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How Canada can build on World Cup run ahead of 2026 cycle

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar – The Canadian men’s national team made history, just not enough of it.

As breathtaking as the team’s performances were in various stages, Canada still suffered defeat in all three games. It’s difficult to draw sweeping conclusions based on small sample sizes in tournament settings, let alone in a nation’s first men’s World Cup in 36 years.

The underlying numbers highlight Canada’s misfortune – it had the best expected goal (xG) difference in Group F, per FBRef.com. Therein lies the fun of a three-game group stage in a high-variance sport.

There were still plenty of valuable lessons for Canada despite the losses, though, and Les Rouges can apply those “learnings” – as coach John Herdman refers to them – when the country co-hosts the 2026 World Cup.

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Canada will be expected to show significant progression in three-and-a-half years. In order for that to occur, there are a few factors to consider.

Here is how Canada can build on this World Cup run to bounce back in 2026:

HAVE MORE “TIER 1” PLAYERS

Back in 2019, Herdman received backlash for referring to his defence as “Tier 3” in a live television interview.

“If you put (the squad) on paper, it’s a Tier 3 back four, and a Tier 1 front four in Concacaf,” Herdman said at the time. “I’ve got a back four that doesn’t get regular minutes, that are young and haven’t really made their mark on the international, or even national, domestic stage.”

In hindsight, those weren’t outlandish comments. Canada’s defence was among the best in World Cup qualifying. But it also overachieved its xG conceded by five goals, mainly due to stellar goalkeeping from Milan Borjan.

Once Canada faced top opposition (more on that later), it was punished for every little mistake, from Borjan’s blunders or the defence’s aerial weaknesses against Morocco to not tracking runners in the 4-1 defeat to Croatia.

Croatia has 19 “Tier 1” players who are either playing in Europe’s top-five leagues or for big Portuguese, Dutch or Belgian clubs that are regular participants in the UEFA Champions League. Belgium has 21. Morocco, the Group F winners, has 14.

Canada has six. Only seven nations have fewer at this World Cup and only one – Australia – advanced to the round of 16.

“That’s one of the big questions that we’ve got to keep answering as a country,” Herdman said, when asked if the national team needs more top-tier players. “Now, our players have been seen.

“We know that people around the world are looking at this country saying, ‘Wow, they’ve got some good, young, talented players.'”

When Morocco qualified for the 2018 World Cup, it was its first appearance at the tournament since 1998. The North Africans were placed in Pot 4 and drew Spain, Portugal and Iran. They put up a good fight but ultimately finished bottom of Group B.

Morocco had eight Tier 1 players at that time, yet it paled in comparison to Spain and Portugal.

But four years later, Morocco has made steady progress in the African Cup of Nations, recruited more dual nationals and boast a squad with 14 Tier 1 players at this tournament. It topped the group over Croatia and Belgium to set up its first knockout-stage match in 36 years.

Canada’s strength is its diversity. There are countless dual nationals who are in some of Europe’s biggest academies who may want to represent Canada. The Canadian Premier League and Major League Soccer offer two new pathways that didn’t exist three years ago (in the CPL’s case).

Alistair Johnston is about to join Scottish giants Celtic, where the pressure to perform is immense. He’ll play in the Champions League. Ismael Kone will likely join him in Europe with several clubs reportedly pursuing the 20-year-old midfielder.

Playing in those settings will help the players prepare for high-pressure environments in the future.

FACE MARQUEE OPPONENTS

Canada was achieving firsts before the World Cup. The Uruguay friendly in September was the first South American opponent for the men’s team in eight years.

The Canadians hadn’t even squared off with a non-Concacaf opponent in four years – Iceland’s B team in January 2020 aside – until meeting Qatar a few days before the Uruguay match.

Such is life in Concacaf.

Belgium was the first time Canada faced a top-10 team in the FIFA rankings in more than a decade. Nations League makes it tougher to arrange friendlies with those countries, but this is where reaching the World Cup unlocks new possibilities.

