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    Duane Rollins
    Pictured above is likely the first manager of LAFC
    The CSA has a St. Patrick's Day surprise for us. 
    Today, Canadian Soccer announced that it was holding a press conference at Toronto's Westin Harbour Castle at 10 am on Amateur Day. The posh hotel is where the CSA usually holds its really important announcements. I met Sepp Blatter there once.
    Initially this press release got the heart fluttering a little, as it was thought that maybe, just maybe, the Premier League announcement was finally upon us. However, a closer look relieved that it was labeled as a men's national team announcement, rather than an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING THE FUTURE OF CANADIAN SOCCER!!1!1! 
    A little asking around allowed me to safely conclude that Friday's surprise is very likely confirmation on who the manager of the national team will be for the Gold Cup. One source suggested to me that the announcement could be a short term band-aid for just the Gold Cup, rather than a long-term contract. However, most people seem to think the CSA has found their man.   
    As for who that is...?
    Hats off to the CSA on this one. For once they've kept a pretty tight lid on things. We knew about Benito Floro's appointment about a week out, but so far there is pretty consistent silence on this. One person told me that it was likely that we've not heard of the appointee. They said that he probably won't be Canadian and he might be younger than typical. That would represent the CSA looking for a "Herdman-type" to take over the men's team with a long-term vision and a desire to move to Canada and settle here long-term.
    One well known Canadian soccer observer, Anthony Totera, reported today that the manager would be coming from Ecuador. 
    The reality of the CSA's financial situation is that hiring someone that is a bit unknown, but hungry, is likely the smart thing to do. We simply can't afford a name, and a name is unlikely to come to a country that is five years away, at minimum, to a World Cup. 
    Someone like, say, Bob Bradley.
    It's been suggested to me that the CSA did, at least, reach out to Bradley and there is an obvious connection to Toronto in that his adorable grandkids (and intense son) live here. That connection has allowed this long shot of a rumour to live despite very strong evidence that he's likely to end up in LA, if he decides to give up on Europe at all, that is.
    As much as Bradley might make sense for Canada, Canada doesn't really make sense for him. And, by the time it might his grandkids probably won't live here anymore.
    If any specific names emerge we will update with a new story. 
      

    Kevin Laramee
    Scores, Game Reports, Analysis, Interviews and especially FUN!!
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    Kevin Laramee
    Good day, good night and welcome back to Off the Woodworkx!

    Guest Today: Tristan D'Amours@tristandamours of SoccerByIves

    Post-Game comments of Mauro Biello, Evan Bush and Patrice Bernier of the Montreal Impact

    Until next time, have a great soccer!
     
     


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    Kevin Laramee
    Close, but no cigar. 
    We saw a better performance by the Montreal Impact tonight, especially in the midfield, but an old foe has come back to sink the Home-Opener's ship; extra time. With already over 3 minutes played after the first 90, the Seattle Sounders and their new veteran acquisition, Will Bruin made Montreal pay for their lack of killer instinct earlier in the game.
    It all started beautifully though for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir, better possession and passing accuracy in the midfield, early looks on goal, great use of the flanks by Oyongo, Piatti and Oduro. Montreal even took a two goal lead, but it proved insufficient for the 1642ers. A beautiful through ball to Mancosu by Piatti, setup perfectly by the captain Patrice Bernier to open up the 2017 goal tally and a great finish by Piatti for the second. What was really impressive on Piatti's goal was his dismantling of Torres' coverage. Being caught ball watching and not focusing on Piatti's hips, Torres was left flat footed and couldn't cover Piatti's strong foot; 2-nil the Impact.
    But, has it has been the case far too often over the last few years, the defense could not hold on. A questionable penalty call on a Ciman tackle and a moment of panic in the box late in extra time were enough for the Sounders to leave Montreal in a hurry with a stolen point. Like Mauro Biello mentioned in his post-game press conference, there were several questionable decisions on both sides by the referee Jair Marrufo.  Early yellow cards, misplaced free kicks, questionable no-calls and a controversial tying goal scored after the initial 3 minutes of extra time are all issues that should be looked at carefully by PRO (Professional Referee Organization) and its general manager, Peter Walton.
    On the positive side for Montreal, big improvements were made when we compare to last week's performance in Northern California. The passing accuracy went from a mediocre below 70% last week, to a very respectable 79.3% tonight and especially accurate in the defensive midfield (Bernier 84.6% Donadel 91.1% Bernardello 93.6%) . The confusion in the midfield has been addressed, Bernier-Bernardello-Donadel knew exactly where to be and how to execute the game plan  this time around. The captain had a great home opener, 2 assists and a multitude of chances created by using the flank players to move up on the pitch. Oyongo and Oduro were instrumental in Montreal's attack, being able to use the space left open in front of them to generate space and time for Piatti to be effective offensively.
    According to Evan Bush, the fitness aspect of the game, especially late in the game was the difference between a win and a draw. On top of the fitness, the substitution of Patrice Bernier for a debuting Adrian Arregui at the 59 minute mark spelled the end of domination for Montreal and especially the end of ball possession on the night. Coincidence? I think not.
    Overall, 2 goal scored, a good performance by the core and star players and a more stable and reliable midfield are good improvements from game 1. 
    Some doubts concerning the backline still remains, unfortunately,  and more discipline is needed by the Montreal defense if they want to have success in 2017.
    Until next time, have a great soccer!
     
