February 12th Edition

Roster named for inaugural W Gold Cup & more Canada Soccer drama

Happy hangover Monday!

We know a different kind of football is probably on your mind this morning after the crazy game last night in Vegas, but there was still plenty of big news in Canadian footy this week to catch up on.

The CanWNT is preparing for continental competition, while their U-17 youth team missed out on the international stage for the first time.

Meanwhile, the CPL transfer season stays hot, while the CSA boardroom decidedly does not.

All that and more in this week’s edition of The Northern Pitch.

Bev’s squad named for W Gold Cup

Bev Priestman named her roster for the first-ever Concacaf W Gold Cup this past week, and there were certainly a few takeaways from the 23-player squad that will represent Canada at the tournament's inaugural edition.

Number one, we still scrolled down to the end of the roster just to see if ‘FW - Christine Sinclair’ was still there for some reason. And for the first time, it wasn’t.

Number two, like most, we were stunned when we kept scrolling and did not find Marie-Yasmine Alidou on the list either. Alidou’s name has been all over this newsletter in recent weeks (and again this week) because she has been absolutely balling out in the Portuguese top division — with 21 goals in all competitions already this season, including a recent brace against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Other names left off the roster include Janine Beckie and Rylee Foster, the latter of whom has won back-to-back A-league Player of the Month awards in an outstanding return to professional football after a serious car crash resulted in life-threatening neck and spinal injuries in 2021.

Priestman was asked about these omissions, particularly that of Alidou, and mentioned that the 28-year-old has been playing as a midfielder for Canada, so doesn’t perfectly fit in the system in her new position — as well as the depth the national team has up top.

Regardless, Canada has named a strong roster for the tournament, which can be found here, including a preliminary training camp.

With Olympic rosters still set only to feature 18 players, there are going to be even more difficult decisions for Priestman ahead as she tries to narrow that group down even further for a competition where Canada will be expected not only to perform, but continue their three-tournament run as medallists.

Meanwhile, the inaugural W Gold Cup kicks off on February 20 in the US, with Canada’s opening match coming on February 22 against the winner of El Salvador and Guatemala (who will meet in a play-in match). Canada’s group also includes Costa Rica and Paraguay. The top two teams from each of the three groups, plus the two highest-ranked third-place finishers, will advance to the knockout round.

The Concacaf confederation competition includes the top teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, plus the top four teams from the 2022 Copa America Feminina (which evidently includes Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia).

Canada women’s U-17 miss out on World Cup

Canada Soccer

In less positive news for Canadian women’s soccer, the U-17 side missed out on the World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history. Canada lost 2-1 in extra time to Mexico, albeit in a somewhat controversial fashion, in the Concacaf U-17 Championship semifinals. Only the tournament two finalists book a spot at the 2024 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will be hosted in the Dominican Republic in October.

After winning their first two group matches comfortably against Puerto Rico (5-0) and Panama (5-1), Canada was humbled in their final group game 5-0 by the United States, setting up a semifinal with the tournament hosts, Mexico. After allowing a goal early, Canada forced extra time through a late Anabelle Chukwu goal. They looked to have taken the lead in the dying moments, but the ball was ruled to have crossed the line — a potentially dubious decision. Regardless, the hosts had more energy in extra time and grabbed a winner in the 101st minute, meaning Canada won’t be at the U-17 Women’s World Cup for the first time in the tournament’s eight-competition history.

Canada did go on to win 4-1 in the third-place match against Haiti, with Kaylee Hunter scoring a hat-trick, including an absolute banger from a free kick. The other spot, perhaps, was Chukwu, who scored five times in four matches. But Mexico is just the latest country that is truly starting to catch up with Canada, largely due to its domestic league structure. This only further emphasizes the importance of the launch of Project 8 next year.

Dino Rossi the latest Canada Soccer resignation

Canada Soccer

In this week’s edition of the soap opera that is Canada Soccer, Dino Rossi announced his resignation from the board of directors and took to social media to effectively slam the door on his way out. In a statement that only further tarnishes the reputation of an already embattled organization, the most quoted and stunning part says ‘it became apparent that football doesn’t come first at Canada Soccer these days’, and that as a result, he found it difficult to contribute in a meaningful way.

Speaking of reputation, Rossi has an excellent one within Canadian soccer as someone who has truly made exceptional contributions to the sport in this country through his work with League1 Canada, and specifically League1 Ontario. Having a statement like this made by him only makes it more concerning.

Rossi will retain his role as the executive chairman of League1 Ontario, which is perhaps the only good news to come out of this story.

