Tag Archives: forward

Canadian forward Evelyne Viens enjoying 1st taste of international soccer at SheBelieves Cup

It has been an eventful 13 months for Canadian forward Evelyne Viens since being taken fifth overall by Sky Blue FC in the 2020 NWSL draft.

The 24-year-old from L’Ancienne-Lorette, Que., made her pro debut in last summer’s NWSL Challenge Cup. opening her scoring account against the Chicago Red Stars, before travelling to France to join Paris FC on loan to get some more playing time.

And Viens, finally called up by the Canadian women’s team, has won her first two caps coming off the bench at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando.

Canada (1-1-0) wraps up play at the four-country tournament on Wednesday against Brazil (1-1-0) in what should be a battle to see who finishes second behind the top-ranked Americans.

“I think we’re going to be ready for Brazil and score some goals,” said Viens.

Canada and Brazil, who are ted for eighth in the FIFA world rankings, have played each other 23 times. Each has eight wins with seven draws.

The teams tied 2-2 in their most recent meeting last March at a tournament in France.

‘Pretty amazing feeling’

Viens earned her first cap off the bench in Canada’s 1-0 loss to the U.S. last Thursday.

“It was a pretty amazing feeling when I got in,” she told reporters Monday.

“For me just being able to step on the field and getting my first minutes against the best team in the world was a such a learning experience,” she added.

While her family was unable to attend the game at Exploria Stadium, Viens had support in the stands in the form of friends from the University of South Florida where she had been a goal machine.

Viens scored 73 goals in 77 career games for the USF Bulls, setting school and American Athletic Conference all-time records. Her 25 goals as a senior also set school and conference single-season marks.

She left a trail of defenders in her wake at South Florida and showed she can beat goalkeepers with both her feet.

WATCH | Canada picks up 1st win at SheBelieves Cup:

Canada picked up its first win at the SheBelieves Cup and the 1st victory under Bev Priestman. 1:15

Her career 169 points and 360 shots were also school and conference records. She also set conference records for points per game (2.19), goals per game (0.95) and shots per game (4.68).

A three-time All-American and 2019 Scholar All-American, she was named AAC Offensive Player of the Week a conference-record six times in 2019.

But a call-up to the Canadian camp took its time. Part of the reason is the fact that Viens, while growing up, was not part of Quebec’s provincial team because it would have meant leaving her family to go to Montreal.

‘She finds the back of the net’

New Canada coach Bev Priestman has liked what she’s seen.

“What I see in Evelyne — and what you all have seen — is she finds the back of the net really well,” said Priestman. “That stood out to me more than anything. She’s a No. 9 that likes to run off the back of defenders.”

Viens, who also saw action in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Argentina, is one of four players to earn their first cap under Priestman. Jade Rose, Jordyn Listro and Samantha Chang have also seen action at the tournament.

The only uncapped player remaining in camp is goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

WATCH | What to expect from short-handed team Canada at SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to discuss the notable omissions from Canada’s roster and their expectations for the team against top tier competition in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup 6:59

For Priestman, the new faces bring their talent and “a desire and a hunger to do whatever they can to wear the shirt.”

Viens said she used the time ahead of her first call-up to improve her game, to make sure she was ready when the call came.

Viens is the second-highest Canadian ever taken in the NWSL draft. Quinn, a defender-midfielder who goes by one name, was taken third overall in 2018 by the Washington Spirit.

Viens’ first NWSL training camp lasted just five days because of the pandemic. She rode out the lockdown with other Sky Blue rookies before the team returned to training.

She will return to France after the tournament, finishing our her loan in Paris before returning to Sky Blue FC in a month or so. She says she has enjoyed Paris, despite the pandemic.

“I mean it’s living in Paris,” she said. “It’s not the worst place in the world to live.”

