Is 2007 the year of a renaissance in Canadian Soccer? This is the year that Toronto FC makes its debut. An even bigger story happened yesterday, on New Year's Day, when teenager David Edgar, from Kitchener, Ontario scored the tying goal for Newcastle United, against venerable Manchester United. I'm reluctant to make my first post this year one about Canadian soccer, but Edgar's goal is the big sports story in the first two days of the year. Edgar was playing because of injuries, but he showed plenty of confidence when he struck the ball from 25 yards out. Edgar has a serious pedigree -- his dad played for Newcastle, also...and the Cosmos. Edgar grew up showing great skill in both hockey and soccer, but chose to commit to soccer and go to England when he was 14.
Canada certainly has not embraced soccer, and the men's national team is in chaos -- discussed in an earlier post here. It's been 20 years since Canada's only appearance in the World Cup finals, and the team hasn't really been even a serious contender to qualify since. Of course, the women's team has shown signs of life, as they have become much more competitive in recent matches with the USA. The men's team, though, hasn't had much success beyond winning the 2000 Gold Cup.
With the team in Toronto, there is likely to be more media attention, which will create more interest in and dedication to the sport. There are some good Canadian players already. Edgar shows great promise, there are good veterans such as Tomasz Radzinski at Fulham, and Dwayne DeRosario may be the finest North American player in the MLS. Edgar was interviewed by the CBC radio program, As It Happens. It may have been the first piece that program has ever done on Canadian soccer -- if not the first, I'd be willing to bet it was the longest. Tonight's piece began with the BBC radio call on Edgar's goal, which was followed by a respectably lengthy telephone interview with Edgar himself.
On the game itself: The game had a rather familiar feel, for EPL fans who remember the Newcastle-Manchester rivalry of the late 80s and early 90s. Manchester had two goals from the old man, Paul Scholes. There was no Paul Gasciogne running the Newcastle offense, but Newcastle tallied first with a brilliant, audacious and fearsome blast by James Milner, from at least 25 yards out, to give Newcastle the early lead. After Scholes put the Red Devils on top just 23 seconds into the first half, Newcastle continued to battle until Edgar's memorable shot, slightly deflected off Scholes' leg, beat Van der Saar. It was a goal well received by the Newcastle crowd, and the Chelsea fans, who were disappointed by their teams own, scoreless draw today, against Aston Villa. The dramatic, two-team race in the EPL continues, but New Year's Day belonged to the fans of Newcastle United...and, maybe, fans of Canadian soccer.