Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Ceremonies Info

Just a reminder that the opening ceremonies are scheduled for 1 p.m., on Saturday afternoon. Because of baseball practice being booked on the back fields during that time, the normal set-up and walk-out is being tweaked.

Players, team personnel and anyone else who needs to walk out will be meeting in the area that joins the hockey arenas and the soccer centre at the back (don't walk in the spectators area to get there. Go to the Tim Hortons and then walk straight down to the end). It's not a big area, but it is rectangular in shape, so every team should fit as long as you get there on time and try to stay semi-organized.

Everyone is asked to arrive at 12:15 p.m. so there is enough time to line up, get in the right order and walk out in an orderly fashion. The good news is that the walk-out is set up so that it's essentially fool-proof. Just follow the team you're lining up beside.

Final note: NO JEANS or FLIP FLOPS or anything else that looks unprofessional. The opening ceremonies are a big deal to the organizers and sponsors so if you show up looking like a slob, your team could be fined (and not able to play until you pay the fine). Be in team colours, nice shoes and nice pants.

Preview: Group D

*We're in the final week run-up to the 2011 WCP Cup and it's time to get the tournament predictions in order. I'll cover Groups A, B, C and D on a different day throughout the week, and get to the quarterfinals, semifinals and final on Friday. For Saturday, the first day of the tournament, I'll have an interesting surprise post.*

The Contenders: The games for Group D are going to mirror playoff games in terms of quality, and only the teams that are toughest mentally and physically will get through. Germany, Poland and Canada all fit that mold and it will be a battle between these three for overall supremacy. Germany and Poland will get to go early as they face each other on April 3rd at 8 p.m., while Canada faces Poland a weak later on the 10th at 6 p.m. Canada vs. Germany on April 17th at 8 p.m. should decide the group. Except...... Germany gets one more game. The very next day, on the 18th, Germany gets to face Scotland. And just like in 2010 when Germany pummeled the weak Scots 12-1, the Germans can ensure they have the best goals-for at the end of two weeks. (Poland's final game is the 16th against Jamaica, so Germany plays TWICE after Poland is done).

The Challengers: Five teams in this group are good, but Jamaica and Ukraine aren't quite on the same level as the first three. Jamaica hasn't made the playoffs since its semifinal appearance in 2007 and the defense and keeper will ensure that stays the same. Plenty of goals in every game means tons of excitement though so make sure Jamaica's contests are in your calendar. Ukraine is going to succumb to being a good team, but not a very good or great team. While they have many Yorkton players, they don't have Benno, and that really makes all the difference in the world.

The Pretenders: If you're keeping score at home then you already know that the only team remaining is Scotland. I feel bad for the Scots because this is a rebuilding year and getting continuously destroyed is not a good way to build optimism or team morale. I sincerely hope that the young players can somehow find a way to stay motivated and can put in a good, quality effort against Germany in the final game. That would be a good way to go out on a high note.

Predicted Order of Finish
1. Germany
2. Poland
3. Canada
4. Jamaica
5. Ukraine
6. Scotland

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preview: Group C

*We're in the final week run-up to the 2011 WCP Cup and it's time to get the tournament predictions in order. I'll cover Groups A, B, C and D on a different day throughout the week, and get to the quarterfinals, semifinals and final on Friday. For Saturday, the first day of the tournament, I'll have an interesting surprise post.*

The Contenders: This year we'll see a couple of good teams with something to prove and chief amongst those teams is France. Barely losing 2-1 to Ireland in the 2010 semifinals has got to still sting and I doubt any team will give them a real challenge in round-robin play. Luckily for Nigeria, besides the French there isn't anyone all that strong in this group and back-to-back playoff appearances should be in order. When the two play on April 15th at 9:30 p.m., expect France to impose its will.

The Challengers: For those of you who love VCU, Afghanistan and Botswana may be the only underdogs with a chance in 2011. Both teams played entertaining and sometimes inspired soccer in 2010 and Botswana even managed to somehow get a 2-2 tie against Canada. However, with a chance to do something great Botswana ultimately choked to Columbia 1-0 and Afghanistan couldn't manage to beat any strong teams in a tough group. Botswana faces Nigeria on April 9th at 10 p.m., and then Afghanistan the very next night at 10 as well so we'll know right then if they have a chance or not. Afghanistan gets to face Nigeria at 9 p.m. on April 16th.

The Pretenders: I almost feel bad poking fun at Italy and Greece, but then I remember their epic, 3-2 battle in the very last group stage game of 2010 that ultimately put the Greeks in last place overall and the Italians in second-last place. It was a thing to behold. Two extremely proud, extremely weak teams; already eliminated but doing their damndest not to lose to the other. The game-winning goal celebration could have doubled as a tournament-winning celebration. I predict much of the same in 2011, but unfortunately these two play in the middle of the tournament so they won't know that last place is on the line. Much less drama.

