CANADIAN MAKES MLS HISTORY

Ronald Zak

History was made at the recent MLS SuperDraft at the Philadelphia Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 15, when Cyle Larin became the first Canadian drafted in the No.1 spot, as the first pick overall.

Orlando City, in its inaugural MLS season this year, drafted the under-20 Canadian international, who was the star at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Larin, who is currently representing Canada in the CONCACAF Under-20 Men’s Championships being played now in Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, was the leading scorer at Connecticut last season with nine goals and was named the American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year. The forward has played three times for Canada’s senior national team.

“We believe that we’ve picked the best player in the draft,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. “Cyle has incredible potential, and we’re looking forward to working with him.”

Altidore to Toronto

Jozy Altidore, the U.S. men’s national team forward who was stuck in the substitute’s bench at Sunderland FC of the English Premiere League, was part of a deal that swapped him for England international Jermaine Defoe and landed him with MLS club Toronto FC.

Altidore, of Haitian descent and a native of New Jersey, followed three teammates from the U.S. national team who re-joined MLS clubs to prolong their careers. USA forward and captain, Clint Dempsey, and midfielders Maurice Adu and Michael Bradley all left European teams in an effort to maintain their positions on the national team.

“Our top priority is building a winning club with players that are committed to the TFC vision,” said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Jozy is a special player, and checks off all of the boxes that we look for in a player. We are excited to finalize this deal and bring him to Toronto FC.”

Altidore scored a mere three goals in 52 matches at Sunderland; he was signed from Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, where he scored 51 goals in 93 games in a two-year stint. The forward scored 25 goals in 76 games for the U.S.

Red Bulls in USL

The New York Red Bulls announced recently that it would field a USL team. The USL is a Third-Division league in the overall professional soccer framework in the U.S. The Red Bulls is now one of 15 MLS clubs operating USL teams in 2015. The USL team will be an opportunity for young players to develop into the Red Bulls philosophy and reinforce the MLS team.

Shabazz back in Guyana

Former Trinidad and Tobago men’s national team coach Jamaal Shabazz – who led Guyana to the CONCACAF semifinal round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and knocking his native country out of the tournament along the way – is back in charge of Guyana’s 2018 World Cup qualification effort.

At a Press conference last Monday, Shabaaz vowed to work along with Guyana’s new technical director, Claude Bolton and others to chart a solid foundation for the game in Guyana.

“I appeal to all the factions in Guyana’s football that this is about players and the game has got to move on without the fighting and the animosity and the warring,” said Shabazz. “FIFA has come in and made a decision and they have brought a leader to settle and place Guyana’s football in the rightful place.” Shabazz was referring to Bolton, the new leader.

Guyana was set to open its first training camp on Thursday, Jan. 21, and play its first friendly international on Feb. 1, versus Barbados. The Golden Jaguars open their 2018 World Cup qualification effort in a home-and-away series versus St. Vincent and the Grenadines in June.

Jozy Altidore, center, poses for a photo with Major League Soccer team Toronto FC’s general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, left, and head coach Greg Vanney following a news conference where he was introduced as the teams latest signing in Toronto on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.
Associated Press / The Canadian Press, Chris Young

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