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  1. 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 birth. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. McKendry underwent surgery for a meniscal tear of his left knee in August. The recovery took a little longer than hoped and the 23-year-old was still rehabbing when the 'Caps preseason camp got underway in January and didn't make his first USL appearance of the season until week two, when he came on as a late second half sub in Portland. But after a lot of hard work and patience, McKendry is back to his best and keen to make an impact in Wednesday's match with the Fury. "The first thing that comes to mind is that it's an opportunity for me to showcase myself," McKendry told AFTN. "I've developed a lot, even over the time when I was injured, I was watching, studying the first team games and trying to get better, even though I was not playing. Now, I'm looking forward to being involved and getting some opportunities." McKendry has looked excellent for WFC2 so far this season, scoring two goals in his six appearances to date, both of them cracking strikes. A lot of players take a little bit of time to readjust to the game when they come back from a long term injury, but McKendry has looked to be even sharper and hungrier than he was before. He looks to have moved up another level and more than ready for MLS minutes. "I think I've just matured a little bit," McKendry told us. "That's been the biggest thing. Last season I think I was a little bit, maybe, overly anxious at times. Now, it's clear to me what I bring to this club and where I can be successful from the midfield position." Robinson has long been an admirer of the Residency alumni. That was what triggered his desire to get McKendry to come out of college a year early and sign a MLS deal. He's previously told us that he fully believes that the midfielder has what it takes to become a MLS staple for the club in years to come, something which his USL coach, Alan Koch, also has no doubts about. "We haven't seen Ben as much as we would have liked," Koch told AFTN after Sunday's draw with Real Monarchs. "He's still been struggling to get through a couple of knocks, then going away with the national team. I thought today he was very, very industrious. He was wanting to get on the ball, he brought a lot of energy to the field. He was one of our best players through the 60 minutes that he played, which is great. "We continue to see him improve and the more performances that he puts in like today, the more questions he'll ask of Robbo and hopefully get a chance in the first team at some stage." McKendry's recent performances have also seen him back in the Canadian fold for the first time in over two years. Having previously worn the red and white of Canada at U18 and U20 level, McKendry hasn't been involved with the national team program since being part of the U20 team that took part in the CONCACAF U20 Championship in Mexico in February 2013. He scored a goal in the 5-1 win over Nicaragua in his only appearance in that tournament. U23 coach Michael Findlay included McKendry in Canada's recent Caribbean tour, with the midfielder scoring in the 3-0 win over Grenada, with a similar goal to his strike against Real Monarchs on Sunday. And overall he found it an enjoyable experience to be back with the national team program. "It was great," McKendry said of the experience. "It was good to be in with the national team. The coaching staff were great and the other players were great as well. I guess we have to get used to travelling all over the place. We were in Guyana, which was an interesting experience, then we had to go to Grenada. Getting used to the travel, with being in CONCACAF, is important." Experience is all part of McKendry's growth and going through a long term injury like he did last year has certainly given him a new perspective on things. It's also an experience he can draw on to help others, including his room-mate Christian Dean, who agonisingly suffered a knee injury last week in training, just days after returning from a foot injury that had seen the centre back miss out on the year so far. It's heartbreaking for Dean, who is one of the most genuine and nicest players you'll find on the 'Caps rosters, but McKendry has been there for him at this difficult time and he feels his room-mate will come back hungrier and stronger like he did. "Yeah, I talked about it a little bit with him," McKendry told us. "A similar injury I think. He got a little bit on the knee. You've just got to stay focused and do what you can to get back as soon as possible. Ice, rest. He'll be back stronger." McKendry's eyes right now are fully focussed on the next two Canadian Championship games with Ottawa and making a case for his first MLS minutes soon. That MLS playing time is his key goal, and will remain so, but right now, he's also thoroughly enjoying being part of the exciting and unbeaten USL side. That's been helping take his game to that other level, with confidence abounding around the team. "I think the difference is we go into every single game expecting three points," McKendry admitted. "Whether on the road or at home here, we expect three points and nothing less. We're disappointed with a draw. They're confident. "The young guys are incredible - Kadin [Chung]. Tommy [Gardner], Alphonso [Davies]. Kyle [Greig] has been a great acquisition. He's banging in goals. It's a great group to be a part of."
  4. 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!
