April 29th Edition

CanMNT manager search heats up, and CanWNT home friendlies announced

Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, José Mourinho. 

We aren’t talking about the mid-2000s prem here, and we are talking about names linked to the Canadian men’s national team manager job in recent weeks.

While the rumour mill has been working overtime again this week, it appears the CSA is getting closer to naming the official replacement for John Herdman. Formal interviews have started, and more concrete candidates are beginning to emerge.

More on the latest links to the CanMNT gaffer job, a CanChamp catch-up, the summer send-off series for CanWNT and more in this week’s edition of The Northern Pitch.



👀 The CanMNT manager search heats up

It has been eight months since Canada Soccer announced that John Herdman was departing the Canadian men’s national team to take over as the gaffer of Toronto FC.

At long last, it appears the organization is close to naming his replacement. The process saw significant delays as the CSA first needed to name a general secretary to oversee the hiring process. Alyson Walker’s hiring and departure saw Kevin Blue stepping up to the plate.

Now, over the past week, more and more names are getting linked to the job. The Evening Standard out of the UK reported Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Aitor Karanka and Jesse Marsch are in the mix — while Frank Lampard and José Mourinho were contacted but rejected the offer.

Per a report from Kristian Jack on OneSoccer, multiple international candidates were interviewed this past week. Additional domestic candidates: Bobby Smyrniotis, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and Biello will be able to make a case in the week ahead.

By all accounts, Blue has done an impressive job of fast-tracking this process. He has been in constant communication with multiple stakeholders across Canadian soccer and has involved several key former players in the recruitment, hiring and interview process. Letting those who are the most connected, educated and passionate about the sport in this country is never a bad thing.

Since Herdman’s departure, his trusted assistant Mauro Biello has been the interim head coach but has struggled to pick up results. He did, however, get the job done and qualify Canada for Copa América by defeating Trinidad and Tobago.

Biello’s name remains in contention, and if Canada cannot find a suitable full-time hire before Copa América, he would be the favourite to coach the team at that tournament. Given the interest in the job, however, it seems that leading Canada as an interim coach at that tournament—and then somehow shocking the world and going on a run—is probably the only way we see Biello in charge beyond this summer. Any new manager will likely want to use the Copa América as critical tournament preparation ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

Meanwhile, the Athletic’s Joshua Kloke has reported that he believes Tony Clement. Clement may not be the flashy name some of the other candidates provide, but boy does he have an exciting resumé. The 52-year-old from England has been an assistant to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Everton and a regular assistant to King Carlo Ancelotti.

According to Kloke, the result of the upcoming Canada Soccer presidential elections could still play a big role in this process should Charmaine Hooper be replaced.

This truly seems like a global search involving some high-profile candidates, and could be one of the biggest decisions in Canadian Soccer history—one that the program isn’t taking lightly.


🏆 TFC & Cavalry book spots in CanChamp quarter-finals

Hanin Mazri / DARBY

The 17th edition of the Canadian Championship is up and running, and two clubs have already booked their spots for the quarter-finals.

Cavalry FC kicked off the competition on Tuesday night with a 1-0 dub over Vancouver FC despite being down to ten men for the final half an hour. Tobias Warschewski scored the match's lone goal five minutes after Shamit Shome was sent off. Character win for the Cavs.

The next night, Toronto FC laid a bit of a smackdown on Simcoe County Rovers, winning 5-0. John Herdman drew some heat for controversial comments saying he was disappointed his team didn’t score their target: a club-record seven goals.

This week, there are four more CanChamp matches, starting with three on Wednesday Atlético Ottawa hosts Valour FC (7:00 p.m. ET), Forge FC hosts York United (7:00 p.m. ET), and Pacific hosts TSS Rovers (7:00 p.m. PT).

Then, on Thursday, the final match of the opening round takes place on the East Coast as Halifax Wanderers host CS St-Laurent. CF Montréal and Vancouver Whitecaps have already booked their spots in the quarter-finals based on their performances last season.


🇲🇽 CanWNT get June home friendlies against Mexico

Canada Soccer

Brazil last year and now Mexico. CanWNT is getting a pair of friendlies in a summer send-off series this June.

As we know, CanWNT will participate in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. In preparation for the campaign, Canada will host Mexico in Montréal and Toronto on June 1st and June 4th, respectively. Despite not qualifying for the Summer Olympics, Mexico is a worthy opposition.

