Jump to content
Hero

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'Canada'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Categories

  • It's Called Football
  • PhotoHazard
  • 24th Minute
  • Games
  • AFTN
    • AFTN Soccer Podcast
  • Some Canadian Guys
  • OttCityFootie
  • Onward Soccer
  • Euro File
  • West Coast Soccer Podcast
  • Le12eJoueur
  • Media Takedown
  • SoccerPlus
  • Voyageurs

Categories

  • CanPL
  • Canadian National Teams
  • Canadian Soccer Teams & Leagues
  • Major League Soccer
  • World

Categories

  • Canadian National Teams
  • Canadian Teams & Leagues
  • Major League Soccer
  • International Soccer

Forums

  • Comments
    • Article Comments
    • Question Of The Week

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


AIM


MSN


Website URL


ICQ


Yahoo


Jabber


Skype


Location


Interests


Biography


Location


Interests


Occupation

Found 52 results

  1. Reason enough for some mixed emotions heading into Wednesday night's Canadian Championship decider as the two clubs meet in the second leg of the final to determine Canadian representation in the CONCACAF Champions League with the tie delicately poised – TFC leads 1-0 heading into BC Place. The Welshman joined the club prior to the inaugural season after a long career in England, spent mostly between the Premier and Football Leagues, as they prepared to embark on their debut campaign. “I knew it was a growing league, a development league, and I knew also they were trying to attract bigger players,” said Robinson from the KIA Training Ground last Thursday. “For me, it was a decision made to get on the coaching ladder. I saw opportunities for young managers and I was still at the right age of 29. It was a lifestyle decision for me, it wasn't financial. And I took the opportunity to join Toronto because they were a new franchise and Mo Johnson invited me in.” Robinson made some 84 appearances in all competitions for TFC, including eight Voyageurs Cup matches and two in the Champions League – he scored three goals over that period and was twice named Player of the Year (jointly with Brennan in 2007 and solo in 2008). His 74 MLS appearances account for 82.2% (repeating, of course) of the club's first 90 matches, encompassing those first three seasons. He was one of the brightest parts of an often dark origin. But with the start of the 2010 season, came a trade to New York, where he finished his career before taking up a coaching position in Vancouver; first as an assistant in 2012 and taking the full reigns ahead of the 2014 season. Since then, he has seen MLS grow immeasurably, little-by-little. “[The progression] has been phenomenal. It really has,” said Robinson. “It makes me laugh sometimes because it's growing every year, getting better every year. Players are getting better, the cap is rising, the coaches are getting better, the support is increasing... but,” he continued, “everyone wants to run before they can walk.” “Major League Soccer are doing a good job in letting it grow slowly, continuing the process rather than going all in. [Risking that] then there would be a massive drop off, or failure in some departments, and you'll have to reset again. All credit to MLS in the way they're growing, individual clubs, but also the league, at a steady pace.” Speaking from the glorious training grounds at Downsview Park, still in Toronto after Tuesday night's first leg ahead of a match in Philadelphia on the weekend – in his days, TFC wandered the city in search of parks or trained on the previous, artificial surface at BMO Field – Robinson shared his view on the progress he has seen in his teammates-turned-opponents. “In the two-and a half, three years I was here, there was a turnover of about 80-odd players – you get to know someone and you're saying goodbye to them the very next day,” recalled Robinson. “And I was one of them included when I left to go to the New York Red Bulls.” “The club is a very good club, they've got great ownership in MLSE. It's good people and they've got a little bit of stability now, and any club needs a bit of stability. Everyone wants to be successful in the short term, and happen overnight, but, unfortunately, that isn't football; it doesn't happen overnight.” “I'm glad for them they've managed to stabilize themselves and you see the growth in Toronto, they're bringing in the likes of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco. That's all credit to them,” he concluded. Whilst it may have been an unsatisfactory end to his time in Toronto, Wednesday, a chance to hoist a trophy over his former club, will still be awkward. “It is [weird going up against a former club],” said Robinson, adding, “but I've done it enough in England. I was fortunate enough to play for seven, eight different teams, and every week I seemed to be going up against my old team.” “I've got a lot of respect for the club, I've got a lot of friends still here. I'll always have that special feeling with supporters. Unfortunately, some of them won't like me now, because I'm manager of Vancouver – it is what it is. But nothing will change my thoughts on the club.” Robinson famously did not celebrate, appearing almost sheepish when he scored the coup-de-grace, a stunning header, in a 4-1 dismantling of TFC when he returned with the Red Bulls in 2010, but will he be so kind should Vancouver overturn the deficit on Wednesday? “Toronto are 1-0 ahead in the tie, so it's going to be difficult for us. I didn't celebrate, if you look at players who go back to their old clubs, 99% of them celebrate because they feel the way they left wasn't how they wanted – the way I left wasn't how I wanted – but the admiration for the club that I had was a mark of respect for them because I was here for two-and-a-half years, and it was good times.” “Life's too short to be bitter, so I wasn't and I didn't celebrate, and I'm glad I didn't.” Regardless of who wins on Wednesday, Vancouver or Toronto, with Robinson and his split history involved, it will be yet another moment to add to the growing folklore of Canadian soccer.
  2. @KevLaramee @24thminute Sports Podcasting Network http://sportspodcastingnetwork.com http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/sports-podcasting-network/id1018126433?mt=2 http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/sports-podcasting-network http://feeds.feedburner.com/otwstudios SPN Social Media http://twitter.com/SportsPodNet Share this:
  3. @KevLaramee @simonfudge74 http://canadiansoccernews.com
  4. @KevLaramee @24thminute Sports Podcasting Network http://sportspodcastingnetwork.com http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/sports-podcasting-network/id1018126433?mt=2 http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/sports-podcasting-network http://feeds.feedburner.com/otwstudios SPN Social Media http://twitter.com/SportsPodNet
  5. Now our knowledge of the women's game has some gaps, so we turn to an expert to look ahead to the tournament and how Canada might fare, as we chat with journalist, and AFTN regular, Harjeet Johal. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  6. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  7. AFTN photographer Tom Ewasiuk was there to capture all the action before, during and after the game and here's his "Story In Pictures", with a full Flickr slideshow at the end. [Also check out Tom's website www.residualimagephotography.com for more of his photos and work]. The Voyageurs are out in force in BC And in amongst them is a familiar face in Karina LeBlanc Flag tifo in full force In Floro We Trust? Canada's starting XI The enemy lines up A moment of quiet reflection on the day's atrocities in Paris The pain of World Cup qualification is quick to appear! Not much to choose between the teams early, but Julian de Guzman unleashes a screamer from the edge of the box Which Noel Valladares does well to tip over In the 38th minute, Will Johnson heads the ball towards goal, hitting off Cyle Larin on the deck and into the Honduran net Okay, we'll forget the Timbers part of him for now Canada celebrate what proves to be the match winning goal Johnson nearly makes it two in the 63rd minute but his free kick crashes off the right hand post An impressive Honduran travelling support As Honduras push for the equaliser, Milan Borjan makes a crucial late save Then minutes later acts quickly to recover a spill and keep Canada's lead secure Another late scramble in Canada's box but the good guys survive for the crucial 1-0 win And you can see what it means to Borjan And his Canadian teammates Things you never thought you'd see at BC Place - Curva Collective's head honcho hugging Portland's Will Johnson! Will Canada be back at BC Place in March? Floro says "Yeeeeeessssss" You can see a Flickr slideshow of all of Tom's photos from the game below:
  8. Canada carried the majority of play through the first half but were unable to create any clear chances until after the half hour mark when after a nice combo by Junior Hoilett and Atiba Hutchinson, Julian de Guzman took a shot from distance that forced a big save from Noel Valladares. A few minutes later Canada would capitalise on their play, with Larin scoring the opener and his fourth for the national team. After completing a give and go with Hutchinson, Hoilett delivered a cross from the left sideline to the far post where Will Johnson headed it towards the net.On its way to the goal the ball came into contact with Larin, who had tumbled with the Honduran defender heading to the net, before going over the line giving the Canadians a much needed lead going into the half. The home side pressed for another goal as the second half started and came very close after the hour mark when Will Johnson’s free kick attempt from 35 yards out hit the right post. There were chances for Honduras to earn the draw late in the match as Milan Borjan came up big to stop a shot from distance by Mario Martinez. Another shot from distance came with less than ten minutes left. This time Borjan spilled, causing a scare, before the keeper was able to gather it. Ultimately Canada was able to finish the match with the victory and an important three points to kick off this round of 2018 World Cup Qualifying. There will be little time for the players and coaches to enjoy this win as they will travel to El Salvador for their next match on Tuesday. With Benito Floro and all of the Canadian players raving about the atmosphere at BC Place on Friday night, and buoyed by the win, fans in Vancouver won't have to wait another 11 years for the national team to return. Expect them back in March to take on Mexico. FINAL SCORE: Canada 1 - 0 Honduras ATT: 20,108 CANADA: Milan Borjan; Karl Ouimette, Adam Straith, Dejan Jakovic, Marcel de Jong; Julian de Guzman (Samuel Piette 78), Atiba Hutchinson, Will Johnson; Junior Hoilett (Tesho Akindele 81), Tosaint Ricketts, Cyle Larin (Marcus Haber 73) [subs Not Used: Simon Thomas, Kenny Stamatopoulos, Fraser Aird, Sam Adekugbe. Manjrekar James, David Edgar, Wandrille Lefevre, Russell Teibert, Kianz Froese] HONDURAS: Noel Valladares; Brayan Beckeles, Maynor Figueroa, Jhony Palacios, Ever Alvarado; Carlos Discua (Angel Tejeda 69), Boniek Garcia, Bryan Acosta (Mario Martinez 65); Luis Garrido, Erick Andino (Romell Quioto 55), Rubilio Castillo [subs Not Used: Donis Escober, Johnny Leveron, David Velasquez, Wilmer Crisanto, Emilio Iazguirre, Arnold Peralta, Olivier Morazan, Cesar Oseguera, Jerry Bengtson]
  9. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  10. "We're at approximately 15 [thousand] right now," Montagliani said of tickets sales for the Honduras match. "We've got two weeks left pretty much. We have a big Whitecaps game obviously inbetween. We're confident with the build up. "The team will be here pretty soon, this weekend. A lot of them will be at the Whitecaps game. So I think we'll be able to sort of push into the 20's." So the numbers are promising but at the same time a little disappointing. When the match announcement was made in Vancouver on September 14th, the general feeling from the Canadian Soccer Association side was that the game wasn't going to be a tough sell and if Vancouver struggled to fill the lower bowl at BC Place then it couldn't really call itself a "soccer city". I tended to agree. It is the national team after all and it's a World Cup qualifier. With eight days before the game, expectations have been adjusted a little. "A lower bowl sell out was always our goal," Montagliani admits. "But if we get north of 21, between 21 and 26, that's good. If you look in comparison at the same round last time around, we played them all in Toronto and the highest attendance was 18. That's 2012 when we played Honduras again, and Panama and Cuba. "So our goal was to surpass what we did in Toronto back in the last round of round four. We're confident that we can surpass that and if we can get as close as we can to a lower bowl sell out, that will be great." Looking back to that miserable failed campaign for Brazil 2014, the attendances in Toronto for the three, then third round, matches were pretty steady. Canada drew 16,132 for the 0-0 draw with Honduras in June 2012 and 17,586 for the 1-0 win over Panama in September, before topping out with 17,712 for the 3-0 win over Cuba in October. If the CSA are targeting beating those attendance figures this time around, then they certainly seem well on their way in Vancouver to kick things off. But were the attendances in 2012 relatively poor and disappointing? You can argue both ways but personally I believe a national team in a football loving country should sell out a stadium the side of BMO Field in Toronto for all World Cup qualifiers. Maybe I live in a fantasy world where football is king, but I truly believe this should be the realistic expectation. Which brings us back around to whether Canada cares about it's national men's soccer team. We're always saying here at AFTN that Canada is a footballing nation. But is it? Montagliani firmly believes it is and feels the crowds the national team draws and the interest in the team is more than comparable with elsewhere in the world. "It's funny. because I know our results have always been mediocre at best," Montagliani honestly admitted. "But we're always so hard on ourselves that we're not a soccer country. But if you actually compare us to most countries in the world, we actually are a soccer country because a lot of professional leagues in the world do not get this kind of attendance. A lot of national teams don't get this kind of attendance. "So yeah, if you're comparing it to the big five in the world, of course, but I don't think that's a fair comparison. But I think if you look at it from a global perspective, Canada is a soccer country and I think the numbers and the proliferation of the game over the last ten years I'd say, or more, has shown that." The biggest factor in increasing support, interest and awareness in the Canadian national team is success on the pitch. That's the hard part, but the signs are there that this current squad of talent Canadians has the ability to go far. On the pitch success aside, to grow the game, you also need to promote the game and frankly the promotion of the Canada v Honduras match in Vancouver has been dreadful. I've seen online ads, but little else. Online ads targeting the likes of me do nothing. We're already the ones that know about the game. Promotion elsewhere has been lacking, making the 15,000 ticket sales all the more impressive. How many of the Whitecaps crowd know, or care, that the game is on? How many of the general football loving fans in the city and the province? Montagliani admits that the initial promotion has been slow, and perhaps a little understated, but with just over a week to go he fully expects the CSA promotional machine to go into overdrive. "I heard a little bit about that," Montagliani told us when we asked about the criticism around the lack of promotion for the match. "I think you're going to see a lot of that ramped up. We have to be cognisant too that there's another big game in town too and we're working together with the club [Whitecaps]. They've been excellent with us. "I think you're going to see a lot of this ramp up over the next two weeks. What we have found too, and I think a lot of professional sports [have], is that if you do your advertising too far in advance, it gets lost. It gets lost with too many other things. "You want to hit it hard and often, as close as you get to the event. In fact I know a lot of sponsors are like that. A lot of sponsors like to get in at the right time because there's too much of a lag and they don't see a build up. I think you're going to see a bit of a build up over the next two weeks, I guess, leading up to the game." Slightly worrying