London Free Press: City, Wizards Trade Shots
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
City, Wizards trade shots
By Morris Dalla Costa, Free Press Sports Columnist
They do this at prize fights.
You know, when the two opponents hold press conference and talk about how much they dislike each other and how they are going to kick each other's butt. It's usually done to sell tickets.
It doesn't happen often in other sports because coaches believe there is some psychological advantage derived by an opponent when anything derogatory is said about that opponent.
Football coaches have become famous for this. Their opponent may be a team that's 0-5 and lost every game by double digits, but that doesn't prevent a coach from coming out with some inane comment about how dangerous that team is and how their 0-5 record doesn't reflect the type of team they really are.
That's offensive to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. No one really believes that stuff anyway.
So it's kind of refreshing when someone actually tells the truth about how they feel about an opponent.
This Friday at Cove Road field, in the opening game of the Canada Cup soccer tournament (the Canadian Professional Soccer League's league cup), London City will play Ottawa Wizards.
The winner will move on to Saturday and play the Brampton Hitmen. The other game Saturday will have Toronto Croatia against Vaughan Red Devils.
It seems Ottawa has begun to get on City coach Harry Gauss's nerves. Not that Gauss has many nerves left.
Having taken this tournament three weeks ago, he doesn't have much of time to prepare. He's been in Toronto three times since Wednesday and has had his hands full attempting to make sure the tournament runs without a hiccup.
So on Sunday morning at a league meeting, when Ottawa began to complain about the scheduling, Gauss began to seethe.
City is in the tournament only because it is the host team. Ottawa will finish first in the CPSL first division and likely will finish with the best record overall. When it comes to tournament competition, though, none of that matters.
Ottawa also is smarting from the fact that when Hamilton couldn't hold the tournament, the CPSL executive gave it to the capital city, only to have that decision overturned by the team owners and the event given to London.
"I'm listen to them ranting and raving about having to come to London and why do they have to play the wild-card team," Gauss said. "And they have to travel the furthest and they'll have to stay in hotels all weekend and look how expensive it is.
"Well, I've got news for them. They won't be around for the weekend."
It would be a massive upset, but if nothing else the animosity will make the tournament's opening game very interesting.
"I had to listen to them go on about how they had the best facilities and the best team. Arrogance is fine but don't keep shoving it down people's throat. Shut up and prove it," Gauss said.
The game is at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, with the next day's games beginning at 5:45 p.m.
"There's always a lot to do but there's going to be some good soccer," said Gauss, who always has been willing to risk money to bring good soccer to the city.
This time he's getting some help.Tourism London recognizes that not all events will make money but that it's important to bring in events so that more teams and individuals become familiar with the city. The city owns bleachers that it loans to non-profit groups like the University of Western Ontario Mustangs for their home games. Technically, Gauss's is a professional team but an event of this sort is not going to make a lot of money. The city has come to an agreement that would allow Gauss to pay for the bleachers only if he makes money.
It's a smart compromise.
Tickets bought in advance are $15. Otherwise it's $10 for the City game against Ottawa on Friday and $15 for the two games on Saturday.
If the action on the field is as hot as the war of words, it will be worth the price of admission.
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