  5. REPORT: After so many heartbreaking losses in the Canadian Championship, Vancouver Whitecaps lifted their first Voyageurs Cup in front of 19,616 fans at B.C. Place. Octavio Rivero scored in the first half, Tim Parker provided the second and David Ousted earned the clean sheet in the 2-0 victory on the night and a 4-2 aggregate win over the Montreal Impact. The Whitecaps started off the match looking for an early strike and Techera looked to set up Manneh but the attempt on goal was stopped by the keeper in the second minute. Techera had his own chance in the 24th minute when his attempt off a free kick forced Kronberg into some quick thinking to keep it scoreless. The turning point came on the half hour mark, when Impact defender Victor Cabrera was sent off, after picking up his second yellow, for taking down Rivero just outside the box. The ensuing free kick by Morales was sent over the net but the Caps would make the one man advantage count when Rivero opened the scoring five minutes before half time. It was Techera who intercepted a Reo-Coker back pass and got a shot off that deflected off Kronberg, dribbling towards the net before Rivero slammed the ball in from an inch out. The opening five minutes of the second half saw Manneh try to double the lead but the winger was first stopped by Kronberg and then had a pass smothered by the keeper. The match never seemed in doubt but the insurance marker came in the 53rd minute when Tim Parker connected on Pedro Morales corner and headed the ball powerfully home. Vancouver had two to three more chances to extend the lead but two goals were enough for the Whitecaps to capture their first Voyageurs Cup and become Canadian Champions, clinching a spot in next season’s CONCACAF Champions League in the process. The players will have very little time to enjoy the title as they will travel to Texas on Saturday where they will face the Houston Dynamo, looking for three points in the Supporters’ Shield race. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 0 Montreal Impact [Vancouver win 4-2 on aggregate] ATT: 19,616 VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Russell Teibert, Gershon Koffie (Matías Laba 84); Cristian Techera, Pedro Morales (Mauro Rosales 68), Kekuta Manneh; Octavio Rivero (Darren Mattocks 72) [subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Christian Dean, Robert Earnshaw, Jordan Smith] MONTREAL: Eric Kronberg; Ambroise Oyongo, Victor Cabrera, Laurent Ciman, Donny Toia; Calum Mallace, Marco Donadel (Eric Alexander 73), Nigel Reo-Coker; Johan Venegas (Andrés Romero 64), Dominic Oduro (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 64), Justin Mapp [subs not used: Maxime Crépeau, Eric Miller, Maxim Tissot, Wandrille Lefevre]  VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On whether this was the strong performance he was looking for: "I think it was, yes. Going into a cup final, second leg, I said to the guys, it’s one game. We’re one game away from making history for the club, because we’ve never won this tournament before. I didn’t know whether to put a bit of pressure on them or try and take the pressure off them, but I challenged them. I said listen, ‘They don’t come round to you too often, games like this. We’re at home, in front of our 20,000 fans, it’s in our court. Time to step up boys,’ and they certainly did, each and every single one of them. What a professional performance that was. So bloody proud of them today, really am." On what’s going through his head right now: "Do you know what? If I’m being honest, it’s about my father. 18 months ago when I took the job, I lost a big part of my life and I said I was going to enjoy myself and do everything to make him proud of me. My wife and two children are here today, mom’s back home, but I miss my dad, I really do. So I’m a little bit sad, but don’t take away from how important this trophy is for the club. Because, it’s not about me. The group of players love it, love it to bits in there, the mentality they have. But it’s about the club, the club has never won it and it’s for them today. I’m delighted for every single one involved with the club." On whether this is an experience they can draw upon moving forward: "I hope so, I really do. It’s difficult being a manager. I will say that, because you’re here to get shot down. If you rest a couple of starters or regular players, which I have done, you get criticised. I’ve never underestimated this tournament, without a doubt. I’ve been fortunate enough to win it. I think [John Molinaro] asked me a question on Tuesday about winning it, and I did but it isn’t about me. It’s about these group of players in there and this football club at this current time. Hopefully it will stand us in good stead. I told them to enjoy it tonight, because they deserve it. The performance, the way we managed the game, we didn’t get caught up in anything, because I think it could have gone overboard at times, but we didn’t. For a group so young, they showed a lot of maturity tonight. We’re still early stages, we’re still building this football club." Thoughts on Russell Teibert and his play throughout the tournament: "It’s fitting, isn’t it [that Russell is a Canadian bringing home the MVP trophy]. Russell hasn’t been in the team lately because of how good Matias and Koffie have been. Team’s don’t win things, squads do. I’ve said that all along. To rest Matias today, and it was resting him, I put Russell in because this tournament means a lot to Canadian players, without a doubt. I just sensed it in training that he had a bit between his teeth. I challenged him and arguably he was the best player on the field today and really deserves the MVP and the bottle of champagne he has in there." On Octavio’s earlier play and getting under Montreal’s skin: "Even though he hasn’t scored goals in the last couple of games, what he brings to the table is fantastic. His movement, his hold up play. I think he gave the two centre backs a torrid time. He gets his reward in the end from working hard and being a big contributor to the team. I pulled him off and he wasn’t too happy, because he wants to stay on and score goals, but Darren is a big part of this club as well. And Darren looked sharp when he came on and could have got himself a goal or two as well. You know, the squad depth will be tested this week. We go to Houston, a very tough game for us. We’ll go and we’ll try and win that game." On winning Cup as a player v a manager: "You know what, I’m probably more pleased as a manager, even though I’ve had nothing to do with it, as funny as it sounds. Because when we won it in Toronto, everyone wrote us off and unfortunately for Vancouver, we managed to score five, six goals. It was great, because I had a big influence in that. I didn’t say I played brilliant, because DeRo scored a hat trick, but I was involved in the team. Today, it’s about that group of players in there. No glory for me whatsoever. Whichever manager is in charge, it’s about the club and it’s about the group of players today. And they should enjoy it." RUSSELL TEIBERT On winning the Canadian Championship: "It is hard to put it into words. It means so much winning this in front of friends and family. It is about time we won this. The season is not over yet, we still have a lot of work to do." On being MVP: "I am grateful but it is important we won the trophy as a team. I am happy we won this championship. We have to get used to winning trophies and championships, this was our time tonight and we showed what we are capable of." On starting this game: "The manager is always