Predicted Order of Finish
1. France
2. Nigeria
3. Botswana
4. Afghanistan
5. Italy
6. Greece

How it all went Down

Let's just say there was a great reason for me to call the first post AMBUSH! On Tuesday evening I was at the soccer centre from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., helping out with the Team Norway pre-tournament duties like hanging the flag, going over the opening ceremonies set-up, and picking jersey colours. Then, all of the dominos started to fall in the extremely messy and unorganized way that is the World Class Players Sport Inc.

9:05 p.m.: I'm standing up on the balcony watching a game when Adam Ailsby (Laos striker, WCP confidant) comes up to me, tells me 'they' are waiting for me to come and meet, and that we should get on with it. When I ask what he's talking about, he tells me I know exactly what he's talking about, we're meeting about the blog. I say nobody has contacted me about meeting on Tuesday the 29th. I had received an email last Tuesday, the 22nd, requesting a meeting (without a reason or agenda), but when I gave available times and asked what it was about, no one bothered to respond. As far as I knew, they were letting the whole issue go.

9:06: I tell Ailsby that I'm not willing to meet at that moment because I don't have any of my notes (I've got all correspondence and letters prepared in a binder), I'd already been drinking (two hours doing WCP stuff on a Tuesday would get you drinking too), and if they wanted to schedule another meeting then they could respond to my emails and do it properly. Adam walks away.

9:12: The woman from the organizing committee comes to me and requests, in a nice and congenial manner, that I come and meet with the discipline committee. She gets my attention because it's the first time anyone has ever asked me to do something - every other time it's been a command. She says that it's really in my best interests to sit down with them and talk it out and that it wouldn't be a good thing for me to refuse. At this point I'm vaguely aware that they want to talk about the blog, but since there's been zero correspondence I'm still not entirely sure what was so important that it couldn't be done through email like they'd done before.

9:15: Myself and a Team Norway representative sit down with Kevin Holness, Adam Ailsby and the woman from the organizing committee at a square table near Sillinger's Corner. I'm on one side of the table facing across from Adam (who's running the circus), while Kevin and the woman are on a third side, in my periphery. The Norway rep sits on a bench nearby.

9:16: As the meeting gets underway I reiterate that I'm unprepared, I've been drinking and I'm unclear why nobody bothered to email me. I'm staying calm, but I'm still pissed that an apparently important meeting is being handled this way. Ailsby tells me that an email was sent and that I should have received it, maybe it was in my junk mail. I say that I check my email all the time, including junk mail, I definitely didn't get it and I'm also pretty sure the Norway rep didn't get an email. Ailsby says there must have been a miscommunication. That's when Kevin jumps in and says that he talked to the Norway rep on Saturday the 25th and told him about the meeting in person. Asks why didn't the Norway rep tell me about it (Norway rep had already had numerous drinks before he talked to Kevin - it was coed playoffs). Norway rep says he assumed the discipline committee had sent an email to me. To sum it up - no email that everyone was expecting. I again ask, why, when all of the previous communications had been through email, didn't anyone respond to my email asking about the date? They decide we should just move on. Of course.

9:20: Ailsby lays out exactly what the discipline committee wants. He walks it through, step-by-step and covers everything. It's exactly the same as when the lawyer contacted me and Ailsby admits as much. Nothing has changed since I originally said no to their command. He says they want to work this out, that's why they're meeting with me. I ask why they didn't just meet with me in the first place, instead of get the lawyer to send the letter out of the blue. Ailsby says they're meeting with me to discuss it now, to get it worked out, that's what's important. I ask again, why not just do that in the first place instead of getting a lawyer involved? He says they wanted me to know how serious the issue was. He doesn't say why there's no lawyer at the current meeting or why the original guy never bothered to respond back when I turned down his demand. I'm guessing because there was nothing they could legally do.

9:25: Ailsby again lays out what the committee wants. He looks at me expectantly for an answer. That's when I ask, "What happens if I refuse again?" He looks at Kevin, looks at the woman, takes a long pause, then responds that if I refuse, they'll ban me from participating and officiating in the 2011 version of the WCP Cup. (Technically they don't have the power to bar me from officiating, but they had already stong-armed the tournament's assignor of officials to go along with them. They did this THROUGH AN EMAIL.) Ailsby says it's my choice to change the blog or not. I say that it doesn't sound like much of a choice. He insists that it is. At this point I know I'm sunk because I'd give my left nut to play in WCP, especially after winning in 2007, starting this blog and talking up Norway so much.

9:30: I agree to what they're demanding, but insist that I get a signed paper saying essentially that if I follow through on my end then I'm able to participate in the 2011 WCP Cup. I also get a verbal agreement (for what it's worth) saying that they are no longer interested in the content of the blog and won't ask me to change anything more. Adam writes up the agreement right there and Kevin and I both sign. I'm holding it as I hunt-and-peck this out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

AMBUSH! WCP Threatens Braden With Expulsion

So it all finally came to a head on Tuesday night. The WCP Cup Organizing Committee/Discipline Committee told me that if I did not adhere to their request to change the blog in the next 24 hours then I would be banned from playing and officiating in the 2011 version of the WCP Cup.