In other news


🔨 Forge FC was defeated at home by C.D. Guadalajara. They were first spotted in Niagara, and then they made their way downriver to Hamilton. Chivas supporters and players had made their presence known in Ontario with two goals and an assist from former San Jose Earthquake wunderkind Cade Cowell. The game ended 3-1 for Chivas, with the only Forge goal coming from Terran Campbell. It was a tough matchup for Forge, but they displayed moments of quality football against one of Mexico’s most decorated clubs. Perhaps Forge can mount a comeback in the second leg in Mexico? Miracles do happen.

🤔 Triston Henry was absent for Forge against Guadalajara. If you watched this Champions Cup matchup, a noticeable exclusion was goalkeeper Triston Henry. Officially, Forge FC has declared that Henry will be absent due to personal matters. What does that mean? Who knows, but the Northern Tribune provided a potential reason for the absence. Allegedly stating that the personal matter concerns a transfer to the USL and potential disagreements over the matter. However, Triston Henry released a statement on his Instagram story stating that the article by the Northern Tribune is “misleading and inaccurate.” So what’s going on? Time will tell.

🌊 Whitecaps draw Tigres at BC Place. Mexican clubs have arrived in Canada from Ontario to BC. Fortunately for them, they did not experience Iceteca. The Whitecaps “hosted” Tigres at Starlight Stadium. This was indeed an away game for both sides. Vancouver scored first with a beautiful setup play finished by Damir Kreilach. Only for Frenchman André-Pierre Gignac to score an unreal freekick in the 87th minute. Despite the draw and the disallowed goal, Vancouver showed real character and many moments of promising attack. The second leg matchup on the 14th in Mexico promises to be a banger. Get your date to watch the game with you.

🟦 Yellow card, red card and now blue cards. Blue is a soft, nice, and relaxing colour, but it does not convey that in this context. It has sparked online outrage, and even daddy Liverpool,  Jurgen Klopp, has come out against this idea. If you live in blissful ignorance, the football governing body has proposed the trial of blue cards. In this case, a player can be given a blue card for a foul, leading to a 10-minute suspension in the sin bin, like a penalty box, as found in ice hockey. The new proposal has been met with such backlash that they have delayed the trial.

🤕 Alistair Johnston has suffered a head fracture. Celtic travelled to Edinburgh to take on Hibernian FC for the fifth round of the Scottish Cup. In this matchup, AJ collided with opposing Hibs defender Nectarios Triantis in an aerial challenge. The impact resulted in Alistair being stretchered off the field and transported to a hospital. Celtic fear that AJ may have suffered a head fracture. According to the Athletic’s Joshua Kloke, AJ has suffered a fractured jaw and would be available for Canada’s Copa America qualification.

🔥 Marie-Yasmine Alidou is on fire. Despite being left out of Bev Prietman’s Gold Cup squad, the Montrealer is on fire with Benfica. Alidou’s goal against Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday three has been voted as UWCL's goal of the group stage by fans. Alidou has been a revelation for the Portuguese side with eight goals in nine Champions League matches. This season is a statement year for the 28-year-old. Oh, and for good measure she scored over the weekend in a 4-0 win over Valadares in the Taça de Portugal quarterfinals. Fellow Canadian Chandra Davidson, meanwhile, scored her first goal for Benfica in that match as well.

 📺 MediaPro & CSB finding a quick resolution? Concacaf president Victor Montagliani was on Footy Prime this week, and really you should listen to the whole interview because he had a lot of interesting things to say. But the one that surprised most listeners was Montagliani suggesting the CSB and OneSoccer had worked out their issues, and that there would be an announcement soon regarding this settlement. This would be a long way to go in a few weeks after both sides threatened significant legal action as it looked like the deal between the two had broken down.

Pacific FC

🔱 Pacific FC signed Aly Ndom. The Vancouver Island club has announced the signing of the French midfielder to a two-year deal. He joins the Tridents from Finnish club IFK Mariehamn.

⚓️ Halifax Wanderers signed former Atletico Ottawa star Ryan Telfer. The Haligonians have put pen to paper for the signature of former York United and Ottawa forwards Ryan Telfer to a one-year contract with an option for 2025. The Mississauga-born player joins Halifax from Miami FC after scoring five goals in 30 matches in 2023.

🤝 Atletico Ottawa loan out Noah Verhoeven and add Rayan Yesli and Aboubacar Sissoko. Ottawa has loaned out midfielder Noah Verhoeven to Valour FC. Verhoeven has recently signed an extension with Ottawa until 2025. Meanwhile, 2023 Golden Glove nominee Rayan Yesli has been acquired. The 24-year-old keeper has signed a one-year contract with the option to extend until 2025. Atletico Ottawa has also added Aboubacar Sissoko to the squad. The defensive midfielder has signed a two-year contract, which expires at the end of 2025.