that the President thinks that there is still two weeks left to promote the game. There's eight days. But Vancouver is, annoyingly, known as a walk up market, so I do expect a late flurry of sales once the promotion is increased. If the final crowd next Friday isn't over 20,000 it would be a major disappointment. But as Montagliani said, there's another big game in town before then. The Whitecaps have now sold out the full lower bowl for their MLS Western Conference semi-final second leg against Portland. That's 27,500 fans. Will they be targeted to head back to the stadium five days later to watch Canada? Hopefully yes. There's a big buzz in the city right now around the Whitecaps and football, and that can surely only get people to the Canada v Honduras game. Right? "Listen, at the end of the day, the Whitecaps have to win," Montagliani said. "Not if, they have to! Would it help us? Absolutely it would help us, but I think it's more I look at it in a bit of isolation. You want our club, our home team to do well. Nothing would make me happier to see a Montreal - Vancouver final." You can almost here the alarm in MLS headquarters at such a prospect! But back to the World Cup qualifiers. Canada have six matches ahead of them in this round before the Hex. It's the semi-final stage in the CONCACAF qualifying and every point is crucial. Any advantage Canada can give themselves, they have to take it. Which brings us back to Vancouver. That turf pitch could be a big advantage. Canada's two remaining home games at this stage are against Mexico on March 25th and El Salvador on September 6th. Could we see either of those matches in Vancouver as well or has it already been decided that Toronto will get their team back? Montagliani said there's been no decision made as of yet. "That won't happen until after we have this home and away here," Montagliani told us. "We'll sit down in December, January, then we'll decide, probably before the end of January, where the March 25th Mexico game is." It's been 11 years since the national team played in Vancouver. Will it be another 11? Unlikely, but how much does bringing Canada back to BC Place depend on ticket sales for this Honduras match? Not at all, according to Montagliani. "We've never seen it as a referendum," Montagliani added. "We've always seen it as British Columbia and Vancouver has always been a hotbed for soccer. I'm from here, so I know that intimately. It was just the right decision to make. Not only for the team, but for a lot of reasons. Technical, tactical reasons. "Listen, at the end of the day, it's about three points. Do want a full stadium? Absolutely. Do we want the fans to go home happy? Absolutely. Our primary goal is three points." One thing has at least been finalised and that is the TV deal for the national team. After bouncing around Telelatino, online streams and legendary Mad Dog and Maestro commentaries, Canada's national team has a new home for now - TSN. At least for the home qualifiers. Who knows the fun we'll have in store for the away ones! "TSN is our TV provider for this round," Montagliani confirmed. "All three [home] Canada games, between now and next September, will be shown on TSN. Going forward, it's a one year deal because we don't know what's going to happen after this round. I'm not at liberty to say what the actual contract is but obviously there's options there. "In terms of away games, it's a little bit more complicated because we have to negotiate those rights away from those countries. So we're in the middle of doing that and hopefully we'll be showing all the away games as well. It's not as easy to say you can shoe them all. You can't go and plant your cameras in somebody's stadium without their permission." But forget TSN next Friday. If you're free and in the Vancouver area and you're not heading along to BC Place to cheer on your national team, shame on you! If we want to see Canada back in our city, we need to "Pack The Bowl" and show the CSA that Vancouver really is Canada's "soccer city".
  11. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  12. "I don't know if I can sum it up," the Residency alumni told reporters after the Dallas match. "It's an amazing feeling playing for your country, then getting my first cap and then getting my MLS debut the next day. Within 24 hours, two appearances, making my first appearances with both national team and club. "I flew in this morning. I left my hotel in Washington [DC] about 5 in the morning. It was a bit iffy with the flight, I had some complications there. Got in, slept for about three hours, then had my pre-game lunch and then that was that." A hectic schedule, but he tried to get some sleep in DC before heading off, not always the easiest when the adrenalin is flowing and long time friend Sam Adekugbe is your national team roomie! "Sam was my room-mate, so it was a bit noisy," Bustos joked. "But that was a good sleep." Making his senior debut for his country, was a dream come true for Bustos, who has represented Canada at U17 and U20 level in the past. Having strangely been deemed surplus to requirements by Benito Floro for Canada's Olympic U23 squad, Bustos' call up to the senior team was perhaps unexpected, but once it came he wanted to savour every minute of it and he did. "It was huge playing against such a big country like Ghana, who were at all the World Cups recently" Bustos said. "Just to go there and play with them and against them, it was great. To get a 1-1 result, you couldn't have asked for anything better. Well, we could have got the three, but it's a great country." A fantastic occasion for the Manitoba native, but then making his MLS debut for the Whitecaps the very next day just took his week to another level. "I felt like a little kid in the park," Bustos said with a grin that didn't leave his face for the whole press scrum. "Getting the call to come in with 30 minutes left, it was a dream come true. I just wanted to go in there and have fun. "Robbo always tells me just to go out and have fun. He likes how I go out there. I don't look nervous and I just want to make things happen. So I have to please the manager! That's just the way I play as well." Whitecaps' coach Carl Robinson hadn't told Bustos that he was definitely playing when the young midfielder headed westwards from Washington, but his sparing use in the Canada friendly provided Robinson with the ideal chance to blood the rookie. "Whenever a player's on the bench, you always expect yourself to go in," Bustos said. "You just need to be ready and I was ready, and when I got the call I just wanted to make the best of it." The hectic travel itinerary certainly didn't seem to affect Bustos, who looked fresh and sharp when he came on for the last 29 minutes in Dallas, impressing many watching, including 'Caps keeper, and captain on the night, David Ousted. "I thought he did really well," the Dane told reporters after the match. "I was impressed by the way he went in and he played the way that we know he can. It can be intimidating coming in and having to take responsibility in that midfield but he did well. He was good on the ball, nice passes and I thought he looked dangerous. Again, it's that little bit of depth and guys like him gets that chance now." With the injuries decimating the Whitecaps creative players right now, that chance is very much there for Bustos. Pedro Morales, Mauro Rosales and Nicolas Mezquida didn't make the trip to Dallas and Robinson revealed after the game that all three potential number 10's look set to miss the season closer against Houston next weekend. Whether they'll be fit for the playoffs seems touch and go, with Mezquida looking to be the furthest along the road to recovery but not there just yet. Cristian Techera did make the trip, trained on Tuesday and felt pain in his hamstring during his first sprint. For us, he's the key to the Whitecaps having any success this postseason and his loss would be the most widely felt. That all means that someone has to fill the very big attacking, creative midfielder void. Step forward Bustos, whose chance to shine is coming at just the right time, rewarding his patience in his rookie season, and its a chance the player is eager to try and grab with both hands and one that his manager seems prepared to give him. "He showed today in his 30 minute's that he's an option," Robinson said of Bustos after the Dallas game. "He was confident, he showed no fear, he wanted to get on the ball, he made things happen, he got in the penalty box. Technically, he's a very good player, so I'll have no worries throwing him in." It's still a big ask of a teenager who has only played his first MLS minutes in the penultimate game of the season. Daunting, but the one thing we know about Bustos is that it will certainly not faze him. He has a confident swagger, we love. All the best players have that. Some may say cocky, but again, in football, we see that as a much needed trait to have. "Even when the guys are not injured I'm thinking about the next game and hoping and dreaming about maybe getting the call," Bustos says. "Hoping that Robbo says 'just get in there'. I'm always ready." He'll definitely be getting his shot for next week's now pointless, and frankly pain in the ass, trip to Honduras to face CD Olimpia in the 'Caps final game of their first ever CONCACAF Champions League campaign. Even without the injury crisis, Bustos was scheduled to play in that one, and, naturally, he's ready for the next stage of his Whitecaps adventure. "If I get the call, I'll be ready for that and just make the best of it and, again, have fun," Bustos added. "If I get the 90, I'm going to push through it as best I can. I just got to get through it. We're all born to play soccer, to play 90 minutes, that's the sport. You've just got to be ready." It's been a tough first season in the pros for Bustos. After impressing in the preseason, he's had to bide his time and fight back to fitness after missing a huge chunk of the early part of his season through an injury that occurred in training (through kicking a teammate just that bit too hard!). It ruled him out of any MLS minutes and any time in the Canadian Championship semi-final against Edmonton. It also curtailed his expected time in USL with WFC2, where he was expected to be an integral part of the team. He eventually made his USL debut in the summer, going on to become the joint leading scorer with WFC2 alongside Caleb Clarke, with 7 goals and 2 assists in his 17 appearances. Those appearances with the USL team got Bustos ready for the pros in terms of match fitness and physically. "Getting in there and playing for 90 minutes, it's great for a guy like me," he feels. "The way we play, to get that style and bring it to the first team, it's great to get those minutes rather than just be training all the time. It's good. It makes me grab more confidence and I couldn't ask for anything better." Moving from excelling in youth football to continuing to excel in the highly competitive ranks of USL is one thing, but Bustos has already found out that making the further move up to MLS is another whole other level again. "Obviously MLS is more demanding and everyone is on top of everybody, but it makes you play better," Bustos said after his debut in Dallas. "Having guys pushing you, pushing you, pushing you, makes you not want to make a mistake, so you're always trying to do your best. With USL, I'm just trying to get everyone into the play and most of the balls are coming to me." Of course, amidst all the good times for Bustos with his MLS debut comes the stark reality of the Whitecaps plight right now. As exciting as his first appearance of the season was for him, it came in a defeat for the 'Caps, which he's fully aware of, but in his confident manner, he sees this as just a mere blip for the club right now. "Personally, I'm excited, but for the team, we've just got to keep going till we reach our last steps in this MLS season," Bustos added. "I think we're going to get through it, go to the playoffs and we're going to go far in the playoffs. That's all I can say." And Bustos may still have a large part to play in that goal.
  13. Make your choice, are you Team Benny's http://teespring.com/yogatdatrightbennys or Team Phillip's Bakery http://teespring.com/PhillipsBakery The Fall Collection of the Two Solitudes Soccer Podcast is available for a limited time only!! Until next time, have a great soccer! @TwoSolitudesPod @24thminute @KevLaramee http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/two-solitudes-soccer-podcast/id833616975?mt=2 http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-two-solitudes-mls-podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/twosolitudespod OTW Studios http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/otw-studios/id1018126433 http://feeds.feedburner.com/otwstudios http://canadiansoccernews.com http://kevinlaramee.com Support OTW Studios http://patreon.com/kevinlaramee
  14. With eleven goals through 21 appearances, a strike rate that exceeds that of his celebrated teammate, Kaka – though some have pointed to Kaka's play-making as a corollary of the Canadian's success – Cyle Larin has proved himself an exciting prospect in his first MLS season. That those eleven goals have come from just 20 shots on target is even more impressive, perhaps indicative of his precision when chances materialize. So, what is it about his game that makes him such a formidable opponent? Recalling his earliest encounters with Larin in the Fall of 2006, Sigma FC's Bobby Smyrniotis, described him thusly: “He was a typical boy, who at those ages was able to get behind defenders, score quite a lot of breakaways and so on, but you also saw that he had a love for the ball and that's what we saw in the first few sessions. “He had a good ability for the game and you knew that you could round him into a player going forward. There was possibility there, but at the same time, he was an 11 year-old, so you look at the potential at that point and you hope for the best, never knowing exactly if it's going to turn out.” It may have been all possibility back then, but as Larin stepped up to the MLS stage, Smyrniotis could be more definite on his prognosis. “People are misled sometimes by his size and his stature as he was growing up, and even in College Soccer. A lot of people will always talk about his big frame, he's a big guy and he's fast, but the best parts to his game are his feet and his technical ability. “He's a very clean player, he's very comfortable on the ball; that was a big focus on him as he developed. He was always going to be a big boy and have some athletic attributes, but to really be a top-class player and have the ability to do that it was important that he was a well-rounded soccer player: able to combine in midfield, able to play, knowing how to finish with both feet, from a lot of different ranges on the field; through combination play, getting behind, in the air, quick releases; all of these things, a lot of this is starting to show in his game, obviously at this level in MLS.” Smyrniotis, who watches every match Cyle plays and stays in contact with his protege, when asked for his favourite moment from the nascent professional career offered up this response. “I'll always say his first goal. It's something special, and it's also something different that showed a little of his ability to score in different ways. He took it off the chest and it wasn't by accident he did that, and I thought, very good looking.” Natural and learned talent are one thing, but for Jason deVos, another aspect of the young player has grabbed his attention. “What I really like about him is what I hear from the coaches that have worked with him,” said deVos. “I've talked to Adrian Heath, I've talked to Mark Watson, a former National Team teammate, about him. The one thing that really jumps off the page about Larin is his willingness, his desire to learn and take in knowledge, to improve and get better. “By no means does he believe he's the finished article, he's only 20 years-old, he's got a long, long career ahead of him, both for Orlando and for Canada. One of the key ingredients of any successful player professionally is that they have to learn and develop and get better from day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year, and I've seen evidence of that from him just this season in his first year. And also from talking to his coaches that are working with him on a daily basis, that's one of the first things they say about him: that he's getting better all the time, which is a real plus for him.” But deVos also cautioned about expecting too much, too soon of the player; a poignant point given the tendency of the desperate to exaggerate hope. “It's very, very early in his national team career for