    You can follow Kevin Laramee on Twitter @KevLaramee
    You can listen to all of Kevin's thoughts on the game, player interviews and coaches post-game comments on the latest Off the Woodworkx every Sunday morning! 
     

    Duane Rollins
    As most know, the Vancouver Whitecaps became the third Canadian team to reach the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals after their two leg win over the Red Bulls last month. In doing so they added to Canada's argument to be seeded in the new format, which starts later this year. With 16 teams in the knock-out phase it's hard to argue against Canada being placed in the top eight, actually. Gaining more spots is another story. Let's wait until the Canadian Premier League is involved before opening that can of worms. 
    At any rate, if the Whitecaps are to become the second hoser squad to make a final they have their work cut out for them. They have drawn Liga MX power Tigres -- they of three Mexica titles since 2011 and fresh off a CCL finals appearance.  In the requisite YouTube hype video released today the Caps have called the match-up David v Goliath. That might be doing a disservice to Goliath.  
    Speaking of the hype video:
    I'll leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide whether a team that claims it plays in #SoccerCityCanada (which by virtue of that claim means that they think the city you live in isn't) is deserving of #Canada4Caps. No one should feel an obligation to cheer for a club team just because they play in the same country as you, even if there are only five fully professional teams in your country. I doubt many Caps fans were cheering for TF...actually they might have been because, well. Seattle. That was a bad day for them, wasn't it?.
    If you do watch that video you'll note that it appears that the Caps are now fully boarding the Alphonso Davies hype train. Not gonna lie, the idea of seeing Davies line up against a top Mexican side is very appealing.
    Unless he decides to represent Liberia.
    I'm sure it will be fine.   

    Kevin Laramee
    Every Friday, I will give my keys to victory for the Montreal Impact, in 3 points!
     
    Point 1 The Cohesion in the Midfield
    Montreal had all sorts of trouble in the midfield last week. Congestion, led to confusion that led to loss of possession, this really was noticeable when Montreal was trying to transition the ball forward. Smaller, higher pourcentages passes  are key for the Impact to generate quality opportunity to feed their best attacking options, Piatti and Mancosu, which were left on an island last week.
    Point 2 Oyongo and Piatti
    The combination of Ambroise Oyongo and Nacho Piatti on the left side of the field for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir  can be deadly. When Oyongo is able to use the space in front of him with the ball at his feet, he creates time and space for Piatti to be an offensive threat or even a goal scoring chance for himself. This is imperative for Montreal to get by the defending MLS Cup Champions.
     
    Point 3 Beware of Clint Dempsey
    Clint is back, healthy and HUNGRY! Even though they lost their season opener, Clint has found the back of the net already this season and in his favorite fashion, poacher style. For the Montreal Impact to emerge victorious Saturday night at the Stade Olympique, they will have to be mindful of Dempsey's presence close to goal AT ALL TIMES AND FOR 90 MINUTES!
     