🐎 Cavalry bolsters the squad by acquiring loanees Lucas Dias and Jack Barrett. The Calgarians have dipped into talents coming from top-flight football clubs. They acquired Toronto-born attacking midfielder Lucas Dias from Sporting Lisbon. Dias joined the Sporting youth academy at 11 years old. This famous academy has produced humble talents such as Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. Dias has made four appearances for the U23 Canadian National Team so far. Cavalry has also loaned Jack Barrett from Premier League club Everton—two young talents from two top-flight clubs.

🔨 Forge FC adds Jaseem Koleitat and Zayne Bruno. The CPL champions have signed Czech goalkeeper Jaseem Koleitat from LAFC 2—the 24-year-old signs with Forge to a short-term contract. The Hammers have also added the 17-year-old Brampton youth Zayne Bruno from Sigma FC as a development player.

✍️ Valour has acquired Themi Antonoglou and Jonathan Viscosi. The Winnipeg club has signed defender Themi Antonoglou from Toronto FC. The 22-year-old homegrown talent has made 28 appearances, with 15 on loan with TFC2. Valour has also signed 32-year-old goalkeeper Jonathan Viscosi from Vaasan Palloseura in the Finnish first tier. The Ottawa-born goalie has made 153 appearances across his decade-long career, stretching from the UK to Sweden, Finland and the US.

Bay Football Club

🩼 Milan Borjan leaves game early due to injury. The Canadian veteran was subbed off in the 59th minute in the match in which his club Slovan Bratislava defeated MSK Zilina 4-0. 

🌊 Vancouver Whitecaps sign Belal Halbouni. The Caps continue to add players to their roster as they prepare for a long season in multiple competitions. They have added Canadian defender Belal Halbouni after successful trials with the club. The Canadian centre-back from London, Ontario, joins Vancouver from German Bundesliga 2 side FC Magdeburg. Halbouni has signed a two-year deal with an option for a third season.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Theo Bair can’t stop, won’t stop. We have mentioned Theo Bair in the last few editions of the newsletter. Why? He has scored six goals in 5 Scottish Premiership matches for Motherwell. Despite experiencing a surprise defeat to Greenock Morton in the Scottish Cup, Bair is making a statement for his spot in the CanMNT.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Ike Ugbo is making a statement. Two forwards in the UK are making waves with their recent performances. Ugbo has scored a brace for Sheffield Wednesday against Birmingham City, scoring all the goals in that game. Moreover, this is his first goal for Sheffield Wednesday since he is currently on loan from Troyes.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Ethan Schilte-Brown signed with Kilmarnock. The 18-year-old centre-back has signed his first professional contract with Scottish Premiership club Kilmarnock. Schilte-Brown spent time with Orlando City's youth academy and Halifax Wanderers' development program. The young defender has signed with Kilmarnock until the summer of 2025.

🌉 Lysianne Proulx joins NWSL expansion side Bay FC. The 24-year-old Québécoise goalkeeper has signed a two-year contract with Bay FC with an option for 2026. She joins the newly formed San Francisco club from Melbourne City’s A-League. She signed her new contract on February 8th, just a day before she was called up to Bev Priestman’s Gold Cup squad. 2024 has started tremendously for Lysianne Proulx.

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and around the world.
This week’s picks come from Josh Deming.

Josh Deming is a Web & Social Editor, Digital at OneSoccer. He also runs a YouTube channel called JJD TV. He creates videos, does live streams and records interviews covering all things Canadian soccer.

📺 What to watch

I love soccer documentaries and if you do as well I have an underrated one just for you. The series is called When Eagles Dare and it's on Crystal Palace during their 2012–13 league campaign, which concluded with the club gaining promotion to the Premier League after winning the Championship play-offs. You can watch it on Amazon Prime Video along with the new Mr. & Mrs. Smith series which is really good.

🎧 What to listen to

I pretty much only listen to soccer podcasts and I have two suggestions. The first is The Gab & Juls Show which covers everything going on in the soccer world. I also really like Fútbol Americas, Herc and Seb do a fantastic job covering all things Concacaf.

🛍️ What to buy

FC Soccer out of London Ontario has some incredible finds. They have a wide variety of kits, shirts, balls, cleats and the owner is very friendly. I get all my soccer apparel from there.

Follow Josh Deming on Twitter/X here: (@tv_jjd)