Every Friday, I will give my keys to victory for the Montreal Impact, in 3 points!
Point 1 The Cohesion in the Midfield
Montreal had all sorts of trouble in the midfield last week. Congestion, led to confusion that led to loss of possession, this really was noticeable when Montreal was trying to transition the ball forward. Smaller, higher pourcentages passes are key for the Impact to generate quality opportunity to feed their best attacking options, Piatti and Mancosu, which were left on an island last week.
Point 2 Oyongo and Piatti
The combination of Ambroise Oyongo and Nacho Piatti on the left side of the field for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir can be deadly. When Oyongo is able to use the space in front of him with the ball at his feet, he creates time and space for Piatti to be an offensive threat or even a goal scoring chance for himself. This is imperative for Montreal to get by the defending MLS Cup Champions.
Point 3 Beware of Clint Dempsey
Clint is back, healthy and HUNGRY! Even though they lost their season opener, Clint has found the back of the net already this season and in his favorite fashion, poacher style. For the Montreal Impact to emerge victorious Saturday night at the Stade Olympique, they will have to be mindful of Dempsey's presence close to goal AT ALL TIMES AND FOR 90 MINUTES!
You can follow Kevin Laramee on twitter @KevLaramee
Off the Woodworkx, a podcast about the Montreal Impact available here https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/off-woodworkx-sports-podcasting/id1067439813?mt=2
Philadelphia Union (0-0-1) v TFC (0-0-1), Match Day 2
TSN 4 – 4:30pm, Saturday
CSN Away Viewing is upstairs at Pauper’s Pub (Bathurst and Bloor). Check the usual suspects (Wheat Sheaf, Shoeless Joe’s, etc.) for others or add your viewing in the comments.
Last meeting: TFC won its first ever playoff game in rather convincing fashion to launch a magical run that lasted through to the end of November. I’m not sure what happened in December.
Most famous game: In what was possibly Aron Winter’s darkest moment the exceptionally average Union put six – yes, SIX – goals by the Worst Team in the World to win 6-2 in front of a grumpy BMO Field back in 2012.
Key Union player: Let’s go with Super Keeper Andre Blake, who is arguably the best shot stopper in all of MLS. Thankfully, TFC has not been robbed blind by a keeper standing on his head in almost three months.
Former Red alert: With the man responsible for BMO Field’s lack of plastic, Mo Edu, still recovering from his broken leg the former Reds alert is Warren Creavalle. The utility player most famous in Toronto for the drunk guy two rows back of you insisting he’d be a better option at right-back has actually found some half-decent form for the Union.
Key TFC player: Gotta be Seba, no? After yet another week of MLS’ tried and true defensive strategy of hack-a-little-Italian, the Atomic Ant will be looking to open his account in style this weekend.
Home advantage: Meh. Unless you’re trying to park your car after sunset there isn’t much intimating about Chester’s best soccer stadium. The weather on game day is going to be positively Canadian -- -4C expected at kick-off. No orange ball likely though.
What opposing fans are saying: REVENGE!!!!1!!!!1! They are also mostly calling for a tight game and possibly a draw. Yippee.
TFC panic level (as expressed by the name of a former player): Danny Koevermans (He’s really good, but we’re scared it’s all going to go wrong at any moment)
Our view: It says here that TFC gets its first three points of the year and Seba opens his account with a brace. 3-0 Reds.
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Talk about burying the lead.
Toronto FC fans got a surprise yesterday and not one that they would have been looking forward to. That Champions League spot that many were looking forward to is not just delayed until next February -- it's been taken away completely. The news was almost hidden in a release announcing the extension of the Canadian Championship to include the winner of the PLSQ and League1 Ontario.
So, to re-cap, the CSA got one thing right and one thing very wrong.
