International stars to shine at Richardson Stadium

Canada-U.S. under-20 showdown set for June 6

The Canadian U-20 team before the first game of the Hyundai Men’s U-20 Tour, which took place March 24 in Coquitlam, B.C. The team beat Scotland 3-1.
The Canadian U-20 team before the first game of the Hyundai Men’s U-20 Tour, which took place March 24 in Coquitlam, B.C. The team beat Scotland 3-1.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of the Canadian Soccer Association

On June 6, the Canadian and American national U-20 soccer teams will face off at Richardson Stadium in preparation for July’s FIFA U-20 World Cup, to be staged in multiple cities across Canada.

The game will be a rematch of last summer’s 1-1 draw between the teams in Kingston. However, this time around, the upcoming World Cup tournament means there’s significantly more at stake. According to the Canadian Soccer Association, more than 600,000 tickets have been sold for the U-20 World Cup matches, making it the largest single-sport tournament Canada has ever held.

Dale Mitchell, the head coach of the Canadian U-20 team, told the Journal this tournament demonstrates the game’s importance and popularity in Canada.

“I think soccer in general in Canada is just continuing to grow in popularity: the under-20 tournament, the 2006 World Cup in Germany, what’s happening right now with Toronto FC… I think you can see that there’s people out there willing to support the game, and eager to support Canadian teams playing on a high level,” he said.

The match at Richardson will be the fifth stop in the Hyundai Men’s U-20 Tour, in which the Canadian team will play four international U-20 sides in six locations around the country to prepare for the World Cup matches in July.

Mitchell said the Kingston game is important due to the high level of opposition and timing in relation to the tournament.

So far, Canada has split a two-game series with Scotland, winning the initial match in Coquitlam, B.C., but losing the second leg in Victoria.

Earlier this month, the team played its third match of the tour, losing 2-1 to Argentina in a close match at BMO Field in Toronto.

The fourth match will also feature Canada against the United States, and will take place in Ottawa on June 3. After the game in Kingston, Canada will wrap up the tour against the Czech Republic in Edmonton on June 18.

Mitchell said it’s significant that Canada has a team qualified to play in a tournament of this calibre.

“There’s a lot of work that’s been put in just to get us to this point, and for a country like ours, just being able to compete at a world championship is a big step.”

The match is being jointly staged by Queen’s Athletics, the Southeastern Ontario Soccer Association and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO).

The game will be the fifth international soccer match to be played at Richardson Stadium. Previous matches have included a women’s national game against Australia in September 2003 and a two-game men’s national World Cup qualifying round series against Belize in June 2004, as well as last summer’s U-20 game against the U.S.

Kelly Smith, Queen’s Athletics co-ordinator of sports events, said she thinks this game will be exciting because each of the teams will going have its full roster. “Most of the players are going to be professional, like MLS or [English] Premiership, players, and some of the U.S. players have quite a lot of buzz about them, and the Canadian players, too.” One of the young Canadian stars likely to play a major role in the game is defender David Edgar, recently named the 2006 Canadian Youth Player of the Year. He has been a strong defensive presence for the U-20 team and has also scored key goals in club and international play.

This is Edgar’s third U-20 World Cup, formerly the World Youth Championship, which Mitchell said he thinks is a record.

“He’s in a great club environment at Newcastle United, a very big club in England,” Mitchell added. “Where he plays … in the middle of our defense, which is a very key position, he’s a big part of our team. He’s certainly a leader of the back line, and also a leader of the

whole group.”

Other notable Canadian players include Andrea Lombardo, a striker with Toronto FC, and Jaime Peters, a midfielder for Ipswich Town in the English Football League Championship, one level below

the Premiership. “That’s going to be really great, [to have] the highest level of players you can see in Canada,” Smith said. “This will pretty much be one of their final games before the World Cup starts.”

Tickets are $29 for centreseats, $19 side seats and $12 for general admission. They can be purchased by phone at 613-533-6000 ext. 74715, at the PEC wicket, or online at whatsonkingston.com.

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