Friday, May 30, 2003

CPSL This Week

Kathy RumleskiLondon Free Press

Defensively they're sound. Through the middle, the team is solid.
Up front?
London City manager and coach Harry Gauss is hopeful some new talent will help there as the team starts its sixth season in the Canadian Professional Soccer League tonight at home.
"Everything is for naught if you're not putting the ball in the back of the net," he said.
City scored 22 goals last season, the same number as the North York Astros, with only the Brampton Hitmen scoring fewer at 19.
Gauss said he has two main goals this year.
"Fifty per cent is turning (City) into a team and 50 per cent is putting balls in the back of the net."
Newcomer Isa Bulku will add some speed to the forward line.
The striker will make the jump from the Western Ontario Soccer League Premier Division, where he plays for the Exeter Centennials, to the CPSL.
Gauss has had to replace forward Janko Stukic, defenders Tyler Hemming and Gerald Gallacher and goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar.
He's still looking for a keeper who can back up Anthony Camacho but the other areas have been filled.
"I'm fairly happy everywhere right now," Gauss said.
Besides Bulku, Gauss has been impressed with CPSL rookies Jeff Russell, a sweeper who also plays for the Western Mustangs and London Portuguese, and midfielder Greg Rebello, who plays for Strathroy Portuguese.
Haidar Al-Shaibani, who plays for London Croatia, is on City's roster but will not play tonight because he has a hamstring injury.
"He has just looked so good in speed and strength," Gauss said. "He has been a more-than-pleasant surprise all the way through."
Al-Shaibani can play anywhere on the field, including goal, but Gauss will likely use him as a striker.
Two teenagers who survived all the cuts and are on the roster are Derek Battin, 17, and Adam Legg, 19, both of Aylmer.
Battin is a midfielder and Legg is a left-side defender. They also play for WOSL's St. Thomas team.
"You can never have enough left-sided players," Gauss said.
The fresh legs will help bring speed to the squad, Gauss feels.
"I'm looking for more team speed because I felt we were the slowest team in the league last year."
City begins its season against the Durham Flames, who lost their first game of the year 2-1 to the St. Catharines Roma Wolves last week.
The Flames ended the 2002 season in fifth place with a 7-10-2 record in the Eastern Conference. London was seventh in the West at 2-10-7.
The Flames' only goal against the Wolves came on a penalty kick by Jamoh Welsh at the 65th minute, but the sides were close throughout the match.
The Flames are a quick team, which will pose a challenge to City.
"This will be a good test of our team speed right now," Gauss said.
City will play its first six games at home before hitting the road.
Gauss said he never gets a perfect schedule but the schedule should be irrelevant if the team is doing well.
"If you're not doing well, the schedule factors in there heavily."
Game time tonight at Cove Road field is at 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

London City love affair resumes again Friday

By Morris Dalla Costa -- London Free Press

Luan Jonuzi has this soccer thing figured out, the thing that holds soccer people to the sport with almost Harry Potter-like wizardry.
More about Jonuzi later.
This Friday at Cove Road field, London City will open its 30th season with a Canadian Professional Soccer League game against Durham Flames.
London City has seen more league action come and go than city hall has seen scandals. The team has survived tough times, financial and otherwise, that would have buried just about any other franchise at least half a dozen times. Yet every year there is a London City team taking to the field in some league or other.
Baseball teams come and go with regularity in London and are welcomed with open arms. They are big news. By the end of their stay, as they crawl out of town at the first sign of trouble, tails between legs, they draw fans by the handful.
Yet despite London City's struggles for publicity and recognition, the Gauss family, with help from the German-Canadian Club, never quite reaches the point of abandonment. Anyone who has ever operated or been associated with soccer in this country knows what an accomplishment that is. There are times when hitting one's fingers with a hammer is more pleasurable than operating a soccer team.
It's even got to Harry Gauss's dad Max. For years on Friday nights, Max was in the kitchen making the schnitzel sing. Not this year. Max is coming out of the kitchen. The schnitzel will never be the same.
Take this to the bank? Harry Gauss, coach, manager, chief organizer, et al, doesn't put any money in the bank. Yet year after year they provide Londoners with someplace to go to watch soccer. So why, why, why do it?
Jonuzi seems to know why.
He's played with City for nine years. He's a 36-year-old Albanian who's a real character. He's personable and the type of guy who plays the game because he loves it.
Jonuzi owns and operates Irene's Seafood on Wellington Road. He's also the chef. Come to think of it, he does just about anything else that needs doing. London City's Friday night games at Cove Road start at 8.38 p.m. Irene's stays open until 8 p.m. It's open seven days a week. Most Fridays, Jonuzi can be found rushing around his restaurant closing up, hopping into his vehicle and fighting traffic to make it to the Coves.
"There are times when I'm changing in the dressing room and the national anthem is being played. One time I didn't leave here until 8.20 and made it in time. That was a record."
So here we go again. Why go through it?
"It's like a disease in the blood," he said. "And there's no antibiotics for it."
The game bites you and no matter how difficult it is to fulfil obligations, you continue to participate.
"I've been trying to hang my boots on the wall for a while now," Jonuzi said. "I think it's time to retire and then Harry calls and says take your boots off the wall. Some people say I should have retired when I was in my prime."
Jonuzi is a forward who last year suffered rib and hamstring injuries. Despite injuries and the hectic schedule, he feels his blood boiling.
"I feel good, ready to play," Jonuzi said.
"But I haven't had an elbow in my ribs yet."
As for Gauss, it seems his duties as soccer store owner, general manager and chief organizer weren't enough. He took on the duties of coach.
"When things went wrong I was going to get the blame anyway whether I was coaching or not, so I might as well coach," he said.
But one thing remains the same. It's the message Gauss delivers before every CPSL season on the state of his soccer club, no matter what condition it's in.
"It's fabulous," he says.
And there's no antibiotic for that.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Exeter ready for challenge

