Saturday, October 29, 2011

FC Edmonton most Canadian team in '11, Whitecaps barely register

In their inaugural competitive season, FC Edmonton have made an emphatic claim on the title of "most Canadian" pro team in Canada for the year 2011.

This title is based upon the highest percentage of minutes played by Canadian (Canada-eligible) players.

A brief summary shows that it wasn't at all a close race:

TEAM CDN Total Percent
FC Edmonton 23598 30529 77.3%
Montreal Impact 6410 30013 21.4%
Toronto FC 8698 45444 19.1%
Vancouver Whitecaps 2179 37800 5.8%
Totals 40885 143786 28.4%

It is interesting to note that the total percentage of minutes played by Canadians on all Canadian teams of 28.4% is the lowest of the last 4 years (34.0% in 2010), but the total number of minutes played by Canadians of 40885 slightly exceeded last year's total (39357) thanks to the addition of a new team.

I've already reported in detail on the Canadian content for the two NASL teams upon the conclusion of their seasons several weeks ago:
In addition, you may be interested in comparing this year's report with previous editions:

Now for a quick glance at the two MLS squads, who recently ended their seasons without gracing the MLS playoffs:


Competition CDN Total Percent
MLS Regular Season 5995 33565 17.9%
Canadian Championship 567 3960 14.3%
Champions League 2136 7919 27.0%
Totals 8698 45444 19.1%

Toronto FC put out a less Canadian squad, statistically, than in 2010. The latter benefited from featuring a regular central back line pairing of Adrian Cann and Nana Attakora, as well as a having Dwayne De Rosario as a fixture in the team. Losing those three to a combination of injury and performance/attitude related trades hurt the 2011 number, but the team should be commended for giving significant competitive minutes to youngsters Matt Stinson, Doneil Henry and especially the recently-capped Ashtone Morgan.

With the possibility of a healthy Cann and a healthier Julian de Guzman in 2012, I'd expect their number to rise.


Competition CDN Total Percent
MLS Regular Season 1557 33510 4.6%
Canadian Championship 622 4290 14.5%
Totals 2179 37800 5.8%

What more needs to said about the Whitecaps pitiful showcasing of Canadian talent in 2011? After lobbying MLS to lower it's minimum domestic requirements, the Whitecaps did the bare minimum to meet them. The only Canadians to get into a competitive match for the Whitecaps in 2011 were Kevin Harmse (remember him), the since-traded Terry Dunfield and the mostly injured Russell Teibert.

The team made my information-gathering life much easier by not fielding a single Canadian player after Dunfield's final appearance on July 6th. I'd expect the team to improve on their 5.8% showing next year, if only because they've set such an impossibly low standard, though I'd have to see some further evidence of commitment to Canadian players before I'll really start to believe it.


For the first time, I also tracked the total number of Canadian players that got into a competitive match for each time. This stat is imperfect as it doesn't count academy players, but does count players who may have made only a single 5-minute appearance over the course of the season. It is easier to track than the number of Canadians on team rosters, since those tend to be in a state of flux.

It is, however, a good way to get a rough idea of Canadians employed in pro soccer in Canada, which is kind of the point.

And in 2011, the total number of Canadians appearing for a Canadian team in a competitive match was 40. Once again, FC Edmonton did the heavy lifting:
  • Edmonton - 19: Surprenant, Oppong, Hamilton, Rago, Yamada, Kooy, Saiko, Lemire, Porter, Sidra, Duberry, Lam, Saler, Craig, Semenets, Jonke, Cox, Monsalve, LeRoy
  • Toronto FC - 11: Cordon, Cann, de Guzman, Henry, Morgan, Stinson, Zavarise, Dunfield, Attakora, De Rosario, Makubuya
  • Montreal - 8: Pizzolitto, Mayard, Ribeiro, Gerba, Gatti, Ilcu, Agourram, Terminesi
  • Vancouver - 3: Teibert, Dunfield, Harmse
You'll note that the club totals add up to 41, but the total is 40 because Terry Dunfield played for both Toronto and Vancouver in 2011.

