February 19th Edition

Theo Bair is balling & Cavalry clash with Orlando

Happy Family Day!

We did it folks. We got through a whole week in Canadian soccer scandal-free.

It’s a risky statement because in between the time you’re reading this and the time we finished writing it someone probably screwed something up. But for now, we get a week where we can focus on the field: players, games and some thrilling cup competition.

Theo Bair is absolutely killing it in Scotland, Cloe Lacasse is doing the same for Arsenal, Cavalry kicks off their Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, and we have a roster for the U-20 Championship qualifiers.

Plus debuts, signings, a potential new central defender for CanMNT, and much more ahead in this week’s edition of The Northern Pitch.

Bagsman Bair earning a Canada call-up?

Motherwell FC

Canadians were bagging goals for fun across Europe this week. JD had a hattrick for Lille, Alidou is automatic for Benfica, Lacasse added a brace and then scored the winner against Manchester United, Iké Ugbo, Julia Grosso, Simon Colyn, and Charles Andreas-Brym all found the net, and the list goes on.

Few have been scoring like Theo Bair, however. The 24-year-old now has eight goals and two assists in his last seven matches with Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership. That included another brace midweek against Junior Hoillet’s new club, Aberdeen.

With ten goals and three assists on the season, Bair now sits fifth in the SPL in scoring. It's pretty good for someone playing outside of the ‘big two’ of Celtic and Rangers. The next target for Bair? Earning another call-up to the Canadian men’s national team for their critical Copa America play-in match against Trinidad and Tobago on March 23.

Bair hasn’t played for Canada since 2020, when he bagged his first international goal against Barbados. Beyond Cyle Larin and Jonathan David, however, there isn’t much depth at the nine positions for the national team right now.

So why not roll the dice on a player like Bair? If, God forbid, Canada is losing or tying late in the match against Trinidad and Tobago in March, it could be critical to have another goal threat off the bench. Canada has generally called up a very similar crop of players of late, with the reason being that these have all been must-win matches with little margin for error. Familiarity with the team and system is important.

That argument might make sense for a defender or midfielder who needs to be integrated into the camp before playing meaningful minutes. But for someone brought in with the sole job of finishing off chances, form trumps familiarity.

As long as Bair can keep finding the back of the net in the SPL, a Canada call-up in March should be inevitable and fully deserved.

Cavalry kick off in Concacaf Champions Cup

Tagwa Moyo / CPL

And then there was one.

With Forge and Vancouver Whitecaps being eliminated in the Concacaf Champions Cup this week, only one Canadian side remains, CPL regular season winners Cavalry FC.

The Cavs will take on MLS side Orlando City SC on Wednesday, February 21st (10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT) on OneSoccer. The match, due to weather concerns in Calgary, will be played at Starlight Stadium on Vancouver Island. Tickets can be found here.

This is the first time a CPL club has played an American MLS club, which will make this matchup intriguing. Add in the fact that Orlando, like Cavalry, is currently in the preseason as opposed to in-season Liga MX sides Tigres and Chivas Guadalajara—whom the Whitecaps and Forge faced in the opening round—and the chance for a memorable upset only increases.

Cavalry will still unquestionably be the underdogs, especially with Orlando splashing the cash on former Champions Cup winner Nicolás Lodeiro and Colombian international Luis Muriel, but the Cavs will go into the two-legged matchup confident that they can make some noise.

Canada names roster for U-20 Concacaf Championship Qualifiers

Canada Soccer

Canada Soccer dropped its roster for the U-20 Concacaf Championship qualifiers on Monday, featuring a solid mix of prospects from at home and abroad.

Headlining the group is 18-year-old dual international attacker Jesse Costa from Wolfsburg, Germany, who has already played for Portugal at the Youth level, Oumar Diallo who is with Inter Milan’s youth setup, Whitecaps baller Jeevan Badwal, Toronto FC’s Lazar Stefanovic and Forge FC 17-year-old Kevaughn Tavernier.

