Canisius names Todd Clark women’s soccer coach

By Nick Veronica

Todd Clark has been named women’s soccer coach at Canisius College, athletic director Bill Maher announced Friday.

Todd Clark

Todd Clark

Clark led Division II Barton College to an 11-5-2 record last season after spending eight years as the head coach at Division I Campbell University of the Big South Conference.

“Todd is an experienced head coach who has a proven ability to build successful soccer programs that compete for conference championships,” Maher said in the release.

Canisius went 6-14-0 last year and 5-5-0 in the MAAC under Jim Wendling, who stepped down at the end of the season. He had coached Canisius for seven years.

“I believe we can be successful at Canisius,” Clark said in the release. “I’ve already spoken to a number of players on the team and some of the pieces of the puzzle are already in place as we work toward the ultimate goal of winning a MAAC championship.”

Canisius has never won a MAAC championship in women’s soccer. The team made it to the championship game in 2010, where it lost to Siena in overtime, and in 1994, when it lost to Loyola.

Clark is on Twitter

 

Open letter to student-athletes

It is not customary for reporters to formally address a reply to something they wrote like I am about to do, but given what a close-knit community we have at Canisius, the reputation of the person who spoke out and the emotion she invested in her reply, I felt it deserved a response. 
This is written specifically to Christina and the women’s soccer team, but really to any student-athlete or human being who cares to give it read. 

Christina,

A friend brought to my attention the post you wrote today. You poured your heart and soul into it and I thought you deserved a response.

I haven’t had a chance to get to know you personally through my two years and change at Canisius, but from a distance I’ve always been impressed that not a single person on campus has ever had a bad thing to say about you. When your name gets brought up (we do talk about you, just like every other athlete), all I ever hear about you are glowing reports, and that includes everyone from other staff writers on The Griffin to fellow athletes, members of the athletic department and even random conversations I overhear at parties.

You obviously love your teammates, and I’m sure that extends to your friends and other people you know on campus. That’s a good part of the reason you have such an outstanding reputation. It’s your job as a senior on the team to look out for everyone else, so I understand where you are coming from.

As a journalist, I’m supposed to be objective and not have a rooting interest in the games, but let’s be honest, I never want a Canisius team to lose. Just like you have your job on the team, I need you to understand my job, to report the truth and give criticism where criticism is due.

I was in the press box for the game mentioned in the article when Maria scored her first goal. I know Bri personally and I pulled her aside for an interview after the game. Everyone knows she’s been struggling to score; it’s not a secret. She looked stressed out and like she was pressing, so I asked about it. She’s an important player to the team and like Jim said, you guys need her to score.

When last year’s league-leading scorer hasn’t scored in a while, that’s a story. It doesn’t mean she sucks at soccer or is a bad person, but it does mean exactly what it sounds like: she’s in a slump. Those happen. I play soccer and (being that I’m not very good) I definitely know how it feels when you just can’t catch a break. I see the ways she’s trying to help get other players open and create space for them, and I presented that side of the story in the article. She’s quoted about how stressful it has been and how she’s working to set up other people.

I was happy for her when I saw she assisted the game-winning goal at Delaware State. That was good, however it doesn’t change the fact that the team still needs her to put the ball in the net. I was fair in my assessment and I stand by what I wrote. As for bulletin board material, I’m sorry but I just don’t see it. There were details I left out, places I could have been harsher. You and I both know you really should score on a penalty kick, which Bri did not earlier this year. Jim said straight out that he thinks she’s pressing and he subbed her for Brooke because her work ethic maybe wasn’t where it needed to be. Those are things your coach said, and he knows you guys way better than I do.

If you really want to know, I had planned on writing a column this week about how everyone needs to cut Bri some slack. I know how agonizing it’s been for her and the stress she’s under from everyone around her, especially her parents.

The game recap I wrote that was accompanied by the notebook (which I’ll link to at the bottom) was positive and focused on the feat that Maria, a freshman just over 5-feet tall who started on the bench, was able to win a header in such an important spot for the game’s only goal. It was a lighthearted piece and she got a lot of praise from Jim and Bri.

Admittedly, I was a little disappointed in how the articles were laid out online. Had they gone in a newspaper the next day (they were both written that afternoon), the recap would have been the big article and the notebook would have been a sidebar; they’re meant to be read together, in sequential order.

