While the soccer nerds among us love the U.S. Open Cup for all its charm, history and potential for big upsets, the proceedings can sometimes miss a smidge of competitive bite. Major League Soccer teams, stars of the show, sometimes talk a big game when it comes to regard for this grand old tourney – but don’t always deliver when it comes to roster selection.
Now, if we talk about Canada … those teams really, really do care about their national championship. In addition to national pride, the winner gains Canada’s spot in CONCACAF Champions League.
Perhaps the comparison to U.S. Open Cup is a bit apples-to-oranges, but the point is the same: Canada’s four professional clubs are quite passionate about the brief Amway Canadian Championship competition, which annually crowns the best from our northern neighbors.
Montreal hosts Toronto in Wednesday’s second leg of their semifinal series; Ryan Nelsen’s visitors carry a 2-0 lead into tonight’s match at Stade Saputo.
In the other second leg contest, Vancouver host Edmonton at BC Place. Martin Rennie’s Whitecaps are in a strong position, holding a 3-2 lead after last week’s first leg at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Word is emerging now on how year’s Canadian Championship will operate when a fifth side joins the tournament; A team from Ottawa is set join the NASL, the second tier of professional soccer in our parts, in 2014.
Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani told MLSSoccer.com that Edmonton and Ottawa will probably meet in a play-in series in 2014, with the winner advancing into the semifinals alongside the three MLS clubs (Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto).
Fresh from the announcement that Tottenham will play all of their home games in the 2017-18 season at Wembley Stadium, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has shared his thoughts on the years ahead for Spurs.
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He is far from positive about Spurs temporarily moving across north London to Wembley while their new 61,000 capacity stadium, on the site of their current White Hart Lane home, is finished.
Wenger, 67, spoke about Spurs’ stadium move ahead of the final North London Derby at the old White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and gave his rivals a little advice after he oversaw Arsenal’s move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.
“Much more [difficult] than you imagine it,” Wenger said. “First of all because you face financial restrictions, like we did. Although it might be less in the future because we have more income. Secondly as well because you don’t feel at home like you were before. And you need to recreate a kind of history to feel comfortable and to feel that you play at home. I would say [it takes] two years.”
With Spurs on the verge of finishing above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years (and the first time since Wenger has been at the club) the power struggle in north London has never been closer. Even if Wenger doesn’t want to admit it…
Yes, it will take them time to adjust to their new stadium when they move in as planned for the 2018-19 season but in the meantime Spurs’ record at Wembley has been appalling this season. Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have won just one of the five games they played there with two defeats in the UEFA Champions League as they played their group stage game at the home of English soccer.
Aside from the obvious difficulties of moving from their atmospheric and historic current home at White Hart Lane, there are some pretty cool plans for Spurs to say farewell to their home of 118 years.
Perhaps the coolest is that every season ticket holder this season will receive a key chain which shows off blades of grass from the final White Hart Lane pitch.
With a busy week behind us it’s time to stock of who the stars players in the Premier League are.
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Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League.
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections of the top 20 players in the PL right now.
- Dele Alli (Tottenham) – Up 1
- Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) – Up 3
- Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – New entry
- Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Up 9
- Vincent Kompany (Man City – Up 14
- Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – Down 4
- Leroy Sane (Man City) – Down 3
- Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – Down 2
- Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Down 6
- Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) – Even
- Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – New entry
- Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace) – Down 5
- N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – Down 1
- Diego Costa (Chelsea) – New entry
- Harry Maguire (Hull City) – Up 1
- Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) – Down 1
- Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) – New entry
- Josh King (Bournemouth) – New entry
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea) – New entry
- David De Gea (Man United) – Even
Belgian FIFA Council member Michel D’Hooghe expressed his sincere doubts about a new stadium at the crux of the winning Brussels bid for Euro 2020.
According to D’Hooghe, there are serious political hangups with the construction, even if Anderlecht decides to fill the stadium after the tournament. Anderlecht currently plays at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, which also hosted the 1972 Euro semifinal between Hungary and Soviet Union. The club pulled out of its initial agreement to fill the new stadium back in February due to the political disputes.
“If they want to build it they have to start building very soon, and there I have severe doubts,” D’Hooghe said to the Associated Press during an anti-doping summit in Switzerland. “Even if Anderlecht would say `We go there,’ there remains the political problem.”
“The organizers (in Brussels) still hope that there will be a solution. It is not impossible. The problem is you cannot start building today.”
Euro 2020 is set to be a one-time cross-contential tournament. UEFA selected Brussels back in 2014 as one of 13 host cities. Cardiff is one city that was not chosen, but could fill in, the AP points out, as they host the Champions League final this coming summer at Millennium Stadium, built in 1999 for the Rugby World Cup. A number of French cities were also rejected due to the country hosting in 2016.
The proposed Brussels stadium would hold 60,000 fans and be built in Grimbergen, just north of Brussels. The current stadium at that site, King Baudouin Stadium, can hold 50,000, but lacks the modern facilities for hosting a tournament, including broadcast facilities and suites.
The game in 100 words (or less): Toronto FC had too much firepower for defensively challenged Houston, and the hosts carved up the Dynamo for a 2-0 win north of the border. Giovinco was creative and flashy if not sharp, and Jozy Altidore was the benefactor as the American bagged both goals. After an early spell of Houston possession off the opening whistle, Toronto dominated from start to finish, with the midfield bossing the game.
Three moments that mattered
16′ – Raheem Edwards on the ball out wide, he burst into the box and – seeing Giovinco draw 2 defenders in an offside position – he cut back for Altidore who finished cooly from the spot. Too easy for the opener.
32′– Jozy doubled his lead as he played an absolutely brilliant one-two with Giovinco. The Italian popped it over the top as Altidore slipped through the line, and the USMNT star had the simplest of finishes.
85′ – Houston looked to get back into things by pouring men forward, but to no avail. The closest they came was off a corner as Alex ripped off a shot that sailed over the bar.
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Man of the match: Victor Vazquez/Marco Delgado
Goalscorers: Jozy Altidore (16′, 32′)