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CBC | Soccer News

Canadian forward Cyle Larin scores 4 in memorable outing for Turkey’s Besiktas

Canadian forward Cyle Larin was near unstoppable Wednesday, scoring four goals for Turkey’s Besiktas in a 6-0 victory over visiting Caykur Rizespor in Istanbul.

The 25-year-old from Brampton, Ont., upped his season goals total to 10, moving into a tie for the Turkish scoring lead with Gabon’s Aaron-Salem Boupendza, who plays for Hatayspor.

Veteran Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, given the day off by Besiktas, watched Larin put on a show in the first home game of the year at Vodafone Park

Larin opened the scoring for the Black Eagles in the 19th minute, taking a pass from a teammate at midfield and sending the ball ahead before steaming towards the penalty box. Two passes later, a sliding Larin tapped the ball in from close range after finding a hole in the defence.

Larin made it 2-0 in the 31st minute, taking advantage of a Rizespor’s defender poorly weighted attempt to head the ball back to his goalkeeper. The Canadian got to the ball first and chipped it over the ‘keeper.

Larin started and finished Besiktas’ fourth goal in the 79th minute, pressuring a Rizespor defender who was hoping his goalkeeper would come for the ball as it headed toward the penalty box. The defender and goalkeeper collided, allowing Larin to poke the ball in.

Larin, 25, from Brampton, Ont., upped his goal tally to 10, moving into a tie for the Turkish scoring lead with Gabon’s Aaron-Salem Boupendza, who plays for Hatayspor. (@Besiktas/Twitter)

Larin profited from another defensive blunder in the 83rd, intercepting an errant pass and slotting the ball past the onrushing Rizespor ‘keeper to increase the lead to 5-0.

Oguzghn Ozyakup and Ajdin Hasic also scored for Besiktas, which sits atop the Turkish Super Lig standings at 11-4-1. Rizespor stands 12th at 5-6-5.

Larin has won 31 caps for Canada, including 19 starts, with eight goals.

Selected first overall by Orlando in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, the University of Connecticut product won rookie of the year honours with a 17-goal campaign. His total remains an MLS rookie scoring record.

He added 14 goals in 2016 and 12 in 2017 before becoming embroiled in a messy divorce with Orlando. MLS initially resisted Larin’s bid to move to Europe, arguing he was under contract through 2019.

The transfer was eventually agreed to in January 2018. Larin, one of a long line of talented players to emerge from Sigma FC of Mississauga, Ont., left MLS with 43 goals in 87 games.

Larin was loaned out to Belgium’s SV Zulte Waregem, but returned to Besiktas last June.

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CBC | Soccer News

Raptors draft pick Malachi Flynn looking forward to learning from Lowry, VanVleet

Malachi Flynn said there’s no better NBA veterans to learn from than Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.

The Toronto Raptors selected Flynn with the 29th pick in Wednesday night’s NBA draft, adding another small point guard with a strong defensive presence to their backcourt.

“I think it’s going to be great for me honestly, as a young guy coming in the league, with two guys who have won a championship, who have put up great numbers, there’s not much bad you can say about those two guys,” Flynn said. “I think it will be great for me to be around them every day and continue to learn.”

The six-foot-one, 185-pound guard led San Diego State to a 30-2 record and a No. 6 national ranking. He was also the Mountain West conference player and defensive player of the year.

WATCH | Raptors take Malachi Flynn at 29:

San Diego State point guard Malachi Flynn is the Toronto Raptors 1st round draft pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, selected 29th overall. 0:37

Flynn said he’s watched the Raptors and “how well they play,” and has paid particular attention to VanVleet and Lowry.

“They’re super savvy,” he said. “Kyle Lowry’s great at getting you in foul trouble, just keeping you on your toes, he knows what plays to make, he’s going to come up in big moments, he does all the little things.”

He’s inspired by VanVleet, who went undrafted but has worked himself into being one of this year’s most coveted free agents.

