Canada reclaim status as lovable losers


So, the result didn’t quite go Canada’s way, but how ’bout that performance? Scant consolation, indeed.

Canada head coach John Herdman has since decried the “bizarre” calls that arguably cost his team a place in the gold medal match. Herdman’s complaints are probably justified, but the match should also be remembered for his side’s thoroughly audacious effort. It’s just unfortunate it resulted in a losing effort.

Some things we couldn’t help but notice:


  • The Great Britain victory was not a fluke. Canada humbled the hosts but some folks (guilty as charged) questioned whether they had peaked too early. The assessment after taking the lead three times against the no. 1 ranked team in the world? At last, John Herdman has transformed Canada into the real deal. They relied on what got them this far: hurly burly midfield play, compact defending, and maximizing Christine Sinclair’s attacking instincts. This team can go a long ways, despite coming up short today.


  • Christine Sinclair, underrated? Certainly not by WoSo obsessives. Today’s performance cements Sinclair’s place in the pantheon of women’s soccer greats. The Canadian captain’s performance was nothing short of talismanic as she reclaimed Canada’s lead three times. Today’s hat trick brings her level with Abby Wambach on 143 total international goals. Sinclair is also three years Wambach’s junior. By the time the 2015 World Cup rolls around, Mia Hamm will likely have to relinquish her title as the all-time goals record-holder. And it won’t be to an American.


  • If previous friendlies were any indication, this match could have featured more cards than goals. The 39 total fouls committed attests to the overtly physical nature of the game. The roughhousing gave way to some hideous scenes (Desiree Scott’s kneecap somehow remained intact after a challenge with Heather O’Reilly). But there was also a heartwarming display of sportsmanship, as Canada deliberately put the ball out of play late in regular time. It allowed for a distressed Rachel Buehler to seek medical attention. Whether it was continental kinship, Canadian manners, or upholding the Olympic spirit, it sure was nice.


  • Canadian midfielders Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, and Desiree Scott put in a shift and a half today. It was an unforgiving slugfest, but Canada held sway in midfield. Carli Lloyd’s effectiveness was kept to a minimum, thanks in large part to the tireless work displayed by Canada’s midfield three. They hampered the U.S.’s creativity by allowing them virtually no time on the ball.


  • One can’t overstate the effect head coach John Herdman has had on his team. The Newcastle-born coach took charge of a listing ship last September. It’s now sailing on a forward course. He’s gotten the best out of inherently influential figures like Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson. But perhaps even more impressive, he’s done wonders with players threatened with marginalization under previous regimes. Melissa Tancredi has become the archetypal battering ram desirable to any team. Reinvigorated workhorse Desiree Scott has become an integral part of Canada’s set-up. Herdman has convinced his side they can be winners. Considering the fragile mental state the team was in a year ago, Herdman has already won half the battle.


Canada will now face France in the bronze medal match on Thursday. The 4-0 loss to France in the World Cup triggered Canada’s now infamous collapse. A victory could go a long a way, as Canada now have two devastating defeats to avenge.

A review of the victors’ heart-stopping performance to come.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard price ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.


“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.

MLS roundup: Timbers end road trip with emphatic win in Philly

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in MLS…

[ MORE: USA topped by Ukraine in U-20 World Cup opener ]

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Portland Timbers [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Just when everyone had begun to take the Union seriously — to give them the respect befitting a first-place team — Jim Curtin’s side fell flat on its face and fell out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Saturday’s defeat to the suddenly streaking — and homeward bound — Timbers snapped Philadelphia’s six-game unbeaten run (four wins).

24-year-old attacker Brian Fernandez, signed as a Designated Player earlier this month, made his first MLS start and marked the occasion with two first-half goals (31st and 36th minutes). Diego Valeri added the third (87th) after Kacper Przybylko pulled the Union back to 2-1 in the 47th.

Now, with 14 points from their 12-game road trip to start the season, Portland heads home for 17 of their final 22 games to be played inside a newly renovated — and expanded — Providence Park. The gap between themselves and a Western Conference playoff place is just four points.

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

With the Union slipping up and dropping all three points, D.C. United made the most of their opportunity to return to the top of the East on the back of Wayne Rooney‘s 90th-minute penalty kick to snatch a 1-1 draw with (what will soon be) Bruce Arena’s Revolution.

Juan Agudelo put the home side ahead with a header in the 61st minute, and the lead held firm for nearly the final half-hour. Alas, video review reviewed a handball late in the game, which presented Rooney the chance to play the part of hero. He duly obliged and hammered his spot kick past backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who replaced Matt Turner following his 56th minute red card for cleaning out Rooney.

Arena is expected to take charge of Revs training this week and make his debut as head coach next Sunday, when his new side visits… his old side, the LA Galaxy.

Colorado Rapids 3-2 Columbus Crew SC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Don’t look now, but the Rapids have won two straight games under interim head coach Conor Casey and appear set on clawing their way out of the league’s basement.

Sure, they blew a pair of leads at home, but they also hit back with another goal of their own every time Crew SC drew level, culminating in a stunning winner from Nicolas Mezquida.

The gap between Colorado and 23th place is now just three points, as expansion side FC Cincinnati come closer and closer on the horizon.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 1-1 New York City FC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 FC Dallas [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
FC Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Minnesota United 1-0 Houston Dynamo [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders — 6 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET

Will winning the double be enough to keep Kovac at Bayern?

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BERLIN (AP) Niko Kovac is the first to win a domestic double in Germany as a player and coach, yet it may not be enough to keep his job as Bayern Munich coach.

[ MORE: Valencia end Barcelona’s four-year hold on Copa del Rey ]

Kovac, whose side defeated Leipzig 3-0 in the German Cup final on Saturday, a week after clinching the Bundesliga title, is yet to be given assurances in public from the club that he will remain in charge, despite bringing a successful end to what had been a testing season.

The pressure and uncertainty appeared to cast a shadow on what was Kovac’s second successive German Cup win — he was Eintracht Frankfurt coach when the side defeated Bayern in the final last year.

“Last year I was leaving the team. This year everything is a little less emotional, no tears, but still, I’m happy,” Kovac said.

“Sometimes I would really wish that things went a little differently. It’s difficult to turn the wheel back. We should all work on it, we’re all human. We should make sure that we get along with each other.”

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ezequiel Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win ]

Kovac, who won the double as a player in 2003, acknowledged the cup win on Saturday was “very important” as “it shows that we have worked well.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was again coy when pressed on the coach’s future.

“At the end of the day, we have to get titles. Of course the coach plays a central role,” Rummenigge said. “It was never an issue for us with the term that he has until 2021, that he would simply not be there anymore as coach beforehand.”