Tag Archive | "Canada"

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TFC Advance to CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage

Posted on 03 August 2011 by Mahmoud Shoblaq

Toronto FC ASN is on Twitter @TorontoFCasn! Follow us for live game action, breaking news and headlines covering Toronto FC, Canadian soccer and  MLS.

After a 2-1 win at home, Toronto FC went into Nicaragua forced to put Real Esteli’s away goal  behind them and grind up a result.

A great performance by Ryan Johnson gave him a pair of goals and gave the team another 2-1 win, this time away from home giving them a 4-2 win on aggregate.

A hostile environment and a horrible field was what TFC had to face, but strong character from the young players mixed with experience excelled over the Nicaraguan side. Overall TFC played well vs. Real Esteli, it was evident with some of the mistakes made that the field impacted the play. On this day CONCACAF refereeing did not play a role in deciding the game.

Toronto FC will continue their CCL journey in the group stage versus Tauro, UNAM and FC Dallas or Alianza starting on August 18th.

On a side note, @TorontoFCasn made twitter headlines during the Toronto FC game as many TFC supporters expressed anger and disappointment after Rogers Sportsnet decided to show the game on tape delay. Whether that was the correct decision or not for Rogers, the fans were not happy. Fans rushed to find the best online stream to watch the game live and support their team. It will be interesting to see how Rogers approaches this situation and what they will do for future games.  We did our part in this and provided necessary coverage through twitter and provided live game updates.  Our voice made us trend in Toronto and in all of Canada, thanks to all those who follow us on Twitter and make our time worth while.

TFC continue their road trip as they head to face against D.C. United where former Toronto player De Rosario now plays.

 

The writer of this post and the person who runs @TorontoFCasn can be found on twitter @MahmoudShoblaq.

 

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Red tide rising

Posted on 24 June 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Fresh off a 7-1 aggregate win over St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Canada’s national team will take on Mexico, Honduras and Jamaica in a four-team home-and-away round robin series beginning August 20th. Early reports are indicating that the squad will line up against Jamaica at BMO Field on that date.

A victory in their first semifinal match could prove vital for Canada’s World Cup hopes. At this stage of the preliminary tournament for the World Cup in 2002, Canada, fresh off a Gold Cup win in 2000, were beaten by Trinidad & Tobago at Commonwealth Stadium in dmonton. The sour mood around the stadium at half-time was only compounded by the fact that the organizers had invited a Caribbean steel drums band.

In 2004, hopes were high after an 8-0 aggregate win over Belize after two games at Richardson Stadium on the Queens’ campus in Kingston, Ontario. They were quickly dashed once again, however, as Canada fell 2-0 to Guatemala in Burnaby, B.C.

With two soccer-specific-stadiums and a growing fan base, 2010 could be the year that Canada finally makes reaches the biggest stage in world football since 1986. As CONCACAF’s second representative behind hosts Mexico that year, Tony Waiters’ men impressed defensively but slipped out of the tournament without scoring a goal.

Many of the leading lights on Dale Mitchell’s squad have already expressed a preference for the immaculately-groomed grass surface at Montreal’s Saputo Stadium, and indeed, the short-passing game favoured by Canada’s new breed of superstars was out in full force on Friday night at Saputo. Last month’s 3-2 defeat to Brazil at Qwest Field was another exercise in joga bonito by both teams, who took full advantage of the grass surface brought in for the night to create a football spectacle.

Toronto’s soccer-specific-stadium has a lot of things going for it, including the raucous atmosphere that Toronto FC season-ticket-holders are likely to bring to any Canadian fixture; one thing BMO Field lacks, however, is grass.

When the plans for Canada’s first Major League Soccer franchise were being drawn up, community use at BMO Field was high on the agenda. In the winter, youth teams play on the fieldturf under a bubble protecting the stadium. Natural grass, it is argued, could not survive continued use throughout the cold months of the MLS off-season.

The ground’s owners, the city of Toronto, are unlikely to renovate the playing surface at BMO anytime soon if it means reduced usage for the community. That unwillingness, coupled with Montreal’s relatively shorter distance to European airports (where most of the Rouges squad will be travelling from) has made Saputo Stadium the venue of choice for players like Paul Stalteri and Julian de Guzman.

But what of the half-dozen fixtures the Canadian Soccer Association is obligated to schedule at BMO Field – our National Soccer Stadium, as the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007 made clear – every year? Ah, but on closer inspection of the fine print, those games don’t need to feature the senior men’s team. The under-20 squad’s 1-1 draw with Argentina in May counts as one, while a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica will make two. Throw in a few more youth fixtures and matches involving the Canadian women’s team and the CSA’s duties are met.

The question, then, remains – is the chance that Toronto fans will replicate the atmosphere at a TFC game enough to keep the games from Montreal, the players’ choice?

BMO Field – sorry, the National Soccer Stadium – hosted it’s last (and only) game involving Canda’s senior squad last September, when Costa Rica came to town for an exhibition and were drawn 1-1. A combination of factors including a seemingly non-existent marketing strategy and expensive tickets kept Canada’s fans from coming out in full force. Should that happen again in August, Quebec is beginning to look like a viable option to hold nearly all of our national team games.