putting any expectation on his shoulders. It's quite unfair really to have anyone suggest that he's going to be the one to carry the goal-scoring weight that the National Team will require. “But he's got a lot of promise, he's got a lot of potential. He's already shown in his professional career so far this year that he is capable of scoring goals at the professional level. Now, there's a big jump up from scoring goals in MLS to scoring goals internationally, and I think we need a bigger body of work to really assess whether he can make that transition. “It's a big step up, make no mistake about it, going from playing in MLS to leading the line for your country and hopefully leading them to qualification is a big, big jump. I think it's really unfair to put that pressure on him, because I just don't think that he's ready yet to bear that responsibility.” Larin has already registered two goals in qualifying, scoring in each leg against Dominica, but given the struggles at the Gold Cup, perhaps it would be wise to take deVos' advice and not expect Larin to be the answer to every problem. He cut a frustrated figure in the first leg against Belize, unable to get the final touch required to find the back of the net on several occasions. His ability to get into those spots, however, is reason enough to celebrate, if in an understated manner. Give the kid time, let him continue to learn and develop, while the rest of the team coalesces for the challenge of qualification. He will not be the solution alone, but his addition does make the math a touch more palatable. In the first post in this series, the Story Behind the 'C' in Cyle was explained, while the second looked back for a comparable Canadian Talent. James can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View In the course of preparation for a feature on Cyle Larin for MLSsoccer.com there were several interesting points that had to be left out of the final draft. As such, over the past week, with Canada on the verge of moving on to the next stage of World Cup Qualification campaign following the away leg of the series against Belize on September 8, those threads have been fleshed out here at Canadian Soccer News. The third in the series: What it is about Larin's game that makes him such a potent striker? With eleven goals through 21 appearances, a strike rate that exceeds that of his celebrated teammate, Kaka – though some have pointed to Kaka's play-making as a corollary of the Canadian's success – Cyle Larin has proved himself an exciting prospect in his first MLS season. That those eleven goals have come from just 20 shots on target is even more impressive, perhaps indicative of his precision when chances materialize. So, what is it about his game that makes him such a formidable opponent? Recalling his earliest encounters with Larin in the Fall of 2006, Sigma FC's Bobby Smyrniotis, described him thusly: “He was a typical boy, who at those ages was able to get behind defenders, score quite a lot of breakaways and so on, but you also saw that he had a love for the ball and that's what we saw in the first few sessions. “He had a good ability for the game and you knew that you could round him into a player going forward. There was possibility there, but at the same time, he was an 11 year-old, so you look at the potential at that point and you hope for the best, never knowing exactly if it's going to turn out.” It may have been all possibility back then, but as Larin stepped up to the MLS stage, Smyrniotis could be more definite on his prognosis. “People are misled sometimes by his size and his stature as he was growing up, and even in College Soccer. A lot of people will always talk about his big frame, he's a big guy and he's fast, but the best parts to his game are his feet and his technical ability. “He's a very clean player, he's very comfortable on the ball; that was a big focus on him as he developed. He was always going to be a big boy and have some athletic attributes, but to really be a top-class player and have the ability to do that it was important that he was a well-rounded soccer player: able to combine in midfield, able to play, knowing how to finish with both feet, knowing how to from a lot of different ranges on the field; through combination play, getting behind, in the air, quick releases; all of these things, a lot of this is starting to show in his game, obviously at this level in MLS.” Smyrniotis, who watches every match Cyle plays and stays in contact with his protege, when asked for his favourite moment from the nascent professional career offered up this response. “I'll always say his first goal. It's something special, and it's also something different that showed a little of his ability to score in different ways. He took it off the chest and it wasn't by accident he did that, and I thought, very good looking.” Natural and learned talent are one thing, but for Jason deVos, another aspect of the young player has grabbed his attention. “What I really like about him is what I hear from the coaches that have worked with him,” said deVos. “I've talked to Adrian Heath, I've talked to Mark Watson, a former National Team teammate, about him. The one thing that really jumps off the page about Larin is his willingness, his desire to learn and take in knowledge, to improve and get better. “By no means does he believe he's the finished article, he's only 20 years-old, he's got a long, long career ahead of him, both for Orlando and for Canada. One of the key ingredients of any successful player professionally is that they have to learn and develop and get better from day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year, and I've seen evidence of that from him just this season in his first year. And also from talking to his coaches that are working with him on a daily basis, that's one of the first things they say about him: that he's getting better all the time, which is a real plus for him.” But deVos also cautioned about expecting too much, too soon of the player; a poignant point given the tendency of the desperate to exaggerate hope. “It's very, very early in his national team career for putting any expectation on his shoulders. It's quite unfair really to have anyone suggest that he's going to be the one to carry the goal-scoring weight that the National Team will require. “But he's got a lot of promise, he's got a lot of potential. He's already shown in his professional career so far this year that he is capable of scoring goals at the professional level. Now, there's a big jump up from scoring goals in MLS to scoring goals internationally, and I think we need a bigger body of work to really assess whether he can make that transition. “It's a big step up, make no mistake about it, going from playing in MLS to leading the line for your country and hopefully leading them to qualification is a big, big jump. I think it's really unfair to put that pressure on him, because I just don't think that he's ready yet to bear that responsibility.” Larin has already registered two goals in qualifying, scoring in each leg against Dominica, but given the struggles at the Gold Cup, perhaps it would be wise to take deVos' advice and not expect Larin to be the answer to every problem. He cut a frustrated figure in the first leg against Belize, unable to get the final touch required to find the back of the net on several occasions. His ability to get into those spots, however, is reason enough to celebrate, if in an understated manner. Give the kid time, let him continue to learn and develop, while the rest of the team coalesces for the challenge of qualification. He will not be the solution alone, but his addition does make the math a touch more palatable. In the first post in this series, the Story Behind the 'C' in Cyle was explained, while the second looked back for a comparable Canadian Talent. James can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View
  15. The last few years have been tough on fans of Canadian soccer. Successive underwhelming Gold Cups, the 'best midfield in CONCACAF' passing their prime, further frustrations in World Cup Qualification, and player defections, not to mention the match that shall not be named. But in the background, a solid core of young talent has come to the forefront. There is no need to read out the roll call, readers of Canadian Soccer News will be well aware of the names, but with Qualification for the 2018 World Cup underway, and Canada suffering through a lack of goals, one player stands atop that list: Cyle Larin. Playing with Orlando City SC in MLS after a stellar NCAA career at UConn, Larin has racked up 11 goals through 21 appearances in his rookie season to sit on the cusp of a new record for the last five matches. He looked to have set the mark on the weekend in Chicago, but the tally was deemed an own-goal off Fire defender Eric Gehrig, despite claims from Larin to the contrary. No need to worry, Larin has seven games remaining to achieve the feat. In ten caps for the National Team, Larin has already netted three goals, scoring in a friendly against Puerto Rico in March before taking chances in each leg of the Second Round series of 2018 Qualification against Dominica. He, like the rest of the side, failed to score in this summer's Gold Cup, despite a glorious chance or two, but that has done little to diminish the hope that Larin represents. The question remains: When was the last time Canada had a potential striking talent like Larin in their midst? For TSN Analyst Jason deVos, the answer came quickly: “The one, from looking back over the last 20 years or so, that really stands out, would be someone like Tomasz Radzinski, who scored goals at a young age in the old CSL and then went overseas and had success there and then joined the Canadian team.” “He was the one,” continued deVos, “that everyone looked at as being somebody that could score goals for the best part of a decade for Canada. He certainly had his ups and downs with the National Team, given his situation in Europe at the time, but someone like Tomasz, who was an exciting prospect as a youngster” was the answer. Radzinski, who enjoyed a stellar, if migratory, career in Europe – he scored some 190 goals in 500 appearances (according to Wikipedia, apologies) – was limited to 46 appearances for Canada over a fourteen-year span, scoring ten goals. “Cyle has that same level of excitement about him” noted deVos, though he was quick to point out Larin is, “a much different player,” with “a much different style of play.” A historical side note worth pointing out is that the only previous time Canada and Belize have met – back at a similar stage of qualification for the 2006 World Cup – Radzinski scored in both legs. As to whether deVos expects Larin to get the start against Belize on Saturday, he was less certain, “It's a hard one. You put a lot of pressure on a kid. The National Team program has been starved for success for a long, long time now, and it's difficult to just throw a youngster in there and expect him to score goals right from the get-go.” Over-expectation led to some minor soul-searching over the miss against El Salvador in the opening match of the Gold Cup, but deVos whisks away such reactionary despair, “I don't think that he should lose any sleep over that, every player makes mistakes, the important thing is that they learn from those mistakes. Given what I've heard from his coaching staff in Orlando, he's certainly learning, so I would certainly think he'll be in contention to start.” “Looking at that first series with Belize, it's one that we have to win, and to do so you have to score goals, and someone like Cyle Larin has proven he can do that, It's going to be a wait-and-see, but I won't be surprised at all if he's leading the line when it comes time to play Belize.” That is a decision that Benito Floro will have to make ahead of Friday's match. In the first post in this series, the Story behind the 'C' in Cyle was explained. Rest in Peace Graham, we owe you a huge debt of gratitude for sharing your passion for the game with a generation of Canadians. James can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View
  16. Unique names are not rare in sport. One theory, is that such an identifying feature helps an athlete stand out in the crowd. They are memorable amidst a sea of James' and Michael's. Larin was thrust onto the Canadian soccer scene at the start of 2014, called into National Team camps while still playing college ball at the University of Connecticut. The 20-year old forward saw his first minutes for Canada against Bulgaria in May, then still only 19, and has since delighted fans in Orlando with his play in MLS, sitting on the cusp of a rookie scoring record having been selected first-overall in the 2015 SuperDraft. Throughout it all, the 'C' has been a curiosity. Undoubtedly already known in some circles, a conversation with Jason Bent, the head coach of TFC II last week began to unravel the enigma, flushing out the details behind the unique moniker. Bent was asked about whether Toronto FC were ever aware of Larin's talent, developing so close to the city proper, in Brampton – his hometown – and Mississauga – where he trained with Sigma FC. “Funny you say that,” smiled Bent. “My cousin is his godmother and she brought him to my attention when he was about 13, 14 years old and I was working in the TFC Academy at that point in time.” Bent, at the prompting of one astute reporter, who asked 'isn't that where his name came from?', would go on to recount how his cousin, Cimone, the aforementioned godmother, and did indeed play a role in the letter selection. Cyle's mother, Patricia Larin picked up the story later that week. “Her and I grew up together, practically like sisters. When Cyle was born I wanted a name that had a Kha-sound, and I liked the name Kyle, so I said 'How about Kyle?' and she said 'Well, why not spell it with a C?', 'Alright, (I'll) spell it with a C'” she explained with a laugh. Mystery solved, no over-tired and under-caffeinated hospital orderly to be pointed to, it was an homage to a close family-friend. Ms. Larin, an unceasing supporter of her son, continued, “I know a lot of people make fun of how I spell his name, but I just joke back, 'C' is the Canadian way.” And if Cyle is part of the new generation tasked with rejuvenating Canadian soccer, perhaps one day soon with a 'C' will become the new norm, leaving everyone to wonder why is was ever spelt with a 'K' in the first place. Before drifting into the wilderness once more, I wanted to apologize for not keeping up to date with the Canadian Content posts. With new developments, it has been difficult to commit the time required to do the job correctly. I fear it may have gotten away from me, but will endeavour to catch back up over the coming weeks, perhaps in a much-condensed form to ease the travail. Much has happened worthy of note. James can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View
