Squizz vs. Rollins: Where should Canada play?

Later today, Some Canadian Guys writer Squizz will be debating Duane Rollins from The 24th Minute about whether or not it is a good idea for the Canadian men’s national soccer team to play a game in Moncton, New Brunswick. Squizz says yes, but for Duane, not so much. Yep, two guys from southern Ontario yelling at each other about what’s good for the rest of the country. It’ll be just like watching CPAC!

They’ll agree on nothing, but you’re going to listen for entertainment, not consensus. And there’s a cheeky catch, it’s only available through our iTunes feed.

It’s important to remember that Squizz isn’t saying Canada should play all its games in Moncton, and that Duane isn’t saying they shouldn’t play any of them there.

If the reports about the new Concacaf qualifying format we’ve read are true – eight groups of four, down to four groups of four and then two groups of four – that could mean nine home games for Canada in the next round of World Cup qualifying. For many of the reasons Duane listed, playing the majority of those games in Toronto makes infinite sense. There’s a concentrated group of proven Canada supporters already in the city, it’s the media centre of the country and it has three established TFC supporters’ groups on the ground and running.

But if the CSA could afford to get players to Edmonton in the last World Cup qualifying cycle, surely it can afford to get them to Moncton. And Squizz’s admirable Mission Moncton is not going to happen overnight anyway, so targeting a qualifying match in two years’ time seems about right to me.

Moncton is a fantastic idea from a strategic perspective. It’s a curveball. Play a Central American opponent there when it’s cold. But Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium is never going to be Canada’s Wembley. That would have to be BMO or Stade Saputo.*

The curse of Canadian soccer and its supporters when it comes to the stands is that the largest concentration of hardcore Canada fans happens to be located in the same city as the largest groups of Canadians who will come to BMO and cheer for our Concacaf opponents. (Not to mention the proximity for Americans who’ll make the drive.)

If the CSA decides to play Mexico at BMO in a World Cup qualifier, the challenge for TFC supporters groups, the Voyageurs and whoever else will pale in comparison to what it took to ensure that pro-Canada crowd against Jamaica in August 2008.

And whatever the two guys slugging it out over the Internet say today, I know they’ll both be on the same side in the thick of that battle.

* Having grown up in rural Manitoba, I’ve always felt the way that Canadian regionalism is positioned as “everybody hates Toronto” gives short shrift to the subtle bitterness many people from Manitoba feel toward our more prosperous western Canadian neighbours. So I excluded wherever the Whitecaps end up playing as a possible Wembley. It’s too far from Europe anyway.

7 Responses to “Squizz vs. Rollins: Where should Canada play?”

  1. Canadians: Unfailingly polite. Hate everyone.

    • Spoken like a true, jaded big city boy (whether you are or not).

      Have you ever met a Maritimer? The east coast of Canada is populated by the friendliest people on the face of the planet. Check it out someday.

      I get that your comment seems to be mostly about the “regionalism”, but you generalise, so I have to reply. And let’s not confuse this idea of Canadian regionalism with any feelings toward our CONCACAF opponents, or their supporters. I think we (Canadian soccer fans) are all pretty comfortable in the company of ANY soccer players or fans.

      • Just listened to the podcast. So, you’ve lived in NB? And you still think a game (not even a friendly) would be better in Tzero than Moncton?

        Now I’m getting pissed off…

  2. I should mention that, while Saskatchewan is a “Have” province now, Manitoba is still a “Have Not.” Suddenly even we are your more prosperous Canadian neighbors. Wouldn’t want to be a Manitoban right now, pity anyone who is… 😉

  3. Couple random points I just thought of:

    1) Time Zone 1 less hour difference compared to Europe… small difference but worth noting

    2) Keeping it in Toronto and Montreal will most definitely have a negative affect on the program outside of those centres. There is no doubt people outside those cities will look at the CMNT as a “Toronto” team. As important as the Toronto supporters are, the future of the CMNT program is nationwide, both on the pitch and in the stands.

    3) I don’t understand the argument that playing the game in Toronto gives them the best chance to win…. how? Playing in a stadium that is half empty or has more visiting supporters benefits us somehow? I don’t get that… I think the excitement of playing in front of a packed house would excite the players more.

    4) I think you are giving the toronto fans (not supporters) a little too much credit. The first TFC game I saw (during the 2nd season) for the first 10 minutes of the game the group of fans behind me couldn’t figure out which team was TFC, are you really going to get worse with a majority family crowd in moncton? The supporters in TO are great, and against Peru the 112/113/114 sections looked crazy, but if we can get 10,000 to fill a stadium in moncton for a game against El Salvador or some no name team once every couple years we should do it. A little local exposure goes a long long way…. what were people saying about soccer in Toronto before TFC? How about giving someone else a shot too.

    5) Mission Moncton should probably be referred to as Mission Maritimes because you would be drawing from such a large crowd from PEI and NS as well

    6) I think the only thing that could possibly be negative about a game in Moncton is if it isn’t marketed properly and they aren’t able to get a decent crowd out, and that would be pretty terrible. The CFL did an amazing job marketing a regular season CFL game, imagine what a decent marketing strategy would do for a world cup qualifier.

  4. Hmm… CSA and decent marketing strategy… I smell crisis of epic proportions for Mission: Moncton…er..Maritimes.

    If this gets pulled off it’ll be one of the largest grassroots efforts since WCQ@BMO ’08. It can be done! (just not by the CSA’s marketing contract)

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