Kathy Rumleski, Free Press Sports Reporter 2003-05-16 02:53:24

His opponent has changed three times, but the manager of the Exeter Centennials hasn't been bothered by the alterations in the senior men's open Canada Cup this weekend.
The Centennials are just looking forward to playing.
"We take it as a challenge," Exeter manager John Rasenberg said. "We're going for the experience and fun, but we'll take it seriously. We know (London City manager and Cup host) Harry (Gauss) well and he's never steered us wrong."
The Canadian Professional Soccer League competition was open to any Ontario or Quebec team for the first time this year and the Centennials paid the $595 fee for a shot at the $10,000 prize.
The preliminary-round games will be played at Cove Road Field, home of London City.
The Centennials were supposed to play Erin Mills and then Toronto GS United, but those teams dropped out for fear some of their players seeking U.S. scholarships may jeopardize their chances by participating in a professional cup following media reports on the issue.
As it stands, Exeter will play Toronto Peniche -- the winner of the Toronto District Soccer League Cup and Super Cup in 2000 -- Monday night.
Eight amateur teams will join the 13 CPSL teams in the hunt for the Canada Cup. All eight amateur teams play this weekend.
"London gets to be part of history again," Gauss said. "It should be great soccer. The teams will initially be proving themselves, that they can play at this level."
The only other local team entered in the competition is London AEK Olympic.
Both Exeter and Olympic play in the Premier Division of the Western Ontario Soccer League.
Olympic plays Woodbridge Azzurri -- the 2000 Ontario Cup champion -- tonight.
Olympic manager Tom Kouzounas said his team has been practising hard for more than three months and is ready to go.
Four teams will emerge from the one-game knockout competition and will be drawn against CPSL clubs during the Canada Day weekend.
Winners from round two will play the next games during the Civic Holiday weekend.
The final round is during the Labour Day weekend, with the final Sept. 1.
Rasenberg said it would be great to get to the second round.
"If our guys come up big, you never know," he said.
The Centennials finished second in the WOSL's First Division to earn promotion to the Premier Division this season.
Tonight: London AEK Olympic vs. Woodbridge Azzurri, 8:30 p.m.
Tomorrow: Kanata vs. Whitby Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Toronto Benfica vs. Richmond Hill Real, 7 p.m.
Monday: Exeter Centennials vs. Toronto Peniche, 7 p.m.
Copyright ┬ęThe London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Upgraded soccer fields in big demand

Paul Vanderhoeven London This Week

A two-year, $2.5-million improvement program has the city's competitive-level soccer fields in the best shape they've ever been, but prime-time space is still in short supply.
Kent McVittie, the city's manager of recreational services and attractions, said no new upgrades have been put forward this year after coming off major upgrades, which were completed last year.
Half of those fields were ready to use last season and the rest should be ready for play this year, McVittie said.
"Now, it's a matter of starting to maximize all that time that those upgrades have allowed for."
McVittie said irrigation systems were installed in 24 city fields and most of those pitches also needed extensive levelling.
Lighting was also added to North London Athletic Fields (Fields 4 and 5), Citywide Park (Fields 1 and 2) as well as fields at Stoneybrook and Ted Earley parks.
"Going from one lit field in the city to six lit fields in the city, that's a big jump," he said.
Even with improvements to existing fields and the addition of two new fields -- one at West Lions Park and the other at Adelaide Street and Windermere Road -- high demand fields are booked solid Monday to Thursday.
"I'm sure there's still lots of teams that would like to find some time on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. Those times are fairly booked up, but there's still quite a bit of capacity in the system for Friday, Saturday and Sunday times."
The city is trying to encourage more organizations to juggle their schedules to make full use of the soccer pitches on weekends, McVittie said.
"We're finally getting to the point where we are catching up thanks largely to the initiatives of the soccer task force that brought this issue to the forefront," he said.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Two members of the London United have accepted scholarships

Two members of the London United women's team, which plays in the Ontario Women's Soccer League, have accepted scholarships to NCAA Division I colleges.
Stephanie Elgie will attend Jacksonville University in Florida and Cassandra Van Leeuwen will study at the University of Vermont.
Elgie and Van Leeuwen, both strikers, played for the London United under-19 team that won the Ontario Cup last fall. It was the first time a London team won in the 27-year history of that Cup division.