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Articles on San Jose - Canada

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Guest Dave

From the San Jose Mercury News, nice piece.

Quakes' savior returns to town with new team

By Ann Killion

Mercury News Staff Columnist

There could be some confusion at Spartan Stadium on Saturday night. Earthquakes players passing to the wrong guy, shooting at the wrong goal, consulting the wrong coach.

The Earthquakes will be playing an exhibition against the Canadian national team, which means Dwayne DeRosario should not receive a pass, Pat Onstad should be shot at, and Frank Yallop should not be turned to for advice.

The last task may be the strangest. Yallop is the most important figure in Earthquakes history and until six months ago was the team's popular coach. Now, he returns to Spartan Stadium for the first time since the Earthquakes defeated the Kansas City Wizards last November. That victory put San Jose in the Major League Soccer Cup, which it won for the second time in three seasons under Yallop.

``I'm not their coach,'' Yallop said Thursday. ``I've moved on. I'm trying to do well for Canada. But it will be an emotional night.''

Yallop on Saturday will be coaching his newest reclamation project. The man who took a pathetic Earthquakes team and molded it into a champion is attempting to do the same with Canada.

``It's a challenge,'' Yallop said, ``but it's what I expected. You've got to build a belief that we can win games and a style of play.''

Canada is 93rd in the FIFA world ranking. The national team has not hosted a game in four years, and of late, many of Canada's best players have refused to play for their country.

None of that sounds particularly Canadian; after all, our northern neighbors are intensely proud of their country. But Yallop's predecessor, Holger Osieck, alienated his best players with his taskmaster style.

``The biggest thing is that the mood in the dressing room is lighthearted,'' Onstad said Thursday. ``We're enjoying playing for our country. For the last two years, players didn't enjoy playing for their country. It was a very negative atmosphere.''

Yallop is skilled at changing attitudes and atmosphere, and getting players to buy in to his program. He convinced Jeff Agoos and Landon Donovan that San Jose was the right place for them. Now he is convincing the best Canadian players, most of whom are playing in Europe, that it is OK to wear the Maple Leaf. ``We had a very small pool of players,'' Onstad said. ``So we need our best pool of players.''

Yallop spent several weeks this spring visiting his players in Europe, taking them out to dinner, getting to know them, connecting with their club officials and convincing them that playing for Canada was worth the sacrifice.

His credibility comes from making the same sacrifice. An adopted Canadian (his parents moved from England when he was 10), Yallop played 52 games for Canada, never turning down an opportunity between 1990 and 1997. He did it even though he had to leave Ipswich Town, his professional club in England.

``I lost my spot many times and had to fight to win it back,'' he said. ``If Canada wanted me to play, I was playing. I had a real sense of pride. It just grabs you.''

It was that sense of pride that led Yallop to leave San Jose, a place in which he was very comfortable and successful. When the Canadian job came open, Yallop pursued it enthusiastically despite the obstacles that the national team faces.

He can take inspiration from the United States, which was a nobody in the soccer world just 15 years ago, but Yallop knows he has many more limitations than did his American counterparts: less depth, fewer financial resources and fewer opportunities.

Canadian players who do not ascend to European leagues are out of options, except for the few -- like DeRosario and Onstad -- who play in MLS. Yallop knows MLS has been key to the United States' progress, and he would love to see the league expand to Canada (although he does not want to start any Earthquakes-to-Vancouver rumors).

The biggest difference in the U.S. team over the years has been a change in attitude, from doormat to contender. Yallop wants to see the same attitude shift in his Canadian players.

Whatever he was selling this spring, the players bought, and he now has a roster that includes several players -- such as Tomasz Radzinski, considered the country's top striker -- who largely had been absent for years.

``They want to be part of something that's better than what's gone on before,'' Yallop said. ``They want to make Canada better. They want to make the World Cup.''

The 2006 World Cup is an almost impossible goal. The first round of qualifying starts this month (Canada will at long last host a soccer match, playing Belize), and Yallop still barely knows what he has.

``We've got to be realistic,'' Yallop said.

But if Canada exceeds expectations, the least surprised people will be those on the other side of the field on Saturday night.

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"Almost impossible" goal of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup? I think the author of the article is over-stating things. I can live with "underdogs", "not a favourite" or even "longshots" descriptions but "almost impossible" is something that should be reserved for the likes of the US Virgin Islands, not us

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Guest Dave

Yeah, and noticed that too. It didn't really bother me since Frank obviously didn't actually say it nor was it likely he even implied it. I'm assuming the reporter just did a typical media thing and put her own spin on Frank's "got to be realistic" comment... which was probably just Frank playing his "underdog" card again.

Reporters' opinions, particularly American reporters, stopped mattering to me quite some time ago.

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