Comma’n You Girls!

Not too long ago, an article appeared on the beloved Pucked in the Head spotlighting a rather odd request made by the Seattle Sounders. Jason, being the man that he is, took it upon himself to broadcast the faux pas to the masses, not because he wanted to embarrass the Sounders and their supporters, but because it was the right thing to do.

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Must have been served meatloaf.

Surely this was merely an oversight on the Sounders’ marketing and design teams’ parts, and really, who can blame them? Most of us here in North America speak English and Seattle happens to be located approximately 2469.6 miles from the birthplace of the language. That’s a lot of space in which to lose a comma or two during transport. It happens.

But there’s no excuse for the fabricators of this little gem:

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PUNCTUATION OPTIONAL!

With England set to take on our beloved Canadians in the quarter-finals at the Women’s World Cup, the cast of the “Bend it like Beckham” musical decided to counsel us to “Come on [their] girls.” My favourite part of the whole thing is the exclamation point, suggesting their message isn’t merely a prompting, but rather a full-fledged directive with authority.

They probably would have been better off sending their well wishes via show tune and skipping the whole “writing” thing altogether.

Somebody Approved This: Partick Thistle FC’s 2015 Mascot

In an age of hyper marketing, intense competition and tightly controlled PR, it’s amazing that truly horrible ideas can still make it past the brainstorming stage. Whether it’s the nightmare of design by committee or just a conflagration of mediocre talents pulling the wool over the eyes of out of touch rich CEOs, we occasionally see awful designs rolled out in an underwhelming explosion of anticlimax. Today, we analyze the most recent Scottish obscenity with the resurrection of Somebody Approved This.

To our regular readers of Somebody Approved This: first, an apology. Not only has it been several months since the last iteration of this column, our return today takes a radical departure from previous posts and does not deal with a jersey. We would like both of you to rest assured that this is a temporary departure, and normal jersey ridicule will resume whenever I get off my lazy ass and pen another entry. This week, in a move one imagines is designed to reduce the incidence of lost children at football matches by ensuring they spend the afternoon clinging to their parents’ legs in terror, Scottish Premiership club Partick Thistle FC unveiled their new dark prince mascot, Kingsley.

Partick Thistle Continue reading Somebody Approved This: Partick Thistle FC’s 2015 Mascot

Canada into the quarters

Most everyone in the media were calling for the Swiss to upset the Canadian national soccer team at the Women’s World Cup. Kudos, then, to the ladies in red, who gutted out a 1-0 win against two of the most dangerous individual threats in the game.

More to come, but here’s a taste:

Josée Belanger of Canada and Caroline Abbé of Switzerland. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Josée Belanger heads the ball past Caroline Abbé in FIFA Women’s World Cup action. Canada advanced to the quarter finals with a 1-0 victory over Switzerland. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

So which team are you cheering for again?

The Americans brought 50,000 of their closest friends to help defeat Nigeria 1-0 at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
The Americans brought 50,000 of their closest friends to help defeat Nigeria 1-0 at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Fox Sports is reporting that the game between the United States and Nigeria this week garnered the largest viewing audience of any Women’s World Cup Group Stage match in history, and the third largest of all time. Only the finals in 1999 and 2011 have drawn bigger American television audiences.

The game itself was less than stunning, a statement with which my Pucked in the Head compadre Chris Withers will be happy to concur. With a berth in the knockout rounds almost guaranteed, the US played a conservative, defensive game. They were more content to limit Nigeria’s forward movement than to create any of their own. Consequently, keeper Hope Solo had little to do but wave at her adoring fans and glare at the officials.

Continue reading So which team are you cheering for again?

The Missing Villains of the Women’s World Cup

The Globe and Mail’s Cathal Kelly has been making a lot of friends lately.

The sports columnist for the national rag has raised the hackles of more than a few with his coverage of the Women’s World Cup. He began on June 4th, with a mildly amusing and utterly harmless hit piece on the city of Edmonton in which he suggested that Toronto would have been a more appropriate host with the eyes of the world watching the opening ceremonies. He was half right. Edmonton wasn’t the best choice. Yesterday, Kelly continued to aggravate women’s soccer fans when he panned the entire tournament to date as boring and dreary. Once again, he wasn’t wrong.

