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Instead of being a home-field edge, will border rules impact the Blue Jays’ ability to trade?

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Two months into the Major League season and those Canadian vaccine border restrictions haven’t quite proven to be the home-field advantage many anticipated.

The Minnesota Twins sure made out OK this weekend, taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays despite placing right-fielder Max Kepler and relievers Emilio Pagan, Caleb Thielbar and Trevor Megill on the restricted list. Pretty solid, considering they were also without Carlos Correa, who was on the Covid IL.

Now, it’s true: the immediate-term impact of not being at full strength sometimes outweighs the short-term impact – the Boston Red Sox, for example, were thrown off balance in the bullpen for days when their most effective reliever, Garrett Whitlock, was required to make a start in Toronto in place of the unvaccinated Tanner Houck in a series in which the Blue Jays took three of four games. Did the lack of Drew Steckenrider explain why the Seattle Mariners lost two of three games to the Blue Jays and fell into a 2-8 funk? Probably not. The Chicago White Sox, meanwhile, were a mess before the Blue Jays swept them without reliever Kendell Graveman.

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Really, the air was kind of taken out of the whole home-field thing when the New York Yankees, who were questioned time and again about the vaccination status of core players such as Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, showed up fully-jabbed and in full force.

Lurking in the background all along is the impact the restrictions have had and will have in general manager Ross Atkins’ ability to make trades.

It’s clear by now that the Blue Jays need more swing and miss in the back end of the bullpen (a great deal more, in my opinion) in addition to the kind of impact left-handed bat and balance for which they’ve been searching since the signing of free-agent Michael Brantley fell through two winters ago. I’m not as bothered about adding another starting pitcher at this time. Whatever, Atkins needs to go about his business knowing that the federal border restrictions constitute for some players an effective “no-trade clause,” to Toronto – a clause that can only be removed if the feds either do away with the restrictions or allow some type of waiver.

The MLB trade deadline is 6 p.m. E.T. on Aug. 2. So there’s time.

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Atkins doesn’t like to get into the weeds when it comes to answering questions about the logistics of making deals with the border restrictions in place, citing medical privacy issues. Remember: this isn’t only a Blue Jays issue, since teams jockeying for post-season play no doubt realize that they might need to cross the border for the post-season, never mind a key series in Toronto in September.

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It’s not determining who is or isn’t vaccinated. All you have to do is ask. But I bounced this theoretical scenario off of one MLB G.M.: What if the Blue Jays have their eyes on a player on your team who is unvaccinated and have a compelling offer on the table that you want to take – an offer that would require you to go to the player and ask him to get vaccinated? I mean, talk about making it obvious to a player that you have an offer for him. And what if the player says ‘Nah, I’m good?’

“It would have to be a case by case thing,” the G.M. said. “I mean, you can’t force a guy to get vaxxed, and if he hasn’t already done so, you’d have to think he’s not likely to get the shot now. And if his family isn’t vaxxed … well, what about them? I guess it would come down to your relationship with the player and his agent, and maybe your ability as a salesman.”

For now, though, the emphasis will remain on teams coming to Toronto. To that end, it was interesting hearing Twins vice-president and general manager Thad Levine talk to us on Blair & Barker ahead of the Twins series about whether vaccination status is a clubhouse issue. Every clubhouse contains all manners of political leaning. Believe me, you don’t really want to know your favourite players politics. I mean … trust me on that.

“Keep in mind that we’ve always built clubhouses with good chemistry in mind – good morale and good teamwork,” he said. “There has always been an undercurrent of people with different values and principles and different ideas. It’s just probably never been as publicized as in recent years with the issues our country has faced. But it’s the same throughout sports.

“Our team is similar in that our players respect each others personal opinions.

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Now, that being said, when you walk into an environment that is as talent rich as the Blue Jays with a fanbase that already gives it a bonafide home-field advantage, you don’t want to give them an additional advantage. But what we did is view it as a chance for other guys to rise to the occasion.”

Levine said that for the Twins and every other professional team, the discussion around vaccines remains “nuanced.” That’s the perfect word for it.

