Gerba, Sinclair shine for Canada

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Canadian soccer did not have a banner year in 2008.

The potential was there for big things from the men's and women's programs, but the results did not happen.

For the men, things started well early in the year with a highly competitive match against Brazil, only to underachieve in World Cup qualifying, leaving Canada at 90th in FIFA's latest rankings -- down 35 spots from a year ago.

For the women, dreams of finding the podium in Beijing were dashed in a quarterfinal loss at the hands of the Olympic champion USA. The women slipped out of the top 10 to 11th in the rankings.

Individually, Canadian players didn't stand out at home or abroad as many have in the past.

That being said, which man and woman are deserving of the fans' player of the year? Vote online until Jan. 9 at canadasoccer.com.

Three candidates stand out on the men's side:

Ali Gerba is Canada's goal-scoring machine and was a bright light in 2008, netting six goals. At 27, Gerba has paid his dues and seems to have landed in a good place. He has found success at his new home, Milton Keynes Don of England's Coca Cola League One, scoring in nearly half his games.

Julian De Guzman is Canada's poster boy. He was a stud in the midfield against Brazil. But De Guzman faded, and didn't live up to expectations during WCQ. The start of De Guzman's season with Deportivo La Coruna has been ordinary, struggling through injury and opportunities, only playing in eight league games. Still, De Guzman was named Deportivo's 2007-08 player of the year and is the face of Canadian soccer.

Tomasz Radzinski arguably was Canada's best player during WCQ and finished with 13 goals for Skoda Xanthi of the Greek Super League, good for a top five finish in scoring. Since then, Radzinski has moved to Lierse of Belgium's second division, which is hardly a league with a top-class pedigree.

Although the awards take into consideration both national and club team contributions, in a WCQ year, the national team commitment should have more weight in the decision-making process. With that in mind, Gerba has a slight edge over Radzinski and De Guzman.

On the women's side, there are a number of worthy candidates.

There's a lot to like about last year's fans' choice winner, Rhian Wilkinson. She's a solid contributor who works hard. Another solid choice would be goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who came to the rescue of her teammates time after time.

In the end, however, the women's player of the year has to be striker Christine Sinclair. Despite consistently not getting the best of service from her teammates, Sinclair conto find ways to become more involved. She isn't only Canada's best, but is also in the mix for the world's top player.

DE ROSARIO IS COMING

It has been 10 days since Dwayne De Rosario was traded to Toronto FC and there has been no news conference to unveil its biggest player transaction.

Amid speculation that something's gone awry, it's time to take a collective breath and chill out -- De Rosario still is coming.

The delay has to do with TFC's need to juggle salaries in order to fit De Rosario into the payroll without using the Designated Player spot on him.

More moves are on the way to clear cap space.

Transactions in MLS are slow because of the crippling nature of the salary cap.

The European transfer window opens in January, and it will become clearer to MLS clubs what players are staying, coming or going.

For TFC, Marvell Wynne is an obvious candidate to exit. There have been long-standing rumours a deal was in place this past season for Wynne to move to a European team in January. So what should TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston do to replace the speedy wing-back?

How about replacing him with some Canadian muscle? Lumbering Canadian right-back Adrian Serioux is a ready-made candidate.

The Toronto native originally was drafted by TFC in its expansion draft, only to be traded hours later to FC Dallas for the now departed midfielder Ronnie O'Brien.

Since then, Serioux has proven himself to be a solid MLS player, fitting the needs of TFC to bolster its backline. It also doesn't hurt that he is buddies with De Rosario.


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