  17. Cyle Larin Larin made his second-straight start for Orlando City as they beat Colorado 2-0 midweek in Round 17, adding another goal to his impressive rookie campaign – it was his tenth start and thirteenth appearance of the season. Following a quiet first half, Larin came to life in the second, making a good near-post run towards a cross from Carlos Rivas on the left. Similar movement allowed him to direct a right-sided Rafael Ramos cross on goal, but it was easily saved. Having gotten his aim set, Larin would score in the 62nd minute, getting on the end of another Rivas ball as the speedy wide attacker beat Joseph Greenspan down the left to hit a curling ball behind the Colorado back-line. Larin arrived perfectly to guide a right-footed touch past Clint Irwin to give the hosts the lead - it was his sixth goal for Orlando this year. The Brampton, Ontario-native contributed defensively as well, covering the dangerous Drew Moor on a Rapids free-kick, marking him all the way back to the Lions six-yard box. Larin had three shots – two on and one off, completed seven of eight passes, and added a clearance to his name before making way for Pedro Ribeiro in the 69th minute. Prior to departing for the Canada camp, Larin discussed the result post-match. Jonathan Osorio Osorio started both of TFC's Round 17 matches, beating Montreal 3-1 on Wednesday and drawing 0-0 against a steadfast DC United on Saturday – they were his eleventh and twelfth starts of the season. Against Montreal in a thrilling Toronto night, Osorio was excellent in the build-up, completing all but four of his some-35 passes, making seven recoveries, two tackles, and an interception; getting a little dirty with a pair of fouls. As he has in recent weeks, the Toronto, Ontario-native looked more and more comfortable with his role in a midfield dominated by Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco's need to get on the ball. Drifting wide, Osorio would receive a ball from deep and look to feed either of his higher profile teammates, alternative wide and central movements in search of the ball and space. He showed some excellent footwork out wide, skipping over a tackle to set up Giovinco, who saw his attempt blocked. And nearly stole in on goal himself, making an overlapping run down the left to get on the end of a Jozy Altidore pass. The ball was a tad underhit, allowing Bakary Soumare to get in the required blocking tackle – Osorio's only attempt at goal, blocked. Come Saturday, he reprised his left-sided midfield role with another sublime passing display, completing all but four of his 37 attempts. His aim was still a little off, that first goal of the season still proving elusive, dragging a low shot from the top of the box after Giovinco found him atop the arc. Osorio stepped around the sliding Nick DeLeon, but his effort was wide of the right-post. Osorio showed further good vision to lay a ball down the left-side of the area, picking out the run of Giovinco with a through-ball, but Bill Hamid was equal to the threat. He added four recoveries and a foul to his afternoon. Jay Chapman Chapman featured in both of TFC's Round 17 matches, coming on as a sub in each, before getting his first MLS start the following week in LA – bring his season appearance total up to five. Against Montreal, he came on in the 78th minute for Marky Delgado with Toronto already in a 2-1 lead – a third would seal up the result shortly. Chapman contributed some strong work down the right side, both offensively and defensively, sending in a good cross that won a corner kick and helping to see out the victory. He completed seven of his ten passes, adding two recoveries and a tackle, committing one foul. In DC on Saturday, the Brampton, Ontario-native again came on in the 78th minute, this time for Osorio, once more putting in a solid, if brief, shift. He completed eight of ten passes, made two tackles and a recovery, committing another single foul. There was one play in particular that showed a glimpse of what Chapman can be: a tenacious and versatile central midfielder with good range. He drifted out wide to confront Chris Korb on the ball, muscling him off it, then deftly plucking away the now-loosened ball to initiate a Toronto move – very well done. The rookie would get his first start in LA a week later, manning the left-side of the midfield. Despite the tough outing for Toronto – they lost 4-0 – Chapman showed well, intercepting a Baggio Husidic ball and laying a pass down the left for Giovinco that was a little too far ahead of the Italian phenom. A Justin Morrow ball was played a touch beyond his reach and a cross into the area from Chapman was cut out by Leonardo. Defensively he was solid, intercepting a Robbie Keane ball played across the top of the box and clearing the danger, tracking back to hurry Keane on a later chance, preventing the hat-trick scorer from getting a clean shot off from the top of the arc, and hacking down Robbie Rogers in the middle, escaping a booking for his zealotry. He would make way for Dan Lovitz in the 70th minute – his longest outing of the season – having completed 27 of 35 passes, making four recoveries and a clearance, conceding just a single foul. He was back on the bench in Round 19 when Toronto played in New York. Kofi Opare Opare returned to the starting lineup following a two-match absence for DC's Round 17 midweek match in Chicago, taking up his left-sided centre-back role alongside Bobby Boswell. Opare barely missed a beat, rising up with the Chicago keeper to guide a header wide from a left-sided Luis Silva corner kick and showing a stellar burst of pace to get back and pressure Kennedy Igboananike on a break, forced a rushed shot that hit the outside of the post. That same recovery ability was on display again when Mike Magee was able to ghost in behind the DC back-line, receiving a long pass from Guly do Prado. Opare made up the ground quickly, preventing Magee from making the most of his fortune. Having completed 24 of 30 passes, while racking up seven clearances, five recoveries, four interceptions, and two tackles on the night, Opare was a massive presence in the air as Chicago flung ball in late, looking for an equalizer, helping his side see out the 0-1 win away from home. Despite that impressive contribution, the Niagara Falls-raised Opare was an unused substitute on the weekend in Toronto and again the following round when DC travelled to Seattle. Ashtone Morgan Having missed the midweek round, Morgan returned to the Toronto starting eleven on Saturday to make one final appearance before joining Canada – it was his twelfth start of the season. From his familiar left-back role, Morgan was able to find acres of space up that flank with DC laying off and staying compact. His best play of the match was a sneaky throw-in combination with Giovinco that nearly allowed the Italian maestro to steal in down the left-side of the area. The Toronto, Ontario-native would be scythed down by Facundo Coria in the 89th minute, the DC sub seeing a yellow card for his action, and Morgan would have a go at goal himself from distance following a half-cleared corner kick, but it was blocked. He completed just seventeen of his 32 passes, but made five recoveries, four tackles, three clearances, and an interception, winning a trio of fouls in the process. Maxim Tissot Tissot got the nod when Montreal visited Toronto for a midweek Round 17 encounter, making his fourth start of the season. On the left-side of the midfield, the Gatineau, Quebec-native had a rather quiet match. He had one good passage, making a strong inside run that led to a chance for Jack McInerney. That attempt was blocked and Andres Romero's follow-up went wide. Tissot contributed at the back on occasion, tracking deep to help contain and pester Giovinco. He completed fifteen of 23 passes, made two recoveries, one clearance, and one tackle, before being replaced by Duka in the 57th minute. He was on the bench come the weekend when Montreal travelled to Philadelphia. Tesho Akindele Akindele began Dallas' Texas derby against Houston on the bench, coming on in the 60th minute for David Texeira, to make his final appearance before the Gold Cup – it was his fifteenth appearance of the season and sixth from the bench. With his side already ahead by two goals, Akindele injected some energy into seeing out the result, beating DaMarcus Beasley to whip a low ball through the box and getting past the full-back once more to pick out Mauro Diaz with a pull-back – it was cut out before reaching it's target. Akindele too chipped in defensively, winning a corner kick in his own area. The Calgary, Alberta-native completed 19 of his 22 passes, made three recoveries and a clearance in his half-hour, winning a pair of foul and conceding one. One day earlier, it was announced that he had extended his tenure with Dallas, signing a new, multi-year deal that will see him with the club through 2018. Patrice Bernier Bernier featured in both of Montreal's Round 17 matches, coming on as a sub in Toronto before starting way to Philadelphia on the weekend. Against Toronto, the Brossard, Quebec-native entered the fray in the 77th minute for Ignacio Piatti, completing ten of his twelve passing, adding three recoveries, an interception, and a clearance in his brief cameo. Inserted into the starting eleven in Philly, sitting deep in the midfield alongside Callum Mallace, Bernier had a difficult evening against a rampant Union attack, hitting their stride, though Montreal scrapped to a 2-2 draw. He would see a yellow card in the 22nd minute – his first of the season – for blocking off a Cristian Maidana run, ending a potential counterattack. Bernier would come up with a key block in the area against Maidana who attempted an end-line run. Having cut back on Laurent Ciman, Maidana looked to play into the area, but Bernier stayed with him, ending the threat. With Philadelphia on the front foot, Bernier was forced to do a lot of deep tracking. He would pick up a second yellow card in the 67th minute for a rash sliding challenge on Vincent Nogueira, who attempted to initiate another counter. The ensuing red card was Bernier's first in MLS in his 95th appearance for the Impact. It was very uncharacteristic of the veteran midfielder, who has seen just thirteen bookings in his four seasons with Montreal, though it was his fourth foul of the match. Bernier's passing was again supreme, missing just one of some thirty attempts, adding five recoveries, two clearances, two tackles, and an interception prior to departing. He owned up to his error post-match. Having served his one-match suspension, Bernier was on the bench against Columbus in Round 19. Marcel de Jong de Jong made his eighth start of the season for Kansas City as they beat Colorado 2-0 on the Saturday night of Round 17 – it was his ninth and final appearance before a Gold Cup enforced hiatus. Ostensibly manning the left-back position, de Jong was an attacking force, winning a corner kick with an early cross that greatly troubled Clint Irwin and ballooning a later effort well over the bar. His flair in attack is admirable – he made a dashing inside run in the 41st minute to collect a knockdown from Krisztian Nemeth and laying a ball down the side of the area for Dom Dwyer, it skipped just beyond the striker's reach – but when committed forward, it leaves him capable of being exposed at the back – his positioning was found faulty when Luis Solignac was sent in down the attacking-right, but Tim Melia bailed out his teammate, making the save and holding the rebound. The Newmarket, Ontario-native would complete twelve of his 23 passes, compiling five clearances, four interceptions, three recoveries, and three tackles before making way for Saad Abdul-Salaam in the 78th minute. Will Johnson Johnson started his fourth and fifth matches of the season for Portland over Rounds 17 and 18, helping to guide his side to a pair of wins over Western Conference opponents, Seattle and San Jose. In the 4-1 win over Seattle, Johnson was strong, but still looked like a man still finding his feet after the long injury lay-off. Sitting deep for most of the match, the Toronto-born midfielder was not involved in much of the attack, though he did make his impact felt. Fanendo Adi was able to collect the rebound from a weak Johnson shot from distance, testing Stefan Frei with an effort, and Johnson played a secondary role in forcing the turnover that led to Adi's second goal, playing an early pass in the build-up as well. His only shot was blocked, but Johnson completed 37 of his 42 passes, ending the match with two recoveries and two clearances, committing and winning a pair of fouls each way. The following weekend against San Jose, Johnson was again conservatively influential, once more sitting deep, orchestrating and supporting from there. This time however, he had four shots, some good, some not so much. He horribly screwed a right-footer wide from the top of the box after Darlington Nagbe pulled back to him, but he nearly made amends for that minutes before half-time with another attempt from distance – some thirty yards – that bent agonizingly wide of the top right-corner of the goal. Another attempt in the second half, this time from an Adi layoff, was blocked, and his final attempt at goal was a supreme example of his iron will (get it?), fighting off a pair of defenders to get on the end of an Alvas Powell cross from the right at the back-post, directing his header towards goal, requiring a block and winning a corner. There was one comical moment when Gaston Fernandez thought he had scored a late-winner, only to be denied by the off-side flag. Johnson recovered his discarded shirt and pointed out the assistant referee, somehow helping to avoid a booking for his frustrated teammate. Portland would find the eventual winner. Johnson completed 35 of 42 passes, adding seven recoveries and four tackles, committing a single foul. Anthony Jackson-Hamel Jackson-Hamel came on in the 83rd minute for Dilly Duka in Montreal's 1-2 home loss to New York City in Round 18 – it was his fourth such appearance of the season. With the Impact having fallen behind to a second David Villa strike, Jackson-Hamel joined Jack McInerney up top in search of a late equalizer. The Quebec City, Quebec-native nearly proved the hero, but just could not stretch enough to get on the end of a Marco Donadel free-kick. His stat-line for the brief cameo was all zeros. He was an unused substitute in Round 19 when Montreal hosted Columbus. Jordan Hamilton Hamilton entered Toronto's heavy loss in Los Angeles in the 86th minute, replacing Robbie Findley with the score already three goals in the Galaxy's favour – it was his first run-out of the season. The Scarborough, Ontario-native was energetic, but could not make headway against a tough LA defense, though he did complete all three of his passes. He was an unused substitute the following round in New York. The Rest Kianz Froese was on the bench for all three of Vancouver's matches over this spell, but failed to see any playing time following the opening of his account last round. He was however the subject of a feature at MLSsoccer.com, expressing his thoughts on scoring his first MLS goal. Wandrille Lefevre was an unused substitute for Montreal in Rounds 17 and 18. There was some huge news for the French-born defender on July 2nd, as he became a Canadian citizen in a ceremony held at Stade Saputo – mmm, Maple crème cookies. Russell Teibert was on the bench for Vancouver in New England in Round 17, but was not used, departing for Canada and the Gold Cup shortly thereafter. Chris Mannella was an unused substitute for Toronto in LA. Each week (ideally) James takes a look at the contributions of Canadians in the league. He can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View
  18. The Whitecaps are getting a pretty fresh Teibert back in the squad. The 22-year-old didn't start any of Canada's Gold Cup games, coming on as a sub in all three matches for a combined total of just 49 minutes. Benito Floro's decision not to start Teibert raised ire in some quarters. It shouldn't have been a surprise though, as Floro has only started the Whitecap twice in the past two years. After some friction between the pair at the start of last year, it looked like the Spaniard had buried the hatchet after starting Teibert in the World Cup qualifier in Dominica at the start of June. He even scored, albeit just from a penalty, but they all count and it was his first international goal. But then the Gold Cup came around and Teibert found himself back out of favour. Frustrating? I'm sure it was, but he wasn't showing it back in Vancouver, instead focusing on the positives from his experience at the tournament. "It's a learning experience for me again," Teibert said. "I walk out of that tournament with my head held high. Walking out confident because I did everything I could for my country. "Whether it was in a starting position or whether it was coming off the bench, I wanted to play whatever role the coach asked me to play and I did, to the best of my ability." Canada's loss is the Whitecaps gain and head coach Carl Robinson will now have Teibert available for this weekend's crucial Cascadia Cup clash in Portland. The young Canadian is unlikely to see the start. He admits he still needs to get back up to full match sharpness after having not played a full 90 minutes for a while, but expect him to feature at some stage during the game. Robinson is delighted to have a relatively fresh Teibert back in his squad, although he wouldn't be drawn on Floro's decision not to use his player more. Well not too drawn! "Rusty came on in three games, so I'm delighted he managed to get three more international caps under his belt," was Robinson's take. "I thought the game against Costa Rica, he came on and was lively. "Each manager has his own decisions and dilemmas. Benito's decision to not start Rusty was his decision. Rightfully or wrongly, that's his decision. You'll have to ask him about that." And despite the lack of gametime, Robinson feels that Teibert still has a very bright future ahead of him on the international stage. But for now, his prime concern is Teibert as a Whitecap. "Do I think Rusty's got a big future for Canada?," Robinson asked. "Without a doubt. He's got a big part to play for me here right now. He'll be involved at the weekend. "It's great to have him back because he brings an energy about him and about the place. I'm delighted that he's playing international football again because this time last year he wasn't. He wasn't even in the mix. Step by step. You can't run before you can