Hit and Run

• There is a Canadian connection to a long-standing New York Yankees record that Nestor Cortes could equal in his next start, Wednesday against the Twins. Cortes has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 19 consecutive starts, just one away from the club record set in 1910-1911 by Russ Ford, a native of Brandon, Man., who moved to Minneapolis as a youngster. Ford set American League rookie records that still stand for wins (26) and shutouts (8) in 1910, later admitting he had used a hidden emery board to scuff up balls.

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• Trea Turner is going to get paid as a free agent. On Saturday, he had his Major League season-high hitting streak snapped at 26 games. Turner has had two hitting streaks of 20-plus games in the 107 games he’s played with the Los Angeles Dodgers, including a 27-game streak. He’s also had a 16-game streak … and since the start of the 2021 season no other Dodgers player has had a streak as long as 15 games.

• At this point, it almost seems as if the Cleveland Guardians Jose Ramirez is just trolling Blue Jays fans. Ramirez, the apple of many an off-season eye in these parts, is, according to friend Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, fiddling with some history with an average of 11.4 at bats per strikeout while being on pace for you-don’t-want-to-know RBIs. As Castrovince notes, since World War II only three players have managed to go 10 at bats between strikeouts and drive in 150 runs: Joe DiMaggio in 1948, Ted Williams in 1949 and – hands up if you nailed this one – Tommy Davis of the 1962 Dodgers.

• No, I don’t know how a guy doesn’t put on sun-glasses to take right-field at the Rogers Centre on a day like Sunday. The Blue Jays looked like a team that was unprepared right from the jump, what with botched flyballs and popups, a failure to cover second base and a near-collision that saw Bo Bichette deliver a much-needed message to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  But right-fielder Teoscar Hernandez did pick up a pair of outfield assists, the fourth time he has had multiple-assist games. If you’re wondering, the Blue Jays all-time record is eight, held by Bob Bailor. Jesse Barfield had seven multiple-assist games, Jose Bautista had five.

• More from Levine, the Twins G.M., on keeping Byron Buxton healthy. “We’ve talked to him about how a double off the wall is better than him crashing into the wall and getting a concussion.” Levine says it’s a fine line between keeping players such as Buxton – and George Springer – healthy while not taking away the thing that makes them special. “They feel they owe the pitching staff when the ball is in the air. They owe it to them to get to it.” I still think the Blue Jays will end up moving Springer to right field, sooner than later if Hernandez doesn’t get a long-term deal. Load management is a thing with Springer, who has only started 80 games in centre field twice in his career, last in 2018.

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The Endgame

Liam Hendriks has come around on the whole Pitchcom thing. Initially he wasn’t a fan of the on-field communication device because having to insert the receiver into the band of his cap while he was standing on the mound didn’t help with “the façade I’m trying to put out there of being a bad-ass.” So now he puts it on in the bullpen before coming into the game.

Hendriks said he has also customized his so that the only commands he gets are in/out/up/slider/curveball.

“It’s really simplified,” he said. “I like to think I’m an intelligent guy but I overthink everything and when I do I become stupid.”

Hendriks, of course, toyed with the notion of signing with the Blue Jays as a free agent after the 2020 season, even visiting the team’s minor league complex. To say he’d be the answer to 90 per cent of this team’s bullpen issues is an understatement, but the two sides clearly couldn’t agree on a valuation. Hendriks instead signed with the Chicago White Sox.

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“I talked to other teams and they said: ‘We will protect you,’” said Hendriks. “I don’t want to be protected. Tony (La Russa, the White Sox’s manager) is willing to throw you out there any time. If you are good to go he will use you.”

It’s been interesting watching pitchers and players gradually come around on Pitchcom, and I wonder if that comfort level isn’t a way of the commissioner’s office getting guys used to an eventual move toward the pitch clock. Shrewd, if that is indeed the case.



Jeff Blair hosts Blair & Barker from 10-Noon ET on Sportsnet 590/The Fan and Sportsnet 360. Subscribe wherever you get your favourite podcasts.