They cited Rule #11 in the Men's Rules and Regulations which has a recently added final sentence that reads:

Please note, the WCP Cup Organization/Registration Committee appoint a Discipline Committee to deal with all matters or incidents, whether or not they occur within the tournament venues, should the WCP Cup Organization/Registration Committee feel that such a matter or incident negatively impacts the spirit, dignity, legitimacy or perception of the 2011 WCP Cup.

Of course, Rule #11 also first reads, in the original and current versions:

all attempts will be made to ensure that said Discipline Committee is free of bias or other conflicts of interest with respect to the matter.

The people meeting with me to issue the ultimatum were Kevin Holness, Adam Ailsby, and another member of the organizing committee. Unbiased?.......

But hey, pick and choose what you want to use; if you're the organizers you can ban whomever you want. When they inform the sanctioning bodies of the discipline, which Rule #11 also says will happen, I hope there's a reason like, "He made us mad," or "He didn't listen when we demanded he do things," or "We tried to scare him and it didn't work so a ban was the only option we had to get our obviously correct point across."

A fun thing to note is that the lawyer who originally contacted me about changing the blog was nowhere to be seen (haven't heard from him in weeks) so I'm guessing the legal avenue (like they originally said) just wasn't an option any more. Hard to go anywhere when there's nothing to stand on.

That's the first rant. There is also a second.

Preview: Group B

*We're in the final week run-up to the 2011 WCP Cup and it's time to get the tournament predictions in order. I'll cover Groups A, B, C and D on a different day throughout the week, and get to the quarterfinals, semifinals and final on Friday. For Saturday, the first day of the tournament, I'll have an interesting surprise post.*

The Contenders: Past WCP Cup champions Norway and Ireland are going to be the class of the group and will by far offer the most enticing match-up. The two teams have a history: the most memorable game between them being the 2007 final in which Norway prevailed 4-3 in overtime. Neither team is afraid of the other, they both play hard (and sometimes a little dirty), and the biggest challenge will see which teams' defense breaks before the other. Ireland has undeniable skill, Norway has undeniable heart and it will be close. I'm guessing the game on April 17th at 5 p.m. will end in a tie, so I'll give Ireland the group based on the goals-for tiebreaker.

The Challengers: Two teams trying to resurrect past success are Serbia and Portugal. While Serbia has never made the playoffs, it has had some memorable games and memorable goals. Portugal has made the playoffs in the past and has even knocked out Norway one year in the round-robin. Don't take that history lightly as memories seem to last forever when the WCP tournament is concerned. In fact, Portgal crushed Serbia 8-2 when the teams faced off in 2010, so there might be a little animosity in this years' version. The game between these two on April 3rd at 5 p.m. will determine which one has a chance to make it through.

The Pretenders: The final two teams have a chance to make things interesting, but my gut is telling me that England and Sierra Leone are going to fall justthisshort. England had some close ones in 2010 - including tying Serbia 3-3 - but ultimately finished a woeful dead last in Group C behind both Portugal and Serbia respectively. Sierra Leone is the wild card as a new entry, but as I said for Group A and Sudan, new teams rarely show well. I'll give Sierra Leone the benefit of the doubt (I have no idea who is on the team) and say it will beat England when the two play on April 9th at 8 p.m.

Predicted Order of Finish
1. Ireland
2. Norway
3. Portugal
4. Serbia
5. Sierra Leone
6. England

Monday, March 28, 2011

Preview: Group A

*We're in the final week run-up to the 2011 WCP Cup and it's time to get the tournament predictions in order. I'll cover Groups A, B, C and D on a different day throughout the week, and get to the quarterfinals, semifinals and final on Friday. For Saturday, the first day of the tournament, I'll have an interesting surprise post.*

The Contenders: El Salvador and defending-champion Laos are far and away the two favourite teams in this group. Both teams are a bit below the talent they've had in past years, but there still shouldn't be any real challengers from the other four teams. Laos has taken the biggest roster hit between the two teams and they're still not great at the back, so I'm actually giving the advantage to El Salvador for 2010. Their game on April 16th at 10 p.m. will decide the group.

The Challengers: Columbia and Northern Ireland are once again fielding teams that are disciplined and skilled, but by no means elite. They play differing styles, with Columbia more of a possession and control team, while NI is run and shoot, but neither will get much of an advantage over El Salvador or Laos. These two match up on April 8th at 9 p.m. and it should be an interesting way to start a weekend of good games. I'm thinking that Columbia manages to do better between the two.

The Pretenders: Austria and newcomer Sudan will have their work cut out for them if they want to finish above the bottom two. Austria has never really shown much in past tournaments and they're playing 2011 without their quality starting keeper from past years. I'm not sure which players make up Sudan, but I'll go out on a limb and say that new teams rarely show well (except France) and so they're likely to run into early trouble. Sunday April 10th at 5 p.m. is the day they square off to avoid group irrelevancy.

