Watching Canada’s women’s national team can be a blast. John Herdman’s girls showed at the 2012 Olympics that they can entertain and play good football, but casual fans often feel more like it’s an obligation or a chore to support our women’s team. It doesn’t need to be – but yesterday’s 0-0 draw against Mexico at BC Place won’t have done much to convince them.
Toronto FC have been public in their desire for a big-name striker next season, with recent reports suggesting that Italian Alberto Gilardino has supplanted Jermain Defoe at the top of the club’s list. There’s one hitch – both players are likely to stay in Europe until after the World Cup this summer, and looking at the history of big-money Designated Players, that doesn’t bode well for Toronto FC’s 2014 season.
Two of the three Canadian MLS teams were in action away from home on Saturday, but neither could take anything from their respective road trips. Vancouver’s playoff hopes are looking like a distant memory after a 3-1 collapse in Dallas, while Toronto fell 2-0 at Portland Timbers in the first game of the post-Kevin Payne era.
Montreal were back in form this weekend and now top the MLS Eastern Conference. Although they still have to balance the league run-in with CONCACAF Champions League play, last night’s 5-0 win over Houston showed that Marco Schällibaum’s men could be on course for a Voyageurs and MLS Cup double.
It’s a strange situation for North American players in Major League Soccer, with the league’s domestic player rules fundamentally unbalanced. Dejan Jakovic and Kyle Porter take up a precious international slot at D.C. United (teammate Dwayne De Rosario has a green card), but if they returned to a Canadian club they’d be competing against Americans as a domestic.
Mexican captain Joel Huiqui won’t be the only one disappointed by his Gold Cup finish this year. The defending champions lost their semi-final while Canada went out in the first round with a whimper. Although this was only a ‘B’ Gold Cup – which didn’t make much sense for Canada, considering this is their only action until 2015 and this year’s winner gets a shot at the Confederations Cup – we still learned something about the region’s teams going into the rest of World Cup qualifying this year.
The 2013 Gold Cup showed why the US is the obvious choice to keep hosting the confederation championship, with ticket sales relying on Central American and Caribbean communities across the US. The tournament is held every 2 years, though, with every other version a ‘B’ Gold Cup, so why not spread one around? BMO Field in Toronto is one of the many CONCACAF venues that could host a Gold Cup group.
Earlier today, Spanish sports tabloid Marca announced that Benito Floro would be Canada’s next national team boss. It seemed far-fetched, but Sportsnet quickly confirmed the rumour, leaving one question in many Canadians’ minds – who is Benito Floro Sanz, exactly? Most media outlets have jumped on the “former Real Madrid coach” tag, but in truth the 61-year-old left Real before current national team members Samuel Piette and Keven Aleman were even born.
The Canadian Soccer Association’s history of hiring head coaches has been covered before. It’s what got me first writing on this site. But there’s a chance to change all that with a progressive appointment this year. Dutch and Ajax veteran John van ‘t Schip is one of the managers with a Canadian connection that could be available.
Quebec’s participation in a non-FIFA tournament recently inspired Jonah Freedman at MLS to have a look at what kind of teams each US state could put out. Along the same lines, I’ve been thinking about how the Canadian pro teams would look if they were limited to players from their province, and now seems like a good time to get it down.