June 5th Edition

Canadian Championship Final Preview & Canada qualifies for U-20 Women’s World Cup

Canadian Championship Final Preview & Canada Qualifies for U-20 Women’s World Cup

Trophies were on the menu across Canadian soccer this week, as multiple national team players wrapped up their season by lifting silverware. Meanwhile, the Canadian U-20 women’s team qualified for the 2024 World Cup, and the Canadian Championship final is coming up this week.

As the weather heats up across the country, so does the footy news, and we’re bringing the heat as always in this week’s edition of the Northern Pitch.

CREDIT: Canada Soccer

They certainly didn’t do it the easy way, but the Canadian Women’s U-20 side are off to the 2024 U-20 Women’s World Cup.

After falling 2-1 to Mexico in heartbreaking fashion in the semifinals on a stoppage time goal on Friday, Canada rebounded during a chaotic third place match on Sunday against Costa Rica.

After the Costa Rican team scored twice in first half stoppage time to take a 3-2 lead, Olivia Smith scored her fourth of the tournament in the second half to send the match to extra time. That is where Anabelle Chukwu took over, scoring twice to give Canada a 5-3 victory and a berth on the World stage.

The Canadian side will now have a lot to prove at the U-20 World Cup, as Canada has not won a match at the tournament since 2014. In fact, they failed to even qualify for the 2018 edition in France.

This group, however, has all the attacking talent to do some serious damage in a year’s time — with Chukwu and Smith leading the way.

The eyes of Canadian footy turn to BC Place on Wednesday, June 7, as the Vancouver Whitecaps host CF Montréal in the final of the 2023 Canadian Championship at 7:00 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET.

It concludes another outstanding edition of the Canadian Championship, which saw TSS Rovers make history, two CPL sides reach the semi-finals and plenty of drama throughout.

Why after all that is the national championship concluding with a game late on a weeknight? That makes absolutely no sense, with the rest of the tournament already being played earlier than usual because of called a ‘Leagues Cup’, surely a high-profile final with a spot in the Concacaf Champions League on the line could be scheduled for a weekend, and maybe at a better time for Eastern viewers (takes deep breath).

The Whitecaps and Montreal have met in two previous Canadian Championship finals, with Montreal winning in 2013, and Vancouver getting revenge in 2015. The Whitecaps are the defending champions after beating TFC in the final at home last year — earning a Voyageurs Cup trophy that coach Vanni Sartini now has tattooed on his body. Legend. Montreal, meanwhile, have won two of the last four — and five total in the Canadian Championship era.

Highlights of the Week

🇮🇹 As European Leagues wrap up, three Canadians abroad took home major Cup competitions. Julia Grosso’s Juventus side missed out on winning the Scudetto, losing out to Roma. However, they triumphed over Roma in the Coppa Italia final with Grosso in the starting lineup.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Meanwhile in Scotland, Alistair Johnston’s Celtic FC pick up the Scottish Cup and complete the treble after a 3-1 win over Inverness at Hampden Park, with AJ being pivotal starter in this cup final.

🇵🇹 Finally, in the most underrated city in Europe, Porto, Stephen Eustáquio wins the Taça Da Liga. Very importantly, ‘Staqs scored a long-range banger in the 10th minute in their 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon. Eustaquio’s screamer was the opening goal of the matchup and leading to the Canadian midfielder in lifting the Portuguese Cup. Three Canadians, three cups. Let’s get it.

👏 CF Montréal has announced the inclusion of a women’s program into its academy. The club has taken over the “Programme Excel Féminin” or the “Women’s Excel Program” from Soccer Québec, which is designed to bring together the province’s best 15-18 year old female players and develop them into professional athletes. To refresh your memory, this team travelled to Paris and handed L’s to CA Paris 14, Paris FC and PSG women’s youth academies earlier this year.

🧾 Canada Soccer is getting audited. The feds are imposing new conditions for funding — notably commissioning an independent audit into Canada Soccer between the period of March 1st, 2017 to March 31st, 2023. CSA will also have to undergo a governance review and accept advice from the third party reviewers. What will be discovered? How many undisclosed suits have been purchased? We wonder.

🌊 As we’ve noted in past editions, Vancouver Whitecaps have an actual attacking plan. The Whitecaps hosted Houston Dynamo, and defeated the Texans 6-2. Four goals in 18 minutes, and Vancouver was up 4-2 before Houston’s red card. What a game. Everyone please watch the highlights, Vancouver scored some incredible bangers. Gressel’s half volley, jaw dropping. Take note TFC, this is how you attack. For Vancouver, they are sending a message to Montréal ahead of CanChamp finals.