The Americans brought 50,000 of their closest friends to help defeat Nigeria 1-0 at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup; they didn't seem to think it was boring or dreary. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Americans brought 50,000 of their closest friends to help defeat Nigeria 1-0 at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup; they didn’t seem to think it was boring or dreary. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Continue reading The Missing Villains of the Women’s World Cup

The Women’s World Cup is underway

Defender Ingrid Rodriguez has some choice words for the refereeing during Ecuador's 6-nil loss to Cameroon. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Defender Ingrid Rodriguez has some choice words for the refereeing during Ecuador’s 6-nil loss to Cameroon. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

On the eve of Vancouver’s second double header of the tournament, we revisit the first. Cameroon spanked Ecuador 6-nil despite the teams sitting just five spots apart in the FIFA world rankings. I suppose that’s what you get when an African country plays far fewer meaningful international friendlies in the months leading up to the Women’s World Cup — Cameroon is far better than its 53rd place ranking would suggest. Check 33rd ranked Nigeria shocking the fifth ranked Swedes with a hard fought 3-3 draw in their first game.

The clear choice for Woman of the Match was Gaelle Enganamouit, who galloped into the box with abandon, scoring from the run of play and the penalty spot with equal ease. She put the ball into the back of the net three times, in fact, in 90 minutes equalling the entire offensive output of Group A’s four teams over the course of four games.

Gaelle Enganamouit of Cameroon was the class of opening day, scoring thrice to lead her team to a 6-nil victory. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Gaelle Enganamouit of Cameroon was the class of opening day, scoring thrice to lead her team to a 6-nil victory. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

In the second match of the day, Switzerland did everything but score on the defending champion Japanese. Most impressive were their lauded stars, numbers 10 and 11, Ramona Bachmann and Lara Dickenmann. Bachmann made one run in particular that left four Japanese defenders and their behemoth goaltender flailing on the turf — more than one observer compared the play to something Lionel Messi might put together. If she hadn’t slipped on the end line, she would no doubt have danced the ball into the net for the goal of the tournament.

Romana Bachmann did her best to give Switzerland the glory, but Japan won 1-nil in their first group match at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Romana Bachmann did her best to give Switzerland the glory, but Japan won 1-nil in their first group match at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

While Canada has struggled to score in Group A, they’ve also managed consecutive clean sheets against China and New Zealand to remain atop their group standings. Thankfully, the Germans, Cameroonians, Norwegians and Nigerians, to name a few squads, have put some impressive highlight reels together.

Brazil, despite only having two goals to their credit, now have on their roster the Women’s World Cup all-time leading goal scorer in Marta. She scored her 15th FIFA WWC tally in their 2-nil win over Korea Republic, to give her sole possession of the title over German superstar Birgit Prinz. Abby Wambach of the United States is two behind with 13, while Canadian Christine Sinclair scored her eighth World Cup goal in Monday’s tournament opener.

Why can't we be friends? These fans enjoyed the opening game despite having rather different affiliations. Japan beat the Swiss 1-nil in their first group match at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Why can’t we be friends? These fans enjoyed the opening game despite having rather different affiliations. Japan beat the Swiss 1-nil in their first group match at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Not Enough Wrinkles

Most people don’t really like wrinkles. They tend to be a byproduct of growing old and preliminary research has confirmed that aging has been linked to all sorts of health issues. And if they aren’t representative of aging, they likely signify prolonged exposure to water, which, let’s be honest, is the worst part of prolonged exposure to water.

Think about that last grocery receipt you threw out. It was garbage. Trash. Deemed unworthy to keep amongst your possessions, so you chucked it away. I’d wager that before you tossed it in the trash, you crumpled it up, rendering it into a ball of wrinkled rubbish to reinforce its uselessness.

Where and how most of my articles end up.
Where and how most of my articles end up. Photo found by google searching “crumpled paper.”

Wrinkled carpets are perilous tripping hazards.

Billions of dollars have been spent on developing wrinkle-reversing creams and wrinkle-resistant clothing, because that’s how much we hate wrinkles.

But I’m here to tell you that wrinkles can be helpful. And when it comes to the Vancouver Whitecaps, an extra crease on their complexion might be just what the doctor ordered. Continue reading Not Enough Wrinkles

Meet your Team Canada — 2015 Women’s World Cup

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is set to get underway in a few days’ time. For those new to the game, as they say, you can’t tell the players without a program — so here’s the Team Canada roster, including social media info for your tweeting pleasure.

