Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Well, folks, it’s a new year.  Welcome to 2013!  The new year always brings with it the potential for excitement, for surprises, for new beginnings – the potential for anything to happen!  Well, almost anything.  In this time of flux, of chaos, of uncertainty, USMNT fans around the world can take solace in the one thing that’s for sure in 2013: Canada, who the USMNT will face in a friendly on January 29, will continue to suck at soccer.

People who are happy with Canada’s national soccer team are hard to come by these days.

OK, OK, maybe that’s a little harsh.  But there’s no question that Canada’s national team program is in a time of flux.  2012 had the potential to be an excellent year for our “Nanook of the North” neighbor, as Canada came into their final group-stage WCQ match against Honduras needing only a draw to assure advancement to the Hex.  A difficult task away to Honduras, to be sure, but by no means impossible.  The resulting bloodbath in San Pedro Sula saw Canada unceremoniously dumped out of qualifying via a lopsided 8-1 loss. Tears flowed from Canadian fans’ eyes like maple syrup from, uh, maple syrup trees. For you sadists out there, here’s the highlights – they ain’t pretty.

 

The loss to Honduras shook Canadian soccer to its core.  Head coach Stephan Hart handed in his resignation just two days later, despite a general consensus that coaching errors were not a factor in the loss, and despite that the fact that his win percentage with the team was the highest of any Canadian coach in history.  The coaching position still remains vacant today, though Colin Miller, the Scottish-born former Canadian international, was named interim boss early in 2013.

Canada comes into Tuesday’s friendly against the USA with a very young squad.  Ten of the 22 players Miller called in to camp have never previously featured for the senior national team, eight played for Canada’s U23’s in last summer’s CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, and only four participated in Canada’s ill-fated third round of World Cup Qualifying last year.  Colin Miller has stated that he hopes to use the camp to evaluate “the future” of Canadian soccer.

On January 26, this relatively inexperienced squad took the field against Denmark in a friendly in Tuscon, Arizona.  The result: a 4-0 loss to the Danes, and a forgettable game for Canadian fans.  I found a stream of the game and did a little scouting for Tuesday’s USMNT friendly.  While one 90-minute observation is hardly enough to make any conclusive evaluations, here’s the highlights, and a few things I saw while watching the game that may be relevant to the USAvCAN match later this week:


  • Overall, Canada looked every bit like a group of young, inexperienced players with very little time on the field together (as could be expected). Their defense was especially porous and uncoordinated, and Denmark was easily able to pick the defense apart with well-timed through balls and smart runs.  If the USA can play the pressing, probing style of soccer that Klinsi advocates, they should find ample gaps to exploit, and ample opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net.
  • Canada’s centerbacks in the Denmark fixture each had markedly different styles and abilities.  At RCB, Nana Attakora had heavy touches, loads of speed, and seemed anxious to get forward and help in the attack – sometimes leaving Canada exposed.  At LCB, veteran Nik Ledgerwood seemed to have good positioning instincts and excellent on-ball skills, with soft touches, good dribbling, and some nice passing vision.  He also seemed slow.  The USA should look to take advantage of Attakora’s ill-timed forward runs and/or Ledgerwood’s pace.
  • Midfielder Kyle Bekker, who garnered loads of attention at the recent MLS Combine and was subsequently taken as the number 3 overall pick by Toronto FC, had some errant passes and downright terrible corner-kick service.  But he also used his on-ball composure to hang on to the ball in sticky situations, and push Canada’s attack forward a bit in the second half.  With a little bit of space, Bekker looks like he could be dangerous, so the USA will want to close him down quickly.
  • Finally, veteran Tosaint Ricketts reminded me of Jozy Altidore on a bad day: heavy touches, zero vision, and constantly deciding to take defenders on 1v1 (unsuccessfully), rather than looking to hold the ball up or pass off to a teammate.  To be fair to Ricketts, Canada’s offense as a whole wasn’t giving him much help, and he did whip in a shot on goal from outside the box that was probably Canada’s best scoring chance of the second half.  The USA defense shouldn’t have problems with Ricketts provided he continues to play “bad Jozy” (as opposed to current “good Jozy”, tearing up the Eredivisie), and provided they can handle his physicality.

One match is hardly enough to judge a squad by, and it would be unfair to Canada to say that they don’t have a chance against the USMNT on Tuesday.  But I’m not really into fairness, so I’m going to say it anyways.  My prediction: 3-1 for the good guys, with Will Bruin bagging 2, Benny Feilhaber bursting back onto the national team scene with a long-range strike, and a Sean Johnson blunder leading to Canada’s lone goal.

Until next time – blame Canada, and GO USA!

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The USA will get its first taste of an away atmosphere for 2014 World Cup qualifying when they travel to Guatemala City on June 12.  Think you might have what it takes to play an away game in Central America?  This US Soccer video says otherwise.  Watch it, and if you tell me you didn’t pee yourself by the end, you’re either lying, or have better bladder control than me.

