Tuesday, December 30, 2014

13 Canadian soccer predictions for 2015

This space, as quiet as it is most of the year, is a soccer blog. End of year lists and underinformed prognostication are two of the calling cards of the blog genre, so without further ado, here are some predictions for the coming year in Canadian soccer that combine the personal and the banal, the likely and the long shots.

1. I will attend a 2015 WWC match

Let's begin with a near certainty. I live in one of the host cities for this summer's Women's World Cup, and while Canada won't be paying a visit, Winnipeg will be host to the so-called (inaccurately) Group of Death featuring the USA, Sweden, Australia, and Nigeria, as well as visits from Germany and Japan in the third round of group stage matches.

No, the other football

I attended the Canada-USA friendly this past May, and the quality and intensity level were high. Investors'  Group Field looks good done up for soccer. I fully expect Winnipeg to step up and pack the house for all matches, especially the USA games.

2. The Women's World Cup will be an off field success

Canada is a rich country. It is a country that knows how to put on successful international sporting events. Tickets will be sold (mostly), CBC Sports, with few other sports properties to be distracted by, will put its considerable talent and profile behind the tournament. It will be a thing.

Update: It is not CBC, but CTV/TSN, another broadcaster starved of its traditional sports properties, that will putting its considerable heft behind making this tournament a television success.

3. Canada will not win

The quarters or semis are the likeliest outcome for the team at the tournament, for reasons a more verbose blogger than me has already outlined in considerable detail. Canada's biggest struggle will be finding goals, while a youthful defensive setup should be strong enough to keep the team in matches against all but the strongest opponents.

4. The men's national team will have a strong Gold Cup

As always, in CONCACAF tournaments, much depends on the 'draw', a term that is used loosely. But with the news that a group, undoubtedly Canada's group, will be hosted at Toronto's BMO Field, there are no excuses for Floro's men not to advance from their group and set up a better than 50-50 shot of winning a quarterfinal match. The national team, despite a lackluster 0-0 draw in Panama, saw general improvement, especially in their defensive setup, in 2014, and I fully expect Floro to push the team to a slightly higher level in 2015.

5. Canada will finish the year better than 100th in the FIFA rankings

See above.

6. Dwayne De Rosario has played his last match for Canada

He old.

7. Two Canadian MLS teams will make the playoffs

Vancouver made the playoffs in 2012 and 2014, while Montreal made its lone appearance in 2013. Next year will be the first to see two Canadian teams advance. It's easy to see Toronto improving from a season in which they massively underachieved relative to the talent available, while Vancouver is a young team that should improve without any major additions. But don't count out Montreal, a team that improved in the second half of the season, and one that is starting to take on the identity of journeyman MLS manager Frank Klopas. They have the advantage of toiling in the Eastern conference which will feature two expansion teams.

8. Another young player will transfer to a Big 5 league

Yes, we're getting into wildly optimistic territory here.

Doneil Henry has joined West Ham United from Toronto FC after a curious arrangement with a Cypriot team. Another under-23 Canadian will be bought by a first division team in England, Germany, Spain, France, or Italy (but likely one of the first two), and might even play a match or two. Hanson Boakai is a possibility, but surprises are possible.

9. Canada will qualify for the men's U-20 World Cup

There is enough talent on the Canadian team to qualify out of CONCACAF for next year's tournament in New Zealand.

9b. Canada will exit at the group stage

So much depends on the draw, but I don't expect a long tournament run should they qualify.

10. TFC will not fire its manager in 2015

Possibly the biggest long shot of all.

11. Canadian content on Canada's MLS teams will continue to decline in 2015

See post.

12. There will be a new Canadian NASL team

A hopeful prediction.

13. USA will win the Women's World Cup

A team that overcame the great obstacle of kicking a ball on synthetic instead of natural fibers.

The aim was to produce 15 predictions for '15; clearly I haven't being close enough attention to Canadian soccer happenings to find 15 topics upon which to offer my predictions. In any case, should this blog still be around in 2016, I'll be sure to check in and see how I did.

Feel free to comment on my predictions or offer your own in the comments.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Canadian content in 2014: Final numbers

I accidentally deleted the content of this post while putting together the 2015 version. Here's the just-the-numbers summary:

NASL Regular Season82502665930.9%
Canadian Championship844198042.6%

MLS Regular Season72212661427.1%
Canadian Championship1676396042.3%

MLS Regular Season58763361317.5%
Canadian Championship1313429030.6%

MLS Regular Season43583351113.0%
Canadian Championship808396020.4%
CONCACAF Champions League423293514.4%

MLS Regular Season2209336266.6%
Canadian Championship731231031.6%
MLS Playoffs09900.0%

For comparison's sake, here are the end-of-year reports going back to 2009.
  • 2013 (Edmonton 37.3%, Toronto 18.4%, Montreal 10.2%, Vancouver 5.9%)
  • 2012 (Edmonton 59.8%, Toronto 25.5%, Montreal 6.5%, Vancouver 0.3%)
  • 2011 (Edmonton 77.3%, Montreal (NASL) 21.4%, Toronto 19.1%, Vancouver 5.8%)
  • 2010 (Montreal 35.4%, Vancouver (NASL) 34.0%, Toronto 32.8%)
  • 2009 (Vancouver 42.1%, Montreal 39.2%, Toronto 37.6%)
  • 2008 (Vancouver 56.4%, Montreal 44.8%, Toronto 22.1%)