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Davies scores twice, Canada tops Curacao in CONCACAF Nations League play – CBC Sports



Alphonso Davies made a dramatic return to B.C. Place on Thursday night.

Playing his first game in Vancouver since October 2018, the superstar midfielder scored twice, powering the Canadian men’s soccer team to a decisive 4-0 win over Curacao to open their CONCACAF Nations League campaign.

“Coming back to the stadium for training, the memories came back to me and I was excited,” said Davies, who drew international awe as a teenager playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps. The ‘Caps transferred him to German soccer giant Bayern Munich in a $22-million US deal in July 2018.

“I played here when I was 14 till 17. So I was excited. Scoring just brought back all the memories from my last game with the Whitecaps. And I’m just grateful that I was able to score today.”

The victory followed a week that saw the Canadian players miss two training sessions and refuse to play a friendly game against Panama in Vancouver due to an ongoing contract dispute.

“That was a dominant performance, I think, from our lads,” said head coach John Herdman. “Really proud of them, given everything that’s gone on the last few days, for them to come out with that sort of intent. Yeah, really impressed.”

WATCH | Alphonso Davies leads way in return to national team:

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Steven Victoria and Lucas Cavallini also scored for the 38th-ranked Canadians, who outshot the visitors 22-5 and 9-0 in shots on target.

It was a quiet night for Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who did not have to make a single save. Eloy Room made five stops for No. 79 Curacao.

Canada continues its Nations League play on Monday when they take on No. 82 Honduras in San Pedro Sula.

The home side was dominant from start to finish on Thursday.

Davies opened the scoring in the 27th minute after being hauled down inside the penalty area by Jurien Gaari.

The 21-year-old Canadian stepped up to take the kick, composing himself with a deep breath before sending a low rolling shot into the bottom-left corner of the net. He pumped his fist and blew a kiss to the crowd before being mobbed by his teammates in celebration.

‘He’s a once in a generation player’

Thursday marked Davies’ first game back with Canada since coming down with myocarditis, a mild heart condition he contracted after a bout of COVID-19 in December.

“With Alphonso, you’ve got to respect, he’s a once in a generation player, he’s a special player,” Herdman said. “To think we went [six] games in World Cup qualifying without him, that was a big test for our team.

“It’s not just speed, it’s not power. It’s he’s a very intelligent football and a guy that, from what I’ve seen, is really committed to his craft.”

The team missed Davies a lot, Cavallini added.

“It’s good to have him back,” he said. “We were happy to see him and have him with us. Especially he brings a lot of joy to the team and for most importantly, he brings a lot of quality.”

Davies helped set up Canada’s second goal of the night with a corner late in the first half.

His ball in was stopped by Room, but the Curacao ‘keeper couldn’t hold on and Jonathan David collected the rebound. He sent a ball to Vitoria who headed it in to give Canada a 2-0 lead.

Canada’s Sam Adekugbe, right, jumps into the pile as players celebrate Steven Vitoria’s goal against Curacao during a CONCACAF Nations League soccer match in Vancouver on Thursday. (Darry Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Two shirtless protesters with “Save Old Growth” messages written on their bodies briefly affixed themselves to the Curacao goalposts midway through the second half. They were removed by security and led off the field by police.

Canada exploded out of the brief pause with another goal off a give-and-go.

Davies sent the ball to substitute Richie Laryea deep in the penalty area and Laryea quickly put it back on Davies’ foot. Davies tapped it in from the top of the six-yard box in the 74th minute for his second goal of the game.

The crowd of 17,216 rose to give Davies a standing ovation when he was replaced by Ike Ugbo in the 76th minute.

Canada sealed the score at 4-0 in the 86th minute.

Sam Adekugbe dished a pass in to Cavallini inside the six-yard box and the ball deflected off the Vancouver Whitecaps’ striker as he toppled to the turf.

Cavallini came off the bench in the 76th minute for Tajon Buchanan.

“We have to be able to keep that intensity 95 minutes of the game,” Cavallini said. “Obviously, the starters put in a hell of a shift but us finishers have to go in and finish the job. And that’s how everything panned out today.”

Thursday’s game marked the first Canada has played on home soil since clinching a World Cup berth with a win over Jamaica in Toronto on March 27. It’s the first time Canada has qualified for the tournament since 1986.

The squad was scheduled to play a friendly warm-up match against Panama in Vancouver on Sunday but the game was called off at the last minute when players refused to take the field due to heated contract talks with Canada Soccer, the sport’s national governing body.