🔵 While Vancouver is banging away goals like its FIFA, or EAFC, CF Montreal experienced a come back at DC. Wayne Rooney’s DC United were leading the visitors 2-0 but Montréal said no. CFM started their comeback with the super sub Sunusi Ibrahim registering a goal in the 79th minute and an assist 81st minute. Montréal have been abismal away from home but this comeback is a demonstration of the team’s spirit. But will the bleu-blanc-noir be able to avoid their last performance at BC Place?

🏔️ The BC Darby was mucho fuego: a 9-goal thriller between VFC and Pacific, with the Victoria side winning 6-3. This game, to say the least, was a banger. The first half of the game was a four goal bonanza with some incredible finishing. The game felt balanced in the 65th minute before becoming a runaway train with Pacific taking home the dub. Josh Heard’s goal is our pick for the goal of the game, with the Welshman displaying some vintage Bale-like moves.

💙 The Vancouver Whitecaps are contributing to the growth of BC League through ticket sales. The Whitecaps announced that one dollar from every CanChamp Final ticket sold, will go to the league1 BC Men’s and Women’s team. The funds will be specifically used for hosting opportunities for the next CanChamps. While the raised funds wil be split between men’s and women’s teams.

🇨🇦 Alphonso Davies is on the plane to Nations League. The Canadian star has been cleared to play for Canada’s semi-final matchup against Panama. Phonzy has been injured since April 22nd so expect some rust and a few heavy touches. Otherwise, we’re happy to see him back. Also, in more Phonzy news, contract renewal talks has been postponed to next year. Bayern Munich’s leadership changes coupled with interests from Manchester City and Real Madrid; seems like a move out of Bavaria is a strong plausibility. With world that’s seemingly short of quality fullbacks, Phonzy is hot commodity right now.

💸 Canada Soccer fines TFC an undisclosed fine for brawl at BMO Field. To recap, the incident occured when TFC fans got into it with MTL fans in the stands on May 9th during the CanChamp matchup. The fines come from TFC failing to comply to Canada Soccer’s safety and security regulation.

🍁 Sports League Canada nearly completed their cinderella story in the final of The Soccer Tournament 7v7 on Sunday. With a 1 million prize on the line, the Canadian side— featuring players from League1 Ontario and the Canadian futsal National Team—fell to Newtown Pride FC. Formerly known as Hangar League, Sports League Canada is an amateur small sided men’s/women’s league that is popular in Toronto.

🏳️‍🌈 York United launch their pride kit for Pride month. “It Takes a Village” is the slogan for York United’s 2023 pride kit. The jersey maps out Toronto’s Gay Village dimensions of Yonge and Wellesley.

⚽️ Meanwhile in the Canadian Premier League, Cavalry hosted Forge FC and both teams walk away with a point each after a 1-1 result at full time. Musse’s goal is quality. In Ottawa, Atletico took on the Wanderers and defeated the Nova Scotia side 2-0. Last game of the weekend took place in Winnipeg between Valour and York United. The match ending 1-1 with both teams taking away a point each. However, both goals were absolute bangers. Mo Babouli and Matteo De Brienne ending this CPL week with some worldies.

🧯TFC tie at home 0-0 versus Chicago. This “Great Lakes” Darby was relatively lackluster but at least it wasn’t a loss at home. For TFC supporters, the problems are still pervasive.

📈 Montréal export Ismael Koné’s market value has increased to 10 million Euros. That is a 66.7% increase from his former evaluation of 6 million. Koné says he doesn’t pay attention to market value, but we do, because we have nothing but love for the young man.

🔻Cyle Larin’s Real Valladolid have been relegated to LaLiga 2. Real Valladolid finished 18th place, just one point shy above relegation. Unfortunatey, drawing 0 - 0 with Getafe, missing out on crucial points. Cyle Larin finishing the season as the club’s top goalscorer with 8 goals.

🇭🇷 Canadian-Croatian youngster, Niko Sigur, has delcared for Croatia. The Hajduk Split right-back from Burnaby, has decided to dawn the famous red and white checkered kit of the Croatian national team. Sigur will be featuring for Croatia’s U21 for the upcoming EURO U21.

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and across the pond.
This week’s picks come from DARBY’s Design Director Ryan Abrams.

📺 What to watch

Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney announced Stok Coldbrew as the new sponsor of the Racecource Ground in a pretty hilarious video.

🎧 What to buy

Shameless plug time: DARBY Issue 3 is now available for pre-order until this Friday! Save $5 off the cover price and earn a piece of my heart while you’re at it.

📚 What to read

If you haven’t read it yet, our latest journal is an ode to Montréal’s iconic Catalogna Soccerplexe. Available on our site in English and French.

✅ Who to follow

If you like art and football (which of course can be one and the same), you’ll probably appreciate Joan Joao’s work as much as I do (@jeoanjoao).