Saturday, June 21, 2003

City defender answers the call

Kathy Rumleski, Sports ReporterLondon Free Press

With seven regulars out of the lineup with other commitments, including a wedding, London City was desperate for someone to step it up last night.
City defender Matt Cuthbert was the man.
Not only did he play well on defence, but Cuthbert also scored City's first goal to spark them to a 2-1 win over the Vaughan Sun Devils at Cove Road field before 300 spectators.
It was London's first win of the season.
"It felt great to finally get the win," Cuthbert said. "We've played so well the last four weeks and deserved to win."
Cuthbert was inside the box when the ball skipped over to him in the 54th minute and he knocked it in.
"It skimmed over everyone. I was in the right place at the right time," he said.
But it wasn't just Cuthbert who played well. The whole team worked as one unit throughout the Canadian Professional Soccer League game and battled hard against a feisty Vaughan squad.
"We had a lot of young guys out there. They were jittery, but we settled down," Cuthbert said.
City keeper Anthony Camacho preserved the lead when he jumped up and get a finger on ball by Arturo Alva in the 72nd minute.
London substitute Erik Elmauer came on late in the game and within a couple of minutes gave City their second goal.
Elmauer fired a free kick through a line of Vaughan players and into the back of the net.
Cameron Medwin scored for Vaughan with two minutes remaining in the game to make things tense in the dying moments.
There was no scoring in the first half. Both teams had a couple of good chances.
London's best scoring opportunity came in the 37th minute on a nifty give-and-go involving Gentian Dervishi and Haidar Al-Shaibani, who was playing his first game after coming off a leg injury.
Dervishi's shot from 15 yards out was headed for the top left corner of the Vaughan net but goalkeeper Rob Tilley pushed it away.
The Sun Devils merged with the York Region Shooters this season and are expected to do well with the best of the two teams chosen for the new squad, so it was an important victory for London, now 1-2-1.
-- -- --
City 2, Sun Devils 1
London goals: Matt Cuthbert, Erik Elmauer
Vaughan goal: Cameron Medwin
Next: London plays a Canada Cup game June 30 at Cove Road field against Toronto Peniche. The Cup weekend begins next Friday with London AEK Olympic playing Woodbridge Azzurri, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Parity a boon for league

CPSL THIS WEEK: Parity a boon for league
Kathy Rumleski, Sports ReporterLondon Free Press

With the CPSL a month into its schedule, league executives say they're pleasantly surprised by the strength of various teams.
"Most of the teams are (stronger), quite honestly this year," says league administrator Stan Adamson. "The teams seem to be a bit more ambitious in winning their games. We're a bit surprised."
Adamson noted that Toronto Supra, Laval Dynamites and the Hamilton Thunder are looking particularly good.
He said that even the North York Astros, who struggled for much of last season before making it to the playoff championship final, are solid this year. The team has added a couple of South Americans and beat London City last Friday, 2-0.
Another team showing potential is the Brampton Hitmen, which tied league champion Ottawa Wizards, who lead the league with a 3-0-1 record.
The Wizards continue to get stronger as they work toward their goal of becoming an A-League team by 2005. They have brought in a couple of players from Africa.
Besides winning the league and playoff championships, the Wizards took home the Canada Cup and had the league's most valuable player in Abraham Osman.
Adamson said that besides regular-league games, the executive also hopes to bring in some international teams to play against CPSL squads in exhibition matches.
Adamson said the Metro Lions and Thunder are currently negotiating with the W-Connection, a top team from Trinidad and Tobago, to bring it here in August.
He said negotiations are going well and the league expects to play host to the club on civic holiday weekend.
City plays the Vaughan Sun Devils tonight at Cove Road field, a team that has only played one game, a 0-0 tie with the Metro Lions.
The second game was postponed last Friday following rain.
The Sun Devils sit with one point and so does City, which has an 0-2-1 record. City's 1-1 tie came two weeks ago against the Mississauga Olympians.
Vaughan and the York Region Shooters merged this season and had a pool of 50 players to choose from.
"I don't think there's any doubt they're stronger," said Adamson. "They say that and we can see it, too.
"They've got a mix of older, veteran players and young players."
The Sun Devils have Chris Stefanazzi in their lineup. The Toronto native was named a first-team all-Canadian last fall as a defender with the Western Mustangs.
Veteran forward Gus Kouzmanis, who led the Sun Devils with 13 goals last year, is no longer in the league.
Another player who didn't return to the Sun Devils is defender Paul Hillman. Hillman is back with City, where he was a captain before joining the Sun Devils in 1998.
Game time tonight is 8:30 p.m. The match can be seen live on Rogers Television.

