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CANADA Soccer  By Aldwyn McGill

 

Canada Launch "True Patriot Love" campaign

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) launched its “True Patriot Love” promotional campaign to gain the much needed 12th man advantage for its 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifiers home matches.

 

Canada will play three matches as part of the second round of the CONCACAF group qualifications. All three matches will be played at BMO Field in Toronto and public ticket sales features new fan friendly packages.

 

Canada first game will be on Friday September 2, against St. Lucia. Its second home match is scheduled for Tuesday October 11, against Puerto Rico and the all important third match is against St. Kitts and Nevis on Tuesday November 15.

 

“We are pleased to provide fans with an accessible ticket price range for these international matches,” stated Peter Montopoli, General Secretary, Canadian Soccer Association. “With all home matches being held in Toronto, we can, for the first time, offer a series package that not only regroups the three matches for a discounted rate, but also includes a perk that our fans will truly enjoy.”

 

Series tickets includes a three-match package and an offer a discount of 15% off individual ticket prices, in addition to a 30% rebate voucher applicable for select Canada Soccer Umbro merchandise on match day at the stadium.

 

Individual tickets range from $20 to $75. and both Series tickets and Individual tickets will be available via Ticketmaster at 855-985-5000 or ticketmaster.ca.

Prices and Sections
$75: 123
$50: 122, 124
$30: 120, 121, 125, 126, 107, 108
$25: 119, 127, 104, 105, 106, 109, 110, 111
$20: 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118

In addition, the Canadian Soccer Association, in partnership with the Ontario Soccer Association, is pleased to announce it is implementing a new local club group sales initiative in promotion of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Qualifiers. Local community soccer clubs will be offered the opportunity to support Canada and help “Paint the Stadium Red” through access to designated tickets at a 20% discount and several exciting sales incentives included. For more information on this initiative please contact marketing@soccercan.ca or call 613.237.7678.

As per previous matches, fans wanting to be in the Canadian supporters section should contact voyageurstickets@gmail.com.

Throughout the fall, the Canadian Soccer Association will be promoting the Men’s National Team run in the CONCACAF Round 2 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Qualifiers with a campaign themed “True Patriot Love”. The objective is to create a stronger emotional connection between the Association, the Men’s National Team and its fans across the country. The creative features the ever important 12th man and aims at encouraging supporters to show their colours and join the action at BMO Field.

 

Carolina Morace resign as Canada's Coach

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced that Carolina Morace has tendered her resignation as coach of Canada Women's team. The CSA also accepted the resignations of her staff.

 Morace was hired in February 2009 to coach the U-20 and Women's team. In that time she improved the team and Canada Women's ranking from 13th to sixth in the World Cup. Canada women had won three of four tournaments and was coming together as a unit.

However, Canada was favored to advance beyond the Group stage of the FIFA Women's World Cup but the wheels fell off in Germany at somepoint during the group stage.

There is no reason to doubt that the wreck occurred at Bochum stadium where Canada suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to a spirited France team in its second match. 

This was after coming off a 2-1 opening day loss to host Germany in which Canada's captain and team leader Christine Sinclair suffered a broken nose and had to leave the match momentarily.

The agony continued for Canucks fans when the team loss 1-0 in its third and final match to Nigeria with last place in the group at stake and a chance to salvage some pride.  To be continued .......Stay Tuned!   

Canada hit rock bottom after Nigeria loss

 Canada sank to the bottom of Group A standings after its 1-0 loss to Nigeria at Dresden stadium. Led by captain Christine Sinclair wearing a fitted face mask Canada was dealt a deadly blow at the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany.

The blow came in the 73rd minute in the form of a late winner by Nigeria's Perpetua Nkwocha. Unfortunately it was back to heartbreaker hotel for Canada women who fought desperately to make up for what turned out to be a disappointing experience.

It included a 1o minute power black out which in hindsight seemed to have favored Nigeria since they managed to score the winning goal shortly after the stoppage and Nigeria went on to win its first match since 1999.

However, I am convinced that coach Morace mistake at the WWC in Germany was in her choice of her starting goalkeepers and/or her reluctance to rotate them. I am aware that Morace have had some success with Erin McLeod as her starter but the more experienced Karina LeBlanc should have played in at least one of the two opening matches.

No one is saying that the results of the games would have been any different but a coach is supposed to give his or her team the best chance of winning via starting line-ups and substitutions. Starting LeBlanc in the last game after Canada was eliminated is of little consolation.

Maybe coach Morace felt that things could not have gotten any worst. There were telling signs in the goalkeeper warm-ups (especially) before the France game, but it is too late to change the line-up at that time barring a player injury.

Don't get me wrong I think McLeod can be the goalkeeper of the future and Morace has worked wonders in turning around a respectable but stagnated Canada Women's soccer program but I call it the way I see it.

Canada defeat Netherlands to win back to back Cyprus Cup               Canada Women is on track to make some noise at the upcoming World Cup in Germany after defeating Netherlands 2-1 to win back to back Cyprus Women's Cup Championships and its third Cyprus Women's Cup title in four years. Emily Zurrer scored the winner in the first period of extra time to allow Canada to lift the trophy and Netherlands the tournament runner-up.

Canada good run of form in preparation for the FIFA Women's World Cup has been nothing less than impressive and one can only hope that Coach Carolina Morace is holding back some of her major moves for the big clash against host Germany in the W-C opener.

Canada wins 2011 Cyprus Women's Cup

By Canadasoccer.com  
Canada won 2:1 after extra time to clinch its third Cyprus Women's Cup title in four years. Emily Zurrer scored in the first period of extra time to give Canada a lead that it would not concede against tournament runner-up Netherlands. The Wednesday 9 March victory was played at Tassos Marcou Stadium in Paralimni, Cyprus in front of the players and staff from the 10 other teams in the competition.

Canada previously won the title in 2008 and 2010, with a runner-up finish in 2009. Netherlands had previously finished as high as third place, but was taking part in its first women's final. The victory was Canada's fifth consecutive win in 2011 and improved the team's season record to six wins and one loss.

Forward Jonelle Filigno scored the opening goal in the 20th minute on a Dutch defensive miscue which, in fairness, was only a misplay because of the tough windy conditions. The Dutch were holding possession in the back end when a pass overshot its target and Filigno swooped in to intercept the ball. Filigno easily beat the goalkeeper Loes Geurts who had no chance on the play.

Netherlands leveled the score in the 40th minute on a run up by left back Claudia van den Heiligenberg, who was starting her second-straight match after replacing injured Petra Hogewoning in the starting XI. Van den Heiligenberg ran the ball up the left side before passing it back to Kirsten van de Ven above the box. Van den Heiligenberg then quickly repositioned herself at the top of the box adjacent to the defensive line, waiting to explode past the defence after van de Ven's pass was made. In the box and alone, van den Heiligenberg beat McLeod to even the score 1-1.

In the second half, Canada played better, but no longer had the wind to its advantage. Netherlands also remained hungry with an eye on a first-ever Cyprus Cup trophy.

"We played better, but the wind was against us, so it was difficult to be precise with our passing," said Canadian national head coach Carolina Morace.

In the first half, Canada won three corner kicks while Netherlands won two. In between the goals, Canada had chances with a dangerous free kick by Christine Sinclair (too much wind sailed the shot high) and a hard shot by Melissa Tancredi (with a good save by Geurts). In the second half, there were far fewer chances and both defences remained resolute.

The best chance came in the 89th minute for Netherlands. Breaking the defensive line and penetrating the box, the Dutch made a quick pass into the middle, but then fired a glorious chance wide of the net. Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was hurt on the play and thus was replaced by Stephanie Labbé. Coach Morace had nothing to lose in taking precaution because she knew she had two excellent goalkeepers on the bench.

"It was nothing serious, but we have three very good goalkeepers," said Morace. "Labbé went in and she did very well."