taking care of his players. Whether you are playing or not, we are happy that we won as a team. I would still be celebrating if I did not start this game." On winning as a Canadian: "As a Canadian winning this trophy meant a lot to me. I am proud to be a Canadian champion, and I want to take part in every major competition game but this one meant a bit more to me because I am Canadian." On winning in front of the home crowd: "I am proud, we have had too many heartbreaks in this tournament. The fans were always supporting us, and always having our back. We deserve this trophy and I am glad we won it." GERSHON KOFFIE: On his performance: "I did good. I did what the coach asked me today and we were able to get the victory. " On playing against Nigel: "It was great playing against Nigel. He is a great player and I learned from him at Vancouver. I did what I had to do get us the victory." On winning after losing three times previously: "It means a lot to me. I have been with this club for a long time and this is my first trophy. I am so excited, to come up with these results, it requires a lot of team effort and we were able to win as a team." On winning in front of the home crowd: "It is great. The fans made it happen and we are very thankful to have such great supportive fans." DAVID OUSTED: On his thoughts this game: "Delighted for fans, and the organization. It meant a lot and you could see the team but the fans, it means a lot to them. Hopefully one of many to come." On his play of his team: "I thought we played well and were able to control the game. I think we played well, especially second half, we made sure to possess the ball more and not give them any chances to win. I think it was clear who was going to win because of our possession." On his thoughts on how winning can boost his confidence: "I think the silverware is going to give us confidence going forward. It is going to make us hungry to try and win a couple more trophies. Let’s see where we get to but I think we are going in the right direction." MONTREAL IMPACT FRANK KLOPAS On tonight’s loss: "It’s hard to swallow. There were two different games. The first 30 minutes and the next 60 minutes." On playing shorthanded after Victor Cabrera’s second yellow card: "It’s unfortunate because both teams came to play and then the game changed. We made a mistake to go down 1-0 and that changed everything. The second goal came after that and there’s not much you can do. You push the game as much as you can but when you’re playing shorthanded for 60 minutes, it makes it very difficult. It’s a whole different story." On the team’s chances after falling behind 1-0: "We were organized. You have to push the game so you take more risks and you’re more open. Regardless, the whole game changed for me after the second yellow card took Cabrera out. That changed the whole game. My two centre backs got first yellows right away. It’s amazing especially when the linesman called the first." On the team’s performance in the first 30 minutes: "It’s a final. We wanted to make sure we defended well in the middle. We didn’t give them opportunities in transition. They had one chance early in the game then the game settled. There were moments when we had the ball and moved the ball well but everything changed after that. Congratulations to Vancouver, they played well. It’s just unfortunate that the game would’ve been a lot more entertaining for the fans as a final. It’s a shame that the players on the field could’ve played an exciting game for 90 minutes but it was only for 30. I’m sure the fans here enjoyed it because it went their way but I’m just disappointed that we’re here talking about the referees. I’m not taking away from Vancouver, congratulations to them. It’s disappointing with those fouls and yellow cards came so easy." On the quick turnaround to the next match: "We’re playing right away. We travel five hours to play, that’s what makes it difficult. We wanted to push the game and win the game, just like they did. Obviously, that became difficult after the 30-minute mark. Not only you lose the final but you play shorthanded for 60 minutes. You have to travel back, you try to make moves thinking forward to Saturday after the second goal. We thought about this game first more than anything." On goalkeeper Eric Kronberg’s performance: "I thought he did a good job. I don’t think he could’ve done anything. We made a mistake on the first goal. The second goal was off a set piece. I think we were marked tight but Tim Parker somehow maybe was a little bit stronger, pushed our guy off a little bit and gets a little bit of an advantage and they scored. The first was off a mistake and the second was off a set piece." ERIC KRONBERG On tonight’s loss: "I think we’re going to look back at this game and think it was something that got away from us. Sometimes there are some extra factors that play into that. It hurts but you have to move on. We have another game on Saturday that’s important to us. You have to move forward. Going into the game, I was confident. The boys were confident. We all felt we had a shot. We get out there and some calls were made. It’s kind of strange that the referee didn’t make all the ticky-tacky calls but he called light yellows. Usually, it’s the ticky-tacky referees that call the light yellows. It was a little different from what I’ve seen. It’s just the nature of the game. You get different referees and you just have to adapt." On the quick turnaround to the next match: "We’re going to have a tough time sleeping tonight. That’s the nature of the beast. You have to turn around quick and be ready for the next game quickly. I think we’re going to put it behind us quickly and work hard in the next couple of days. We’re going to get things sorted out. We don’t lose anybody so that’s good. It’s also a chance to redeem ourselves a little bit. It’s another rivalry. We get to go into Toronto and it would be awesome to get a win. We can get right back on track. The game against Toronto would be a great opportunity for that." On the outlook for the rest of the season: "Now, we have to make a run for the playoffs. That’s what it comes down to. We just need to believe in ourselves. We have to play consistently and make the playoffs and make a run." CALUM MALLACE On tonight’s loss: "We came out pretty well. We knew they were at home and they were going to come out fast. We knew they were pretty comfortable with the 2-2 draw at Montreal but I thought we matched them pretty well. Our game plan was to catch them at times and play well defensively but push the game as well. I think that’s what we did. That second yellow card came and that changed the game." On Victor Cabrera’s yellow cards: "I don’t know, I have to look back at it. At that time, I thought it was a little harsh. I thought the second one was definitely a yellow card. I couldn’t even see the first one. It is what it is. You have to deal with it and move forward." On losing another championship final: "It’s never easy losing any game but a final is that much more difficult, especially the Canadian Championship with a few teams in it. You feel like every game is a rivalry game. This one being a cup final, it’s definitely a difficult one to swallow." On the quick turnaround to the next match: "It will definitely be difficult to put this one behind us but that’s what we have to do. With the end of our season coming, we have a lot of games in a short span so regardless of the result, we have to put it behind us as soon as possible and move on to the next one. It’s going to be a tough game in Toronto."