The players issued a statement saying they want more transparency from the organization, an equitable compensation structure for both the men’s and women’s national teams, and World Cup compensation that includes 40 per cent of prize money and a “comprehensive friends and family package” for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

WATCH | Canada soccer’s problems aren’t solved yet:

Canada blanks Curacao as Davies’ brace leads the way

15 hours ago

Duration 1:12

Alphonso Davies scores twice as Canada opens their CONCACAF Nations League campaign with a 4-0 victory over Curacao.

Canada Soccer has yet to reach a new deal with the athletes, but players returned to training on Monday, and on Wednesday the organization’s interim general secretary, Earl Cochrane, said negotiations have been positive.

Thursday’s game was a way for the team to thank its fans, said defender Alistair Johnston.

“Those fans deserved it. We put them through a bit of a ringer this week, and we know how difficult that is,” he said. “We’re all soccer fans at the same time. And we know that having to cancel matches is not ideal. So getting out there and finally be able to play in front of that Vancouver crowd was something that really meant a lot to us.”

Curacao opened its CONCACAF Nations League campaign with a 2-1 win over Honduras on Monday.

The group stage of the 2022-23 tournament will serve as the qualifier for the 2023 Gold Cup. Group play will continue in March 2023 and the Nations League finals scheduled for June 2023.

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Late fumble costs Tiger-Cats in Elks win on Canada Day – TSN



HAMILTON — Tre Ford was in his happy place Friday in Hamilton.

The Edmonton Elks quarterback got a win in his first career CFL start 30 minutes down the Queen Elizabeth Highway from his hometown of Niagara Falls, Ont.

The Elks came from behind to beat the Tiger-Cats 29-25 in front of 20,233 at Tim Hortons Field.

“To come back to Hamilton and have all my family watching me get that first start and that first win has been fantastic,” Ford said.

Among Ford’s supporters were his wife, parents, sister, sister-in-law and mother-in-law, his high school football coach from A.N. Myer Secondary, his University of Waterloo head coach Chris Bertoia, eight of his former university teammates and more friends.

Ford was shaky at times as the Elks trailed by 13 points early in the second half.

But the 2021 winner of the Hec Crighton Trophy winner that goes to the most outstanding Canadian university football player threw a game-tying touchdown pass to Kenny Lawler early in the fourth quarter.

The winning play for the Elks (1-3) arrived with 1:38 remaining when defensive back Scott Hutter tackled Hamilton quarterback Dane Evans and knocked the ball loose.

Jalen Collins recovered for a 14-yard touchdown.

“I saw him tackle him and thought, ‘please punch the ball out,” Collins said. “All we needed was an opportunity to close the game out. We were fighting all night. It was ugly.”

The winless Tiger-Cats opened a season with four straight losses for the first time since 2017 when they started 0-8.

“I want to apologize to all the guys. I put both home losses on me,” Evans said. “I just have to take care of it, and we win the game.”

Evans was 20-for-31 in passing for 197 yards and a touchdown throw. He was intercepted twice.

Ford’s numbers didn’t sparkle, although he did rush for 61 yards on six carries. The 24-year-old competed 15 of 26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.

Edmonton’s defence helped out with interceptions by Sheldon Brady and Matthew Thomas, as well as the pivotal late-game recovered fumble by Collins.

“A big shout out to the defence,” Ford said. “They won us that game. They made what, three or four turnovers? They did super well.

“I have room for improvement. I’m not going to complain because we did win. But I’m going to hit the film room to see what I can critique and where I can get better.”

Hamilton went after the rookie with various blitzes in the first half.
“My legs are going to open things up for my arm,” Ford said.

Ford credited teammate and quarterback Nick Arbuckle, who started in Edmonton’s three losses this season, for advising him during the game on defensive reads.

“He’s been like that since day one, even though we’re competitors for the position,” Ford said.

He admitted to early jitters as Hamilton led 16-6 after the first quarter and 19-9 at halftime.

“I always get nervous for the first play of every game,” Ford said. “I think it’s a good thing because it means I care and that I want to win.”

Evans hit Steven Dunbar for a 21-yard strike, and Lawrence Woods returned a kickoff of 72 yards for Hamilton’s first-half touchdowns.

Edmonton’s Kai Locksley scored on a one-yard plunge.

Elks kicker Sergio Castillo made two of his three field-goal attempts, while Hamilton counterpart Michael Domagala nailed his three and gave the Ticats at lead with a 33-yarder with 3:10 remaining in the game

“We’re not good enough right now,” Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer said. “We’re not executing at the level which needs to happen. We’re just not making those plays we need to make.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2022.

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Raptors sign forward Otto Porter Jr. to 2-year deal: reports –



The Toronto Raptors have signed forward Otto Porter Jr., who was a key member of the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship team.

The two-year deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports, and confirmed to The Canadian Press by a source close to negotiations.

