No Canada at U-20 World Cup

By Phil Cottrell, Daily Observer

Generic soccer photo

Generic soccer photo

The 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup will be the 20th edition of the U-20 World Cup since its inception in 1977 as the FIFA World Youth Championship. The competition will take place for the first time in New Zealand, the third time in Oceanian soil after Australia staged the 1981 and 1993 editions. A total of 52 matches will be played in seven host cities. Canada unfortunately did not qualify.

Under-20 World Cup debutantes Fiji face the daunting task of taking on European giants Germany in its first match of the tournament on June 1 in Christchurch. The matches start on May 15th and finish with the final on June 20th.

The tournament will be the largest football event ever hosted in New Zealand and is expected to be broadcast to over 100 countries to a TV audience of over 170 million.

A smaller sized ball for women soccer players?

Does women's soccer need a smaller, lighter ball? That's the idea behind the Eir, offered by a new Danish company of the same name. Women have a higher rate of concussion and knee injury in soccer, and Eir argues that this is because soccer balls were designed for men. Currently in Canada , size 5 balls are used for everyone, male and female, starting at age 13. A size 5 to a woman would be like a size 7 to a man. Not only would women's soccer involve fewer injuries, it would be a faster game, the company claims.

TFC's latest signing Sebestain Giovinco arrives in Toronto

It was quite the scene when Toronto FC's newest high-priced star turned up at Toronto's Pearson International Airport recently. It was as if a global pop star had just arrived. The 5'5" Sebastian Giovinco could hardly be seen through a crowd of supporters that numbered 500+, a massive draw for a weekday afternoon. Odd that I didn't read this in other newspapers. I always wonder, if they leave stories out of the sports section, what are they leaving out of the news?

Ottawa Fury continue to build the squad

Ottawa Fury FC has announced the signing of midfielder Brandon Poltronieri. The American-born Costa Rican joins former Atlanta Silverbacks teammate Mike Randolph in the Nation's Capital after Randolph signed with the club last month. As per club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed."Brandon fits the exact profile we were looking for," said Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos. "We needed a player who could cover the left side of the field. He plays in different positions and has the experience needed to be successful in Ottawa. Brandon's approach to the game is very important for us."

Earlier the club announced the signing of Irish defender Colin Falvey, pending ITC (International Transfer Certificate) approval. Falvey joins Fury FC after splitting the 2014 season between the Charleston Battery and Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). As per club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed."Colin brings experience and leadership that will help our back line," said Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos. "He has the mentality and aggressiveness we wanted to add to our back four and will bring a lot of competition inside our squad."

The team is starting to look very good. There is great strength in defence and what is noteworthy is that the full squad should be ready to train and play together by the end of February. Additionally, it does seem too that Fury FC is committed to the development of the younger players, and indeed they will be very positively influenced by the likes of Ritchie Ryan and other senior players on the squad.

Baby Beckham

David Beckham's ability to manipulate the trajectory of a soccer ball is so well known, it in part inspired the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, which starred Keira  Knightley. Based on the way Brooklyn, Beckham's oldest son, has inherited his skills, it may not be too far fetched to think that someday the 15-year-old could inspire a sequel. Brooklyn  Beckham  was signed late last year to play with  Arsenal's youth team, and it appears he too has a knack for bending the ball.

In a video posted to Brooklyn  Beckham's  Instagram  account, it shows the young footballer taking the pass just inside the far corner of the box. Despite a rather poor angle,  Beckham  puts a shot off the crossbar, missing a beautiful goal by the narrowest of margins.

Canadian Soccer League

The 2014 10-team First Division of the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) is expected to increase by at least two for the 2015 season with a six-month long campaign that will stretch to the end of October, possibly early November.

The CSL has approved in principle the addition of expansion clubs Scarborough FC and Toronto Atomic. The return of Brantford Galaxy was confirmed earlier. Milton FC, previously a Second Division team in 2014, will also be in the CSL's First Division.

The CSL is third tier in Canada, below MLS (Major League Soccer), the top level, which has Canadian teams Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the second tier North American Soccer League, with FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury.

The Galaxy visit the White House

President Barack Obama says he may be resentful as a Chicago sports fan, but he has to give credit to Los Angeles for producing two championship teams. Hockey's Kings and soccer's Galaxy were honoured in a joint ceremony recently in the East Room of the White House. Obama says Los Angeles has an "embarrassment of riches" in sports. He gave a special shout-out to Galaxy star Robbie Rogers as the MLS (Major League Soccer) league's first openly gay player. Obama says Rogers is inspiring people around the world. He wished both teams the best of luck "when you are not playing Chicago."

Yes, refs do get disciplined

Referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn, the man who oversaw the hilariously calamitous Equatorial Guinea vs. Tunisia match that ended in a brawl and said official being chased down the tunnel by some irate Tunisians, has been banned for six months for his poor performance in the game. "The referees' committee noted the poor performance of the referee," solemnly commented the Confederation of African Football.

Something I'd like to see in other sports.

Borussia Dortmund players apologized face-to-face with fans after their 1-0 loss at home to 10-man Augsburg left them rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga. "What should the people do?" pondered manager Jürgen Klopp. "The fans are disappointed and angry. Some of them fear for the future of the club. This is fully understandable."

The Asian Cup

A breakthrough triumph for host nation Australia capped off the most watched Asian Cup ever, marking the 2015 tournament as a milestone event in Australian and Asian sporting history. The Socceroos' 2-1 victory over Korea Republic before a 76,000-plus full house at Sydney's Stadium Australia set the seal on a tournament that smashed viewing records and set new benchmarks for colour, passion, inclusiveness and exemplary crowd behavior (something that never makes the news).

The victory by Mile Jedinak's team delivered Australian football's greatest prize, writing a fairytale ending to the biggest football event ever staged Down Under - 32 matches in 23 days between Asia's best 16 teams.

The 2015 AFC Asian Cup reached a worldwide TV audience in excess of one billion, with figures still to come in for the final.

The African Cup

The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, known as the Orange Africa Cup of Nations, was the 30th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, the international football championship of Africa. It was organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and was held from Jan. 17 Feb. 8 of this year.

The tournament was initially scheduled to be hosted by Morocco who later demanded postponement of the event because of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. Then Morocco was ruled out as a host country and replaced by Equatorial Guinea. The Ivory Coast won the tournament for its second Africa Cup of Nations title, defeating Ghana 9-8 in a penalty shootout after the final finished goalless following extra time. The Democractic Republic of the Congo came third and the host Equatorial Guinea fourth, while defending champions Nigeria did not qualify.

Dates to note

March 6 - MLS (Major League Soccer) kicks off with two new franchises. Orlando City FC and the new New York team NYFC, New York City FC, making 20 teams in total.

April 4 - NASL (North American Soccer League) kicks off with the Jacksonville Armada FC (love the name) joining the league, making 11 teams in total.

Remember, whatever your sport, to win the game is great, to play the game is greater, but to love the game is the greatest of all. And the greatest game is played by over 250 million players in 200 countries. So, be part of the soccer fan base world wide, 3.5 billion and counting! Also, remember to support local soccer! If you have any comments on the beautiful game please contact me at, or call 613-587-4856.

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