Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Voyageurs Cup Matchday 1 Report

Just the facts:
Scoring Summary:
12' - Ty Harden
61' - Chad Barrett (Dwayne De Rosario)

23' - Sam Cronin (booked)
24' - Nevio Pizzolitto (booked)
34' - Julian de Guzman (booked)
35' - Roberto Brown (sent off)
45' - Adam Braz (booked)
56' - Dan Gargan (booked)
80' - Stefan Frei (booked)

1- Matt Jordan; 3- Adam Braz, 23- Stephen De Roux, 26- Cedric Jocqueviel, 5- Nevio Pizzolitto; 14- Tony Donatelli, 7- David Testo, 8- Filipe Soares (21- Philippe Billy 42), 11- Leonardo di Lorenzo (9- Rocco Placentino 65); 10- Roberto Brown, 28- Peter Byers (12- Eduardo Sebrango 68)

24- Stefan Frei; 12- Adrian Cann, 8- Dan Gargan, 20- Ty Harden (34- Raivis Hscanovics 18), 4- Nick Garcia (17- O'Brian White 39); 6- Julian de Guzman, 27- Gabe Gala, 2- Sam Cronin, 23- Jacob Peterson (21- Nick Labrocca 62); 19- Chad Barrett, 14- Dwayne De Rosario

Stupid headline: TFC makes Impact on Montreal (Toronto Star)
Terrible. Absolutely terrible headline writing. I hope Montreal changes its name when it enters MLS, if only to avoid such lazy garbage asthis.

The story in picture(s)

There were more of these than decent scoring chances last night.

Three paragraph analysis
This was one of the worst games of soccer I've ever watched. There a number of reasons for that. The officiating was atrocious. The Impact have an old team, and not in a good way. The Toronto FC scrubs are better than the Euro re-treads that the Impact have been stocking up on lately. I could go on. Full marks to Toronto for doing what they needed to, and full demerits to Roberto Brown for acting like a moron.

I want to comment briefly on the Roberto Brown-Nick Garcia clash. While I don't mean at all to excuse Brown's actions, I can see how he got all heated up. First, prior to the incident, Brown had been running around for 25 minutes of the first half bleeding from the mouth. The Sportsnet producers cut to this shot several times, but neither Gerry nor Craig saw fit to say anything about it. The bloody mess was the result of a rather careless Garcia elbow earlier in the proceedings. And on the incident itself, I think if Garcia had not been knocked cold he might have seen yellow himself, as he landed a quick jab before he suffered the 1-2 from Brown.

Quite frankly, I think the Impact might just be a bad team this year. Their talent is old, and in many cases (Filipe and Philippe) looking kind of pudgy and slow. Di Lorenzo is their only class player. If they intend on joining MLS in 2012 they will have to get younger and fitter. I wouldn't be surprised if Montreal struggles in D2 this year. The contrast between their approach and Vancouver's could not be starker.

One sentence thoughts
  • If the announced attendance (21,436, a Nutrilite record) was accurate, why did so many TFC fans spend a majority of the 90 minutes out of their seats?
  • Julian de Guzman has become an enigma: he hardly put a foot wrong, passing-wise, but clearly is a step or five slow when he tries to chase down a 50-50 ball or track an opponent.
  • Leo di Lorenzo has the most class on the Impact, by far, and would probably be the 3rd or 4th best player on most MLS lineups.
  • Adam Braz would be far more appreciated if he wasn't such an awkward looking fellow. He punked De Ro on several occasions and gets forward well.
  • The first TFC goal was surely Harden's, yet he gets his leg gashed open by De Ro, who also steals credit for the goal (Has the CSA been reading this blog? The goal has been changed to Harden).

Canadian content report

Looking at Montreal's lineup this year, it's hard to see them fielding Canadians for significant minutes. Only Braz and Pizzolitto are regular starters, while Placentino and Sebrango are often the first called from the bench.