The part at the end about Maria’s goof was meant to be humorous. She slipped up, haha, very funny. We were both laughing with each other about it on the field after the game. There should have been more spacing online to show that it was not just a continuation from the part about Bri, but if read immediately after the positive game recap, I think the lightheartedness shows through and people will understand that it was funny. If Maria still feels offended by the piece, she is welcome to talk to me about it in person and I will give her an apology.

I know you guys are student-athletes and not professionals, but the majority of you are here on scholarship and you play a prominent role in representing the college. Being in the spotlight makes you subject to criticism, and as the sports editor of the paper and a self-respecting journalist, it’s my job to provide it; I’d be failure if I didn’t. I spend most of the year covering basketball and hockey, but I also do things like come out to your games, show up at cross country meets, go to synchronized swimming championships and sit through freezing rain at baseball games – all while being a commuter student who drives in from home for every single event. My commitment to Canisius athletics is unparalleled in this regard. I do my best to be there and let everyone know when women’s soccer or any other Canisius team has success, but that’s a two-way street. The notebook entry was not the first time I’ve given criticism to a college athlete or team and I can promise you it will not be the last.

Unfortunately, I have a hockey game this Friday night and will not be able to attend your game against Duquesne. I anxiously await reading the Twitter updates from GoGriffs (that I have sent to my phone so I can stay up-to-the-second on how you all are doing) when I get out of the locker room.

Christina, if you, Maria, Bri or any other member of the team would like to meet up over Tim Horton’s this week, I’ll do my best to find a time that can work for all parties involved. I take my coffee black.

Lastly, I know you’ve missed time this season battling injury, so from someone who missed all of his senior soccer season in high school because of a knee surgery, I wish you all the best in your recovery.

Sincerely,

Nick Veronica, Sports Editor

P.S.
Rumor is there’s some unfinished business you guys want to take care of in Baltimore the first weekend of November. I look forward to your phone call after the game – I want to hear all about it.

Link to the game recap: http://www.thegriffincanisius.com/sports/unlikely-hero-wins-it-for-griffs-1.2574341

Link to the accompanying notebook: http://www.thegriffincanisius.com/sports/women-s-soccer-notebook-1.2574346

Klinsmann’s first game yields improved result

A clever pass across the six-yard box from the left foot of Brek Shea to the right foot of Robbie Rogers in the 73rd minute was the equalizer that gave new U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann the fair result his side earned against Mexico in his first game with the team.

The nations are the same, but much was different about the teams from the last time the United States and Mexico met, in the Gold Cup final just a month and a half ago. Players from each side were missing — most noteworthy, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez from Mexico, Clint Dempsey for the States — as well as Team USA’s coach in the 4-2 defeat, Bob Bradley, who had since been fired.

Robbie Rogers taps the ball into the open net.

New coach Klinsmann introduced a few new players into the same 4-2-3-1 formation the U.S. had played in its three previous games at the Gold Cup. But trailing 1-0 at halftime without registering a shot, his second-half changes would prove to be more important.

Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea were brought on in the 60th minute and provided a spark of energy and creativity that was nowhere to be found in the first 45 minutes. Landon Donovan began to possess the ball more and push the issue on offense. Rogers, brought on in the 72nd minute, had hardly broken a sweat before one-touching Shea’s pass into the open goal frame in the 73rd.

Rogers wasn’t even supposed to play in the game. Klinsmann had only added him to the roster three days before when midfielder Maurice Edu had to decline his invitation due to a calf injury. The goal was his second with the men’s national team.

The second-half adjustments were necessary for Klinsmann’s side after Mexico dominated play in the first half. Oribe Peralta’s 17th-minute goal off a corner kick was equally as lucky as it was skilled, sticking his foot around Michael Bradley and redirecting the cross into the far corner of the net past a helpless Tim Howard. Mexico owned play in the half; the Americans hardly possessed the ball in the final third, let alone try to work a combination to set up a scoring opportunity.

The game could have very well ended differently in the late stages, when a series of calls went against the United States. Referee Raymond Bogle (Jamaica) twice opted not to award the U.S. a penalty kick despite pleas from several players. Replays showed that the first incident, before the U.S. goal, looked more like Agudelo tripped over the ball; the second, in the 80th minute, looked like Donovan was tripped by a defender.

Rogers got free again in the 87th minute from a beautiful ball played over his head. He was clear to goal after beating Mexican defender Gerardo Torrado, who grabbed his shirt and pulled him to the ground. Bogle showed yellow instead of red, much to the dismay of the six American players who got in his face to let him know Torrado should have been sent off.

The resulting free kick was blocked by the wall and the game ended without any spectacular chances through three minutes of stoppage time.