    You can follow Kevin Laramee on twitter @KevLaramee
     
    Off the Woodworkx, a podcast about the Montreal Impact available here  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/off-woodworkx-sports-podcasting/id1067439813?mt=2

    Duane Rollins
    Philadelphia Union (0-0-1) v TFC (0-0-1), Match Day 2
    TSN 4 – 4:30pm, Saturday
    CSN Away Viewing is upstairs at Pauper’s Pub (Bathurst and Bloor). Check the usual suspects (Wheat Sheaf, Shoeless Joe’s, etc.) for others or add your viewing in the comments.
    Last meeting: TFC won its first ever playoff game in rather convincing fashion to launch a magical run that lasted through to the end of November. I’m not sure what happened in December.
    Most famous game: In what was possibly Aron Winter’s darkest moment the exceptionally average Union put six – yes, SIX – goals by the Worst Team in the World to win 6-2 in front of a grumpy BMO Field back in 2012.
    Key Union player: Let’s go with Super Keeper Andre Blake, who is arguably the best shot stopper in all of MLS. Thankfully, TFC has not been robbed blind by a keeper standing on his head in almost three months.
    Former Red alert: With the man responsible for BMO Field’s lack of plastic, Mo Edu, still recovering from his broken leg the former Reds alert is Warren Creavalle. The utility player most famous in Toronto for the drunk guy two rows back of you insisting he’d be a better option at right-back has actually found some half-decent form for the Union.
    Key TFC player: Gotta be Seba, no? After yet another week of MLS’ tried and true defensive strategy of hack-a-little-Italian, the Atomic Ant will be looking to open his account in style this weekend.
    Home advantage: Meh. Unless you’re trying to park your car after sunset there isn’t much intimating about Chester’s best soccer stadium.   The weather on game day is going to be positively Canadian -- -4C expected at kick-off. No orange ball likely though.  
    What opposing fans are saying: REVENGE!!!!1!!!!1! They are also mostly calling for a tight game and possibly a draw. Yippee.
    TFC panic level (as expressed by the name of a former player): Danny Koevermans (He’s really good, but we’re scared it’s all going to go wrong at any moment)
    Our view: It says here that TFC gets its first three points of the year and Seba opens his account with a brace. 3-0 Reds.

    Kevin Laramee
    Scores, Game Reports, Analysis, Interviews and especially FUN!!
    Hosted by Kevin Laramee @KevLaramee
    STUDIO LINE 1-802-731-0131
    LISTEN LIVE HERE EVERY SUNDAY AT 1AM E / 10PM P DURING THE MLS SEASON
    https://sportspodcastingnetwork.com/mlspostgameshow/
    Send in your thoughts on your favorite MLS Team and/or your game reports, feedback to mlspostgameshow@gmail.com
    https://sportpodcastingnetwork.com
    https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/sports-podcasting-network/id1018126433?mt=2
    https://patreon.com/sportspodcastingnetwork
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/spn-soccer-feed-sports-podcasting-network/id1079055075?mt=2

    Duane Rollins
    Talk about burying the lead. 
    Toronto FC fans got a surprise yesterday and not one that they would have been looking forward to. That Champions League spot that many were looking forward to is not just delayed until next February -- it's been taken away completely. The news was almost hidden in a release announcing the extension of the Canadian Championship to include the winner of the PLSQ and League1 Ontario. 
    So, to re-cap, the CSA got one thing right and one thing very wrong.
    Let's start with the wrong. Appreciating the fact that a lot of people in this country love it when Toronto gets screwed, there is no denying that they did, in fact, get screwed here. Yes, there was a bit of an issue to fix -- CONCACAF's change in format made it a long wait for the qualifying team -- but the CSA chose quite possibly the least sporting solution available to them. TFC won the Voyageurs Cup on the field and the CONCACAF spot that went with it should have stayed with them.  A year where the Cup did not have a CCL spot would not have been the end of the world. In fact, it may have given more opportunity to young Canadians to play in the competition as the teams would have very likely rotated (as an aside, the CSA also added a Canadian quota for starters this year -- each team will need to start three Canucks each game.
    The CSA did provide a slight advantage by allowing TFC to host the one game playoff. Obviously, if TFC wins the 2017 Voyageurs Cup they do not need to play itself for the berth.
    Unfair or not, it's done now and the Reds will need to get down to the business of repeating as champions if the CCL is to make a long awaited return to T.O. 
    For the D3 level teams the long wait to get a shot at the Canadian Championship is almost over. The specific format of the 2018 Cup has not been released yet (hopefully because they are waiting to add a few more teams in a, say, new league...), but whatever it is it will include at least two D3 teams. It won't include the Canadian PDL teams. The likely reason? The CSA wants those teams to play in Canadian leagues and this might be the incentive to get them to make that choice on their own.

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