Labbé was indeed terrific in relief in extra time, especially on one hard shot by striker Manon Melis after the Dutch were down 0-1. Her counterpart Geurts was also sharp at the other end with a big save off Sophie Schmidt in the 99th minute.

It was that save off Schmidt, however, that led to the Canadian corner kick that resulted in the Zurrer goal. Diana Matheson fired the kick into the box and Zurrer first headed, then kicked the ball into the net. Zurrer's teammates were all by her side to congratulate her on her second goal of the competition.

For the championship final, Canada's starting XI featured Erin McLeod in goal, Marie-Eve Nault, Rhian Wilkinson, Emily Zurrer and Candace Chapman at defence, and Melissa Tancredi, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Jonelle Filigno, Kaylyn Kyle and Christine Sinclair from the midfield up through to the attack.

Coach Morace made two substitutions in the second half and four more after the Zurrer goal. Kyle, McLeod, Tancredi, Filigno, Schmidt and Sinclair were replaced by Desiree Scott (82nd minute), Stephanie Labbé (89'), Carmelina Moscato (103'), Christina Julien (107'), Robyn Gayle (111'), and Chelsea Stewart (119').

Netherlands' starting Xi featured Loes Geurts in goal, Claudia van den Heiligenberg at left back, Daphne Koster and Mandy Van den Berg at centre back, Dyanne Bito at right back, and Anouk Hoogendijk, Sylvia Smit, Sherida Spitse, Manon Melis and Kirsten van de Ven from the midfield up through to the attack.

Coach Roger Reijners made four substitutions, one in the second half and three in extra time. He replaced Hoogendijk, Slegers, van den Berg and van de Ven with Marije Brummel (82'), Chantal de Ridder (91'), Marlous Pieëte (111') and Leonne Stentler (111').

Canada, whose title sponsor is Winners and presenting sponsor is Teck, has won all eight matches in the last two editions of the Cyprus Women's Cup. In four matches this year, Canada scored six goals and conceded just one. Today's victory was also Canada's second 2:1 victory over Netherlands in Cyprus Women's Cup competition, having previously beat the Dutch side in group play of the 2009 competition.

Canada Women's Soccer on show

Women soccer is taking Canada into waters that have only been reserved for the strong at heart. With the focus on this summer's FIFA women's World Cup in Germany, Canada women's has made some waves in their preparation for the event.

While the team is having success on the field there seems to be challenges off the field which could change things in a hurry if the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) is not careful. The CSA should try and keep the upward trend of the Canadian women before the team hit a snag.

 

Canada’s Women team is currently playing in the Cyprus Cup tournament and has reached the final after putting together a three game winning streak. But just days before the tournament the team was planning a boycott based on a conflict with the CSA which also included their coach.

 

The conflict was said to be surrounding the future of head coach Carolina Morace as well as the levels of their compensation packages compared to the male counterparts. Coach Morace had improved the team showing and her intention to quit was not well received by her players.

 

Her tentative resignation is for after the Women’s World Cup in Germany and it was said to be based on differences of opinion with CSA leadership. However, Canada women’s team is in the final against Netherlands and everyone expects the team to continue its serious preparation.

 

Wednesday Cyprus Cup final will be played at Tassos Marcou Stadium in Paralimni, Cyprus, and if the players perform to their level of expectation Canada should have a successful defense of its title.

There are reports that the Canada players have continued with their legal proceedings for remuneration comparable to its men's team which will mean that winning three of its last four tournaments and the Cyprus Cup against Netherlands may not be their ultimate focus.

 

However, a loss against Netherlands could bring into play a lot of excuses and which is not a good scenario for any team heading to open a World Cup against Germany, the defending champions as the host.

Canada's 2-0 win over England was its third straight win at the Cyprus Cup tournament, which gives the Canuck women a 5-1 (win-loss) record in its past six games with their only loss coming at the hands of USA in the semi final of the 2011 Yongchuan Cup Four-Nation Women's Tournament in China

 

The Canada-Netherlands final, will be the second meeting between Canada and Netherlands in a Cyprus Women’s Cup competitive match. Canada won the first meeting 2:1 two years ago with captain Christine Sinclair providing the scoring.

 

But Netherlands was missing their top scorer back then and she will be in the line up this time. Both teams will be at full strength for the championship final which is expected to be a classic. Netherlands has outscored its opponents 12 to two, while Canada has not conceded a goal.

 

Heading into Wednesday’s final, Canada has won all matches (seven) in the last two competitions. Netherlands, meanwhile, has an all-time Cyprus Women’s Cup record of eight wins, two draws and four losses. Its best finish was third place in 2010.

 

Canada’s all-time record at the Cyprus Cup is 12 wins, one draw and one loss. Canada has reached the final every year, winning the tournament twice (2008, 2010) and finishing runner up once (2009).

Behind every cloud there is a silver lining as Canada won its bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 this week after clinching its second CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier in November, to take the country to its fifth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.

 

Canadian soccer fans can now look forward to welcoming the world to watch the premier women’s sporting event right here in Canada. The announcement was made by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, following a FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland.  

 

The host nation of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, also host the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in the preceding year, which means that both the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 will be played in Canada

 

Canada has hosted FIFA tournaments dating back to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Canada 1987, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002 (inaugural event) and the record-setting 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

In Canada, roughly 43% of all registered players are women, twice as much as it was eight years ago when Canada hosted the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002. For more soccer update stay tune right here at caribbeanstars.com

 

Christine Sinclair opens year winning MVP in China

USA won the 2011 Yongchuan Cup Four-Nation Women's Tournament after beating host China 2-0 in its last match, but Canada’s Christine Sinclair turned out to be the boss after being named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.  

The four-team tournament was played from January 21-25, and comprised of the United States, Sweden, Canada and host China. The games were played in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China and Canada only lost was a 2-1 head-to-head battle with USA.

The win was USA’s seventh straight over Canada, as the Americans extended its unbeaten streak to 22 over its northern rivals on Sunday. Both Canada and USA finished tied with six points (two wins and one loss), but USA won by virtue of the head to head win

 

Canada opened the tournament with a 3-2 come from behind victory over host China after trailing 2-0 at the half. Sinclair scored the equalizer and the winner in extra time and was again the difference, in Canada’s 1-0 victory over Sweden in its last match.

In spite of the USA defeat Coach Carolina Morace and her team, Canada women are making positive strides. The Canucks win against Sweden marks the first time since November 2006 that Canada defeated a team that was ranked in top-four in the world.

 

Canada's record stands at two wins, three draws and two losses against top-10 nations over the last year, and the only defeats were against the number one and two-ranked USA and Germany.
However, Canada is marking its mark.

 

The win over Sweden, marks only the second time that Canada has beaten Sweden in 13 matches between the two dating back to 1987 (2-1-10). With all the teams tied on points with 3 apiece Canada was playing Sweden in the first match of the double header

 

"We played well in this game," said coach Carolina Morace. "In the second half, we continued to attack. We were not scared to attack the goal." Most coaches like to have a go-to player and Christine Sinclair coach Morace Inbox.

 

Both Sinclair and coach Morace stocks are up not only on local stock exchange, but on the world soccer market. Sinclair’s goal against Sweden was the 115th of her international career, and her 12th scored in the last 15 matches.

 

She scored 3 goals in the 3 matches at the Yongchuan Cup Four-Nations tournament, with her last against Sweden, a beauty. On a defensive headed clearance on Canada’s end to Sinclair splitting three Sweden defenders on the other end for the winner.

"She was amazing," says Canada coach Morace. "She has turbo jets and she is not even in her best condition." I hope coach Morace is not like those commentators who put goat mouth on players to make their fortunes change.

There is no doubt that Christine Sinclair has to stay healthy for Canada to stand any chance of going deep into the FIFA’s Women’s World Cup in Germany. Canada next tournament is at the Cyprus Cup in early March.

