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Osorio, Canada draw Mexico at Azteca for important point in WC qualifying – TSN



MEXICO CITY — Four games into the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and Canada is unbeaten, turning heads and raising expectations.

The Canadian men rallied to tie Mexico 1-1 on a Jonathan Osorio goal Thursday, picking up a valuable away point against the top-ranked team in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The Canadian men have taken their lumps at Azteca Stadium in the past. But John Herdman’s young side, despite missing some important pieces, showed in the first half and parts of the second that it can keep up with the CONCACAF powerhouse, giving as good as it got and sometimes more on hostile ground.

“We wanted three points … I’m content with the point but at the same time I think there was an opportunity to take three,” said Herdman. “I think we’ll walk away from this, looking at this in time thinking we could have taken three points.”

History was against that.

Osorio’s goal was Canada’s first against Mexico at Azteca in 41 years. Canada Soccer Hall of Famer Gerry Gray scored in the 87th minute to lift Canada’s to a 1-1 tie in a World Cup qualifier in November 1980. The Canadian men were 0-6-1 against Mexico all-time at Azteca and had been outscored 16-0 there over the last four matches there dating back to July 1993.

Times have changed, it seems.

In other play Thursday, the U.S. defeated Jamaica 2-0 in Austin, Honduras tied visiting Costa Rica 0-0 and El Salvador edged visiting Panama 1-0 in San Salvador.

The results left the Americans atop the CONCACAF round-robin on goal difference with both teams on eight points at 2-0-2. Canada (1-0-3) is third, one point ahead of Panama (1-0-2).

The Canadian men play No. 59 Jamaica in Kingston on Sunday before returning home to face No. 68 Panama at Toronto’s BMO Field next Wednesday.

Come March, after the eight remaining teams have each played 14 games, the top three finishers in the CONCACAF final qualifying will book their ticket to Qatar 2022. The fourth-place team will take part in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.

The Canadian men have not made it to the final round of qualifying in the region since the lead-up to France ’98

Tied 1-1 at the break, Mexico came on strong in a second half that was paused in the 59th minute for objectionable fan chants. The contest was originally slated to be played behind closed doors as punishment for such behaviour in the past but FIFA cut the sanction in half to one game, meaning fans were allowed in.

After an even start, Mexico went ahead in the 22nd minute after Chucky Lozano found Jorge Sanchez behind the defence The Mexican fullback controlled the ball with his right foot then shot with his left, sending the ball through Maxime Crepeau’s legs.

The play started with Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa at the other end of the field. Three passes later, Lozano had the ball in front of the Canadian penalty box and spotted Sanchez, who had his arm raised as he got behind fullback Richie Laryea.

Osorio tied it up in the 42nd minute, beating Ochoa from a thrown-in after taking a slide-rule pass from Alphonso Davies that cut out four Mexican defenders. Osorio controlled the ball then slotted it in the corner for his seventh goal for Canada.

“That goal, it’s all Phonzie, to be honest,” said Osorio. “He deserves the credit. He is our star player and he shows up every time. And that’s hard to do, with the amount of pressure that he gets.”

The Toronto FC midfielder is no stranger to goals at Azteca, having scored in a 1-1 tie with Club America in April 2018 that moved the MLS side into the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League final.

The Osorio strike was also Canada’s first goal at the famed stadium since Alex Bunbury against Martinique at the 1993 Gold Cup.

It was the 20-year-old Davies 14th career assist for Canada, tying the national team record set earlier this year by Junior Hoilett.

The Canadians came into the match with a 4-20-8 record against Mexico in senior play since 1957. Canada was 1-12-7 against the Mexicans in World Cup qualifying play, with the lone win coming in October 1976 in Vancouver.

Canada and Mexico last met in late July in the Gold Cup semifinal, with the Mexicans needed a 99th-minute goal to win 2-1 in Houston.

