Archive for the ‘Canada Men’s National Soccer Team’ Category

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Whitecaps FC Development Squad Centre-Back, Gianfranco Facchineri on Friday, October 4, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist.

VANCOUVER, B.C – You can never have enough defenders, especially at the centre-back position. Every top football club needs a commanding, confident anchor at the back. Finding that type of defender is easier said, than done. Vancouver Whitecaps FC could be on the verge of developing a rising superstar centre-back with the brightest of futures.

Gianfranco Facchineri has been training with Whitecaps FC’s first team on and off since mid-August. The 17-year-old Whitecaps FC Development Squad player hasn’t put a foot wrong since earning minutes with Vancouver’s top group.

“It’s been an experience I’ll never forget,” Facchineri explained to Har Journalist. “I’ve loved every second of it, I’ve learned more training with them in the past last little bit, than in years of not training with the first team. It’s been a great experience, and I’m really really thankful for it. Hopefully they’ll be more experiences to come with them.”

While some teenagers might be worried about making a mistake, or getting beat one on one, that’s not the case with Facchineri. He has exceptional instincts, composure, and an astute mentality that you simply can’t teach. He’s not at all rattled by sharing the training pitch with names like Fredy Montero, Yordy Reyna, and Ali Adnan.

“There’s always a little bit of nerves training with older guys,” Facchineri admitted. “Especially these guys, you grow up watching some of these guys on TV. There’s obviously nerves, but the thing is, when you’re out there playing football, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re doing what you love to do, there’s no nerves whatsoever.”

The Windsor, Ontario native, isn’t being treated with kid gloves. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Facchineri is starting to get some ribbing from Whitecaps FC veterans. He views any advice as positive encouragement that will help.

“Obviously, there’s going to be some difficulty playing with these guys. If you make a mistake, they’re going to let you know that you’ve made a mistake. It’s not Sunday league, they’re going to let you know that you messed up, but that’s what you want. They’ve all welcomed me with open arms. They’ve all been really really helpful.”

Earlier this week, Facchineri was named to Canada’s U-17 World Cup squad. While that alone is a great feat, he will also wear the captains armband. Canada will train in Argentina from October 11 – 22.

Canada will kickoff Group A action on Saturday, October 26 against the hosts, Brazil.

“He’s developing nicely.” Vancouver Whitecaps FC Development Squad Head Coach, Nick Dasovic said.

“First and foremost, he’s a great character, good kid, honest, works hard.” Dasovic added. “A team leader, and he’s growing as a player. Marc’s (Dos Santos) had him in with the first team, and he’s liking some of the components he has. He’s somebody that’s willing to grow with the football club. He’s still got a long way to go. The biggest thing for him is his humility. He’ll train with Marc, and he’ll thank him for training. It’s small little details that show he’s a good person.”

Might there be a future first team MLS contract on the table for Gianfranco Facchineri?

Whitecaps FC Coach Marc Dos Santos wasn’t about to spill any tea.

“He has a physical presence about him,” Dos Santos explained. “He has a very good mentality. He’s a good kid, wants to learn. It’s still early to asses him in an MLS reality. It’s going to be a good experience for him at the World Cup playing in such a tough group. Brazil, Angola, and New Zealand, it’s not going to be easy. We want to see how he goes about things there. Hopefully it will push him up to be one of the kids that joins us in preseason.”

In his first full year with the Whitecaps FC Academy, Facchineri has already taken home an award. On September 24, he was named 2019 BMO RESP Academy Male Player of the Year. His father, Antonio, flew in from Ontario to see his son take home the honour.

Whether he’s in Vancouver or elsewhere, Facchineri’s goal is to be a professional footballer.

“My goal in soccer, in general is to have a career in the game that I love,” Facchineri explained. “If that career can come with the Vancouver Whitecaps, I’d love it. I watch Doneil Henry, Derek Cornelius, (Erik) Godoy, play. Watching all those guys play, it’s great. I hope to be one of those guys one of these days.”

Growing up in an Italian household, Facchineri looked up to football greats like Gennaro Gattuso, and Giorgio Chiellini.

His favourite player is a Napoli born legend.

“I watched the 2006 World Cup with my family,” Facchineri said. “They had Fabio Cannavaro. He’s always been an idol for me. I have a couple of posters up in my room.”