  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. 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!
  8. 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!
  9. [Also check out Tom's website www.residualimagephotography.com for more of his photos and work]. Oh Canada, Oh Whitecaps Vancouver Whitecaps starting XI Gershon Koffie's mistake lets in Tomi Ameobi Who easily fires home the opener for Edmonton just four minutes in Happy days indeed for the Eddies Worse is to come for the 'Caps as Sam Adekugbe strains his right ankle A tough injury for young Sam. He's been for tests. How long he'll be out is still unknown. More bodies hit the floor The Whitecaps will have been glad to see the back of that half Meanwhile, Sam is already in a boot and on crutches The second half starts more brightly as Erik Hurtado has an early chance Before wasting an even more golden opportunity in the 66th minute The shock of seeing indoor plumbing was too much to take for some Edmonton players Just as it was looking bleak for Vancouver, Koffie shows some nice footwork in the box and fires home an 87th minute equalizer Can we get our ball back mister? As the game enters stoppage time, Robert Earnshaw finds himself clear in the box But it's just too tight and angle and the ball ends up in the side netting Paolo Tornaghi finally got to get a Whitecaps start. Really pleased for the Italian keeper Twas a tough night for Captain Koffie Eddies coach Colin Miller knows history is in the making for his side next week While Carl Robinson knows his 'Caps have a tough time ahead of them if they are to advance You can see a Flickr slideshow of all of Tom's photos from the game below:
  10. REPORT (by Steve Pandher): For the second straight match Vancouver Whitecaps started slow and this time it cost them as they drew FC Edmonton 1-1 in the first leg of their Voyageurs Cup semi-final. While Gershon Koffie’s late goal was able to salvage a tie for the MLS side, it was his mistake in the opening minutes that gave the Eddies the vital away goal from Tomi Ameobi. Koffie’s error came in the fourth minute when he was pressured by Ritchie Jones forcing him to turn into Ameobi. The striker took the ball away and walked into the box easily scoring past a helpless Paolo Tornaghi. The remainder of the first half saw the visitors sit back and absorb any little pressure the Caps were able to mount. Of the five attempts on goal, none tested the keeper, with three of them getting blocked and two of them missing by a wide margin. It took four minutes into the second half for Vancouver to get one on target with Matt Van Oekel gathering a up a shot from Erik Hurtado. The 'Caps striker had another glorious chance in the 66th when Mattocks was able head the ball into Hurtado’s path but his wild first time attempt missed to the right of the goal. With 15 minutes to go, Ameobi had a couple of chances to get Edmonton a second away goal but both attempts were sent wide. The Caps were finally able to rescue a draw with three minutes to go, as Gershon Koffie made up for his early flub. He took the cross from Jordan Harvey, cut back to his left and poked the ball past Van Oekel for the equaliser. In added time, the Caps almost grabbed the lead when second half sub Robert Earnshaw found himself free on the right side of the goal, but there was little room due to the tight angle and he sent the ball into the side netting. The Whitecaps will now go up north to take on FC Edmonton in the second leg with the hope to advance to Voyageur Cup final. However before that they will host their Cascadian rivals Seattle Sounders on Saturday at BC Place in a crucial Western Conference matchup. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 - 1 FC Edmonton ATT: 15,283 VANCOUVER: Paolo Tornaghi; Ethan Sampson, Tim Parker, Christian Dean, Sam Adekugbe (Jordan Harvey 4); Gershon Koffie, Deybi Flores (Kekuta Manneh 74), Kianz Froese, Nicolas Mezquida (Robert Earnshaw 61), Erik Hurtado; Darren Mattocks [substitutes not used: Marco Carducci, Ben McKendry, Russell Teibert, Caleb Clarke] EDMONTON: Matt Van Oekel, Eddie Edward, Mallan Roberts, Kareem Moses, Johann Smith, Sainey Nyassi (Michael Nonni 88), Ritchie Jones, Christian Raudales, Daryl Fordyce (Tomas Granitto 80), Lance Laing, Tomi Ameobi [substitutes not used: John Sits, Allan Zebie, Sadi Jalali, Hanson Boakai, Chad Burt] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON Thoughts on the match: “I’m delighted we got the goal in the end. I thought we deserved it the way we played. There was a lot of good performances, there were others that were okay. I’ve asked them individually to look at it and we’ll look at it collectively but as I said I think we deserved something out of that game.” Thoughts on an error leading to the goal: “I spoke to my coaches at halftime. I want us to play. I want us to be a team that tries to pass the ball and play and because I want to do that [but] we will make mistakes. I likened it a little bit to Steven Gerrard giving the ball away against Chelsea and they lost the Premier League. Gershon gives the ball away in a cup competition in the first few minutes of the game, they catch us and they score. Would you tell Steven Gerrard to do the things that he shouldn’t do? Nah. So I’m not telling Koffie to do that. I’ll take responsibility for that cause I want them to play. I think we grew into the game and obviously they answered in the end.” Thoughts on players being nervous: “Yeah maybe. They