 USA will also have the Algarve Cup to play in Portugal in March, and with an improve Mexico, the WWC in Germany may be the best showing yet by CONCACAF teams at any World Cup tournament. The FIFA Women's World Cup starts on June 26 and ends on July 17, 2011. 

 

Canada women hold of host Brazil to win

4-nation tournament  

After a scoreless tie in their first meeting, Canada women won the São Paulo International Soccer championship on goal difference after holding host Brazil to a 2-2 draw in the rematch last Sunday in São Paulo.

 

Marta (the world # 1 female player) scored her second of the game on a penalty kick to put Brazil ahead 2-1. But Captain Christine Sinclair equalized in the last ten minutes of play to salvage the tie for Canada with her team down to ten players. The combatants finished the tournament with identical records of 2 wins and two draws, but Canada lifted the trophy by virtue of its superior (+6) goal differential to Brazil's +4 from the four matches.

The 2-2 draw in the final extended Canada's unbeaten streak to 10 matches from 8 wins and 2 draws since the 3:1 victory over China PR at BMO Field on 30 September. The team finished the 2010 season with its best statistical season ever: 13 wins, three draws and just two losses.

 

The 4-nation championship in Brazil was Canada’s third-straight championship of 2011 and it also marks the third time Sinclair has scored the decisive goal for either club or country this season.

 

She scored the winner in the WPS championship final in September (FC Gold Pride), the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier championship final in November (where Canada qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup), and now in the 4-nation tournament in Brazil.

 

Sinclair was also part of Canada’s championship team which won the Cyprus Cup in March. In the match for third last Sunday, Netherlands defeated Mexico for the second-straight match, this time a 2:1 victory.

 

Marta was the most goal scorer of the tournament with six goals (two in the final) while Sinclair was second with four goals. This was the same position they ran when they play together for FC Gold Pride which folded after winning the WPS Championship.

 
Voting for the Canadian Player of the Year in the senior and junior coed categories was decided this week. Atiba Hutchinson of Brampton Ontario won the Canada male Player of the Year award while Christine Sinclair has been voted Female Player of the Year.

 

It was Hutchinson first time at winning the prestigious award while Sinclair of Burnaby, BC took her tally of female Player of the year awards to an unprecedented 6 consecutive (2005-10) with her latest accomplishment.

 

Hutchinson had huge year at the club level in Europe. He split the season between F.C. København in Denmark and PSV Eindhoven in Netherland and Hutchinson was named the top player in the Danish Super league to close of a stellar career in Denmark.

 

 He did not skip a beat after joining PSV Eindhoven and helped his club maintain its lead as the front runner in the Eredivise standings through mid December. In UEFA Europa League PSV Eindhoven finish first in Group I and advanced to the next round, thanks in part to Mr. Atiba.

 

Hutchinson played all 3 matches for Canada in his eighth season and celebrated his 50th national team appearance by scoring in Canada’s 2-2 draw against Ukraine in Kyiv on 8 October. He was part of the team when Canada’s defeated Honduras 2:1 at Stade Saputo in Montréal, on September 7th.

Atiba Hutchinson is highly regarded by Canada coach Stephen Hart who had nothing but praise his midfielder when the announcement of the voting results were made.  “This is a fantastic achievement for Atiba and well deserved," said Hart.

 

"He has worked hard for what he has achieved. He always answers the call to represent his country and he is a terrific ambassador. I wish him well and urge him to continue enjoying his soccer."

 

Christine Sinclair in women soccer in Canada is becoming what Wayne Gretsky was to Hockey. She won four gold medals in 2010 which is her best season to date and she is scoring big goals in championships matches.  

 

The honourees in the youth divisions as awarded by the coaches Ethan Gage (Cochrane, AB) and Jonelle Filigno (Mississauga, ON) as the co-winners of the Canada U-20 Players of the Year award while Bryce Alderson (Kitchener, ON) and Diamond Simpson (Mississauga, ON) were named co-winners of the Canadian U-17 Players of the Year award.

 

Canada vs Brazil in 4-nations final

Canada continues its preparation for the 2011 Women’s World Cup by winning its first two matches at the four nation tournament in Brazil. The tournament comprises of Mexico, Netherlands, Canada, and host Brazil.

As the CONCACAF Women’s champions, Canada women opened the floodgates en route to a 5-0 trouncing of the Dutch in its first match. Captain Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson each accounted for braces while Josee Belanger added her item.

 

With Mexico waiting in the wings for a third shot at the Canucks in 6 weeks, it was the best of starts for Canada. Mexico lost 3-0 at home to Canada in the group stage of the CONCACAF World Cup Championship and lost 1-0 on a penalty by Sinclair in the final.

 

In the third clash at the 4-nation tournament and before a crowd of 7,681 at the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, Brazil, captain (marvel) Sinclair scored to register her 111th goal of her international career in the 22nd minute,  to give Canada a 1-0 win. 

 

It was another courageous battle by Mexico but Canada women are proving to be the better of the two. Coach Carolina Morace has the team believing in her coaching methods, which makes Canada a dangerous preposition for opponents.

 

Canada still has host Brazil to play  on Wednesday (at press time), to round off the group matches, but it is a match which coach Morace will have to put her tactical skill on the line, since Canada has a rematch with the Brazilians in the 4-nations final days later.

 

Heading into its last group match, Canada leads Brazil with a +6 goal difference to Brazil’s +4. But, Brazil has Marta; the best female player in the world who is surrounded with talented players that can score in bunches.

 

Canada on the other hand has Christine Sinclair who is not a bad trade off for Marta, considering her teammates are motivated to be the best team in the world and led by coach Morace who many feel may be the best coach in women soccer at present.

 

Sinclair and the Brazilian superstar Marta were teammates for FC Gold Pride of the Women Soccer League, which unfortunately has folded after winning the WPS 2010 championship. As such, two of the best players in women soccer is now free agents and available.

 

However, Marta and Sinclair will have to maintain their competitive edge and stay healthy, since in sports you are only as good as your last match. Looking at the World Cup schedule, there is a good chance that Brazil and Canada could meet in the semi finals in Germany.

 

But for now Coach Morace and her team have the unenviable task of containing the number 3 ranked team in the world from their number ninth ranked spot. Regardless of the outcome, Canada women’s team is heading to its 5th consecutive World Cup alive and kicking.

 

Hopefully this turn of events will change the perception that Mexico, Costa Rica, USA and Honduras are the best in the region and are automatic choices to represent CONCACAF at world tournaments.

 

Canada is also showing its worth against world class competitors. Netherlands is ranked 15th in the world and received five unanswered goals from Canada. Technically sound Mexico which is ranked 22nd has lost

three straight games (2 at home) to Canada.

 

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) deserves a lot of credit for giving the women the exposure needed from these training exercises and against quality opposition.  It gives the player and its supporters the confidence that the team is capable of competing at the highest level of competition.

 

This method of operation should be duplicated with its men’s program for 2011. It will bring the already improving men’s team up to speed so it can also be a shoe-in to qualify out of CONCACAF, like the Canada women teams.

 

Canada is in Group A at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and will be opening the tournament against host Germany, with African powerhouse Nigeria and France waiting in the wings to exhale. Germany is the defending champion, while France is ranked #8 and Nigeria ranked 22nd. A tough group, but based on its present form, Canada is showing that it should be able to advance out of the group.

 

USA, the worlds #1 ranked team is in the Group C (Group of Death) with the number 6th RANKED Korea DPR, #4 ranked Sweden, and the Colombia which is ranked 22nd in the world.

 

Playing as CONCACAF third representative at the W-W-C in Germany, Mexico, (ranked 22nd) is in Group B with Japan (5th), New Zealand (23rd) and England (10th). However, with Germany favoured to defend its title, USA proved once again that they are still the number one women’s team in the world by beating Italy 2-0 on aggregate in their playoff series to challenge Germany.  

 

Canada wins silver at 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship 

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica –  Behind the support of the Jamaican home crowd, Canada held USA scoreless for the full 90 minutes in a fast pace match which went back and forth. The game was scoreless after regulation, until the United States pulled away on a spectacular goal at the start of the overtime period for a 3-0 victory.

