Canadian teams bookended by Brazilians

Community Apr 24, 2015 by Steve Milton The Hamilton Spectator

TORONTO They won't even have time to notice the frying pan before they have to jump into the fire.

Canada's national (under 22) men's soccer team opens the Pan Am Games tournament against Group B opponents Brazil on Sunday, July 12, at Tim Hortons Field, which by then will be known as CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium.

And, in some reverse symmetry, Canada's women's team ends its group-stage play against Brazil in a rematch of the 2011 Pan Am final, won by Canada in a shootout. Burlington's Melanie Booth scored one of the shootout-winning goals.

The groups and schedules were determined by Friday's draw at the Toronto2015 head office in east Toronto, which was attended by former national team stars Helen Stoumbos and Dwayne de Rosario, Toronto2015 CEO Saad Rafi and various other pols.

It's been a while (1987) since the Brazilian men won the Pan Am Games but they are the name in men's soccer, no matter how they're faring in any particular year. And, in the previous 16 Pan Am tournaments, the Brazilians have won four gold medals and three silvers.

"I think it's always good to play the top team first," says the iconic de Rosario, former TFC star and the all-team leading scorer for the Canadian men's soccer team. "All your nerves, all your worries; you get everything off your back and chest first.

"Brazil is an unbelievable opponent. It's a tough group Canada's in but you expect that, and you want to play against the best."

After the Brazilians, Canada finishes Group B preliminary round play against Panama on July 16, and Peru on July 20. Group A on the men's side comprises Mexico, Trinidad-Tobago, Argentina and Colombia.

In the women's tournament, Canada is in Group A and plays its first game against Ecuador as part of an evening doubleheader on Saturday July 11, the opening day of Pan Am soccer. After that, it's matched with Costa Rica on July 15 and Brazil July 19.

Canada's best women's players will all be at the Women's World Cup, played in Canada and concluding just six days before the Pan Am's opening kickoff. So the home nation, and several other teams, will certainly not field their A lineup for Hamilton.

"We need to look at this as the future, for the World Cups and the Olympics," Danny Worthington, who will coach the Canadian women's Pan Am team, told the Spectator on Friday.

"It's basically going to be an Olympic development squad and it will give them five international games of experience."

On Monday, Canada will announce its 23-woman team for the World Cup. Any player who makes that team will be not on the Pan Am team. So if Hamilton's Melissa Tancredi makes the Cup team as expected, she won't get to play the Pan Ams in her hometown.

"You have a lot of conflict," says Helen Stoumbos, the Guelph native who in 1995 became the first player, male or female, to score a goal for Canada in a World Cup final. "The Pan Am tournament is not a FIFA event, with regard to being allowed to take time off from their club teams.

"But it'll be a great competition regardless. It's good for younger players, a great way to get that exposure."

Because club teams will want layers back on their rosters after a month in Canada for the World Cup, stars like Brazil's Marta, who plays in Sweden, will likely not be at the CIBC stadium.

"Even without her, Brazil will still be good," Stoumbos says. "They've got great players at every level right down to the youngest.

"Women's soccer is not like it used to be, when you used to be only three or four players you had to worry about on most teams. It's much deeper and you can't take any game for granted, especially in a tournament like this.

"And people are coming out. Every women's game in North America now, you're getting good fan support."

And in December, 20,000 fans came to a women's game in Trinidad to support their national team.

The draw, like in a major horse race, is a significant, ritualistic, part of an international soccer tournament. With Friday's cementing of the group-stage schedule, ticket buyers and fan-support groups now have a focus, with sales expected to balloon over the next few days.

Because we know who's playing whom and when, we can finally forget about who's not here, meaning the U.S. of AWOL. The American teams, of both sexes, disregard the Pan Ams and didn't even try to qualify.

"Obviously the Americans not being here is a bit disappointing," de Rosario concedes. "But when you have Brazil, you're not too concerned about the Americans being there. A Canada-U. S. rivalry is great, but this is what is."

After the preliminary rounds, the top four teams in each tournament begin knockout playoffs, with the gold medal games set for the night of July 25 in the women's draw and the afternoon of July 26 in the men's.

smilton@thespec.com

905-526-3268 | @miltonatthespec

Canadian teams bookended by Brazilians

Men open against Brazil; women close against Brazil

Community Apr 24, 2015 by Steve Milton The Hamilton Spectator

TORONTO They won't even have time to notice the frying pan before they have to jump into the fire.