Team Canada, the host team of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.
Team Canada, the host team of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.
#PosNameAgeTwitterRecent photo
9FJosée Bélanger29@joseebelanger9
Team Canada forward Josée Bélanger moves the ball upfield during an international friendly. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada forward Josée Bélanger moves the ball upfield during an international friendly. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

3DKadeisha Buchanan19@keishaballa
Kadeisha Buchanan communicates with her teammates during international friendly action. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Kadeisha Buchanan communicates with her teammates during international friendly action. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

15DAllysha Chapman26@allyshachapman
Team Canada forward Cllysha Chapman during international friendly action. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada defender Allysha Chapman during international friendly action. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

16FJonelle Filigno24@JFiligno
Forward Jonelle Filigno in her official Team Canada portrait. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Forward Jonelle Filigno in her official Team Canada portrait. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

17MJessie Fleming17@_jessiefleming
Team Canada midfielder Jessie Fleming during international friendly action against England earlier in 2015. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada midfielder Jessie Fleming during international friendly action against England earlier in 2015. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

5DRobyn Gayle29@RobynGayle5
Team Canada defender Robyn Gayle moves the ball upfield during international friendly action against Sweden. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada defender Robyn Gayle moves the ball upfield during international friendly action against Sweden. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

18MSelenia Iacchelli28@syacc
Team Canada midfielder Selenia Iacchelli takes stock of the situation during training for the 2015 Women's World Cup. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada midfielder Selenia Iacchelli takes stock of the situation during training for the 2015 Women's World Cup. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

6MKaylyn Kyle26@KaylynKyle
Team Canada midfielder Kaylyn Kyle in international friendly action against England in May 2015. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada midfielder Kaylyn Kyle in international friendly action against England in May 2015. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

21GKStephanie Labbé28@stephlabbe1
Keeper Stephanie Labbé leaps for a ball during Team Canada training in Germany. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Keeper Stephanie Labbé leaps for a ball during Team Canada training in Germany. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

22MAshley Lawrence19@A_Lawrence99
Team Canada midfielder Ashley Lawrence lays her right foot into the ball during an international friendly against England. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada midfielder Ashley Lawrence lays her right foot into the ball during an international friendly against England. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

23GKKarina LeBlanc35@karinaleblanc
Keeper Karina Leblanc blocks a shot during Team Canada training. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Keeper Karina Leblanc blocks a shot during Team Canada training. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

19FAdriana Leon22@LeonAdriana9
Team Canada forward Adriana Leon pushes upfield during international friendly action. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada forward Adriana Leon pushes upfield during international friendly action. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

8MDiana Matheson31@dmatheson8
Team Canada midfielder Diana Matheson scoots along the flank during international friendly action against Germany. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada midfielder Diana Matheson scoots along the flank during international friendly action against Germany. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

1GKErin McLeod32@erinmcleod18
Keeper Erin McLeod in her official Team Canada portrait. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Keeper Erin McLeod in her official Team Canada portrait. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

4DCarmelina Moscato31@cmoscato4
Team Canada defender Carmelina Moscato looks to clear a ball during an international friendly against the USA. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada defender Carmelina Moscato looks to clear a ball during an international friendly against the USA. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

20DMarie-Eve Nault33@menault20
Team Canada defender Marie-Eve Nault pushes the ball upfield during international friendly action against Italy. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada defender Marie-Eve Nault pushes the ball upfield during international friendly action against Italy. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

13MSophie Schmidt26@sophieschmidt13
Team Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt crosses the ball during international friendly action against the Republic of Ireland. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt crosses the ball during international friendly action against the Republic of Ireland. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

11MDesiree Scott27@MsDScott11
Team Canada midfielder Desiree Scott steals the ball during international friendly action against the USA. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada midfielder Desiree Scott steals the ball during international friendly action against the USA. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

10DLauren Sesselmann31@lsesselmann
Team Canada defender Lauren Sesselmann keeps position during an international friendly against France. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada defender Lauren Sesselmann keeps position during an international friendly against France. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

12FChristine Sinclair31@sincy12
Team Canada striker Christine Sinclair closes in on yet another scoring opportunity during an international friendly against South Korea. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada striker Christine Sinclair closes in on yet another scoring opportunity during an international friendly against South Korea. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

14FMelissa Tancredi33@MelTancredi14
Canadian forward Melissa Tancredi chests down a forward ball during an international friendly against Japan. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Canadian forward Melissa Tancredi chests down a forward ball during an international friendly against Japan. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

7DRhian Wilkinson33@rhirhi8
Team Canada defender Rhian Wilkinson directs traffic prior to a throw-in during an international friendly. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada defender Rhian Wilkinson directs traffic prior to a throw-in during an international friendly. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

2DEmily Zurrer27@emme_z
Team Canada defender Emily Zurrer tracks down a ball during an international friendly against Germany. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Team Canada defender Emily Zurrer tracks down a ball during an international friendly against Germany. Photo courtesy of Soccer Canada.

Hawks in five

The Stanley Cup final promises to be one of the most entertaining in years. The Chicago Blackhawks are on the verge of their third Stanley Cup win in six years, which would put them as close to unlocking the dynasty achievement badge as we’re likely to see a team get in our lifetimes. Good lord, look at the roster: there are four legitimate Hall of Fame candidates in their top six alone. Across the ice, Steven Stamkos wants to cement legend status by winning his first; it may be surprising scoring machine Tyler Johnson, and not the suddenly clutch goaltender Ben Bishop, who gets him that ring.