This total of 40 is not far off from 2010's number of 37 (Vancouver and Montreal - 13 Canadian players, Toronto - 11).

With Montreal making an MLS move in 2012, it will be interesting to see if more Canadians are playing more minutes in Canada next season.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Canada-Puerto Rico, in brief

Is this a sentiment all Canadian fans can agree upon?

Once I've seen the match, I'll offer my thoughts in greater detail. You can hardly wait, I'm sure.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

St Lucia-Canada take two: The floodgates opened

I didn't get to see yesterday's game, Canada's third of the preliminary group stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualiying. Neither did you. Played on a cricket pitch on an island of 170,000 people, there was no video broadcast of the game. Canadian fans were thankful, instead, for a jerry-rigged online radio broadcast by the CSA's Max Bell and Red Nation's Gavin Day.

I was only able to catch 15 minutes of the broadcast, but the announcers seemed to do a good job. And the team seemed to do an even better job, ending the night with a historic 7-0 win. Both the goal total and margin of victory were records for a qualifying match.

Unlike the first two matches, during which Canada's 7 combined goals were spread among 6 players, Canada's strikeforce yesterday was bit greedier. The spoils were divvied up among only 3 players: Simeon Jackson (3 goals), Olivier Occean (2), and Iain Hume (2).

Somewhat unusually, for Canada, all of the goals were scored by players one might reasonably classify as strikers.

Since I can't very well comment on a match I haven't seen, I'll instead celebrate this goal festival by sharing the strike rate stats among Canada's active attacking players.

player goals caps mins gpg mpg
Ali Gerba 15 31 1828 0.48 122
Tosaint Ricketts 2 6 85 0.33 43
Dwayne De Rosario 18 63 4703 0.29 261
Simeon Jackson 6 22 1344 0.27 224
Olivier Occean 4 20 997 0.20 249
Iain Hume 5 31 1655 0.16 331
Josh Simpson 3 39 2442 0.08 814
Rob Friend 2 33 1640 0.06 820

Despite the outbursts from Occean, Hume, and Jackson, noted ornithologist Ali Gerba is still the runaway leader when we sort on the goals-per-game (gpg) statistic.

We're all tired of debating whether Rob Friend is a useful player for Canada. I think he is, though this table suggests otherwise. Josh Simpson hasn't always been used in the attacking role where he now features for Canada. One hopes each player will have the chance to pad their goal scoring records.

One of the common explanations for the rotund and enigmatic Gerba's incredible strike rate for Canada is that he only scores against weak opponents. This is easily debunked. The same could somewhat more justifiably be said about goals leader Dwayne De Rosario. However, if we were to apply the same criteria to the rest of the strikers, the entire table would be brought into disrepute. Last night's game was responsible for 50% of Jackson's Canada goals, 50% of Occean's, and 40% of Hume's. Jackson and Hume both also scored against Puerto Rico, certainly a stronger foe than the St Lucians, but also a minnow by any standard.

As a Canada fan, I choose not to turn up my nose at goals scored against a garbage team. Big European teams run up against relative minnows just as often, but nobody would seek to explain away, say, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's 29 goals for Holland (#2 in the world, and finalists in South Africa, in case you had forgotten) by noting that 7 of them have come against San Marino and Moldova. And even big countries sometimes fail to run up the score against weak teams, as was in evidence in the paltry 1-0 win by the Netherlands over Moldova yesterday.

If we sort the chart by minutes per goal, we have incontrovertible evidence that none of Gerba, De Ro, Jackson, Hume or Occean are the best Canadian striker.

player goals caps mins gpg mpg
Tosaint Ricketts 2 6 85 0.33 43
Ali Gerba 15 31 1828 0.48 122
Simeon Jackson 6 22 1344 0.27 224
Olivier Occean 4 20 997 0.20 249
Dwayne De Rosario 18 63 4703 0.29 261
Iain Hume 5 31 1655 0.16 331
Josh Simpson 3 39 2442 0.08 814
Rob Friend 2 33 1640 0.06 820

Nope. It's Tosaint Ricketts!