“He blew up and just continued to get better. He’s six foot, six-one, right around there, guys like that get (overlooked) so seeing him being able to win a championship and put up great numbers in the finals, it’s definitely inspirational for a guy like me,” Flynn said.

The Raptors spoke to Flynn early in the pandemic, and then went to see him two weeks ago in Las Vegas, a trip that sealed the deal.

“He’s a guy we really liked, and can come in and . . . develop under the leadership of Kyle and Fred,” Raptors GM Bobby Webster said. “Those are two guys for him to learn under.”

Webster said Flynn’s a modern NBA point guard, who has a complete game on the offensive end, plus defends at a high level.

The 22-year-old Flynn played two seasons at Washington State before transferring to SDSU. He averaged a team-high 17.6 points on 44 per cent shooting and 37.3 per cent shooting from three-point range, plus 5.1 assists through 32 games for the Aztecs.

Flynn, wearing a charcoal suit for the virtual draft, celebrated the night at his hometown in Tacoma, Wash., sharing a huge sectional couch with his parents and six older siblings.

Webster said it’s too soon to compare the newcomer to Lowry and VanVleet.

“Those guys are incredibly accomplished. I think as you guys will meet Malachi, he’s a serious kid. He’s professional. He’s about the hard work. He’s about winning,” Webster said. “So I think those will be the natural comparisons.”

The Raptors took Nevada guard Jalen Harris with the 59th pick. The 22-year-old Texan was a late bloomer after breaking his back in high school. He was excellent at Nevada last season, however, averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals.

This year’s draft was held virtually due to the pandemic and, originally scheduled for June, ended the longest pre-draft period in history. Because of the Canadian government’s border restrictions, the Raptors had to do much of their research online.

“It was tough,” Webster said of how Wednesday night unfolded. “Every pick would come in, and there would be some gasps and a little bit of disbelief. But you know, all along, Malachi was up there. And that’s who we wanted.”

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CBC | Sports News

As parts of Canada return to lockdown, experts say rapid testing offers a way forward

With some regions now in the grips of a second pandemic shutdown, some scientists are saying the deployment of rapid tests is the best way to support sectors of the economy that have been crushed by public health measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Between March and September, only a single rapid, point-of-care test had been approved by Canadian regulators, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorizations to many more.

Following pressure from public health experts and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Health Canada has since approved four more rapid testing devices. Millions of tests have been ordered by the federal government for use in walk-in clinics and doctors’ offices.

But with a vaccine still months away, some scientists say rapid testing devices need to be used outside of health care settings at places many people are now reluctant to visit — airports, hotels, restaurants, casinos, cinemas and performing arts centres — and at essential workplaces like warehouses and food processing plants.

Dr. Steven Newmaster is a professor at the University of Guelph and an expert in DNA identification systems. He has been advising the Canadian company Songbird, which secured authorization from Health Canada to sell the Hyris bCube rapid molecular testing device late last month.

The bCube uses the “gold standard” in COVID-19 testing, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process, to determine whether a person has the virus.

A patient is given either a nasal or oral pharyngeal swab, the sample is plugged into the cube-shaped testing box and then the result is sent to a cloud-based system where users can check results.

But unlike the lab-based PCR tests, which are widely used in Canada right now, the bCube is portable and can deliver definitive results within 90 minutes. The test is 95 per cent accurate, based on clinical trial data supplied to Health Canada.

WATCH: How accurate are rapid COVID-19 tests?

Canada has approved and purchased two different kinds of rapid COVID-19 tests. While they may not be as accurate as the tests that are currently in use, experts say they can play an important role in stopping the spread of the virus. 8:33

Newmaster said widespread rapid testing is a viable alternative to more lockdowns since the tests can easily identify infected people, allowing them to be isolated quickly to prevent further spread.

“I think rapid testing is incredibly important. It’s a game-changer. It fills a gap in society to get us back to work, to get us back travelling, to get us back to school,” he told CBC News.