Canada's national (under 22) men's soccer team opens the Pan Am Games tournament against Group B opponents Brazil on Sunday, July 12, at Tim Hortons Field, which by then will be known as CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium.

And, in some reverse symmetry, Canada's women's team ends its group-stage play against Brazil in a rematch of the 2011 Pan Am final, won by Canada in a shootout. Burlington's Melanie Booth scored one of the shootout-winning goals.

The groups and schedules were determined by Friday's draw at the Toronto2015 head office in east Toronto, which was attended by former national team stars Helen Stoumbos and Dwayne de Rosario, Toronto2015 CEO Saad Rafi and various other pols.

It's been a while (1987) since the Brazilian men won the Pan Am Games but they are the name in men's soccer, no matter how they're faring in any particular year. And, in the previous 16 Pan Am tournaments, the Brazilians have won four gold medals and three silvers.

"I think it's always good to play the top team first," says the iconic de Rosario, former TFC star and the all-team leading scorer for the Canadian men's soccer team. "All your nerves, all your worries; you get everything off your back and chest first.

"Brazil is an unbelievable opponent. It's a tough group Canada's in but you expect that, and you want to play against the best."

After the Brazilians, Canada finishes Group B preliminary round play against Panama on July 16, and Peru on July 20. Group A on the men's side comprises Mexico, Trinidad-Tobago, Argentina and Colombia.

In the women's tournament, Canada is in Group A and plays its first game against Ecuador as part of an evening doubleheader on Saturday July 11, the opening day of Pan Am soccer. After that, it's matched with Costa Rica on July 15 and Brazil July 19.

Canada's best women's players will all be at the Women's World Cup, played in Canada and concluding just six days before the Pan Am's opening kickoff. So the home nation, and several other teams, will certainly not field their A lineup for Hamilton.

"We need to look at this as the future, for the World Cups and the Olympics," Danny Worthington, who will coach the Canadian women's Pan Am team, told the Spectator on Friday.

"It's basically going to be an Olympic development squad and it will give them five international games of experience."

On Monday, Canada will announce its 23-woman team for the World Cup. Any player who makes that team will be not on the Pan Am team. So if Hamilton's Melissa Tancredi makes the Cup team as expected, she won't get to play the Pan Ams in her hometown.

"You have a lot of conflict," says Helen Stoumbos, the Guelph native who in 1995 became the first player, male or female, to score a goal for Canada in a World Cup final. "The Pan Am tournament is not a FIFA event, with regard to being allowed to take time off from their club teams.

"But it'll be a great competition regardless. It's good for younger players, a great way to get that exposure."

Because club teams will want layers back on their rosters after a month in Canada for the World Cup, stars like Brazil's Marta, who plays in Sweden, will likely not be at the CIBC stadium.

"Even without her, Brazil will still be good," Stoumbos says. "They've got great players at every level right down to the youngest.

"Women's soccer is not like it used to be, when you used to be only three or four players you had to worry about on most teams. It's much deeper and you can't take any game for granted, especially in a tournament like this.

"And people are coming out. Every women's game in North America now, you're getting good fan support."

And in December, 20,000 fans came to a women's game in Trinidad to support their national team.

The draw, like in a major horse race, is a significant, ritualistic, part of an international soccer tournament. With Friday's cementing of the group-stage schedule, ticket buyers and fan-support groups now have a focus, with sales expected to balloon over the next few days.

Because we know who's playing whom and when, we can finally forget about who's not here, meaning the U.S. of AWOL. The American teams, of both sexes, disregard the Pan Ams and didn't even try to qualify.

"Obviously the Americans not being here is a bit disappointing," de Rosario concedes. "But when you have Brazil, you're not too concerned about the Americans being there. A Canada-U. S. rivalry is great, but this is what is."

After the preliminary rounds, the top four teams in each tournament begin knockout playoffs, with the gold medal games set for the night of July 25 in the women's draw and the afternoon of July 26 in the men's.

smilton@thespec.com

905-526-3268 | @miltonatthespec

Canadian teams bookended by Brazilians

Men open against Brazil; women close against Brazil

Community Apr 24, 2015 by Steve Milton The Hamilton Spectator

TORONTO They won't even have time to notice the frying pan before they have to jump into the fire.