Canada was without veteran goalkeeper Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), who is recovering from COVID-19, as well as captain Atiba Hutchinson and forward Cyle Larin (both Besiktas, Turkey) and striker Lucas Cavallini (Vancouver Whitecaps) who are recovering from injury. The hope is they might be able to join the team later in the window.

Canada Soccer had previously said Hoilett (Reading, England) and midfielder David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone, Scotland) would meet the team in Jamaica ahead of the weekend match against the Reggae Boyz so as to avoid the quarantine that visitors to Mexico have to undergo when returning to Britain.

The Canadian starting 11 came into the match with a combined 219 caps, with 44 of those belonging to Osorio. Six of the starters were 24 years or younger.

Steven Vitoria captained the team in Hutchinson’s absence.

Canada had the best early scoring chance with Ochoa parrying Laryea’s hard shot in the 15th minute after the Toronto FC fullback combining with Davies, raced down the left flank and then headed inside. The rebound came to Tajon Buchanan, who hammered his shot high.

Four minutes later, Mexico came close when Lozano shot high after a counter-attack triggered by a Mark-Anthony Kaye turnover.

Buchanan and Davies, both speedsters, almost combined in the 31st minute when Buchanan left several Mexicans in his dust and curled in a wonderful low cross through the box. An onrushing Davies got a foot to the ball at the far post but could not steer it on target.

Canada threatened again in the 40th with Ochoa making a reflex save off Vitoria’s close-range header from a Stephen Eustaquio free kick.

Crepeau and Lozano tangled early in the second half as the Canadian ‘keeper tried to distribute the ball but cooler heads prevailed.

There was more niggle in the 56th minute when Jesus Corona kicked out at Laryea after both went down near the Canadian penalty box. El Salvador referee Ismael Cornejo showed yellow cards to both players, meaning Laryea will be suspended for the Jamaica game after picking up a second caution.

Soon after Corona tested Crepeau from in-close at the near post after a Mexican throw-in.

Canada defender Alistair Johnston came close to an own goal in the 64th but his clearing header, keeping the ball away from a waiting Raul Jimenez, bounced off the crossbar.

Jimenez, in his first international game since suffering a fractured skull playing for England’s Wolves last November, scored in the 66th but the goal was called off for a foul.

Herdman brought on Sam Adekugbe, Liam Fraser and Liam Millar in a triple change in the 77th minute. Charles-Andreas Brym came on late for his fourth Canadian cap.

Canada previously tied the U.S. and Honduras and beat El Salvador.

It mars the first time since 1980 that Canada has earned way results (both draws) against Mexico and the U.S. in the same World Cup qualifying round

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021

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Transition game — three vignettes from Darnell Nurse's "quiet" road trip – Edmonton Journal



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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse always seems to be under the microscope, and that trend has continued into the 2021-22 season in the wake of the big defender signing an 8-year, $74-million extension over the summer. A ferocious competitor gifted with size, speed, and skill, Nurse has always had his share of critics. Nowadays he is frequently referenced as “our $9 million d-man”, often with a tinge of disdain in the voice of the speaker or the context of the writer. Never mind the fact that for one more season before that extension kicks in, Nurse has a cap hit of $5.6 million and appears highly likely to deliver excellent value yet again.


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As he has for the last four seasons at least, in which he has:

  • played every game
  • led the team in total ice time and average even-strength ice time in each season
  • led the blueline in even-strength goals, assists, and points every season. Indeed, Nurse’s lowest output of the four — 26 even strength points in 2017-18 — was higher than any other Oiler D over the entire span, that being Tyson Barrie’s 25 EVP last season. No other rearguard even hit 20.
  • ranked in the top 8 of NHL blueliners in even-strength minutes, goals and points over the four years combined.
  • carried a cap hit of $0.863 million, $3.2 million, $3.2 million, and $5.6 million.  A strong case can be made that he comfortably covered the bet in all four of those seasons.


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But that was then; this is now. What has he done for the Oilers lately?