The 29-year-old Porter averaged 8.2 points per game this past season. He’s a tenacious defender and solid long-range shooter, with a career average of 39.8 per cent from behind the arc.

Porter was selected third overall by Washington in the 2013 draft, and played the first six seasons of his career there before being traded to Chicago in 2019. Orlando then acquired him at the 2021 trade deadline, and he signed with the Warriors in the 2021 off-season.

The Raptors have been busy since free agency opened at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, signing Canadian forward Chris Boucher to a three-year deal, and signing veteran forward Thaddeus Young to a multi-year contract extension.

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Blue Jays’ bats assist bullpen, carry the day in comfortable win over Rays –



TORONTO – The Blue Jays may have discovered the solution to their bullpen issues: score nine runs a game.

Sustainable? Maybe not, but the Blue Jays are hitting at their best right now, with an MLB-leading 170 runs scored in June to go along with 50 home runs last month. Wearing their red jerseys in front of a sellout Canada Day crowd of 44,445 Friday, some of that offensive output carried into July with a festive 9-2 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

“It was so special,” said starter Jose Berrios. “I’ve heard a lot about this day, but being here and pitching today was very emotional. I know a lot of Canadians enjoy it and want to be at the ballpark on a day like today.”

“It was amazing, to say the least,” added Cavan Biggio, who reached base four times Friday. “In 2020 and 2021 we definitely missed this place. Now we’re finally back and we’re experiencing that energy that we’ve all been looking forward to on a nightly basis.”

A Lourdes Gurriel Jr. home run put the finishing touch on this one, but the Blue Jays also hit six doubles, five of which came off Rays starter Corey Kluber in a five-run third inning. A three-run sixth created necessary breathing room for the Blue Jays, who were able to rest most of their high-leverage relievers on a day Berrios was not at his sharpest.

With three hits, including his fifth home run of the season, Gurriel Jr. helped drive the Blue Jays’ offence. But don’t overlook Biggio, who walked twice while also hitting two doubles on a day his season on-base percentage climbed to .385.

“Today was great,” Biggio said. “Just hit after hit. A good pitcher, a good experienced guy on the mound, but we had a plan and we were able to execute it.”

Even before a pitch was thrown, Blue Jays fans had plenty to cheer about Friday. The recently retired Russell Martin was honoured with a memorable video narrated by former teammate Jose Bautista and personal messages from the likes of former Jays manager John Gibbons and fellow Canadian Joey Votto.

As the video tributes played in centre field, most Blue Jays players watched from the dugout. The fans also responded warmly to Martin, who later threw out the ceremonial first pitch to another athletic catcher who wears No. 55: Gabriel Moreno.

“Unbelievable career,” Biggio said of Martin. “What stands out to me the most is he played 14 years in the majors and made the playoffs 10 times. That’s what this game’s all about: it’s about winning.”

As for Berrios, he was effective enough, allowing two runs on eight hits over the course of five innings. He worked in and out of trouble, though, stranding nine runners, including both of the batters he walked.

While his fastball averaged 93.6 m.p.h., the Rays weren’t often fooled by the right-hander, who generated eight swinging strikes on 98 total pitches. Still, the Blue Jays will take that from Berrios, especially considering he had allowed 14 earned runs over the course of his previous two starts.

“He’s better than what he did today,” Montoyo said. “He was missing by a little bit and that made him throw even more pitches and work harder …  at the end of the day, he did the job.”

But realistically, the Blue Jays would have been in a tough spot without so much help from their offence. Adam Cimber was presumed unavailable after pitching three days in a row, and David Phelps was likely off limits given that he’d just pitched in four of five. This was not an ideal day for the Blue Jays to try preserving a one- or two-run lead.

Thanks to their lineup, they didn’t have to. With the exception of one inning from Trent Thornton, the Blue Jays were able to avoid their high-leverage relievers, putting them in a relatively strong position entering Saturday’s double-header. 

“If our pitching gives us a chance, our offence is going to go and that’s exactly what happened,” Montoyo said. “We should be better tomorrow because of that.”

Sergio Romo made his Blue Jays debut with a clean inning seventh inning that featured two strikeouts and Max Castillo pitched the final two innings without incident as Toronto improved to 44-33 on the season while increasing their lead over the Rays to 3.5 games.

All told, this was pretty close to how the Blue Jays would have drawn it up. And end of the day, they’re in Toronto again, playing at home on Canada Day for the first time since 2019. In case any doubt remained as to the day’s significance, an impromptu rendition of O Canada broke out in the stands as the Blue Jays closed out the win. Soon after the fans finished singing, the players completed their 9-2 win.

“The energy and pride that this country embodies was definitely on full display,” Biggio said.

Or, as Montoyo put it: “You could tell the happiness about it.”

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