Predicted Order of Finish
1. El Salvador
2. Laos
3. Columbia
4. Northern Ireland
5. Sudan
6. Austria

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pay Through the Nose: The 2011 WCP Cup Ticket Prices

The unofficial slogan for the 2011 WCP Cup is: Spend, Spend, Spend.

For the third straight year the prices for the adult single-day ticket and the adult tournament pass are rising. No longer is the price of admission less than the price of a beer. Oh no. It's now cheaper to drink than to watch a single soccer game.

Want to only watch the final games on April 23rd? It costs less to go and watch a newly released movie in theatres.

If you're only 16? Tough luck - WCP considers you an adult and is charging you full price.

If you're looking to get a tournament pass: Remember that you can take your girlfriend/wife out for a nice, fancy dinner for significantly less money.

Yes, costs to run the tournament have risen, but the prices now being charged can safely be described as exorbitant. (Maybe it has to do with rising lawyer fees to squash out the little guys).

Below are the NFL-model ticket prices:

Adult (Regular, Daily): $7
Adult (Final Day): $10
15-and-under (Regular, Daily): $2
15-and-under (Final Day): $3
10-and-under (Regular, Daily): Free
10-and-under (Final Day): Free
Tourny Pass: (Final Day NOT included): $85!!!!

So hopefully you've saved enough money to watch the 2011 WCP Cup. If prices keep rising, next year might be out of my pay bracket. Need to eat, drink and have shelter first.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Norway 2010 Stats - Archive

In anticipation of the 2011 WCP Cup starting in just over one week, it's time to take down and archive the 2010 Norway WCP Cup stats. Enjoy.

Norway 2010 Results

Norway 4 - 3 Scotland
Norway 6 - 2 Jamaica
Norway 4 - 1 Afghanistan
Norway 3 - 2 El Salvador
Norway 4 - 7 Germany
Norway 3 - 5 France (QFinals)

Norway 2010 Roster

Andrew Baulin - D - #17
Chad Campbell - M - #2
Dave Chisholm - M - #18
Reis Cooper - M - #4
Dan Dufour - S - #20
Derick Elliot - D - #22
Adam Gottselig - D - #14
Josh Gyurek - M - #7
Sean Haynes - M - #11
Stefan Husdal - M - #10
Braden Husdal -D - #5
Brett Moore - K
Daryl Nylen - D - #1
Adam Payette - S - #9
Justin Sawka - M - #19
Justin Slinn - S - #3
Colin Wirth - D - #6
Grant Wirth - M - #8

Norway 2010 Goal Leaders

Justin Sawka - 5
Chad Campbell - 4
Andrew Baulin - 3
Adam Payette - 2
Sean Haynes - 2
Reis Cooper - 1
Justin Slinn - 1
Stefan Husdal - 1
David Chisholm - 1
Josh Gyurek - 1
Grant Wirth - 1
Colin Wirth - 1
Derick Elliot - 1

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Youth Player Impact

I think it's generally agreed that if your team is stacked with youth players then it's going to be a rough year at the WCP Cup. Youth players generally are too small, too scared and too weak fundamentally to make a significant impact for a contending team. That said, one of the main tactical decisions teams must now make each year - with the implementation of the player movement restriction - is to scout for a quality youth player(s) and try and get them on the team with consideration for future tournaments.

This can be a slippery slope.

If you have a youth player on your roster then it's required you play that player - No stockpiling future stars and then sitting them on the bench.
To recruit a youth player you often need to recruit his friends as well so that he likes his teammates - That means more than one youth player that needs to get minutes.
If, after more than a year, those players then have friends on another team or want to make their own team - Bye bye future and years invested on getting those players to like your squad.

There is no foolproof way to recruit young players. Anyone is viable to leave at any time, even with the movement restrictions. What I'm hoping to see in 2012 is that the majority of quality youth players from 2011 stick with their countries and really make the element of scouting players a part of future tournaments, to go along with having a Saskatoon connection.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Underdog... Bueller... Bueller...

I wanted to post something about which teams could possibly come from nowhere and surprise people this year. I really, really wanted to write something interesting. Then I looked at the teams and the groups again. It's pretty vanilla as far as excitement and intrigue goes.

Group A: You're looking at possibly decent teams of Columbia and Northern Ireland. In 2010 Columbia was OK, and showed the ability to beat weaker teams, so maybe if they can get lucky against Laos or El Salvador it will make things interesting. Northern Ireland usually plays one really good game each year, but from what I've seen, they're going to be the same as always.

Group B: Sierra Leone is the only team that has a chance to surprise and I'm only saying that because I have no idea who the players are. If they're good, then maybe they have a chance. If not, then its a four-way battle for third place. Portugal, England and Serbia are same as ever.