“Point-of-care, rapid testing is one way to be able to deal with spread, monitor the spread and alleviate a lot of stress because people can move about and know where places are safe. We need this infrastructure in place.”

Newmaster said shutdowns are a blunt instrument that have wreaked havoc on our economy — millions are still out of work, despite rosier jobs numbers posted last Friday — and eight months into this pandemic, Canada needs to be much more targeted in its approach.

“I come from a group of molecular biologists that want to democratize genetics. We’re bringing it to society and industry — small types of instruments that you can hold in your hand,” he said.

“We need to put these tests out into society. It’s cheap and fast and allows us to reduce the risk.”

Some U.S. companies, like Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts, have been aggressively pursuing rapid testing options to convince guests to come back.

People walk along a pedestrian bridge near the Wynn Las Vegas hotel-casino. Wynn Resorts said Thursday that it has recorded 548 positive tests for COVID-19 among its 12,000 employees since May, and three workers have died. (John Locher/AP Photo)

With the Vegas strip seeing massive declines in visitors, the casino company is building its own on-site PCR test processing centre so that it can test thousands of employees and casino patrons each day — a program designed to make the property a COVID-free safe-zone.

That sort of approach could help the ailing tourism industry here in Canada, which employed more than 1.7 million people before the pandemic.

Newmaster said such mass testing could also be the solution to the 14-day quarantines imposed on returning travellers — a directive that has all but ended international business travel, devastating the airline industry.

“It’s quite silly, really. If I can test myself and I don’t have the virus, I’m healthy, I feel great, why do I have quarantine for two weeks? I’m no threat to anyone,” he said.

Airlines eye rapid tests

Air Canada has procured 25,000 rapid tests so that it can begin testing its employees — and it could buy many more to put passengers at ease.

“We believe testing will be key to protecting employees and customers until such time as a COVID-19 vaccine is available,” said Dr. Jim Chung, Air Canada’s chief medical officer.

“Rapid testing is a means to enable governments to relax current blanket travel restrictions and quarantines in a measured way while still safeguarding the health and safety of the public.”

While some critics maintain the COVID-19 outbreak at the White House has given rapid testing a bad name — the White House uses the ID NOW test from Abbott Laboratories — Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, said he’s drawn a different conclusion about the usefulness of these tests after the executive branch infections.

“The White House managed to go from March all the way to October without having any cases that really spread widely — despite their complete failure to wear masks or social distance — and I attribute that largely to their rigorous testing protocol,” he said in an interview.

Without testing staff and visitors, the largely mask-free White House would have been a “super-spreader” much earlier in this pandemic, he said.

President Donald Trump opens a box containing a 5-minute test for COVID-19 from Abbott Laboratories as Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, March 30, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

“The fact that they’ve gone so long without major outbreaks tells us that frequent testing can be very powerful in reducing risk but it doesn’t get it anywhere close to zero, so we have to maintain all other public health practices,” he said.

“If all you’re doing is testing, you’re essentially playing a game of roulette. Eventually, your odds are going to run out.”

Mina said he expects rapid tests will be widely available in the U.S. by spring 2021, which could be a much needed shot in the arm for industries where social distancing just isn’t feasible.

“They will become ubiquitous. Many, many people will have access to them,” he said. “You brush your teeth and then you take a test.

“They can also be used as a barrier to entry. If someone tests positive, they can’t go to a restaurant or a school. If they’re negative, they can, but they still take all the same public health precautions.”

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CBC | Health News

Canadiens qualify forward Max Domi, 4 fellow restricted free agents

The Montreal Canadiens on Saturday submitted qualifying offers to five restricted free agents, including forward Max Domi.

Domi, 25, scored 17 goals and 44 points in 71 games this season. He added three assists in 10 post-season games this summer.

NHL teams have until Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. ET to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents, which can be signed on Day 1 of free agency two days later at 12 p.m.

The Canadiens have also sent offers to forward Charles Hudon and defencemen Noah Juulsen, Xavier Ouellet and Victor Mete.

