There is no way to sugar-coat it: Valour FC’ spring season was an utter disaster, and despite the team being a relatively young group of players that are still gelling together and finding their feet, there isn’t much excuse for the way things finished. In a league where most of the teams are on par and matches are extremely close, losing 6 games in a row is extremely alarming, and is a sign of major problems.
Luckily, Valour get a fresh start for the fall season, but we cannot act as if this team will somehow click together at some point if they keep doing what they’re doing – changes need to be made, and the coaching staff has a checklist of things they need to figure out prior to their opening match of the fall against Edmonton on the 17th.
View the list on the NSXI Network.
Forge’s Board is joined by AFC Curtis to discuss the results of the inaugural Spring Season of the Canadian Premier League. They evaluate the status of the league and picture what it may look like in years to come. The lads also discuss what to expect from the upcoming Fall Season and canvass the league for a potential dark horse. AFC Curtis also shines a light on the status of soccer in Manitoba and how it has been impacted since Valour FC was established.
Listen on the NSXI Network.
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It’s been a difficult spring season for Valour FC in the inaugural Canadian Premier League campaign – there’s no denying that. For a team many expected to be competitive for the CanPL title right off the bat due to impressive depth in the front 6 and a plethora of quality individual talent, nothing seems to be working for Rob Gale’s side at the moment.
One of those aforementioned quality individual talents is none other than former Montreal Impact player, Louis Beland-Goyette, who has been starting as the deepest midfielder all season long for the Winnipeg-based side – in a role known widely as the “regista”, or deep-lying playmaker.
While Beland-Goyette brings some impressive vision to the table, which partners quite nicely with his high-quality ball-retention and tempo-keeping abilities, he did tend to struggle off the ball in the early part of the season, especially in those crucial moments when Valour were transitioning into their defensive shape, and the opposition attacked with speed.
Read more on the NSXI Network.
Canada stormed out to a 2-0 lead before half time and looked a safe bet to advance to their first Gold Cup semi final since 2007. Haiti kept the faith in the second half and punished a lackluster Canadian side to keep their improbable run alive.
Canada posted an impressive looking 4-0 result over former bogey side Martinique to open their Gold Cup campaign. In truth it was John Herdman’s first real test as manager of the men’s national team, and Canada was pushed in the first half before out classing the Caribbean side in the second. There is a danger in over-extrapolating from one match, especially against a side nowhere near the levels of Mexico, the U.S.A, Costa Rica, or Jamaica, but there were some interesting tid bits from the match.
Historically, the Cameroon women’s national team is bad at soccer. They have qualified for one Olympics and two World Cups despite only having to get out of Africa, which some of my readers could do if they found ten equivalent friends. In 2015 they won two games in the group stage, somehow, over Switzerland and worst-team-alive Ecuador, but those were their first and only points in major competition. That aside, on the rare occasion they play non-African competition they lose heavily including a 2018 6-0 friendly loss to France. Their FIFA ranking is 46th, which is well into the disgraces.
Yet, in their opening game of the 2019 World Cup, Cameroon held Canada, who have an outside chance at winning this thing, to only a 1-0 win. Worse, that seemed fair: Chris Henderson had Canada leading the expected goals 1.31 to 0.68. This is impossible to look up but I doubt any team outside Africa has ever generated as few as 1.31 expected goals against the Cameroonians.
Read more at Maple Leaf Forever!
The 2019 Canadian women’s national team is being called, by serious players who have even watched the games that aren’t on TSN, our best ever. The only serious argument would come from the circa 2003 team, which was mostly too young but featured apex Andrea Neil and was the only major tournament where both 20-year-old Christine Sinclair and 35-year-old Charmaine Hooper were within reasonable range of their primes. That team didn’t beat anybody they weren’t supposed to beat, but they beat everybody they had to and got us our best-ever fourth-place finish at a World Cup. You could argue for our 2016 Olympic team, but since that’s this team with some young players replaced by inferior old ones, it sort of concedes the argument.
