Sunday, October 24, 2010

Impact are most Canadian team in '10

After conceding the crown of "most Canadian" pro team to the Vancouver Whitecaps over the last two seasons, the Montreal Impact are the most Canadian side in 2010.

The claim of most Canadian is based on the percentage of total minutes played by Canadian players. A short summary of the data reveals a close race:

TEAM CDN Total Percent
Montreal Impact 12916 36490 35.4%
Vancouver Whitecaps 12880 37846 34.0%
Toronto FC 13561 41374 32.8%
Totals 39357 115710 34.0%

It's worth pointing out that the total percentage of 34.0% of minutes played represents the lowest total in the three years I've been tracking these numbers. It also represents the closest race of the three years. Toronto had led until mid-summer, when Montreal took over the lead for good.

The team-by-team numbers tell an interesting story:


Competition CDN Total Percent
NASL Regular Season 10422 28635 36.4%
Voyageurs Cup 993 3895 25.5%
NASL Playoffs 1501 3960 37.9%
Totals 12916 36490 35.4%

Montreal began padding their Canadian minutes statistic about the same time they signed goal-machine Ali Gerba in mid-summer. With Gerba eating big time minutes at forward, in place of non-Canadians Roberto Brown and Peter Byers who had held down the spot earlier in the year, Montreal's standing in these rankings improved. Perhaps not coincidentally, their league fortunes also turned with Gerba.

The number was also helped by a significant mid-season injury to Matt Jordan, allowing Canadian keeper Srdjan Djekanovic to earn 90 minutes weekly for over a month.


Competition CDN Total Percent
NASL Regular Season 9819 29655 33.1%
Voyageurs Cup 1108 3901 28.4%
NASL Playoffs 1953 4290 45.5%
Totals 12880 37846 34.0%

Vancouver was languishing at the bottom of the table of three for much of the season. The only Canadians who were regular starters throughout the season were Luca Bellisomo and Martin Nash. The late-season acquisition of 90-minute man Terry Dunfield, and the emergence of Philippe Davies as a consistent threat down the wing allowed for a more significant Canadian presence late in the year, as evidenced by the high number for the NASL playoffs.

Still, the 34.0% rating represents a low for Vancouver, who were over 50% in 2008, and over 40% in 2009. Some of this can surely be attributed to bringing in players expected to feature in MLS next season. Like Montreal, Vancouver's teams in the Voyageurs Cup were the "least Canadian" of any competition.


Competition CDN Total Percent
MLS Regular Season 9231 29560 31.2%
Voyageurs Cup 1446 3960 36.5%
CONCACAF Champions League 2884 7854 36.7%
Totals 13561 41374 32.8%

If Toronto fans feel the need for some consolation, they can point to the fact that they had the highest total Canadian minutes, thanks to the 4 more matches played (8 matches in CONCACAF Champions League, compared to only 4 in league playoffs for Montreal and Vancouver). Like last year, it was a small core of players earning the bulk of Toronto's minutes. Adrian Cann, Dwayne De Rosario, Nana Attakora, and Julian de Guzman started most of Toronto's games this season, but few others got much of a run-out. It might not be fair to point out that Toronto's Canadian minute decline in mid-season coincided fairly neatly with their declining league placing; the commonality between the two was a long leave by Attakora.

Toronto made more liberal use (some would say too liberal) of its marginal Canadian talents during the two cup competitions. For example, Gabe Gala started each of the Voyageurs Cup matches, but couldn't buy a moment on the pitch in the regular season. The academy youngsters were given a chance in a number of the CONCACAF fixtures, but only Nicholas Lindsay was able to work a regular place in league play.

As Vancouver sets up for MLS play, and with Montreal another year closer, I would be surprised to see any rise in the numbers in 2011. The fact remains that there are not yet a lot of Canadian pros at this level, and even fewer who are willing to play for low North American salaries. As always, I'll be tracking the minutes and you can follow it here.

You can also check the game-by-game details for each of the teams.

Friday, October 22, 2010

CONCACAF Champions League: Records by country

CONCACAF Championship League play has wrapped for the year 2010. Toronto FC won't be moving on to the knockout stages. Some other teams will be. The following is my weak-ass version of the UEFA coefficient (it is a version of said coefficient because it ranks the performances of club teams in the continental competition, not because it is accurate or should be used for determining seeding or anything else important)

I keep posting it because Canadian teams (first Montreal, now Toronto), rank fairly well. Panama dropped pretty hard this year, while the teams above them, particularly Costa Rica, USA, and Honduras, took a nice bump.

