Sunday, March 12, 2017

Canada - Costa Rica in Winnipeg, June 8th

I'm not much interested in providing updates to this space recently, as the number of posts over the last few years would indicate. Readers, regular and otherwise, seem to share this disinterest.

Yet a few are being directed here recently, by the powers of Google, in search of information about Canada's women's national team playing in Winnipeg. This is what I had to say about the last time les rouges were in town, and Kadeisha Buchanan ate Abby Wambach's lunch all game, and scored to boot.

Anyway, the women are coming back:

The short version of this post is this: if you're in Winnipeg, get your tickets

The slightly longer version follows below:

The opponent
Costa Rica is no world-beater in women's football, but a step up from the non-NAFTA powers in CONCACAF. Canada qualified for the Olympics by beating Costa Rica by a relatively narrow 2-0 margin, including this Christine Sinclair strike. Canada are back-to-back Olympic bronze medalists but also a squad in transition with a bevy of teenagers beginning to take over for some of the veterans.

The stadium
If you watched the Women's World Cup in 2015, you'll know that, the turf aside, Investor's Group field looks pretty good when decked out for soccer. Visitor's from out of town may find the location not the most accessible if staying downtown or near the airport, but honestly I don't expect many of those for this match.

IG Field decked out in red

The crowd
In 2014 a crowd of over 28 000 took in the friendly with USA. There are several reasons to expect a smaller audience this time: 
  • The opponent is not the USA, a draw in any sport, but especially one in which they are defending World Cup champs
  • The WWC is in the rearview mirror, not on the horizon like in 2014
  • Again, Costa Rica
The organizers seem to have acknowledged as much, as only the lower bowl is open (so far, at least). I'd qualify any crowd larger than 10 000 as a relative success.

On the bright side
Compared to early May in 2014, a June evening should be a far more pleasant evening to watch a kick-about. And tickets, due to lower anticipated demand, are eminently affordable, ranging from $25 behind the goals to $55 to sit at midfield.

Somewhat curiously, the tickets for the Winnipeg match are priced between $5-10 cheaper than similar seats for the June 11th match-up at BMO Field in Toronto against the same opponent, despite Winnipeg being a harder sell for a number of reasons:
Although this is a rather sensible explanation:
Go to the game
For one, if  you leave in Winnipeg this may be your best last chance to see Christine Sinclair, a living legend, live and in person. And two, national teams of any kind come here so rarely (the men haven't been back since 1999) that it's worth getting out to see the action. I'll be there.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Canadian content in 2016: Final numbers

Ottawa Fury, of the likely-now-defunct NASL, had the highest proportion of their minutes played by Canadians at 34%.

While FC Edmonton saw their Canadian content drop from the previous year, all of the other teams were up in 2016. The Whitecaps reached a (laughable) MLS-era high of 15.5% in all competitions.

Here are the numbers by team:

NASL Regular Season112633159335.7%
Canadian Championship982396024.8%

The USL-bound Fury tweeted this the other day, so my numbers may be off slightly:
This was Ottawa's "most Canadian" season of their three-year existence, narrowly edging out their number from 2014. Canadian semi-regulars included Eddie Edward, Carl Haworth, Mallan Roberts, Maxim Tissot, Jamar Dixon and pre-injury Julian de Guzman.

NASL Regular Season69363158622.0%
Canadian Championship419198021.2%
NASL Postseason19099019.2%

FC Edmonton were consistent in their use of Canadian players across all competitions. As you can see from the graph above, their Canadian content rate has been on a consistent downward slide since their inception. Their signing of Canadian international Nik Ledgerwood and the mid-season acquisition of Ben Fisk were more than offset by the departures of some of their big 2015 minute-earners (Mallan Roberts and Eddie Edward to Ottawa, John Smits to the USL, Hanson Boakai to oblivion). Eighteen-year old Shamit Shome was a bright spot in '16, while Ledgerwood had the most minutes among Canadians (2455 in NASL play).

