These have been trying times for Canadian Mens soccer. Whitey Herzog Jersey
. A struggling national team, and likewise Canadian Major League Soccer franchises have tested the patience of the most ardent support of the game in this country. Tuesday night at our National Soccer Stadium in Toronto told a different story: attractive play, highlight reel goals and a winning experience. The Canadian men gave head coach Benito Floro a winning home debut in a 3-1 victory over CONCACAF rival Jamaica. It was all-around a fun night for the Canadian faithful. Baby steps and hints of progress. To say its been a rough two years for the Canadian Mens National Soccer team would be an understatement. The players, program and supporters all deserved a night as such. A 16-match winless streak dating back to the 8-1 World Cup qualifying humiliation to Honduras in San Pedro Sula in October 2012 has cast a cloud of negativity over our Mens Soccer program. A seemingly never-ending goalless streak, soul searching and an absolute loss in confidence in the players and leadership has made for an all-time difficult time for the program. A losing mentality can be contagious. But that negative demeanour was nowhere to be found at Canadian camp over the last week heading into Tuesdays win. There was passion, energy and excitement around the team getting back at it for a long-anticipated home date. It was the mens first home date in 2014, and just the third match on home soil in the last two years. The players are well aware of all the negative talk about the team, individually and as collective. They felt they had something to prove. The win wont take away the sting of 8-1 but sets the tone of where this group plans to go. Its time to move forward. The players can now do so with confidence and reasoned belief in their new manager. The move by the CSA to bring in Floro was a calculated one; a man of vast experience looking for a new opportunity. How the marriage would work out was up for great debate. Much work was to be done, and many questioned whether Floro would be up for it. The initial returns are showing steps in the right direction. His players are speaking of tactics and compartmentalization in approach: something entirely different than recent years when survival and keeping heads above the water always seemed the goal. The new coach won over the crowd by bringing on Canadian and local soccer legend Dwayne De Rosario, as well as defender Karl Ouimette, who lost his sister to cancer earlier this month, for second half appearances – an appropriate touch and show of understanding by the manager. As for game-play, Floro has a clear vision how he wants his team to play. From attacking perspective, the initial returns speak to improvement. Its about making the most out of what he has. Canada will not win through individual ability: it must be a team approach, top-down. The intelligence and purpose of the Canadian attack against Jamaica was something unlike we have seen out of the Mens program for quite sometime. Canada may not be blessed with the natural goal-scorers of yester-year, but the team has pace. The ability to attack down the wings and move off the ball accordingly was refreshing. Tosaint Ricketts led the line well and looks a much more active player than in the past. His goal came off a mistake from goalkeeper Andre Blake, but the Canadian striker put himself in position to finish. It was a standout performance from the Israel-based player. Ricketts goal was the clincher after Canada scored three unanswered en route to victory. The other two goals were of the highest quality. Patrice Berniers corner finding David Edgar on the top of the 18, who volleyed home for a spectacular goal, rivaling Terry Dunfields wonder-strike against Ecuador in 2011. Marcel de Jong scored the other on a picture perfect free kick. Top goals, no matter what league or side youre watching worldwide. Atia Hutchinson remains the pulse of the team, outstanding again Tuesday night. The Besiktas player is a step above, and can be argued he could start for any CONCACAF nation. Hutchinson stands of evidence this country can still produce players of such high quality and deserves any and all the praise he gets. The team with speed around him takes advantage of his poise, composure and overall gifted ability to read the game. Hutchinson remains the centerpiece, and with Julian de Guzman, Patrice Bernier and the absent Will Johnson around him, make for a formidable middle of the park. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the play of goalkeeper Milan Borjan. Multiple top saves and intervention helped keep Canada in a position to win on home soil. His positioning was sound and shot-blocking ability was equal to the task. The defensive line was shaky in front of him and will need work growing as a unit. Toronto FCs Doneil Henry played at right-back and provided size and strength on the outside. Henry needs more polish at the position but was an interesting look for a player used to playing centre-half. Borjan is without a club at present time. He, along with de Guzman and Adam Straith need club teams as soon as possible. It need not matter the inexperience in the Jamaican team or the lack of preparation time for the visitors. Its the result that matters. Its time to turn the corner from the negative narrative to developing something positive. That only comes through results. Belief in Benito and better days ahead for the program is paramount looking ahead to the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying in the not-so-distant future. Its important for the Mens program to gain prominence on the Canadian sports landscape. Canada has become a leader in the womens game in terms of development