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2022 FedEx Cup Playoffs odds, picks, predictions: Expert backs Collin Morikawa in BMW Championship best bets

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The PGA Tour’s top golfers will be looking to make a big move this week at the 2022 BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club. With the Tour Championship set for next week in Atlanta, the aim is to make the cut from 70 down to the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings and advance to East Lake. A victory would mean 2,000 points, and Will Zalatoris showed last week just what that is worth. He moved to the top of the standings with his first tour win, while runner-up Sepp Straka moved from 35th to eighth. The leader after Sunday will have a three-stroke lead when the Tour Championship tees off. Among the elite golfers aiming to claim the top spot are world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler – who is 124 points behind Zalatoris – Tony Finau (fifth) and reigning FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay (seventh). Rory McIlory (ninth), Jon Rahm (14th) and Jordan Spieth (17th) are all well within striking distance, and even rookies Cameron Young (12th), Joohyung Kim (26th) and Sahith Theegala (28th) have a shot.

McIlroy is the 10-1 favorite in Caesars Sportsbook’s latest 2022 BMW Championship odds, with Rahm and Cantlay right behind at 12-1. Scheffler, Thomas and Zalatoris are all priced at 14-1, and Finau and U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick are at 16-1. Xander Schauffele (18-1), Collin Morikawa (18-1) and Burns (20-1) also are among the favorites in the BMW Championship 2022 field. Before locking in any 2022 BMW Championship picks, you need to check out the BMW Championship 2022 predictions and best bets from golf insider Patrick McDonald.

After spending time at FanSided and NBC Sports EDGE, McDonald joined CBS Sports as a golf writer in the spring of 2022. Now covering the sport from a broader perspective, McDonald still likes to dip his toes into the betting pools on a weekly basis on the PGA Tour.

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He takes a measured approach to his outright selections and is up 47 units on those plays in 2022, having hit Cameron Smith (22-1) at the Tournament of Champions, Hudson Swafford (250-1) at The American Express, Joaquin Niemann (70-1) at the Genesis Invitational and Justin Thomas (66-1) live at the PGA Championship.

At last week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship, McDonald picked Zalatoris over Finau in a head-to-head matchup. And while Finau continued his stellar play, Zalatoris was better, winning the tournament while Finau tied for fifth. The expert also touted Joaquin Niemann, who was priced at 60-1 and tied for 13th. 

Now, McDonald has studied the 2022 BMW Championship field and is locking in his best bets, top sleepers and favorites to avoid. You can head to SportsLine now to see all of his 2022 BMW Championship picks and predictions.

Top 2022 BMW Championship expert picks

Shockingly, McDonald is fading Joohyung “Tom” Kim, who has been tearing up the courses and is among the favorites at 25-1. The 20-year-old posted his first victory at the Wyndham Championship two weeks ago and was T-13 last week. He has finished in the top 25 in six of 10 events, and in the top 10 in three. But the expert expects this level of competition to be too much. The South Korean missed the cut at the PGA Championship and was T-47 at the Open Championship, so he might not be ready for this type of pressure just yet.  

On the flip side, the expert is behind Collin Morikawa (18-1) even though he hasn’t been playing at his typical level. Morikawa had his troubles in the British and Scottish Opens, but this will be more in his wheelhouse. He also tends to play well on unfamiliar courses where his talent can make up for inexperience. The 25-year-old’s past three victories have come on tracks that aren’t regular parts of the tout schedule, and he had T-5 finishes before and after that trip to Scotland. See who else to pick at the BMW Championship here.

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How to make 2022 BMW Championship golf picks

Before this week’s PGA Tour event in Delaware, McDonald has locked in his best bets for the 2022 BMW Championship. They include a longshot who comes in at massive odds of more than 40-1. You can find out who it is, and see the rest of McDonald’s FedEx Cup Playoff picks, over at SportsLine.

So which 2022 BMW Championship picks should you target? And which longshot do you need to be all over? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Patrick McDonald’s top prop picks for the BMW Championship 2022, all from the expert who’s up 47 units on outright plays in 2022, and find out.