 

It was a gallant effort by the Canadian youngsters who earned the respect and support of the Jamaican locals by their performance at the tournament. As a result Canada left "Mobay" with silverware and its highest finish at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship after finishing third on three occasions. 

 

The Championship final was played last Sunday at St Catherine Park in Montego, Jamaica, where Canada came agonizingly close to bringing home the bacon. The game started at a torrid pace with the partisan Jamaican crowd who stayed for the final to cheer on Canada after watching the young Reggae Boyz lost their third place match 1-0 against Panama earlier in the evening.

 

The Canucks had put on an impressive run at the tournament and reached the final after beating Panama 1-0 in the first match of the semi final two days earlier, while USA had reached the final by beating host Jamaica 2-0 in the second semi final match of that double header.

 

The final had all the ingredients of a well played match with quick ball movement and detailed defending after loss of possession. In spite of the defensive chess match, both Canada and USA played well enough offensively to create scoring chances.

 

Canada had the better of the chances in the first half with Canada’s ace striker Aleman exciting the crowd with some dazzling footwork and ball skills while Canada lived up to its billing as a legitimate contender for the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 title.

 

The Maple Leafs had USA back on their heels several times in the first half where USA goalkeeper had to be quick off his line. Canada showed that it meant business from the get go and was looking for the early score to rely on its perfect defensive record.

 

The game was scoreless at the half and half time intermission proved only to be a stoppage for the fans to catch a breather as the game resumed with the same intensity and pace as the first half.

By then, Canada was now battle tested while USA was showing signs of improvement. Midway through the second half it was evident that USA began to take control of the match.

 

Canada offensive players Nanco and Aleman were leaving their positions up front to track down USA players deep into their defense end. This exercise left Canada with a shortage of manpower up front.

From my vantage point the strikers defensive help was the telling sign that penalty kicks was Canada’s only hope of winning the match and the title, although Canada was still getting decent scoring chances at the USA goal but those were few and far in between.

 

The big mystery was how was USA going to score?  Canada defense had not given up a goal in the tournament and had stopped almost every ball towards goal while keeper Maxime Crepeau proved he was up to the task.

 

But captain Bryce Alderson was hobbling and he was Canada’s stabilizing influence in the mid field through out the tournament. USA finally found a way to score on the only team which had not allowed a goal.

It was on a spectacular 35-meter strike by Nathan Smith with just over a minute gone in the start of the first over time period. It was the best goal of the tournament from what seemed like a harmless play.

 

 With everyone waiting for the play to develop, Smith unleashed a thunderous right-footer giving keeper Maxime Crepeau absolutely no chance as the ball banged off the upper inside of the right upright post and settled in the opposite side netting of the goal.

 

It was the goal which broke Canada’s U-17s back and opened the floodgates for a USA onslaught in the following plays. There was nothing anyone could have done to avoid the goal which took its immediate toll on the emotions of Canada U-17 team.

 

Canada’s defense got caught shallow on the second goal and allowed a break away from a simple throw-in just over the half. The ball sailed over the defender’s heads and Andrew Oliver rounded goalkeeper Crepeau to score into an empty net.

 

Alfred Koroma added the third goal in extra time as the United States coast to a 3-0 victory. Canada’s coach Sean Fleming took the loss in stride as he met with the media after the match

 "We had some chances in the first half that if they would have gone in would have changed things," Fleming said. "It was a great strike for the first goal. The other two I'm not going to worry about."

 

Fleming also hopes he can further advance Canada's youth players at the FIFA World Cup in Mexico this summer based on his team’s recent qualification and the future development of his team. As Canada U-17 qualified for next June's FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico with a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Trinidad & Tobago, coach Fleming was mindful of the commitment of his players, coaching staff and the Canadian Soccer Association which supported the youth program.

 


"I think they are all part of our success," said Fleming. "We have a good crop of players in this age group, but it is also no secret that our players are in good soccer environments back home."
 
"For a player's development to be at its best, the player needs to be training in a good environment,"  Flemings said. "That environment may not be the same for all players and there are different circumstances in different places from coast to coast.


"We have to always ask ourselves what is best for the players. It may not be just one model. There is some great dialogue going on with all parties involved through the Wellness to World Cup working group (the Canadian Soccer Association's Long-Term Development Program). When everyone is working together, that helps our success on the international stage."

At the time it was noted that Canada's U-17 had players who had been through the Canadian system with 19 of the 20 players at Canadian clubs (including professional clubs Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC and Impact Montréal), while 17 of 20 players have advanced through one of Canada's five National Training Centers.


With the CONCACAF championship over, Fleming will have to develop and expand his U-17 player pool before the FIFA U-17 World Cup kick offs this summer in Mexico where  te team will have to get to the next level against higher-quality international opposition. 


"We took a moment to thank all the coaches for the part that they played in our success," added Fleming. "It is important that they are recognized in the celebration following our qualification. This is Canada's team."

 

 For USA Coach Wilmer Cabrera, his team was taken to the limit by Canada, but never lost focus on the task at hand. Like everyone who watched the match he acknowledged that Nathan Smith's goal was the key to the victory.
 

"We got an unbelievable goal from Nate," U.S. coach Wilmer Cabrera said. "He opened the window for us to start taking control of the game. When we scored I noted that the players from Canada were devastated.
"We needed to keep the ball and then the second goal came which gave us a sense of what was coming. Then the third goal came and Canada was struggling a little bit physically while we were strong."
 

After the problems with the readiness of its venue, the CONCACAF U-17 Championship Jamaica turned out to be a very good tournament which I am sure boasted the country's economy.

Canada Women win CONCACAF Championship

Canada Women World Cup bound as champs.

Canada won the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in Cancun Mexico, after beating Mexico 1-0 on Captain Christine Sinclair’s penalty. The penalty was awarded when Mexico's Perez was called for a blatant handball and was ejected from the game.
The final was an unlikely rematch between the teams since Canada and USA were picked to reach the final before and during the tournament. But no one told that to Mexico, who obviously had plans of their own.
There is substance to the clichés that you have to take one game at a time and the game is won and loss on the field of play, since the Americans suffered their first loss ever in women’s qualifying as a result.
 

With its backs against the wall and behind the support of its spirited home crowd Mexico jumped to an early 3rd minute lead which they never relinquish en route to a 2-1 win over USA, the #1 ranked women’s team in the world.
Canada defeat Costa Rica 4-0 in its semi final match and must have been a little surprised to have to be preparing to play Mexico instead of the Americans. But, Canada 4-0 win is not indicative of the closeness of the contest as the match was scoreless at the half.
It was a tale of two halves, as Josee Belanger, Jonelle Filigno, Christine Sinclair light up the scoreboard from the 64th minute onwards, to add to Costa Rica’s own-goal in time added on time, for a seemingly run away 4-0 Canada victory.
However, though Canada was clearly the favorite heading into the championship match against Mexico, it soccer stocks were still trading low since Mexico had given USA women their first loss ever in World Cup qualifying.
But how quickly things have changed? Canada withstood the challenge and clinched its second women's confederation championship and it’s first since it defeated Mexico in Toronto in 1998
There is a distinct difference in the play of Canada Women’s team under Italian head coach Carolina Morace, and thus far she has proven her worth as one of the top 4 ranked coaches in women soccer/football in the world.
Since she arrived in February of 2009, the team seemed to be well prepared both mentally and physically and as a result complacency and overconfidence was not a factor in Canada’s rematch against Mexico.
Canada finished the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament as the only undefeated team (5-0-0) with 17 goals scored while allowing zero in return to win the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
There was a time when Canada women was highly ranked, but the 2010 Women’s championship is only Canada’s second women's championship since 1998, when it defeated Mexico in Toronto.
But times are changing and only time will tell how much Canada women’s game has improved, when it attempts to break its 21 game unbeaten streak against the Americans in a must arrange friendly by the Canadian Soccer Association before the World Cup.
Canada has faced USA in three previous finals; all loses, with two going into overtime (2002 and 2006). But Canada is at the top of its game and stands a realistic chance of passing the Americans as the #1 seed in CONCACAF.
Canada Captain Sinclair finished the tournament tied with Mexico’s Maribel Dominguez for second in scoring with 6 goals but their was no bigger goal than he sixth from the penalty spot which gave Canada the 1-0 win.
Abby Wambach's of the United States scored the most goals in the toournament with eight while Canada goalkeeper Leblanc was undoubtedly the best between the pipes, while her defense shut out opposing teams.
What is impressive about Canada play is that in spite of their amazing defense the team is still playing an attacking brand of soccer, which is a tribute to coach Morace and her coaching staff for keeping the team in excellent shape for a transitional game.
Both Mexico and Canada had already clinched berths into next year’s Women's World Cup in Germany, so a drop in the intensity of the final may have been normal, but that was not the case.
Canada was intent of proving that they were the best in the tournament and Mexico was intent on proving to Canada that their group loss to the Canucks was just a fluke. The result speaks for itself and Canada prevailed.
Although there have been much talk about the blatant penalty which was not called for Canada, I though that the calls had evened out since Mexico Dominguez was fouled in the penalty area early in the match which would not have created much of an argument as a penalty.
But in the end, the best team won and Canada is the deserving 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Champions. Gooo Canada!