By the boxcars it’s been  a quiet enough start, with 5 GP, 0-3-3, +4 to this point. Dig a little deeper, and we find a workhorse who leads the entire NHL in Time On Ice per game and (by a wider margin) in Hits . This on an Oilers team that is down several of their most physical players from last season including Adam Larsson , Jujhar Khaira and Josh Archibald . In their absence Nurse has come out banging, landing 8 hits in three different games and 4 each in the other two. Through all of that ice time and all of those battles, he has taken just one minor penalty through five games.

To these eyes the 26-year-old continues to improve at some of the more subtle aspects of the game. Cases in point, the following three sequences in which Nurse played a critical role in an important Oilers goal. All three from the recent road trip in which he officially got zero (0) points. Just don’t say he didn’t contribute to the offence, and specifically to Edmonton’s increasingly deadly transition game. All this while himself making a challenging transition to a new partner !


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As we did in last week’s popular post micro-analyzing a superb goal by Jesse Puljujarvi , let’s “roll back the tape” and engage the screen grab function. In each case we will focus on the change of possession that preceded the goal — which is to say much earlier in the sequence than the typical highlight reel will show. But what happens at that moment, and in the ~second that follows, often sets the stage for the good stuff that happens later. To wit:

Goal #1: Shorthanded game winner at Arizona

  • Darnell Nurse (circled) is at the point of attack, where the Coyotes shooter has whiffed on his shot and gone down to the ice. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collects the loose puck in the low slot while Zach Hyman looks on from the top of the circle.


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  • As RNH turns with the puck, Hyman puts it into gear and heads up-ice. Behind him Nurse negotiates the traffic.

  • Nuge retreats toward the corner with three Arizona players fixated on the puck. A fourth has just regained his footing on the weak side. Seeing the chance, Nurse joins the lane fifteen feet behind behind Hyman.

  • Now out of frame, Nugent-Hopkins has beaten all four Coyotes with a gorgeous soft dump off the wall and into the path of the streaking Hyman. Nurse surges up the middle to make it a 2-on-1.

  • Seeing the danger, the remaining Arizona defender steps towards the middle of the ice to defend the pass opening a lane for Hyman to take the puck directly to the net.

  • …and cashes with a fine shot from inside the faceoff dot. Nurse never touches the puck from first to last, but his recognition of the opportunity and his plus skating have aided Hyman greatly. Officially, though, the scoring play is Hyman from Nugent-Hopkins, and a well-deserved point for each. Nurse? +1 and thanks for coming.


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Goal #2: Game-tying goal at Vegas

  • One of the responsibilities that comes with playing a lot with Connor McDavid and company is scenes like this. The Golden Knights’ top (healthy) line counterattacks 3-on-2 with the Oilers forwards all chasing the play. Nurse and his new partner Evan Bouchard gap up and play their angles as the Vegans hit the blueline.

  • Suddenly the gap closes as Nurse stops up, extends and attacks the puck, chipping it off the stick of William Karlsson.

  • The puck springs to the left, where Bouchard alertly gets a touch on it as well to tip it beyond the line of attackers…

  •  …where McDavid pounces on it and makes the turn with numbers on his side. Oil fans will recognize this frame as the money shot…

  • …even as it takes another few seconds for the sequence to play out. Once again it’s Hyman with the finishing nail after a short but intense pressure where Oilers buzzed the net and Knights played chase. By now Nurse is an interested bystander out at the point, his damage already done a dozen seconds earlier and 140 feet away.


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Goal #3: Go-ahead goal at Vegas

  • Just over a minute after the start of the prior sequence, the Nurse-Bouchard duo is still on the ice, having played an effective shift with the Derek Ryan line in between times, in which Nurse generated a decent shot. Now the Leon Draisaitl line has taken to the ice, has exerted some pressure but the puck has gone the other way. Both Nuge and Drai are in decent position and moving their feet, so there’s no odd-man aspect to this rush.