Gianfranco Facchineri is a Whitecaps FC prospect to keep an eye on. He could be MLS bound, delivering crosses, marking opponents, and dishing out meaty tackles before you know it.

In the mean time, he will be loading up on his favourite Italian pasta dish.

“My Nonna’s penne, if I’m being honest.”

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Pro Soccer USA for my Concacaf Nations League story on Canada Soccer.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Pro Soccer USA for my story on Columbus Crew SC’s Gyasi Zardes.

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Columbus Crew SC striker, Gyasi Zardes in Vancouver on September 20, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist

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VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Daily Hive for my Whitecaps FC vs D.C. United match report.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – Canada Men’s National Team coach, John Herdman, caused quite a commotion over the weekend with his comments regarding Canada’s back-four and the tier he believes they are in. Whether you agree or disagree that Canada has a “Tier 3” back four, Herdman’s remarks on live television caught a lot of people off guard.

Whitecaps FC centre-back, and Canadian international Doneil Henry wasn’t surprised.

“No, not when you have a solid relationship with your coach,” Henry explained exclusively to Har Journalist. “I talked to John. Nothing to really comment on it. I understand what your guys job is, and I understand my role as a teammate, and building with the national team. There’s no divide within the team. As a unit we lost, and we underachieved.”

Off the pitch, it sends a poor message when your coach offers public criticism. Canada Soccer had a quick explanation, and clarification of Herdman’s words. A lot of supporters, and media, just aren’t tiertering on believing what’s being peddled.

Herdman’s view of tiers, according to Canada Soccer, are of the following.

Tier 1: England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy.

Tier 2: Belgium, Turkey, Mexico.

Tier 3: MLS, Brazil, Argentina, Japan.

The 26-year-old, Henry, was part of Canada’s back-four that was upset by Hati in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup. He is not about to be tier’d apart by outside noise.

“Comments on tier 1, 2, 3, 4, whatever is is… The coaching staff, players, we’re all on the same page,” Henry said. “We’re just going to look forward to the games in September.”

The former West Ham defender declined to discuss his phone call with Herdman.

“It’s between me and the coach. Like I said, there’s no divide. We’re all on the same page, We look forward to our games coming up in September.”

78th FIFA ranked Canada, will take on Cuba, and the United States in the Concacaf Nations League in September, October, and November. Canada’s home matches will take place at BMO Field in Toronto.

Henry is focused on turning a corner, and progressing with Canada.

“We think about the future, and we think about the nations league, qualifying, and the points system. We need to continue to gain points so our FIFA rank goes up. Especially in the group stages of Concacaf. We definitely understand what’s in front of us.” Henry added.

Canada has shown progress under the guidance of Herdman, with wins over, Cuba (7-0), Martinique (4-0), French Guiana (4-1), Saint Kitts and Nevis (1-0), Dominica (5-0), U.S. Virgin Islands (8-0), and New Zealand (1-0).

Canada’s losses have come at the hands of Mexico (3-1), and Hati (3-2).

“I think that we’ve done really well,” Henry explained. In nine games, we’ve had two losses. We’ve achieved and broken records with the national team so many times in the year, and all we can talk about is the negative stuff that happened.”

“We played Mexico who won the Gold Cup, and we had a loss where I thought we lost that game ourselves as a national team. I don’t think it had anything to do with style of play or the way we play our tier of players. We were so upset by how we let it go after being in total control. It’s a learning curve for everybody.”

At the club level, Henry is doubtful for Whitecaps FC’s next match on Saturday when Vancouver travels to Ohio to take on FC Cincinnati. Henry took a sharp knee to the back during Vancouver’s nil-nil draw against Minnesota Untied FC last weekend.

The Brampton, Ontario native, has been jogging, and running laps during training this week, but he hasn’t trained with his teammates. Henry visited a doctor on Tuesday. His road to recovery, and return to play are unknown at this time.

“I got a super knee to the back,” Henry explained. “Everything just went. I don’t know exactly what it is, but my back is really stiff. (I’m) just taking it day-by-day, hopefully I feel better, and I can get back out there.”

There is no need to get tiery-eyed, Canada Soccer, and Doneil Henry have moved on from an unfortunate slip of words. Canada has a bright, and promising future ahead, and it starts with the Concacaf Nations League.