walk." Teibert has primarily played as a defensive midfielder under Robinson in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Under Canada, with their one man DM role, Teibert has been playing a more attacking role and on the wing. Confusing for the player or a chance for the Whitecaps to see one of their guys in a different position without having to do the experimenting themselves? "I actually don't mind it," Robinson told us. "I want my players to learn to play in different positions. When Martin [Rennie] was manager here, Rusty played on the right side of midfield, even though he's left footed, and he played some very, very good games. "I wanted to try and play Rusty in a more central role because I think his attributes bring a lot to the table. The way he gets on the ball, the way he covers ground, the way he connects passes and he's done fantastic for me in that role. "Benito plays him on the right, like he's played before, it's great. Part of players development is being able to play in a number of positions and fortunately Rusty can. I even played him at left back today [in training], which is good!" Some of Floro's team selections and tactics may have been frustrating, but the entire Gold Cup campaign was a downright disappointment, as Canada once again crashed out of the Group Stage, winless and goalless for the second straight tournament. Although Teibert feels that there were positives that could be taken from Canada's performance, he acknowledged that work still needs to be done in certain areas and particularly in the scoring department. "I'm proud of the team because we created chances and kept a couple of clean sheets," Teibert began. "But again it felt like the same old story of not being able to finish off our chances. Not being able to score a goal. I think we just got to keep plugging away and if we can finish off our chances, we put ourselves in a good position." But can they actually find the ability to do that? After the failure at the 2013 Gold Cup, surely no-one thought that another tournament with no goals was on the cards? "It's happened in the past," Teibert said. "You go into a tournament with every expectation, with every possibility. Obviously you don't want that to happen. You try and make a difference, do as much as you can. But at the end of the day, things happen the way they do and things happen for a reason." I'm sure we're all eager to eventually find out just what that reason is and whether a truckload of broken mirrors was involved. But for now, Teibert turns his full focus back on to the Whitecaps and he's fired up to return for a Cascadian derby down in Portland. And he'll be facing a familiar face, and a good friend of his, in Will Johnson down there. Johnson turned down the opportunity to join Canada's Gold Cup squad as he continues his return from injury. Whether that will put him in Floro's doghouse will remain to be seen, but all Teibert knows is that he can't wait to get back to battling him on the pitch again this weekend. "He made a decision not to go to the Gold Cup for personal reasons," Teibert said of Johnson. "I can't really speak too much about that because I don't know the full story. It's always nice to play against him and it'll be a battle, not only between us but between both sides." After all the disappointments of the past few weeks, Teibert just can't wait to get back into action with the 'Caps again and they don't come much bigger to return for than an away Cascadian derby. "It's a big game," Teibert said. "A big game in a lot of different ways. Cascadia match. Playoff hunt already. Rivalry. Personally, playing against Will. Him coming back from injury. Our fans travelling down to Portland. It's going to be an exciting match and I can't wait to just be there."
  19. We've made our feelings known on this a lot over the years. That's a debate (again) for a whole other day, but in summary, we're always club before country. Whether that be my home one of Scotland or my adopted one of Canada, that feeling is the same. We're a Whitecaps site. Ultimately, we don't care what country the Whitecaps players come from, we want to see a winning side and the best players making the squad and getting the playing time because of their talent, not their passport. That said, we also absolutely love it when "one of our own" makes it and a youth player we've followed, talked to and supported from the Residency ranks comes through the pathway to the first team. That's why this site is packed with coverage of the 'Caps USL, U18 and U16 teams. For others, country comes first and Canadian clubs, whether at MLS, NASL or USL level should primarily be concerned with developing homegrown talent to help the national team and help Canada qualify for another World Cup. Always easy to say when it's not your money being spent on running said club. And for those people, the Whitecaps can do no right. How dare they play South American talent when there's Canadians that should be playing? How dare they actually do what they exist for and try and win trophies and make playoffs by playing their best players? The irony of it all, is that if you look at the Whitecaps developmental pyramid and its aims, the national team actually sits at the top of the pyramid, with the MLS team nestling in underneath. That doesn't fit their narrative though. Homegrown player development has been at the forefront of the Whitecaps since the current ownership group took over. The club deem it as a success goal but feel that it's still very much an ongoing process. "Once Greg Kerfoot and Jeff [Mallett] and the two Steves [Nash and Luczo] got involved, it was really a primary focus for us," Whitecaps President Bobby Lenarduzzi told media at an executive roundtable on Monday. "We wanted to be a club that developed players and as a result of that, we invested significantly in it. I think we have been trailblazers in MLS. "When we entered the league, our questions were actually related to what can we do with player development and we were actually getting back from them not a lot of information because clubs hadn't been interested in developing players. When you look at what's going on now, I think we were the catalyst to get that going." The 'Caps admit that it hasn't all been smooth sailing and there have been errors made to get to where they are at right now. "In our regard, we started up and I can be the first to tell you that we made mistakes along the way because we didn't have a model in North America to follow," Lenarduzzi added. "We couldn't emulate what they do in Europe because they don't have scholarship opportunities there. "They have infrastructure, they have league play. We didn't have any of that. So we've actually come a long way in that regard and I think we're starting to see the benefits of that now." Indeed they are. The Whitecaps now lead the league in homegrown talent on their MLS roster, a stat Lenarduzzi says makes him "very proud". It currently stands at eight and counting. The ultimate goal is to have 50% of the MLS roster made up of homegrown, developed players in a five to ten year timeframe. This season is shaping up to see the highest percentage of minutes played by Canadians for the Whitecaps in the MLS era (get all the stats on that on the excellent Out Of Touch blog). Again, that doesn't fit the whole narrative for those that feel that the Whitecaps don't do enough (anything?) for Canadian soccer. Neither does the excellent work done by the 'Caps in their Residency program in producing the talent that packs Canada's U23, U20 and youth teams. It's at national team level that the naysayers point figures. Why aren't the three Canadian MLS clubs packed to the brim with Canadian players? That's what Benito Floro certainly feels judging by his pre-Gold Cup media conference call where he described MLS as "a foreign league" out to help the "American program". "We have three teams who are playing in MLS," Floro added. "But only two or three players are starting. That’s a bad position for us, no?" To be fair, he is correct. But is that the fault of the clubs or a good indication that the players aren't good enough for that level compared to who else is on their squads? If he wants the answer, he should look at his recent results with Canada. Right now there are 10 MLS players on Canada's Gold Cup squad. Only one of them is a Whitecap, Russell Teibert, and he's not a starter under Floro. So is that the 'Caps fault as well? The solution for Floro is a Canadian league. That would also appear to be the path that the Canadian Soccer Association want to go down. All the murmurs points to the CSA establishing a D1 Canadian league, with an announcement imminent. Canada DOES need a national domestic league. Just not a top tier one. There is no way it can rival Major League Soccer right now, despite what the fantasists and idealists would have you believe. A 2026 World Cup bid aside, a domestic league is the only way to grow the game here and have a decent place for young Canadian talent to play and develop when they're not good enough to be part of the Whitecaps, TFC or Impact set-ups. As far as Lenarduzzi is concerned, going for such a top tier league right now is not the correct way to go. "As far as a domestic league goes, we have a USL team," Lenarduzzi said. "We have teams below our MLS teams that are developing players and, in all three [MLS club] cases, the majority of players that are playing in those teams are young Canadian players. "So if we're talking about the short term and the lack of MLS players on the Canadian roster, that's unfortunately a short term view because it's not going to happen overnight. It takes time to develop players. "So in terms of four and eight year cycles, I think the next one you'll see some of the players from the Canadian teams as part of that national team that are currently trying to qualify. The next cycle, my hope is that if we're all doing our jobs properly that there's going to be more players to pick from. "As far as the Canadian league option goes, I don't think there's a real need for it quite frankly." You can picture the pitchforks being readied in some circles already! But he is correct. A D1 league does not instantly make these players world beaters overnight. Neither does playing against players of a similar ilk. They need to be challenged by top talent and be exposed to CONCACAF players and their style to succeed at international level. A D2 or D3 tier development league, in addition to the existing NASL and USL clubs would seem to be the more realistic way to go. Even having Edmonton and Ottawa moving to this new Canadian league would make sense and run it as a tier below MLS. And talking of the USL sides, the initial rumblings around the new Canadian league seem to indicate that the CSA want to have teams in the three big markets of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.Support and sustainability-wise, Vancouver would struggle to support a new side as far as we're concerned, so could there be pressure or a mandate from the CSA to force the 'Caps to move their USL team to a new Canadian league? "That's probably a question that you should ask the CSA," Whitecaps Vice President of Soccer Operations Greg Anderson told us. "But I don't think it's something that they can mandate. We've had sanctioning of our USL team and I'm sure it's something that we could work through with the CSA if they wanted to take that step to start the league." While many would have you believe that the CSA are unhappy with the Whitecaps for their perceived lack of commitment to the Canadian program, the relationship between the two parties is in fact strong. "I think it's good," Lenarduzzi said. "From our perspective, as a club, and the three MLS clubs, someone has to develop the players and you're not just going to snap your fingers and have development emerge overnight. "So there needs to be a patience there. We're all relatively new at it, but I do think over time, there will be the fruits of the labour that will start to be clear. Russell Teibert is a great example of that. Sam Adekugbe is another example of that." You can also add in the likes of Kianz Froese, Marco Bustos, and others, who are just going to get stronger as the years go on and undoubtedly play their part for both the 'Caps and Canada. The Whitecaps are more than doing their bit for the development of Canadian soccer. Don't let the naysayers tell you otherwise.
  20. Until next time, have a great soccer! @KevLaramee http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/otw-studios/id1018126433 http://feeds.feedburner.com/otwstudios http:canadiansoccernews.com
  21. Kianz Froese Froese made his sixth appearance of the season for Vancouver in their 1-2 win away to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, coming on for Kekuta Manneh in the 71st minute. Taking up a right-sided midfield position, the Cuban-born attacker was very active down that side, making a nuisance of himself with his energy. That ability would prove useful on a quick Vancouver break, racing to give Octavio Rivero an option to the right, receiving a slip pass and beating Luis Robles with a low right-footer across to the left-side of goal. Froese began the play himself, intercepting an under-hit New York ball in the centre-circle before rushing forward to score his first MLS goal. Having celebrated that moment, Froese would retain his composure, tracking all the way back to pressure Manolo Sanchez after Pa Modou Kah whiffed on a header. That effort took a little off the shot, allowing David Ousted to make the needed save and preserve the victory. He scored on his only shot of the night, completing five of his six passes, adding two interceptions and a recovery, while winning a foul. Froese was interviewed post-match. Jonathan Osorio Osorio started his tenth match of the season for Toronto FC's 0-2 loss to New York City this round – it was his fifth-straight start having recovered from an injury and lack of form that saw him miss out on three matches. Stationed on the left-side of the midfield, Osorio was a force all match long, showing some of that excellent footwork in tight spaces to play away from pressure and keep the ball moving. Over the past few weeks, Osorio has been looking more and more comfortable in the renovated TFC midfield. There were times earlier in the year when he looked a little lost for ideas, unsure of how to get involved after ceding dominance to the likes of Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco; that is no longer a concern. Tucking in a little from that left-flank, Osorio was regularly on the ball, misplaying just six of some thirty-plus attempts, and his picking of passes have taken on an interesting shape. Consider the ball that he played to Bradley that led to a Luke Moore chance: Osorio shapes as though he is going to play a cross-field ball, instead he cuts the follow-through, stabbing a ball forward. That sort of disguise on a through-ball helped Toronto work through a dense New York midfield regularly, though it did not result in any goals. The Toronto, Ontario-native may have won a penalty call on another day, taking a hefty shove in the back from defender RJ Allen on one play. He was caught a little flat-footed on an Eriq Zavaleta that led to New York's second goal, the pass was intercepted by Mix Diskerud and worked over to David Villa, who notched his second of the afternoon. Osorio would show some more good footwork at the edge of the area late to find Giovinco, but his effort was blocked. The midfielder added three recoveries, two tackles, and an interception to his stat-line, conceding a foul and winning two in a combative match. Ashtone Morgan Morgan made his eleventh start of the season for Toronto in their loss to New York City, picking up a slight knock in the process that would keep him out of TFC's midweek clash with Montreal the following round. Manning the left-back spot, Morgan was forceful all night, repeatedly sending crosses in and linking up or providing an option in attack. One cross fell to Justin Morrow at the back-post, but he could not settle it for a shot, while another ball in, after Giovinco had played him down the left, was met by Bradley, only for Josh Saunders to come up with a huge save on the TFC skipper. The Toronto, Ontario-native was harshly shown a yellow card in first half stoppage-time for a challenge on Mehdi Ballouchy, when the midfielder recklessly slid into Morgan, who pulled out of the tackle. It was his second booking of the season. He would hang one more ball up to the back-post for Moore, forcing a defensive-header out of Chris Wingert, who nearly beat his own keeper in the process. Like Osorio, Morgan was caught a little slow on New York's second goal, allowing Tommy McNamara to get goal-side in the build-up