With relegation and promotion battles raging these days, Canadian strikers find themselves very influential in the English Championship.
Perhaps none more so than Iain Hume, the 27-year-old from Brampton, Ontario, who seems to be carrying Preston North End on his back in a remarkable push to avoid relegation. Hume has scored six goals in the past seven matches, a stretch that has seen his club win four of the past seven games, picking up 14 of 21 available points along the way.
The Lilywhites’ most recent victory, a 3-1 home win over Sheffield United, put the side within four points of the safe zone, a massive leap for a team that didn’t win a single Championship match between Dec. 11 and March 15.
Hume didn’t get on the score sheet last Saturday, but was very involved during his 89 minutes on the pitch as the Sheffield defense paid a lot attention to the diminutive Canadian, allowing his teammates to take on the goalscoring responsibilities.
Another Canuck striker is also finding himself to have a big impact, although his club is near the top of the Championship table. Simeon Jackson, who a few weeks ago was nailed to the bench amid a five-month goal drought, has suddenly become very productive for Norwich City.
Since Jackson’s 20-minute hat-trick at the beginning of the month, he has seen his playing time steadily increase, and along with it his production. In a midweek fixture, he scored the tying goal in a 2-2 draw at Watford, securing a hard-earned point for his team. He followed that up with a stellar performance at home against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, earning man-of-the match honors even though he failed to score in the Canaries’ 2-1 victory.
Norwich are looking to end the season in the top two, thus gaining automatic promotion to the Premier League. The club currently sits in third, one point behind Cardiff.
Elsewhere in England, David “Junior” Hoilett was missed by Blackburn Rovers, who fell 2-0 to Everton at Goodison Park. Hoilett was forced to miss the match due to a hamstring strain, and his absence was felt by a listless Blackburn attack that hardly tested Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard.
Over in the Netherlands, Canada’s busiest player these days – midfielder Atiba Hutchinson – put in 90 minutes of work in two matches for PSV Eindhoven.
On Sunday, PSV regained their league-leading status by topping Heracles 2-0. Three days earlier, PSV hosted Benfica in a Europa League quarterfinal second leg, drawing 2-2 and losing the series 6-3 on aggregate.
Next door in Germany, Rob Friend entered Saturday’s match for Hertha BSC in the 62nd minute. Hertha routed VfL Osnabrück 4-0 to remain atop the 2.Bundesliga, the club looking like virtual locks to gain entry into the top league for next season.
Marcel de Jong’s FC Augsburg, the second-placed team in the 2.Bundesliga, was also in action Saturday versus Karlsruher SC. Augsburg claimed a 1-0 victory, and also seem set for promotion. De Jong, the club’s regular left back, missed the match with a thigh injury.
A little to the south, veteran defensive midfielder Daniel Imhof and FC St. Gallen played to a 0-0 draw against FC Thun in the Swiss league. Imhof was shown a yellow card late in the match.
Up north in Norway, former Toronto FC and Chivas USA man Chris Pozniak saw limited game action for FK Haugesund, coming on in injury time of a 3-3 draw with Brann.
Also in the Tippeligaen, goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld started and played 90 minutes for Vålerenga in their 1-1 draw with Lillestrom over the weekend.
Other Canadians seeing action in Scandinavia included Mason Trafford and Luca Bellisomo, who both played for IFK Mariehamn in that club’s 1-0 Finnish Cup victory over Honka. Trafford went the distance for Mariehamn, with Bellisomo subbing in in the second half.
At the opposite end of the continent, Josh Simpson and Manisaspor dropped a 3-2 home decision to Galatasaray in the Turkish league on Monday. Simpson went the full 90.
Simpson’s fellow Canuck in Turkey, Mike Klukowski, seems on his way out at MKE Ankaragücü, reportedly asking to leave the club due to non-payment of wages. Klukowski was not on the roster for Ankaragücü’s weekend match versus Bucaspor.
In better news for Canadian fans, goalkeeper Milan Borjan backstopped FK Rad to a 1-1 draw at FK Indija in the Serbian SuperLiga. FK Rad are solidly in fourth on the league table, with Borjan cemented as the starting ‘keeper.
Pedro Pacheco went the distance as a midfielder for Santa Clara in their 2-0 Liga de Honra win over Estoril in Portugal.
Finally, Tomasz Radzinski played the whole game for Lierse SK as the club won a Belgian Europa League qualifier 2-1 over Sint-Truiden.