Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Under 20

Or, How Many Goals Canada Has Scored in Soccer During Our Illustrious International Crusade

Okay, I realize we’ve probably managed to score more than 20 goals by now but I can be forgiven for making the assumption we’re a crap side on the pitch after watching that debut game against Chile. Heck, if a blind man was miraculously granted sight for ninety minutes and watched that game, seeing soccer for the first time ever, even he would have been able to tell the difference between a dominant team that was comfortable on the ball and a team that just didn’t belong there. Maybe that’s a bit harsh on Canada but they were absolute crap in that game. I do hope they turn it around because I’d like to see them do well, I’m just not holding my breath.

When you look at our FIFA ranking, you’ll understand my sense of futility here. We’re in the same group as all the other nations that have had massive genocides, famines, and other horrible disasters (natural or man-made) as well as some of the worst possible living conditions found on the planet. The only other “Western” nation of similar rank is New Zealand but I think they’re low ranking is because of all the trolls and orks raiding any human gathering. Well at least that’s my impression of New Zealand after watching The Lord of the Rings movies a few times.

So why are we crap? It’s the talk of my household and immediate vicinity. I keep hearing that it’s because we only have about 2 months where humans can kick a ball around outside during the year. While that makes a bit of logical sense, I don’t think that’s really it. That is a part of the equation, granted, another part is money – in that we don’t give any to sports (well I guess we give it to parents who enroll their kids into sports until the next election). Nope, the answer is that we’re a hockey nation (as long as Pat Quinn isn’t coaching).

Sure we don’t actually get medals at the Olympics anymore, but our junior teams are consistent performers. Pretty much any guy on the street can rattle off their favourite players, plays and all time favourite goals and how to improve their team (trade Redden). There’s nothing wrong in this, our team is more or less where it should be.

But seriously, don’t ever rag on our players for NOT playing for the Canadian team when they are eligible for teams like England and the Dutch. It’s like getting mad at a hockey player for abandoning his Junior B team for a gig in the NHL. We’re crap, let’s not hold back our talent. I mean didn’t we cut Owen Hargreaves? And now we’re all pissy that he won’t play for us. Gimme a break, he’s where he deserves to be.

I am happy to see the MLS taking off and supporting more local talent. Eventually we’ll be better contenders and hopefully get out of the FIFA group that contains countries that don’t have enough electricity to show up on a nightime map of the Earth. It might even happen in my lifetime.


Jan Triska said...

I admit that we, as a soccer nation, are a midget. Considering our size and our relatively high number of people who play soccer as kids or on recreational teams, we should have produced many more pro-calibre players, just due to statistical laws...but, alas, we only seem to produce amateur-hour performers.

Never mind the real World Cup, for senior men. That's the startosphere. Just consider the somewhat side-showy under-20 FIFA championship where the qualification draw is skewed to give the lesser known regions of the globe an advantage. And consider that in powerhouses like Italy, England and Germany, they don't focus on this competition (of the real soccer powers, only Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and Uruguay take this thing seriously, the rest are qualifiers and minnows...)
Even with all these qualifiers, we still can't quite compete against an average or slightly above average national team at the level. I am cheering for Canada, win or lose, but it is going to be a painful session every time we take to the pitch.

Umar said...

Let's add the name Jonathan de Guzman beside that of Owen Hargreaves. Here's a kid who was suspended by his soccer association in Toronto at the age of 10 for three months for the outrageous crime of... starting the season late. Great thinking guys, suspend a 10-year-old for 3 months.

At 12, he moved to the Netherlands and joined the setup at Feyenoord Rotterdam. He'll be 20 in September. He was rated as one of the top 10 teenage players globally by the Sunday Times in the UK.

And he refuses to put on Canada's shirt; he's waiting for Dutch citizenship and will join them.

Maybe we need to reconsider how we develop and treat our young players - if we treated them well, we might be able to keep a few of them.

I'm imagining how good our team would be if we had de Guzman and Hargreaves as the engines of our midfield, feeding the ball to Dwayne DeRosario... We wouldn't be afterthoughts on the world stage anymore.