Klinsmann’s first comment after the game: it was fun.

— Notes —

  • The USA wore its red uniforms with the blue diagonal stripe, with a slight twist. There were no names on the back of the jerseys. The starting eleven wore jersey numbers 1-11 and the substitutes wore 12-18.
  • Midfielder Kyle Beckerman played fairly well. I’m more worried about what’s growing on his head. Seriously, look it up.
  • The USA had lost three straight to Mexico by a collective score of 11-3. Two losses were on U.S. soil.

USA 4-2-3-1

Buddle
Torres-Bradley-Donovan
Beckerman-Jones
Castillo-Bocanegra-Orozoco Fiscal-Cherundolo
Howard

Subs: Agudelo 60′ (Buddle), Shea 60′ (Jones), Rogers 72′ (Bradley), Clark 84′ (Torres).

Goals:
Mexico — Peralta 17′
USA — Rogers 73′

Join in the EPL fun

With another season of English Premier League soccer just over a week away, this is prime time for staking claims of the club you’ll support this season.

Don’t have a reason to like any particular team? Neither do we.

ESPN carries a lot of the games and it’s more fun if you have a team to root for. Most of the games are early in the day, so there’s nothing really good on TV anyway. Why not give soccer a shot?

Nick and Corey have already written good things about the upcoming EPL season. If you don’t know anything about the teams but want to join in the fun, Nick Mendola’s “Get yourself a club” post is definitely worth checking out.

Being a fan isn’t always about having the most rational reasons for following a team. In fact, most of the reasons someone starts liking a team (outside of being from that geographical area) are pretty silly if you think about it.

Drew Neitzel: Which hand will he shoot with? Nobody knows!

I’ve written before how I started following Michigan State because I bought a $10 jacket from Steve & Barry’s when I was in middle school. (You weren’t cool if you didn’t have a Steve & Barry’s jacket.) Since then, I’ve developed slightly better reasons for following MSU. Tom Izzo is one of the best college basketball coaches in the country and I really liked Drew Neitzel. The football team is a little bit harder to root for (because they usually suck), but I get a little excited when alumni, like Drew Stanton, get a few snaps in the NFL. Say something bad about Jeff Smoker and we might have problems.

As for my EPL team, which I formally chose last year, I just kind of picked one. I narrowed it down quickly, being smart enough to know that if you really want to pick a serious club, you pick one of the big four — Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. They spend the money it takes to win and aren’t afraid of the transfer market, plus they’re usually at the top of the table (standings). Manchester City is becoming a big spender as well but lags behind in the championship category.

I knew I didn’t like Liverpool. Don’t ask me why (because I couldn’t tell you), I just don’t. So the Reds were out. I didn’t dislike Arsenal as much as Liverpool and I kind of liked United, but everybody likes Arsenal and Man U. If you really like them, that’s fine, but there’s too many bandwagon, wishy-washy “supporters” of those two clubs. I love the New York Yankees, but a lot of people who don’t know much baseball just say they like the Yankees too. I didn’t want to be one of those guys.

So I bought a Chelsea jersey.

My brother was looking online and there was a sale, so I picked one up for a good price and he bought an A.C. Milan jersey, the team I also support in the Serie A, but for a slightly more logical reasons.

The Terry Pegula do's and don'ts of Roman Abramovich: DO, win championships like him. DON'T buy 100 acres of land on the moon. I also wouldn't advise him to have a girlfriend like Abramovich, but if he wants to bring women like Darya Zhukova around in Buffalo, I'd don't think I'd mind.

I don’t know the history of the EPL like I know the American leagues but the more I read about Chelsea, it seems their recent success comes mostly from throwing big contracts at great players. But, as any fan of the Mets can tell you, that doesn’t always guarantee victory. There is definitely something to be said for the club’s performance under billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who took over in 2003. In the years since, the team has never had a finish below third in the EPL: (starting with the most recent) second, first, third, second, second, first, first and second.

The club’s moves don’t always work out (looking at you, Fernando Torres), but if Terry Pegula has half the success of Abramovich, we’re in for a real treat.

