Going the distance

Josh Simpson figures every trans-Atlantic trip takes him 24 hours door-to-door. Then there’s the jet lag. But Simpson accepts — although not always enthusiastically — the long travel that comes with being a key cog in Canada’s quest for a World Cup berth, and a starting midfielder with Turkish side Manisaspor.

Canada midfielder Josh Simpson

Canada midfielder Josh Simpson

Josh Simpson figures every trans-Atlantic trip takes him 24 hours door-to-door.

Then there’s the jet lag.

But Simpson accepts — although not always enthusiastically — the long travel that comes with being a key cog in Canada’s quest for a World Cup berth, and a starting midfielder with Turkish side Manisaspor.

“That’s a real blow, to be honest, it’s very difficult,” Simpson said of the time he and most of his Canadian teammates spend criss-crossing the globe.

“The (Canadian Soccer Association) has done well and booked us good flights in business class, the idea is to get some sleep on the plane, but it’s still very difficult.”

Simpson scored twice in Canada’s 4-1 victory over St. Lucia on Sept. 2 at Toronto’s BMO Field, and then played in Canada’s 3-0 win at Puerto Rico four days later.

He boarded a flight back to Turkey the next day and three days later scored the late equalizer for Manisaspor in a 1-1 tie with Trabzonspor in the club’s opening match of the Turkish Super Lig season.

“It actually never gets easier as many times as I do it,” Simpson said on a conference call before practice Thursday. “Then of course you’ve got to talk about the jet lag, which is even more difficult. For a week after, you’re not sleeping until 4 in the morning and then you want to sleep until 3 in the afternoon.

“It’s never going to be easy but it’s part of the job.”

The match-fixing scandal that left a cloud over the Turkish league has also made this season’s schedule even more hectic for Simpson. The start was delayed several weeks, meaning games have been crammed into a shorter season.

Simpson’s schedule for the next week alone: three games in eight days starting Saturday — all requiring flights.

The 28-year-old from Victoria will be back on this side of the ocean in a couple of weeks when the Canadians regroup for their next two qualifiers, Oct. 7 at St. Lucia and Oct. 11 against Puerto Rico in Toronto.

The Canadians sit atop Group D with their two victories. They looked shaky for stretches in both games, however, and Simpson vows the team will be more settled the next time it steps on the field.

“I’ve had a lot of games in the last three or four months with the national team, and I’m feeling every time I come in a little bit better and I think most of the guys would say the same thing,” Simpson said.

“So we’re going to be a little bit more dangerous and I’d like to be personally a lot more dangerous in the next couple of games in October.”

Canadian left-back Mike Klukowski joined Simpson — who plays on the left wing — at Manisaspor this season and Simpson said he and both the Canadian and Turkish sides are benefiting from the partnership.

“It’s been absolutely optimal,” Simpson said. “First of all to have a friend here, a Canadian guy, has been outstanding, but of course to be able to communicate so openly with a guy that I’ve been playing with anyways for 10 years, it’s going to be a really big help for both of us.

“I think both of us are pretty happy with the way that worked out.”

Simpson spotted a big Maple Leaf draped over one section of the stadium in Manisaspor’s season opener.

“I’ve been here for two years, and I’ve had a really good time here,” he said. “Slowly (the fans) are taking to us. That’s the first time I’ve seen the Canadian flag out there so it was pretty cool.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Several cases of COVID-19 were reported among employees of stores at Bower Place Mall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
COVID-19 cases reported at Bower Place mall stores

AHS said five complaints were investigated since March, and required changes made

Edmonton Eskimos' Tanner Green, right, knocks the ball from Calgary Stampeders' Romar Morris during first half CFL football action in Calgary in 2019. Green has been waiting for nearly 17 months to get back on the field with the Edmonton Football Team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lacombe’s Tanner Green happy to finally see a CFL return to play date

CFL announced Wednesday league will return on Aug. 5

Instructor Brandt Trimble leads an outdoor spin class at RYDE RD. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Fitness facilities continue to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

‘It’s really frustrating to be one of the targeted businesses’

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins (Photo contributed)
Federal budget strangles job growth, says MP Blaine Calkins

‘It is most certainly not a balanced budget’

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

Halifax author tackles notorious tale of N.S. family in new novel

Halifax author tackles notorious tale of N.S. family in new novel

The Rogers Logo is photographed in Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers CEO ‘deeply disappointed’ software upgrade caused wireless outage

TORONTO — The chief executive of Rogers Communications Inc. said Wednesday that… Continue reading

Governor of the Bank of Canada Tiff Macklem holds a press conference at the Bank Of Canada in Ottawa on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Bank of Canada keeps rate on hold, sees brighter economic outlook

Bank of Canada keeps rate on hold, sees brighter economic outlook

Pumpjacks pump crude oil in Alberta on June 20, 2007.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Court asked to step in as SanLing Energy warns it intends to stop operations

Court asked to step in as SanLing Energy warns it intends to stop operations

Canadian Pacific Railway president and CEO Keith Creel addresses the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CP Rail asks U.S. regulator to rule on its and CN’s rival Kansas City Southern bids

CP Rail asks U.S. regulator to rule on its and CN’s rival Kansas City Southern bids

A man walks into a Cargill meat processing factory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Site of COVID outbreak last year: Vaccination clinic at Alberta meat plant postponed

HIGH RIVER, Alta. — A COVID-19 vaccination clinic for thousands of workers… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks at a television screen as he listens to United States President Joe Biden deliver a statement during a virtual joint statement following a virtual meeting in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘We hope to help a little more’: Biden says he spoke to Trudeau about more vaccines

WASHINGTON — Canada can look forward to an unexpected shot in the… Continue reading

The Mission Correctional Institution in Mission, B.C. is pictured Tuesday, April 14, 2020. A new federal study found that people released from prison were much more likely than the general population to have trouble finding gainful employment, even over a decade after returning to society. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Ease employment hurdles for former prison inmates, federal study urges

OTTAWA — A new federal study found that people released from prison… Continue reading

Most Read