But never fear, USA fans.  What Guatemala provides in terms of intimidating stadiums is severely undermined by the fact that they’re actually pretty bad at soccer.  So bad that they’ve never qualified for the World Cup.  Fun fact: remember back in 2006, when Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup?  Guatemala was the CONCACAF runner-up that year.  That’s right – Guatemala is worse than the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup.

Even more telling is the nickname of Guatemala’s most famous soccer player, Carlos Ruiz.  As a youngster, Ruiz earned the nickname “El Pescadito”, or “The Little Fish”.  That nickname is a fantastic metaphor for the country he represents in international competition: Guatemala, a true minnow.  Add in the fact that Carlos Ruiz is actually the starting catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, and I’m starting to think the USA should be able to easily handle La Furia Azul.

Carlos Ruiz

Guatemala is so bad at soccer that their most famous soccer player, Carlos Ruiz, actually plays baseball!

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics sez: A FIFA head-to-head search shows that the USA holds a 12-5-4 record against Guatemala.  In the ten times the sides have met in World Cup qualifying, the USA has never lost, winning 6 and drawing 4.  Guatemala has failed to score against the USA in its last 5 qualifying matches, and I’m pretty sure Tim Howard won’t be looking to let that streak get broken.

Tim Howard laughing

The very thought of Guatemala scoring on the USA makes Tim Howard laugh. That’s right, this is what Timmy looks like while he’s laughing. “SCORE ON ME? YOU’RE FUCKING HILARIOUS, GUATEMALA!!!!”

What I’m eating: Guatemala’s most well-known food is fiambre, a smorgusburg salad of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, containing as many as 50 ingredients.  The dish is usually prepared on November 1, as a part of the celebrations of Day of the Dead.  I figure the most insulting American version of fiambre is a Fiesta Taco Salad from Taco Bell – also a smorgusburg salad, likely containing 50 chemical additives and ingredients.  But isn’t Taco Bell derived from Mexican, and not Guatemalan, food?  Even better.  Chowing down on fake Mexican food can serve as a not-so-subtle reminder to Guatemala that they’re pretty much Mexico Jr – Mexico’s Canada, if you will.

What I’m drinking: Guatemala’s most well-known local beer is Gallo, a lager which has been produced in the country since 1896.  That’s a pretty long time.  However, the great American lager, Budweiser, has been produced in the US of A for a full 20 years longer than that.  Look for me to be downing Buds while watching the USA score one goal for each year that Budweiser was making beer while Gallo wasn’t even a sparkle in Guatemala’s eye.

What I’m singing: “Yoni Flores”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.

A little background is in order here.  Here’s what you need to know: FIFA recently began investigating a Guatemalan match-fixing scandal.  Three players were implicated and suspended from the Guatemalan national team, including a player named Yoni Flores.  Finally, the word “yoni” is Sanskrit for “vagina”.

With that context, here’s the song I was inspired to write for Tuesday’s match:

Guatemala did their best Italian impression
Fixed some games, FIFA found out and handed out suspensions
Now Yoni Flores can’t play, he’s sad, and starts to cry
I’m just laughing at his name, cause “Yoni” means vagina!

 

What to say to the Guatemalan fan next to you if, God forbid, they score: “Did Vagina score that one?  Oh wait, he’s suspended.  Never mind.”

Until next time…go USA!

On June 3, the USMNT will face Canada in Toronto in its final pre World Cup qualifying friendly.  5 days later, shit gets real against Antigua and Barbuda.  It’s go time, USA!

American-Canadian soccer relations have been complex, to say the least, over the past 6 months.  Say what you will about Caleb Porter, Sean Johnson, or El Salvador, but I still blame Baby Canada for the USA’s U23 Olympic qualifying debacle.  Shortly after that disaster, I found myself pulling for our northern neighbors in the CONCACAF Champions League.  Toronto FC seemed poised to pull off a massive upset against Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo “Dirty” Sanchez and Santos Laguna after getting a 1-1 result in the first leg.  In typical Canadian fashion, however, Toronto FC disappointed me, getting thrashed 6-2 in the return leg.  At the same time, Canada’s loss here was ultimately America’s gain, as stud striker/double agent Herc Gomez (little known fact: he plays in Mexico as a part of the USMNT’s secret surveillance operations) notched two goals against Toronto, contributing to his (finally!) being recalled into the USMNT (and scoring the USA’s lone goal against Brazil on May 30).

Phew.  Keeping track of whether I hate or love Canada has been exhausting.  But no more – it’s back to pure hatred!

Blame Canada

While I’ve wavered in my hatred for Canada, South Park never has. Their steadfast dislike for our northern neighbors is inspiring, to say the least.

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics sez: FIFA’s head-to-head search reveals that the USA holds a 13-9-8 record against Canada.  Not a bad statistic to have on our side.  Even better is the fact that out of 13 friendlies against Canada, the USA is undefeated in all but 2 (the last time Canada beat us in a friendly was in 1985).  In short, we dominate Canada in soccer friendlies like we dominate them in pretty much every other category, like “being a real country” and “not having our police wear funny outfits”.