Let's start with the wrong. Appreciating the fact that a lot of people in this country love it when Toronto gets screwed, there is no denying that they did, in fact, get screwed here. Yes, there was a bit of an issue to fix -- CONCACAF's change in format made it a long wait for the qualifying team -- but the CSA chose quite possibly the least sporting solution available to them. TFC won the Voyageurs Cup on the field and the CONCACAF spot that went with it should have stayed with them. A year where the Cup did not have a CCL spot would not have been the end of the world. In fact, it may have given more opportunity to young Canadians to play in the competition as the teams would have very likely rotated (as an aside, the CSA also added a Canadian quota for starters this year -- each team will need to start three Canucks each game.
The CSA did provide a slight advantage by allowing TFC to host the one game playoff. Obviously, if TFC wins the 2017 Voyageurs Cup they do not need to play itself for the berth.
Unfair or not, it's done now and the Reds will need to get down to the business of repeating as champions if the CCL is to make a long awaited return to T.O.
For the D3 level teams the long wait to get a shot at the Canadian Championship is almost over. The specific format of the 2018 Cup has not been released yet (hopefully because they are waiting to add a few more teams in a, say, new league...), but whatever it is it will include at least two D3 teams. It won't include the Canadian PDL teams. The likely reason? The CSA wants those teams to play in Canadian leagues and this might be the incentive to get them to make that choice on their own.
In the words of the great modern poet that is Demi Lovato:
So how did you get here under my skin?
I swore that I'd never let you back in
Should've known better than trying to let you go
'Cause here we go go go go again
After nearly a year of...let's call it re-charging...CSN is back with a slightly new mandate and hopefully a revitalized zest for writing about the always frustrating but rarely dull world of Canadian soccer. We would have been back sooner, but we had a lot of work to accomplish first. Most importantly, we needed to change the look of the site and to get rid of a truly staggering amount of spam that had overwhelmed us and that played a significant role in creating the burn-out that necessitated that above mentioned re-charging.
The comments section, once the best check of my ego I could have ever hoped for, but yet an important part of making CSN a community rather than just a news site, became the bane of my existence. Unless you were in the market for Russian pharmaceuticals there was no point checking the comments. Without the understanding that people are reading it becomes difficult to motivate yourself to take time out of your schedule to do that hard work of writing -- especially when you spend a lot of time commenting in audio form as the host of SoccerToday.
Speaking personally, the burn out was also just a product of doing it for so long. You feel that you are repeating yourself after a while. But, eventually you start to miss it and you start to feel that you need to get your voice back out there in a consistent way.
A lot remains the same about Canadian soccer, but a lot has changed as well. Part of CSN's (slightly) new mandate will be to address those changes -- specifically the Canadian Premier League project that is (frustratingly still) on the horizon. Additionally, D3 level leagues like League1 Ontario, the PLSQ and the new BC initiative are becoming more and more important in the system and reporting on them will become a big focus of CSN 2.0.
That's not to say we won't still talk about MLS and the three Canadian teams. There was a time when I felt that maybe we should step away from that kind of coverage (and I still think we should focus a bit less on it compared to the topics outlined above), but when nearly 100,000 people attend the Eastern Conference Final in Canada and a million more watch it on TV it's hard to say that it shouldn't be covered.
So, it will be. As will the national teams and issues that impact Canadian soccer at all levels, regardless of where it originates from.
It's going to be a lot of work. But, it's work I'm excited to get back to after a little time away.
In the words of retired Canadian soccer poet Ben Knight...
At the game, had an excellent time.
Thought the atmosphere was great, very professional performance, we played with tons on confidence, shape and fluidity, along with very strong and confident defending.
A few minor things to tidy up, but the squad is in excellent form which shows from our undefeated 2019 record 6-0-2 and only conceeding 1 goal.
Many players impressed, not one player had a poor game in my eyes. I was especially impressed with Lawrence and her ability to play both as a RB & LB along with her overall coverage of the field.
I think that the opinion of respective federations is what counts to FIFA, via its regional bodies.