Naturally, the rest of the world has not sat still. As we know this is also the best Dutch team ever, the best Australian, probably the best English, and overall maybe the best American, which is a thought to chill the blood. Even last year, at home, this Canadian team was distinctly outplayed by Germany.
Yet sit down, plan Canada’s path to victory, and it is the right side of insane. If we win our group, which is difficult but realistic, we get a round-of-16 match against most likely England or Japan. That’s rough for a round-of-16 game, but Canada winning would arguably not even be a surprise. England is good, but maybe a bit overrated; certainly not off Canada’s tier. Japan seems to be on the way down. We’ve also beaten both teams recently after some long cold streaks. The last World Cup aside, and we absolutely could have won that game, Canada’s had England’s number since 2014 or so. Get through that and the probable quarter-final is against Australia, an easier opponent, or a pupu platter of South Korea/Brazil/Norway-type outfits who could upset the Aussies but aren’t really in our weight class. Then you’re in the money, and the rest of the way every team is either good or on a roll, but the most probable semi-final opponent is Germany and even though it didn’t really count we’ve beaten them too…
Read more at Maple Leaf Forever!
The 2015 Women’s World Cup had some teams that really didn’t belong. How well we remember results like Germany 10-0 Ivory Coast, or Switzerland 10-1 Ecuador, or Cameroon 6-0 Ecuador. Ecuador was really bad. But it’s 2019, women’s soccer has developed for four years, and Ecuador didn’t qualify. Instead we have Chile, and Jamaica, and Thailand and Cameroon are back!
Fans in France will get to enjoy some hilarious blowouts, making all those Ligue 1 Féminin fans feel at home.
Usefully previewing a whole 24-team women’s soccer tournament is impossible. How’s Thailand’s depth at fullback? Any writer not actually Thai will neither know nor care. In the men’s World Cup even bad teams have a few guys playing in the Eredivisie or something so you’ll know a guy who’s seen him on DAZN or at least have a good, instinctive feel for the level? The Women’s World Cup does not play that way.
Read more at Maple Leaf Forever!
The Women’s World Cup happens every four years, and soccer teams change a lot in that time. Comparing one World Cup team to the previous World Cup team is just the sort of lazy, valueless sportswriting that is typical of women’s soccer but informs nobody about anything.
So comparing Canada’s group in 2015 to that in 2019 is obviously insane, but in fairness, the soccer gods really really want me to.
In 2015 Canada, who were not really one of the best six teams in world women’s soccer, were seeded A1 for the World Cup draw because we were the host country. As a result we got a softball group of us, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and China; no minnows but three teams we should beat most of the time. We won one, drew two, didn’t concede, won the thing; not fun, but effective. In the round of 16 we beat Switzerland in a really good game, then lost in the quarter-final when our depleted defensive depth finally caught up to us and the odd break didn’t go our way.
In 2019 Canada might be one of the best six teams in world women’s soccer and the FIFA gods smiled upon us, placing us in Pot 1 for the draw on merit1. As a result Canada was placed in a group with New Zealand, the Netherlands, and, um, Cameroon.
Read more on Maple Leaf Forever!
Apologies for hijacking this thread, but just for kicks, and because I'm bored AF, my top 10 list is as follows:
I actually considered 13 players with HM to Liam Millar, Sam Piette and Cyle Larin:
10. Doneil Henry
9. Mark Anthony Kaye
8. Jonathan Osorio
7. Miljan Borjan
6. Lucas Cavallini
5. Scotty Arfield
4. Junior Hoillet
3. Atiba Hutchinson
2. Jonathan David
1. Alphonso Davies
Our economies are so integrated with the supply chain and the fact that we share a large border. I really do not see Canada opening up for regular business that much ahead of the US if the virus is still causing havoc down south. The integration will assure that. We have essential workers crossing the border every day and the certainly is a huge risk.
Plus I wonder how the CPL would handle it if their import players can not get into the country? I know the MLS teams asked their players to stay around their home market but there was nothing stopping a player at the time from jumping on a plane back to their home country if they were concerned about family etc. There are lots of aspects to this that will simply do not know at this point.