Let’s return to Mexico’s W Gold Cup performance. They defeated the US in the group stages and reached the semi-finals, but they lost to Brazil 3-0. La Tri are a hardened side that plays solid football. This is the perfect opponent for CanWNT to play against leading up to Paris. It will promise to be a competitive exhibition, just like the Brazil matchups from last year.

Tickets for the send-off series are now available. 


AS Roma

🇮🇹 Evelyne Viens is a Serie A winner. Buchanan wasn’t the only Canadian to win a league title this week. AS Roma won the Serie A title after they watched Juventus lose 2-0 at home against Inter. Similar to Leicester City’s Premier League win, the team watched their title confirmed on a couch. Unfortunate for Julia Grosso but a big gain for Viens. With Juve’s loss, Roma sits at the top of the table with an 11-point gap. Evelyne Viens becomes the fourth Canadian to win Serie A after Selenia Iachelli, Julia Grosso and Tajon Buchanan.

🏆 Tajon Buchanan picked up a second trophy. After four months in Italy, Tajon has already picked up two trophies: Supercoppa Italia and Scudetto. The Serie A title was confirmed in the Milan derby, as Inter Milan defeated AC Milan at the San Siro 2-1. This is Inter’s 20th league title. TJ was unused in this game but will not be absent in the celebration. Life is good for the Brampton winger.

🍁 Jacen-Russell-Rowe balled out in the Champions Cup. Columbus Crew hosted Monterrey in the first leg of the Champions Cup semi-finals. The MLS champions came out of the game with an aggregate 2-1 lead. Jacen-Russell Rowe contributed a goal and an assist in that game. The Canadian youth assisted the first goal with an easy give-and-go to set up Cucho Hernandez. JR Rowe scored the tie-breaker in the 72nd minute with a headed goal. It was a good night for the young lad.

✍️ Tani Oluwaseyi — remember the name. The Mississaugan featured in the Minnesota United starting lineup and contributed a goal in a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. The 23-year-old forward is starting to make his mark with the club, and time will tell if CanMNT will call him up. Remember the name Tani Oluwaseyi for now because this will not be his last goal.

🔥 Olivia Smith scores again and again. This game was one-sided. Maritimo hosted second-placed Sporting Lisbon and handed the home side a 7-0 thrashing. Olivia Smith had a massive showing, with two goals and an assist. She assisted in the 40th minute, scored in the 43rd minute and her second goal in the 48th minute.

🐐 Christine Sinclair is still adding to her stats. If she’s not scoring, she’s assisting, and her stats are getting thicker at club level. Sincy contributed to Portland Thorn’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars. The Canadian GOAT assisted Sophia Smith in Thorn’s second goal.

👏 Mya Jones makes her first NWSL appearance. The Calgarian was featured in the San Diego Waves FC starting lineup against Bay FC. Her first pro debut is as a starter, which is a good look. Also, San Diego won 2-1 over their Northern Cali rivals—big vibes.

🤕 Quinn suffers an early injury. A bit of bad news out of the NWSL this week as well, as Quinn was removed after just five minutes with a knee injury. They had just returned from a head injury, so this is definitely concerning, especially with the looming Olympic games. One would assume they would be one of the first names on the team sheet, so we will all have our fingers crossed for the best-case scenario when Quinn gets their scan to find out the extent of the injury.

Vancouver Whitecaps

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Wrexham are coming to town. It’s official: The Ryan Reynolds Darby is happening in BC Place. Vancouver’s poster boy and Wrexham co-chairman Ryan Reynolds has brought Wales’ oldest club to Canada’s most storied team. The game will kick off at 4:30 pm PT on July 27th.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Iké Ugbo came up big in the Championship. Sheffield Wednesday were feeling the relegation heat. Then, the Canadian international came in and helped save the day. Ugbo scored the second goal of the Owls’ 3-0 win over West Brom, a top bin banger at the near post. With this goal, the Canadian international has 11 goals and two assists this season — helping to secure Wednesday’s Championship survival.

✍️ TFC signed Etienne Derrick Jr. Toronto received the Haitian winger from Atlanta United in exchange for $200k in GAM and an additional $175K if metrics are met. Since 2015, Etienne Derrick Jr. has registered 17 goals and 19 assists in 171 appearances.

🟥 Chelsea crashed out of UWCL. Chelsea set a record by being the first club to defeat Barcelona at home in five years. Despite a 1-0 lead in the first leg, Barca showed why they’re top in this competition by coming out with a 2-0 win. Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence started at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately for the former, the defender picked up a second yellow, giving her a red card. Even though winning the ball in that challenge, the ref saw otherwise. Something about Stamford Bridge and Barcelona on a European night will always have drama.