Right now there's a team in Andorra, called Andorra and now owned by Pique, that is playing in a Spanish division. The rest are in the Andorra league and the winner goes to Europa League qualifying rounds. Why does this team play outside of Andorra? First, the Andorran federation is in favour as many national team players are on it. Next, it raises profile of Andorra outside of the small country. Third, the Spanish federation has no problem with it, nor ever has, in part because Andorra, before full constitutional independance, was a Principality with co-princes, who were the President of France and the closest Spanish bishop (in a city called la Seu d'Urgell, in Catalonia). So there was a historically favourable basis on a political level. An Andorran team also plays in the Spanish basketball league and even played European competition this year as a Spanish rep.
Contrary position: Gibraltar. No Gibraltar team plays in any Spanish league (it perhaps did occur in the past, but not now). Spain claims that it is a colony, as it is British by a treaty arrangement from a colonial period war, as had been Menorca. Spain argues that it is theirs, that it should be decolonised in line with all post WWII decolonisation processes. Obviously this argument is not accepted by the UK (and has some holes), though recently, in the Brexit negotiation, the EU accepted most of the Spanish argument. All this is beside the point: Spain will not let Gibraltar teams with that name play in their leagues, for political reasons, unless they submit themselves to the Spanish federation. And also has requested to the EU to NEVER have to play any international match vs. a Gibraltar team, not senior, u-20, not women: NEVER. Which means all draws in Europe are doctored on this basis (Spain also refuses to recognise or play against Kosovo).
So basically what are we saying: the mutual interest of the two parts, which in this case would be CSA and USSF, is what is important. If both agree, then you come to an arrangement. If one part does not accept it, then it can't happen. That is the criteria, though arguments about relative quality, budget, travel, or whatever, are simply additional reasoning to bolster the national federation's decision: which can ignore all those criteria if a simple political factor is enough to override them. Same, I believe, here: if the CSA says no, then it is no, but with MLS as a precedent, you can throw in arguments, any you like, to back the decision.
I suspect familiarity is the reason for the good form. There may be a leveling effect as time passes. But if what you're saying holds true into the second half of the year, I'll wholeheartedly agree with you.
In terms of PFC and their attendance...
I am a little disappointed with the numbers, but, to be fair, they have taken one for the league in terms of early scheduling. That being said, it would obviously be better if we were getting more fans, and it would show more signs of long term sustainability.
Back to the scheduling, aside from the home opener, none of these games have been played on ideal dates. Our second and CC games were on weeknights with less then ideal weather. This guarentees an empty family section. The game against York may seem like an ideal day, but there are two issues that likely cost them 1,000 or so fans. Firstly, I think for the sake of timing the viewing schedule, they started at 12:30, which is far from ideal in terms of drawing in any walk up crowds. In addition, this is the May long weekend. A weekend in which half of the people of Victoria leave the city to go for the first camp or something of the year. Based on the many season tickets that seemed to be on resale. I actually wouldn't be surprised if paid attendance was actually higher then those who showed.
All these excuses aside, it can hopefully improve with more exposure, marketing, and better dates. Given the time before our next home game, the day (Sunday), and time (3pm) anything less then 4k would be bad no matter how it is spun.
Positives- It seems that weather, day, etc aside, PFC can rely on a pretty passionate and knowledgeable base of 2000-2500 fans. Given the size of the stadium, there is still clearly a great atmosphere as well. The ownership group seems willing to stick it out for at least a couple years, and given the salaries, sponsorship, other sources of revenue, if they can get average attendance up to 4k by the end of the year, they may still break even.
Negatives- You still need more paying customers to break even. The stadium location is still not ideal. I am hopeful again that the busing and exposure will help.
Neutral- Langford and the mayor is very supportive, which is probably helping to mitigate costs, as they are handling it. This is great for the team ownership, but is a neutral because if more receptive ears opened up in the downtown, Langford will probably not want to let it go.