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  • Canadian bits and bites, March 18, 2011


    ccs-3097-140264008169_thumb.jpgLike the popular snack mix, I'm going to break down these news hits into the flavoured Shreddie (the best part), the Cheerio (you never see it coming), the pretzel (you've got to acknowledge it, like it or not) and that cheese-stick thing (what the hell is it?).

    The Shreddie: Big Red moves up to #6

    Brightest news out of the day is that the Canada has achieved its highest placement ever in the FIFA Women's World Ranking: sixth. Seeing that the only nations we trail (USA, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Sweden) are all legit soccer powerhouses, this should help make up the minds of anyone still unsure about whether Canada has fully re-emerged as an elite competitor in the women's game.


    Then again, after seeing this team play under Carolina Morace for the past 18 months, most fans in this country didn't need any convincing. In additional upbeat news, Gerry Dobson of Sportsnet is reporting that the squad will have an extended training camp in Rome from March 25 to April 19, and from early May till the start of the Women's World Cup in late June. That span will also include some friendlies. "Great preparation!" he says. I'll co-sign that.

    (Also... I know, I know, normally we deride the FIFA rankings as incomprehensible, arbitrary and meaningless. But really, that's just to soothe the sting of seeing the men's national team wallowing down in the 80-something range.)

    The Cheerio: Hutchinson keeps right on rollin'

    In a few circles, the Rangers-PSV Eindhoven showdown in the Europa League on Thursday was billed as a Gold Cup preview of sorts, with Maurice Edu coming up against Atiba Hutchinson. (You could also look at it as "a matchup of guys who've had legitimate goals in major international competitions disallowed due to incompetent/corrupt refereeing".) Well, score this round for the good guys (that's us, by the way), as Atiba and company rumbled on with a 1-0 second-leg victory, and will now face Benfica in the quarterfinals.

    (Much like the FIFA rankings, many people often dismiss the Europa League as inconsequential; but one way or another, it's admittedly kind of cool to see Canada's best player at the moment [with the possible exception of Josh Simpson] not just being on the roster of a major club, but playing a part in its ongoing success both domestically and in a continental competition.)

    The Pretzel: Hoilett, again. I know. I'm sorry.

    I'm tired, as are all of you, of musing about what direction David "Junior" Hoilett's international career may take. So I'll just pass along this video, uploaded to YouTube on March 14 and unearthed by one of our readers (forster01). You can decide how you feel about it.

    The Cheese Stick: The more things change...

    I came across an interesting article in the Milwaukee Journal that claims:

    "Canada is in the grip of the soccer fever. This year, clubs have sprung up in nearly every town and city.

    "Soccer is not a new game for Canada. ... But the big boom is on this year as never before."

    You've probably unraveled the comedic magic by now and figured out this isn't a recent article. It was, in fact, published on July 5, 1921, on the same page as an article headlined "Eat Eggs Without Salt to Avoid Cancer, Is Advice".

    Now, before you get discouraged, let me reassure you that some things have changed in the 90 years since this went to press. For instance, back in 1921, "soccer enthusiasts (hadn't) reached the pitch of excitement where they holler, 'Kill the referee!', 'Throw him out!', etc." But anyone sitting in our section for Canada v. Honduras back in 2008 can attest to the fact that these self-imposed constraints no longer apply.

    Hey, I didn't say the changes we'd made were positive ones.


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