 

CONCACAF Qualifiers for 2010 Women’s World Cup Germany

The CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Germany starts with a Group B double header this Thursday as Costa Rica is up against Guatemala at 6p.m. and Haiti takes on the heavily favored United States in the second match at 8:30 p.m.

The United States has won six of the previous seven titles, with the other team’s only chance coming in 1998, when USA was the host of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. But the games have to be played and the Americans should not take anything for granted.

Canada kicks off the two group tournament this Friday against Trinidad & Tobago as the first game of the Group A double header at 6p.m. Host Mexico will test debutants Guyana in the second match at 8:30 p.m.

With the CONCACAF Women’s championship title the ultimate goal, the teams (except USA) real objective will be to make the championship final which carries automatic spots to the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011.

The CONCACAF Championship third place team will get another chance to qualify for the World Cup via a two-legged (home and away) playoff series, against the fifth place team from Europe, which will be coming from either Italy or Switzerland.

Although USA and Canada are favored to advance to the championship finals, Mexico has been improving steadily and Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago may prove not to be slouches when their backs are inevitably against the wall.

Though T&T Women has not advanced past the first round since the inaugural championship in 1991, (where they finished in third place), their head coach Jamal Shabazz seem to have confidence in the ability of his team while talking to socwarriors.net.

"For a long time we have just participated in CONCACAF tournaments, “but for this World Cup qualifying tournament we're going to compete with Mexico...we are going to compete with Canada," says coach Shabazz.

While Canada is favored to win Group A, it stands the best chance to win the championship. However, USA seems to have Canada’s number and has always been the Canucks obstacle. In 2002 and 2006, Canada forced extra time in the final but eventually succumbed.

Canada is under new coach Carolina Morace, who has indicated that her team has a chance to end their 21-game winless streak with USA. But, Coach Morace and the Canucks should not get ahead of themselves, since the group games still have to be won for Canada to advance.

Granted, Canada defeated USA on penalties in the Women’s U-17 semi finals, but Canada will be well advise to approach Friday’s game against T&T as a must win situation in order to come out atop of what seems to be a very interesting group.

Canada three group matches will be broadcast live on CBCSports.ca with an encore presentation on CBC Television. Canada opening match on Friday versus Trinidad and Tobago will air at 7 p.m. live on CBC's digital channel bold with its encore presentation at 9p.m.

Canada's second match against Guyana on Sunday October 31 has a live broadcast time of 7p.m. and will encore at 9p.m. The Canucks third match will be its clash with host Mexico on Tuesday November 2 at 9:30p.m. on live CBCSports.ca, and encored on CBC TV at 12pm

The CONCACAF Qualifier runs from October 28 to November 8, with USA expected to win. However, the reigning Olympic champion hasn't won the World Cup since 1999, while its U-20 Women’s team was eliminated in the quarterfinals at the World Cup in July by Nigeria.

USA U-17 also failed to qualify for the World Cup, after being beaten by Canada on penalties in the semifinals of the CONCACAF championship. Nevertheless, the Americans are real favorites and are unbeaten it’s their last 11 matches this year (9-2-0).

Their unbeaten streak includes a pair of wins over two-time defending World Cup champion Germany and an Algarve Cup title, with the entire U.S. team plays professionally in either the U.S. Women's Pro Soccer league or in Germany, with forward Alex Morgan the only exception.

 But the tournament is in Cancun Mexico, where Mexico’s can pounce on the opportunity before their passionate home crowd to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 12 years since its best finish as runner-up in 1998.

Costa Rica may have the bench strength since it qualified for the U-17 Women's World Cup in 2008 and the U-20 Women's World Cup this past year, while Haiti and Guyana may have a ticket, but their chance of advancing to the World Cup is slim to nil.

Canada U-17 Women win CONCACAF Championship

Canada defied the odds to win the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Champions in Alajuela, Costa Rica, last Saturday. Playing short handed for the last 33 minutes the Canucks rode the rhythm of a Kinley McNicoll goal in the 8th minute of play, to defeat Mexico 1-0 and win the championship.

 

But the final was anticlimactic as the real accomplishment came in the semi final match two days earlier. This was when Canada beat a red hot USA team 5-3 on penalty kicks, after the team had played 201 minutes of scoreless battle which included 120 minutes of regulation and overtime.

 

Canada coach Bryan Rosenfeld, deserves a lot of credit for motivating his team after coming off a devastating 1-0 loss against Mexico for the group title. More importantly was that Canada also lost an easier passage to the final, instead they had to face USA in the semi finals.

 

USA had demolished their opponents 32-0 and Canada was scoreless in 143 minutes. But Coach Rosenfeld came up with an improved team defense, which held together like glue to shutout the Americans and clinched a W-C berth and a spot in the Championship final.

 

In the penalty kicks of the semi final, the Americans Clarissa Wiedemayer missed one out of the USA five and kicking at a perfect four for four, Chantal Campbell sealed the deal for Canada, by converting the fifth penalty to start celebrations, with Weidemayer in tears.

 

However, those are the breaks in the fun and excitement of sports and the United States, which finished runners-up in the 2008 World championship to Korea DPR, had for the first time failed to qualify for a women's World Cup.

 

"It's always been my dream to go the World Cup and now that we're going there, I just want to cry," said Canada's Nicole Setterlund, who converted the fourth penalty for Canada. "Our team defended really hard. It was a battle. It was a war and we got lucky."

 

Luck also played on the side of Canada as the Americans missed two glorious opportunities to take the lead in the overtime period, and with the game finishing 0-0 after overtime, one would have to say that Canada had the momentum and upset was in the air.

 

But for Canada, the big PAYBACK was in play and the last laugh was the best. All the clichés apply here as Canada scored, and yes, Canada did score and like it so much that they were continuing the attack and looking for more goals.

 

Canada’s momentum carried over into the final against Mexico who was coming off a 3-1 overtime win against Costa Rica in the semi final, and must have thought they had Canada’s number after  their two wins in their last two matches.

 

Heading into the final, Mexico had beaten Canada twice in less than two weeks, 2-1 in the 4-Nations tournament in Trinidad, and 1-0 in their Group A clash, which sent Canada tumbling into the open arms of the confident Americans.

 

The win against USA boosted Canada’s confidence level and Mexico was feeling the brunt of heat. To Mexico surprise, it was a different Canada team than the one they played before and Canada’s Women were a spirited bunch.