The digits:

CONCACAF Champions League Record by Country
Mexico 73 22 26 268 114 241 1.99 2.21 0.94 1.27
Canada 8 7 5 23 20 31 1.55 1.15 1 0.15
Honduras 23 6 23 79 81 75 1.44 1.52 1.56 -0.04
Puerto Rico 9 9 8 35 39 36 1.38 1.35 1.5 -0.15
Costa Rica 8 6 10 33 42 30 1.25 1.38 1.75 -0.38
USA 20 16 28 89 103 76 1.19 1.39 1.61 -0.22
Guatemala 7 7 12 32 55 28 1.08 1.23 2.12 -0.88
Panama 11 6 21 46 70 39 1.03 1.21 1.84 -0.63
Trinidad 8 4 22 43 79 28 0.82 1.26 2.32 -1.06
El Salvador 4 9 13 20 51 21 0.81 0.77 1.96 -1.19

1 0 3 0 0 0 3 -3

2 0 12 0 0 0 6 -6

More (and different) numbers to come tomorrow. For those who have been following (blog sidebar content!), you'll know that Montreal are about to be crowned the "most Canadian" of the three major domesic teams. Even a 100% Canadian squad on the field in TFC's last match wouldn't be enough to change that. Expect a Saturday or Sunday post to celebrate this achievement.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

FIFA rankings: October

It seems wrong to be paying close attention to the release every month of FIFA's national team rankings. Yet I find myself in that very uncomfortable position, because it is very likely that these statistically quite imperfect ratings will bring themselves to bear on Canada's fortunes in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

In short, it is important that Canada maintains a good ranking. For that reason, this month's move from 88 to 83 overall, is a good thing not to be written off as insignificant. (If you click through on the link to the CBC story, you'll find a picture of Dwayne De Rosario, a man who hasn't contributed to a Canada win in over two years).

Of greater importance is Canada's position in CONCACAF. And there is good news on that front as well. Although we remain 7th in that table, Canada is far closer (a mere 5 points, in fact!) to leapfrogging Jamaica for 6th than dropping into 8th or worse. A quick look:

RankingZonal RankingTeamPts
Oct 10
+/- Ranking
Sep 10
+/- Pts
Sep 10
251USA USA838-7Down-61
282Mexico Mexico7860Equal-9
543Honduras Honduras540-2Down-25
594Panama Panama51511Up28
665Costa Rica Costa Rica490-13Down-71
796Jamaica Jamaica412-3Down-13
837Canada Canada4075Up47
988Guyana Guyana33022Up148
1069Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago302-9Down-25
10710Barbados Barbados28714Up107
11311Suriname Suriname26124Up128
11412El Salvador El Salvador245-4Down-8
12113Cuba Cuba218-8Down0
12214Guatemala Guatemala214-7Down0

(Yes, I left out more than half the teams in the confederation. They are not good).

So, even if I can't find the time or motivation to post about anything else in the next month, you can expect a rankings update sometime on or soon after November 17th, when the next edition comes out).

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sometimes it's ok to be wrong

Here's what I wrote last week about yesterday's friendly against Ukraine:

Let's face it. Canada will probably lose this match against Ukraine. The U (this will catch on) will be bringing their big guns as they prepare for Euro 2012
[. . .]
While I'm not hopeful of a result in this match, it sure would be nice. FIFA points and all that.

Imagine, then, my pleasant surprise at learning of yesterday's 2-2 draw in Kyiv. I didn't watch the match, naturally, but I've heard good things, especially about my new favourite player (because he is playing in a Dutch-speaking country, mostly) Atiba Hutchinson.

He scored a sweet goal, as you'll see from the match highlights, and was an all-around badass midfielder.

By the way, is this news headline about the friendly match not mildly racist? Canada: Close, but no perogy

And another day later ... FIFA gives Canada some love, calling the Ukraine result the "Surprise of the day" (that is, they too are surprised we didn't get spanked), and on a day where Luis Suarez scored 3, naming Atiba Hutchinson the player of the day.

Whither De Ro

Recent results are beginning to confirm already held suspicions of some that Canada might be better without Dwayne De Rosario in the team. It's no coincidence that a lot of this has come up after the recent controversy surrounding his classless cheque-signing gesture for TFC, and that team's lack of performance during his time there.

But why debate when you can look at the numbers. Here they are:

Date Opponent For Against Result
With De Ro
04/09/10 Peru 0 2 loss
25/05/10 Argentina 0 5 loss
10/09/08 Mexico 1 2 loss
06/09/08 Honduras 1 2 loss
20/08/08 Jamaica 1 1 draw
20/06/08 St Vincent 4 1 win
15/06/08 St Vincent 3 0 win
31/05/08 Brazil 2 3 loss
26/03/08 Estonia 0 2 loss
30/01/08 Martinique 1 0 win