The groundskeeping team at Saputo will have another chance to showcase their surface on September 6th, when Honduras visit in the second of a six-game semifinal stage for Canada. Edmonton’s massive Commonwealth will host Sven-Goran Erikkson’s Mexico on October 15th in a potentially must-win game, but should Canada advance to the six-team final round of qualifying, one expects that the lion’s share of the five home dates will be divvied up between Toronto and Montreal.

As a regular at BMO Field for league action, I’ll be the first to snap up tickets for the Jamaica clash and help to create the sea of red that Canadian soccer fans have dreamed of for years. The chance to host a major rival for World Cup qualification in a soccer stadium in our nation’s largest city is one that can’t be passed up.

Get your friends involved, as this is one night when European loyalties are set aside. It’s up to us, the Canadian fans, to prove that a 20 000-strong atmosphere can outweigh the benefits of a grass surface. To borrow a phrase from TFC, All for One, and One for All.

Allez les Rouges.

Semifinal round home dates (subject to change):
Jamaica @ Toronto on August 20th
Honduras @ Montreal on September 6th
Mexico @ Edmonton on October 15th

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Why MLS needs Canada

Posted on 06 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

At last count, Toronto FC’s travelling contingent to Columbus for the 2008 MLS season opener was standing at 1200+, with some estimates topping 2000. This for the worst team in the league in 2007. Doubters in the Canadian soccer community predicted a drop-off in fan support after the club’s debut season, and while they may yet be proved right, the fans of the league’s worst-performing side have been doing everything right so far.

I’m not going to come out and say that Canadian teams are the answer to the MLS’ problems — the expansion boom in the NASL’s heyday certainly wasn’t helped by franchises like those in Edmonton and Calgary — but the signs that are coming from the soccer community in North America’s most European city are encouraging for an MLS team. Montreal has supported its USL club, the Impact, far better than Toronto’s Lynx (now plying their trade in the PDL) ever experienced, and Canada’s newest soccer-specific-stadium, Saputo Stadium (or is that Stade Saputo?), while wanting in capacity, could be expanded to meet MLS criteria.

Appealing to a range of the population with their marketing strategy was part of the key to Toronto FC’s success in filling the stands, something that MLS clubs stateside desperate to tap into local Spanish markets are trying to unlock.

Canada’s own latin culture, particularly in Montreal and Toronto, is traditionally more heavily influenced by the Italian and Portuguese communities who watch their favourite European clubs on television every weekend. Contrast this to Latin American football fans in the southern United States, whose own favourite club teams not only play just over the border but routinely visit MLS stadia for friendlies and money-spinning tournaments.

A distinct footballing culture is emerging in Canada, itself a local fusion of international traditions. And while Canada’s football clubs may be still be relegated to the back pages of mainstream media outlets, places like the internet and the Italian-language daily Corriere Canadese’s sport pages — the Canadian Gazetta della Sport, if you will — offer fans the eagerly-sought-after coverage that TFC and the Impact deserve.

It may be hard to pinpoint Toronto’s fan appeal, but seamlessly incorporating the city’s different cultural elements without an overtly desperate marketing campaign (or at least a subtle one) may be what American MLS sides with floundering attendance have been lacking. If such a strategy is indeed the formula for Major League success, then Montreal, a team owned by a Sicilian family, coached by a Canadian, and populated with French-, Portuguese- and Italian-Canadian players, is already on the right track.

With such a rich footballing tradition finally flourishing in Toronto and Montreal, promising signs on the continent’s west coast point a to potential future expansion site in Vancouver. Further south, two teams already compete in Los Angeles, San Jose has returned to the league and Seattle are stepping up from the USL in 2009. Factor in the Sounders’ division rivals in Portland and their rabid home support, and the soccer scene out west looks good, with the Vancouver Whitecaps on the outside looking in.

If the ‘Caps are looking to continue their traditional rivalries with Seattle, Toronto and Montreal, they may have to do so in MLS. Stumbling blocks and municipal red tape have delayed the start of construction on a proposed waterfront stadium project funded by Whitecaps patron Greg Kerfoot, but as Major League Soccer becomes an increasingly viable proposition, you have to feel that the opposing parties’ position will be gradually weakened.

That’s not to say that either Montreal or Vancouver bear a divine right to Major League Soccer — the patient, well-reasoned expansion process brought forth by commissioner Don Garber and the league in recent times won’t allow any side, Canadian or otherwise, to jump into the pool without an established framework for long-term success.

Spurred on by memories of the NASL and the contraction of both Florida MLS franchises in 2002, the league’s brass are reluctant to so much as publicly speak out on behalf of either Montreal or Vancouver’s expansion bids, at least until more research has been done.

The signs are good that the league’s cautionary measures, however justified, will eventually be outweighed by the benefits of top-level soccer on both Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Whether or not they are included in the next few rounds of expansion, however, could determine whether the wait is a matter of years or decades.

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