TFC, on the other hand, are doing their part creating jobs for Canadian footballers, or pseudo-Canadian/Jamaican/not sure kinds of guys (OBW).

Adrian Cann 90
Julian de Guzman 90
Gabe Gala 90
Dwayne De Rosario 90
Total Mins 360

Adam Braz 90
Nevio Pizzolitto 90
Rocco Placentino 25
Total Mins 205

Edit 3 May 2010: I've decided my inclusion of O'Brian White and Eduardo Sebrango over the last several years in the "Canadian" lists has been somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent, and they will no longer be considered Canadian for this blog. In the case of OBW, he can join the Canadian ranks should he suit up for the MNT. Sebrango is a Canadian citizen, but does not have that option because of his previous affilation with Cuba.

The pool report
People who nailed week 1: Croft, zooko62000, Headhunting Canuck, Trevor Brooks, jloome, Chris, CanadianKid, Tuscan, dyslexic nam

All of the scores:

Difference Entries
0 Crofty, zooko62000, Headhunting Canuck, Trevor Brooks, jloome, Chris, CanadianKid, Tuscan
1 Scott P, icecoldbeer, Simon B, Keato, Spungi, soka, Sam, masster, Filipe, bbb, Lank, M@, Pompey Canuck, Elvis, J
2 Duane Rollins, Lord Bob, rmac, Jeremy, Sagacious Chew, John, morbital, Sigma, capsfan79, Heavy Red Flow
3 pejnam, Lennie, adriano
4 Casual Soccer Fan, Daniel, ATN LR

Nine people had the score exactly right, and not surprisingly these seem mostly to have been TFC fans, judging by their picks. The race for the lanterne rouge, the position that will decide the details of the prize, is also crowded. Thanks to all those who entered: I look forward to following this race as well.


Team W D L Pts
Toronto FC 1 0 0 3
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 0 0 0
Montreal Impact 0 0 1 0

Player Team Goals
Ty Harden
Toronto 1
Chad Barrett Toronto 1

Edit 3 May 2010: The first TFC goal has been officially awarded to Ty Harden. The scorers table has been updated to reflect this.

Next match: 5 May 2010: Montreal Impact @ Vancouver Whitecaps

Monday, April 26, 2010

One day left

Just over 24 hours remain for you to enter into the 2nd annual Voyageurs Cup Prediction pool. Details of the contest, including how to enter, are available via the link.

After 31 entries, though, a picture is starting to emerge of what kind of competition is being imagined by the esteemed readership of this blog. The picture is a muddled one, no doubt, but themes are beginning to emerge.

On who will win the competition, I cursorily went through the predictions and worked out which teams would be the winner if the results went as predicted in each entry. Who will win?

Winner #
Toronto 13
Vancouver 7
Montreal 7

The brighter ones among you will notice that 13, 7, and 7 don't sum up to 31, but several of the result sets produced ties and I was in no mood to wade through the tiebreakers.

As for the golden boot, the readers have predicted somewhat of a runaway leader:

Golden boot #
Dwayne De Rosario 12
Roberto Brown 4
O'Brian White 4
Marcus Haber 4
Peter Byers 3
Chad Barrett 2
Eddy Sebrango 1
Marlon James 1

It all gets started Wednesday night and I couldn't be more excited. I haven't found any betting odds yet for the match, but if you find any please let me know.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Atiba Hutchinson to PSV

The biggest transfer news of 2010 involving a Canadian international has Atiba Hutchinson moving to PSV after the end of his season with FC Copenhagen.

I can't tell you how excited I am about the news. For one, he's moving to the Eredivisie, a league I already follow, and will playing for the Eindhoven side, a team I don't quite hate.

I also think this is a significant step up professionally, something he managed to avoid a few years back by turning down a transfer move to Russia.

