: Missed penalty edition

Before we get any further, please watch the video. The wisdom of this wealthy child of Peruvian-American immigrants abounds, and would surely have turned the result of Saturday's friendly with Macedonia on its head. The feature on celebrations was particularly groundbreaking. I can only hope one of our Canadian lads will be breaking out the "Arm Thrust" in the near future. [insert masturbation joke here]

On to the soccer . . .

Canada - Macedonia redux

Remember that time we all huddled around our laptops in the early morn, some of us in bed and hardly clothed, watching amateur boxing from a Macedonian junior high cafeteria until we figured out what channel the game was on. It doesn't seem so long ago, does it?

At the risk of sounding wistful, despite the woeful result -- a 3-0 loss -- I enjoyed the entire process (I'm referring here to the live blog). Waking up hours before the good Lord (not Lord Bob) intended, assembling a quorum of the most like-minded diehard Canadian supporters, and watching the choppiest of streams from the sloppiest of Balkan soccer pitches.

I'm not much in the way of proper detailed match analysis, but here are some quick thoughts in that most preferred of high school modes of expression -- point form:
  • Dejan Jakovic's injury was bad news, further aggravated by having Richard Hastings as our only CB cover. One can only hope DJ is fit for Poland on Wednesday.
  • Can't decide what was worse: the first half Macedonian shooting gallery, which remained scoreless by a combination of finishing and Josh Wagenaar; or the lopsided penalty shootout stretched over 40 minutes of football in the second.
  • Simeon Jackson's career may be on the upswing, but he is not ready for prime time if prime time is understood to mean playing as a lone striker. If it's not Radz and Friend to start against Poland, I'll eat my hat.
A quick summary of the penalties:
  • A hand-to-ball situation, or the right call? Perhaps among my readers we have armchair or real-life refs who could tell me. It didn't matter though: Iain Hume missed the net entirely.
  • This one looked a dive, though I can't vouch for much that I saw since the stream, struggling under the weight of the Canadian diehard, was a slideshow with audio for much of the game. In any case, Paul Stalteri was whistled, and Goran Pandev scored.
  • The one I did see clearly was Rob Friend's heel being clipped from behind. Simeon Jackson gave an anemic effort and it was easily saved.
  • Kevin McKenna could have no complaints for being called for a bodycheck in the area, but that didn't stop him from trying. Pandev converted again, this time in injury time.
In all honesty, this was a game Canada deserved to lose by 1 or 2 goals, not 3, but results at this point don't count for much. It's what you take from them. Player-wise, the only bright spots for Canada were Wagenaar and Mike Klukowski, who now looks to be the team's best player. Biggest disappointment for me was Julian de Guzman, who seemed as rusty as he did at the beginning of his TFC stint.

With Klukowski always among Canada's best, and with a 36-year old Tomasz Radzinski poised to be Canada's best player on Wednesday (I have no doubts about this whatsoever!) I think Canada would be a real juggernaut internationally if we selected only Polish-Canadians playing in Belgium. Think about it.


On live blogging, generally:

I enjoy running a live blog, and the interaction it often generates. I even entered the 21st century, abandoning my vanity and my need to amass hundreds of pageviews, by adopting one of those ultra-interactive liveblogging formats.

The ScribbleLive blogging outfit is not too bad to use, and Canadian to boot. I learned about it watching Dragon's Den, where they scored a sweet 3-dragon deal for some cash, only to learn that the deal fell apart after due diligence was carried out.

This initial enthusiasm followed by mild disappointment is par for the course when it comes to livebloggin' it. My last four liveblogs:

Date Match Desired outcome Result
14/11/09 CAN-MKD friendly Duh! 3-0 MKD
17/10/09 USL-1 final 2nd leg Vancouver win Montreal win
18/06/09 V-Cup: TFC @ MTL Anything except a Toronto win by 4 or more goals 6-1 TFC
05/03/09 CCL: Impact @ Santos Impact, or small loss 5-2 Santos

That said, I'll probably be around on Wednesday for Canada - Poland.

Other internationals of note this weekend

THE GOOD: Portugal 1 - 0 Bosnia

Good for one obvious reason. Would loved to have seen a few more goals from Portugal (it hurts even to type this).