2022 BMW Championship odds, field

See full BMW Championship 2022 picks, best bets and predictions here

Rory McIlroy +1000
Jon Rahm +1200
Patrick Cantlay +1200
Will Zalatoris +1400
Scottie Scheffler +1400
Justin Thomas +1400
Matt Fitzpatrick +1600
Tony Finau +1600
Collin Morikawa +1800
Xander Schauffele +1800
Sam Burns +2000
Viktor Hovland +2500
Sungjae Im +2500
Joohyung Kim +2800
Cameron Young +3000
Shane Lowry +3500
Joaquin Niemann +3500
Jordan Spieth +3500
Max Homa +4500
Hideki Matsuyama +4500
Adam Scott +5000
Corey Conners +5000
Tyrrell Hatton +5000
Aaron Wise +5500
Billy Horschel +5500
Russell Henley +6000
Cam Davis +6000
Davis Riley +6500
Keith Mitchell +6500
Brian Harman +6600
J.T. Poston +8000
Sahith Theegala +8000
Taylor Pendrith +9000
Seamus Power +9000
Maverick McNealy +9000
Si Woo Kim +9000
Denny McCarthy +10000
Mito Pereira +10000
Keegan Bradley +10000
Harold Varner III +10000
Alex Noren +10000
Brendan Steele +12500
Kevin Kisner +12500
Sepp Straka +12500
Troy Merritt +12500
Trey Mullinax +12500
Taylor Moore +12500
K.H. Lee +12500
Scott Stallings +12500
Emiliano Grillo +12500
Chris Kirk +12500
Wyndham Clark +15000
Sebastian Munoz +15000
Tom Hoge +15000
Andrew Putnam +15000
Chez Reavie +15000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout +15000
Marc Leishman +15000
Lucas Glover +15000
Adam Hadwin +15000
Alex Smalley +17500
Lucas Herbert +17500
Matt Kuchar +20000
J.J. Spaun +20000
Kurt Kitayama +20000
Cameron Tringale +20000
Luke List +20000
Mackenzie Hughes +27500

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The NBA Has Revealed When The Full Schedule Will Drop

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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

 

Over the last few days, you have surely seen the schedule for a lot of upcoming NBA games leaked to the press.

Typically, the league releases the entire schedule all at once but this year things have been a bit different.

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We know the opening night games and who will play on Christmas Day but so much is still a mystery.

It won’t be a mystery much longer.

The league has announced that it will release its complete game and national television schedules for the 2022-23 regular season on Wednesday, August 17 at 3 p.m. ET.

No more waiting, no more speculation, just the actual facts.

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This is going to be a big day for fans throughout the league and it will be a chance for them to anticipate what’s coming.

 

What’s Ahead

When the full schedule for the upcoming season is released, fans will parse through it and take a deep dive at every single game on the calendar.

They will look at their favorite teams and determine who has a very difficult schedule and who has a very easy one.

While the league does its best to make every single team’s schedule fair, there are always certain squads who seem to get the short end of the stick.

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It’ll be interesting to see which teams get long stretches of the season against rivals and which ones seem to luck out and face off against inferior teams more often.

It feels like the NBA season just ended and now we are getting prepared for the next one already.

But there is still a lot that must be done before 2022-23 begins.

Training camp is still to come, along with media days.

And don’t forget there are quite a few trades that can still be initiated throughout the league before opening night.

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The post The NBA Has Revealed When The Full Schedule Will Drop appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Canadians Abroad Roundup: Is Jonathan David poised for a supernova season?

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Eight months ago, when the Ligue 1 season paused for its winter break, Jonathan David was at the centre of several transfer rumours to some of the world’s biggest clubs.

David had scored 16 goals in Lille’s first 26 games across all competitions and guided Les Dogues to the round of 16 in the Champions League, which led to many in the Canadian soccer community expecting a marquee transfer in the summer.

Unfortunately for David, that did not occur. Lille finished 10th in Ligue 1 (after winning the title in 2020-21), exited the Champions League with a whimper against Chelsea, and the Canadian’s strong start was long forgotten with just three goals in his next 21 games.

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There were many theories behind the slump, although this wasn’t the first time David experienced a decline in form. He didn’t score for Lille until November during his first season in 2020-21, picking up just two goals in 23 matches before finishing with 11 goals in 24 appearances after the winter break. That inconsistency, coupled with Lille’s reported asking price, could’ve scared off potential suitors.