Clubs that have somehow won my support in other leagues, usually for just as stupid of reasons:

  • Spain (La Liga): Real Madrid. The jersey hanging next to Chelsea in my closet.
  • France (Ligue 1): Olympique Lyonnais, or just Lyon. Several French championships and extremely efficient use of the transfer market. If they can replace you for an equal or better player at a cheaper price, they will.
  • Germany (Bundesliga): Bayern Munich. They’ve been pretty good and have had big-name players I recognized for as long as I can remember, though most of what I remember probably comes from FIFA video games.
  • USA (MLS): New York Red Bull. Started liking them when they were the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and had Eddie Pope, but probably just because New York City is so close.
  • Portugal (Primeira Liga): F.C. Porto. I own with them in FIFA. Kinda pissed they ditched the sponsorship for thier frog jerseys.
  • Turkey (Süper Lig): Galatasaray. Turkey is a lot more populous than you probably think. They love soccer and their teams, because of their population, are some of the most liked in all of Europe. I like Galatasaray, but mostly for the name.
  • Russia (Premier League): CSKA Moscow, but only because they’re money in ESPN’s Streak for the Cash.
  • Holland (Eredivisie): Ajax Amsterdam, or just Ajax. I don’t know, man. I just do.

Bradley’s firing gives hope to U.S. national team

The first post in a multi-part series on how American soccer can improve.
The firing of head coach Bob Bradley from Team USA can only mean there are good things to come American soccer.

A few inches one way or the other may have saved Bob Bradley's job as coach of the U.S. Men's National Team, but such is life in soccer. Onto the next.

The development of our national team and our professional league will happen eventually. Simply based on resources that build winning soccer, namely population and money, America can’t stay down for long. It’s not a question of if, but when.

What’s best for a country’s domestic league may not always be best for its national team, and vice versa. The success of one is not always interrelated with the other. Countries with very poor leagues have had success internationally, such as South Korea (2002 World Cup semifinalist), Russia and Turkey (both semifinalists in Euro 2008). Even Brazil‘s national league isn’t great. Conversely, the country with the best league, England, has had very little success in worldwide competition (last major win: 1966 World Cup).

The best way for Major League Soccer to get better is to have its players get experience with national teams, thereby improving the quality and reputation of the league, yet the best way for the national team to get better is to have its players play where the competition is greatest — anywhere but the MLS.

It’s good for American soccer to have American players playing in the American professional league. But that means country-wide feelings on the sport — TV ratings, youth involvement, general acceptance of game — not the U.S. national team.

We want our players playing in their leagues. It’s as simple as that. The competition is so much better. Is it good for soccer in this country — is it good for kids growing up on the game — to have Landon Donovan to be playing at home for the Los Angeles Galaxy? Of course. But would it be better for the national team if he played solely in one of the big three leagues (the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A), or even in Germany or France? You bet.

One of the most important features of a national team is the coach, the glue who brings it all together. If we want the best coach, where does it appear he needs to come from?

I liked Bob Bradley as coach of U.S. soccer, but the team would have more success with a foreigner. Bradley is from New Jersey and Bruce Arena before him was from New York. We need to broaden the scope. Western Europeans dominate soccer in all aspects, from players to coaching to tactics. Nowhere else in the world is not only quality soccer, but also ideas and ultimately, knowledge, so readily available across borders than in Western Europe. Not even Brazil can compare in that metric.

The best build off each other and become that much better that much quicker. Even small countries can learn quickly due to the excess of available information; take for example Greece, which won Euro 2004. In America, we only have ourselves to go up against, and we aren’t really that good.

Even the English, who continue to hold the belief they rule international soccer despite going winless in major tournaments in the last half-century, have swallowed their pride and hired an Italian manager for the national team in Fabio Capello. The big four clubs combine for a grand total of zero coaches who were born in England. Two at least are from the U.K., Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson and Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish (both from Glasgow, Scotland). The others come from abroad: Chelsea’s new head man André Villas-Boas is from Portugal and Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger is French. Even in a local example, the U.S. women’s team, best in the world, is coached by Pia Sundhage, a Swed.

I don’t know if I like the idea from a theoretical standpoint because I think a national team should have to have all of its coaches, trainers, et cetera from that country, but if it helps the USA and it’s within the rules, there’s no reason not to do it. The only coach in the last three World Cup finals not from Europe was Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led his native Brazil to a second-place finish in 2002. A non-European coach hasn’t won the World Cup since 1994.

The Europeans have the experience, the contacts and know-how. They’ve dealt with more talented players than any coach in the American system and might finally be able to whip the Yanks into a winning formation, not Bradley’s midfield mush.

Some players need to be developed as much as they need to be taught. “Mold 21-year-old Jozy Altidore into a star” should be the first bullet on the job description after “play winning soccer.” Here’s hoping the U.S. can get out of its own way and find the right western European coach, a Spaniard, perhaps, for the job. I’d welcome him with open arms.