Circling back on Ryan Nelsen and TFC … and what the hire means to Canadian soccer development

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A few days ago, the highly unusual situation regarding Ryan Nelsen and Toronto FC’s top coaching spot had MLS followers abuzz.

Snark level was turned up to 11, and rightly so, because this one was shot right out of the cannon of the bizarre. We have all pretty much covered the raging instability of hiring Nelsen, who remains under contract at Queens Park Rangers. As a player!

When will Nelsen start? Good question.

Why put a man with zero coaching experience in the far less favorable position of starting from behind? Good question.

Why announce the choice now with all these questions unresolved? Why not put together a handshake agreement and then make it all official later? Great questions.

(MORE: Ripple effect of Jonas Olsson, Ryan Nelsen and Toronto FC)

But past the front line of all these fine questions, others are awaiting their turn in the answer cue.

For instance, Jason DeVos of TSN in Canada wonders about the lack of Canadian coaches for Major League Soccer’s three Canadian clubs.

In addition to the ongoing blow to Canadian soccer development, DeVos, speaking on MLS Extra Time, wonders if the message is being sent that coaching hires in his country are all down to the “who you know” rather than the more substantive “what you know:”

“Yes, they are Major League Soccer franchises, but they are not based in the United States. The landscape is a lot different up in this country. None of these clubs is being guided by Canadian head coaches, not being guided by Canadian technical people, apart from the Montreal Impact, who have Nick De Santis as sporting director. …

“For me, as a Canadian, I think it’s a big problem that Canadian MSL teams don’t want to hire Canadian coaches. And I think the hiring of Ryan Nelson as head coach also sends a poor message, to everyone in Canada who is trying to become a coach, that you don’t need qualifications to become a head coach. Don’t bother getting your education as a head coach, because you don’t need it.

“As long as you know someone who happens to be a in a powerful position at a club, then you can get a job as a head coach. And I think that’s a dangerous message to send out.”

Nothing to separate Portland and 10-man LAFC

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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There was entertainment value in Los Angeles FC’s potential playoff preview with the Portland Timbers on Sunday in the City of Angels, but all that arrived was a scoreless draw.

[ MORE: Atlanta 1-1 Seattle ]

Both Giovani Savarese’s Timbers and Bob Bradley‘s nickname-free expansion club remain in the West’s Top Four. PLAFC remains unbeaten at home during their maiden voyage through Major League Soccer.

Adama Diomande came close for the hosts, who finished with 10-men when Lee Nguyen went studs-up on Sebastian Blanco‘s thigh for a pretty easy red card (though it took some time for Silviu Petrescu to produce the red).

VIDEO: France stars projected onto Arc de Triomphe

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If France’s players had any doubt about the level of import their World Cup title had back home, it was erased when their photos were projected onto one of the most celebrated monuments in the world.

The photos of Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and company made their way onto the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, hours after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The Arc de Triomphe honors those who died in the French Revolution and early 19th century wars, and sits above France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

How humbling must it be for those players to grace such a heavy monument (both in weight and substance).

Dalic: In one day, Croatia went from lucky to unlucky

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Ante Cacic’s Croatia was on pace to miss out on the World Cup.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia rallied the troops to second place in their qualifying group, a playoff defeat of Greece, and a run to the World Cup Final.

Pretty decent stuff.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

And surely the 51-year-old will reflect on that, probably even this evening, but he’s more focused on a letdown after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to highly-favored France.

Key to the match was a penalty awarded to France when a partially-obscured Mario Mandzukic handled a ball inside the 18, leading to Antoine Griezmann’s pivotal goal.

The PK was awarded via VAR, and France went up 2-1 en route to a three-goal lead. From the AFP:

“I never comment on referees but in a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty,” said Dalic.

“It in no way diminishes France’s win. We were a bit unlucky. Maybe in the first six games we were favored by luck and today we weren’t.

“I have to congratulate my players. Maybe today we played our best game at these championships. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we must also be proud of what we’ve done.”

Croatia had two-thirds of the ball and doubled France’s shot attempts, and Dalic isn’t the least bit controversial in wondering whether the match is much different if that penalty goes unawarded by referee Nestor Pitana.

Atlanta comes back to draw 10-man Seattle (video)

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A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.

The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).

Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.

Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.

Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.