and fan support. The success of the womens game has been a boon for the Canadian Soccer Association. But the Mens program on a global scale will always be the primary, long-term moneymaker and the barometer by which a countrys soccer success will be judged. It was unfortunate young boys club teams didnt flock out Tuesday night as girls club teams do for the womens program. It all comes from perception. When the perception of the mens program turns to one of success, we can expect similar fandom to follow. So some headlines the night before tickets went on sale for the 2015 FIFA Womens World Cup is well-taken by the CSA and the Canadian soccer community. Its a big year for Canadian soccer and there is no reason the Mens team cant be part of the headlines. The goal is all programs finding on and off-field success. Progress should be embraced as it comes. Tuesday was just that. More baby steps. Gareth Wheeler can be reached at:@WheelerTSNgareth.firstname.lastname@example.org Luis Aparicio Jersey
. Napoli hit two home runs, Jonny Gomes and prized rookie Xander Bogaerts also connected, and the Red Sox kept up their dizzying scoring spree at Yankee Stadium by bashing New York 13-9 Saturday for a fifth straight win. Chris Davis Jersey
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. Jets head coach Paul Maurice made the announcement Saturday following the morning skate and confirmed Al Montoya will start in goal against the Dallas Stars on Sunday.ATHENS, Ga. -- An important Southeastern Conference Eastern Division showdown is being overshadowed this week by another deluge of compelling SEC West games. The only ranked teams from the SEC East will meet on Saturday when No. 13 Georgia visits No. 23 Missouri in a game which could provide some clarity in the muddled East race. The game has been set for an early kickoff as if to serve as a warm-up for offerings from the West -- the nations most powerful division. Georgia receiver Michael Bennett insists hes not insulted by the powerful West overshadowing the East in the regular season. He said the East will have its chance to shine in the SEC championship game. Bennett said he hopes the heavyweights in the West bludgeon each other before the Dec. 6 title game in Atlanta. They can have all their fun right now, but all that matters is once we get to Atlanta, whoever wins that game is going to get the attention, Bennett said. Im glad theyre all really good over there and beating each other up. Someone is going to come kind of bruised and battered into the SEC championship game. Hopefully well be there and be able to get the win and go on to the playoffs. The West boasts four of the nations top seven teams in the Top 25. Having those four teams come from only two states, Mississippi and Alabama, only makes the drama more difficult to ignore. The must-see SEC West showdowns this week include No. 2 Auburn at No. 3 Mississippi State and No. 3 Mississippi at No. 14 Texas A&M. Also, No. 7 Alabama plays at Arkansas. Meanwhile, the SEC East race is up for grabs. Missouri (4-1, 1-0) is the divisions only team without a SEC loss. Florida, Georgia and Kentucky are 2-1 in the SEC. Tennessee is 0-2 in the conference, but the Vols believe theyre still in the East race. Thats an advantage to playing in the SECs weaker division. I just know that we still have a good chance of winning the East, said Tennessee cornerback Cam Sutton. I think almost every team on our side has a loss, so its not out of the question for us to make a comeback toward the end of the season. It definitely gives us a little bit more motivation each day coming in. Trey Mancini Jersey
. Asked to explain the power shift to the SEC West, Tennessee coach Butch Jones said I think some of it is cyclical. Jones said that doesnt mean the East is packed with pushovers. Really, I believe the East is extremely competitive as well, Jones said. Its just the nature of the SEC. ... Every team is good. Every team is physical. Every team is well-coached, and every program has very good fan support, so when you go on the road, every away game is a hostile environment. Kentucky (4-1) is trying to take advantage of the wide-open race in the East. It has back-to-back conference wins over Florida and South Carolina and is moving closer to becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said the Wildcats are part of a movement toward great parity in the league. Its a tough conference and theres not a heck of a lot of teams going backward, Stoops said. Everybody is trying to move forward like we are. We are trying to do everything we can to improve our program, and I think you see that from a lot of the teams in this league. South Carolina (3-3, 2-3) was a popular preseason pick to win the East but has fallen to fifth after last weeks loss at surprising Kentucky. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said I dont think anybody could disagree the East is down. Maybe theyve recruited a little better than everybody else, Spurrier said last week of the West teams. The Wests breakthrough teams are drawing national attention. ESPNs College GameDay is spending its second straight week in the state of Mississippi, shifting from Oxford, where it was based for last weeks Ole Miss win over Alabama, to Starkville. Bennett said he understands if those games generate a bigger buzz than Georgias important test at Missouri. It doesnt bother me at all, Bennett said. Its actually kind of exciting to see. I love the attention on Ole Miss and Mississippi State. I think its good for college football. ------ AP Sports Writers Gary Graves in Lexington, Kentucky; Peter Iacobelli in Columbia, South Carolina and Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee contributed to this report ' ' '