If you read the blog, and I hope you do, you know that I started running less than two years ago in an effort to not not run. I’ve had two injuries since then — one a serious ankle sprain that kept me off my feet for nigh on ten weeks, and the other a nagging owie of the hip that I’ve learned is altogether normal for folks who run long distances.
While I’ve completed six half marathons and a full marathon in the past 12 months, I’ve done less and less training as time goes on. I’m going to ease off the official races — I now have a war chest of tech shirts, each with event logos and sponsors plastered all over them — I plan to spend my energies on a more consistent routine of distance and elevation.
I know what you’re thinking:Jason, consistent routine? Jason Kurylo?!?!?!? Yeah, this is taking me by surprise, too.
It started like any other. Running around the house like a crazed maniac, saying ‘It’s time to go, it’s time to go, it’s time to go’ about 800 times to get my six-year-old and his friend out the door to soccer camp. Doing volunteer work at the Arts Council of New Westminster, picking up my kid and his friend after soccer camp, watching them go all Lord of the Flies in the forest, running home, eating dinner, running out of the house, once again yelling ‘It’s time to go it’s time to go it’s time to go!’
It’s time to go to football practice.
Today I stood in front of 30+ six- and seven-year-old boys and two girls (YES) and talked to them about football and about bleeding orange (GO HYACKS! GO LIONS!). Today I got to start them on the road of a lifetime of passion for the greatest sport in the world.
For the first time, women will be given some serious play in the world of sports gaming. In the wake of record viewing numbers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan will grace the Canadian and American covers of EA’s flagship soccer title FIFA 16 alongside some guy named Lionel Messi. Not bad company to be in, even if they do call him La Pulga, which is Spanish talk for the Flea.
Sinclair has been the face of Canadian soccer for more than a decade. As the most decorated player of any gender in the country’s history, she’s a no-brainer to receive this honour. It’s only a matter of time, however, before up-and-coming players like impressive defender Kadeisha Buchanan take her place. Buchanan was flat out the best Canuck in the tournament, even if you include Canadian-born U.S. roster player Sydney “They’re Saying LeBoo” Leroux in the mix.
On that American side, Morgan is a good player, but make no mistake: she’s an aesthetic choice. Alex Morgan is as likely to sell to young males as females — she’s probably more popular among the swimsuit model folks as she is among soccer aficionados.
Then again, Christine Sinclair’s American counterpart Abby Wambach will almost certainly retire now that she has finally won a World Cup title. Keeper Hope Solo, thrust front and centre in the championship photos while ol’ Abby stood back to enjoy the view, is mired in a domestic abuse case that advertisers don’t want to touch. And so, as easy as it is to pooh-pooh EA’s choice of the comely visage of Alex Morgan, who else should be on the cover? Carli Lloyd turned in a performance for the ages in the final game against Japan, but frankly not enough people in the public at large know who she is.
Not surprisingly, U.S. media are by and large reporting only Morgan’s appearance on the brand. Ignoring Sinclair is nothing new for the Yanks, however — even when she scored a hat trick against them at the Olympics, they only had eyes for the Scandinavian referee and her mysterious pro-U.S. whistle.
All snark aside, this is a huge leap forward for the women’s game. The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup shattered viewing numbers, both at the turnstyles in Canada and on TVs around the world. The semis between the States and Germany drew more eyes than the NBA finals, and the atmosphere in BC Place for the seven games I attended was phenomenal.
Now, stepping outside the electronic game for a minute, where the hell are the Lady Whitecaps? Surely they would draw as many or more fans than the Whitecaps II are getting at Thunderbird Stadium?
Russell and Jason discuss the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, warts and all. The States didn’t show up until it mattered, when they put beatdowns upon the Germans and Japanese. Do we have to like Wambach, Solo and Leroux? No. Do we have to live with the fact that they’re the class of the joint when it comes to women’s soccer? Sigh.
The Whitecaps continue to shine on the road, taking a 1-1 draw out of Portland this weekend. They’ve taken five points off the Timbers in their three-game season series, notching a win at BC Place back in March and two draws at Providence Park in Portland.
Why is this a big deal? I’m glad you asked.
First, because the Caps just cannot freaking score. Between the Whitecaps, the Canadian national teams — both men’s and women’s, thank you very much — and recent editions of the Canucks and Giants, fans in Vancouver are becoming offended with the lack of offensive production.
Okay, besides that? The Caps took a point out of Portland three months back, you say. Well, the Timbers just don’t concede many points at home — in fact, they’ve won five straight since tying that May 2 match against Vancouver. So it’s pretty darned special for the effing dynamite boys in blue and white to scamper back up the I-5 with a couple of points in their back pocket.
Let’s not forget to look at the Western Conference standings. Vancouver sits just two points back of the dirty, rotten, stinkin’, divin’ dogs from FC Dallas, sure, but only three points separate top spot from the sixth place Timbers. Not only did the Caps steal two points out of Providence Park, but they prevented Portland from getting their muddy mitts on the full six points up for grabs, too.
This draw wasn’t a moral victory, either. It wasn’t the lucky 0-0 draw they got back in May. In that match, Darlington Nagbe put a penalty kick off the post and out of play in the 30th minute. Portland carried most of the possession, and probably deserved better for their efforts. Saturday’s match was a different story. Kekuta Manneh could have scored twice himself, but was stopped by keeper Adam Kwarasey on a breakway and, later, by hirsute defender Nat Borchers on a goal-line slide.
Check out the highlights below, I dare ya.
While they’ve been fair to middling at home, the Caps have been bloody road warriors this season. They’ve won away against the Chicago Fire, Orlando FC, Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution, matching a franchise record of six wins away from BC Place in a single season. This, with five away games left in the MLS schedule. Despite scoring just 24 goals in 21 matches overall — an abysmal 1.14 goals per game — Vancouver is the only team in the Major League Soccer with a positive goal differential away from home.