“Now teams will want to play Canada and teams will invite Canada,” Herdman stated.

The star power of Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, coupled by Canada’s eye-catching performances will surely lead to more.

Friendlies, or an invite to the 2024 Copa América to square off with South America’s elite, would be a good start.

It’ll also behoove Herdman. He surely learned a lot about himself as a coach, be it tactically or otherwise, by facing other top-level coaches and national teams.

IMPROVE YOUTH PROGRAMS

This year’s crop of under-20 players was full of potential. Unfortunately, they failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics by bowing out of the Concacaf U-20 Championship in the round of 16 to Guatemala.

Optimism was high after a pair of April friendlies against Costa Rica’s U-20s. Then, out of nowhere, the players looked shackled.

After the tournament, multiple sources told Sportsnet that there was a sudden shift in tactical philosophy from the April camp to the Concacaf U-20s, which likely contributed to the team’s disjointed play.

Whatever the case, the youth teams can’t underperform. The federation has missed out on several dual nationals because of a lack of camps, and for the first time in years, the U-20s gathered before the Concacaf Championship. Dual nationals were thrilled to represent Canada and spurned call-ups from other top nations in order to do so.

But whether it’s coaching or overall funding – and there’s more than $10.5 million on the way, minus the players’ cut – the youth programs need more focus.

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Understanding the connection between sporting events and online gambling today

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online gambling

Sporting events and online gambling have become increasingly more connected over the years, with people now having the opportunity to bet on their favorite teams or athletes from the comfort of their homes. Technology advancements have further strengthened the connection between sporting events and online gambling. Also, the rise of mobile devices and apps makes placing bets in a variety of casinos at Casinojungle Canada or any other listed online casinos more accessible than ever before.

The link between sports betting and gaming can be seen in many different aspects. For starters, there are now countless bookmakers around the world offering a wide range of betting options for almost any kind of sport imaginable. From football to basketball to ice hockey, these bookmakers give customers an easy way to place wagers on different outcomes. In addition, there are also numerous sites explicitly dedicated to sports betting that offer multiple betting options for each game or event.

How the popularity of sports is fueling the rise of online gambling

More and more people nowadays are watching and participating in sports, causing an increased demand for betting opportunities. This has led to the emergence of numerous online gambling sites that offer a wide range of betting options. These sites allow users to place bets on various sporting events. The convenience offered by these sites makes them very attractive to bettors who want to make quick money without leaving their homes. Additionally, many online gambling sites offer bonuses and promotions. This further encourages people to participate in online gambling activities. As a result, the popularity of sports is fueling the rise of online gambling worldwide.

How has online casino technology evolved over time to accommodate the increase in sports fans?

Significant changes have been witnessed regarding technological advances in the sports betting scene. One of the most significant changes is the introduction of live streaming services, which allow players to watch and bet on their favorite sports games in real-time. Additionally, online casinos have also implemented virtual reality (VR) technology into their platforms, allowing players to experience a more immersive gaming experience. VR technology will enable players to feel like they are actually inside a stadium or arena watching a game unfold.

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Furthermore, many online casinos now offer mobile apps that allow users to access their accounts from anywhere at any time. These apps provide users with an easy way to place bets on their favorite teams and games while on the go. Finally, online casinos have also improved their security measures over time by implementing advanced encryption technologies that protect user data from hackers and other malicious actors.

Analyzing the impact of media coverage on sports gambling trends

Media outlets have the power to shape public opinion on sports gambling, and they can influence how people view it. Media outlets have also been very influential with the increased popularity of sports gambling. By analyzing the impact of media coverage on sports gambling trends, we can gain insight into how different types of media content affect public perception. Additionally, certain types of media content may be more effective than others at influencing public opinion on sports gambling. For instance, research suggests that television news programs are more likely to affect viewers’ attitudes toward sports betting than newspaper articles or online blogs. By understanding how different types of media content affect public opinion on sports gambling trends, we can better understand how media shapes our views and behaviors related to this activity.

