Monday, May 10, 2010

Top 10 Players 2010

Keep in mind I didn't see every game but I saw a lot. I'm also incredibly biased as almost everyone knows. A few criteria.... Playoffs matter, overall team strength matters, team tactics make a difference. Feel free to correct me on the spelling of names.

1. Jay Tomchuk, Ireland - Ireland was stacked, yes. But Jay was the instrument of their success in the midfield. Great scoring touch plus a nasty streak to go with it.

2. Yianni Harbis, France - The reason that France was so strong on defence and why they gave the ball away so infrequently. Always a physical presence.

3. Little guy from Saskatoon, Poland - Pretty much Poland's great shining hope to score every game. And he delivered as much as he could considering how much he got banged around.

4. Dave Brown, Ireland - Scored the goal-of-the-tournament against France in the semifinals and was a threat every time he touched the ball. Not much of a defender but that wasn't his role so it doesn't matter.

5. Scott Myrah, Laos - The sparkplug of the team. He was always able to give them a boost when it mattered and I would've picked him to score the winner in the final if he wouldn't have gotten hurt.

6. Tavis Workman, Canada - Sometimes doesn't show for big games, but this time he brought it night in and night out. A solid tourny the whole way through.

T-7. Evan Campbell, Laos and Jonah, Ireland - Both keepers had sensational final games and made the championship a great event. Equal because of those performances.

8. Josh Northey, Laos - Not the scoring machine many expected him to be, but still scored nice goals and caused plenty of problems for defenses that man-marked him all game.

9. Kajmir Bahia, France - Played solid in the midfield in every game. The catalyst for their attack and always in the right position when defending.

10. Benno Lufte, Ireland - Scared the crap out of strikers for the entire tournament and was his typical, mistake-free self on the counter-attack. Always a pillar of strength when things are going bad.

Friday, May 7, 2010

2010 Standings and Results

Group A
Ireland 5, Columbia 1
Ireland 2, Canada 2
Ireland 6, Botswana 2
Ireland 5, Chile 1
Canada 7, Columbia 2
Canada 2, Botswana 2
Canada 3, Chile 1
Columbia 1, Botswana 0
Columbia 4, Chile 3
Botswana 3, Chile 0

Group B
Norway 4, Scotland 3
Norway 3, El Salvador 2
Norway 6, Jamaica 2
Norway 4, Afghanistan 1
Germany 12, Scotland 1
Germany 7, Norway 4
Germany 3, Jamaica 1
Germany 6, Afghanistan 3
El Salvador 5, Germany 3
El Salvador 5, Scotland 1
El Salvador 2, Jamaica 2
El Salvador 7, Afghanistan 3
Jamaica 4, Afghanistan 1
Jamaica 9, Scotland 0
Afghanistan 5, Scotland 1

Group C
Poland 2, Nigeria 1
Poland 7, Northern Ireland 0
Poland 3, Portugal 1
Poland 4, Serbia 1
Poland 7, England 1
Nigeria 2, Northern Ireland 2
Nigeria 9, Portugal 5
Nigeria 6, Serbia 3
Nigeria 9, England 2
Northern Ireland 3, Portugal 2
Northern Ireland 3, England 2
Portugal 8, Serbia 2
Portugal 6, England 2
Serbia 3, Northern Ireland 2
Serbia 3, England 3

Group D
France 3, Laos
France 6, Ukraine 2
France 4, Austria 0
France 5, Italy 2
France 5, Greece 1
Laos 3, Ukraine 1
Laos 2, Austria 1
Laos 7, Italy 2
Laos 6, Greece 1
Ukraine 4, Austria 0
Ukraine 4, Italy 0
Ukraine 6, Greece 2
Austria 3, Italy 1

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Player Movement

As I understand it, in the 2011 tournament players will have a very difficult time joining a different team than the one they played for in 2010. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think unless a player is released by a team they must pay a $500 fine or else sit out for a year.

Personally, I think this is a great change. No longer will we see players who at one time claimed heritage for one team, only a year later to see that they jumped ship to play for another team with more of their friends or that has a much better chance of winning. Full disclosure - Norway did it with Reis Cooper and Andrew Baulin this year from Scotland. I'm happy to have them on the team, but it still made me feel a bit like a creep. At least we weren't as bad as Canada.

