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3 things to watch this weekend in Canadian sports


This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

From a pair of critical Olympic qualifiers to a baseball post-season race, here are three things for Canadian sports fans to follow this weekend:

Olympic women’s soccer qualifier: Canada is in danger of not making it to Paris

Coming off their disappointing showing at the Women’s World Cup, where they failed to advance past the group stage, the Olympic champions face a winner-take-all playoff vs. Jamaica for the CONCACAF region’s final spot in next summer’s Games in Paris.

The two-leg playoff starts tonight at 8 p.m. ET in Jamaica and concludes Tuesday night in Toronto. The aggregate score of the two matches determines the winner.

Canada, ranked 10th in the world, trounced 37th-ranked Jamaica 3-0 when they last met 14 months ago in the semifinals of their regional championship tournament. But the Reggae Girlz performed much better than Canada at this summer’s World Cup, shutting out all three of their group opponents (including scoreless draws vs. No. 5 France and No. 8 Brazil) to reach the knockout stage for the first time. So, Canada can no longer treat this playoff as a mere formality.

Olympic women’s volleyball qualifier: Canada still has a shot

The Canadian women’s team can reach the Olympics for the first time in nearly three decades by finishing in the top two of its eight-team global qualifying tournament in China. Canada (3-2) sits fifth in the round-robin competition after today’s victory over winless Ukraine, so it will need to beat Mexico (0-5) and the Czech Republic (2-3) in its final two matches this weekend to have a shot.

If the Canadians don’t qualify here, they could still get into the 12-team Olympic event in Paris on the strength of their world ranking next June. But they’re currently No. 11, so they’d be on the bubble.

Watch Canada vs. Mexico on Saturday at 1 a.m. ET and Canada vs. the Czech Republic on Sunday at 1 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Baseball: The Blue Jays start a big series at Tampa Bay tonight

Last night’s loss to a marvellous Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees snapped the Blue Jays’ five-game winning streak and dropped them to just a half-game ahead of idle Texas and Seattle in the American League wild-card race. The three teams are battling for two available spots.

Tampa Bay has already clinched a playoff berth and is now just 1½ games behind Baltimore for the AL East lead. The division winner will get the No. 1 seed in the AL and a first-round playoff bye, while the wild cards will have to get through a best-of-three series to advance.

Toronto star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. remains day-to-day with a sore knee. He did not play Wednesday and sat out most of last night’s game before coming in to pinch hit with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth. He beat out a potential game-ending double play to bring in a run before the Jays’ rally fell short in a 5-3 loss.


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