There is a host of theories about Vancouver’s success on the road, most of which discuss the team’s speedy core of strikers being custom built for the counter attack. At BC Place, they just haven’t shown a consistent ability to parse visitors who sit back and defend — they’re much more comfortable letting other teams come at them, then turning the ball over in the midfield and sending their dynamic forwards, well, forward. Are they good at stopping the ball themselves? Sure. Kendall Waston has shut down opposition strikers game in and game out. Tim Parker has shown surprising dexterity and poise on the back line, and Christian Dean in limited play this year has looked solid. David Ousted? Well, he’s been superb this year. Oustanding, you might say.
With the summer transfer window open, fans are hoping Carl Robinson can find another Octavio Rivero to jumpstart some offense. If this team could score with any regularity, they’d in all likelihood be in strong contention for the Supporters’ Shield. As it is, even with an anemic finish, they’re still in the conversation.
Vancouver’s next game is at home on July 26 against the atrocious San Jose Earthquakes. It’s a game they should win, against a non-playoff team. Therefore, expect the Whitecaps to play an uninspired 90 minutes that produces little or no results. What better way to limp into August, a month that sees Vancouver play eight matches in three competitions in just 29 days.
Russell and Jason go with off-season hockey for episode 70: mostly Canucks stuff, but we throw some Brandon Saad and Phil Kessel in there for good measure. Bonus CanCon with Trooper hitting up the outro track.
Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
Scars, plasma and exposed dermis, oh my!
Canucks bleeding out
Sell low, buy pretty much nothing
So long Eddie, so long Shawn, so long Juice
Vancouver media and their goldfish attention sp…
Prust is trade bait at the deadline
What about Ryan Miller & the twins?
Brandon Saad gets PAID
Will Phil Kessel finally hit 40 goals?
Three Dressed Up as a Nine by Trooper
Thanks for Listening
Adios, Mr Kassian. May your IQ be always in your favour.
Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny the fact that the American women have dominated women’s soccer for more than 20 years. Their last meaningful loss came at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, when Japan shocked them with late tying goals in both regulation and extra time, then ultimately won on penalties.
The 2015 team started this tournament in lacklustre fashion, but turned it on in the semis and final game. They struck four times in the first 16 minutes in Vancouver, embarrassing the Japanese defense with intense play and raw will in the box. The fourth goal, which capped a hat trick for midfielder Carli Lloyd, was a cheeky chip shot from centre field, as keeper Ayumi Kaihori was caught well off her line shouting directions at her team when they turned over the ball.
It was an odd performance by the Japanese, who looked uncharacteristically rattled by the raucous US-dominated crowd.
More later, notably when Russell and I chat the Women’s World Cup this upcoming Wednesday on the radio show. Check out CIVL Radio, or the podcast later in the week for that riveting discussion!
I like my sports stuff. Photos, cards, jerseys… you name it, I’ve got a few. My favourite piece for years has been an 8×10 Gerry Cheevers signed for me when he was in town for a Vancouver Giants Legends Night— dude, CHEEVERS! Two Stanley Cups, the 1974 Canada Cup, a stint in the WHA, and that iconic mask, are you kidding me? This guy is the very epitome of old timey hockey. He’s even got his own three-chord proto-punk song, for crying out loud.
Mrs Pucked in the Head isn’t so wild about having 8x10s and pucks littered about the place, however, even if they have been scribbled upon by ageing professional athletes. I have to pick and choose what goes up on the wall, and what goes into storage. (Sure, I’m a sucker for cutesy pictures of our daughter, but we’ve got plenty of those photos around the rest of the house. I can moon over her adorableness in just about any other room, at pretty much any time, so I stamp this room with my own personal clutter, thank you very much.)
Since I started running last year, for example, I’ve managed to assemble a fistful of finisher medals from 10k races, half marathons and that one bloody full marathon I did back in May. Throw a few of those on the curtain rod, and they look all right. Add some hockey memorabilia and a small collection of tribal masks acquired during various vacations, and you’ve got a cosy little office space.
Before the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Canada coach John Herdman predicted his squad would definitely reach the quarter finals. It wasn’t exactly a huge leap — the team is ranked eighth in the world, and came away from the 2012 Olympics with a bronze medal — but announcing they would win the tournament on home soil would have placed undue pressure on a team already in transition from Christine Sinclair’s personal playground to a roster with a diverse attack.
Do they have enough to get by the Brits? A review of the tape says, definitively, nope. In their round of 16 game against #11 Norway, England scored two world class goals, one a text book corner kick, and the other a booming right foot to the top corner after a series of three quality one-touch passes. They’re such an exciting squad that folks on British TV seem to be having a rather physical response. (Reminder: punctuation is important.)
Canada, on the other hand, as scored just three goals in the entire tournament. Sinclair put away a late PK to beat the Chinese in the World Cup-opening game, Ashley Lawrence finished a broken play against the Netherlands, and Josée Belanger took advantage of a scrambly cross late in the Switzerland game to boot the ball home from 13 yards.
The teams actually match up fairly well. Canada plays an aggressive style, low on finesse but high on passion and power. They like to attack, and feel good trying to make plays on the run. Look for Belanger and Lawrence to run straight at the opposition defense, looking for that extra step, and pressuring missteps whenever possible. England has a more traditional, patient approach — they know this game inside and out, and prefer set plays to track meets. Watch for them to slow the play down when they possess the ball; they’ll work triangles to their advantage, and try to run behind stationary defenders.
Prediction: This game goes to penalties, tied 1-1 after regulation. Kicks are a lottery, so who’s to say who wins at that point? *shrug* Canada on PKs.