Canada is looking to qualify for the Concacaf U-20 Championship tournament proper, which will take place this summer. Their qualifying group, which will be played in Trinidad and Tobago (who they face on Feb 27) features the hosts, as well as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Feb 25) and Dominica. Only the top team from the group qualifies for the tournament. They kick off against Dominica on Friday, February 23. All matches will be available on OneSoccer.

Up the young reds! 

In other news

Aberdeen FC

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Junior Hoilett joined Aberdeen. Canadians are taking over Scotland. Hoilett is the latest CanMNT player to join the Scottish Premiership with Aberdeen FC. The Brampton winger has joined the Dons on a short-term deal, seeing him to the end of the season.

👀 Phonzy to Madrid official? How many times have we prophesied the arrival of the Canadian golden boy to the definition of platinum standard in club football. Phonzy seems to have been destined for Madrid and now supposedly personal terms have been agreed between Davies and the Spanish club. Is this legit? We hope so.

🇷🇸 Richie Laryea to Red Star Belgrade? It’s been no secret that Richie was not having a good time in England, but it appears his European career has the potential to continue in Serbia. Red Star Belgrade is reportedly interested in bringing him on loan with an obligation to buy. We all want to see Richie thriving in Europe. Give him game time!

🇺🇸 Woobens Pacius to Nashville. Every year, one CPL player moves to MLS. This year, it’s Quebec baller Woobens Pacius who has left Hamilton for the country music capital of America: Nashville SC. Pacius joins the club under contract through 2025 with the option for 2026-2027.

🇮🇹 Tajon Buchanan is officially a Serie A player. After seven matches on the bench, the Brampton winger has finally made his Serie A debut for Inter against Salernitana. TJ subbed on for Alessandro Bastoni in the 77th minute. Buchanan came onto the pitch with a roaring ovation from the Inter faithful. He impressed with his pace and dribbling at the edge of the box.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Cloé Lacasse scores twice. When we say twice, we don’t mean two goals but three in two matches. Lacasse was given her second start for Arsenal mid-week in a Conti Cup quarter-final against London City. She found the net twice in that game with a header and a top bins banger. Lacasse contributed another goal this past weekend in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United. Another great week for Cloé.

🧢 Jonathan David bags a hatty. JD is activated. Lille defeated Le Havre 3-0 over the weekend, with all goals coming from Ottawa’s finest. This is David’s 2nd Ligue 1 hattrick; he has 11 league goals with 16 goals and six assists in all competitions.

🔨 Tavernier bags against Chivas. It is not all bad for Forge. 17-year-old Kevaughn Tavernier, in his fourth professional game, scores his first goal in the Champions Cup against Chivas. The last Canadian youth to score against a Mexican team in the Champions Cup (then Champions League) was Ismaël Koné for MTL. Perhaps the beginning of something promising for young man Tavernier.

💔 Whitecaps eliminated by Tigres. The Caps lost to Tigres 3-0 at El Volcan on Valentine’s Day. Tigres have finished all their chances and enjoyed the home-field advantage. Despite the scoreline, Vancouver showed promise and character in the first half. Alas, it was not enough. Tigres once again eliminated the Caps in another international competition.

🤔 Lucas Pos to CanMNT? The search for central defender depth seems like it has been a decade-long pursuit for the national team. But it appears as though an unexpected option has come out of the woodwork. Lucas Pos, a 25-year-old American youth international with Swiss heritage is reportedly pursuing his Canadian citizenship. Pos’ father is from Canada, and with 18 appearances and one goal in the Swiss top flight this season, he’s certainly worth a look.


🍁 League1 Ontario’s new format was released, and they are introducing a promotion/relegation system. Finally, someone is taking a chance with the proper football format. The image above shows how the new system will work for the men’s division. The women’s division differs slightly but still has promotion/relegation. We predict that if the new system proves to be successful, it will be implemented nationwide throughout all League1s. Full details can be read here.