What the tournament should see more of now is good players sticking with their team in the good years and the bad and actually trying to help that team to get better instead of looking for the quick fix. Also, much more emphasis on the younger players coming up. It might sound pathetic, but teams are going to actually have to scout out the youth divisions.

Mostly I'm happy that this should help eliminate another abomination of a team like Ireland, which takes its players from wherever, no matter how terrible it looks. Success - yes. Respect - absolutely not.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More with Less

With the star player rule eliminated for this year's tournament, significant pressure was put on teams to perform at a high level with barely any "star" performers. The two teams that did the best? Norway and Nigeria - the only two playoff teams without a majority of players in Division 2 or higher.

Since I'm unfamiliar with Nigeria's roster I'll focus on Norway. Plus, this is a Norway blog.

Norway had only three star players on its roster: Stefan Husdal, Reis Cooper and Andrew Baulin, and Reis was out for the tourny after Norway's second game. The remainder of the players came from lower divisions or, in the case of FIVE players, do not play at all besides the WCP Cup.

How did Norway do so well against teams like Jamaica, El Salvador and France? Good team chemistry and a lack of ego mostly. Norway doesn't have a coach and everyone gets equal playing time. The only way that can work and a team can be successful is if there are 0 losers playing for the squad.

I'm not going to fault teams for stacking up on star players because of course that is the best recipe for success. However, all the weaker teams in the tournament should keep in mind that you can still have success without great players - just figure out how to keep the idiots off of your squad.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Changes for 2011

While the tournament is still fresh in everyone's minds, let's try and figure out what can be changed in future years. I'll get the ball rolling with a few suggestions but I encourage everyone to throw around ideas and I'll do my best to get them to Kevin. Give a good explanation of why the change is needed.

1. Eliminate +/- as a tie-breaker, or at least put a cap on goal difference per game. This current rule means that good teams have incentive to destroy weak teams and nobody really wants to see that. I can't fault Germany and Jamaica for crushing Scotland - but I want to.

2. Make sure all of the groups have equal teams. Group A was unfair for the winning teams (easier) and the losing teams (only four games instead of five). If you need to cut three teams to make the tourny total 20 then do it. Otherwise go with the full 24.

3. Cut out the anthems. Or maybe find versions that aren't the slowest thing available (I was shocked at the choice of the sleep-inducing Canadian anthem). Once for the first game is good, then only do it for playoffs. So much time listening to music - often to the detriment of the just-finished warm-up.

4. Do not expand the youth or women's divisions any further. The product is already watered down - don't make it worse. Actually, to go back to point #2, cut the men's back to 20 teams.

5. Lower the cost of the tournament pass. $75 is way too much to pay for something that is good - but not great. It's exploitation of the youth teams' relatives who don't really have a choice but to come and watch their kids run around. Also unfair for the women's teams' fans that only played THREE games.

5.1 If you're going to charge $75 then at least make it usable for the final day. Paying $10 per person for the final EVEN IF they had a tourny pass is BS.

Let's hear some more.....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Final Standings

These are my final standings for the 2010 WCP Cup. Judgement calls based on my personal observations were made to solve issues of perceived ties.

1. Laos
2. Ireland
3. France
4. Canada
5. Germany
6. Norway
7. Poland
8. Nigeria
9. El Salvador
10. Ukraine
11. Jamaica
12. Northern Ireland
13. Columbia
14. Portugal
15. Austria
16. Botswana
17. Serbia
18. Afghanistan
19. Italy
20. England
21. Chile
22. Greece
23. Scotland

Laos Champions

Congratulations to Laos for an impressive and convincing win over Ireland in the WCP Cup Championship game. The game went to penalty kicks but I don't think there was any doubt in the minds of spectators that the better team prevailed on Saturday.

Laos came out much more intense than Ireland and it seemed they would score early in the match. Instead, fans were treated to a multitude of quality chances from both teams as the goalkeepers stood on their respective heads. The keepers made this game great because without both playing phenomenally this game would have been blown wide open early in the contest.

Ireland eventually opened the scoring but the game was quickly tied up by Laos. Then Ireland took another lead early in the second half only to have Laos re-tie it within a couple of minutes. Going into overtime and during the extra frames it seemed that Laos' speed would end it all as Ireland was visibly tiring. But both teams kept it together and provided fans with an overall entertaining finish.

Laos 3-2 in PK.