The Second Half

Kathy Rumleski, Free Press Sports Reporter
2003-06-20 05:13:18

BENFICA TAKES ON CROATIA AT HOME London Benfica is the only local men's soccer team playing at home this weekend in Ontario Cup action.
Benfica is the host of a game against Windsor Croatia, which will take place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Cove Road field.
Benfica, which plays in the Western Ontario Soccer League, and Croatia meet for the fourth time in four years.
Benfica won last year's match 2-1 and lost the year before on penalty kicks. It defeated the Windsor squad three years ago.
"We're pretty well in good shape," says Benfica manager Joe Santos, who believes his team can advance to Round 3.
Two other WOSL teams play in Ontario Cup games Sunday.
Last year's Cup champions, London Portuguese, play against the North York Hearts at Esther Shiner stadium.
London AEK Olympic will play Windsor Rose City at Windsor Stadium.
WOSL president Adam Saska says the success of London Portuguese has brought recognition to local soccer.
"(It's) been a tremendous boost, not only for our league but for soccer in the London area in general."
There also is a women's Ontario Cup game being played in London on Sunday.
London Marconi Westman will take on the Windsor Cabota Strikers at Marconi field at 1 p.m.
The North London Dynamite under-14 boys continue to shut out the competition in the Ontario Cup. In the preliminary round, they outscored their opponents Their scores from last weekend's Cup round included 7-0 over CS Azzurri, 5-0 over the Ottawa Internationals, an 8-0 defeat of Oakville and 10-0 over Prescott.
The Dynamite will play in the quarter-finals Aug. 9.
Soccer enthusiasts can watch Londoner Semir Mesanovic and his Indiana Blast take on the Cincinnati Riverhawks tonight on FOX Sports World Canada.
Mesanovic, who played for London City and Toronto Croatia of the CPSL and London Bosnia of the Western Ontario Soccer League, has three goals and an assist for the Blast of the A-League.
Game time is 8 p.m.
The London Soccer Academy will begin elite training sessions with instructors Ian Knight and Jurek Gebczynski on Sunday.
Those interested should arrive at the Greek Canadian Community Centre on Sarnia Road at the following times -- goalkeepers, 3-4 p.m., u-11 to u-13, 4-5:30 p.m. and u-14 to u-18, 5:30-7 p.m.
Call 474-9147 for more information.

Friday, June 13, 2003

New City player came with a twist

CPSL THIS WEEK: New City player came with a twist
Kathy RumleskiLondon Free Press

Sometimes help comes from strange places.
A hairdresser aiding a soccer team may seem a bit of a stretch. But for London City, an appointment to get a hair twist turned into the team getting a starting defender.
Jeff Russell, 22, was getting his hair done at Fantasy Hair Design when he started talking soccer with shop owner Rob DeSouma.
DeSouma happens to be a friend of City coach and manager Harry Gauss.
A phone call to Gauss turned into a tryout for Russell, who also plays for the London Portuguese of the Western Ontario Soccer League Premier Division and the Western Mustangs.
"He called Harry one day when I was just sitting getting my hair twisted. I talked to Harry and he said, 'Come out in a couple of weeks.' "
Gauss loved Russell immediately. "There's nothing about this guy that I don't like."
City has played two Canadian Professional Soccer League games and Russell only left the field once when he developed cramps in his hamstring late in last Friday's 1-1 tie with the Mississauga Olympians.
The Ottawa native believes things are working out well for both parties and he has DeSouma to thank.
"I was looking to get more games this summer," he said yesterday while taking a break from his job at Sport Western where he helps run a sports camp for children.
"(Mustang coach) Rock (Basacco) is really adamant about trying to play at the highest level. Every game is a really competitive game. With Portuguese, we're limited to the quality teams that we play against."
Russell said he went home to Ottawa for a couple of weeks after he finished his third year at Western, hoping to get a summer job and play for the Ottawa Wizards, the defending CPSL champions.
"I was training with the Wizards and I just couldn't find a job. I came back here and so far I'm really happy with the decision. I think with the Wizards, the playing time would have been limited."
Russell said he must be careful about playing so much soccer and training hard. He's suffered hamstring injuries before.
A member of the Mustangs' track team, Russell was injured just before the national championship and couldn't compete. He was a member of the 4x400 and 4x200 relay teams.
The 4x400 team went on to win gold at the nationals.
But Russell, who won an Ontario Cup with London Portuguese last fall, feels healthy now and is excited about the season before him.
"We're playing well. Most teams are coming here thinking they're going to get an easy win. I think we're going to surprise a few teams."
Russell, who played for Ontario at the 2001 Canada Summer Games in London, joins four other Portuguese players in City's lineup -- Andrew Loague, Ree San, Erald Pope and Ermal Murataj.
"I play with those guys basically five, six times a week. I know where they're going; I know where they want the ball," he said.
London (1-1) plays the North York Astros tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Cove Road field. The game can be seen live on Rogers Television.