Benito Floro

Canada’s Floro: 2015 Gold Cup goal is at least the semifinal

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Canada is still winless since 2012 after picking up another draw on Tuesday, this time 1-1 against Moldova in Austria (Tosaint Ricketts scored).

The Canadian team tied Bulgaria by the same score on Friday, a goal from Atiba Hutchinson ending a 958-minute goal scoring drought.

Yet even before failing to find the win column again, and with a FIFA ranking of just 110, head coach Benito Floro has been very forthright with his expectations for the nation going into its next big competition: next summer’s Gold Cup.

Here’s what Floro said the plans would be for the team once the pair of friendlies concluded:

Adding that from that point forwards the staff, and team will be “focused on the Gold Cup and to prepare the team to qualify for the semi-final and final.”

An ambitious goal, it has to be said. But for a man of Floro’s credentials in the football world, it comes as no surprise that he backs himself to succeed.

Creditable CV or not, for a Men’s National Team that has failed to get out of its group in either of the last two tournaments, and that failed to score a goal from open play in either of those editions of the confederation championship – the guarantee of a final-four finish in 2015 will likely come across to Canadian supporters as quite the statement to be making at this point.

Canada’s last win came in a 3-0 defeat of Cuba in October 2012, so a semifinal would be quite the accomplishment. The nation last found the semis in 2007, and went out in the quarterfinals (2009) before back-to-back group stage failures.

But Floro knows he needs to aim high for a nation that hasn’t seen the World Cup since 1986, when it went 0-3. And if that means raising expectations beyond what may seem reasonable, there are worse things he can do.

Swansea City 0-0 Watford: Bradley gets a point on home debut

SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 22:  Bob Bradley, Manager of Swansea City gives team instructions during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Watford at the Liberty Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
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  • Sigurdsson hits post
  • Bradley’s first point in PL
  • Swansea without a win in 8

Swansea City had to settle for a draw against Watford on Saturday as Bob Bradley’s first game in charge at the Liberty Stadium ended in slight disappointment.

Bradley’s men came the closest to scoring as Gylfi Sigurdsson struck the post and the Welsh outfit created several chances in the second half which they couldn’t put away.

With the point Swansea now has five for the season, while Walter Mazzarri‘s Watford has 12 points and hasn’t conceded in their last two games away from home.

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After a bright start from Watford the home side pressed high and caused plenty of problems before the break.

Modou Barrow had a shot tipped around the post by Heurelho Gomes with plenty of promise for the Swans as the first half wore on.

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Sigurdsson curled a shot towards the top corner which Gomes saved and Younes Kaboul‘s free kick took a big deflection and went just over as the first half ended even.

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Swansea came out fired up in the second half as Bradley’s boys looked to force the issue. Odion Ighalo started to look dangerous on the break for Watford as the Swans took more chances going forward.

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A glorious chance then arrived for Swansea as Sigurdsson whipped in a cross from the right which found Mike Van der Hoorn but his effort was saved by Gomes.

Sigurdsson then came inches away from giving Swansea a late lead as Barrow found him on the edge of the box but the Icelandic international sent his curling shot into the post. Agonizingly close.

Moments later Watford broke after a Swansea corner and Nordin Amrabat put his shot just over as the Hornets almost stole all three points but in the end they’d be the happier side with a point.

Arsenal 0-0 Middlesbrough: Gunners slip up at home

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  • Gunners unbeaten since opening day
  • Ramirez hits bar for Boro
  • Boro without a win in 7

Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger‘s side had won six Premier League games on the bounce going into this game but Aitor Karanka‘s Boro went close on several occasions as Arsenal had an off day.

With the point Arsenal still go top of the Premier League table on 20 points, while Boro has eight points after a resolute defensive display as they always looked dangerous on the break.

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Early on Mesut Ozil went down in the box after a cutback but referee Mike Dean waved away the penalty appeals.

Middlesbrough then had a glorious chance as on the break Adama Traore saw his shot blocked by Petr Cech and then Alvaro Negredo’s follow up was saved.

From that attack Boro then won a free kick ans Gaston Ramirez struck the angle of the post and bar. Agonizingly close.

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Alexis Sanchez then went close from a similar free kick as Victor Valdes pushed it out of the top corner. Traore then whipped a cross in which Negredo flicked on to Ramirez who sent his header straight at Cech.

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Arsenal almost went ahead as Valdes made came out and made a hash of it but Laurent Koscielny completely missed the ball.

Alexis then went close as his free kick was tipped around the post by Valdes and Arsenal continued to pour forward. Boro looked dangerous on the break as Mustafi was caught out by Ramirez as the Teeside club hung in there until the end.

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Valdes stopped Sanchez late on as Arsenal poured forward but at the other end Negredo and Traore combined on the break but the former couldn’t make the most of the opportunity as Koscielny made a superb tackle.

Then, Arsenal thought they’d won the game in stoppage time but Ozil was offside as he finished. The game ended 0-0 with Arsenal missing out on the chance to go three points clear at the top of the table.

West Ham 1-0 Sunderland: Reid scores at the death

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Dimitri Payet of West Ham United and Lamine Kone of Sunderland compete for the ball during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Sunderland at Olympic Stadium on October 22, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
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  • New Zealand defender scores late
  • Sunderland continues struggles
  • USMNT’s Gooch subs on late

West Ham United dominated visiting Sunderland but looked destined for a frustrating draw with the lowly Black Cats at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

That’s when Winston Reid stepped in, belting a shot through traffic in what could only be described as the final ticks of stoppage time to give the Hammers a 1-0 win.

Sunderland remains dead last with two points, while the Hammers are 15th with 10 points.

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Referee Bobby Madley denied a pair of penalty appeals in the early moments, and one — a blocking foul just outside the six — was almost certainly valid enough to give the Hammers a chance from the spot.

West Ham was simply better for the entire first half, but their finishing continued to elude the Olympic Stadium set. Simone Zaza was emblematic of their problems, very strong but without goal (just missing an acrobatic bicycle kick just before half).

How dominant were they? See below:

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Sunderland had the first chance of the second half, with Adrian called on to parry a hard shot from outside the 18.

Otherwise the half was almost exclusively West Ham, and Reid ripped a Dimitri Payet — who else? — pass through traffic for the win.

American midfielder Lynden Gooch came on for the final quarter hour.

Hull City 0-2 Stoke City: Shaqiri’s magical brace is enough

HULL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22:  Xherdan Shaqiri of Stoke City and Curtis Davies of Hull City compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Hull City and Stoke City at the KCom Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
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  • Shaqiri scored first half blast
  • Adds free kick in second half
  • Potters 100th PL win
  • Tigers have lost five-straight

Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of wonderful goals to pull Stoke City out of the drop zone and send Hull City to 18th in a 2-0 win at the KC Stadium on Saturday.

Stoke moves 14th with 9 points, two ahead of the relegation zone. Hull have seven points.

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The Potters got on the board when Hull’s defense allowed plenty of room to work the ball.

Shaqiri blasted the ball inside the near post from yards beyond the 18 for a goal you’ll see on all the highlight reels.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Make that four, Opta, as Shaqiri scored a very nice free kick after halftime to make it 2-0 and ensure a trip away from the drop zone.

There just wasn’t much to like for Mike Phelan’s Tigers, who were outshot and outplayed at home.