Canadian Mounties

Canada’s national police force, the Mounties, wear silly hats. And sometimes have awesome moustaches.

[Note: Canadian cuisine has evolved very little since I wrote Know Thy Enemy: Baby Canada during U23 Olypmic qualifying earlier this year.  As such, I’ve “borrowed” most of the following two sections from that earlier piece.]

What I’m eating: The national dish of Canada is definitely fresh-clubbed baby seal.  But the sneaky Canadians would never admit that.  Instead, a survey of Canadians shows that, if they had to choose a national food BESIDES maple syrup (seriously, I didn’t make that part up), it would be “Poutine” – french fries and cheese curds covered in brown gravy.  Lucky for me, one of America’s finest eating establishments, In’N’Out Burger, makes a superior American version of poutine: animal-style fries.  That’s what I’ll be grubbing on while watching the USA run circles around the Canucks.

Poutine

Leave it to the Canadians – nay, the FRENCH Canadians – to make a combination of french fries, cheese, and gravy look gross. Shame on you, Canada.

What I’m drinking: Once again, Wikipedia to the rescue.  Looks like Canada is famous for two mixed drinks: Sortilege, a combination of Canadian whiskey and maple syrup, and Caribou, a mixture of red wine, Canadian whiskey, and – wait for it – maple syrup.  America can do one better – I’ll be taking shots of Log Cabin maple-flavored syrup (made in Vermont), chased with shots of America’s finest whiskey, Jack Daniels.  One shot of each for every goal the USA scores on Canada.  I think it’s going to be a long and uncomfortable night.

What I’m singing: “Canada’s Our Suburb”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.

Canada, don’t feel too bad, you’re third best on the continent
Third of three, so actually it’s not a real accomplishment
Canada, you’ll always be America’s kid brother
We’re the best place in the world, you’re just our shitty suburb

What to say to the Canadian fan next to you if, God forbid, they score: “Is it still 1980 in Canada, or do Canadians actually still think turtlenecks are fashionable?”

Until next time…go USA!

Everyone’s talking about illegal immigration these days. The most intelligent, reasonable, and well-thought-out solution I’ve heard suggested to address this complex socio-economic issue is definitely, “build a fence”. I 100% agree with this idea. It’s time to keep those damn Canadians out!

Every day, thousands of Canadians cross our northern border illegally. They waltz in here on their ice skates, wearing turtlenecks and speaking French. They take all our jobs at the maple syrup factories. And to add insult to injury, Canadians have the nerve to pretend like they can actually play soccer.

Turtleneck Man!

This Canadian was too scrawny to play hockey. So now he splits his time between pretending to play soccer, and stealing American jobs in the maple syrup industry.

After demolishing Baby Cuba 6-0 to kick off their 2012 Olympic Qualifying campaign, the mighty USA U23’s have Baby Canada next on their hit list. Canada opened up their OQ campaign in typical Canadian style, by not scoring any goals, drawing 0-0 with future USA victims El Salvador.  Expect “The Miracle on Ice” part deux on Saturday – but with no ice, and no miracle, since the USA is heavily favored to begin with.  So actually, expect it to be nothing like “The Miracle on Ice”, except for the part where America wins.

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics sez: A FIFA head-to-head search shows the USA has a ridiculous 41-4-3 record over our northern neighbors.  Sure, that’s the women’s team record.  But it still shows that Canada sucks.  As for the men’s team, the USA holds a more modest 13-9-8 record against America Jr., with the draws and losses voluntary concessions to assuage fears of Americanization.

What I’m eating: I always thought that the Canadian national dish was fresh-clubbed baby seal.  But a Wikipedia search showed me that I was wrong.  Apparently a survey of Canadians showed that, if they had to choose a national food BESIDES maple syrup, it would be “Poutine” – french fries and cheese curds covered in brown gravy.  Sounds like an inferior version of one of America’s greatest inventions: animal-style fries from In’N’Out.  So that’s what I’ll be chowing down on while watching Baby Canada embarrass themselves.

Poutine

Leave it to Canada - nay, the FRENCH Canadians - to make smothering french fries with cheese and gravy sound gross.

What I’m drinking: Once again, Wikipedia to the rescue.  Looks like Canada is famous for two mixed drinks: Sortilege, a combination of Canadian whiskey and maple syrup, and Caribou, a mixture of red wine, Canadian whiskey, and – wait for it – maple syrup.  I’ll go with my own American version of Sortilege to wash down my animal-style fries, and combine a shot of Log Cabin syrup with a slug of Jack Daniels.  Yum.  And then maybe a Super Troopers chug for good measure.

What I’m singing: With the quick turnaround between games here, I’m having trouble coming up with a good song to make fun of Canada on the spot.  Good thing South Park already did it for me!

What to say to the Canadian fan next to you when, God forbid, they score: “Wow.  That’s the first goal I’ve ever seen a Canadian score without skates on, eh?”