Thankfully, new coach Paulo Fonseca has replaced Jocelyn Gourvennec and it’s breathed new life into the 22-year-old.

Fonseca, who prefers a 4-3-2-1 formation with two playmakers behind a striker during his coaching career, has tabbed David for one of those playmaking roles. He occupied that position at Gent where he attracted attention from several clubs, including Lille.

It’s clearly comforted David because, like his final season in Belgium, he’s started the year in a fury. He has two goals and two assists in two starts, and while it’s early days, there’s a lot to be excited about.

For starters, David is not a traditional No. 9. He is an intelligent runner, but prefers finding pockets of space around the box to manipulate, as seen for his two assists.

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In both instances, David dropped into open space, his teammates played the ball quickly, and converted two beautiful goals.

This is a regular theme because when Lille has possession, David (No. 9) moves inside to play off the centre forward, Mohamed Bayo (No. 27), receives the ball in deeper areas and progresses it in the final third.

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That enables David to execute his patented delayed, undetected runs into the box for a shot.

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This results in Lille being a major threat on the counter when David spreads his wings.


Of course, there’s a major difference facing newly promoted Auxerre and, say, Nice or Monaco. In fact, French champions Paris Saint-Germain are up next this weekend. That will provide a better sense of how well David, and Lille as a whole, have progressed.

But there are promising signs. David playing in a role that’s more suited to his qualities can only have a positive knock-on effect for the rest of the season.

OTHER UPDATES AND ANALYSIS

• Alphonso Davies’ opening game of the Bundesliga season against Eintracht Frankfurt was relatively uneventful, mostly due to Bayern Munich’s resounding 6-1 win. The second match on Sunday vs. Wolfsburg might have provided a window into what we can expect from Davies for the rest of the season, though.

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The 21-year-old was far more involved in the final third compared to the Frankfurt game, mainly due to Davies (No. 19) essentially owning the entire left flank.

Bayern Munich’s pass map and average positioning vs. Wolfsburg. The thicker the lines, the more passes completed between two players.

But it was where Davies carried the ball that was intriguing. There were a significant number of touches in the left half-space.


Chalk it down to early season rust but Davies couldn’t penetrate Wolfsburg’s defence on the dribble in the opening 25 minutes.



However, Davies is so persistent, confident and so damn fast that he’ll eventually catch a defender napping. Eventually, Wolfsburg relented and the Canadian dynamo helped set up both of Bayern’s goals.

Bayern’s fluid front line should allow Davies to freely roam inside for the rest of the season and if so, that’s a dangerous prospect for opponents.

• Ike Ugbo re-debuted for Troyes on Sunday after permanently signing from Genk. He logged around 30 minutes, although he checked into the game with Troyes 2-0 down to Toulouse, eventually losing 3-0. Ugbo’s actions basically involved pressing off the ball and contesting aerial duels, so it’s difficult to judge based on the circumstances.

Keep in mind, though, that Ugbo didn’t have a pre-season as he was frozen out at Genk, so he’ll need a few weeks to regain his touch, anticipation and overall fitness.

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• Over at Club Brugge, Cyle Larin has appeared in every game, albeit as a substitute. Brugge plays in a 3-5-2, which means Larin can play as a withdrawn striker, but Noa Lang and Ferran Jutglà are the go-to starters. Lang was linked with a move away before he ultimately stayed at the club, so Larin might have to be patient until fixture congestion ramps up when the domestic cup and Champions League begin.

Larin usually replaces Jutglà, so the chemistry with Lang is improving by the game.


To Larin’s credit, he’s trying to get involved in the games. As a second striker, he often drops deep to receive in a pocket of space, then darts forward. He just doesn’t receive the ball every time.




All of it is very encouraging. Larin just needs to score in order to challenge the forward hierarchy.

• Cyle Larin’s countryman, Tajon Buchanan, hasn’t played this season due to an ongoing injury that he suffered mere minutes before the Super Cup. Thankfully, Buchanan is poised to return to training.