shouldn’t be but I think for some it was. Got to get used to it. In front of our fans, we play in front of 20,000 every week. We go to Portland, we go to Seattle on the road, so you got to get used to it. We will. We're in the big boy world now." Thoughts on players being unfamiliar with each other: “Maybe in games they haven’t played enough minutes together, but they train together and I think as the game grew they got stronger and more confident with each other. They played some decent stuff at times. That’s the encouragement I’m going to take away. Even if we have won or lost this game, the tie is not over. We got a game next Wednesday, but a game we will be ready for.” Thoughts on injuries affecting next game: “Yeah I wanted to come out of the game without any injuries, which is why I rested some of the guys, but obviously that didn’t work. My fault for that one. Sam isn’t looking great if I’m honest. He will be re-assessed by the doctor. He landed awkwardly so I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that one. Deybi Flores – it’s just the bum cheek so that’s not too bad.” Thoughts on Jordan playing so many minutes lately: “Yeah I’m lucky he is a fit boy aren’t I? I didn’t want to use him today. I wanted him rested but we got him. He was very composed when he came on as I expect form a senior player. He managed the game very well, managed his performance very well as well and set the standard as well.” What was said at halftime? “I just said to them to be confident. The game panned out exactly as I thought it would. Unfortunately I didn’t think about giving them a goal after two or three minutes. The way they played was exactly how I thought. I thought they slowed the game down. I give Colin credit. His team managed the game very well which is why I said to him at the end in the 46th, 49th minute, in the 55th minutes – your players are going down. It’s not why we pay to watch football. The ball wasn’t in play enough.” Thoughts on Paolo’s game: “It was quiet for Paolo today. Conceding after a couple of minutes is probably not nice for him, but he was good. “ Thoughts on playing more senior players in the return leg: “Maybe. We’ve got a big game on the weekend which obviously our focus turns to now. We’ll try and win that game against Seattle cause it’s a massive game for the club, it’s a massive game for the group in there. We’ll put this game to bed now and we’ll deal with Saturday and we’ll get back to work on this game on Sunday or Monday." ROBERT EARNSHAW Thoughts on the match: “I think it was a difficult game. I think there’s a lot of things we can work on. I think for at least half the game we struggled to make a difference. We struggled with the competitiveness. I think they wanted the game more than us in the first half and this is crucial because that’s when they got the goal. I think second half we were much better. We slowed the game down ourselves but passed the ball quicker. This was key because once you start moving the ball – the ball is quicker than everybody else on the pitch. So once we start moving the ball, trying to create angles and make space, that’s when we got our spaces.” Thoughts on Edmonton slowing down the play in the second half: “Credit to them. They tried to be clever. They played the game, they played within the rules and the sportsmanship was obviously difficult but this is the cleverness of the details of football. Sometimes when you can understand the game and see what’s going on, you have to slow it down. They were clever. Credit to them. Obviously they made it difficult for us.” Thoughts on his missed scoring opportunity: “I think I would probably have taken the touch inside. I think that would have opened the goal up a little bit more. It was a very tight angle and I just tried to hit the roof of the net. I just thought in that split second that going across the goal would have been too tight. The bigger angle was to go high, so I just sliced the ball a little bit. These chances will come and I’m sure if I have another one I’ll put it in. These things happen, but the key thing is we created the chance. I almost got it just before that as well. I’ll take this chance – that’s what we are all about. We are happy that we make the chances.” GERSHON KOFFIE Thoughts on the match: “I think we came out to win this game. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but we didn’t lose. We’ll take the positives out of this game.” Thoughts on you having to make up for the mistake: “Mistakes are part of the game. Mistakes happen here and there. Thanks to my teammates, they helped to fight back.” Thoughts on the comeback from a goal down: “We ended up 1-1, but we train tomorrow and do our corrections and we train what to do. It’s all about us and what we do next weekend. The focus is on this weekend’s game and then we focus on the next game, which is on Wednesday.” Thoughts on younger players being nervous: “I think for some of the guys it’s not their first game, but it’s their first game starting. I wouldn’t say there is so much nerves but really the first 15 to 20 minutes they have to be nervous about the game but they are strong, and their mentality is strong to come back.” Thoughts on being captain “It’s great. The group of boys inside are fantastic guys. To be their leader is something that is blessed. I love to be with them and I love to lead them.” FC EDMONTON COLIN MILLER Thoughts on the match “I’ve got to say that I am extremely proud as head coach of FC Edmonton