Here's to seeing the goals come in bunches again, against Puerto Rico at BMO Field on Tuesday. Don't forget to the taste the soup!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

2011 Canadian content: FC Edmonton

A week after the Montreal Impact's NASL existence came to an end, FC Edmonton have closed out their inaugural NASL campaign with an embarrassing 5-0 playoff loss in Fort Lauderdale.

In a purely 'scoreboard' sense, then, Edmonton's season was only marginally more successful than their eastern league-mates. After a fast start, the Eddies tailed off and were forced to go on the road for their lone playoff match, in which they were far too easily dispatched.

This blog, however, tends to view the performances of the Canadian professional teams with an eye to the Canadian players who can potential participate in our national teams.

And in that department, FC Edmonton was a runaway success. The Canadians on the team were a mix of Alberta boys and veteran domestic players from across the country. They gave a shot to guys like Shaun Saiko, Eddy Sidra, Kyle Porter and others who had failed to stick with European or MLS sides.

The team's Canadian content number for 2011 is 77.3%, which is miles ahead of the other 3 Canadian professional teams.

Competition CDN Total Percent
NASL Regular Season 21321 27633 77.2%
Canadian Championship 1474 1913 77.1%
NASL Playoffs 803 983 81.7%
Totals 23598 30529 77.3%

All the details can be viewed in full here.

It is difficult to judge what impact these players will have on the Canadian national teams in the near future. The quality of competition in NASL is uneven. The team was most successful in the early going, which points largely to excellent preparation (the Eddies should be commended for their choice of Dutch coach Harry Sinkgraven after their original coaching staff up and left for Japan).

The youth on the team is encouraging, and a core of FC Edmonton players may well feature in this winter's U23 team that will attempt to qualify for the London Olympics. It is unlikely, barring significant transfer moves, that any of the players on Edmonton's 2011 roster will play a significant role in qualifying for Brazil 2014, but there may be a greater impact down the line.

It certainly can't hurt to have a professional club environment that has starting jobs for 8 or 9 Canadians every week, and Edmonton's management should be commended for their approach in 2011.

Hutchinson out for remainder of 2011?

From the Netherlands, the latest Atiba injury news (not so recent, in fact, but I had missed it until now).

Published on September 23rd
'Kleine hoop dat Hutchinson dit jaar kan nog spelen'

PSV'er Atiba Hutchinson werd afgelopen week opnieuw geopereerd aan zijn knie. De middenvelder uit Canada komt hoogstwaarschijnlijk dit kalenderjaar niet meer in actie voor de Eindhovenaren.

"Ik hoop dat hij voor de winterstop weer wedstrijden kan spelen, maar in alle realiteit is het kleine hoop. Niemand treft blaam in deze, de dokter heeft gezegd dat het kan gebeuren", aldus trainer Fred Rutten op de clubsite.
In het Engels
PSV's Atiba Hutchinson again had his knee operated on last week. The Canadian midfielder is most likely out of action for the rest of the calendar year for the Eindhoven side.

"I hope that he will be able to play matches before the winter break, but in reality this is a slim hope. There is nobody to blame for this, the doctor said this sort of thing can happen", says manager Fred Rutten on the club website.
What this means for Canada, of course, is that Atiba will miss the entirety of the current round of World Cup qualifiers. But I don't think anybody will be surprised by this. Canada should be able to overcome his injury against the less than excellent opponents in the group.

If all goes well Hutchinson will be fully recovered, with a half season under his belt, when Canada's next important matches are being played.

* * * * *

Of more immediate concern for Canada is the withdrawal of Kevin McKenna from the Canada squad due to injury. The foot injury is minor, but with his FC Koln's current injury crisis at centre back he was to valuable to risk on international duty. The depth problem shifts to the Canada squad, where youngsters David Edgar and Adam Straith are now the only central defense options.

Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault was called into the squad as a replacement. He doesn't help the centre back situation any, but can provide cover at right back, a big help since neither David Edgar nor Adam Straith will be available for that position now.

* * * * *

If you're been paying attention, you've already heard about #tastethesoup. Now, whether you'll be at BMO Field for the Puerto Rico match, or you'll be watching at home like me, it's time to #sharethesoup. Check the link for details.