MLS Regular Season69853356320.8%
Canadian Championship1316396033.2%
MLS Playoffs750660011.4%

Toronto's Canadian content in 2016 was their highest since 2012. The biggest contributing factor was a stretch in early summer when international absences and injuries provided significant playing time for youngsters Jordan Hamilton, Jay Chapman, and Mo Babouli. With the full squad healthy, as we saw when playoffs rolled around, there was often only one Canadian in the starting lineup, either Jonathan Osorio or, less often, Will Johnson. The addition of goal-machine (and a blog favourite) Tosaint Ricketts made TFC's deep playoff run a bit more palatable for this writer.

MLS Regular Season39673338111.9%
Canadian Championship1094396027.6%
CONCACAF Champions League1325396033.5%

Can we still say #WhitecapsHateCanada? Probably. This is by far their highest Can-con number in the MLS era, which illustrates just how little Canadians have been playing for them in the past. Russell Teibert was a contributor but injuries made it a struggle for him to stay on the game day roster, let alone in the starting eleven. Fraser Aird, on loan from Rangers, played a fair bit, mostly poorly and out of position at right back. Summer transfers of Canadian internationals Marcel de Jong and David Edgar helped their numbers a fair bit. Teenager Alphonso Davies offers hope for the future (unless he plays for Liberia) while Marco Bustos, Kianz Froese and various other WFC2 starlets made small impacts over small amounts of minutes.

MLS Regular Season42003352312.5%
Canadian Championship475190524.9%
MLS Playoffs42152808.0%

Patrice Bernier. Wandrille Lefevre. Some early season work from Kyle Bekker. A few cameos from some other hyphenated Quebecois academy products. Hard to see this number going up next year with Bernier likely to be in a reduced role (if he doesn't retire) and Lefevre seemingly 4th or 5th choice at centre back.

You can view a match-by-match summary here.

For comparison's sake, here are the end-of-year reports going back to 2009.
  • 2015 (Edmonton 28.1%, Ottawa 25%, Toronto 11.9%, Vancouver 8.6%, Montreal 7.9%)
  • 2014 (Ottawa 31.8%, Edmonton 29.1%, Toronto 19%, Montreal 13.4%, Vancouver 8%)
  • 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%)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Voyageurs Cup pool final standings

Laziness and holidays (but primarily laziness) kept me from getting this done in a prompt fashion, but better later than never I guess. Toronto won the whole damn thing in dramatic fashion with Will Johnson scoring a dying-moments goal and breaking his leg in the process. Less dramatically, Tirana FC (@kzknowles) kept her lead and is this year's winner.

Lanterne rouge latetedefred (@latetedefred) 'won' the right to select which team scarf she will receive as a a prize, and he selected the Ottawa Fury. Their team scarf is out of stock, so we'll have to figure something out.

Here is how it finished.

14Tirana FC
15Duncan Fletcher, Roke
17jamonty, Casual Soccer Fan, coxon
18Duane Rollins, Phil, Goes to 11, DelChuck
20Blue and White Army, Lord Bob, Barton St, IvanG, Richard

As always, check the spreadsheet for further details. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Voyageurs Cup week 5 standings

So it's all come down to this. Everyone's done a terrible job predicting this tourney, I've thought all along that the Voyageurs Cup final was on Tuesday, Britain Brexited, I spent six and a half hours at Investor's Group Field to watch a football game (and still left early), and the last person to enter my contest is in the driver's seat to win.

Here are the standings going into Wednesday's final

14Tirana FC
15Duncan Fletcher, Roke
17jamonty, Casual Soccer Fan, coxon
18Duane Rollins, Phil, Goes to 11, DelChuck
20Blue and White Army, Lord Bob, Barton St, IvanG, Richard

As always, check the spreadsheet for further details. In this case, I actually checked it too. I'm not going to fix my date error (yes, the game will be June 29th), but I looked at the final match predictions for the first 7 placings, and unless I've been reading it wrong, Tirana FC and Duncan Fletcher are the only entries with a chance to win.

In fact, if TFC outright wins the second leg, it forces a tie, in which case I'll have to dust off my tiebreaking scenarios. Any other result and Tirana takes it since most of the others further down the list picked the same 1-1 scoreline she did.

All to play for.