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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

{allcanada} WHITECAPS CAPTAIN DEMERIT SET TO RETIRE THIS WEEK

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VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit will announce his retirement Thursday, The Canadian Press has confirmed.

A person with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Whitecaps will hold a news conference to announce that DeMerit, Vancouver's first-ever Major League Soccer signing, is retiring after three-plus seasons with the team.

DeMerit struggled with injuries in the 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Most recently, the centre back tore a tendon in his left ankle in a 3-3 draw with the Philadelphia Union on June 12. He was expected to miss six-to-eight weeks.

He played 11 games this season -- all as a starter.

He missed most of 2013 with a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the season opener against Toronto FC in early March. Two days after suffering the injury at B.C. Place Stadium, he sought to reassure fans by tweeting a photo of himself in his hospital bed while preparing to go into surgery.

After months of rehabilitation with a physiotherapist, DeMerit returned to the lineup in mid-September and played eight games near the end of the season. The successful rehab effort earned him a new contract from the Whitecaps in January of this year after he and the club took a wait-and-see approach with his recovery.

DeMerit, a 34-year-old Green Bay, Wisc., native who was signed by the Whitecaps in 2010 when Vancouver was preparing to enter MLS, also played for the English soccer club Watford for six seasons.

He also played 25 international games with the United States, including starting in four matches at the 2010 World Cup.

Known for strong defensive and leadership skills, positive attitude and unselfish approach to the game, DeMerit posted one goal and one assist in 71 career games -- 69 of which he started -- with the Whitecaps. He logged a total of 5,928 minutes during his MLS career.

He also gained notoriety off the pitch by marrying former Canadian Olympic skier Ashleigh McIvor last summer.

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{allcanada} BAUTISTA BACKS DICKEY AS BLUE JAYS EARN WIN OVER RED SOX

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TORONTO -- Forced to go swing-for-swing with the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays proved more than up to the challenge.

After David Ortiz made yet another impact on the series with a three-run home run, the Blue Jays bounced right back and eventually poured on the offence to beat the Red Sox 6-4 on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

Jose Bautista had two RBI, one each on a double and a home run, to lead the charge. Jose Reyes, Josh Thole and Ryan Goins chipped in by driving in a run each.

Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey (8-10) survived a rocky start to get the victory. Dickey allowed four earned runs on nine hits in six innings of work.

Top prospect Aaron Sanchez made short work of the heart of the Boston order in his major league debut, getting Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz and Mike Napoli to each fly out in the seventh. In the eighth he set Daniel Nava (strikeout), Xander Bogaerts (groundout) and Stephen Drew (strikeout) down in order

Clay Buchholz (5-6) gave up five runs -- four earned -- on six hits in his six innings and was saddled with the loss.

Things started out dreadfully for Dickey, who gave up singles to the first two batters he faced in Shane Victorino and Pedroia. Then Ortiz slammed a 3-1 pitch 434 feet into the Level of Excellence in right field to give the Red Sox (47-54) an early 3-0 lead.

With the homer, his fourth of the series, Ortiz moved into the Rogers Centre record books. It was his 37th home run in his 107th game in the stadium formerly known as SkyDome, good for first all-time, passing Alex Rodriguez.

As rough a first inning as Dickey had giving up his 37th home run at home in Toronto, Buchholz didn't fare much better in his half of the inning.

A leadoff single by Reyes and a walk paved the way for Bautista's RBI double. Even after Melky Cabrera ran into an out trying to get home on a grounder, the Blue Jays (53-49) tied the score on a groundout by Colby Rasmus and then an RBI double by Thole.

During that first inning, a bouncer off the turf hit Buchholz in the face when he couldn't get his glove up in time. After being checked out by training staff, the right-hander remained in the game.

Dickey and Buchholz put up zeros all the way until the fifth inning, when the Red Sox broke through with a two-out rally. Back-to-back doubles by Nava and Bogaerts gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.