But first, the coach's thoughts:
De speler was trainer Fred Rutten meteen opgevallen toen die de Deense club vorig jaar als tegenstander in de Europa League ging bekijken. Hij prees Hutchinson als een multifunctionele voetballer, met zowel aanvallende als verdedigende kwaliteiten. De Noord-Amerikaan is groot en fysiek sterk. Qua postuur doet hij volgens Rutten denken aan Orlando Engelaar.
The player caught coach Fred Rutten's eye when the Danish side was an opponent of PSV in the Europa league. He tabs Hutchinson as a multifunctional player, with offensive and defensive qualities. The North American is big and physically strong. He reminds Rutten of [Dutch international and PSV midfielder] Orlando Engelaar.
I won't quibble with most of what Rutten has to say about our boy Atiba, but I'd be more inclined to call Hutchinson tall, rather than big and strong. The Engelaar comparison is a good illustration of this. Orlando is 1.96 m (6 ft 5) and 90 kg (198 lbs), while Atiba is a mere 9 cm shorter at 1.87 m (6 ft 2), but a full 18 kg lighter at 72 kg (158 lbs). No matter how you slice it, if you're over 6 feet and under 160 lbs, you're not a big guy.

But I digress.

The move is good for a number of reasons. For one, Hutchinson will be exposed to a higher level of competition weekly in the Eredivisie. The Dutch top flight ranks 10th in the UEFA coefficient, which is lower than its been in some time. The Danish league, where Hutch has been playing, is riding high but still only at 15th.

European play is another bonus. PSV are consistently in Europe, and are ranked the 22nd best squad in European play over the last 5 season (FCK, Atiba's old club, are 60th). While PSV won't qualify for Champions League in 2010/11, and FCK are well placed to do so, PSV are always a greater probability to have a long run in these competitions.

All in all, it can't be seen as anything but a major step up which couldn't come at a better time for the 27-year old. If he gets playing time, it would be hard to argue that there is a Canadian playing an important role for a more important club. And it's exactly what Canada needs.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mondays are for miscellany

FC Edmonton reveals new logo

And here it is...

The website got a bit of a re-design too. The reviews are drifting in, some positive, others not. It could probably use a tweak or two before the team starts selling jerseys with this crest on it.

Canada announces friendly schedule for remainder of 2010

Although speculation about an early May home friendly against Ecuador turned out to be merely that, Canada does have a number of firm dates lined up, including two home matches. The full schedule was announced on Friday, and consists of:
  • 24 May vs Argentina in Buenos Aires
  • 29 May vs Venezuela in Merida (Venezuela)
  • 4 September vs TBA in Toronto
  • 7 September vs Honduras in Montreal
  • 10 October vs Ukraine in Ukraine (host city TBA)
This is a quality set of opponents, no matter who TBA in Toronto turns out to be. It's interesting that Montreal will host Honduras in early September, just like two years ago (and we all know how that turned out). This is a decent slate of matches given that important competitions are still far on the horizon.

Ali Gerba interviewed about TFC

This is all over the Canadian soccer interwebs today, and is worth checking out. Turns out he doesn't much care for Mo or Preki. Who knew!

Canadian teams in action this weekend
  • Vancouver drew 0-0 at Miami. I tried to tune into the stream of this match, but it was brutal. The match marked Marcus Haber's return to the starting lineup. The team has a win and a draw from two matches so far.
  • Toronto won at home to Philly on Thursday and lost in Colorado on Sunday. They still have problems. You already knew that. De Ro has all 4 TFC goals this season: two on penalties that he didn't earn, and another on a brutal goalkeeping error. The fourth was from a Nick Garcia cross, a man since banished from the starting lineup in favour of Canadian and Danish league reject Adrian Cann.
  • Montreal played a Caribbean friendly against the improbably named Antigua Barracuda FC (if only because it is easy to confuse with Antigua and Barbuda, the proper nomenclature for the island nation) and won 1-0 on a goal by youngster Reda Agourram.
The Canadian content stats have been updated for all competitive matches and are linked on the sidebar.