that eventually found Villa on the attacking-left in space. He would come off in the 83rd minute for Robbie Findley, having completed 26 of his 41 passes, racking up four recoveries and three tackles, committing two fouls and winning another. Cyle Larin Larin made his ninth start of the season for Orlando City as the fell 2-0 away to Montreal on Saturday – it was his twelfth appearance of his rookie season. Through the opening passages, Larin had a flurry of chances, getting on the end of a Rafael Ramos cross with his head, touching it wide as he was clattered by Montreal keeper, Evan Bush. Shortly thereafter, he would make a neat delayed run to get ball-side on the experience Laurent Ciman, deflecting a Brek Shea cross over the bar. The chances would continue in the second half, turning on a ball in the area and sending a left-footer wide – he could not quite wrap his foot around it, before chesting down a long ball from Luke Boden that he was unable to get on the end of under pressure from Ciman. A ball would run away from him in the 84th minute as he tangled with Bakary Soumare, and a chance was nicked off his boot by Ciman sixty-seconds later. The Brampton, Ontario-native would end the night with three shots, all off, having completed ten of his twelve passes, and made one clearance. He was offside twice and won a single foul. Will Johnson Johnson continued to work his way back into the Portland lineup, making a second-straight and third-overall start for the Timbers when they met Houston on Saturday night. Once more alongside Diego Chara at the base of the midfield, the Toronto-born Johnson showed glimpses of his old self, while also the occasional moment that he was still not fully up to pace. With both sides ostensibly playing five-man midfields, the match was a little muddled, the middle of the pitch clogged with bodies. And once Portland took the lead in the 34th minute through Max Urruti, Johnson tended to sit deep, protecting a lead at home. He completed all but eight of some forty-plus passes, adding eight recoveries, five interceptions, and a tackle to his night, winning a single foul as well. Johnson spoke about the team's mentality post-match: “Confidence is high, guys are playing well. The defense is getting shutouts and the attackers are finding enough goals for us to win games. It’s good. When you have that feeling, that confidence, it’s a nice thing but we’ve all got to understand it takes grinding and hard work. We are not just going to walk on the field because we have won a few games in a row and get a result. For me the biggest part mentally is we’ve stayed focused and we’ve taken it one game at a time to just get those three points.” Kyle Bekker Bekker made his eighth appearance of the season for FC Dallas in their Friday night 1-1 draw at Colorado. Coming on at half-time for Michel, Bekker took up a central position, picking up the first assist of his career with the most simple of passes, playing a short pass to Fabian Castillo on the left-corner of the box for the Colombian to do the rest. The Oakville, Ontario-native had one shot at goal himself a week after being denied his first goal by Stefan Frei, but his attempt was straight at the keeper after Michael Barrios had pulled back to him following a goal-kick that was flicked on by Blas Perez. He completed 17 of 23 passes, while making eight recoveries, a clearance, and a tackle. Patrice Bernier Bernier made his ninth appearance of the season for Montreal in their win over Orlando City, coming on in the 72nd minute for Marco Donadel. The Brossard, Quebec-native completed all but one of his twelve passes, sending a cross to the left-post for Maxim Tissot, who sent his header agonizingly wide, and then played one of his signature long balls to spring Dominic Oduro, leading to his goal in the 93rd minute. Bernier was denied an assist by Oduro's initial cross being cutout, before he beat the Orlando keeper. The veteran added a recovery and a tackle to his cameo performance. Maxim Tissot Tissot made his third start of the season for Montreal against Orlando. On the left-side of the midfield, Tissot was hammered in a challenge from Cristian Higuita through the early goings, and played a nice leading ball for Ignacio Piatti down the middle that just skittered away from him. The Gatineau, Quebec-native found himself wide open on another attack, but was overlooked by Piatti, who opted for a weak shot instead. He then failed to direct a header on target after Bernier found him attacking the back-post – his only attempt of the match. He completed 28 of his 37 passes, making six recoveries and a pair of tackles; winning and conceding a foul each way. Russell Teibert Teibert came on for Vancouver in the 88th minute for Nicolas Mezquida to make his fourth substitute's appearance of the season, bringing his season appearance total to fourteen ahead of the Gold Cup. With the Whitecaps having relinquished half of their two-goal lead, Teibert was tasked with closing out the few remaining minutes. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native completed both his passes, suceeding in keeping New York from equalizing. The Rest Tesho Akindele, Jay Chapman, Kofi Opare, and Marcel de Jong were all available this round, unused substitutes on the bench for their respective sides. Each week (normally) James takes a look at the contributions of Canadians in the league. He can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View
  22. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  23. Cyle Larin Larin may have began Orlando City's match in Chicago on the bench, but with his side trailing 2-1, he made his way on in the 66th minute, replacing Pedro Ribeiro - his third-appearance from the bench and his eleventh-overall this season. He immediately set about pestering the Fire defenses, getting into a wrestling match for position with centre-back Adailton, but his most important contribution came in the 82nd minute when he scored the fifth goal of his rookie campaign. Larin was dispossessed by Adailton, but stuck with the play, winning it back and finding a pocket of space to unleash a right-footed blast from some 25 yards, beating Jon Busch low to the left-post, his shot banking in off the woodwork. Having leveled the match at twos, the Brampton, Ontario-native would not rest on his laurels, continuing his hard work in the 86th minute when Orlando took the lead courtesy an Adailton own-goal. Carlos Rivas was sprung down the left-channel by a Kaka ball, attempting to pick out the run of Larin in the middle, only for his delivery to bank in off the Chicago centre-back. Initially, Larin had motored into position to be an option, but upon realizing the situation, he wisely used his stature to prevent the recovering Joevin Jones from getting to the trickling ball, not allowing him to make the required goal-line clearance. That goal would prove the winner, as Orlando City picked up a solid 2-3 road victory, Though his stat-line was unimpressive – he scored on his only shot, did not complete his only pass, while adding a pair of clearances and a tackle, as well as straying offside twice – Larin was the crucial factor in both of Orlando's late goals, steering the side to victory. Post-match he spoke of the importance of winning on the road: "I think it's important that we move up in the table. I think we fought back and were on them the whole game, we needed to get the ball then, then you saw it when we came back, we started playing, and we started scoring." And of turning around the match from a losing position: "I think when we really believe in each other, we'll come back. We're a really good team, and I think once we believe in each other, and play with a sense of urgency, we'll be fine." A very modest and team-based attitude from the young Canadian. He also spoke about getting ready for the Canadian National Team with World Cup Qualifying and the Gold Cup ahead. Maxim Tissot Tissot featured in two of Montreal's three fixtures over this time period, coming on against Vancouver, and starting at Columbus – he was rested in New York against City in Round Fifteen. In Wednesday's 2-1 win over Vancouver, Tissot came on for Andres Romero in the 63rd minute, taking up the right-side midfield position. He was not particularly involved in the Impact's attack down that flank, spending more of his time tracking the movement of Cristian Techera down his side. He did manage one shot – it was off-target, while completing nine of his ten passes, adding an interception and a recovery. Come Saturday and a trip to Columbus, Tissot was in the starting eleven, returning to his more familiar left-sided midfield role. Aside from playing an early ball into the box that was just a little too far ahead of Jack McInerney – Crew keeper, Steve Clark, collected it easily – the Gatineau, Quebec-native would have to wait until the 55th minute to make his mark on the match. Romero scooped a ball into the area for McInerney, who saw his sliding chance denied by Clark, but Tissot was on hand to tap in a right-footer from close range, scoring his first goal of the season. Minutes later, Tissot nearly added a second from very similar circumstances, on hand once more to pounce on the rebound from a McInerney header, only for Clark to pull-off an epic double-save – Tissot may have been offside anyways. The third-year player was at his most dangerous with his late, unmarked runs into attacking positions – he received a ball from Romero on one such occasion when the Argentine worked in from the left, only to horribly miss-hit his attempt, skewing it well wide. He would make way for Victor Cabrera in the 82nd minute with Montreal protecting a 0-2 lead, en route to a 1-2 win – Federico Higuain would score in stoppage-time. Tissot ended the match with two shots – one on (his goal) and one off, completing 14 of 23 passes, making two recoveries and an interception, committing a single foul. Post-match he noted, “It’s been a lot of time talking about getting that first win on the road, so we are really pleased. We stayed focused the entire game and stuck to the game plan tonight.” Wandrille Lefevre Lefevre started all three of Montreal's matches, bringing his season total up to four. Against Vancouver as the right-sided centre-back, he was immense defensively, racking up eight clearances, six recoveries, five blocks, two interceptions, and two tackles, all while conceding just a single foul. He showed his mobility, tracking Darren Mattocks all the way to end-line to cut out a cross, conceding a corner kick, and then moved out wide quickly to pressure Kekuta Manneh, later he did the same to Octavio Rivero, snuffing out an attack with good horizontal defending. And he was fearless in the wall, getting his head on a Pedro Morales free-kick, again directing it out for a corner. The French-born defender completed all but eight of his 35-odd passes in a winning effort. In Columbus on the weekend, he was similarly active in the face of the threat posed by Kei Kamara, one of the hottest goal-scorers in MLS. Lefevre tracked Kamara to the near-post on one chance, limiting the result to a corner kick, and then making up for a poor clearing header of his own, which fell to Kristinn Steindorsson, following up to get in a needed clearance. He did have one miscommunication with his keeper, Evan Bush, touching out for a corner when the keeper wanted to collect, but that did not prevent Montreal from seeing out the road victory. Lefever was again influential, contributing eleven clearances, two tackles, two recoveries, and an interception; again, committing just a single foul. The following weekend, a match in New York against City, was an eventful one for Lefevre, culpable on two of New York's goals, but scoring one himself in the 3-1 loss. He was dragged out wide in his pursuit of Ned Grabavoy, leading to David Villa's 31st minute strike, failing to cut out the pass that picked out Villa and was horribly isolated on New York's second, pressured into a slip and a turnover by the hard-charging of Kwadko Poku and the cunning positioning of Villa, who prevented Lefevre from playing by to his keeper by lurking, ready to intercept. Poku capitalized on the slip, stealing possession and finding Mix Diskerud, who beat Bush with a low shot. He needed his teammates to come back and provide options to play out of that dead-end. Despite those two setbacks, Lefevre would still compile seven recoveries, six clearances, two tackles, and an interception, though his passing was a bit off, completing less than half of his some 25 attempts – Montreal looked a little tired, diminishing the options. But come the 88th minute, he wiped away the frustration, scoring his first MLS goal when he arrived completely unmarked at the back-post to power a header from a deep Laurent Ciman free-kick on the left past Josh Saunders in the New York goal – it was his only 'shot' of the night. Post-match he commented on playing on a narrow pitch: “It was hard at the beginning to find our marks on this pitch. We were trying to play long balls in the first half, but we played much better in the second half. And scoring his first: “It was a great delivery by Laurent to score my first goal, but I can’t be happy because we were losing 2-0 and we still lost that game.” Lefevre was featured in an MLSsoccer.com piece around that period as well. Will Johnson Having been rested for the trip to Colorado, Johnson returned to the Portland midfield for their 2-0 win over New England, lining up alongside Diego Chara at the base of the formation – it was his second start of the season. The Toronto-born Johnson showed glimpses of his former self – putting in a strong tackle on Scott Caldwell that spurred a Timbers counter, Max Urruti would sent the chance wide, and then ripping a low right-footed shot from distance wide of the left-post having collected a lay-off from Sebastian Fernandez. His passing was succinct as ever, completing all but four of his 45-plus attempts, including one nice ball down the right for Dairon Asprilla – he would drags his shot wide of the far-post. But a woeful free-kick in the 64th minute from long-range that drifted horribly wide showed that he still has a few things to work on before it can be said he is the same ol' Will Johnson. Blushes aside, Johnson did play a role in the build-up that led to Fanendo Adi's second of the night, making one of the early passes in midfield that led to the goal, securing the 2-0 win for the Timbers. Johnson took two shots – both off-target, adding two interceptions and a recovery to his credit, conceding a single foul. He spoke about a possible return to the Canadian National Team in a feature, noting of the upcoming summer: “It’s an interesting situation. It’s a big summer for us. Obviously this is the last competitive camp before the Gold Cup, so I think it kind of makes sense to see where I’m at and see if I fit into Benito’s plans for the Gold Cup. So I’m thankful they’re giving me the opportunity to at least showcase myself.” He continued: “Obviously the timing is not great coming off a long injury, but I’m starting to feel good about where I am and think I can compete even on the international level.” As readers will know, Johnson will not be participating in the Gold Cup. Kofi Opare Opare started both of DC United's matches in Round Fourteen before spending Fifteen's match in Orlando on the bench – bringing his season start total up to twelve; it will be interesting to see how the battle for a starting position between him and Steve Birnbaum for a spot in the DC eleven. Midweek against Chicago, Opare was solid at both ends of the pitch, though he could not prevent David Accam from getting on the end of a Quincy Amarikwa ball leading to the game's opening goal in the 28th minute. He would make up for that short-coming later in the match, when despite getting beat in a battle with Amarikwa, Opare flung himself at the ground, doing just enough to put off the attack – last-ditch defending indeed. At the attacking end, he was a presence in the box, getting on the end of successive corner kicks, both directed off-target under heavy pressure – he would end the night with three attempts at goal – two off and one blocked. Opare completed all but five of some 35-passes, making six recoveries, three clearances, two interceptions, a block, and a tackle throughout. Post-match he disgusted the game of two halves – DC fell behind in the first before responding with three in the second for the 3-1 home win: “Obviously the first half started a little slow. It looked a little lethargic I thought. The second half we, at half time, had time to regroup and adjust some things tactically and I think we made some minor changes that in the second half we implemented. Obviously with the addition of Fabi definitely helped