July 3rd Edition

Canada's Gold Cup struggles headline a dramatic week in Canadian soccer

CanMNT’s Gold Cup struggles headline a dramatic week in Canadian soccer

Happy Canada Day long weekend!

We hope everyone was able to get some time away to rest and relax after a week full of fireworks in Canadian soccer.

From a rough start to the Concacaf Gold Cup, to more off-field drama involving the CSA, to a coaching change in Toronto, even Elon couldn’t stop the 💩 storm on Canadian soccer twitter.

Have no fear, there was some good news as well like a few exciting transfers — including CanWNT’s Ashley Lawrence finalizing a move to Chelsea. But there is no doubt that ‘drama’ was the word of the week.

Here’s what went down over the past seven days in Canadian soccer, including Northern Picks from CanMNT midfielder Ali Ahmed:

CREDIT: Canada Soccer / Scottie

Whoever put the Canadian men’s national team in a time machine and sent them back to the mid 2010s needs to chill because this isn’t funny anymore.

The ‘old Canada’ has made a comeback at the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup, as CanMNT allowed a late goal at BMO Field to draw 2-2 against Guadeloupe, who isn’t even a FIFA nation, before getting pretty lucky honestly to not lose to 116th-ranked Guatemala in their second game.

As a result, Canada head into their final match of the group against Cuba on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. ET, OneSoccer) needing to win by multiple goals to even secure a spot in the quarter-finals — a draw or a loss and they are automatically packing their bags. This was a group CanMNT were supposed to walk all over.

This tournament was always going to look at little bit different for a Canadian side that had a number of new and difference faces on the roster. Some of those players have impressed, most notably Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ali Ahmed who has arguably been Canada’s best player at the Gold Cup so far. Colorado Rapid’s defender/now midfielder(?) Moïse Bombito has shown flashes of real quality. Playing him in a brand new position in his international debut, however, was a…choice.

Overall, the mixture of old national team players and youngsters has looked disjointed at best. Who is going to score the goals? Can this team defend well enough to even reach to knockout round?

The questions are mounting at the continental competition, and CanMNT is running out of time to answer them.

If they can get the job done against Cuba, Canada will play in the quarterfinals on Sunday against either Jamaica or the United States.

CREDIT: Chris Young

Other news this week

❌ Bob Bradley was fired. I think we all saw that coming. It was a matter of time. No one should be surprised. With a squad consisting of Sean Johnson, Richie, Oso, MAK, Berna Boy and Insigne; winning shouldn’t be an issue. TFC’s tactics have been pathetic and Sunday league level football. Long balls with no fruition, Abismal defending etc. We can go on bashing Bradley and how he single-handedly diminished the reputation and even the legitimacy of Toronto FC as Canada’s club. For the moment, Terry Dunfield is now in charge of TFC as interim-coach.

💸 I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!!! Was the vibe that initially looked to be coming out of the CSA this week after a TSN report from Rick Westhead complete with quotes from Canada Soccer general secretary Jason deVos suggested that the program was trending towards bankruptcy after more financial issues. Devos has since gone back on those claims, saying that learning about Bankruptcy is just part of him doing due diligence in his new role, although, and this is no surprise, there isn’t much money to go around right now. The CSA is struggling to fund fall friendlies for both national teams, and has also reportedly applied for a $5 million loan from FIFA. It really does seem like all avenues are being explored right now in terms of fixing the federation’s funding woes — just not bankruptcy.

⭐️ Mathieu Choinière is an MLS All-Star. You heard that Herdman? The man from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu will play Arsenal at Audi Field In DC. Choinière was one of two players selected by MLS commissioner Don Garber. He may not have been selected by Canada but his performance is recognised by the big Don himself. MLS All-Stars will be playing Arsenal on July 19.

🔄 Not even 24h after selling Cloé Lacasse, Benfica sign Canadian Marie-Yasmine Alidou. The forward from Montreal’s south shore, Saint-Hubert, has signed with the Portuguese giants from Famalicao. Last season, she recorded 12 goals and 4 assists. A worthy replacement to Lacasse. If there’s one thing to know about Benfica, their scouting is among the best in Europe. When it comes to talent, Benfica have eagle eyes and Alidou is a player to watch.

🇪🇸 Atletico Ottawa sign Ruben Del Campo and Alberto Zapater. These types of transfers will remind people why having Atletico Madrid as owners is a big plus. A direct pipeline for serious talent out of the Spanish capital. Rubèn del Campo and Alberto Zapater. The 23-year-old Rubèn del Campo signed with Ottawa on a free transfer until the end of 2024. He was recently playing Spanish third division club San Fernando registering 4 goals and 2 assists in 29 games. Meanwhile, Alberto Zapater is an established baller. People may focus on his age (38), but this man has played for notable clubs in Europe including Sporting CP, Genoa, Lokomotiv Moscow and especially Real Zaragoza. Ottawa are receiving young talent looking to prove himself and an elder statesman with unmatched experience.

