June 17th Edition

Les Rouges set to battle the World Cup champs

We are about to enter footy overload this week in the best way possible. The Euros are already in full swing, and unless you are Scottish or Croatian, you’re already loving life.

But add Copa América to that— particularly the fact that Canada will get to test themselves against the current World Cup champs this week—and we are all living the dream.

With all that footy action, we appreciate you taking the time to still dive into this week’s edition of The Northern Pitch. Ahead we have the latest on Canada at Copa, CPL on Tour, NSL’s historic broadcast deal and plenty more.


🇨🇦 Les Rouges set to battle the World Cup Champs to open 2024 Copa América

Photo: Canada Soccer

This week it’s finally here, the day we have all been dreaming about since the 2024 Copa América draw and Canada’s qualification.

On Thursday, the Canadian men’s national team will play Lionel Messi and Argentina to open the 2024 Copa América tournament. Read that again, slowly and try not to cry tears of joy (and maybe a little bit of fear)

It might be the biggest test the Canadian men’s national team has faced since they opened the 1986 World Cup against France. But as Canada’s roster reveal reminded us on Saturday, the talent of this group is unmatched. Having players from Bayern Munich, Lille, Porto, Inter Milan, Mallorca and Celtic is something we could only have dreamed of a few decades ago.

With a good Copa América tournament, many of those players could be on the move to even higher levels with the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Liam Millar, Derek Cornelius and Ismaël Koné all being linked to potential transfers in recent weeks.

The squad Jesse Marsch called in for Copa overall looks much the same as it did for their friendlies against France and the Netherlands with a couple of changes. Notably, Iké Ugbo is out as he is taking a break for personal reasons, while Dominick Zator and Charles-Andreas Brym have returned to their European club teams.

In their place, Jacen Russell-Rowe of Columbus Crew and Ali Ahmed of the Vancouver Whitecaps made the final squad. A late call-up meanwhile, saw CF Montréal Joel Waterman replace the injured Junior Hoilett.

As aforementioned, it all starts on Thursday with a significant test against the defending World Cup champs. Argentina remain at the height of their powers, having lost just once since that 2022 World Cup triumph, including beating Brazil 1-0 in Rio during World Cup qualifying.

After testing themselves against France and the Netherlands Canada will feel ready, but tournament footy is different. Regardless of the result, this will be a historic day for the program, and a moment these players will remember for the rest of their lives.

How many games will Canada win in Copa América?

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📺 NSL announces massive media partnerships with CBC, TSN

Graphic: NSL

The Northern Super League made a very important announcement this week, revealing a multi-year partnership with Bell Media’s TSN/RDS and national broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada.

The league announced that TSN will carry matches across its platforms, while RDS will largely carry games featuring the NSL’s Montréal club. CBC and Radio-Canada, meanwhile, will air select national matches.

For a multitude of reasons, Canadian soccer has struggled to gain exposure on national media outlets, so this is a significant step for the new league as it looks to capture the attention of Canadians.

There’s no doubt that women’s sports are on a wave right now, and the number of national TV channels taking notice is a credit to all those who have been pushing for this deserved moment for years. These ballers are finally getting the spotlight and investment they have long earned.

We can’t wait to watch some NSL ball come April 2025.


🏔️ “CPL on Tour” takes flight in Kelowna

Photo: Vancouver FC / Beau Chevalier

The CPL’s “On Tour” series, to feature neutral-site games across the country in years to come, made its official debut this week. The inaugural game of the series, designed to help test expansion markets, kicked off with Vancouver FC “hosting” Cavalry FC at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna, BC.

A packed Gala-ry in the Okanagan. Entering a new market is tough. Especially in a growing league with a number of expansion questions to be answered. But, Kelowna showed out with an attendance of 6,281 — a professional sporting record for the Apple Bowl — with fans packed in close quarters in the grandstand and on extra bleachers along the running track.

Honey-crisp action was promised, with both teams entering Sunday in the logjam, which is the CPL’s playoff race right now. Vancouver made the trip in a three-way tie (with Forge and York) for 3rd on 14 points. Cavalry was looking for a win that would’ve seen them leapfrog all three teams, starting the day with 13 points.

Both teams worked throughout the match for the Golden (Delicious) moment, with Vancouver coming close twice at the end of the first half. Despite a give-up from Cavalry and a header on the line, Wero Díaz was unable to find the net before the whistle. Callum Irving would deny Lleyton Brooks from in close on the hour mark, as this shooting gallery of a match somehow ended 0-0.

The pick of the bunch? Kadin Chung would take home Performance of the Match honours from OneSoccer after a busy day at right-back. Chung kept things tidy on the flank, winning all but a pair of duels while supporting the attack. Chung’s opposite number, Fraser Aird, also had a top day according to Sofascore — potentially adding to his league lead-tying four Team of the Week nods this season.

Canucks Abroad

🌍 Canucks Abroad

🇩🇪 Phonzy will play his final year at Munich. The transfer saga continues between Davies and Bayern Munich. According to Florian Plettenberg, Munich has agreed to allow Phonzy to play his final year in Bavaria and to potentially allow him to leave on a free transfer in 2025. However, Real Madrid have made no offers yet, and Bayern Munich are willing to improve their offer. But it won’t be the 20 million that Phonzy is asking for.

