It's a shame that the Maple Leaf Forever has been so quiet lately. After all, there's been quite a bit going on with Canadian players around the world. David Hoilett made his debut with Blackburn, Asmir Begovic is getting first team time with Portsmouth, and of course there are the Jonathan De Guzman transfer rumours...
Okay, none of them are exactly Canadian. Regardless, not a few Canadians have been shuffling about the football world. If you ever want up-to-date information on the tribulations of every Canadian outside Canada, the Voyageurs should be your one-stop shop, particularly the aptly-named Mother of all Canadians Abroad thread, from which I mercilessly lifted much of this news. I did, however, try to add my own insight and research to it, so hopefully even the hardest-core Voyageur will find something in this summary they didn't already know,
In a sad bit of news, alumnus of the Canadian national team and former Toronto Blizzard standout Fernando Aguiar had retired from football at the age of 37, returning to Canada. Mixed in with sorrow at a great warrior from a bygone era finally hanging up his boots, the most natural response to this is "Jesus Christ, Fernando Aguiar was still playing?"
Indeed he was. Aguiar was actually at a surprisingly high level, playing for S.C. Gondomar of the Portugese Liga Vitalis (their second division). Aguiar was once known for speaking before he thought, famously running off his mouth after not being selected for a friendly on the Voyageurs board. But in recent years he has kept his head down while quietly accumulating the best resume of any Canadian outfield player in his age group. The last true casualty of the Yallop-Watson dark age, Aguiar will be remembered fondly.
Andrew Ornoch recently joined the many Canadians plying their trade in the Netherlands, joining up (as reported in superior detail by the Out of Touch guys and by Ben Rycroft) with Heracles Almelo of the Eredivisie. The 24-year-old plays both midfield and striker and enjoys a positive reputation both in Canada and in Europe, where he is called a positive influence as well as a talented player. Ornoch signed on a free transfer after impressing the Dutch in his trial, and the manager has indicated (Dutch) he'll get a shot in the starting eleven.
Born in Warsaw, Ornoch is (until they change the rules again) a signed, sealed, and delivered Canadian: he appeared in Dale Mitchell's last match, the famous 3-0 curbstomping in Jamaica which also saw a forgotten Bosnian named Asmir Begovic spend the entire match on the bench. Ornoch has also appeared against Hungary in 2006 and Cyprus earlier this year.
While Ornoch enters the Netherlands, could-be Canadian Jonathan De Guzman is on his way out, being linked to many of the powers of Europe from his current side Feyenoord. Chelsea, Stuttgart, Everton, and Valencia have been linked to the starlet of ambiguous nationality, with the transfer fee rumoured to be in the £4 million range. The Chelsea rumour is getting the most buzz, but that's probably just because they're Chelsea: they are reportedly looking to send De Guzman out on loan and the younger De Guzman is not at all happy with that idea.
Jonathan is obviously catching the eye of the European press after an injury-plagued 2008 campaign, which is great for him but a shame for us Canadians as we'd hoped he'd slip under the radar long enough to commit to the maple leaf. For what it's worth, though, there is still no Dutch national buzz around De Guzman and they seem content to let World Cup Qualifying pass without tying him down. Perhaps the Dutch have no doubts about his loyalties, or perhaps they have no interest. We outsiders can only guess.
The much bigger news for Canada fans came on a much smaller scale, and promising defender Adam Straith, formerly of the Vancouver Whitecaps academy and fresh off of a year on loan in Germany, will stick around in Europe as the Whitecaps agreed on his transfer to 2.Bundesliga Energie Cottbus for an undisclosed fee.
Cottbus have made a habit of acquiring Canadians lately. In addition to Straith and the other half-dozen Whitecaps loanees up and down the Cottbus youth setup, the newly-relegated side also rescued Lars Hirschfeld from obscurity by signing him on a free transfer from CFR Cluj earlier this summer. The Canadians have not yet gotten any first-team experience, with Hirschfeld consigned to the bench until Cottbus manages to transfer out the overqualified Gerhard Tremmel, but both Straith and Hirschfeld were acquired with the expectation that they'll be starting sooner or later.
Straith, 19, is entirely a product of the British Columbian soccer system, having played with Victoria United of the PCSL, the Whitecaps Residency team, and the usual panoply of elite youth teams. He made five appearances with Cottbus II in his loan spell and acquitted himself very well, and while the Germans will of course train him up to full European standards he and his kinsmen are the much-belated realization of the long-held dream that Canada could develop its own players domestically.
Last but not least, a Canadian goalkeeper has signed in the Scottish second division. There's not much glory in the Scottish second tier but since I did an entire post on our goalkeeper signing for a soon-to-be-relegated Scottish Premier side, the least I can do is give this guy a paragraph. Cameron McKay agreed to terms earlier this week with Cowdenbeath F.C., joining a promising squad. It's certainly a leap for McKay, who was previously playing in the Ontario provincial league with the other part-time warriors that dot Canada's obscure soccer landscape.
According to perpetual newsbreaker of obscure Canadians Dino Rossi, Abney is twenty-four years old, and nobody will be shocked to hear that he has no international resume. I don't follow the Ontario provincial leagues (surprise surprise) and so I don't know a damned thing about this kid except what I got out of the Voyageurs thread: most interestingly, he has a blog with six posts but a pretty engaging writing style. He may be even less prolific than I am but he's also getting paid to play football while I sit in an office staring at the clock all day, so he's ahead of me there.