Oh yeah:

Eight more days left to sign up for the Voyageurs Cup pool. 26 entries so far.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Contests update

While the first of the matches involving a Canadian pro side was two weekends ago, the domestic soccer season began in earnest this past weekend, with all three Canadian sides in action. Even though TFC and its fans probably wish there was another month of pre-season, soccer season is an exciting time.

Exciting, also, is the number of entries I have received for the Voyageurs Cup/Nutrilite Canadian Championship prediction league. 23 entries are in already, and over two weeks remain until the tournament kicks off at BMO Field. Now that you have an idea of what the teams' lineups will look like this year (even if a certain team keeps adding players), there's no excuse not to enter.

Some of you, especially those who emailed in your entries, may be wondering if they've been officially recorded. I have, as of Monday evening, received entries from: Duane Rollins, Lord Bob, rmac, Elvis, Jeremy, Casual Soccer Fan, Pompey Canuck, Crofty, Tuscan, M@, zooko62000, Headhunting Canuck, Sagacious Chew, Lank, bbb, Filipe, John, Adriano, Daniel, Lennie, ATN_LR and last but not least, morbital, who has Vancouver winning all four matches by a combined score of 11-0 (although given this weekend's results, can you blame him?)

See all the picks, in glorious coloured-spreadsheet detail, here.

If your name is missing, and you think you've entered, try emailing or leaving a comment again. All others see the original post to enter now.

* * * * *

The other contest that has been ongoing for some time now is the Eredivisie pool. Like the Dutch season, this contest is winding now, and the dramatic stakes are nearly the same.

In the Eredivisie, discussion among AZ fans is whether they'd prefer a win in their upcoming match against first-placed Twente, or a loss which would clinch the Eredivisie for Twente, and make sure that their rivals from the 020 (Amsterdam telephone exchange), Ajax, can finish no higher than second.

For my part, I'd prefer an AZ win, as any points dropped by the Alkmaar side will put me in a tough spot as I try to outlast Pompey Canuck. See:

AZ 55 Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ) 17
Ajax 76 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 32

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 229
Headhunting Canuck
AZ 55 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 32
PSV 73 Balazs Dzsudzsak (PSV) 12

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 216
Pompey Canuck
PSV 73 Luis Suarez (Ajax) 32
Ajax 76 Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord) 8

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 229
Lord Bob
Ajax 76 Keisuke Honda (VVV) 6
FC Utrecht 48 Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ) 17

TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2) 170

With only three matchdays left, there remains a lot to play for.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Canada's 2010 dance card filling up

There has been some murmuring ever since the Argentina friendly was rumoured, and subsequently confirmed, that Canada would be finding another date in South America around the same time. So today, when a friendly against Venezuela on the 29th of May popped up on Canada's FIFA page (this is the way friendly announcements are made in this country), it didn't come as much of a surprise.

Even more exciting is the prospect of a home friendly in May, against another South American side, Ecuador.

What is somewhat surprising is the apparent efforts by the CSA to get this team some matches, two years ahead of their next truly important competition. This isn't a case of South Africa-bound teams that are desperate for an opponent: both Ecuador and Venezuela failed to qualify for the World Cup. Instead, there seems no other reason to play these matches than to prepare Canada for the next few years.

Perish the thought.

Anyway, here's what we know about friendlies in 2010, all in a tidy and well-sourced spreadsheet.

date location opponent status
31/01/10 Kingston Jamaica completed (1-0 loss)
early May Toronto? Ecuador rumoured
24/05/10 Buenos Aires Argentina CSA confirmed
29/05/10 Venezuela Venezuela FIFA confirmed
04/09/10 Toronto TBA rumoured
07/09/10 Montreal TBA rumoured


And I'm not the only one who cares about this. some canadian guys dropped a well timed post, and others are all atwitter about it (they only make sense if you go in order).

And ....

sign up for the Nutrilite/V-Cup prediction league. Now.