Mete, 22, scored four goals and added 11 points in 51 games this past year. Hudon, 26, had one goal and one assist in 15 games with the Canadiens this season.

Ouellet had two assists through 12 games. Juulsen played 13 games with the Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate in Laval, Que.

The Canadiens did not give offers to forwards Aaron Luchuk, Andrew Sturtz and Antoine Waked.

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CBC | Sports News

NHL players agree to move forward with 24-team playoff format

The NHL and its players are going to keep talking.

The NHL Players’ Association announced late Friday its executive board has authorized “further negotiations” on a 24-team playoff format as the league bids to resume the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup.

The executive board, which held a vote with its 31 player representatives, added in its statement “several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”

The league, which was forced to pause its season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the union have been working together on the NHL/NHLPA’s Return To Play Committee.

Apart from continuing discussions on the 24-team format, plenty of other hurdles remain before the games will be allowed to resume, including receiving the go-ahead from government and health officials, timing, locations, testing procedures and ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

Should the NHL return sometime this summer, it’s almost certain teams will be clustered in hub cities across North America, with games being held in empty arenas. Locations mentioned as potential sites include Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Las Vegas.

The 24-team playoff format would see 12 clubs from both the Eastern and Western Conference battle for the Cup in a tournament that could stretch deep into the fall or early winter. The league has said it wants to ensure a full 82-game schedule in 2020-21.

WATCH | What would hockey in empty arenas look like?:

If (and when) hockey comes back, we know that fans will not be there. Rob Pizzo looks at what teams this may hurt the most. 2:24

The NHL playoffs usually involve eight teams from each conference, with the winner having to navigate four best-of-seven series following a full schedule. The 2019-20 campaign was halted with 189 games left on the slate, while clubs had played anywhere from 68 to 71 contests.

Under the 24-team plan, and if the league can navigate the other obstacles in its way, the top-4 in each conference would play a round-robin tournament to determine seedings, while the other eight would tangle in four separate best-of-five series.

Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia would compete for the No. 1 slot in the East, while defending Cup champions St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas would do the same in the West.

The East’s best-of-five series would see Pittsburgh versus Montreal, Carolina versus the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders versus Florida, and Toronto versus Columbus. Montreal, the 12th seed, sat with a paltry 71 points from 71 games — including just 19 regulation wins — when the season was paused amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In the West, the best-of-five matchups would include Edmonton versus Chicago, Nashville versus Arizona, Vancouver versus Minnesota, and Calgary versus Winnipeg.

The four winners of the best-of-five matchups in each conference would then be pitted against the top-4 seeds.

Draft format still to be settled

The seven teams on the outside looking in would be Buffalo and New Jersey — which both sat just 0.007 percentage points back of Montreal — Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Ottawa and Detroit. Buffalo would be guaranteed to miss the playoffs for a league-high ninth straight season, while all three California team would fail to make the cut in the same year for the first time since 1995-96.

According to the website sportsclubstats.com, Montreal, which sat 10 points back of the East’s second wild-card spot on March 12, had a zero per cent chance of making the usual 16-team playoff field at the time of the pause. In the West, Chicago’s chances sat at 2.6 per cent, while Arizona was at 16.6 per cent.

Toronto defenceman Tyson Barrie conceded this week that any format would have its flaws.

“In a time like this how can anything be super traditional?” he said. “The integrity will be there because it’s still going to be the best players in the world playing against each other for the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

“It will certainly be weird without fans or whatever the scenario unfolds to be, but I think we all have to adapt.”

Winnipeg sniper Patrik Laine said earlier Friday before the announcement that getting back on the ice is what matters.

“I just want to play, and I can do whatever format they decide,” he said. “It’s still hockey, but I don’t mind the format. It’s not an issue for me.”