tonight. And on behalf of our owner Tom Fath in the corner there, very proud of the players. You know we have just arrived from New York on Monday late in the afternoon, played in 87 degrees, little bit warmer than it has been in Edmonton as you guys saw last Wednesday. To put an effort in like that tonight I think is fantastic, absolutely fantastic. We wanted to keep the tie tight, score an away goal which we did and I thought for a spell in the first half almost gave the impetus back to the Whitecaps sometimes because we gave the ball away too easy in the wrong areas. That gives the crowd a lift because it gives the Whitecaps a lift. But the heart, the determination, the character was everything the Eddies stand for. I am very proud of everyone in the club and everyone back home is very proud of the team as well. So it’s been a really good evening and as soon as I saw the six minutes go up, I thought bad words because we saw that six minutes go up in Montreal and the same referee gave a penalty, a very dodgy penalty. The guys weathered the storm as you would imagine it is a very very talented Whitecaps group. Whoever plays for the ‘Caps has got real quality and I am sure they are the envy of the MLS with the talent that they have at their disposal. Carl’s done a great job with the group here. So all in all absolutely ecstatic about the attitude, individual performances, there were some fantastic performances. Very proud of our team tonight.” Thoughts on upcoming game and if players will be rested: “Absolutely no rest at all, what do you think this is a country club? No, we will assess the guys obviously. We get up tomorrow, travel back to Edmonton, more of a recovery day on Friday and then we will assess it on Saturday, if there’s some knocks, some pains or whatever which is understandable. We’ve got a very difficult game on Sunday against San Antonio who won the Soccer Bowl last season. So we will have to regroup, program the thoughts to as much recovery as we can and then get ready for a real battle. We are good at home. We are unbeaten in 11 games at home so we’ve got a lot to look forward too. The incentive is there for the guys to play well on Sunday so it gives everyone a lift because I was so disappointed in giving away four goals. It was the first time in almost three seasons that our club has given away four goals on Sunday. The manner that we gave them was very poor. But we finished a stronger team against the Cosmos. We’ve had a lot of games, a lot of travelling recently and it doesn’t get any easier. As an ex-professional myself I wanted to play in games rather than train so for some it’s been great but for the guys doing the running out there it’s not been fun.” Thoughts on Whitecaps losing two players and if that changes things tactically: “No, not at all, because as I have said earlier it is what the Eddies do. It’s what we do and we play well at home. We play very well at home and we play dangerous, we’ve got real good pace. It doesn’t matter. We won’t change. We haven’t changed for any team that has come into Edmonton. The same culture, the same desire and passion that’s a demand of every training session with our team and anything below that would be disappointing. We know we will have to be at our very best again on Wednesday and it’s a very talented Vancouver Whitecaps team. Regardless who puts on a Whitecaps jersey has quality. Once again we will have to be on our best and hope the Whitecaps have an off day. I’m not under any illusions, not getting carried away. It was a solid away performance in the cup against a very talented team with lots of pace. I thought we more than matched them with the passion and the desire and the way we organized the team.” Thoughts on goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel: “Yeah, he was poor on Sunday and I told him. It’s not anything he hasn’t heard before. I gave him the belt on Monday when we arrived in Vancouver because it was disappointing by his standards. But tonight he has answered the bell and that’s why we brought him to the club, to put in performances like that. He made two very good saves to keep us in the tie. In all honesty the guys were heavy legged at that point. Rob Earnshaw broke through against Kareem Moses. I worked with Earnie when I was at Derby County in the English Premier League so he’s normally deadly from there so thank goodness he managed to miss the chance. But big Matt was excellent. He came up big when he needed to and that’s what he is paid for. He’s paid to make those saves at that time.” TOMI AMEOBI Thoughts on the draw: “I think we probably deserved to get a little more out of the game. They were pushing in the second half, and obviously going down to 10 men kind of killed us a bit. They managed to get the goal when we had our man off.” Eddies performance after Sunday’s loss at New York Cosmos: “I think with our work ethic and the attitude, the boys put in a great shift tonight. We just need to make sure we do that game in and game out, not just when big games like this arise.” What they expect in the second leg next week: “They’ll be coming out all guns blazing, I’m guessing. But we know that we ourselves are not just going to sit back and try and hold on. We know how strong we are at home, especially in the second half.” "We’re definitely going to go and try and get a goal or two to try and kill the tie off. But we’re going to have to be ready because it will be a very strong Whitecaps team coming next Wednesday.”