 

Canada’s offense gave the defense a lead to defend and that’s all she wrote. Canada started both the Mexico and USA games pushing forward, but after some good saves by USA goal keeper Canada was rewarded and very early against Mexico.

 

But, in spite of the good offensive start in those games, Canada had to revert to a counter attack strategy late, and did an excellent job based on their defensive schemes from the semi final match against the strength of the Americans offense.

 

If winning (USA) is not everything, then one would have to tell me what transformed Canada to be more patient with their passing game which definitely improved their time of possession and their overall play.

But as is the case in must win situations, Mexico pushed forward for the equalizer and Canada went into a defensive mode. Canada went down a player with 33 minutes remaining, from an accumulation of two yellow cards, and handled the short handed situation well with the lead.   

 

Coach Rosenfeld did not adjust as well as I expected from the 4-Nations tournament into the early part of the CONCACAF Championship. But his team certainly turned it up a notch in its last two games to win the CONCACAF Championship.

 

Given all the scenarios coach Rosenfeld had faced in his last two tournaments, I think with the right preparation Canada should be fully prepared for the FIFA World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago, and advance deep into the tournament.

A bad week for Canada soccer                                                                    

 Kingston, Jamaica: Canada's men team lost its International friendly match against Jamaica Reggae Boyz at the ("Office") National Stadium in Kingston Jamaica. The blow came after Canada's women's U-20 team lost to Costa Rica and failed to qualify for the World Cup in Germany.

 

Canada men team was defeated 1-0 by the Reggae Boyz which sent the two team’s 2014 World Cup campaign in different direction. The game turned out to be a dull affair played before a sparse crowd in which Jamaica had the better of the exchanges and the deserved win.

However, for Canada's coach Stephen Hart, the trip to Jamaica must have been quite an adventure, after being hit with surprise after surprise, and not of a pleasant nature. Hart had two successful stints as Canada’s Interim coach, and this was his first chance as the official head coach and deserved better luck.

First he learnt that Adrian Serioux, his central defender, was unable to make the trip due to an incident in which he had injured his shoulder. Then at the practice at the St Georges College ground in Jamaica the day (Saturday) before the game, Dwayne De Rosario his minister of offense, pulled up lame.

At the time everyone was hoping that it was just a little muscle soreness or Dwayne's cautiousness to prevent any serious damage to a potential situation, but that was not the case. The damage was done, and just like that, Dwayne De Rosario was out for the Jamaica match the next day.

Needless to say, I thought that was the straw that broke Stephen Hart back. Under normal circumstances, Jamaica is no push over, and for Canada to face the Reggae Boyz at the Office where winning is usually difficult and having to juggle players, was not a good start for Canada and coach Hart.

Canada team was full with new faces and I am certain that De Rosario and Adrian Serioux were recalled to add the experience, leadership, and toughness for the Jamaica game. With the new faces in the team Julian De Guzman was coach Hart only prayer for leadership.

But by now it should be obvious to coach Hart, that most teams with the Reggae Boyz included, was going to put a player to shadow his ace midfielder De Guzman all over the field to limit his effectiveness.  Jamaica plan worked, as Omar Cummings stole the ball from De Guzman to set up the Jamaica lone goal.

As the game started Jamaica was on the offensive and with Canada key injuries, the Reggae Boyz went in search of a goal from the opening whistle. After the Reggae Boyz early pressure the game balance off somewhat but Canada inability to attack effectively showed where De Rosario was terribly missed.

But Canada defense was very hard to penetrate and whatever slim chances the Reggae Boyz had they either squandered or the Canada defense was up to the task and snuffed out. Jamaica fans were getting very impatient for the Boyz to move forward after Canada threat in the offense was non existent.

Canada deserves a lot of credit defensively or keeping its shape and also keep a clean sheet up to the half. At times you could have heard Jamaica supporters moaning and groaning when the plays had to be restart from Jamaica back line due to Canada defense allowing Jamaica no space to penetrate.

Canada managed to generate a few chances of its own, but in reality, it was the Reggae Boyz game to win and Canada’s match to draw.  Injuries raised its ugly head again for coach Hart, when Antonio Riberio went down and Adrian Cann had to enter the game just before halftime.

The second half started a little different. Canada was on offense but the plays fizzled. Jamaica took control of the game and the lead in the 68th minute after De Guzman lost possession to Cummings who fed Luton Shelton who made no mistake to give Jamaica a 1-0 lead.

Both team made changes but it was Jamaica who maintained control and won the match 1-0, to get a running start to its 2014 Brazil World Cup campaign. Canada on the other hand will have to arrange more friendly matches and hope that Coach Steve Hart has better luck with his player and injuries, the next time around!

However, before the Jamaica friendly; the real disappointment for Canadian soccer fans was when Canada U-20 Women came up short at the CONCACAF Championship after suffering a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in its match for third place.  It was Canada Women second lost in as many games and the most critical in the Women U-20 short history since it eliminated the team from the FIFA World Cup for the first time.

 

Canada announce its 2009 Players of the Year winners.

As the New Year approaches, it is usually the time of year when we reflect on the past year; to see if we could plan for the year or if you are wise, just plan for tomorrow.

 

To many times we hear the cliché of “live one day at a time’, but its unfortunate that those words are mostly at sad times like funerals or when people discover that others have a serious ailment or had a close brush with death.

 

 In sports the same applies. The experience coaches and players would always insist that they are taking one game at a time, and though we would like to think that they are being politically correct, but sometime it is the way the race develops, and by extension, life unfolds.

 

For organizations it may mean winning championships and/or meeting simple objectives which were set out at preseason. For players it helps for the team to accomplish its objective, to give you a better environment to improve your game especially if you helped directly in the team’s success.

 

In life, many people make New Year’s Resolution to accomplish X, and by the same time the next year, they may have covered Y and Z, because their resolution was not realistic or within their capabilities.

 

The fact that everyone likes to get to the top, does not necessarily mean that everyone gets there. There is nothing wrong with a little compromise. Relative to winning championships, some teams are contented with basic improvements. Promotion, playoffs etc;

 

However, before Compromise, one has to be Energized and get up to get things done. One also has to Economize, since you should not spend what you don’t have. And last, but not least, Privatize.

 

You should stay home and related better to the love ones around you if you cannot afford to go out. Make New Year’s resolution (if you have to) that you can achieve. Enjoy each day (within reason) like it is your last and reflect the past while planning for tomorrow.

 

The winners of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) Player of the Year were announced last week and I’m sure that the winners would reflect on their past season and enjoy their award, while planning and setting new objectives for the 2010 season.

 

In Canada’s U-17 male and female category, Russell Teibert and Abigail Raymer were the respective winners.

 

Raymer the Victoria, BC striker, was a member of the British Columbia bronze medal team at the 2009 BMO National Championships Nutrilite All Stars U-16 girls competition in Laval, QC, and also a part of the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship in July,

 

Midfielder Teibert, the U-17 male winner, split his 2009 season between the national U-17 team and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency side. He was Canada’s team captain at the 2009 CONCACAF Men’s Under-17 Championship in Tijuana, Mexico.

 

In the U-20 category, Nana Attakora and Chelsea Stewart was the respective Player of the Year winners.

 

Chelsea Stewart, made six appearances at the national level under new head coach Carolina Morace, and played for both the Canada’s Women team and the U-20 team, where she served as captain.

 

Nana Attakora, the TFC defender is now a two-time winner of the award, and like Stewart, he served as a team captain at the U-20 level. Attakora played 20 games for Toronto FC during the 2009 Major League Soccer season, and scored two big goals with four assists helping Toronto FC win the 2009 Voyageurs Cup.

Chris Jackson of Mississauga, ON, and Christine Sinclair of Burnaby, BC, was the male and female winners of the 2009 Canadian Player of the Year awards.

 

The award was Sinclair’s fifth-consecutive, as she embarked on a new experience with her new team FC Gold Price in the Women’s Professional Soccer. She led her team with six goals (tied for fifth in the league) in its inaugural season.