THE BAD: Italy 0 - 0 Netherlands

Ok, this was only a friendly, and it was only really bad for Robin van Persie (broken ankle) and Arsenal fans, but choosing to watch this match over taking a nap was a bad move for me.

THE UGLY: New Zealand 1 - 0 Bahrain

New Zealand is in the World Cup. The teams they beat to qualify, and current rank of those teams:

Team Rank
New Caledonia 141
Fiji 108
Vanuatu 159
Bahrain 61

Done puking? And they actually lost one of those matches with Fiji.

MLS playoffs

Houston lost in extra time to the LA Galaxy, after a seemingly legitimate goal by Canadian Andrew Hainault was waved off for a phantom foul (start watching at 3:45 to see the disputed goal)

On the bright side, Real Salt Lake are through after upsetting Chicago Fire in a penalty shootout. Canadian international Will Johnson scored a vital goal in the shootout (at 5:50 of this video) and celebrates appropriately with a combination of "The Airplane" and a shushing motion.

I have to admit that I really dig RSL and all things Utahn, likely because of a recent Big Love kick I was on, which itself was due mostly to the hotness of Bill Paxton's youngest wife. I also was a big Utah Jazz fan in my younger years, probably because of a subconsciously racist satisfaction of seeing a successful basketball team with so many white players. (Stockton, Hornacek, Ostertag, oh my!)

If RSL can compound Landon Donovan's heartbreak (yes, he dumped, or was dumped, by this hot piece of ass) by beating him and Becks in the finals, I'll be over the moon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Canada - Macedonia live blog

Yes, 6am and I'm doing it. Mostly because I want to go all ScribbleLive on y'all (thanks Dragon's Den), and because I've been waking up at night lately and might as well put that habit to good use. This all hinges, of course, on the ability to find a quality Macedonian stream.

The deets:


Strumica, Macedonia

Saturday, 14 November 2009
noon local / 7 am et / 6 am ct / 4 am pt

Tune in bright and early in the tomorrow AM.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stephen Hart era extended

Word is out, though not yet officially, that Stephen Hart will have the interim tag removed from his title, and will become the permanent head coach of the Canadian national team. Among the Vees, at least, this move has received positive reviews.

This means there's no time like the present to review some Hart era stats:

Date Opponent Location Type CAN Opp Result
04/09/06 Jamaica Montreal Friendly 1 0 Win
08/10/06 Jamaica Kingston Friendly 1 2 Loss
15/11/06 Hungary Szekesfehervar Friendly 0 1 Loss
25/03/07 Bermuda Hamilton, Ber. Friendly 3 0 Win
01/06/07 Venezuela Maracaibo Friendly 2 2 Draw
06/06/07 Costa Rica Miami Gold Cup 2 1 Win
09/06/07 Guadeloupe Miami Gold Cup 1 2 Loss
11/06/07 Haiti Miami Gold Cup 2 0 Win
16/06/07 Guatemala Foxboro, MA Gold Cup 3 0 Win
21/06/07 USA Chicago Gold Cup 1 2 Loss
30/05/09 Cyprus Larnaca Friendly 1 0 Win
30/06/09 Guatemala Oxnard, CA Friendly 3 0 Win
03/07/09 Jamaica Los Angeles Gold Cup 1 0 Win
07/07/09 El Salvador Columbus, OH Gold Cup 1 0 Win
10/07/09 Costa Rica Miami Gold Cup 2 2 Draw
18/07/09 Honduras Philadelphia Gold Cup 0 1 Loss

24 13

Wins 9

Draws 2

Losses 5

And caps under SH:

Julian de Guzman 15
Patrice Bernier 14
Atiba Hutchinson 14
Paul Stalteri 13
Ali Gerba 11
Richard Hastings 10
Issey Nakajima-Farran 9
Kevin McKenna 9
Josh Simpson 9
Andrew Hainault 8
Greg Sutton 8
Rob Friend 7
Martin Nash 7
Ante Jazic 7
Dwayne de Rosario 7
Chriz Pozniak 6
Simeon Jackson 6
Adam Braz 5
Iain Hume 5
Kevin Harmse 5
Jaime Peters 5
Mike Klukowski 5
Will Johnson 5
Tomasz Radzinski 4
Pat Onstad 4
Dejan Jakovic 4
Marcel de Jong 4
Gabriel Gervais 3
Adrian Cann 3
Marco Reda 2
Josh Wagenaar 2
Andrzej Ornoch 2
Lars Hirschfeld 2
Sandro Grande 1
Kenny Stamatopoulos 1
Tam Nsaliwa 1
Olivier Occean 1
Antonio Ribeiro 1
Eddy Sidra 1
Nikolas Ledgerwood 1
Tyler Hemming 1
Dominic Imhof 1

If you're scoring at home, that's a list of 42 players that includes the immortal Dominic Imhof. Most interesting to me is that the midfield trio of Bernier, Hutchinson and de Guzman have missed a total of 5 matches between them, with JDG playing all but the Gold Cup match this summer against Costa Rica. All three have been called up for the forthcoming friendlies, so while Hart claims to be doing some experimenting (as per Molinaro) he seems fairly decided in the middle of the pitch.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Official Canada roster for Macedonia, Poland

update 12.11.09: added Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault as 18th player

Enough with the speculation and wringing of hands. The official Canada roster for next week's friendlies has been released, and it's as close to an 'A' squad as you're likely to see:

Player Pos. Team League
Lars Hirschfeld GK Energie Cottbus Germany
Josh Wagenaar GK Falkirk Scotland
Mike Klukowski D/M Club Brugge Belgium
Kevin McKenna D 1. FC Köln Germany
Paul Stalteri D/M Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany
Richard Hastings D Hamilton Scotland
Dejan Jakovic D DC United MLS
Julian de Guzman M Toronto FC MLS
Atiba Hutchinson M FC København Denmark
Patrice Bernier M FC Nordsjælland Denmark
Iain Hume M Barnsley FC England
Marcel de Jong M Roda JC Netherlands
Jaime Peters M Ipswich Town FC England
Josh Simpson M/F Manisaspor Turkey
Simeon Jackson F Gillingham FC England
Tomasz Radzinski F Lierse Belgium
Rob Friend F Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany
Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault M 1. FC St Pauli Germany

Perhaps it's surprising to see such a veteran-laden squad, but there's no point in not calling our best players. With the exception of Julian de Guzman and Dejan Jakovic, this is an all Euro squad with a lot of international experience.

Player Caps
Paul Stalteri 77
Atiba Hutchinson 45
Tomasz Radzinski 45
Kevin McKenna 44
Patrice Bernier 42
Richard Hastings 41
Julian de Guzman 40
Lars Hirschfeld 28
Iain Hume 26
Mike Klukowski 24
Josh Simpson 24
Rob Friend 22
Jaime Peters 19
Marcel de Jong 11
Simeon Jackson 6
Dejan Jakovic 5
Josh Wagenaar 2
Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault 0
Total 501
Average 29.47

Tomasz Radzinski was called, according to Hart, because "we felt the game would mean a lot to him at this stage of his career". He is also the most prolific goal scorer among the group called.

Player Goals
Tomasz Radzinski 10
Kevin McKenna 9
Paul Stalteri 7
Julian de Guzman 4
Atiba Hutchinson 2
Patrice Bernier 2
Iain Hume 2
Rob Friend 2
Richard Hastings 1
Marcel de Jong 1
Jaime Peters 1
Simeon Jackson 1
Lars Hirschfeld 0
Josh Wagenaar 0
Mike Klukowski 0
Dejan Jakovic 0
Josh Simpson 0
Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault 0
Total 42
Average 2.47

I think we all remember the goal he scored to get himself into double digits, just over a year ago (1:55 in the video)

Hart also mentioned that he is still looking for a possible 18th player to fill out the squad, likely to replace a certain mentally-unstable-sometime-Czech.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A diversion

A propos of nothing: some opera.