Group C: This is where I cross my fingers and hope that Botswana or Afghanistan can really come up with an inspired effort. France is going to be untouchable in this group, but maybe there's an upset to be had against Nigeria. The Nigerian's can be incredibly inconsistent so maybe they can be caught on a bad day for a big loss. Afghanistan vs Botswana on April 10 - I'm actually looking forward to this game and I'll be extremely disappointed if it ends in a tie and kills both teams' chances.

Group D: I'm not sure any team but Scotland qualifies as an underdog, and there's no way the Scots are getting out of the pool. Of the other teams, I'll say that Ukraine would be the big surprise, and if they manage to get some early wins I'll be watching them intently. Still, the intrigue from this pool comes more from which team will play poorly, rather than which team will play surprisingly well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interesting Info for WCP Cup 2011

Here is some info for the 2011 WCP Cup. It's the little things that make a tournament run and these are the details. Since nothing is all that big a deal, I've copied and pasted what was sent out - verbatim:
  • Each team will need to have their own flag and at least 10 members in team colors to march onto to the field for Nation Team introduction and remain on the field during the official WCP Cup Opening Ceremony. Further details will be discussed on Tuesday March 29th.
  • During games each team should provide a flag to hang from the Home and Visitors display stand.
  • Flags for display from the balcony will be provided by the WCP Organizing Committee - same as always.
  • Game balls will be provided throughout the whole tournament, warm-up balls will be provided for the Gold Medal games only.
  • Teams will be given warm-up times on the main field prior to each game, DO NOT warm up on the back fields when other activities are taking place.
  • Prior to each kick-off teams will be asked to line up and walk close to center field for the playing of each team's National Anthems, announcement of each team’s roster and team handshake. Teams are not required to “hip hip hooray” and shake hands after the final whistle.. the choice is yours.
  • Only the Gold Medal winners from 2010 will be allotted their own dressing room until elimination from the 2011 WCP Cup. Signature and deposit are required.
  • The manager of the “Home” team will be required to collect the game sheet from the front desk to present to the referee prior to the start of each game. The home team manager will also be required to collect the game sheet following the game and return it to the front desk once both teams and the Head Referee have signed the game sheet to confirm the results of the game. Scores and stats will not be posted until the game sheet has been handed in with all signatures.
  • Tournament ticket info will be announced by this weekend

Monday, March 21, 2011

Uniform Declaration: Tues Mar 29

Tuesday March 29 is going to be a busy one. Starting at 7:30, the WCP organizers are going to do all of their pre-tourny walk-throughs. Come prepared with at least three team representatives, your team colours, and your team flag, or feel the wrath of WCP (and everyone else who will be waiting on your country to get its act together).

Uniform Declaration - 7:30 p.m., Sellinger Corner (upper level of the Co-operators Centre): You need your first rep there or else you get fined. You need matching home and away jerseys in different colours, with numbers on the backs. Also need two sets each of shorts and socks in different colours.

Opening Ceremonies Rehearsal - 7:30 p.m., Eventplex Lobby: You need your second rep to go over everything that will happen. I'm guessing it will be the same as previous years, but I guess we'll see. Maybe they'll hand out the player passes at that time as well.

Flag Hanging - 7:30 p.m., Eventplex Playing Area (on the balcony): You'll need your third rep to help hang your country flag (not sure if you also need to provide the flag).

Norway vs. Scotland exhibition, 10 p.m.: Not mandatory, but your last chance to get a look at Norway before the tournament starts.

Note: During the tournament, anyone on your bench has to be in team apparel and look professional. No jeans, baggy shorts or flip flops or anything or else you get fined. I'm in favour of this because I think professional-looking teams give this tournament a bit more credibility. Nothing says, "Not taking this serious," like shorts and flip flops.

Ex - Norway ?, Austria ?

Norway played an exhibition game on Sunday evening against Austria. The only thing I can tell you about this game is that it was organized at the last minute and I'm not sure that many Norway players were able to make it. I can't tell you the result or if Norway played well because I was not in attendance. And yes, I understand that its pretty pathetic that the Norway blog doesn't know what's happening with the Norway team - please spare me those comments.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ireland's Keeper: Mark Diakiw

Ireland's early tournament keeper question has been answered. Saskatoon's Mark Diakiw will be between the posts for the first couple of Ireland's games until Jonah Gardikiotis returns from Nova Scotia. I'm not sure what kind of deal Ireland made with Mark to convince him to only play a couple of games, but count them extremely fortunate to have such a good pick-up.

In other keeper news, Yorkton's Kevin Krause might not be able to play for Ukraine because of injury. No real backup for Ukraine could spell doom in the tough Group D.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tough for Laos to Repeat in WCP Cup 2011

Rumour going around that I believe to be true is that Laos will be missing some important players for the 2011 WCP Cup tournament. Josh Northey, Chad Anthony and Robbie Mintenko will likely be out for this year's tournament, although I can't say 100% for sure.

Josh Northey and Chad Anthony are apparently both injured and will not be healed up enough in time for games. Both players would be huge assets to any team and their absence will be a major blow to the Laos roster.