 

Simeon Jackson worked wonders in 2009 as the 22-year old Gillingham FC striker helped his team earn promotion to League One in England, by scoring nine goals on 25 appearances in the second half of the 2008-09 season.

 

His feat included three goals in the final two playoff matches, and the lone goal winner before 53,706 fans at Wembley Stadium against Shrewbury. Jackson gave Gillingham FC the 1:0 win on a header in the 91st minute of play.

 

One week later, he duplicated the feat on his international debut with the Canadian national team by scoring the lone goal in a 1:0 victory over Cyprus in Larnaka. Jackson was also part of Canada 2009 team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and by year’s end had accumulated several national caps.

Jackson received 18.2% of the votes ahead of Dwayne De Rosario (17.6) and Julian de Guzman (17.4) for the award

Dwindling options for Canadian Caribbean soccer fans

Just as the Canadian Caribbean fans were anxiously awaiting their teams making a move for the top two positions of their group 2 of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers the Canucks blew an early lead and came up short in a 2-1 loss to Honduras while the Jamaica Reggae Boyz did the unthinkable and gave up an early goal against Mexico in Mexico City to set the tone for a smothering 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Mexicans.

 

Haiti did not do much for their cause by being trounced by El Salvador 5-0 and Cuba on the other hand was on the short end of a 1-0 loss to USA. As a result at present the burden of the Canadian Caribbean World Cup hopes seems to sit squarely on the shoulders of the Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors who slipped up somewhat by conceding the equalizing goal to Guatemala at the 95 minute after taking the lead in the game ten minutes earlier.

         

After taking an early 1-0 lead  on a powerful header by Adrian Serioux from a Patrice Bernier corner kick at the 5th minute of play, Canada could not keep up the momentum as Honduras managed to regrouped after the break and scored two goals early in the second half and held on. Canada made a late surge with 10 men that was too late.

 

However in retrospect the Honduras game was a devastating loss for Canada and with Mexico on their plate this Wednesday at press time the Canucks could find themselves up a creek without a paddle in Mexico City in search of at least a point to have any shot of advancing out of Group 2.

 

Heading into the Honduras game last Saturday I though the game was even since Canada had the home field advantage but that theory was blown to bits as soon as I arrived in Montreal and Saputo Stadium looked like San Pedro Sula Stadium in Honduras with an 8:1 advantage of Honduras supporters in national colours.

 

In spite of the disparity in supporters Canada scored on a powerful header by Adrian Serioux from a Patrice Bernier left side corner kick to silence the crowd as a small number of Canada fans celebrate the goal.

However Honduras clawed back into the game and adapted to the heavy stadium field a lot better than to add to Canada woes their best offensive player in the game midfielder Thomasz Radzinski had to leave the game at the 15th minute mark after suffering a serious cut to his hand after he slid into the touch line signs while making a last effort to convert on a scoring opportunity.

 

That was a big blow for Canada since their offensive punch disappeared and Honduras took control of the game with long periods of ball possession. Honduras struck for two goals just after halftime to defeat Canada 2-1 to the delight of pro Honduras crowd.

 

The CONCACAF W/C qualifiers continues on September 10 (press time) as Canada face off with Group 2 leader Mexico in a critical game at Tuxtla Gutierrez in Mexico while Jamaica plays Honduras in another tough game for the Reggae Boyz at San Pedro Sula in Honduras but Reggae Boyz coach Simoes remains optimistic and said that his team would perform better with the extra time in preparation for the game compared to the last minute fiasco of Hurricane Gustav.

 

The big showdown on Wednesday will be for first place in Group1 when the Trinidad & Tobago Soca Warriors play USA at the Toyota Park in Chicago while Guatemala tries to get back in the swing of the group race against Cuba in Guatemala City. Costa Rica in Group 3 play will try to secure a spot into the second round when they play Haiti in Port-Au-Prince while El Salvador will play Surinam at Paramaribo in Surinam.

 

 Canada missed Golden opportunity vs Jamaica

 

August 20, 2008

The opening Group 2 World Cup qualifier match between Canada and Jamaica at BMO Field in Toronto lived up to its billing as the Reggae Boyz and Canucks continue their impressive run in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in an effort to re-emerge at a World Cup after a long absence.

 

The Jamaica-Canada game was played before a record crowd of 21,978 fans at BMO Field and although Canada enjoyed the better of the exchanges and the 12th man advantage their lack of production and continuity on offense was their main obstacle.

 

For many die hard Canuck’s fans the tie may come back to haunt the team since Canada did not capitalize on their territorial advantage and as a result Jamaica managed to create set plays from several counter attacks down their flanks to gained momentum heading into the second half.

 

To me there was no question that the Reggae Boyz vertical game was more dangerous than Canada’s although it took the Boyz a while to unleash their offense but after creating the space it was obvious that on every run the Boyz made on the flanks it seemed that their player had a clear path to goal to the delight of their cheering fans.  

 

I thought the early yellow card to Dwayne De Rosario for retaliation affected his game somewhat and work against him since he did not get the benefit of a few of the referee calls that should have gone his way.

 

I also thought that Canada’s Tomasz Radzinski and Bob Friend were struggling with their game in the offensive zone and I was baffled to coach Mitchell reasoning behind striker Ali Gerba absence from the starting line up or his late replacement of Rob Friend at the 87th minute of play. 

 

Canada Ali Gerba is the second leading scorer in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and it is no secret to be a productive scorer like Gerba one has to feel that he has the confidence of his coach to perform and be productive at that level.

 

However in spite of these offensive kinks and the defenses outweighing the offenses in a 0-0 halftime score the big question was which team would gained the early momentum at the beginning of the second half and no sooner than two minutes into the second half the answer came as Julian De Guzman unleashed a well hit 25 yard grounder through the leg of a Jamaica defender and off the finger tips of Jamaica’s goalkeeper Donavan Ricketts.

 

Not to be outdone the Reggae Boyz responded with a goal of their own (somewhat) when Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad reacted late and mishandled an Andrew Williams in swinging corner kick from the left side into his net at the first post.

 

With this unfortunate turn of events and two goals in just seven minutes after a scoreless first half most fans were on needles and pins since the two defenses were now playing a little less conservative and the winning goal seemed to be in the next offensive play.

 

Although there was no more scoring in the game there were a number of near misses and fantastic saves by the goalkeepers on both ends of the field. With big saves being the order of the day lady luck show up for Jamaica when “Man of the Match” Julian De Guzman sizzled a shot of the paint of the cross bar at the 87 minute mark

 

In retrospect I think Canada missed a golden opportunity to move up in the Group 2 standings since Mexico came from behind to defeat Honduras 2-1 and now leads the Group with three points and with Honduras on the menu for Canada on September 6 in Montreal it is imperative that Canada gain a result in that game before taking on Mexico in Edmonton.

 

Jamaica on the other hand dodged a bullet against Canada and should feel good about the one point gained in Toronto at BMO Field. However the Reggae Boyz are not out of the combat zone and would have to live up to their impressive home record when they meet #1 seed Mexico next at the “Office in Kingston Jamaica for their next game. 

 

Soccer Update: Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors made a strong bid for a spot in the final round of six and return to the World Cup after defeating Cuba 3-1 in Havana. With the win T&T sits at the top of Group I standing with USA after the US defeated Guatemala 1-0 after being outplayed.  Guatemala in a must win situation has to travel to play T&T in Port of Spain next while Cuba with lots at stake remains in Havana to play USA. 

In Group 3 heavily favored Costa Rica weather the storm to defeat El Salvador 1-0 while Haiti relied on the dramatics by scoring two goals in the last minutes of play to tie Surinam 2-2.  Costa Rica can move into the Group 3 driver seat with a win at home in their next game against Surinam while Haiti and El Salvador will do battle in San Salvador to posture with Surinam for the second spot of the group.