🤷 José Escalante has had an interesting week. One of the original players of Cavalry FC, Escalante had asked the club for a “leave of absence” to be closer to his family. Last Monday, top Honduran club FC Montagua had announced the signing of José Escalante — evidently breaching the Honduran’s contract — only for Montagua to clarify that personal agreements have been reached for a one-year loan. Escalante then apologized via Twitter for the lack of communication.

CREDIT: Harriet Lander

⬆️ The Canadian Men’s National team have moved up in FIFA ranking. After the Nation’s League final and the Gold Cup 2-2 draw to Guadeloupe, Canada have moved from 47th to 45th place. If we’re being honest, the FIFA rankings never made any sense to begin with. Belgium is 5th. How and why? No clue.

🔵 Ashley Lawrence officially joins Chelsea. This rumour has been speculating since the end of winter or early spring. Now it has finally happened. Lawrence trading her life in Paris for London’s Westside. A good move, especially now she’ll be linking up with Jessie Fleming and Kadeisha Buchanan.

🇬🇧 Deanne Rose to leave Reading FC. After 8-years in the Women’s Super League, Reading FC have been relegated. As a result, they have anounced the departure of 13 senior players. Deanne Rose, reaching the end of her 2-year contract, is set to leave the club. Low key, we want Chelsea to sign her, make that club as Canadian as possible.

🇨🇦 Canada Soccer have released the first episode for the WeCan Documentary for the Women’s World Cup. The documentary will give a behind the scenes look into the women’s campaign leading to the World Cup. It’s like Canada Soccer’s “All of Nothing” doc. You can watch it here.

On Canada day, none of the MLS Canadian teams won. ouch.

🔴 Let’s start with Toronto. TFC deserves a bit of grace. They have an interim coach, Richie and Oso are with Canada and Real Salt Lake have an amazing away record: 5 wins and 2 draws in the last 7 away games. TFC lost at home 1-0 to a goal at stoppage time. They should genuinely start focusing for next year.

🔵 Meanwhile at Stade Saputo, thundershowers delayed the game for over an hour. Despite the delays, CF Montréal went down to a brilliant overhead kick by Matias Pellegrini. Unfortunately ending both MTL’s home winning streak and Jonathan Sirois’s cleansheet run. C’est la vie. 

🌊 The last bastion of hope. The most consistent Canadian side away from home lost to Kansas City. The Whitecaps lost 3 - 0 away. While being the team having the most convincing attack among Canadian teams, this game they needed some defensive help. Either way, we shouldn’t be too worried with Vancouver, they’ll bounce back.

Meanwhile in the CPL, business as usual.

⚓️ Let’s start with Halifax Wanderers and Forge FC. Forge visisted Wanderers Ground only to lose to a penalty in the 100th minute during stoppage time. With two screamers from outside the box the game ended 2-1 for Halifax. So far HFX Wanderers have been looking good at home this season.

🔱 On the West Coast, Pacific hosted Atletico Ottawa at Starlight Stadium. If there one particular aspect to highlight from this game is Ollie Basset. He continues to be a pivotal piece of Ottawa’s attack picking up a goal and an assist. The final score of the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

🐎 Valour hosted Cavalry FC in a Prairie DARBY. The homeside struggled against Cavalry as the away side scored early into the game. Valour seemed like they had no answer when pushing forward. The game ended 2-0 for Cavalry FC.

📉 Back to the West Coast, Vancouver FC hosted York United. The nine stripes defeated the home side 2-1. York United sit in second place while Vancouver FC are bottom of the table.

CREDIT: Canada Soccer / Scottie

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and across the pond.
This week’s picks come from Vancouver Whitecaps & CanMNT midfielder Ali Ahmed (@aahmed22_)

📚 What to read

I take inspiration from Malcolm X “by any means necessary.” The words of Malcolm X bring social consciouness and awakening.

📺 What to watch

Watching The Blacklist now, and from time. I love the character Raymond Reddington in particular, I take some notes from him.

🎧 What to listen to

I’m more of a podcast guy, I like “all the smoke” and like to listen to guys like Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf talk about their careers.

✅ Who to follow

@Oromia_FC, the original club I played for as a youth and is still running today. Started by our fathers and uncles when they first came to this country from Oromia.