  • Bouchard is beaten by a pass into the middle of the ice, but Nurse gaps up and reads the play…

  • … assumes the “ready” position…

  • …and again extends to get stick-on-puck.

  • As Nurse retreats right out of the frame, the puck bounces off a couple of bodies in the neutral zone before being collected by Draisaitl…


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  • …who spins the other way in full possession, a breaking Kailer Yamamoto providing a target for the lead pass.

  • Fast forward again to the finishing nail, delivered by a kneeling Draisaitl some 20 seconds after the initial change of possession, but with the Oilers again in the ascendant the entire time. By this time Nurse has made the change after a superb 77-second shift and is sitting on the bench while his replacement, Kris Russell, contributes to the eventual scoring play. Not so much as a plus for Darnell on this one, even as his well-timed “defensive stick” has freed the puck to skilled mates for a second straight goal.


Three important goals over two games, with Nurse making key contributions to each. Just two touches, both at full stretch on his own side of centre, and a third great decision made from deep in his own territory to join the attack even as he ultimately played the role of decoy. Three subtle plays, three happy endings, with more than a little help from his friends. It is, after all, a team game.


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It’s my observation that Nurse does a lot of this sort of thing over the course of a game, and has learned/is learning to pick his spots better by the year. With his superb athleticism, he wins puck battles in a variety of ways: by simply winning a race to it, by overpowering an opponent, or through judicious use of his long reach. And while not featured in these sequences, he’s increasingly dangerous with the puck on his own blade.

Yes he still makes the wrong decision at times. There was that one play in the Calgary game where he got pulled behind the goal line and was beaten by a centring pass that was quickly deposited. Heard plenty about that one, but it remains the only powerplay goal scored on his watch in 17 shorthanded minutes. Meanwhile, in just 6 minutes he’s been on the PP, that unit has scored 4 times.


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In all situations — which in his case means literally ALL situations with a heaping helping of crunch time — Darnell has been on the ice for 12 goals scored by the Oilers, just 5 against.

Best of all, I’ve yet to see a sign that he’s reached his ceiling just yet. Now an impact player in his seventh NHL season, Nurse continues to upgrade the fine details of his considerable game.

Recently at the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: Is Nurse-Bouchard the top pairing of Oil fans’ dreams?

LEAVINS: Together the Oilers can win — 9 Things

McCURDY: Oilers score a pulsating win in Sin City

STAPLES: Nurse dominates, Oilers flatten Coyotes

Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy



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What 2022 Holds for the Canadian Sports Betting Sector



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After years of confusing legislation, Canada finally achieved some clarity with regard to its sports betting laws earlier this year. The passing of Bill C-218 saw single event betting become legalized for the first time, paving the way for sportsbooks and online operators to begin serving Canadian customers all across the country.

Since then, the industry has gone from strength to strength. Unsurprisingly, Ontario has led the way in terms of online competition, with a wide array of options for punters to choose from. Home to some 15 million people, Ontario is the fifth biggest jurisdiction in the USA and Canada and is expected to rival the likes of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan in the coming years.

So with sports betting finally up and running in a more comprehensive format in Canada, what does the future hold? Here’s a quick look ahead to some of the biggest developments that are expected to occur in the next 12 months.

Mobile gaming

The ability to place bets on-the-go is something that customers have come to expect from their sportsbooks nowadays. Although the idea of sports betting on single events is still a relative novelty for many Canadians, it won’t be long before they begin to demand a truly mobile experience from their gambling provider, allowing them the freedom to lay wagers wherever, whenever and on whatever they please.

Thankfully, there is already a healthy infrastructure in place to deal with that demand. The list of sports betting apps in Canada is growing longer by the day, with sportsbook operators giving their customers round-the-clock access to better odds, up-to-the-minute stats and exclusive promotions and bonuses. There’s an app for everything these days – so it should come as no surprise that an increasing percentage of Canadians will choose to bet on their smartphone via the app in the coming months and years.