us. Him, Davy, they definitely made a difference when they came on. Also, Facundo as well.” On Saturday against Toronto FC, the Ghana-born, Niagara Falls-raised defender had his hands full with the machinations of Sebastian Giovinco. Giovinco got the better of him from a Luke Moore through-ball - Andrew Dykstra rushed out to force the attacker wide – but Opare made amends in their next meeting, getting out wide left to close down Giovinco, forcing a rushed-shot that was off-target. Giovinco would win the next one, Opare unable to keep pace with his dash across the top of the box, but nothing came of the move. And Opare nearly scored himself, robbed of his second goal of the season by an off-side flag after he swept in a free-kick that TFC keeper Chris Konopka failed to collect. Replays showed the decision may have been a harsh one. Back to his running battle with Giovinco, Opare would lose once more, allowing the attacker to spin away, but Opare recovered, rushing back to prevent Giovinco slicing towards goal. However, come the 83rd minute Giovinco would have the last laugh, scoring his second of the night when Opare held off applying pressure, allowing Giovinco to beat Dykstra with aplomb from distance. Opare would pick up a yellow card in the 88th minute for bundling over Jackson on the edge of the area after conceding possession – it was his first booking of the season; another measure of how solid he has been since stepping into the lineup. He completed all but eight of his 25-odd passes, make four recoveries, one interception, and one clearance; his booking was his only foul of the match, against Giovinco, rather impressive, though the Italian did score two goals. Marcel de Jong Having returned from a lengthy injury lay-off last round, de Jong was in the starting lineup for Kansas City as they dispatched with Seattle 1-0 on Saturday – it was his seventh start and eighth appearance of the season. Taking up a left-sided midfield role, de Jong was full of energy early, at times, nearly leading the line, swapping positions with Graham Zusi, for Sporting as they took the match to the Sounders. He had one left-footer from range whisk just over the crossbar and another in short order that was deflected wide for a corner kick. And third attempt at goal was straight at Stefan Frei, who handled the effort easily. The attacking wide player also showed his ability to link up with teammates, exhibiting some neat interplay with full-back Amadou Dia down the left and pulling back to the top of the area twice – the first was met by Connor Hallisey, sending his effort over, and the other was into a crowd of defenders. The Newmarket, Ontario-native added a bit of defensive work, tracking all the way to his own corner to win a throw-in, and a bit of physicality, catching Chad Marshall in the midsection with a stray boot, before making way for Dom Dwyer in the 58th minute having run his socks off. de Jong had five shots – three off and one blocked, completing eight of his sixteen pass attempts, and adding two clearances and a recovery in his hour on the pitch. Jonathan Osorio With Michael Bradley away with the US National Team in Europe, Osorio was handed the keys to the attacking midfield in Toronto's 1-2 win in DC – it was Osorio's fourth-straight start bringing his season tally up to nine at the time. From that central role, Osorio looked very good, showing that after a slow start to the season he has grown accustomed to his new surroundings. He looked strong, holding off the attentions of Davy Arnaud to turn and initiate an attack, and made the run into the box to get on the end of the rebound from a saved Giovinco shot, but was unable to get the needed touch. The Toronto, Ontario-native showed a measure of coolness in attack, calmly waiting for the window to open before sliding a ball inside to Luke Moore, who in turn set-up Giovinco's first goal of the match. Like the earlier rebound, Osorio was unable to get on the end of a one-two flick from Giovinco, but the idea was there, which is half the battle. He would get in position for a popped cross from the Italian at the back-post, only for a covering Sean Franklin to deflect the chance wide – nearly banking it into his own net. Osorio's passing was impressive, misplacing just six of over 35 attempts, while adding two interceptions, two recoveries, and a clearance to his performance, winning a pair of fouls in the process. Post-match he commented on taking up the central reins: “I think I did pretty well. I think I helped the team a lot in possession, keeping the ball and trying to maintain it while they were pressing a lot. I thought I did a good job at holding it up and creating chances for the team.” His interview can be viewed here. Patrice Bernier Bernier appeared in all three of Montreal's matches – starting midweek against Vancouver before coming on as a sub in both weekend matches. Captaining the side against fellow Canadian club, Vancouver, Bernier was involved in an all-Canadian handshake, as both he and Russell Teibert took part in the prematch sportsmanship. It was just his second start of the year. The Brossard, Quebec-native would make a near-immediate impact, heading a Nicolas Mezquida flick at the near-post off the goal-line, behind for another corner kick, sparing an early deficit. And he showed glimpses of the old Bernier, giving Teibert a lesson in defensive-midfieldery with a textbook tackle that halted his younger counterpart's run and winning the ball, spurring a counter in the other direction. Bernier would come off in the 81st minute with the scores tied at one, to be replaced by Anthony Jackson-Hamel. He had one shot – a free-kick into the wall – completed all but eight of his forty-odd passes, while making ten recoveries, four clearances, three tackles, two blocks, and two interceptions in a classic performance. With that exertion and having helped beat a domestic rival, Bernier would be on the bench come the weekend, entering for Marco Donadel in the 80th minute to help see out the result. And again the following weekend, waiting until the 70th minute to replace Callum Mallace against New York City. He was lucky to escape a booking when he hauled Grabavoy to the ground and was partially responsible for Poku's late goal, City's third, when a cross squeezed under his foot, falling to the attacker on the right-side of the box. Russell Teibert Teibert appeared in both of Vancouver's matches, captaining and starting against Montreal before coming on as a late sub on the weekend in Los Angeles. In Montreal as a central midfielder, he was tasked largely with tracking the movements of Piatti, providing cover to his defenders and matching the runs from the Impact midfield. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native would contribute to the attack, sending a long ball into the box for Mattocks, who would hit the post, and playing in a cross after a short corner kick that picked out the head of Kendall Waston for a weak header. Like Bernier, he was lucky to escape a booking when he bundled over Piatti on a run at the edge of the area, though the foul was conceded – one of two he committed. Teibert completed all but six of his some thirty attempts, making four recoveries, three interceptions, two clearances, and a tackle. Come the weekend, Teibert was on the bench as Vancouver won their first-ever match at LA by a 0-1 scoreline with Manneh scoring in the 32nd minute. Teibert came on in the 75th minute for Matias Laba, helping to see out the result, completing three of five passes and three recoveries. Kyle Bekker Bekker went unused on the bench in San Jose in Round Fourteen, but was in the starting eleven for a Round Fifteen match in Seattle – just his second start of the season. From his central midfield position, Bekker was allowed to press forward; his partner, Victor Ulloa, playing more the holding role, and the Oakville, Ontario-native did surprisingly well given his intermittent playing time this season. He won a ball in midfield, leaving it to Blas Perez, who set up Fabian Castillo to blast over the bar early. And then made a run into the area himself, drawing a Save of the Week-calibre stop from Frei. Mauro Diaz played out wide to Perez on the left, who fed the streaking Bekker. The Canadian had to dig the pass out of his feet, it was a little behind him, but got off a left-footer that nearly beat the Seattle keeper. He then played a good ball in from the right for Perez, who touched to Castillo, only for a Zach Scott tackle to end the play. Events turned against Bekker at the other end of the pitch, when he was stripped of possession by Thomas in the 55th minute, leading to Lamar Neagle's goal. And was then helpless to defend against the might of Obafemi Martins at the low-post, where the Nigerian effortlessly turned Bekker and scored from a tight-angle in the 73rd minute. Bekker would be replaced in the 74th minute by Rolando Escobar having taken two shots – one on, one off, completed more than two-thirds of his thirty-plus passes, while making seven recoveries, three interceptions, and a tackle. Karl Ouimette Ouimette made his fourth-straight start for New York in their Friday night encounter in Houston – it was his fifth start and sixth appearance of the season. Lining up alongside Roy Miller as the right centre-back, Ouimette had a tough night as his side fell 4-2. The Terrebonne, Quebec-native managed to keep both Will Bruin and Giles Barnes quiet for the first half, but come the 59th minute his attempted block on an Oscar Boniek Garcia shot caused the effort to loop up, over Luis Robles, and into the New York goal, equalizing the score at one. Somehow that was not considered an own-goal – MLS is very generous in such situations. He would nearly be involved in a second own-goal, when Kemar Lawrence's clearance went straight into Ouimette, the rebound dribbling just wide of the post in the 72nd minute. Ricardo Clark would score Houston's second from the ensuing corner kick. A threat in the opponent's box, Ouimette would try to get up on a Felipe free-kick, only to be dumped to the ground by David Horst, while his attempt to reach a long ball from Chris Duvall when New York were trailing and in search of an equalizer would go wanting. He completed twelve of his eighteen passes, contributing eight clearances, three interceptions, and two recoveries; his only foul of the match came when colliding with Tyler Deric on that long ball from Duvall. Ashtone Morgan Morgan started a tenth-straight match for Toronto in a winning effort, away to DC United. From his left-back position, Morgan was solid defensively, getting out quick to shutdown an early Conor Doyle chance, conceding a corner in the process. And he showed the awareness that has seen him take his game to a higher level, his head on swivel with Nick DeLeon lurking wide, constantly refreshing his knowledge of where the attacker was off his back-shoulder on a DC attack down the opposite flank. His signature tenacity was on display as well, absolutely crunching Fabian Espindola with a clean sliding challenge. In attack, the Toronto, Ontario-native was a factor too, sending in a good cross from the left that went untouched through a dangerous area, and then setting up Jackson with a pass that resulted in a horrendous shot. His passing was a bit off, completing just fifteen of his 25 attempts, but with four recoveries, three clearances, two tackles, an interception, and a block, he more than made up for that short-coming. Tesho Akindele Akindele made a second-straight start for Dallas in their 0-0 draw in San Jose – it was his ninth of the season. Nominally the wide right-sided attacker, Akindele was free to roam as usual, popping up all over the pitch, once dropping deep to collect a loose-ball in the midfield, dishing off to Diaz, who sent his effort over the bar. The Calgary-born forward could not get enough power on a header from a corner kick and had a right-footed crack from distance that went straight into Earthquake centre-back, Clarence Goodson. It was a frustrating game for Dallas and Tesho, he did a lot of good running to get into positions, but his teammates were a touch too individualistic to made the most of his movement. His only shot of the match was blocked, though he completed twenty of his 25 passes, a good rate for him, adding three recoveries, a tackle, and a clearance to his mark. Anthony Jackson-Hamel Jackson-Hamel featured in two of Montreal's three matches, coming on as a substitute against Vancouver and New York; he was unused on the bench against Columbus. Coming on in the 81st minute for Bernier against Vancouver, Jackson-Hamel played a minor role in the game-winner, rolling a ball to Romero, who in turn set up Piatti for the strike. After playing the pass, his strong run was enough to distract the defense, opening up space centrally for Piatti to run into. A few minutes later he nearly added one of his own, touching a Romero pull-back at the near-post just wide with his left-foot after a neat paused-run to get onto the service at the last minute. His only shot was off-target, but he completed nine of ten passes, adding an interception and a recovery. In New York a week and a half later, the Quebec City, Quebec-native would come on at half-time for Victor Cabrera, moving up top alongside McInerney to give Montreal more of an attacking presence for the second half. He struggled to gain a foothold with Montreal disjointed and too widely-spaced. He did manage to corral a bouncing long ball away from Jason Hernandez, only for Saunders to come rushing out to collect the half-chance. Jackson-Hamel completed half his ten passes, making one tackle and a recovery in his half of play – his longest run-out of the season. Jay Chapman Chapman entered TFC's match in DC in the 73rd minute, replacing Warren Creavalle – it was his second appearance of the season. Taking up the right-sided midfield role, the Brampton, Ontario-native nearly got on the end of a Jackson cross and was on hand to clear a DC corner kick away from Toronto's near-post as the clock ticked down. He completed four of his six passes, adding a recovery and a clearance in the process. Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare Gagnon-Lapare made his second appearance of the season against New York City, coming on in the 78th minute for Piatti with New York holding a two-goal lead. Sitting deep, alongside Bernier, Gagnon-Lapare was tasked with preventing any further damage. He had one rather enjoyable moment, getting into a tangle with Villa, who did not appreciate the attention, kicking out a little at the Sherbrooke, Quebec-native after a bit of contact. He completed six of his ten passes, making two recoveries, and an interception. The Rest Chris Mannella was on the bench for Toronto FC away to DC United. Note: As far as catching up with the reviews goes, the plan is to compile Round 16 this week, and then get to Round 17 for early next week. Rounds 18 & 19 will be combined – most of the Canadians will be away at the Gold Cup anyways – and so by the time they rejoin their clubs, everything will be back in sync. Apologies again for the absence and thanks for reading. Each week (normally) James takes a look at the contributions of Canadians in the league. He can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View
