Monday, January 30, 2012

CCL records by country, team

With the Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament having come and gone (congrats, ladies, on qualifying for London) the next item on the Canadian soccer agenda is a late February friendly with Armenia.

But some fans, particularly those in Toronto, will be looking past that match and forward to the CONCACAF Champions League quarter finals. I may be alone in this, but I find the modern incarnation of the tournament, since 2008, to be one of the most exciting and important developments in the region.

As a means of building up participation, I offer you the following tables, ranking the performance of countries in the tournament over the last 4 editions, as well as the top 20 teams, each measured by points earned (3 per win, 1 per draw) per game.

For once I'll provide the stats without comment:

By country

Country W D L F A +/- PPG
Mexico 82 22 23 340 149 191 2.11
Canada 13 8 7 34 29 5 1.68
Costa Rica 18 8 18 64 68 -4 1.41
Puerto Rico 10 8 9 41 44 -3 1.41
USA 35 20 39 135 142 -7 1.33
Honduras 26 8 34 98 113 -15 1.26
Guatemala 9 8 13 40 57 -17 1.17
Panama 13 8 26 54 80 -26 1.00
El Salvador 8 9 19 33 71 -38 0.92
Trinidad 6 4 22 37 77 -40 0.69
Guyana 0 1 1 2 10 -8 0.50
Nicaragua 0 1 3 2 5 -3 0.25
Haiti 0 0 2 0 7 -7 0.00
Belize 0 0 2 0 12 -12 0.00
* Country records (w-d-l) do not include matches against teams from the same country. Goals for and against do include these matches, due to a data-gathering oversight.

Top 20 teams

Monterrey Mexico 13 3 2 30 12 18 2.33
Pachuca Mexico 10 2 2 32 10 22 2.29
Morelia Mexico 6
2 18 5 13 2.25
Cruz Azul Mexico 25 6 9 89 33 56 2.03
Los Angeles Galaxy USA 5
3 11 9 2 1.88
Atlante Mexico 6 4 2 16 7 9 1.83
Santos Laguna Mexico 16 3 9 68 40 28 1.82
Universidad Nacional Mexico 13 6 6 51 25 26 1.80
Montreal Impact Canada 5 3 2 15 10 5 1.80
Real Salt Lake USA 6 3 3 26 17 9 1.75
Alajuelense Costa Rica 4 1 3 10 9 1 1.63
FC Dallas USA 4 1 3 8 11 -3 1.63
Toronto FC Canada 8 5 5 19 19 0 1.61
Marathon Honduras 13 2 11 41 44 -3 1.58
Toluca Mexico 8 4 6 36 17 19 1.56
Saprissa Costa Rica 10 4 8 29 28 1 1.55
Olimpia Honduras 8 3 7 28 22 6 1.50
Libera Mia Costa Rica 1
1 3 6 -3 1.50
Puerto Rico Islanders Puerto Rico 10 8 9 41 44 -3 1.41
W Connection Trinidad 3 2 3 14 12 2 1.38

All data can be viewed here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ticket tracking

Back in 2009, as the hype began to build in advance of the Montreal Impact's CONCACAF Champions League clash with Santos at Olympic Stadium, I became rather obsessed with tracking the ticket sales for that match.

Now that Toronto FC is selling tickets for their quarterfinal match, some interesting comparisons can be drawn.

I don't any useful conclusions can be made, since so many significant variables are in play. For example:
  • Montreal didn't have the advantage of welcoming the most famous soccer player in the world to their stadium.
  • Toronto FC has been the recipient of largely glowing press over the last 5 years, as a fan experience if not a team on the pitch.
  • Both teams have engaged in promotional pricing and some house-papering to varying degrees.
But you just want the numbers. Back in '09, Montreal reached the 35,000 tickets sold mark on February 4th, just over 3 weeks ahead of their game. Toronto reached that number yesterday, with over 6 weeks to until their knockaround with the LA Galaxy.

The lesson, then, is that there is certainly a market for big one-off matches in big indoor stadiums during the soccer-starved winter months. And that the clubs' pricing suggests that the event as marketing opportunity exceeds its value as a sheer moneymaker.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Canada to 74, Josh Simpson joins Young Boys

We're number 74!

It's the middle of the month, so cue the release of the latest FIFA rankings. The CP release follows the standard template, including the obligatory sandwich shot
Canada is tied with China in the rankings, sandwiched between Iraq and Georgia.
But if it makes you feel any better, in the latest Human Development Index rankings, Canada is 6th, sandwiched between New Zealand and Ireland. Iraq is 132nd. Georgia, interestingly, is 75th in both rankings.

The FIFA rankings won't affect Canada meaningfully for a few years now, so I have nothing further to say on the matter.

Josh Simpson to spend 3.5 years with Young Boys

The big news yesterday was that Josh Simpson had terminated his contract with Turkey's Manisaspor after claims of non-payment. That led immediately to irresponsible and premature speculation that he would sign with his hometown (well, almost) Vancouver Whitecaps, which would be a disappointing step back. This can be put to rest with confirmation by a Simpson relative on the Vs board that he has signed a 3.5 year deal with Young Boys Bern of the Swiss League.

The Swiss League is no great pool of talent (don't tell Eric Hassli) but Young Boys play in Europe nearly every year and are in a Europa League position currently.

The single day that Simpson spent unattached compares favourably to the travails of Milan Borjan, who has been unemployed for weeks, and counting, after ending his stay with Sivasspor, another Turkish club, under similar circumstances.

Speaking of unreliable speculation, a Dutch-language Turkish football website suggests that Turkey giants Galatasaray and Fenerbahce were in competition for his services. If this was true, one could argue that the Young Boys move suggests a lack of ambition. But it's likely more truthy than grounded in fact.

The linked article uses the "according to Turkish media sources" instead of the more common English catch-all "player A has been linked to ...".

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Canada to play Armenia in Cyprus


Hey there, 2012! It's me. Sorry you haven't heard from me yet.

But today there was news significant enough to warrant a post. After a much-rumoured late February friendly against Tunisia apparently fell through, the CSA announced today that the men's national team would take on Armenia in Cyprus on February 29th.

This is an important year, undoubtedly, for the Canadian national team. In a few short months (5 to be exact) the squad will be taking on Honduras, Panama and Cuba for one of two spots into the final hexagonal round of CONCACAF qualifying. 2012 is also the centennial year for the association, with a glamour friendly or two vaguely promised.

A neutral site match against Armenia is surely not a glamour friendly. The Armenians had a decent showing in Euro qualifying but ultimately fell short, finishing 3rd in their group behind Russia and Ireland. Their FIFA ranking of 46 is 26 spots better than Canada, so they should pose a good test.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Canada has never faced Armenia in international play. They have, however, played a match in Armenia. Armenia, Colombia, that is; a 3-0 loss to the Colombians on March 30th, 1988.

In a news conference, Stephen Hart suggested Atiba Hutchinson, Canada's best player by some measure, would not be fit enough to be selected. This may be a somewhat political way of saying that PSV Eindhoven might not be keen on letting him go for a meaningless match, as Hutch was injured twice on international duty in 2011. He has been taking part in the friendlies during the Eredivisie winterstop, so there is no reason to believe he wouldn't be ready by then.

Look out for appearances from some newish faces also playing in Europe. I'd expect to see at least one of Marcus Haber, Randy Edwini-Bonsu, and Milan Borjan to be called for the match.