July 8th Edition

Maritime Messi and Les Rouges earn another date with Argentina

It’s semifinal week in Canadian Soccer!

This week is about to be a dream come true for Canadian footy fans. As on Tuesday, CanMNT gets an incredibly unexpected rematch with Argentina in the Copa América semifinals.

Remember to enjoy every moment of it, after all the dark days Canada Soccer has endured not only in the past but even over this last year, this tournament has been a clear reminder that we truly have the quality to compete with the world’s best.

By the time you’re reading The Northern Pitch next week, we could be talking about Canada as Copa América Champions. It’s not probable, but the fact that it’s even possible is a clear statement of how far this group has come.

Ahead in this week’s edition, CanWNT drop their Olympic roster, we get you set for the CanChamp semis and the top Canadian stories from at home and abroad.


👋 Ciao Venezuela, Hola Argentina (again)

Photo: Canada Soccer

This is Canada’s first Copa America, and they’re semi-finalists. After defeating Venezuela on penalties, the CanMNT has earned a rematch against group rivals Argentina.

Let’s talk about the Venezuela game. We all agree that the reffing was a nightmare. Fouls that should have merited a free kick or a yellow card. The most notable offence was when the Venezuelan keeper, Rafael Romo, knocked the ball off of Alistair Johnston’s hands when attempting to take a throw-in. A moment that led to Rondon’s incredible goal.

Despite the drama, Canada still came out on top. Maxime Crépeau once again proves to be one of the tournament’s top keepers. Most notably, this game has pushed Jacob Shaffelburg to new heights. Shaff played as if he wanted to leave MLS and join the Canucks abroad in Europe. His goal put Canada on top, but his overall performance and work rate gave Venezuela headaches.

Penalties revealed the ballers with ice in their veins. Iceman JD and Captain Phonzy displayed world-class pens. However, MTL boys Moïse Bombito and Ismaël Koné were locked in. Bombito, despite having lasers pointed at his face and the ref asked if he was okay. His focus never broke, and he kept his eye on the ball—whistle, bang, goal. Marseille's new boy Koné scored the winning pen, and the occasion did not shake him—ice in their veins.

Can Canada replicate this performance against Argentina? The opening match of Copa America between Argentina and Canada revealed that the CanMNT are ballers. This won’t be an easy match for both sides. Richie Laryea shared that this will not be like the first game they played against Argentina: “We think we can win this thing.” Jesse Marsch said they’ll play their best, but “it might not be enough. But, whatever, we’re going for it.” Expect the CanMNT to leave everything on the pitch. We’re going to see a passionate and fiery semi-final.

This will be a history-defining game for Canada. Win or lose, the CanMNT's performance will go down in history. Jesse Marsch has won the trust of both the team and the fans watching. Many will ask if Canada will be able to convert chances into goals, an issue that has been persistent throughout the tournament. Will the occasion be too big or a career-defining game? One way to find out.

One thing is certain: USMNT are kicking themselves for not hiring countryman Jesse Marsch as the gaffer. To that, we say, LOL.


🇨🇦 Canada names 18-player roster for Paris Olympics

Photo: Canada Soccer

But wait, there’s more footy after the Euros and Copa America. CanWNT and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced the 18-player roster for Paris 2024. It’s a stacked squad, but with some surprising omissions.

Oliva Smith and Marie-Yasmine Alidou have not been called up. The two stand-out ballers in the Portuguese league have not been selected for Canada. Many are left scratching, as both players were instrumental in their club’s success this season. Moreover, Olivia Smith’s recent move to Liverpool demonstrates her talent and impressive ability.

A question of balance and consistency? Thirteen out of eighteen players were part of the Gold winning squad in Tokyo 2020. A proven and experienced side that understands the pressure. Is there room for Smith and Alidou? Perhaps, but they’re still young to break through the squad in the next major tournament.

New faces have entered the chat. Five new players will be making their Olympic debut for CanWNT. Simi Awujo, Sydney Collins, Cloé Lacasse and Jade Rose will be making their debuts at the tournament. Strong additions.

More friendlies before Paris. CanWNT are looking to enter the tournament fully prepared. Two friendlies have been scheduled behind closed doors. CanWNT will play Australia on July 13 and Nigeria on the 17th. The team has set up their training camp at Marbella. Strong opponents for a friendlies to prepare them for the Olympics.


🏆 CanChamp Final Four set to kick off

Graphic: Canada Soccer

If Tuesday’s Copa América semifinal isn’t hype enough, Canadian soccer fans are treated to a pair of enthralling Canadian Championship semifinal first legs the next day.

