Good Friday morning folks, hope you all are winding things down for the week and getting ready for a bit of a break. I get to see the Whitecaps in the flesh this weekend, a rare treat, so I’m especially eager to be off work.
It was an eventful midweek for the Caps, as they secured their first penalty kick shootout victory of the MLS era to march on in the Voyageurs Cup, dispatching longtime boogeyman Cavalry FC to earn a date in the semifinals.
Despite what people Online TM think, I was not particularly offended with how the Caps played and thought they comfortably deserved the win, even though it was a performance that was imperfect. Two things can be true simultaneously: A better team would have been 3-0 up by halftime and a luckier team would have been 3-0 up at halftime. A slightly more clinical Lucas Cavallini turns up and the Caps would have been flying.
Nonetheless, it was a promising performance for some key players, including Ranko Veselinovic and Erik Godoy, who anchored the defense, and Deiber Caicedo, who has been dangerous in recent matches. Ryan Gauld and Cavallini weren’t quite at the level you’d want but it was generally a pretty confident attacking performance and serves as a roadmap to what the Caps should be aiming for in league play.
On a different note, remember when we said Canada would be taking on Iran in a friendly at BC Place next month? Yeah, about that ...
After objections from folks both in and outside of the government, the federation elected to pull the plug on the Iran match and is potentially seeking another opponent for the June 5 match.
“Canada Soccer will be conducting a thorough review of our processes for the hosting of international matches to ensure no stone is left unturned in our pursuit of excellence both on and off the pitch, including consultation with all stakeholders,” Canada Soccer said in a statement.
On the pitch, it can’t help Canada, as they try and test themselves against quality opposition. And it certainly will be a disappointment for fans in Vancouver, who have seen a return to BC Place overshadowed by forces far bigger than any of us.
The move to schedule the match in the first place drew opposition in light of the 2020 shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, resulting in the deaths of over 80 Canadian residents and citizens.
I get why families affected by the crash feel the way they do and I can see the argument against paying the Iranian Football Federation, effectively a governmental entity.
But I always struggle when the inevitable melding of politics and football occur. It is a natural thing for this to happen, as it is natural that folks would object to the friendly and this is something that should have been anticipated by the federation.
Yet sport can also transcend politics. Players who compete for their national team do not always agree with their own government even and the match could have been a way of modeling this fact.
France, the defending World Cup champions, certainly have plenty to answer for in terms of their foreign policy, both historically and in recent years. My own country is one of the worst possible offenders on this front, yet few countries would turn down a friendly with the U.S. Men’s National Team (except, perhaps, Iran, who ironically will play them in the World Cup).
It is not surprising that the backlash forced this decision. And I can’t oppose it, given that I am not Canadian myself. But one wonders if it was a missed opportunity to promote a better understanding of another country. It certainly was a miscalculation on the part of the federation and there is no doubt this could have, and should have, been easily avoided.
Onwards and upwards ...
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