Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Monday cup of coffee: Final edition? (And it's Tuesday)

I recently received the rather welcome news that my employment status will undergo an adjustment from "under-employed" to "fully employed, and then some". My chosen pursuit is the education of children (this may be frightening to some of my readers) which means that I'll be keeping my nose to the grindstone at least until the end of June. Blogging will tail off even further in frequency (and probably quality as well) with no more posting during the day and very little posting during the week. If you can, refrain from any wailing and gnashing of teeth.

In the intervening weeks until I start this job in earnest, I'll try to keep the posts coming, even though February-March is a bit of a dead zone for soccer news in this country.

Without further ado . . .

Schedules galore

Last week we saw the release of the 2010 MLS schedule and the Voyageurs Cup/Nutrilite Canadian Championship schedules. Yesterday, the NASL/USSF division 2 schedules were released, including team slates for Montreal and Vancouver.

With all of the matchdays now on the calendar, here are some items to take note of:
  • Like Toronto FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps also have a match on the same day as the Champions League final, at home against Rochester on May 22nd. Unlike TFC, it is unlikely that there will be a conflict because of the time zone, and the fact that Vancouver tends not to play on Saturday afternoons.
  • In another good bit of conflict avoidance, both leagues had the good sense to avoid scheduling matches on the Sunday of the World Cup final (11 July 2010). All three Canadian teams are in action on the Saturday.
  • Only Toronto will be playing on Canada Day, which this year falls on a Thursday. The Impact and Whitecaps will play each other the day before at Stade Saputo.
  • NASL matches will only fall on weekends (Friday-Sunday) or on Wednesdays, with no two-match weekends as we used to see with the USL-1/A-League schedules. Along with the Wednesday Voyageurs Cup matches, the sked for Vancouver and Montreal is quite regimented.
  • Montreal and Vancouver will square off 6 times, not counting playoffs (twice in Voyageurs Cup action, 4 times in league play)
Throw in a little tournament called the World Cup, and a growing slate of Canada friendlies, and 2010 promises to be a busy year for soccer. I hope I have time to take some of it in.

Edmonton to NASL?

Rumours about an Edmonton franchise in the second tier of pro soccer in North America have been popping up for years, but now we are in almost-official territory. Official word is expected today, and details are already breaking on another blog.

This is exciting for a number of reasons. Chief among them:
  1. A 4-team Canadian Championship lends itself more easily to a one-off final match, and adds a little credibility to the tournament.
  2. An Edmonton team would be the shortest road trip from my home base (only 14 hours!)

No March friendly for Canada

There's been a good deal of excitement lately about the friendly opponents that Canada has been lining up for 2010, but one small disappointment is that Canada won't be playing during the early March international window. Stephen Hart explained in a radio interview that there simply wasn't enough time to gather a squad together.

Eredivisie update

When my boys, AZ Alkmaar, crashed out of Champions League, and even avoided a consolation trip to the Europa Cup, I figured they'd put all their efforts into their league play and finish the season strong. January, however, was not a good month for the team, and they currently sit 7th in the Eredivisie table.

Things are looking up, though, as they won away at Feyenoord on the weekend, despite one of the more spectacular own goals you'll ever see. Snakebitten striker Mounir el Hamdaoui also found the back of the net, a good omen to be sure.

The goal:

Another notable performance, with implications for our ongoing Eredivisie prediction pool, was a 4 goal performance at midweek from Ajax and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez.

Here's how things stand in that contest:

AZ 32 Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ) 8
Ajax 49 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 22

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 141
Headhunting Canuck
AZ 32 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 22
PSV 58 Balazs Dzsudzsak (PSV) 8

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 150
Pompey Canuck
PSV 58 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 22
Ajax 49 Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord) 8

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 167
Lord Bob
Ajax 49 Keisuke Honda (VVV) 6
FC Utrecht 32 Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ) 8

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 109

Reader Pompey Canuck had the good sense to select both top goal man Suarez, who is scoring at a goal a game pace, and unbeaten PSV, while avoiding this disastrous AZ team, and is running away with the contest. If we are to apply some sort of emotional calculus, I think this is more than enough to overcome any sour feelings about his own team's competitive and financial shortcomings this season.

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