 

Its  Canada vs Jamaica at BMO Field

 The final week of preparation for the third round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers is here and all the action and excitement in the first leg match of Group 2 between Canada and Jamaica will be coming to you live and direct from BMO Field in Toronto on Wednesday.

 

When last I checked the two teams match up beautifully since Canada has a renewed sense of confidence that will keep them up to par with the Jamaica Reggae Boyz speed and rhythm. Although the game is in Toronto no one would venture to predict which team would ride the rhythm of the 12th man advantage come Wednesday.

 

What I can tell you is that there was a late rush for tickets from a large contingent of Caribbean fans and that does not clarify that scenario either. There is also supposed to a “Go for Goal Tour” arriving from Jamaica for the game but rest assured on game day the TFC season ticket holders may have the big say in which way the crowd support may swing.

 

However the major factor towards the outcome of the game is always the scoring summary and my estimation is that if either team scores an early goal that will open up the other team defensively or at least wake up the conceding team and allow them to turn up the power to overcome the deficit.

 

The last scenario seems more likely and should it be Canada which can get off to an early lead it would no doubt present a sticky wicket for the Jamaica’s defensive coverage in an effort to curtail the ever dangerous Canadian midfielders in Dwayne De Rosario and Julian De Guzman.

 

This tandem is arguably at the top of their game since they both received MVP and Player of the Year awards for their exploits last with their clubs and Canada and were outstanding in their last game for Canada. Dwayne De Rosario plays for the MLS Houston Dynamo while his Canadian team mate Julian De Guzman plights his trade with Spain’s Deportivo La Coruna’s..

 

However in spite of the potency of De Rosario and De Guzman the Reggae Boyz and their Jamaican fans would tell you that they intent to leave Toronto with at least a point from this encounter and with coach Simoes back at the controls they are confident that it can happen.

 

It is conceivable that the Reggae Boyz defense may limit the production of the Canadian strikers but the challenge for Jamaica would be how they will adjust to the Canadian midfielder’s transitional game. Canada’s midfielders have improved their play dating back to Gold Cup 2007 and although the teams split victories in their friendly games in 2006 the teams were missing some of the players now in the team.

 

Presently the Reggae Boyz team boasts tons of speed and skill on their flanks which could force Canada’s strikers Tomasz Radzinski, and Ali Gerba (the most likely starting strikers) up front to track back to slow up the flank penetration to allow their midfielders to solidify their defensive positions.

 

The Reggae Boyz defense lead by TFC own Tyrone Marshall may bend but it may not break if Canada does not maintain offensive momentum to apply direct pressure. In failing to do that Marshall and company would be free to do what they do best which is push forward.

 

However as the Reggae Boyz prepare for their game at BMO Field coach Rene Simoes has made a brave push to install the discipline and pride that he thinks would be needed for Jamaica to advance to another World Cup and since Simoes was the man at the helm that when Jamaica Reggae Boyz made it to World Cup France in 1998 no one should oppose.

 

Based on Simoes fundamental policies it has been reported that striker Marlon King has been omitted from the Jamaica squad for the Canada game. King omission caught a lot of the Reggae Boyz supporters by surprise but in a letter to the media a month ago, Simoes cautioned that there would be surprises in store after speaking to his troops going public about discipline, self control, winning and a positive and creative attitude for the Jamaica team.

 

Simoes letter can be seen in its entirety on JamaicaWin.com and the most notable sections of his letter read “I will not compromise my principles in the name of a player, or the clubs or the persons who are connected to them,”

 

With Simoes in control it is conceivable that Jamaica could be coming into BMO Field with the same game plan as Canada which is to strike first and early but I would think that if Jamaica could limit Canada’s scoring chances Simoes would trade the early goal for a late lone goal and 3 points in hand to leave BMO Field.

 

For obvious reason Canada first option should be to take the early lead and let the chips fall where they may since Canada is at home and regardless of the support at BMO Field I think Canada would have to initiate the action to win this game.

 Canada defeat Jamaica in friendly 06-09-2006   

Canada defeated Jamaica 1-0 at the Claude-Robillard Stadium in Montreal, on a goal scored by striker Rob Friend in the 41 minute of play. The large crowd (estimated at 6,500) was treated to a well played game as Canada controlled the first half while Jamaica controlled the second.

 

The game was a typical meeting of the two countries whose results were dead even in their 11 encounters with each team with 5 wins and one tie. In the early stages of the game Jamaica was on the defensive while Canada systematically moved the ball around to create scoring chances. Canada’s best scoring opportunity was from a volley shot by #10 Rob Friend at the 10 minute of the first half. He received a Julian De Guzman cross ball just behind the Jamaican defense but hurried his shot which cause the ball to raise high over the crossbar.

 

Friend persistence was rewarded just before the half when he capitalized on a blunder by Jamaican goalkeeper Shawn Sawyers when the keeper miss judged a cross ball to allow Friend to score a neat header that give Canada a 1-0 halftime lead The second half started with the teams more patient and deliberate in constructing and executing their plays. The Reggae Boyz seemed more determined to explore Canada weaknesses by using their elusiveness players in isolated situations. Reggae Boyz #7 Jamal Campbell seemed to be the target and the designated destroyer with his crafty moves. Campbell success created excitement for the crowd and attracted two Canadian defenders every time he had possession of the ball.

This situation created extra space for his teammates as # 5 O’Neil Thompson was allowed him to take controlled of the game. The last 15 minutes of the game was a good test for the Canadian team defensively and was it not for several brilliant saves made by Canada goalkeeper Greg Sutton the out come of the game could have be different as Canada secured the 1-0 victory

The game was the first for Canadian interim Head Coach Stephen Hart, a native of Trinidad and Tobago and the rematch is scheduled for October 8 in Kingston, Jamaica. Judging by the intensity of this game it is safe to say that the rematch in Kingston should produce more than one goal.

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Jamaica defeat Canada in friendly rematch 10-08-2006

 Jamaica Reggae Boyz regrouped to defeat Canada 2-1 in their rematch game played at the National Stadium in Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz lost to Canada 1-0 in Montreal Canada in September, and was later eliminated from the Digicel Cup after suffering a surprising 2-1 lost to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and their inability to score the 3 goals needed in their 2-0 win over Haiti. Jamaica failure to advance in the Digicel competition also put them out of the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2007 tournament.

 

 In the rematch game against Canada, the Reggae Boyz mustered enough offense to come from behind to win unlike their first game The Boyz fell behind in the 9th minute of play on a goal scored by Canada’s midfielder Tomasz Radzinski but to their credit they kept their composure and slowly clawed their way back into the game. They were rewarded when they caught Canada’s defense napping and score two goals in quick succession. The goals were scored by Luton Shelton and Demar Phillips at the 35 and 38 minute respectively. The rest of the game was a reverse in the roles that the two teams played in their first meeting in Montreal. This rematch ended with Canada pushing forward in search of the tying goal with no time left.

 

This was a huge win for the Reggae Boyz heading into their next International friendly against Peru  on November 15 at the National Stadium in Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz offense seemed to be getting on track, but their defense needs to keep opponents off the scoreboard on a regular basis to allow their offense the luxury of a lead.  The defense played well in the second half to shut down Canada’s aggressive offense and secure the win.

 

Jamaica - Richard McCallum, Damion Stewart, Oneil Thompson (Shavar Thomas 46th), Shane Crawford (Demar Phillips 26th), Xavean Virgo, Khari Stephenson (Fabian Davis 88th), Omar Daley, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Jermaine Hue, Luton Shelton (Teafore Bennett 73rd), Ricardo Fuller.

Canada - Kenny Stamatopoulos, Kevin McKenna, Marco Reda, Patrice Bernier (Ali Gerba 77th), Paul Stalteri, Julian de Guzman (Martin Nash 58th), Tomasz Radzinski, Rob Friend, Mike Klukowski (Gabe Gervias 24th, Adam Braz 92nd), Atiba Hutchinson, Josh Simpson

 

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