  11. The winner from the 2 legs moves on to face Vancouver in the semifinals, with the winner of the tourney guaranteed a spot in the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League. As you can guess, tonight’s game is a massive one for Ottawa and Edmonton fans. The two clubs faced off at the same stage in 2014, with a 0-0 draw in Ottawa in windy conditions followed by a 3-1 win for Edmonton at home in the 2nd leg, enabling the Eddies to progress. They would go on to lose to Montreal in a heart-breaking fashion in the 7th minute of 2nd half injury time in the 2nd leg, due to a brutal call from the referee. The Impact went on to win the 2014 V Cup, and have progressed throughout the year in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League, and are playing the 1st leg of the CCL Final tonight. The connection from the 1st leg of the preliminary round a year ago to the CCL final today seems profound today. There are a ton of talking points for today’s game, and a ton of trash talk flying on Twitter at this very moment as well. This game is notable for being both the first fixture in the 2015 V Cup, as well as the number of Canadians that will get minutes on both sides today. – Fury FC notes: Richie Ryan picked up a knee injury in training over the weekend and has been ruled out for 3 to 4 weeks, joining Phil Davies on the sidelines. While Chris Hofley had been hinting at a possible rotation in for Mason Trafford and Mike Randolph for this match, Richard Starnes has published what he believes to be the full starting XI, with the only player rotated in being Andrew Wiedeman, while Sinisa Ubiparipovic makes his return from injury to the CAM role for Carl Haworth, who is struggling with a bout of the flu. Canada MNT captain Julian de Guzman makes his return to the Voyageurs Cup, after having won it 3 times from 2010 to 2012 with Toronto FC, while Ubiparipovic boasts one cup triumph as well with Montreal in 2013. Rafael Alves and Tom Heinemann were named to the NASL Team of the Week for matchday 3 for their respective defensive and offensive performances vs. Minnesota, in a huge morale-boosting 1-0 win on Saturday. – FC Edmonton notes: The Eddies had a couple players of their own named to the NASL TotW, with Sainey Nyassi, and Tomi Ameobi earning the plaudits after the 3-2 comeback win over Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday. Lance Laing has been the key man for the Eddies for the past two seasons, and Ottawa is no stranger to his runs on the left flank, while Nyassi patrols the opposite flank. Laing’s corner kick goal from last year has remained a bit of a sore spot for Fury fans. Eddie Edward makes his return to Ottawa, which is always sure to be greeted by his family and friends in Ottawa, with the player born and bred in the nation’s capital and having come up through the youth academy and PDL side in Ottawa, and making a MLS appearance as well with Dallas. --- 2015 Fury FC Canadian Championship (Voyageurs Cup) – Preliminary Round, 1st Leg – Ottawa Fury FC vs. FC Edmonton Preview When: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 @ 7:30pm EDT Where: TD Place Stadium, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, ON (Watch at OttawaFuryFC.com, CanadaSoccer.com; Listen at 580 CFRA AM) Ottawa Injuries and Suspensions: CM Phil Davies (out – arm, 6-8 weeks), DM Richie Ryan (out – ankle, 3-4 weeks), RW Carl Haworth (doubtful – illness) Ottawa Possible Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1) (R to L): Peiser; Richter, Rafael Alves, Falvey, Poltronieri; de Guzman, Paterson; Oliver, Ubiparipovic, Paulo Jr.; Wiedeman Ottawa Possible Bench: DeBellis, Beckie, Trafford, Randolph, Misik, Haworth, Heinemann Edmonton Previous Matchday Lineup – 3-2 W – (4-1-4-1) (L to R) – VanOekel; Moses, Watson, Roberts, Edward; Raudales (Granitto); Laing, Burt (Jalali), Jones, Nyassi; Jonke (Ameobi) Edmonton Players to Watch: Lance Laing, Sainey Nyassi, Eddie Edward Previous Match: Oct 18, 2014 – NASL – Ottawa Fury FC vs. FC Edmonton – 0-2 L – https://offcreview.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/nasl-2014-matchday-25-ottawa-vs-edmonton-review/ --- The Fury FC picked up a 1-0 victory over MLS-bound Minnesota on Saturday in their season home opener. I was standing in the supporters section with the Bytown Boys on Saturday and have yet to have had the chance to rewatch the match fully on YouTube, due to a very busy week. The quick observations that can be taken from the match is that the new 4-2-3-1 formation is paying off significant dividends for the Fury, with JDG, Nicki Paterson, Richie Ryan, Patryk Misik and Mauro Eustaquio all more than suitable for the 2 DM positions. JDG in particular had an outstanding 2nd half, making tackles left and right, while Tom Heinemann scored the winner in the 67th minutes off a side-footer after nifty footwork to beat a Minny defender. Paulo Jr. has proven to be the x-factor for the Fury with his dynamic wing play, which has added an extra dimension to what the Fury have had in 2014. The Fury FC had picked up what was only their 2nd victory at TD Place in history, since their move during the 2014 summer break. The players were ecstatic after the match, with at least 5 players jumping into the supporters section in Section W after the game to receive the plaudits from the supporters. --- 2015 Fury FC NASL Season – Matchday 3 – Ottawa Fury FC vs. Minnesota United FC Review – 1-0 W When: Saturday, April 18, 2015 @ 3:00pm EDT Where: TD Place Stadium, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, ON (Watch at OttawaFuryFC.com, Rogers TV 22, RogersTV.com, TSN Go, ESPN 3; Listen at TSN 1200 AM, 94,5 Unique FM) Ottawa Injuries and Suspensions: CM Phil Davies (out – arm) Ottawa Returnees: LW Paulo Jr. (short-term knock – return to starting lineup); DM Richie Ryan, AM Sinisa Ubiparipovic (mid-term injury – return to bench); CM Julian de Guzman (1-game suspension) Ottawa (4-2-3-1) – Peiser; Poltronieri, Falvey, Rafael Alves, Richter; de Guzman, Paterson; Paulo Jr. (Ryan 76′), Oliver (Misik 87′), Haworth; Heinemann (Wiedeman 68′) Ottawa Subs: DeBellis, Trafford, Beckie, Ubiparipovic Minnesota (4-1-4-1) – Ndjock; Davis, Calvano, Dias, Kallman; Vicentini (Alhassan 67’); Steele, Ibson (Pitchkolan 33’), Ibarra, Mendes (Campos 74’); Ramirez Ottawa Goal/Assist – Heinemann 67′ Minnesota Goal – None You can follow Namu Yoon on Twitter at @BBSC_SeoulBro and @OFFCReview, and his Canadian Soccer News articles on Ottawa Fury FC at http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/index.php?/page/articles.html/_/ottcityfootie and https://offcreview.wordpress.com.