Averages 1.3 1.8

Record (W-D-L) 3-1-6

Without De Ro
08/10/10 Ukraine 2 2 draw
07/09/10 Honduras 2 1 win
29/05/10 Venezuela 1 1 draw
31/01/10 Jamaica 0 1 loss
18/11/09 Poland 0 1 loss
14/11/09 Macedonia 0 3 loss
18/07/09 Honduras 0 1 loss
10/07/09 Costa Rica 2 2 draw
07/07/09 El Salvador 1 0 win
03/07/09 Jamaica 1 0 win
30/06/09 Guatemala 3 0 win
30/05/09 Cyprus 1 0 win
19/11/08 Jamaica 0 3 loss
15/10/08 Mexico 2 2 draw
11/10/08 Honduras 1 3 loss
04/06/08 Panama 2 2 draw

Averages 1.13 1.38

Record (W-D-L) 5-5-6

Some interesting things happened while I put together this list. I was initially going to count back 10 matches with and 10 matches without De Rosario, but while the "Without De Ro" list grew pretty quickly, the "With De Ro" list only had the Argentina and Peru matches for the longest time. For a guy considered by some to be a fixture of our national team program, it seems a bit odd that De Rosario has only played in 2 of our last 16 matches.

The record is clearly better without De Ro. However, it would be unfair to Dwayne if we didn't point out that two of the losses with him in the lineup were against Brazil and Argentina. On the other hand, it is only fair to point out that none of the 3 wins were against a team ranked in the top 100. Take away those results, and it doesn't look so good.

There are lots of external variables and you may wish to draw your own conclusions. And I have already.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Canada roster for Ukraine friendly

Hi kids! I'm back. Canada is playing Ukraine next Friday in Kyiv, and they've called up some players. Here they are:

Player Pos. Team League Caps Goals
Lars Hirschfeld GK Vålerenga Norway 31 0
David Monsalve GK Inter Turku Finland 1 0
David Edgar D Burnley FC England 0 0
Marcel de Jong D Augsburg FC Germany 14 1
Adam Straith D Energie Cottbus Germany 4 0
Dejan Jakovic D DC United MLS 8 0
Nik Ledgerwood M SV Wehen Wiesbaden Germany 5 0
Paul Stalteri D Borussia Moenchengladbach Germany 83 7
Pedro Pacheco M CD Santa Clara Portugal 1 0
Issey Nakajima-Farran M AC Horsens Denmark 22 1
Julian Uccello M FC Crotone Italy 0 0
Atiba Hutchinson M PSV Eindhoven Netherlands 49 2
Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault M SC Preußen Münster Germany 2 0
Josh Simpson M Manisaspor Turkey 29 1
Simeon Jackson F Norwich City England 12 1
Marcus Haber F St. Johnstone Scotland 0 0
Olivier Occean F Kickers Offenbach Germany 17 2
Patrice Bernier M FC Nordsjælland Denmark 44 2

322 17

17.89 0.94

Let's face it. Canada will probably lose this match against Ukraine. The U (this will catch on) will be bringing their big guns as they prepare for Euro 2012. Not qualifying, mind you, but the tournament itself, as they are hosts. They will not want to shit the bed.

Ukraine will not want to fill their diapers in this match.

Looking at the far right colums of this list, you'll find a few points of interest. First, there are three players in line to earn their first cap:
  • former U20 captain David Edgar, who knows a thing or two about shitting the bed as host of a tournament, who plays, or more accurately doesn't play, for Burnley of the English Championship
  • the long talked about but seldom heard from Julian Uccello, who plays, very little, for Crotone of Italy's Serie B
  • forward Marcus Haber who after a mostly scoreless early-season loan spell with Vancouver has picked up his mostly non-scoring ways with St Johnstone of Scotland, where he recently bumped the slump with a goal.
Notice a theme here? Lots of guys in this lineup aren't playing much for their clubs. There is also a dearth of international goals with only 17 total from 18 players. 7 of those are from the ageless Paul Stalteri, whose scoring days for the Nats are likely over. If you're looking at guys scoring with their clubs, Olivier Occean is lighting up the 3. Bundesliga (probably the best 3rd division in the world, but still a third division), while Josh Simpson recently scored a hat trick for Manisaspor while lined up as a striker.

I'm not sure whether or not to be surprised at the exclusion of TFC players from this lineup. They are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs so I doubt Nick Dasovic would have a strong objection to letting them go. At this point, though, I don't want De Rosario in my starting XI, and that's a long way to travel to sit on the bench. I still think there's room for the other Canadians in an 18-man lineup, especially JDG this time around, as there seems to be no natural choice for defensive midfielder. Perhaps Stephen Hart doesn't want the stink of failure to affect the other guys he's called in.

While I'm not hopeful of a result in this match, it sure would be nice. FIFA points and all that.

Speaking of earning FIFA points, Canada could do some good for their ranking if they earn a result in a just-announced February friendly against Greece. The Greeks are a decent side, but their insanely inflated ranking (13th) means any result would be a boon to Canada.