The connection between sporting events and online gambling is a complex one that will likely continue to evolve as technology advances. It is important for bettors to understand the risks associated with online sports betting and take steps to ensure safe practices when engaging in this activity.

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Jays Sign Chad Green

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Here I thought the Jays were done signing people this winter, but they have picked up right-handed reliever Chad Green. He’s signed a two-year $8.5 million contract, with options for two more years.

Or it may be more complicated than that:

Green had Tommy John surgery back in May of last year. Apparently, he has already passed his physical.

The options give the Jays some fallback in case he doesn’t come back from TJ being the same pitcher. But if he returns the same pitcher, we have him for the next four seasons.

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Green turns 32 in May. He’s been a Yankee for seven seasons. He has a 3.17 in 272 games. In 2021 he had a 3.12 ER in 67 games and a 31.4% strikeout rate.

Welcome to the Jays, Chad.

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Broncos trade for former Saints HC Payton

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos have agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Saints that will make Sean Payton their head coach, a person with knowledge of the accord said Tuesday.

The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams hadn’t announced the agreement, said the Broncos would send their first-round pick, No. 29 overall, in this year’s draft to the Saints along with a future second-rounder. Denver also will receive a third-round pick in the trade.

Payton remained under contract with New Orleans after stepping down from the Saints last year and working in broadcasting this season.

Payton, 59, went 152-89 in 15 seasons with the Saints and 9-8 in the playoffs. He led New Orleans to a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl following the 2009 season. He stepped away last year when quarterback Drew Brees retired.

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The Broncos, who went 5-12 in 2022 and extended their playoff drought to seven years, fired rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett on Dec. 26 after he went 4-11. Interim coach Jerry Rosburg went 1-1.

Payton’s top task will be to get quarterback Russell Wilson back to his winning ways after the 11-year pro had his worst statistical season following his blockbuster trade from Seattle for four premium draft picks and three players.

The Seahawks reached the playoffs under QB Geno Smith in their first year without Wilson, and now they own the Broncos’ No. 5 overall selection in the draft in April.

The Broncos got back into the first round by trading pass rusher Bradley Chubb at midseason to the Miami Dolphins, who sent the Broncos a first-rounder originally owned by the San Francisco 49ers.

That selection, the 29th overall pick, now belongs to the Saints.

Payton was the headliner during this year’s cycle of head coach openings. Just five teams were searching for coaches: the Broncos, Texans, Panthers, Colts and Cardinals.

The Broncos conducted an extensive search, beginning with a virtual visit with Jim Harbaugh, who decided to stay at the University of Michigan. Also considered were Dan Quinn, DeMeco Ryans, Raheem Morris, Ejiro Evero, Jim Caldwell and David Shaw. The Texans hired Ryans on Tuesday.

NFL rules didn’t allow the Broncos to speak with Payton until Jan. 17, more than three weeks after they’d fired Hackett.

Team owner and CEO Greg Penner led the search with assistance from limited partner Condoleezza Rice and general manager George Paton.

Paton led last year’s search and landed on Hackett, one of several decisions that backfired on him in 2022 as Hackett became just the fifth head coach in NFL history not to survive his first season.

Others were the $70 million contract he gave to free agent Randy Gregory, who played in six games and recorded a pair of sacks, and the $245 million contract extension he gave to Wilson before the opener.

Wilson threw a career-low 16 touchdown passes and was sacked a league-leading and career-high 55 times in 15 games for Denver. He has vowed to do everything he can to bounce back in 2023.

Wilson played well for two weeks under Rosburg, giving the team hope that his poor performances last season were an aberration and that maybe his skill set was just a bad fit in Hackett’s offense.

Penner, his wife, Carrie Walton-Penner, and her father, Rob Walton, purchased the Broncos last summer for $4.65 billion, a global record for a professional sports franchise. But the team turned out to be more of a fixer-upper than they expected.

“When we purchased this great franchise in August, this is not the season we were expecting,” Penner said after firing Hackett. “I want to personally apologize to our fans and all of Broncos country. We know that we need to be better and we will.”

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