Greater competition

Even before the passing of Bill C-218 officially endorsed sports betting from a legal perspective, overseas operators had been serving a Canadian market for years. Although the practice was not legal prior to this summer, it wasn’t strictly illegal, either. This created a grey area which many foreign sportsbooks exploited, with some reports suggesting that billions of dollars were being funneled into them every year.

Now that the practice has become fair game for domestic operators, it should open the floodgates with regard to the number of available options. Early adopters and established names in the industry were quick to jump aboard the bandwagon, but more and more rivals will spring up as time goes on. This can only be good news for punters, since they will gain access to more lucrative incentives and better markets with the increased competition.

Booming popularity

As well as increased competition among operators, it’s also likely that this excess supply will be met by ballooning demand. Indeed, a particularly bullish report from Deloitte Canada speculated that the industry could be worth a massive $28 billion inside five years. Given that it isn’t projected to exceed $1 billion in its first 12 months of operation, that’s quite a seismic shift.

What that means for players is that sports betting is likely to become endorsed and advertised with greater frequency. Collaborations between teams and individual athletes will enhance the profile of the sector, while lucrative sponsorship deals will benefit both parties. And of course, the government itself is poised to cash in on a significant revenue stream, potentially swelling its coffers for reinvestment in other areas of policy.

Technological advances

Another exciting possibility is the increased incorporation of technological advances into the sports betting experience. Fans can already benefit from livestreams of their favorite matches, as well as real-time analysis and in-play betting opportunities. However, the sky is the limit when it comes to tech and sports betting, since there are a variety of tantalizing innovations currently on the horizon.

Chief among these is the possibility of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) becoming a more central pillar of sportsbooks. Imagine if it were possible to view a sporting event in 3D, as if you were in the stadium yourself, all from the comfort of your own home? That kind of tech breakthrough might seem lightyears away, yet similar software is already commonplace in the world of gaming. If it could be adapted to live sporting events, it would dramatically alter the way in which sport is consumed (and bet upon) all across Canada. Watch this space for news on potential developments of VR and AR in 2022.

Although sports betting is still in its infancy in Canada, it has already made quite a splash among punters, operators and regulators alike. As the practice becomes more and more mainstream, it’s to be expected that it will both deliver higher revenues and benefit from greater investment – potentially creating some exciting times ahead.

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Longtime NFL official Carl Madsen dies on way home from Chiefs-Titans – Yahoo Canada Sports



Carl Madsen had worked for the NFL since 1997. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Carl Madsen, who had worked for the NFL as an official for more than 20 years, died on Sunday. He was 71.

According to, Madsen died on his way home from Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans, where he was working as a replay official.

While details are hazy on Madsen’s death, the Nashville Police Department told TMZ that early signs indicate Madsen suffered “a medical emergency” while driving on I-65 North. A spokesperson reportedly said officers answered a call about a motorist blocking a traffic lane and found Madsen unconscious at the scene.

Chest compressions were immediately administered once Madsen was removed from the vehicle, per the report, but he ultimately died after being transported to a nearby hospital. His exact cause of death remains unknown.

An Air Force veteran, Madsen spent 12 years as an on-field official from 1997 to 2008 before transitioning to his replay official role. He was reportedly tied with Paul Weidner as the league’s most experienced replay official.


“Carl Madsen was an NFL officiating fixture for more than two decades, first as a highly respected on-field official before transitioning to a replay role beginning in 2009,” NFL senior VP of officiating training and development Walt Anderson said in a statement. “A terrific friend and colleague, Carl’s love of football and dedication to officiating was ever-present, as he generously shared his time to mentor young officials at clinics across the country. A veteran of the Air Force, Carl had a tremendous spirit and will be greatly missed.”

NFL Referees Association president Scott Green also released a statement to Pro Football Talk:

“Carl will be missed by those who worked with him on the field and in replay,” Green said. “He had a nickname among his fellow officials of “Big Country” which was not only related to his size but to his big personality as a warm and generous man.”

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