Canada's national (under 22) men's soccer team opens the Pan Am Games tournament against Group B opponents Brazil on Sunday, July 12, at Tim Hortons Field, which by then will be known as CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium.

And, in some reverse symmetry, Canada's women's team ends its group-stage play against Brazil in a rematch of the 2011 Pan Am final, won by Canada in a shootout. Burlington's Melanie Booth scored one of the shootout-winning goals.

The groups and schedules were determined by Friday's draw at the Toronto2015 head office in east Toronto, which was attended by former national team stars Helen Stoumbos and Dwayne de Rosario, Toronto2015 CEO Saad Rafi and various other pols.

It's been a while (1987) since the Brazilian men won the Pan Am Games but they are the name in men's soccer, no matter how they're faring in any particular year. And, in the previous 16 Pan Am tournaments, the Brazilians have won four gold medals and three silvers.

"I think it's always good to play the top team first," says the iconic de Rosario, former TFC star and the all-team leading scorer for the Canadian men's soccer team. "All your nerves, all your worries; you get everything off your back and chest first.

"Brazil is an unbelievable opponent. It's a tough group Canada's in but you expect that, and you want to play against the best."

After the Brazilians, Canada finishes Group B preliminary round play against Panama on July 16, and Peru on July 20. Group A on the men's side comprises Mexico, Trinidad-Tobago, Argentina and Colombia.

In the women's tournament, Canada is in Group A and plays its first game against Ecuador as part of an evening doubleheader on Saturday July 11, the opening day of Pan Am soccer. After that, it's matched with Costa Rica on July 15 and Brazil July 19.

Canada's best women's players will all be at the Women's World Cup, played in Canada and concluding just six days before the Pan Am's opening kickoff. So the home nation, and several other teams, will certainly not field their A lineup for Hamilton.

"We need to look at this as the future, for the World Cups and the Olympics," Danny Worthington, who will coach the Canadian women's Pan Am team, told the Spectator on Friday.

"It's basically going to be an Olympic development squad and it will give them five international games of experience."

On Monday, Canada will announce its 23-woman team for the World Cup. Any player who makes that team will be not on the Pan Am team. So if Hamilton's Melissa Tancredi makes the Cup team as expected, she won't get to play the Pan Ams in her hometown.

"You have a lot of conflict," says Helen Stoumbos, the Guelph native who in 1995 became the first player, male or female, to score a goal for Canada in a World Cup final. "The Pan Am tournament is not a FIFA event, with regard to being allowed to take time off from their club teams.

"But it'll be a great competition regardless. It's good for younger players, a great way to get that exposure."

Because club teams will want layers back on their rosters after a month in Canada for the World Cup, stars like Brazil's Marta, who plays in Sweden, will likely not be at the CIBC stadium.

"Even without her, Brazil will still be good," Stoumbos says. "They've got great players at every level right down to the youngest.

"Women's soccer is not like it used to be, when you used to be only three or four players you had to worry about on most teams. It's much deeper and you can't take any game for granted, especially in a tournament like this.

"And people are coming out. Every women's game in North America now, you're getting good fan support."

And in December, 20,000 fans came to a women's game in Trinidad to support their national team.

The draw, like in a major horse race, is a significant, ritualistic, part of an international soccer tournament. With Friday's cementing of the group-stage schedule, ticket buyers and fan-support groups now have a focus, with sales expected to balloon over the next few days.

Because we know who's playing whom and when, we can finally forget about who's not here, meaning the U.S. of AWOL. The American teams, of both sexes, disregard the Pan Ams and didn't even try to qualify.

"Obviously the Americans not being here is a bit disappointing," de Rosario concedes. "But when you have Brazil, you're not too concerned about the Americans being there. A Canada-U. S. rivalry is great, but this is what is."

After the preliminary rounds, the top four teams in each tournament begin knockout playoffs, with the gold medal games set for the night of July 25 in the women's draw and the afternoon of July 26 in the men's.

smilton@thespec.com

905-526-3268 | @miltonatthespec