Out East, Forge FC host Toronto FC in Hamilton in a rematch of the 2020 Canadian Championship final. Forge lost that on penalties, so revenge will be on the menu at Tim Hortons Field on Wednesday (7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT).

Meanwhile, out west, Pacific FC hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps in the third meeting between these two sides. They famously first faced off in 2021, when Pacific stunned them at Starlight Stadium. Last year, however, the Caps had the last laugh as they beat the Tridents in the semis en route to being back-to-back Canadian Champs. That one goes on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET.

Both matches will be available on OneSoccer via FuboTV.

The only downside is that fans will have to wait another six and a half weeks for the second leg of these ties. Who knows what kind of form and roster composition these two teams will have by that point? Heck, after their Euro performance, there might be a lot of Italian free agents on Transfermarkt…

Canucks Abroad

🌍 Canucks Abroad

Poster: Vermont Green FC

🍁 CS Saint-Laurent played the inaugural Maple Cup in Vermont. If we’re being honest, Vermont still feels like Canada. That is why the name of this competition is fitting. USL 2 side Vermont Green FC hosted QC Ligue 1 CS Saint-Laurent. Former Saint-Laurent baller Yann Toualy featured in the starting eleven for Vermont at a sold-out Virtue Field. This was a one-sided game as Vermont won the inaugural Maple Cup by defeating Saint-Laurent 5-0.

🎙️Jonathan David talks about his transfer saga. If you don’t know, Cyle Larin and Jonathan David have a podcast. In episode three, Larin asked JD the latest on his transfer saga, a seemingly never-ending story. David replied, “Things are obviously moving slow. I think things are going at the right pace.” JD later mentions that he is waiting for an offer to be given to Lille. Then, a decision will be made. Some clubs that are interested include AC Milan, AS Roma, Atletico Madrid, and Chelsea.

🔴 Olivia Smith, officially a Red. OSmith’s move to Liverpool is finally a done deal. A rumoured club-record €250k move brings the young talent on Merseyside. A rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone can’t come soon enough.

🇧🇪 Promise David’s switch, signed, sealed and delivered. Another striker who can’t stop scoring gets his due move. We noted previously that Promise sat out what would end up being his final game for Kalju. That, we now know, is because the 23-year-old would earn a three-year contract with Belgian champions (and Europa League-bound) Union St Gilloise. A ton of Promise, indeed.

🇮🇪 Danielle Steer joins the Treaty troupe. Ciara McCormack’s group of Canadians in Limerick got a plus-one to start the summer window. The Canada West and U SPORTS record-setter would get to quick work, scoring on her club debut. Despite the match being a 3-1 loss to Shamrock, this one seems like a perfect match.

🇨🇭 Ayo Akinola’s Swiss adventures. The former TFC youngster is back in the fray of the professional game. Ayo was announced by Swiss second-tier club FC Wil midweek, looking for a fresh start after being waived by the Reds. We’re hoping Ayo hits the ground running in the Alps.

🇲🇽 Lucas Cavallini opens the Apertura in style. While we were all busy watching the end-to-end action between Canada and Venezuela, El Tanque was back to his old tricks. Puebla, deadlocked at zeroes in stoppage time, would win a late spot-kick against Santos Laguna. Up stepped Cava, cheekily floating in a panenka in the 96th minute for all three points to kick off the Apertura.

Follow Canucks Abroad on Twitter.

Canucks at Home

🏡 Canucks at Home

🎙️Jacob Shaffelburg opens up about his time at TFC. Shaffelburg opened up with OneSoccer about his experience with TFC. He described his time with Toronto as the “hardest moment” in his career. From inconsistent game time and jumping between the first and second teams. He pondered about a move back to Halifax to be closer to family, but then Nashville came calling. Safe to say, the difficult period has led him to shine with the CanMNT in Copa America.

😬 Rida Zouhir wants out of Montréal. As tweeted by Tony Marinaro, Montreal’s Fabrizio, the 20-year-old midfielder has requested a trade/transfer. His lack of minutes with CFM is impeding his development. While on loan with San Antonio, he had eight goals and four assists and was a USL Young Player of the Year finalist. Zouhir is a talent that needs more game time.

🕊️ In memory of Dylon Powley. Two weeks ago, the Canadian soccer community learned of the tragic passing of Calgary Foothills, FC Edmonton and Atlético Ottawa goalkeeper Dylon Powley. Tributes and messages poured in for the player-turned-coach-and-referee, who was also a tireless advocator off the field, particularly after the loss of his brother Nicholas. His family and friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign, where folks can contribute to three charities, Wounded Warriors Canada, Valor Place, and Triple Kick, in Dylon’s memory.

