#CanadaRed soccer notebook: National men's team friendly impacts competition at home

#CanadaRed soccer notebook: National men's team friendly impacts competition at home

Canada’s men’s soccer team will play a pair of friendlies early next month in Austria and it will negatively impact the only all-Canadian professional club competition.

While it’s an experienced Canadian side that will be working towards two vitally important World Cup qualifiers in September, the timing of the camp will unfortunately take away from the Amway Canadian Championship that crowns Canada’s top pro club and grants a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Canada will play Azerbaijan on June 3 and Uzbekistan on June 7. Both dates conflict with the semifinals of the Voyageurs Cup games involving Canada’s three MLS teams as well as the Ottawa Fury FC of the NASL. The two-leg semifinals take place June 1 and 8.

Most impacted by the Canadian roster is Ottawa, the lone NASL team left in the Canadian Championship. They lose both Marcel de Jong and Julian de Guzman, who had been nursing a minor injury until recently.

Ottawa has lost a great deal of experience as they take on the defending Canadian champion Vancouver Whitecaps FC in their first time playing MLS opposition in competitive action. The Fury will be hoping to pull off a little cup magic but it has become a lot more difficult without their experience.

Will Johnson is Toronto FC’s inclusion in the Canadian squad and will at least be with the Canadian team for one of the friendlies.

Sportsnet’s John Molinaro reported on Tuesday that he was hoping to be back for the second leg of the Voyageurs Cup game against the Montreal Impact but it’s not known right now what that status is.

Obviously there are a number of factors that go into scheduling camps but the timing isn’t ideal for players hoping to win the national championship. And yes, it does matter to them.

Youngster Davies an option for Whitecaps in Voyageurs Cup

One of the more enjoyable things about the Voyageurs Cup tournament is it’s the rare time MLS clubs have given some young Canadian talent chance to mix things up with more experienced pros.

Two years ago, Hanson Boakai put on a show and he very nearly helped FC Edmonton pull of an upset of the Montreal Impact in the tournament’s semi-final stage. This year, the Whitecaps’ 15-year-old forward Alphonso Davies may be the one to watch.

Already the youngest professional in North America, Davies may see some action in the tournament after the Whitecaps made that confirmation on Thursday.

It’s a game we’re going to try and win,” Whitecaps head coach said of the semifinal first leg game that takes place on June 1 against the Ottawa Fury FC. “We’re going to take this game seriously. But there are a number of banged-up players and a number of players missing.”

Davies showed a glimpse of his promise less than two weeks ago when he scored his first professional goal against the Los Angeles Galaxy 2 in USL action for the Whitecaps FC 2 squad.

A native of Monrovia, Liberia, Davies is already an exciting story developing in the Canadian system. He’s likely to be involved with both U-17 and U-20 squads in their respective World Cup qualifying tournaments next year and will be something to pay attention to this year.

 Canada WNT goalkeeper under even more pressure

Canada’s women’s Olympic goalkeeping situation got a whole lot murkier on Thursday when multiple reports Thursday said Western New York Flash goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo fractured her left wrist and will be forced to miss an unknown amount of time.

Dan Lauletta, managing editor of ‘The Equalizer’ women’s soccer blog, said that D’Angelo had suffered the injury in warmups in a previous game and says she’s questionable for the Olympics.

While the injury may not end up not to be too bad, it further exposes the goalkeeping position that has so long been Canada’s strength. Starter Erin McLeod is already out with a torn ACL and Stephanie Labbe will be asked to show that her more than competent play as understudy can translate to the big stage.

But if Labbe were to go down, there is a worrying lack of options with current Clemson University goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan seemingly the preferred choice for head coach John Herdman after her call-up to the Algarve Cup in March.

There are other options who have been looked at in Erin McNulty and Justine Bernier. Both of them play in Scandinavia but are both short on international experience.

Karina LeBlanc will be in Rio working for Yahoo Sports. Maybe she should bring her boots, just in case.