Apart from the remaining steps involved in getting back on the ice, the NHL still needs to settle on a draft format, while the seven clubs that would be outside the 24-team bracket could be sidelined for eight, nine or even 10 months, depending by the time the 2020-21 campaign begins.

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CBC | Sports News

Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic apologizes after ‘inappropriate and offensive’ comments go public

Washington Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic is apologizing after a private group chat that included misogynistic comments was leaked on Wednesday.

Screenshots from the chat featuring Leipsic, who is from Winnipeg, were published on the Instagram account @angelszeee2020. That account has since deleted them, but they continue to circulate on social media.

In a statement on Twitter, Leipsic said his friend’s account was hacked and acknowledged he was part of those conversations.

“I fully recognize how inappropriate and offensive these comments are and sincerely apologize to everyone for my actions. I am committed to learning from this and becoming a better person by taking time to determine how to move forward in an accountable, meaningful way. I am truly sorry,” Leipsic said.

‘Unacceptable and offensive’

In a statement to CBC Sports, the Capitals said they were investigating the situation.

“We are aware of the unacceptable and offensive comments made by Brendan Leipsic in a private conversation on social media. We will handle this matter internally,” the statement read.

Jack Rodewald, a 26-year-old also from Winnipeg, who has played 10 games with Ottawa Senators since 2018, was also involved in the group chat.

The NHL later released a statement saying it would address the “inexcusable conduct moving forward.

“The National Hockey League strongly condemns the misogynistic and reprehensible remarks made by players Brendan Leipsic and Jack Rodewald…. There is no place in our league for such statements, attitudes and behaviour, no matter the forum,” the statement read.

Leipsic, 25, has played parts of four seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Capitals.

Mocks women, teammates

In one instance of messaging in the group chat, Leipsic posted a photo of a former teammate’s wife and wrote “look how fat” she “is lol.”

Leipsic also refers to women as pigs and makes light of other women’s weights in various other messages.

He also insults other NHL players.

In one, he reposted a picture of Canucks forward Jake Virtanen on vacation with friends, calling it “easily the worst crew in the world.”

He also posted a picture of Capitals teammates with the comment “f–k they’re losers.”

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Oilers forward Colby Cave dies after suffering brain bleed

Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave has died after suffering a brain bleed earlier this week.

The 25-year-old native of Battleford, Sask., had been in a medically induced coma in a Toronto hospital.

The Oilers confirmed Cave’s death.

“I (Emily, Cave’s wife) and both our families are in shock but know our Colby was loved dearly by us, his family and friends, the entire hockey community, and many more. We thank everyone for their prayers during this difficult time,” the statement said.

He had been in a coma since Tuesday at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, after being airlifted from a hospital in Barrie, Ont., on Monday.

Cave underwent emergency surgery on Tuesday with doctors removing a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

On Wednesday, Emily Cave posted an emotional update about her husband’s situation.

“We need a miracle,” she wrote on Instagram. “Colby’s parents and myself got to see him through a window and talk to him with a walkie-talkie last night. We are no longer allowed to be in the hospital because COVID-19 rules. We have no idea when we will be allowed to see him again.

“The nurse has tied his wedding band to his ankle. I am dreaming of being able to touch you, hear your voice, squeeze your hand (three times) and kiss you again. I love you so much, and my heart is shattered into a million pieces without my best friend.”

Cave’s agent, Jason Davidson, said Tuesday that the situation didn’t appear to be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cave scored once in 11 appearances with Edmonton this season. He had 11 goals and 23 points in 44 games with the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors this season.

The Oilers posted Cave’s goal — an impressive rush down the right wing that saw him beat a Pittsburgh defender and stuff the puck past Penguins netminder Matt Murray — on Twitter earlier this week.

“Colby is an awesome person who scored an awesome goal for us this season,” the team said.

Cave played five seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos, where he saw time as captain, before joining the Boston Bruins’ organization for the 2014-15 season after going undrafted. The Oilers claimed Cave off waivers on Jan. 15, 2019.