Act 2 synopsis from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, a la wikipedia (emphasis mine)

Scene 1: The ballroom of the Larin house

Tatyana's name-day party. Onegin is irritated with the country people who gossip about him and Tatyana, and with Lensky for persuading him to come. He decides to revenge himself by dancing and flirting with Olga. Lensky becomes extremely jealous. Olga is insensitive to her fiancé and apparently attracted to Onegin. There is a diversion, while a French neighbour called Monsieur Triquet (tenor) sings some couplets in honour of Tatyana, after which the quarrel becomes more intense. Lensky renounces his friendship with Onegin in front of all the guests, and challenges Onegin to a duel, which the latter is forced, with many misgivings, to accept.

Scene 2: On the banks of a wooded stream, early morning

Lensky is waiting for Onegin, and sings of his uncertain fate and his love for Olga. Onegin arrives. They are both reluctant to go ahead with the duel but lack the power to stop it. Onegin shoots Lensky dead.

Sing, Lensky, sing!

More opera lovers:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Confirmed callups for Macedonia, Poland friendlies

There's a thread going on the Voyageurs board listing confirmed callups for the friendlies against Poland and Macedonia next week. This happens with every set of Canada matches, and the fact that we hear the news from assorted club sites and European media sources before the final CSA roster is announced is nothing to be surprised or upset about. Liking not all the names have been confirmed quite yet.

Here's what we know:

  • Lars Hirschfeld (FC Energie Cottbus, 28 caps, 7 clean sheets): After a nightmarish year in Transylvania, Lars made the move to Germany where he is again riding pine, though his prospects seem improved [source for call-up news]
  • Richard Hastings (Hamilton Academical FC, 56 caps, 1 goal): Hastings has been a loyal service in the past, but is long past his prime. I can't think of a good reason for this selection. [source]
  • Jacob Lensky (FC Utrecht, 0 caps): Lensky has been an interesting story over the years. In January, he was interviewed about his reasons for quitting Feyenoord. Soon after, he washed out in trials with Vancouver and Seattle, before popping up in the Eredivisie this summer, where he has been a regular with an upper-table side. [source].
    Says Lensky of his callup: It's a pleasant surprise. I had heard rumours here and there, and I know that the coach had seen some Utrecht matches on TV
    . THIS!
  • Dejan Jakovic (DC United, 5 caps, 0 goals): Jakovic became a fixture of Canada's back line in this summer's Gold Cup and acquitted himself well. He was also a central part of DC United's defense, and his late season injury damaged the team's playoff hopes. He's one of several younger players who have the opportunity to put their stamp on the centre back position.
  • Mike Klukowski (Club Brugge, 24 caps, 0 goals): Klukowski is a personal favourite of mine, and probably the most consistent national team performer over the last few years. He has the starting left back spot locked down for the next while, which means guys like Lensky and de Jong will likely have to find work in the midfield if they want to play. [source]
  • Paul Stalteri (Borussia M'gladbach, 77 caps, 7 goals): Stalteri is a dedicated servant of the national team who is currently 5 caps short of tying the all-time record for Canada held by Randy Samuel. He is the runaway leader among active players, and I expect he'll keep getting called until he surpasses 82 caps. He also is one of few options at right back, and is a useful player when healthy, which hasn't been the case often this season. [source]
  • Atiba Hutchinson (FC Kobenhavn, 45 caps, 2 goals): Hutchinson is a consistent midfielder who, at age 26, seems to have reached a plateau career-wise. This isn't entirely a bad thing. FCK is a top team in Denmark that is in Europe every year, and Hutchinson is a key player for them who has been scoring goals lately. A key cog in any Canada midfield for the next few years. [source]
  • Marcel de Jong (Roda JC, 11 caps, 1 goal): Canada is in the unique position of having a glut of left-sided defensive players. With someone like Klukowski in the picture, de Jong is unlikely to play much at left back. But he's played in midfield with the national team, and more recently with his club. That's where I'd expect to see him play for Canada in these matches. [source]
  • Rob Friend (Borussia M'gladbach, 22 caps 2 goals): Friend is returning from an injury, and scored a big game winning goal for his club on the weekend. His Bundesliga scoring record is much better than his national team strike rate, which he needs to improve. He's playing at the highest level of Canadian strikers, and should be a part of every squad in the near future. [source]

I'll keep updating as we learn more names, or we accidentally call up another waste of time like Lensky.