Goins drove in Thole with a triple to right-centre to tie the score back up in the sixth. The Blue Jays caught a break on a throwing era by Bogaerts on what would have been an inning-ending groundout by Reyes, but the third baseman's throw was just out of Napoli's reach and Goins scored to make it 5-4 Toronto.

In the middle of Sanchez's impressive two-inning debut, Bautista hit his 18th home run of the season off Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller to add an insurance run.

Closer Casey Janssen, who struggled Tuesday night in a non-save situation, was flawless in picking up his 15th of the season.

Notes -- Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle was honoured on the centre-field video screen on the fifth anniversary of his perfect game, which came as a member of the Chicago White Sox. ... Ortiz became the 14th-fastest player to reach the 1,500-RBI mark since the stat became official in 1920, doing so in his 2,067th game.

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{allcanada} TOTTENHAM SCORES LATE GOAL TO EDGE TORONTO FC IN FRIENDLY

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TORONTO -- Winger Andros Townsend scored in the 85th minute to give Tottenham a 3-2 win over Toronto FC in a soccer friendly Wednesday that saw Toronto striker Jermain Defoe go up against his old English team.

Andrew Wiedeman and Canadian teenager Jordan Hamilton had scored second-half goals to pull the home side even before a sellout crowd of 22,591 at BMO Field. But Lewis Holtby played provider, driving towards goal but finding Townsend who curled a shot past Quillan Roberts, another homegrown teenager.

It was a game of two halves, with Argentine midfielder Erik Lamela scoring twice for Tottenham in the first and Toronto answering back in a far more competitive and entertaining second after the teams combined for 17 changes at the break.

Defoe wore the captain's armband but got virtually no service from his teammates and found himself having to take up the role of playmaker to get something going. The England striker was substituted at halftime, one of seven changes by manager Ryan Nelsen. Veteran Dwayne De Rosario took over as captain.

On a night where he was on the marquee, Defoe was largely on the outside looking in.

Spurs controlled the first 45 minutes against a makeshift Toronto lineup, controlling possession for long stretches and then dispossessing Toronto when the home side got it back. Tottenham outshot Toronto 10-0 (3-0 in shots on target) in the first 45 minutes.

Toronto, with six Canadians on the field, had a much stronger start to the second half and Wiedeman cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 65th minute. Rookie winger Daniel Lovitz, one of the bright spots for Toronto, made the goal by pouncing on a Tottenham turnover and driving towards goal before opening up the defence with a through ball to Wiedeman.

Hamilton tied it up in the 73rd minute, capping off passes from Nick Hagglund and Wiedeman with a clinical left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty box. The 18-year-old striker from Toronto has been playing for the Wilmington Hammerheads of the USL Pro league this season.

Canadian midfielder Kyle Bekker came close earlier in the second half, shooting just wide of 43-year-old American 'keeper Brad Friedel.

Defoe, 31, played 362 times in two stints with Tottenham before departing for Toronto FC in January. He scored 142 goals for Spurs, fifth on the club's career scoring list. Ironically Defoe just hit No. 5 on Toronto FC's all-time MLS scoring chart with 11 goals in 14 MLS games -- evidence of the franchise's past scoring woes.

Lamela, who had one goal in a disappointing injury-shortened 2013-14 season, was one of 10 players withdrawn at halftime by Tottenham. The 22-year-old former Roma player reportedly cost Spurs a club-record 30 million pounds (C$55 million).

Spurs opened their pre-season last Saturday with a 3-3 tie with the Seattle Sounders before 55,349 at CenturyLink Field. Their North American trip wraps up with a Sunday game in Chicago against the MLS Fire.

The game came at an inopportune time for Toronto, squeezed between league games against Houston and Sporting Kansas City and in a month packed with eight contests.

But one wonders how more entertaining and competitive the match might have had Toronto started its strongest roster.

Toronto, already missing defenders Steven Caldwell and Mark Bloom and Brazilian winger Jackson through injury, essentially fielded just four regulars -- defender Doneil Henry, midfielders Dominic Oduro and Collen Warner, and Defoe -- in its starting 11. Goalie Joe Bendik didn't dress and star midfielder Michael Bradley started on the bench.