Cave had four goals and five assists over 67 NHL games with Boston and Edmonton.

The six-foot-one, 200-pound Cave made his NHL debut with Boston on Dec. 21, 2017 after getting called up from Providence of the AHL. He played three games with Boston that season.

Cave played 15 more games with Boston in 2018 before the Oilers claimed him on waivers.

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CBC | Sports News

Toronto FC teenage forward Jayden Nelson continues to turn heads with Canada

It’s been a dizzying ride of late for Jayden Nelson.

Last year, the young forward from Brampton, Ont., made his pro debut with Toronto FC 2, turned 17, represented Canada at the FIFA U-17 World Cup and was named Canadian Youth International Player of the Year. He kicked off 2020 by making his senior debut Jan. 7 and scoring his first goal three days later in a pair of 4-1 wins over No. 162 Barbados.

Nelson and 73rd-ranked Canada faced No. 39 Iceland in an international friendly Wednesday at Irvine, Calif.

The Canadian men, who currently stand seventh behind No. 69 El Salvador in CONCACAF, are looking to pick up FIFA ranking points in their bid to crack the top six in the region by the close of the June international window.

The top six in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, will advance to the Hex — the most direct route of World Cup qualifying out of the region.

Nelson acknowledges he has felt nerves during his rapid rise — a lot has happened since he attended his first Canadian youth camp in 2016. But his confidence has grown in meeting the challenges along the way.

“To be honest, everything is moving really fast right now,” he said in an interview from California. “But I take it step by step and just remain humble and work hard every day.”

Nelson, who turned 17 on Sept. 26, replaced Jay Chapman in the 67th minute in the Jan. 7 game to become the third-youngest player to debut for Canada (behind Domenic Mobilio and Alphonso Davies).

Three days later, Nelson came off the bench in the 59th minute and opened his senior account in the 86th minute after an errant clearance by the Barbados goalkeeper gave the teenager an open net to shot at from just outside the penalty box.

“First goal, second cap. I was just honoured to score for Canada,” he said.

WATCH | Brym, Didic and Nelson score first international goals in victory:

Jayden Nelson Amer Didic and Charles-Andreas Brym scored their first international goals as Canada beat Barbados 4-1 in an international soccer friendly. 1:01

It was a far cry from the emotions he felt stepping on the Canada training field for the first time in a group that included Samuel Piette and Manjrekar James.

“I was nervous because growing up I’d seen them playing on the national team,” Nelson said. “It was kind of a surreal feeling — playing with them on the same pitch. But after I got into it, they welcomed me with open arms.”

Canada coach John Herdman continues to live up to his mantra when choosing talent — if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

‘That’s my trademark’

Nelson, who joined the Toronto FC academy in 2017, made his pro debut for Toronto FC 2 on April 6 against Orlando City B and appeared in 14 games last season. He has yet to appear for the first team although he has trained with them and will likely do so again when pre-season starts next week.

While Jacen Russell-Rowe, a fellow highly touted TFC academy prospect, recently committed to the University of Maryland, Nelson plans to remain at TFC and go the pro route.

Nelson played at the 2017 CONCACAF Boys’ Under-15 Championship and then helped Canada qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil later that year with five goals in six games at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.

He started all three games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup against Brazil, Angola and New Zealand and was named man of the match against New Zealand.

“I learned a lot from that tournament. A lot of learning experiences within each game,” he said.

“It was a great experience overall,” he added. “Tournaments like that really help players grow into the future, to be able to go to camps like these and perform well.”
With his trademark hair, Nelson has been dubbed by some as the Canadian Valderrama after former Colombia playmaker Carlos Valderrama. ( Lucas Kschischang/Canadian Press )

His preferred position is left wing, although he likes to roam inside. Nelson is a shifty player with great vision, happy to take players on and dip into his bag of tricks when needed.