Also possibly out is Robbie Mintenko because of university classes. I'm not sure if he'll manage to make it work or not, but if he doesn't then Laos' hard-tackling presence in midfield will become merely a tackling presence.

Laos' chances to repeat just went way down.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Norway's 2011 WCP Cup Roster

The roster for the 2011 edition of the Norway WCP Cup squad has been finalized and the team is looking good. There are only minor changes from the 2010 team, but they should help make a difference and get Norway to at least the semifinals.
Mario Boudreau is the new keeper, Gordon Smith and Jared Ursulan have been added in midfield, and Mitch Harris is a new striker. The entire roster is below.

Andrew Baulin - D - #17
Mario Boudreau - K
Chad Campbell - M - #2
Dave Chisholm - M - #18
Reis Cooper - M - #4
Derek Elliot - D - #22
Adam Gottselig - D - #14
Josh Gyurek - S - #7
Mitch Harris - S - #13
Stefan Husdal - M - #10
Braden Husdal -D - #5
Daryl Nylen - D - #1
Justin Sawka - M - #19
Justin Slinn - S - #3
Gordon Smith - M - #12
Jared Ursulan - M - #9
Randy Webb - D - #23
Colin Wirth - D - #6
Grant Wirth - M - #8

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WCP Doesn't Write This Thing

O boy-o. Things are about to get real. I've been contacted by the WCP lawyers about this blog. Not even sure why I'm writing this except to vent a bit.

For everyone out there who thinks this blog is affiliated with WCP - it's not, I write it and WCP has no say in the content. I may get info from WCP on occasion, but most of what I write is things I've heard or seen. Because of that reason, the blog won't change, but I'll update as to the ongoing situation.

It's been suggested I put up a really big disclaimer and that I make my contact info known. Not my style. If anyone wishes to contact me they can post a comment with their name and email address and I'll attempt to get in touch.

If anyone feels offended by what they read on here, just understand that the world is a diverse place and differing opinions are allowed to exist. If you don't like it - then unsubscribe. Oh wait, it's a blog and I don't make any money. If you don't like it, then beat it.

That's the vent for today. Sorry for the distraction from soccer. I'll have something more interesting tomorrow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ex - Nigeria 2, Norway 0

This was a disappointment in the sense that Norway lost, but I presonally didn't think it was all that bad. Nigeria definitely outplayed Norway in the first half and especially the first 10 minutes, but once the game got into a bit of a rhythm Norway started to work out the kinks and took it to Nigeria for stretches of the second half. Norway was missing numerous players in the midfield and at the back and still managed to create numerous scoring opportunities so I'm very optimistic about our chances in the tournament. Biggest problem is player familiarity and that will work itself out after a couple more games.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Feeling Nostalgic (and lazy)

This is from something I wrote in 2010 - enjoy.

Remembering 2007....

It's been four [sic] years but the thrill of the 2007 victory is still easy to remember for most members of the 2011 [sic] Norway squad. In 2007 the team managed to pull off a magical run of unparalleled dominance throughout the tournament and became one of only four [sic] teams to ever win the WCP Cup.

The 4-3 overtime victory over ROI in the final was a perfect ending for the tournament. Everyone wanted ROI to lose that year and Norway had the perfect squad to stop them - plenty of good, strong midfield players; a defensive corps playing way above expectations; stellar goalkeeping; and a tournament MVP in Adam Payette who was nearly unmarkable for three straight playoff games.

Even after claiming first place in its group after round-robin play, Norway was for some reason considered an underdog to Greece in the quarterfinals. The Greeks had a very strong team that year, but their lack of any real scoring threat meant that they needed to play mistake-free defense to stop Norway from winning. That didn't happen and Payette scored the game-winner. 2-1 Norway.

In the semis Norway was once again written off against Jamaica. No chance, nada. Yeah right. Norway took that game to an overconfident Jamaican squad. It was fast and chippy, but otherwise brilliant soccer. This was the game that Norway really hit its stride and scored some beautiful goals off of free kicks and give-and-gos in the box. Payette scored once again. 4-2 Norway.

And then the final. Tons of people watched and cheered for Norway. Still didn't give them a chance though. ROI was a good team (when aren't they?) and was expected to have it wrapped up by halftime. Think again. Norway got out to an early 2-0 lead despite tons of ROI pressure. It was a dirty game - tons of cheap shots from both teams. Eventual full-time score: 3-3. Then game the goal-kick in overtime. Scott Waller hoofed the ball down the field, Payette out-dueled Matt Leung in the box and put the header past ROI's keeper into the corner. Norway victory!

Players still remaining from that Norway team: Dave Chisolm, Adam Gottselig, Josh Gyurek, Stefan Husdal, Braden Husdal, Justin Slinn, and Colin Wirth.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Long Arm of the Law (RSA)

If you're participating in the WCP Cup because you're sick and tired of dealing with the Regina Soccer Association then beware: It has its fingers in everything. More specifically, the RSA has the power to determine whether or not you play, sit or are barred from the venue and it (along with the Saskatchewan Soccer Association) will also have final say on any and all disciplinary matters.