Goalie Chris Konopka, defenders Jeremy Hall and Ashtone Morgan and midfielder Lovitz have a combined two MLS starts between them this season.

Konopka's MLS log reads two games in five seasons with four teams and he looked rusty. The 29-year-old was replaced by 19-year-old Roberts, who has also been playing for Wilmington.

Roberts, who has yet to see MLS action but has now played against Roma, Liverpool and Tottenham, made several good saves.

The Spurs starting 11 included the newly signed Ben Davies (acquired from Swansea City) as well as fellow defenders Younes Kabul and Kyle Naughton, midfielders Aaron Lennon, Lamela and Christian Eriksen, and 26-million-pound (C$47.5 million) striker Roberto Soldado.

The Spurs starters came from eight different countries while Toronto's starters drew from five countries including three from Canada (Henry, Morgan and Bekker).

Tottenham had three English starters to two for Toronto.

Tottenham stroked the ball around the park and disposessing the green Toronto team. Two Toronto players were nutmegged within the first 8 1/2 minutes -- although De Rosario returned the favour in the second half.

Defoe was starved of the ball early on but showed his class via a slick through ball to Oduro that ended in an offside.

Lamela opened the scoring in the 15th minute on a pass from Soldado and a nice dummy from Lennon that froze the defence. The Argentine midfielder, who showed his flair from the get-go, then beat Konopka with an angled shot into the corner.

Lamela made it 2-0 in the 39th minute from a similar spot after slick passing from Lennon and Soldado slcied open the home defence.

Davies brought Defoe down with a crunching tackle just before the end of the first half.

The game was part of the marketing partnership struck between the two clubs as part of Defoe's transfer deal. Stadium merchandise booths sold both Toronto and Tottenham gear.

Tottenham finished sixth in the Premier League last season with a 21-11-6 record. It kicks off this season Aug. 16 at West Ham.

NOTES: Earlier in the day, Tottenham announced the signings of Davies and goalkeeper Michel Vorm from Swansea City. Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson went the other way ... Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and representatives from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment opened the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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{allcanada} Booth joins Maple Leafs to 'revive my career'

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David Booth is ready with a list of reasons he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs: He can play for an Original Six team close to home with a chance for some significant ice time.

"There's just so many things that I'm excited about," Booth said Wednesday on TSN 1050 Radio. "... Just the opportunity to, I guess, revive my career a little bit."

Booth this week signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs reportedly worth $1.1 million, after the forward was bought out by the Vancouver Canucks following his third disappointing season there.

Unable to play a full season since 2010-11 with the Florida Panthers, Booth finished with 51 points (26 goals) in 134 games with Vancouver.

"It's been a little bit tougher the past couple years, with some injuries, setbacks that I've had," he said on "The Bryan Hayes Show." "I've stayed positive through them all. ... I thought I was playing some good hockey there toward the end of the year ... and I've had a great summer of training, been healthy, and really excited to get a start here in Toronto."

Booth put up 31 goals and 29 assists (60 points) in 72 games for the Panthers in 2008-09, earning a lucrative six-year contract. He was traded to Vancouver on Oct. 22, 2011 and missed 78 games with knee, ankle and groin injuries.

The 29-year-old finished last season with six points in his final 10 games.

"I was playing better hockey there than the past couple seasons. So that was encouraging, sticking with it, and just making it through there and being able to skate again, and play again," Booth said. "I hope that will carry over with a strong summer here and really get ready for Toronto."

Booth said he chose Toronto in part because it is close to his hometown of Detroit and his parents can come see him play whenever they want. What role he'll have is uncertain, but there is room on the Maple Leafs depth chart for a left wing.

"I don't really want anyone to tell me where I'm going to be playing, I want to be able to earn that spot and be able to prove where I belong," Booth said. "I think everyone coming into training camp feels the same way."

He said his speed allows him to create offensive-zone time and wear down an opposing defense, with historic possession statistics that should help the Maple Leafs.

"I think if I can stay healthy and [work hard], it will show in my game," Booth said. "I'll be able to prove that I can play in this League again."

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