📺 CPL remains on OneSoccer. As we reported last week, MediaPro, the owners of OneSoccer, were in hot water (to say the least). Despite the controversy, MediaPro/OneSoccer will continue to produce live coverage of the CPL for 2024. However, the streaming service’s assets will be transferred to CSB.

👕 First 2024 MLS kits unveiled. Let’s start with the best Canadian kit. Vancouver: dark blue with gold and the badge honouring their 50th anniversary. In second, it’s CF Montréal’s away kit. The white and blue kit pays homage to the Impact legacy, and the Boul. St-Laurent is the main street running through the city's heart, connecting East and West ends. Toronto FC’s new away kit, the “GTA kit,” feels a little lazy. The badge is unique and different, however, the white kit doesn’t really convey anything relating to the GTA.

🐎 Cavalry FC reveal new kits. The Alberta club have released their new home and away kit. The home kit pays homage to Calgary’s tech boom, while the green away shirt is adorned with the northern lights to represent Calgary as the CPL’s most northern city.

🇨🇦 CanWNT Gold Cup group finalized. It’s official, El Salvador joined Group C after defeating Guatemala 3-1 in the qualifiers. Canada will face Costa Rica, and Paraguay and play the opening match against El Salvador.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Ike Ugbo scores again. Milwall hosted Sheffield Wednesday in which Ugbo scored the opening goal for the away team. This is now his third goal in the Championship. His time with Sheffield Wednesday has started beautifully.

🇮🇹 Julia Grosso scores against Napoli. Make that four on the season for Julia Grosso who balled out in Juve’s 4-1 W over Napoli this weekend. Unfortunately for Juve, they still trail league-leaders Roma and Evelyne Viens by eight points through 18 matches.

🇳🇱 Charles-Andrea Brym scores for Sparta Rotterdam. Brym has scored his fourth Eredivise goal of the season against Excelsior. It was a breakaway goal in which the opposition goalkeeper moved up the pitch for a corner.

🇵🇹 Marie-Yasmine Alidou scores a brace. We’re going to need a separate newsletter for her soon because she can’t stop scoring. On Sunday, she scored a brace against CA Ouriense in Benfica’s 6-1 triumph. Alidou is getting warmed up for the Gold Cup.

Chris Hue/Atletico Ottawa

🏟️ Atlético Ottawa signed Jonathan Grant. Ottleti has signed the three-time CPL winner from York United. The former Forge FC fullback will bring championship experience and bolster the defensive line for Ottawa—a solid signing.

⚓️ Halifax Wanderers signed Vitor Dias and Christian Volesky. It’s been a busy week for the Haligonians. They have signed Brazilian attacking midfielder Vitor Dias to a contract seeing him through 2025. US international forward Christian Volesky has also been signed for the 2024 season, with options for 2025. The 31-year-old forward arrives from Monterrey Bay FC, contributing 18 goals and ten assists during his two-season stint at USL. The Wanderers' options going forward look promising.

⚓️ Kareem Sow returns to Halifax. The 2021 U-Sports draftee returns to Halifax after completing his engineering degree from the Université de Montréal. The 23-year-old defender stated that he is now “100%” committed to HFX.

✍️ Abdul Binate signed with Valour FC. The 21-year-old attacker joined Valour from Pacific FC, only making three appearances for the BC club.

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and around the world.
This week’s picks come from The Northern Pitch team.

Angelo’s “Worldwide” Soccer Shop

🛍️ What to buy

We all love custom footy gear, and if you play competitively, you definitely need shin guards. Angelo’s “Worldwide” Soccer Shop sells custom-made shin guards and rare footy gear. Design your own and tell him DARBY sent you.

📚 What to read

As part of our ongoing Colour the Commentary series for Black History Month, we interviewed CF Montréal fullback Raheem Edwards. Give it a read here.

✍️ What to enter

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a kit designer? York United FC just launched a contest to help design their 2025 kit. Break out the crayons.