This occurs because the RSA and SSA are sanctioning bodies - something the WCP Cup needs desperately. No sanctioning = no insurance, no referees, no sponsors. While almost everything about the WCP organizing committee is different from the RSA, there is no way to escape its reach.

What this can mean in the short run is that any suspension you may have on your "record" going into the 2011 WCP Cup will likely have to be served during the tournament. Received your third yellow card during the final game of the RSA indoor season? Sit your first WCP game - regardless that its a completely new competition and common sense says it should have 0 bearing. Red card suspension still in effect from RSA co-ed fun tournament in 2010? Serve your games during the tournament. Even though you're only guaranteed five WCP Cup games, the RSA will make you sit now, not when you play in the 15-game-long season.

In the long run, you could find yourself suspended in the middle of the WCP Cup, completely out of the hands of the organizing committee. There is nothing in the WCP Cup rules about a yellow card limit, so I'm assuming the RSA rule of "3-and-sit-a-game" will be in effect. Think the slate is clean once playoffs roll around? Don't count on it because that's not how the RSA enforced the indoor season. Two yellow cards during the regular season + one in the playoffs = suspension.

Also, any red card will certainly be reviewed by the RSA and it will have final say on your suspension, not the WCP Cup. This will likely mean that if you received a red card last outdoor and you get another in this tournament then you're looking at double time for being a repeat offender in one calendar year.

So for everyone happy to be playing in the WCP Cup and its hyper-competitive games, beware that crossing the line can cost you more. $900 per team for only five games, and suddenly a one-game suspension is a whole lot more relevant.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Update: Pay Slightly Less

A new update has been sent out by the WCP Cup organizing committee about fees for unregistered players. This update does away with the $32 admin fee and means the maximum a player will have to pay to register with the RSA is $60. Below is the new fee structure:

1) Players not registered in the 10/11 season - $60.
2) Players registered in another district - $37 (RSA will need an email from the district association confirming that you are registered and in good standing with the district).
3) Players living in another district, but not registered - $60 (You need an email from the district association to the RSA confirming you're in good standing).
4) Managers/Coaches/Trainers fee, as well as anyone who wants to be on the field is $7.

The email from the district to the RSA should go to Brittany, whose email address is on the RSA contact page:

As a side note, if anyone is mad that I delete comments, read this:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Unregistered Players: Pony Up

The final registration information was released yesterday by the WCP Cup organizing committee and the biggest news was the player fees for out of town and unregistered players. WCP was in negotiations with the Regina Soccer Association over how much those players should owe to cover the insurance costs and this is what they came back with:

a) to register a player who is not currently playing (in the RSA district) will have to pay $60.
b) all non-Regina players have to confirm that they are registered in their respective leagues and pay an admin fee of $32.
c) if out of town player and not currently playing, add the above two for $92.

So for Ireland and its 10-or-so out of town players, get ready to fork over at least another $300 to the RSA. Yikes.

Also, the drop-off for all of the heritage, liability and transfer player forms is Monday from 7-9 p.m., upstairs on the balcony of the Soccer Centre.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Germany Losing Duncan

Germany is losing Duncan McDougall to Ireland for the 2011 WCP Cup. I wrote about this earlier, but it wasn't for sure at that time. I've heard from both Germany and Ireland that this deal is now done and he's for sure on the Ireland squad.

Also, if you hear from Germany that they're getting Kerr McLeod, take it with a grain of salt and realize they're trying to boost confidence in a midfield that took a major blow with the loss of Duncan. If Kerr plays in the WCP Cup it would be a major surprise and I believe it to be highly unlikely.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ex - Norway 3, Afghanistan 1

Considering it was Norway's first exhibition match and I believe Afghanistan's second, the game wasn't terrible. There were positive things both squads can take away - Norway decent mid-field attacking; Afghanistan good high pressure - but for the most part the game should be viewed as both teams just working on playing together. There were plenty of ugly moments where players just weren't on the same page and lots of missed opportunities in around the goal area. Sloppy would be my word of choice, but at least the only way to go is up.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Top 10 Teams for WCP Cup 2011

From what I've heard, most teams have already set their rosters for the 2011 WCP Cup. While this makes player movement rumours boring and arguments moot, it does open up the door for my second-favourite post: ranking teams. Without further ado:

10. El Salvador - A talented and underachieving team. ES possesses the skill but lacks the focus to be a major contender this year.

9. Nigeria - Skilled and lucky, this team manages to win enough games to make the playoffs - barely.

8. Poland - A good, solid team where every player knows his role but where individual flash is sometimes lacking.

7. Jamaica - Many skilled players and lots of team speed help Jamaica score goals, but not defend them too well.

6. Germany - A high-powered offense geared towards scoring early and often is usually fuelled by little more than testosterone and adrenaline, not tactics and planning.