Jonathan Toews and Steven Stamkos go head to head in the 2015 Stanley Cup final. Images wontonly stolen from the interweb.
Jonathan Toews and Steven Stamkos go head to head in the 2015 Stanley Cup final. Images wontonly stolen from the interweb.

Both teams had ten players score in double digits in 2014-15, and both teams had dominant goal differentials (Tampa was second overall at +51, while Chicago’s +40 was fourth). The season series was split at a win apiece, with the Hawks taking an overtime 3-2 decision and the Lightning shutting out Chicago 4-0. Keep in mind that second game took place just after Patrick Kane fractured his clavicle; Bishop likely won’t be earning many more shutouts in this series.

Forwards — advantage Hawks

The Bolts were the top team in scoring this year. Stamkos had 43 goals by himself, while Johnson and Nikita Kucherov each added 29.  After the top line, fans outside the Atlantic Division may ask themselves, “Who the hell is that?” — Cedric Paquette and Alex Killorn aren’t exactly household names — but suffice it to say that this is a team with a few mid-grade weapons at its disposal. That said, the bottom six has contributed just one goal out of the past 20 for the Lightning.

The Hawks have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp to throw over the boards. They’re tired? How about Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards, or playoff performer extraordinaire Andrew Shaw? This team may not have led the league in scoring — they were 16th overall, in fact — but they know how to score when it counts, and they’ve only gotten stronger as a unit as the playoffs have gone on. Witness the complete Game Seven shutdown of the vaunted Anaheim Ducks roster. Check Toews’ insistence upon dominating important games.

Clutch.

Defensemen — advantage Hawks

Duncan Keith was insane in the final two games against the Ducks. He saw nearly 28 minutes of ice in that exhaustingly intense Game Seven, and remember this is a series that saw two looooooooong overtime games early on. Niklas Hjalmarsson wasn’t far behind at 26:45, and in fact the Hawks rely pretty damned heavily upon their big top four. Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya were both over 23 minutes.

On the other side, Victor Hedmanand Anton Stralman  are the only men getting even close to this kind of ice time. Jason Garrison and Matt Carle hover around the 20-minute mark, but lose their effectiveness should they be asked to up that substantially. These guys are good depth blueliners — look at Garrison’s number five spot when he played in Vancouver — but lack the footspeed and game smarts to deal with Chicago’s wave-upon-wave of finesse-laden attack.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender and Mayberry mayoral candidate Ben Bishop
I’m sure Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender and Mayberry mayoral candidate Ben Bishop is a nice fella, but does this look like a Cup winner to you?

Goaltending — advantage Bolts

Herein lies Tampa Bay’s best chance at a second championship in franchise history. Ben Bishop had far fewer hiccoughs than highlights; Corey Crawford, on the glove hand, too often relies upon that stable of scorers to outshine his bad nights.  Good grief, he let in nearly three goals a game against the Ducks. If Stamkos & Co. get in his head, this series — and thus the Cup —could go south in a hurry.

Coaching — advantage Hawks

There are cookie crumbs in Joel Quenneville’s moustache  that have been behind an NHL bench longer than Jon Cooper. Sure, the latter presents Jon Cooper’s story, but Coach Q’s duster has kissed two Cups and a Jack Adams award. Quenneville is the winningest coach among active bench bosses — not including playoff totals, he has 653 more NHL wins than Cooper. Look, I’m not saying anything bad against the new guy. It’s just that, well, Q has been there. Coops has read about it. You’ve gotta go with the experience.

Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks in 5.
Conn Smythe: Duncan Keith

Blackhawks in 5.

Chicago Blackhawks versus Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2016 Stanley Cup final.
The Chicago Blackhawks will win their third Stanley Cup in six years when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning this week.

Episode 68: the last Whitecaps home match for six weeks

Russell and Jason wax poetic on the beautiful game, specifically with respect to the Vancouver Whitecaps upcoming six-week road swing.

• Introduction
• Thanks John
• Whitecaps take a loooooong road trip
• Want to be an MLS referee? Your fraud charge is no problem!
• Whitecaps got jobbed in Colorado
• Even the Rapids thought it was a bad call
• The Whitecaps haven’t inspired much confidence
• July and August will be hectic, to say the least
• Is Pedro back?
• Are Kah and Waston worth the fouls and cards?
• Fix You by Coldplay
• There’s always money in the banana stand

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Darren Mattocks scores on the Philadelphia Union. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Darren Mattocks scores an impressively athletic goal against the Philadelphia Union to cap off a 3-0 Whitecaps win at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head