 

 

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Daily Hive for my story on Canada Soccer Men’s National Team Coach John Herdman.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Daily Hive for my Whitecaps FC vs Cavalry FC Canadian Championship match report.

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC Coach Marc Dos Santos on July 24, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist.

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Canada Soccer vs French Guiana at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver, B.C. on Sunday, March 24, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – The only way is up, and that’s exactly where Canada Soccer is trending after a convincing 4-1 win over French Guiana at B.C. Place on Sunday afternoon. A youthful Canadian squad was in form and off to the races as Jonathan David, and Lucas Cavallini wowed the crowd of 17,124 on hand.

Not to be out done, Cardiff City FC winger Junior Hoilett set the tone early with his 4th international goal in the 11th minute. Hoilett’s link up play with Cavallini, and David helped the trio combined for 4 goals, and 3 assists as Canada dominated the match.

What’s next for 75th ranked Canada Soccer?

The red and white have finished CONCACAF Nations League qualifying with a 4-0-0 record, 12 points, and second spot. Canada also qualified for the 2019 Gold Cup in the United States, which will run from June 15 – July 7.

The likes of Cavallini, David, Alphonso Davies, and Ballou Tabla have brought an exciting wave of young Canadian talent never before seen with the national team. There’s a sense of pride, and joy when you put on a Canadian kit, and that wasn’t always the case.

“I think with the young generation on this team, there’s a lot to be excited about,” Jonathan Osorio explained to Har Journalist. “There’s a lot of players playing at really good clubs, and playing, which is the most important thing. It’s great, it’s very exciting. We’re much more exciting now, and I think we have a lot of talent.”

“I think it’s the development of football in general in the country,” Osorio continued. “We’re still a very young nation when it comes to football. We’re still catching up to the rest of the world, but slowly we are. You see it in our development, our youth keeps getting better. That’s the biggest thing.”

In an era where dual citizenship is at play, Canada was previously thought of as an afterthought, but that’s not the case. Canada is quickly becoming a country where talented footballers want to stay, instead of exploring other roots.

Bayern Munich, KAA Gent, Besiktas JK, and Cardiff City FC, are all first division top flight clubs that feature prominent Canadian internationals. They’re not just bench warmers either. Canada is growing, and developing young talent that European clubs want.

“We have a really young team and this is what the coach wants,” Goalkeeper Milan Borjan told reporters post-match. “There’s a couple of us veterans who are leading this team. This is the future of Canada, and this is looking very very good. There’s a lot of young guys playing in different countries, and not just sitting on the bench, they’re actually playing. This is really good, and like you can see, we’re improving a lot on the field, and we just have to continue like that.”

This is by far the brightest Canada’s future has looked in the past decade.

“I think yes,” Borjan agreed. “I think this is the best national team, I’ve seen in the last nine years that I’ve been here.”

If Canada Soccer’s future is as promising as it appears to be, there should be an eye on qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Canada hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1986. If there was ever an opportunity for Canada to qualify, Qatar is it.

It won’t be easy, but Canada Soccer has the talent, skill, and coaching, to make history. We all saw how united Canada was from coast to coast during the 2015 Women’s World Cup. If Canada Soccer wants to be seen as a top country in CONCACAF, they must qualify for 2022.

“It would be amazing,” Osorio beamed. “It would be a dream come true for sure. That’s all we think about right now, is 2022. That is our goal, that’s our objective. 2026 is not even in my head, ever. When that comes, that’ll come, but for now my head is solely on 2022.”

While skeptics might say that Canada Soccer hasn’t played the CONCACAF heavyweights of U.S.A, Mexico, Costa Rica, and forever nemeses Honduras. They haven’t lost to those teams during Coach John Herdman’s tenure. It’s a new chapter, with new belief.

“Yeah for sure, it’s definitely achievable,” Osorio said. “We have a team, structure, and we have the system to achieve that goal. Even with the other nations such as the U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica. We think we can go at the level of them, but obviously we have to prove it, and those games are coming to do that. We’re excited and we think we can do it.”

It’s a bright future for Canada Soccer with talent they just haven’t had before. Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup would be a massive stepping stone ahead of united hosting duties at the 2026 World Cup. You simply can’t count out Canada Soccer like you could before.