  12. Misik was in a Canada U20 camp in 2012 (http://www.canadasoccer.com/canada-m20-off-to-usa-costa-rica-p152663), playing alongside former Fury M Zakaria Messoudi and current Fury M Mauro Eustaquio. Photo courtesy of Fakt Sport Poland. He went on to play with the Canada U21 squad that was coached by Fury FC technical director Philip Dos Santos at the 2013 Jeux de la Francophonie (http://www.canadasoccer.com/canada-names-u-21-squad-for-francophone-games--p154992; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_at_the_2013_Jeux_de_la_Francophonie#Canada). However, he was not a part of the 2013 CONCACAF U20 Championship squad for Canada. He spent his youth career in the Toronto and Brantford areas, playing with the Toronto Lynx academy and Brantford Inter-City SC youth club, and then progressing up to the Brantford Galaxy SC CSL side, winning the 2010 CSL Championship. From there, he made the move to Poland to play for the reserve team of WKS Slask Wroclaw in the Polish first division. According to Stuart MacTaggart (@FuryFanatic) of RNO, who first reported the Misik signing, the midfielder is expected to compete for one of the two CM positions as a dynamic box-to-box midfielder, most likely competing with Nicki Paterson for the RCM position. It’s absolutely fantastic to see the commitment that Marc Dos Santos has for young Canadian players. Welcome back to Ontario, Patryk! — OFFC: http://www.ottawafuryfc.com/news/detail/uuid/66zpj6ns2jeh1r3vmweu8kqr0/fury-fc-add-depth-in-midfield-signing-canadian-patryk-misik#.VNThrXvG_Gx RNO: http://www.rednationonline.ca/Articles2015/FuryaddCanadianmidfielderPatrykMisik.aspx — The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced the 2015 Voyageurs Cup, or the Amway Canadian Championships, dates for the 5 MLS and NASL clubs yesterday. Fury FC will play at home against FC Edmonton in the preliminary round to qualify for a semi-final date against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on April 22, before traveling to Edmonton a week later, with FCE’s higher rank in the league standings affording them the privilege of hosting the 2nd leg in the two-legger. The winner of the 5-club competition will qualify for the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League, with this being a shift from previous V Cup editions. Photo courtesy of Rogers Sportsnet and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. As a proponent of the footy pyramid in North America, I, and others, would love to see a Canada Open Cup in the near future that will include, in addition to MLS and NASL clubs, the USL Pro, NPSL, USL PDL, L1O, PLSQ, PCSL clubs in the top 4 tiers of the Canadian soccer pyramid, and why not in the future dream even bigger and open it up for the 5th-tier provincial club teams in the future as well. For any of you confused by the acronyms I just spitted out, check out this Wikipedia article for a simple diagram that shows the relationships between the various tiered leagues! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_soccer_league_system You can follow Namu Yoon on Twitter at @BBSC_SeoulBro, and his blog on Ottawa Fury FC at OFFCReview.wordpress.com, and at @OFFCReview.
  13. TFC Fan 1: Hey, do you remember that time we made the playoffs? TFC Fan 2: No, that's ridiculous, what are you talking about? TFC Fan 1: Oh, yeah, that's right. ... I momentarily forgot that I support a historically unsuccessful team. Still we did win a few Voyageurs Cups! TFC Fan 2: Yeah, but that's easy. TFC Fan 1: So easy that the Vancouver Whitecaps have never done it in a decade of trying! TFC Fan 2: What do you mean? Surely that's impossible? TFC Fan 1: No, I'm not joking. They've actually never won. Even though there was a time it was literally only contested by two teams. TFC Fan 2: Huhn, that's funny, 'cause I'm sure I read an article by a Vancouver fan taking elaborate, unearned shots at TFC. TFC Fan 1: Yeah, it's one of those strange things. They seem to think that 5th place is a trophy. TFC Fan 2: Mountains are nice though! TFC Fan 1: Yeah, if you're into that. Happy New Year's everyone!
  14. The first step to eventually opening the Voyageurs Cup up to teams below the fully professional was made today. The country's two semi-pro leagues, the Première Ligue de Soccer du Québec (PLSQ) and League1 Ontario, have agreed to play a inter-provincial cup between the two league's champions. According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, the CSA has started planning to eventually include the winner of the Inter-Provincial Cup in the Canadian Championship. It was stressed that such inclusion will happen no sooner than 2017 and only after the IPC includes representation from British Columbia/the west. The vision is of a season ending event similar to hockey's Memorial Cup, with the winner advancing to play in the following year's Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup. The first match this year will be played at the Bell Centre in Brossard (8000 Boulevard Leduc, Brossard, QC) on November 1st at 8 pm and the second game will take place on November 8th at 8 pm at the Pickering Soccer Complex (1975 Clements Road, Pickering, ON). CS Longueuil was the regular season champion in the PLSQ, with just one loss. Toronto FC Academy captured League1 honours with an undefeated season.
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