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Canadian collapse: a better border rivalry will have to wait


Our neighbors to the south cruised through semifinal round qualifying the way I cruise through a plate of delicious enchiladas.

In fact, Mexico could have given me and 10 other journalists citizenship and dispatched us to compete in the country’s final World Cup semifinal round qualifier. No matter how terrible the beating, the Mexicans still would have moved into next year’s final round; They had booked passage with a game to spare.

But not our northern neighbors. Not by a long, long way.

Canada went into Honduras yesterday in need of a tie to move on. As I wrote before, I had hoped that the Canadians could move into final round qualifying, the better to add some regional diversity to the field and tick up the interest on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.

Well, what a swing and a miss this was. And that’s being kind. You might even call this a collapse of the very worst kind, an 8-1 loss in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The sackings and recriminations are ahead. Believe it. Manager Stephen Hart has already said that he doesn’t expect to be forgiven for this one.

So, let the media excoriations begin!  You’ll find a lot of words like “humilation,” feeble” and “surrender” in that one. Not surprisingly, of course.

Perhaps this can be the moment that Canadian soccer, an enduring underachiever in the game, needs to finally pull its head from its royally mounted … well, you know.

It was the second worst defeat ever for Canada’s national soccer team. The only worse thrashing came in the 1993 Gold Cup, where the stakes were significantly smaller.

This is Canada’s low-water mark. Let’s hope they can fill up the tributaries and streams and build this thing back up.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.