Archive for stephen hart

Canada’s women: Winning one for all of us

Posted in Canada, World Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2010 by squizz

There have only been two instances in which I’ve been able to see Jack Warner‘s face without feeling the bile rising up in the back of my throat. On both occasions, he’s handing a Gold Cup trophy to the captain of a Canadian national team.

Ten years ago, it was Jason de Vos. And last night, it was Christine Sinclair.

Ten years ago, it was a fortuitous coin flip that allowed the men to progress into the knockout stages of the tournament. Last week, the biggest upset in women’s soccer history (the Mexicans’ semi-final defeat of the #1-ranked USA) gave Big Red an easier path to the trophy than they were anticipating.

Ten years ago, the men’s national team had high expectations after the recent appointment of a well-regarded international manager (Holger Osieck). Today, the women have Carolina Morace.

But that’s where the similarities end. Whereas the men’s Gold Cup success never translated over into World Cup qualifying, and dissension within the dressing room helped contribute to Osieck’s departure, I can’t help but think that this women’s side may be at the precipice of a defining moment in Canadian soccer. Continue reading

2011 to test Hart’s man-management skills

Posted in Canada with tags , , , , on October 12, 2010 by Grant

There’s an interesting post up at Out of Touch about Dwayne De Rosario. In the immediate aftermath of Canada’s 2-2 draw with the Ukraine on October 8, a spirited debate broke out on the Voyageurs’ board regarding the future usefulness of both DeRo and his TFC colleague Julian de Guzman in the Canada side.

The argument against including those two in the starting eleven is simple: Canada has recently got results without them. But perhaps the debate is irrelevant already. As Out of Touch notes, DeRo has only started two of Canada’s last 16 matches.

Continue reading

The road to Greece goes through Kiev

Posted in Canada with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by squizz

Though the roadway alluded to in my obtuse headline does exist, I’m speaking not of a cross-EU jaunt. Rather, hot on the heels (relatively speaking) of the Canadian men’s national team’s friendly against Ukraine next Friday, we’ll also be playing #12-ranked Greece on February 9, the Canadian Soccer Association announced today.

To me, this is great news — and it seems like most other observers agree. As one of our readers astutely pointed out, Greece is “a talented team but one we can theoretically beat.”

As the CSA release notes, this match will be “in preparation for” the 2011 Gold Cup, a tournament where there’s plenty (FIFA points, a potential berth in the Confederations Cup, and continental “glory”) on the line. So you’d have to think Stephen Hart will be fielding the strongest possible starting XI for the Greece friendly.

But the Ukraine game next week? The full list of call-ups hasn’t been released, but some interesting names have leaked out. Continue reading

Someone get on the phone with Ali Gerba

Posted in Canada, Montreal Impact with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2010 by squizz

Canada head coach Stephen Hart said, after Tuesday’s game against Honduras, that he was planning to fly to Spain to talk to Jonathan de Guzman — presumably in the hopes of luring him back to the Canadian fold.

But if Hart’s looking for someone who can make an immediate impact (get it?) with Les Rouges, he could probably have saved his frequent-flyer miles and just gotten on the phone with Ali Gerba.

Gerba — after a brief, controversy-ridden stint with Toronto FC last season — is back with the Montreal Impact (for the fourth time in his career) and is, to say the least, tearing up the pitch like a party-sized bag of Doritos.

Ha ha, yes, obligatory Gerba fat joke. But the man has seven goals in three games, including two on Tuesday night and a hat trick on August 21. If Canada is looking for someone who can bulge the ol’ onion bag (hint: they are) for their next match, on October 8 in Ukraine, Hart would be foolish not to give Gerba the call. Continue reading

Mission 2014 and some final pre-game thoughts

Posted in Canada with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2010 by squizz

Mission 2014 officially begins on Saturday.

Canada’s head coach, Stephen Hart, has declared numerous times that his only priority is to qualify our men’s national team for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Picking up on that theme, some members of the Voyageurs have created a Mission 2014 banner to remind everyone of this singular focus. The banner, as Rycroft notes in his latest column, is meant to be adorned with signatures and well wishes from Canadian supporters across the country.

Join the mission. Hopefully if you’re in the Toronto area you’ve got tickets to Saturday’s game already; but even if you don’t, come down to Maro (135 Liberty St.) at around 2:30 p.m. to make your mark. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like or whether you could even name a single player on the Canadian team. This is our team, all of ours — and this is our way of taking part in the long, winding road towards the next World Cup.

As for Saturday’s game, I dropped in on Canada’s final training session down at BMO Field earlier today, and had the chance to make what I think (if I do say so myself) are some keen observations: Continue reading

Canada announces roster for Peru/Honduras friendlies

Posted in Canada with tags , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by squizz

Head coach Stephen Hart has announced the players he’ll be taking into Canada’s upcoming friendlies against Peru (in Toronto, Sept. 4) and Honduras (in Montreal, Sept. 7) and they, without ado, are…

Goalkeepers Lars Hirschfeld, Haidar Al-Shaibani
Defenders Nana Attakora, Marcel de Jong, Dejan Jakovic, Paul Stalteri, Adam Straith
Midfielders Julian de Guzman, Will Johnson, Issey Nakajima-Farran, Jaime Peters, Atiba Hutchinson, Josh Simpson, Gianluca Zavarise, Iain Hume, Patrice Bernier
Strikers Simeon Jackson, Rob Friend, Dwayne DeRosario, Kevin McKenna (hey, it’s what he’s listed as)

Yeah, you read that right, Toronto FC fans. DeRo, JDG and Nana. As the team faces a stretch of three games in eight days. A whole blog post (or podcast, hint hint) could — and will — be devoted to the inevitable club vs. country debate (and “MLS respecting FIFA dates” complaints) that this will stir up.

For his part, Hart said “there’s always some wheeling and dealing” in negotiating with any club, and that he will consider limiting the playing time of the Toronto FC players in the Honduras game. He also said MLS’s refusal to respect FIFA international dates is “unfair” to both MLS and national teams, but that he and the clubs “will see how we can help each other on this.”

As for the rest of the roster… Continue reading

Canada friendlies: Who gets the call?

Posted in Canada with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2010 by squizz

In the coming days, Canada head coach Stephen Hart is set to release the rosters for the team’s upcoming friendlies, against Peru on September 4 (in Toronto) and against Honduras on September 7 (in Montreal). Considering the position the team finds itself, most (myself included) would say this is a good time to “blood the pups”; that is, take a look at younger players with little experience for the national team, to see first-hand what they’re capable of.

That being said, it’s also critical to try to get a result from these games, as we need to move up the FIFA rankings to better our lot when it comes to the World Cup qualifying draw. What to do, what to do?

This is by no means an actual roster, or a starting 11; rather, it’s speculative musing about the short- and medium-term future of our men’s national team: Continue reading