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Canada Soccer’s Junior Hoilett at training at B.C. Place in Vancouver.  Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – Canada Soccer is back in business as they prepare for a crucial match at B.C. Place on Sunday, March 24 vs French Guiana in a pivotal CONCACAF Nations League qualifying match. The 79th ranked Canada were hit a huge blow earlier this week when teenage phenom, Alphonso Davies, was replaced on Canada’s roster.

The Bayern Munich product picked up a knee injury while celebrating his first Bundesliga goal on Sunday vs Mainz. Davies won’t suit up for Canada, but his presence is still a possibility. Canada Soccer Coach John Herdman provided an update.

“I think Thursday’s training, we’ll have absolute clarity,” Herdman told reporters following training. “I think Bayern are going to let him come back to Vancouver, whether that’s to play, we’ll let the fans know on Thursday. The kid was devastated. As a coach you’re upset, you can look up and down this roster and there’s some really good players to step through. I’m just gutted for him. He was so excited to come back. He had some tears on the phone, he actually couldn’t finish his sentences. You feel for him because this meant a lot to him. There’s a glimmer of hope there, but it’s only a glimmer at this point.”

The loss of Davies isn’t the end of the world. This is a Canada squad that has enough talent up top to be able to earn a result against FIFA unranked French Guiana.

Cardiff City FC’s Junior Hoilett is someone who Canada will look to lead the way. The lone Premier League player on Canada’s roster is in form, and ready to contribute. Hoilett scored the match-winner vs West Ham on Saturday, March 9.

While Canada are certainly favourites, Hoilett isn’t expecting an easy victory.

“Of course we’re going to be favourites,” Hoilett told Har Journalist. “It’s not going to be a walk in the park. I’m sure they have a lot to fight for. They’re trying to make the Gold Cup, and they’re going to be ready for us. We just have to defend our home court, put up a performance and we’ll be fine.” 

The Brampton, Ontario native, is finding himself leading as much as he does on the pitch, and off the pitch. It’s not all about the time you put in during a training session. Hoilett is making a difference by helping the next wave on Canadian talent. He’s committed, locked in, and determined to help improve Canada Soccer for years to come.

“I’ve been watching Junior over this period,” Herdman explained. “To be fair, I’ve been saying go deeper into this. This is a guy that’s getting on conference calls with other people around the world twice monthly before camps. That stuff never happened, and they weren’t really committed to that process. He’s in deep now, and I think Junior in deep is exactly what this country’s been waiting for.”

“You’ll see that flash of brilliance once every 45 minutes in a game or every two games. This is a guy that now, that you see in training, he’s giving it his all in every moment of training. He’s driving the culture, and I think that journey is what this country has been waiting to see, and I’m excited to see him in this game.”

The 28-year-old Hoilett comes into the Canada Soccer environment with 20 appearences, 3 goals, and 6 assists for Canada. As someone who is able to set an example for the next generation. Hoilett isn’t old by any means, but he is no longer a young pup.

He is happy to embrace his new role.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” Hoilett explained. “I’m one of the older guys now, so I can bring leadership to the team and be a role model to the young guys, and help them on the pitch, and off the pitch. Of course they already know what I can bring to the table, and I just have to keep providing it.”

“I’m a veteran to these guys. We’ve got a young team, but I’ve been around the way, they consider me a veteran.”

It’s never easy flying across the pond during an international week, but the time spent with Canada Soccer allows Hoilett some time to get away from the battle that Cardiff City is in. The Bluebirds are in a massive relegation battle to stay in the Premier League.

Cardiff City’s 8-4-18 record have them 18th in the table with 28 points. As Cardiff City look to earn safety with eight-matches remaining, Hoilett knows he is going to have to play a big part if Cardiff City is to stay up and avoid a trip to English Championship.

“When you’re fighting relegation, it’s not a lot of happy days,” Hoilett admitted. “Of course coming in this environment with the players is a fresh environment and you don’t have that stress of fighting relegation. You can just be free, and show your abilities.”

As the creative winger looks to dazzle fans at B.C. Place this weekend he is still a kid at heart. You won’t find this in his pre-match meal, but even Hoilett has a guilty pleasure.

“(Laughs), I don’t know. I’d say Oreo. Oreo’s are kind of my weakness. The originals.”

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Daily Hive for my story on Canada Soccer’s Alphonso Davies.

https://bit.ly/2Tfyw9o

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