🇫🇷 Lille allows Jonathan David to dip. Transfer rumour GOAT Fabrizio Romano has tweeted that LOSC club president Olivier Létang has allowed Jonathan David to leave this summer. Rumours about Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, and AS Roma are circulating, and it seems like JD has options. The real question remains: how many will be willing to offer Lille the money?

🇺🇸 Afrifa’s first in MLS. The 2023 first-rounder scored his first in MLS action for Sporting KC, with a tap-in from just outside the six. Nutmegging a defender in the process, SKC fans hoped Afrifa’s goal would spark a comeback from 2-1 down. Alas, they would fall 4-2 to a Riqui Puig-less LA Galaxy.

Follow Canucks Abroad on Twitter.

Canucks at Home

🏡 Canucks at Home

Graphic: Halifax Tides FC

🤩 Halifax’s NSL club officially announces club name. The placeholder name of Atlantic Women’s FC has officially been replaced with Halifax Tides. The club's official colours are ocean cyan, marine purple and ship grey. This club might ‘out Halifax’ the Wanderers. We’re here for it.

🏔️ Vancouver’s NSL team won’t be named the Whitecaps. Vancouver has announced that it will not be called the Whitecaps and instead have a unique name. In keeping with the mountain theme, some names reportedly considered are the Vancouver Summit, Vancouver Rise and Vancouver Queens. One name in particular that was also considered was the former professional women’s team, the Vancouver Breakers.

Follow Canucks at Home on Twitter.

Other news

📰 In other news this week

Photo: Ararsa Kitaba / DARBY

⬆️ CanWNT moves up in ranking. Canada is on the move! The women’s team has moved up from ninth place to eighth. Japan placed seventh, and Sweden ranked sixth. Spain remains the top dog in the number one spot. Brazil is ranked ninth, while North Korea is ranked tenth. Yes. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is in the top ten.

📃 Canada Soccer announces audit results. Last year, the organization of Canada Soccer was in hot water. The minister of sport, Pascale St-Onge, asked for an independent review of its governance structures and practices. Sports consulting firm LBB Strategies has submitted its final report. The 54-page PDF file covers good governance and frameworks with comparable examples from other Canadian sporting governance.

🔵 Thank God for Jonathan Sirois and Fernando Alvarez. MLS action has returned after the international break. CF MTL was without franchise players Samuel Piette and Mathieu Choinière, but Jonathan Sirois came to the rescue. The game ended 0-0, and MTL kept a clean sheet due to heroic saves from Sirois. Fernando Alvarez held it down and is proving to be a burgeoning young talent. Despite the tie, a positive game for MTL.

🌊 It was a long game for the Whitecaps. Vancouver travelled to New England and was defeated 3-2 by the Revs. It was a game of bangers as every goal was just quality. The first half was a doozy, as four goals were scored. The second half was a stalemate as Vancouver applied pressure and looked for a comeback. Alas, the game ended with a Ryan Gauld banger from downtown Vancouver — a statement to the Scottish FA.

🔴 TFC vs Chicago. Battle of the Great Lakes. A battle of who’s got the better Italian food? The Chicago Fire sadly won this round. Toronto FC’s defence in this game was shambolic. The individual duels were shocking, and the passing ability from the back was weak. This was a night to forget for TFC supporters as Chicago walked out of BMO with a 4-1 win. No Bernadeschi, no party.

🏟️ Atletico Ottawa stumped at home. Ottleti hosted Ontario rivals York United at TD Place Stadium. League leaders Ottawa were handed a 2-1 defeat. York United broke down Atletico’s defence from the wing. The first goal came from a counter-attack down the wing. While their second goal was a build-up play coming down Ottleti's left wing. Strong runs, decisive passing and calm finishing from York.

⚓️ It’s been a long season for the Wanderers so far. It was a rainy day in Halifax, and it was moody. Forge opened their account with a goal from Badibanga in the 48th minute. HFX responded with two goals from Massimo Ferrin. When it looked like there was sun at the end of this rainy day, Kwasi Poku scored in the 90+2 minute for Forge—almost a full three points at home against the league powerhouse. At least they earned a point from the 2-2 draw. 

🔱 Pacific FC finally picked up a win after five games. It’s been a minute since the West Coast favourites have earned three points. Valour hosted PFC at home to a five-goal thriller. PFC were in control with a 2-1 lead in the first half. Valour equalized in the 63rd minute from a banger from Aussie forward Jordan Swibel. Unfortunately for the home side, they conceded an own goal from Shaan Hundal in the 74th minute. Pacific FC leaves Winnipeg with a 3-2 victory.

Northern Picks

This week’s picks come from DARBY Editor-in-chief Tagwa Moyo.

📺 What to watch

Is that even a question? The ‘Summer of Soccer’ is upon us, and there’s no better place in Toronto to catch all the action than STACKT Market with the DARBY fam. Pull up!

Who to follow

The homies over at Where is Football are doing an absolute madness with Euros coverage right now. They’ve got a lot in store for the near future too. Thank me later for this one.

👕 What to buy

Not sure when it will be officially for sale, but the homies over at Kitboys have designed a special Juneteenth kit with Birmingham Legion that is a must cop for the summer kit rotation.

You can follow Tagwa on IG here.