Follow Canucks at Home on Twitter.

Other News

📰 In other news this week

Photo: Hanin Mazri / DARBY

😔 Toronto FC were disappointed at home. BMO hosted Orlando and things weren’t looking great. Toronto got the match started with a goal from Derrrick Etienne Jr. The away team replied with two goals from Martin Ojeda and Nickseon Gomis's own goal. The game ended in 2-1 for Orlando.

😣 CFMTL continues to struggle at Yankee Stadium. Bleu-Blanc-Noir travelled midweek to face NYCFC. It wasn’t a good time for Laurent Courtois’ team. MTL were defeated 2-0 at Yankee Stadium.

😳 Cucho Ramirez was too much for TFC. This is a night that the boys in red would want to forget quickly. Despite starting the game positively, things went downhill when the Crew’s Cucho Ramirez decided in the 14th and 29th minute. Toronto’s defence is a concerning sight. Granted, Ramirez’s goals were moments of individual brilliance, but stronger marking may have prevented them from reaching their goals. Montrealer Mo Farsi scored at close range after being unmarked in the box to add salt to an open wound. Diego Rossi closed the game in the 84th minute due to TFC’s defensive lapses and miscommunication. The game ended 4-0 for Columbus.

🌊 The Whitecaps are the only consistent Canadian team. Vancouver travelled to Minnesota and proved themselves to be the most dangerous Canadian club on the attack. Brian White and Ryan Gauld are critical to Vancouver’s attack, as they scored a goal and assisted, respectively. Yohei Takaoka’s penalty save kept Caps momentum. Above all, we can’t forget the screamer from Sebastian Berhalter to seal the game. The Whitecaps walk out of Minnesota with a 3-1 win. 

🔵 Vancouver’s momentum did not carry over to Stade Saputo. For CF MTL, this is a positive result, but for the Caps, it will feel like a loss. Vancouver started positively with a goal from Brian White, assisted by Ryan Gauld. However, CFM’s attack put the Whitecaps defence under pressure throughout the game. It proved influential as the game continued, and the chances came closer to the goal. Matias Coccaro scored the equalizer for MTL as the ball slipped past the hands of Yohei Takaoka. Unlucky. The game ended 1-1. 

🔨 CPL champs Forge FC hosted VFC in a six-goal thriller. Let’s start with Gabriel Bitar’s goal in the 11th minute. Wow. VFC’s first goal set the tone of this game with a top-bin screamer from outside the box. This game became a series of tit-for-tat goals as both teams were punching their way through the other’s defence. It felt like a tactical boxing fight, as every attack was a calculated punch. The game favoured Forge as VFC’s Vasco Fry conceded a red card. Despite coming back and controlling the game at 3-2, Bitar scored an equalizer to see the game out at 3-3 for VFC. 

⚓️ Halifax continue to struggle. It’s already feeling like a long season for the Wanderers. York United hosted the Haligonians and defeated the visitors 2-1. Halifax conceded the first goal in the 17th minute by York’s Markiyan Voytsekhovskyy. The Haligonians applied pressure and kept attacking. In the end, Juan Cordova’s banger proved to be the winning goal for York United. HFX salvaged a goal in the 86th, but the game would end in a loss for the visitors. The silver lining for Halifax is that Andre Rampersad proved to be a menace to the opposition.

🔱 League-leading Atlético Ottawa took a loss to the visiting Tridents thanks to a banger from Zakaria Bahous. Pacific left the capital with 3 points and now sit in 4th place with 19 pts through 13 games.

🐎 Cavalry went to Winnipeg and left with a win thanks to a lovely 34’ strike from defender Fraser Aird. The Cavs sit in 6th place and only a point back from 5th place Forge.

 Northern Picks

👜 What to buy

Toronto’s FC Cold Sand have just dropped a beautiful heavyweight day bag in two greened out colourways that looks ready to hit the pitch or the beach. Scoop one on their site now before they’re gone.

📺 What to watch

Grab your friends and head to the nearest TSN-subscribing establishment on Tuesday night because Canada vs. Argentina is going to be historic. Now’s the perfect time to convert some new football fans, so don’t waste it!

 Who to follow

If you’re new to the newsletter (or just haven’t yet), make sure to give both @thenorthernpitch and @darbymag a follow on Instagram!