• Don’t look now, but Stephen Eustaquio is poised for a hefty minutes increase with Porto. Vitinha and Fabio Vieira’s departures, coupled with coach Sergio Conceicao switching to a 4-3-3, moved the Canadian midfielder ahead in the pecking order. Now he replaces one of Matheus Uribe or Marko Grujic and has received around 30 minutes per appearance so far.

Obviously Eustaquio (No. 46 in the clips below) has to capitalize and he’s done very well off the bench. He’s diligently covered the flank for his full-back…

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… Been relentless with his off-the-ball duties…


… While maintaining his impeccable line-breaking distribution.





All in all, it’s a very encouraging start in Portugal for Eustaquio.

• Meanwhile, Steven Vitoria has started Chaves’ first two matches in the Primeira Liga – a 1-0 loss to Vitoria de Guimaraes and Monday’s 2-1 win over Maritimo. That’s a huge sigh of relief as Vitoria was at risk after his contract with relegated Moreirense expired in June, but he’s landed on his feet and, coincidentally, fits perfectly into Chaves’ system.

Chaves starts with a back four but it eventually morphs into a back three in possession. That’s a carbon copy of how he’s utilized with the Canadian men’s national team, so Vitoria can push up to engage in aerial duels and have adequate cover in behind, as seen below.


The only issue is Vitoria getting isolated in open space. It’s noticeable how slow he is to react against quicker, shiftier dribblers. But there’s seldom a problem with proper cover.


• The European season is also in full swing for the women, so here are a few names to track as the World Cup looms next year.

We’ll start with Jenna Hellstrom, who just moved to Dijon. She’s a late bloomer at 27 but could be a dark horse to make the World Cup squad if her Swedish form translates to France.


Then there’s Julia Grosso, who has been on fire with Juventus. She should be a starter for Canada if her form keeps up, and it’s easy to understand why.



Let’s close it out with Evelyne Viens. She didn’t make the W Championship roster but will surely be in contention for the World Cup squad if she keeps banging in goals for fun in Sweden. The 25-year-old has scored 10 goals in 19 games for Kristianstads, although she has nine tallies in her previous nine appearances.

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• Junior Hoilett is still at Reading but has begun the Championship season at right wingback. In reality, Hoilett has played all over the pitch through the opening three games, including his usual No. 10 role over the weekend vs. Rotherham United.

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Reading’s pass maps and average positioning. Hoilett is No. 23.

Yeah, it’s very apparent that Hoilett (No. 23 in the video) is not a wingback.

• Theo Corbeanu joined Championship side Blackpool on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers late last month and has started back-to-back matches in the Carabao Cup in midweek, along with Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Swansea.

Corbeanu’s first proper appearance — a 78-minute stint off the bench — showcased some noteworthy qualities. He wasn’t holding onto the ball as long and got his teammates involved, which he seldom did while on loan at MK Dons in 2021-22.

Whether it was a case of facing so-called inferior opposition or otherwise, those individualistic tendencies returned for Corbeanu (No. 25 below) against fourth-tier Barrow in the cup, although it was mixed in with the occasional sublime pass.

Saturday’s loss to Swansea was worse. Corbeanu was hauled off at halftime after barely making an impact in the final third, the opening 10 minutes aside. Blackpool played quite deep which didn’t help but the 20-year-old winger just wasn’t involved enough to make an impact.

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It’s still very early, so Corbeanu has a chance to adapt to a higher level in the Championship compared to his League One loans with Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons. So far, though, it seems to be a case of a young player who needs to find consistency in his game.

• Daniel Jebbison wasn’t in Sheffield United’s matchday squad for the 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough on Sunday amid links to Everton. Jebbison did start the opening game of the season and came off the bench in the Aug. 6 victory over Millwall, too, both of which were eye-opening.

Not only has Jebbison (No. 36 in the video) bulked up, he’s a bit more aggressive when engaging in duels with defenders thanks to that improved strength, plus he’s composed in possession and still relentlessly presses opponents off the ball.

Jebbison isn’t the finished product, as evidenced by some clips in the video where he either hesitates to leap for a ball or gets shoved off by a defender. He also hasn’t been involved in the box, so there’s a lot to work on.