5. Norway - Like Poland, hard-working and team-first mentality, but now mixed with some individual brilliance.

4. Canada - Skilled and hard-working throughout the entire roster, but can't seem to seal the deal in the big games.

3. Laos - Even with all of the advantages, I expect them to take a step back in 2011. Too much pressure to repeat and against too big of odds.

2. Ireland - More solid out-of-town pickups will give this attacking force all the weapons it needs to make a great run. Excellent defense and goaltending definitely helps.

1. France - Extremely talented, well-managed and now with a burning desire sparked from the semifinal loss of 2010.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Prime Time Showdown

The WCP Cup tournament organizers have answered the call and given the first place matchup for Group B a fantastic time slot. Ireland vs. Norway, 5 p.m., Sunday April 17. I'm getting chills thinking about it already. This will be the final group game for both teams, the final Group B game overall, both teams will have had at least four days of rest and it almost certainly will decide first and second place in the pool.

The only downside that could possibly occur is if both teams already have the playoffs locked up, there's the small chance they don't go 100%. I'm doubtful that will happen. Norway and Ireland have a history and neither team wants to say that the other got the upper hand. The game will be great.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 WCP Cup Schedule

Get ready to spend your weekends at the WCP Cup from April 2nd to 23rd. The 2011 schedule has been released, and it's a doozy. True to form the organizing committee has once again loaded the weekends - especially late at night - with the tournament's top games. Some highlights are as follows:

Sat April 2nd: Canada vs. Jamaica, 9 p.m. - Opening night of the tournament will be packed with this game as the feature.

Sun April 3rd: Germany vs. Poland, 8 p.m. - Another banger of a Group D game.

Fri April 8th: Poland vs. Ukraine, 7:30 p.m. - This list will have tons of Group D.

Sat April 9th: Germany vs. Jamaica, 7 p.m.

Sun April 10th: Canada vs. Poland, 6 p.m.; Germany vs. Ukraine, 8 p.m.

Fri April 15th: France vs. Nigeria, 9:30 p.m.

Sat April 16th: Canada vs. Ukraine, 7 p.m.; Jamaica vs. Poland, 8 p.m.; Laos vs. El Salvador, 10 p.m.

Sun April 17th: Ireland vs. Norway, 5 p.m.; Canada vs. Germany, 8 p.m.; Jamaica vs. Ukraine, 9 p.m.

Wed April 20th - Men's Quaterfinals: A1 vs C2; B1 vs D2; C1 vs A2; D1 vs B2.

Thurs April 21st - Men's Semifinals: Game 2 vs Game 3; Game 1 vs Game 4.

Saturday April 23rd: Men's Final, 5 p.m.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Top 10 Reasons We Love the WCP Cup

Due to popular request - this post is a love-fest for the WCP Cup and everything good about it.

10. Showcase for many of Saskatchewan's top players. Every top player in Regina participates and plenty from Saskatoon do as well. Even the PSL Men's league can't say that.

9. Three-week party. No other Saskatchewan party also happens to include lots of high-quality soccer. On any given night you're able to be drunk and entertained. High praise for that combination.

8. Exciting playoff games. This is an underrated aspect of the tournament. Imagine if instead of close semifinal and final games we were instead subjected to blowouts. Tournament would lose a lot of intrigue.

7. Good officiating. I don't care if mediocre teams are constantly complaining about how they got hosed. The officiating for the WCP Cup has been good and it makes the games more interesting.

6. Multi-cultural aspect. As much as the opening ceremonies are a pain in the ass and the national anthems can get tedious at times, it's always fun to pretend you're representing your your grandparents and their honour.

5. Five-game round robin. Also underrated. The entry costs are high but if you're getting five games to prove you belong in the playoffs then you're getting a good bang for your buck and there are no excuses.

4. Dedicated volunteers and entrance-watchers. Most of the time I have no idea who any of these people are but I guess someone has to do that job. I raise a glass to all of the completely un-acknowledged people who help the tournament run.

3. Tournament favourites that are fun to cheer against. Congrats to Ireland for pushing the recruiting every year and making itself the favourite. It's more fun to have a five-time finalist so that you can cheer for the underdog.

2. Beer carts. This goes with point 9, but needs to be acknowledged as its own entity. Accessible booze and people who are willing to imbibe makes the atmosphere so much fun. If this feature were removed there would be a lot less cheering.

1. Kevin Holness. Along with his band of merry men and women, Kevin has put together a tournament that everyone loves and looks forward to each year. Hard to imagine anyone else pulling this off. You need business credibility plus a competitor's reputation that makes players want to beat you. Kevin has loads of both.

New Keeper for Norway

The 2011 edition of Norway will be very similar to the 2010 team with only a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Mario Boudreau, the former keeper for Team Austria and current starter for Men's Div 2 Enter. Boudreau will provide reliable security for the Norway defenders as well as great distribution from the back. A big edition for the team.