On and off the pitch, Nelson is easy to spot with a shock of hair usually bursting out of a headband and sometimes sporting colour. Some have dubbed him the Canadian Valderrama after former Colombia playmaker Carlos Valderrama.

“I’ve always had it. That’s my trademark,” Nelson said of his wild hair.

Is it easy to look after, he was asked?

“No. But it’s worth having, it’s worth going through all the hard work,” he replied with a chuckle.

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CBC | Soccer News

Toronto FC looks to sign former New England forward Juan Agudelo in MLS re-entry draft

Toronto FC selected former New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo in Stage 2 of the MLS re-entry draft on Tuesday.

But whether the U.S. international ever pulls on a Toronto jersey remains to be seen.

At $ 605,000 US last season, Agudelo was the fourth-highest paid member of the Revs, who declined the option on his contract last month. In acquiring his rights, Toronto will be able to renegotiate his deal but may not be able to meet Agudelo’s demands.

Toronto has stated a desire to add to its attack, which currently focuses around star striker Jozy Altidore and Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo.

Most observers thought the extra offence would come in the form of a new designated player with captain Michael Bradley, whose $ 39-million, six-year contract is expiring, agreeing to a lesser contract using targeted allocation money — freeing up a third DP spot.

Agudelo adds a twist to the mix.

WATCH | Toronto FC come up short in MLS Cup final against Seattle: 

Seattle scored three unanswered goals in the second half to defeat Toronto 3-1 in the MLS Cup final on Sunday. 1:42

The 27-year-old, who has won 28 caps with three goals for the U.S., made headlines as a teenager but is coming off an unspectacular season that saw him play in a variety of positions for New England.

He had three goals and two assists in 28 appearances for the Revs in 2019. Over his career, he has 46 goals and 22 assists in 215 regular-season appearances.

Signed as a homegrown player by the New York Red Bulls in 2010, Agudelo went to Chivas USA in 2012 and New England in 2013.

Agudelo scored on his national team debut at 17 in a 1-1 over South Africa in the final of the 2010 Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town. Six days shy of his 18th birthday, he became the youngest player in U.S. men’s national team history to score.

In March 2011, he scored in his second senior game — coming off the bench to record the tying goal in a 1-1 tie with Argentina in East Rutherford, N.J.

Agudelo signed a deal with England’s Stoke City in August 2013 but did not receive a work permit. He spent time with FC Utrecht in the Netherlands before returning to New England.

The only other player taken Tuesday was former Seattle defender Saad Abdul-Salaam, selected by FC Cincinnati.

Fifty-two players were available in the draft, including former Toronto FC goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell and Vancouver’s Victor (PC) Giro, Brett Levis and Scott Sutter.

Those players are now available to all teams on a first-come, first-served basis.

In other league news Tuesday, MLS proved it had a long memory by fining Toronto striker Jozy Altidore for unflattering post-game comments about the MLS Cup final officiating Nov. 10.

Altidore and other members of Toronto FC were irate that a foul was not called against the Sounders in the buildup to the opening goal of the final, won 3-1 by Seattle.

“There’s a foul on Osorio before but we know that, we know the standard of MLS refereeing is next to horrible,” Altidore told reporters after the match. “So you can’t count on them bailing you out on anything.”

The league also fined Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos for comments regarding the league in a interview published Nov. 4.

San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda was also fined for post-game comments on the officiating during San Jose’s match against Atlanta United on Sept. 21.

The league did not detail the size of the fines.

MLS, meanwhile, has opted to have Inter Miami CF join the Eastern Conference while fellow expansion side Nashville SC plays in the West.

The split means both conferences will have 13 clubs in 2020.

Each club will continue to play a 34-game regular season with 17 home matches and 17 away matches. Teams will play clubs within their conference home and away with the other 10 regular-season matches coming against the opposite conference.

Three more expansion teams are slated to join the league by 2022: Austin FC (2021), Sacramento Republic FC (2022) and St. Louis (2022).

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CBC | Soccer News