But Jebbison wouldn’t have earned that opening-day start vs. Watford if not for Burton Albion coach, and former Chelsea striker, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The 19-year-old spent five months on loan at Burton in League One last year before he was recalled by Sheffield United in January.

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“Before going to Burton, I was still in my shell a bit,” Jebbison told the Sheffield Star. “But playing regularly for them and working with Jimmy, it made me understand what type of footballer I am. I discovered that I had a nasty side that I didn’t really know was in me and that’s really helped me come on.

“That, together with the help from Jimmy, was probably the biggest thing I took away from Burton. I had to get used to the nasty side of the game. There’s loads of improvement still to come from me but I’ll get there, definitely.”

All the more reason to give Jebbison the regular minutes he needs to keep growing as a player.

• Atiba Hutchinson is nursing an injury, so he has missed out on Besiktas’ first two matches of the season, but it’s supposedly not a long-term knock.

• There’s a Canadian in Turkey who is playing, though. Sam Adekugbe finished the full 90 in Hatayspor’s 1-0 loss to Super Lig champions Trabzonspor on Friday in a relatively uneventful match for the full-back. Hatayspor only registered seven shots, while the majority of Trabzonspor’s attacks were generated down the right flank, so Adekugbe had little to do.

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• It’s mid-August, yet Liam Millar has already played more than 600 minutes this season. He registered an assist for Basel in midweek against Brondby as they reached the Europa Conference League playoff before coming off the bench for half an hour in Sunday’s loss to Lugano in the Swiss Super League.

The win over Brondby was a terrific night for Millar (No. 7 below). He set up several scoring chances and had a glorious opportunity to score himself.





Millar is significantly stronger when he’s allowed to drift inside as an inverted winger. He’s done so regularly since joining Basel last summer, which is tremendous for his confidence.

• Milan Borjan started Red Star Belgrade’s 4-0 win over Vozdovac on Saturday, while also leading the team into the Champions League playoff against Maccabi Haifa. The first leg kicks off on Wednesday afternoon.

• Borjan’s new teammate, Stefan Mitrovic, has been integral to Red Star since he moved from Radnicki Nis. The 20-year-old, who is eligible for Serbia and Canada, has two goals and an assist in seven appearances in all competitions this season.

It’s not just the goal involvements that are captivating. It’s Mitrovic’s impact in all facets. Whether he’s taking on defenders and cutting inside as a winger, executing striker-like runs to score or progressing the ball, there’s nothing Mitrovic (No. 80) can’t do.

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With Serbia and Canada monitoring his progress, Mitrovic will be a hot commodity over the next few months if this form continues.

• Scott Kennedy has lost his starting spot at Jahn Regensburg, which led to speculation about his future. A source close to Kennedy revealed that he’s in talks with a major agency who sees potential in the 25-year-old defender, which could lead to a transfer before the end of the summer window.

• Belal Halbouni is a newcomer to the 2. Bundesliga, having joined Magdeburg from Werder Bremen’s reserve squad. He’s yet to debut but has a really intriguing profile for a centre-back.

• Over in Scotland, Victor Loturi has started well at Ross County after joining from the CPL’s Cavalry FC. Loturi was one of seven CPL youngsters I earmarked for a potential transfer away from the league and the 21-year-old has exceeded expectations in the Premiership.

The Aug. 6 defeat to Celtic highlighted Loturi’s defensive work rate and positional awareness. It’s a mental challenge to be locked in against either Old Firm club, so a young midfielder rising to the occasion deserves plaudits.



• Loturi’s teammate and countryman, Ben Paton, has come off the bench in Ross County’s previous two matches in the midfield. That’s a relief for Paton, who spent the majority of last season at left-back. He’s traditionally a No. 10 or winger, so getting an opportunity to play centrally should do wonders for the 21-year-old.

• OK, it was a 4-0 loss to Rangers, but Theo Bair had some bright moments for St. Johnstone as the No. 9 on Saturday. Bair’s size was a challenge for the Rangers defence and it nearly resulted in a goal for the Canadian.