  24. "We scored ten goals against Ecuador, but it's not really a reference I think," Dickenmann told reporters after training on Friday. "We want to score goals against Cameroon or Japan. We've scored 11 goals but ten against Ecuador so we're maybe a little bit in the same situation. "Although I think we've created a lot of chances. We did so against Cameroon. We had a bunch at the end of the Japan game. That's positive, but we can still improve as well." It's been a frustrating tournament for the Swiss so far. Heading in to it, they probably didn't really contemplate a third place finish in the group stage all that seriously. After all, they were playing two lowly ranked teams in Ecuador and Cameroon. Their opening match in Group C saw them unluckily on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline against the defending champs Japan. Switzerland had their chances to win the game, never mind grab a draw, but the goals just wouldn't come. Still, it was a strong and solid performance that showed that they could be a top team in the tournament. That was bolstered when they found their shooting boots in a 10-1 demolition of Ecuador in their second match. It was ten going on a lot more too. But the tournament's surprise packages of Cameroon shocked the Swiss 2-1 in their final group game, coming back from a goal behind at the half to snatch second place in Group C and set up a Round of 16 match-up for the Swiss with Canada. It's led to some tough internal analysis within the Swiss camp, with coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg very critical of the senior players. With over 100 caps to her name since making her international debut as a 16-year-old in 2002, Dickenmann is one of those and although she knows herself they let themselves down, she feels the coach was correct to get it all out there and it will only help the squad moving forward. "The Cameroon game has been analysed and all we can do is now profit from the experience," Dickenmann said. "We look to leave behind the negative things and take on the positive things into the next game. "I don't need the coach to criticise anything. I know myself very well whether we've had a good game or if we haven't performed very well. But she was right to do so. It doesn't make much sense to talk about a 19-year-old player so it's the older, more experienced players that must be focused. I can accept criticism and I can cope with it very well." Although that may read like a slight dig at Voss-Tecklenburg, nothing could be further from the truth and Dickenmann is a huge fan of the German's style and approach to management since she took over as national team head coach in 2012. "First of all it's her belief in our qualities," she continued. "What I like most about her is that she's always there if a player needs to talk to the coach. The door is open in to her room, she's always available. It's always a discussion based on a positive way to keep on developing. Unfortunately not all the coaches I've had during my career treat players this way." Dirty linen aired, the Swiss took some time to relax and unwind before heading back to Vancouver to prepare to take on the hosts. And it's done them the world of good. "The past two days have been very important for the team after a part of the tournament that's been very intense with three games within a short time," Dickenmann added. "We used the time to slow down a bit and now we can focus on the game to come." There's no doubting that it's going to be quite the occasion, quite the noise and quite the pressure at BC Place. It'll be a different kind of pressure for each side and we won't know how each team will cope and react to it until later. Switzerland have cut relaxed figures this week upon their return to Vancouver. It's a city they feel very comfortable in, having first arrived here to prepare for the tournament three weeks ago. It all plays a part in taking the pressure off them a little bit. "It helps because we feel quite at home here," Dickenmann said. "We know the stadium. I don't know if it's an advantage. It's not as if we play here all year round. We've played two games and one practice in the stadium, but it's a good feeling that we have here. But I know that Canada was here all year round as well, so they feel at home here too. But it's good for us that we feel well here." That said, feeling comfortable when you have a half full stadium cheering you on, as they were against Japan, will be entirely different to the more hostile pro-Canadian crowd they can expect to run out to today. It still doesn't faze Dickenmann though. "Of course there will be 50,000 people against us but it's very much different from the men's soccer," she said. "There's some difficulties ahead, like communication on the pitch within a huge stadium with a loud atmosphere. But we've spoken about that. We found solutions and all we want to do is focus 100% on the game and it's much more important to focus on Canada's team, not on the Canadian crowd." The Canadian girls have already had the experience of playing in front of a huge home crowd (53,058 to be exact) in their tournament opener against China in Edmonton. For the Swiss girls, this is likely to be the biggest crowd most, if not all, of them have ever played in front of. It's all so very different from when the two teams last met at the Cyprus Cup in 2013 when 50 fans were listed as the attendance. Dickenmann has come close, playing in front of 50,212 fans as Lyon lifted the 2011/12 Champions League trophy in Munich, although she doesn't feel you can really compare the two experiences. "The stadium was very different," she explained. "It was open and there was an athletic track around the pitch. It's going to be very different. This stadium is much nicer, and much newer and close." The crowd and the occasion will certainly be a highlight in many of the player's careers on both sides, but for Dickenmann, it only counts if the result is right at the end of it all. "It's one more highlight but the highlight is not playing in front of a huge attendance," she said. "Really, a true highlight would be if we beat Canada because in football all that counts is winning games and not big stadiums and sold out games." Switzerland have never beaten Canada and this world stage would certainly be an ideal place to break that stat. But the match sets out something of a quandary for the Swiss tactically. Do they want to show their attacking prowess early, getting on the scoresheet fast and forcing Canada to chase the game, ramping up the pressure on them even more? Or do they sit tight defensively, expecting Canada to come with the early pressure, then playing on the anxiety of the Canadian players and crowd when the breakthrough doesn't come? Playing a Vancouver Whitecaps road counter-attacking style. "We like to do both styles," Dickenmann said, before adding that the final decision lies with her coach. "We like to attack high, we like to attack in the midfield." But grabbing that early goal would certainly turn the pressure cooker situation for Canada up a notch or two. "It puts more pressure on any kind of team," Dickenmann admitted. "We saw that coming out at half-time against Cameroon. They scored two minutes after and that was a lot of pressure for us. It can change the energy of the game. I don't know what our tactics are going to be yet, but obviously scoring a goal early is always good." Whatever tactics the Swiss bring, the important thing for Dickenmann is that Switzerland just focus on themselves and what they do, and not so much on what Canada may or may not produce on the day. "Maybe in the past three games, well maybe against Cameroon and Japan, we have focussed a little bit too much on the opponent, so we also want to focus on ourselves a little bit more from now on." The Swiss certainly have a real chance at pulling off the big upset as far as we're concerned. In fact, cards on the table right now, I think they will. But for all their relaxed frame of mind heading in to the game, Dickenmann and the Swiss are expecting a very physical match against the Canadians. "They're very solid," Dickenmann said of what she feels Canada brings to the table. "Physically, they're in a very good shape. They bring a lot of energy to the pitch. A lot of screaming and positive energy in the team, from the bench as well, so that can be a distraction for us. "They have very good individual players, like Christine Sinclair. Very experienced players, that can make the difference at any time. They have very strong players, fast players. They have a lot of things." Will it be enough to see off the Swiss challenge come full time this evening? A nation awaits.
  25. Instead of facing a team ranked 48th or 53rd in the world (although how much stock you can actually put in FIFA's rankings isn't even open to any debate anymore), Canada will now be taking on 19th ranked Switzerland, a team who came through their, albeit weak, UEFA qualifying group on the back of 53 goals scored and just one conceded. For a Canadian team struggling to score from open play, and with the pressure and the hopes and expectations of an entire home nation on their shoulders, that's not the ideal opponent. For the Swiss, the initial disappointment of losing to Cameroon and finishing third in their group is already long past. If anything, that third place finish may yet prove to be the best thing that could have happened to them. They now return to Vancouver, a place they've trained, played in and called home since they arrived in Canada on May 30th. They're familiar with the training pitches, the BC Place turf, the timezone and other surroundings. They're in a match in which they are the underdogs. The pressure is off them and firmly on the Canadian women. And the longer Canada don't score in the game, or maybe have to chase the match, that pressure just ramps up. The Swiss also now find themselves in the easier half of the draw, avoiding four of the top five nations in the world, and the top three of Germany, America and France. Japan are the top team in their half of the draw now, and they've already shown they can compete against them. A break here or there and they'd have taken something from their opening match. The fear factor isn't quite the same as what would be in their way had they finished second. So all in all, things aren't looking all that bad for Switzerland. "Yes, you could say we did everything right," a laughing Swiss head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told reporters after training on Friday. "It is like it is. We did want to qualify earlier but now we are there for this Sunday's game. It's a big challenge for us and we will focus entirely on this game, not losing any time in thinking back how it was. "Returning to Vancouver was a good thing for us. We feel like being home again. If we remain in the tournament we will focus on the next opponent to come. We'll see if it's easier or not!" The Swiss certainly have the firepower up front to still do some damage in the tournament. As mentioned, they showed that in abundance in the qualifiers and they are the second highest scorers in this year's tournament so far with 11 goals. Yes, ten of them, a whopping 91%, came against an out of their depth Ecuador side, so that's not exactly a great yardstick, but you can never dismiss what the confidence of finding the back of the net early in the tournament can do for the players when the tournament enters the real business end. While only two players have found the back of the net for Canada, and one of them was from a penalty, five players have already scored for the Swiss, with Ramona Bachmann and Fabienne Humm leading the way with three apiece. Canada can take solace from the fact that despite playing well and creating numerous chances against Japan and Cameroon, they were shutout of their first game and managed to bury just one chance against the Lionessess. You can also factor in that while struggling to produce up front, Canada aren't conceding much either. Just that one late goal given up against the Netherlands so far. There's no doubting that there's goals in the Canadian attack. They just haven't materialised yet. But do the Swiss see Canada's attack as likely to cause them more problems than the fast paced strikers they faced against Cameroon? "It's a different style of playing," Voss-Tecklenburg feels. "Top quality of course. An important aspect for me is that several players and staff members come originally from Vancouver, so there is some kind of special motivation for this team. Apart from that, there is great presence on the pitch and we are going to go up against it." And despite not yet scoring in this tournament from open play, the Swiss coach feels that Christine Sinclair is still likely to be her side's biggest threat. "[she's a] great personality and very much experienced," she added. "A true leader of the team, even if she doesn't score all the winning goals. But when it comes to decisive moments, she leads the team. All the players can look up to her and she is undoubtedly the most important player of the Canadian team." Voss-Tecklenburg isn't reading too much into Canada's goalscoring woes, and feels the pressure on them to perform may be behind their lack of goals so far. In that regard, she notes it's not going to get any easier for the Canadians. "We hope they haven't saved them all up for Sunday's game!" she joked. "Seriously, this is part of the team process that Canada has been going through at the World Cup in their home country. Expectations are quite high from the fans at the games. "We mustn't forget it's the knockout part of the tournament now, not too easy a situation to deal with for the Canadian team as well. If the inspiration makes them grow wings, anything is possible. We must be aware of anything and be able to react to everything." The crowd will certainly have a part to play in Sunday's match. Exactly how, is the unknown factor right now. Around a 53,000 sell-out is expected at BC Place. Will it spur the Canadians on to greater heights or will the pressure of the occasion and natural nerves see them freeze? They didn't exactly freeze in their tournament opener against China in front of 53,058 fans in Edmonton, but at the same time, they didn't exactly shine either. And how will the Swiss react to such a large, pro-Canadian crowd, the largest attendance many of their players will ever have played in front of? They may feel like BC Place is a second home to them in the tournament, but it's a whole different atmosphere for them now as opposed to their first game against Japan which saw them garner support from, ironically, neutrals. "We will see," Voss-Tecklenburg said. "It's a new situation because of 53,000 supporters for the Canadian team. In our first matches there was many supporters for the Swiss team because we played a good match. I think it will be different on Sunday, but we will see. "Of course it's a huge crowd, but we have to deal with that. We have to focus on the game and show self-confidence, show courage and give everything we have. It will be an outstanding game for every one of us. At the end there will be a winner and a loser and we'll see what comes out of this game." Voss-Tecklenburg is no stranger to playing in front of a large, vociferous and hostile home crowd at a World Cup. The former German internationalist was part of the Germany side that lost a quarter final to the US in front of 54,642 fans in Landover, Maryland at the 1999 World Cup. The Swiss coach feels she can share her experiences of that occasion with her squad, but nothing can prepare a player for what it feels like until she runs out on the pitch, pointing out that it's not an exact comparison. "It's not quite the same situation," she explained. "Germany were part of the group named as favourites to win the title. Switzerland obviously is not, yet Canada is. Canada can go forward, want to go forward." While all the travelling and adjusting to their new environments has made for a busy initial period in Canada, Voss-Tecklenburg has been enjoying it. "The regiment of the tournament is quite high at the moment," she admitted. "I like it very much. I prefer it this way." The Swiss camp certainly seems relaxed. Training was light-hearted and if the players and coaches are feeling any pressure, they're not showing it. What they are showing, however, is the effects of the tournament so far, with a few players a little banged up after a three hard matches in a nine day period, with one of their key concern surrounding their experienced and influential captain, defender Caroline Abbé. "We had one day off after the Cameroon game and then a travelling day," Voss-Tecklenburg said. "We used it to do some wellness before travelling. We were in the fitness rooms. We had a short flight [from Edmonton]. Other teams had long flights. "Caroline had a good training. She's pretty positive she can play. The artificial ground is giving us some troubles, to the other teams as well. We have players that talk about muscles they haven't felt for five years. All the teams have to be ready and prepared to cope." Abbé, who sat out Switzerland's last group game against Cameroon, is looking good to go, and while Canada may be sweating over a couple of players, the Swiss have the luxury of their full squad to pick from. Well we say luxury, but the amount of choices is actually giving the Swiss coach a few selection quandaries to ponder ahead of Sunday's match, and she hasn't nailed down exactly what her starting eleven will be just yet. "We've got the big choice of all the players available for the game against Canada," Voss-Tecklenburg said. "I've got four starting line-ups in mind. I haven't made up my mind yet. I will do that this afternoon. I'll be watching video and doing analysis of the team [Canada]. "It depends on certain aspects, like mental strength, physical strength. I also want the players to tell me how they feel and then maybe at the end of today there will be three starting line-ups or even two, but nothing decisive yet." ****** [Editor's Note: With so much coverage everywhere on the Canadian team, we thought we'd explore the Swiss angle in the lead up to the game here at AFTN. Watch out for our piece on Lara Dickenmann on Saturday]
×
×
  • Create New...