🇫🇷 Vanessa Gilles is in the UWCL final. Olympique Lyonnais versus PSG is a monumental matchup in French football. Lyon won the first leg 3-2 after coming back from a 2-0 deficit. The second leg ended in 2-1 (5-3) for OL at Parc des Princes. Vanessa Gilles came off the bench in the first leg and started in the second leg. The eight-time UWCL Champions are now headed to their eleventh final.

⚓️ The Wanderers have sold out season tickets. Halifax is a soccer city, baby! HFX has sold out its 2024 season membership, and Messi isn’t even coming. The demand for tickets is so high there is now added pressure for the already announced $40-million expansion to the Wanderers Ground. The new stadium will increase capacity from 6,500 to 8,000. We believe they can even push it to 10,000. But one step at a time.

André Varty / DARBY

🔴 Prince Owusu crowns himself in Orlando. TFC travelled south to Florida to take on Orlando City. Toronto conceded first but then responded with a thumping header from Tyrese Spicer and an 89th-minute goal from the Prince, assisted by Bernadeschi. The game ended 2-1 win for TFC. After winning against New England at home and thrashing Simcoe Rovers in the CanChamps. TFC are feeling themselves right now. Prince Owusu scored three goals in the last three games. Fire.

🔵 CF Montréal visit Wilfried Nancy in Columbus. Bleu-blanc-noir travelled to Ohio to face the 2023 MLS Champions. If we’re being honest, it was not the most exciting match, but it was an interesting testament to two teams playing the same style and philosophy. Especially two teams with coaches have tremendous tactical overlap. The game ended 0-0, advantageous for MTL.

🌊 Brian White made history for the Whitecaps. Vancouver travelled to the East Coast to play third-placed NY Red Bulls. Let’s start with the opening minute. Yohei Takaoka made a double save in the opening moments of the game. Wow. Another wow moment: Brian White’s backheel goal. Ryan Raposo helped solidify Brian White as Vancouver’s leading goalscorer in all competitions in the MLS era with 44 goals. The game ended 1-1.

🌸 VFC donned their viral kit in a loss. York United took chances at VFC but could not convert until the 69th minute when Brian Wright scored a tap-in goal. York United came out with a 3-0 win over VFC. Cherry blossoms are nice but have no bite.

🤫 Ottawa hushed sold-out Wanderer’s Ground. T’was a beautiful day in Halifax, with a packed crowd and a home opener with massive vibes. In the 19th minute, things went south for Lorenzo Callegari, who was given a red card for a high foot on Manny Aparicio. It was a long day for the Wanderers with a red so early in the game. The floodgates opened, and Atleti scored three goals, with Riley Ferrazzo scoring a consolation goal in the 89th minute for the Haligonians. The game ended 3-1 for Ottawa.

🔨 Forge FC + Valour FC = three bangers and a pen. Forge hosted the Winnipeg club and saw out a 2-1 win. Here are the minutes in which quality goals were scored: 61st minute by Tristan Borges, 65th minute by Jordan Faria, missed pen in the 77th minute, and 90+1st minute by Noah Jensen. This game did not disappoint.

🫤 The weekend ended with a bit of a whimper. The first scoreless draw of the season took place in Calgary between Cavalry and Pacific FC on Sunday afternoon. The Cavs are still looking to hit the heights of last season, when they won the league by 13 points, while Pacific FC have yet to concede a goal this year through three games. That stat is impressive, what played out on the field on Sunday was less so.

Games of the week

📺 What we’ll be watching

Here are our must-watch games this week:

CanChamp 🏆
Atlético Ottawa vs Valour (Wed @ 7pm ET / 4pm PT)
Forge vs York United (Wed @ 7pm ET / 4pm PT)
Pacific vs TSS Rovers (Wed @ 10pm ET / 7pm PT)
HFX Wanderers vs SC St-Laurent (Thu @ 6pm ET / 3pm PT)


🛍️ What to buy

Scenes has done it again—this time in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Artist Liv Ryan. A beautiful made in Brooklyn knit scrimmage sweater and a limited run of their world class polyester shorts. The details are on point. Dropping tomorrow April 30 at scenes.nyc

Who to follow

If you love football captured on film as much as we do, give Sam (a.k.a Stoppage Time Winner) a follow on IG. The Edinburgh based photographer captures immaculate vibes both on and off the pitch.


VFC vs York United
📸 Abdulhadi Ahmed / DARBY