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Bair has started St. Johnstone’s opening three games, so regular minutes in a solid league could help the 23-year-old. If he cleans up his touch, which often leads to needless turnovers, he can transform into a decent target man.

• Speaking of former Vancouver Whitecaps, Amir Batyrev has landed in the Russian Premier League with Sochi. The 20-year-old forward joined the Whitecaps academy in 2018 from the Toronto FC academy before moving to Russia last year in the lower leagues.

But Batyrev joined the first team recently and has made two substitute appearances on the left flank, including Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Spartak Moscow. The former Whitecap (No. 28) definitely proved to be capable enough in that setting.

Keep an eye on Batyrev from here on out.

• Charles-Andreas Brym made his Eredivisie debut on Sunday for Sparta Rotterdam, who lost in a 3-2 thriller to AZ. Brym joined from FC Eindhoven in the Eerste Divisie, the Dutch second division, so this is a giant step up.

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Due to the uptick in quality and pace of play, Brym was clearly taken aback by it all. Notice how he’s immediately pressed when receiving the ball in the clips below. That alone highlights how much quicker the games are compared to the Eerste Divisie.



It was a 13-minute cameo in his first appearance, but Brym will have to adapt quickly in order to earn more playing time at this level.

• He was MVP of the MLS All-Star Game and helped Minnesota United beat Nashville SC 2-1 a few days later. All in a week’s work for Dayne St. Clair.

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But this was a beneficial confidence boost for the Canadian goalkeeper. He committed a few howlers in a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Rapids and 4-4 draw with the Portland Timbers. The last time St. Clair struggled, he was dropped by coach Adrian Heath in 2021 and rode the bench the rest of the season. Letting the 25-year-old deal with the “yips” is the only way he was going to recover and he’s done so.

• Maxime Crepeau started in LAFC’s resounding 5-0 victory over Charlotte on Saturday. Despite the lopsided score, Crepeau still had to make a couple of tricky saves to preserve the clean sheet.

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• Maybe it was amplified by facing a Canadian club but Raheem Edwards delivered one of his best performances of the season in the L.A. Galaxy’s 5-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Edwards gliding into the final third and progressing the ball was a joy to watch.


• Diyaeddine Abzi was one of several CPL players to move abroad, landing at Pau FC in Ligue 2. He was thrown right into the starting lineup for the season opener but struggled with the increase in physicality and pace.

Abzi has rebounded well in the last two games against Dijon and Le Havre, though. Interestingly, he’s played more as a winger in those matches whereas he started at left-back for the season opener. It makes sense because the 23-year-old’s (No. 2 below) best attributes are his dribbling and pace.




Considering Abzi wasn’t the best defensive full-back in the CPL, it makes sense to push him further up the pitch in Ligue 2. The only area of improvement now would be cleaning up his touch. Abzi could get away with a heavier touch in Canada but in Ligue 2, where it’s faster paced and more technical, that’ll be snuffed out.


• Another Canadian defender moved to Ligue 2 as well. Fresh off an impressive Concacaf U-20 Championship, Justin Smith moved to Quevilly on loan from Nice. He’s only made the matchday squad once — on Aug. 6 vs. Paris FC — but hasn’t debuted yet. Hopefully that changes soon because he desperately needs minutes.

• Of all the outgoing CPL players this summer, Aribim Pepple secured the marquee transfer in moving to Luton Town in the English Championship. He was immediately loaned to Grimsby Town in League Two, the fourth tier in the English pyramid, where he’s made two appearances already. Here are some snippets from those (he’s No. 23).

• Malcolm Simmons could be worth watching. The 19-year-old moved to Benfica in early August and has already debuted for the U-23s in midfield. Having last played in the Portuguese fifth division, it’s quite the leap but Simmons has great potential. He’s predominantly a deep-lying midfielder with excellent dribbling abilities, composure and defensive acumen. Hopefully we see more of him in the coming months.


About the author: Peter Galindo is one of Canada’s leading soccer journalists, having covered the sport for several outlets, including Sportsnet, MLS and Bleacher Report. He also co-hosts the Northern Fútbol Podcast, which focuses on all things Canadian soccer. You can subscribe to the show on Apple, Spotify or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

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