May 27th Edition

CanWNT back in action, CanChamp cupsets and more Project 8 news

Happy Monday Morning! 

It’s another exciting week to be a Canadian footy fan as the CanWNT are back in action, at home no less. Plus, we will find out CanMNT’s squad for Jesse Marsch’s first camp in charge where they will play little-known European nations France and The Netherlands.

As always, the Canadian Championship was full of drama with upsets and a few records broken in the process.

Plus, some significant transfer rumours, a Messi week in Vancouver, Michael Bradley to CanMNT? and much more ahead in The Northern Pitch.


🇨🇦 CanWNT name roster for summer series against Mexico

Graphic: Canada Soccer

The summer of soccer is set to kick off across Canada for the national teams with the ‘summer series’ — and this week, we learned what CanWNT will look like for those pair of friendlies against Mexico on June 1 in Montréal and June 4 in Toronto.

This will be the last chance national team fans have to see the squad play on home soil before they depart for Paris with the goal of reaching the podium for the fourth straight Olympics, so make sure to grab your tickets if you are in or around Montréal or Toronto.

The June 4 match at BMO Field will be a special Pride Celebration Match, which will include the team wearing an exclusive kit with Pride-themed numbers as well as a pre-match fan festival. A cool initiative as we push for a more inclusive sport in Canada.

Bev Priestman revealed her 23-player squad this week, plus Allysha Chapman who returns to the group as a training player. Nichelle Prince, Olivia Smith and Jayde Rivière are all back as well after missing out on the SheBelieves Cup through injury.

All three will be trying to make their case to be on the plane to Paris as Priestman works to narrow down her squad to 18 for this summer’s Gold medal defence.

Once again, Marie-Yasmine Alidou missed out on the initial squad but we aren’t going to do any ranting on this because she always ends up coming in anyway as a late injury replacement. Speaking of injuries, unfortunately, both Quinn and Sydney Collins miss out as a result of them.


🏆 Cupsets, close calls, and club records headline CanChamp quarters

Photo: Ketsia Nkumbu / DARBY

It was a chaotic, and in some cases historic week in the Canadian Championships.

In Québec, it was fourth time’s the charm for Forge FC, who finally defeated CF Montréal in this competition after being eliminated by the MLS side on three previous occasions. Daniel Parra and Kwasi Poku bagged early for Forge, and they were able to hold on from there for a 2-1 win (3-2 on aggregate) despite a two-hour-long weather delay. Chris Kalongo made seven saves in the Forge net. Remember the name.

While the team in Orange were celebrating, CF Montréal captain Sam Piette was having a heated discussion with various ultra groups after a match where fans didn’t cheer for most of the first half out of protest. We are witnessing a pivotal point in CFM history. For Forge, this is the history that they are striving for. Another CPL team defeating an MLS side.

The CanChamp story of the year experienced a fiery end. Toronto FC clearly enjoyed embarrassing Montreal teams this month by dispatching an 8-1 beating on Saint-Laurent. It didn’t help that CS Saint-Laurent’s best player, Ousmane Boughanmi, was given a red card right before the half.

Despite the loss, CS Saint-Laurent’s journey will go down in CanChamp history. A semi-pro club out of Ligue1 QC is making a statement to the CPL. They are ready for the next level. For TFC, it is business as usual. But for Deandre Kerr, four goals were added to his stats. Easy money.

Out west, meanwhile, the Vancouver Whitecaps lost to Cavalry FC, tied the series 2-2 on aggregate, but won it on away goals. Despite advancing, Vanni Sartini was very unhappy with the result, stating: “If you ask me who plays on Saturday (vs. Miami), I don’t know. Tonight, they were all bad.” The game ended 1-0 for Cavalry—one silver lining for the CPL club.

There remains one final match in the quarter-final round, as Pacific FC host Atlético Ottawa in the second leg of their matchup on Wednesday (10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT). Following that, there will be a draw on Friday to determine the semifinal matchups, which are also home-and-away.

Project 8

💰 Project 8 reveals salary cap numbers

Project 8 co-founder and CEO Diana Matheson took to the airwaves this week to chat with Ken Evans of The Pivot about some key details ahead of the league’s expected launch in April of 2025.

In fact, that in itself was part of the news as Matheson confirmed the league’s first match will be played in April 2025.

The bigger news, however, surrounded roster composition. The league is expected to launch with a salary cap of $1.5 million, which would make it highly competitive with women’s leagues around the world should teams spend to that number.

This will also be significant in recruiting CanWNT players to return to the league, as has been a stated goal of Project 8 for their launch. Matheson also revealed that each team will have seven international slots, the same number as NWSL, with the remainder going to domestic Canadian players.

As always, more announcements from the league are expected soon, especially since they recently had membership accepted by the CSA for six clubs, with only four of those: AFC Toronto, Calgary Foothills, Vancouver Whitecaps and Atlantic Women’s FC being revealed to date.

Canucks Abroad

🌍 Grosso says ciao, more trophies and transfer rumours

Photo: Juventus

 👋 Julia Grosso is set to leave Juventus. The midfielder’s contract ends in June, and it appears that she is set to find a new club. In previous editions, we speculated that she may end up in NWSL. A player of her quality can go anywhere in the world. This summer’s transfer window will be an interesting one for Canucks abroad.

🇮🇹 Evelyne Viens scores equalizer as Roma wins Coppa Italia. Fiorentina was set to wrap up the Coppa Italia on Saturday — until Viens struck gold in the 90th minute. That late equalizer would send this match to extra time, then penalties. In spot kicks, Roma would triumph, 4-3, securing Viens her first double-honours after winning the Scudetto a couple of weeks back.

🇫🇷 Vanessa Gilles and Lyon lose the Women’s Champions League final. In the Women’s Champions League lore, Olympique Lyonnais has been the paramount club of this competition. Barcelona are the ambitious upstart to become that new dynasty. This year, at the legendary San Mames, Bilbao, Barcelona defeated Vanessa Gilles and Lyon 2-0their third CL title in four years. Truthfully, this felt like a home game for Barcelona as the Blaugrana colours dominated the stadium. A new era of the UWCL has begun under Barcelona.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Olivia Smith to England? The Portugal-Arsenal pipeline is real. Cloé Lacasse and now Olivia Smith. Reports have emerged that Arsenal have paid the £250k release clause for the 19-year-old midfielder. The Gunners are keen on investing in young talents and developing their stars, similar to what has been done with the Arsenal men’s team. However, rumours have emerged that Liverpool is also interested in the Canadian youth. It’s also been reported that the Reds have paid the transfer fee—a good problem for Oliva Smith.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Alistair Johnston and Celtic win the Scottish Cup. AJ is collecting so much silverware that he can influence the economy with all those medals. After winning the Scottish Premiership, Celtic won the Scottish Cup 1-0 against eternal rivals Rangers at Hampden Park. Johnston was featured in the starting lineup for this cup final. It was a good note to end the season for the Canadians before Copa America.

🇵🇹 Stephen Eustáquio and Porto win the Portuguese Cup. Back-to-back-to-back for Steph, as Porto lifted their 20th cup title on Sunday. A smaller role compared to years past after a difficult month, the CanMNT midfield general still saw the end of regulation and all of ET as Mehdi Taremi banged home a penalty in the 100th minute to see Os Dragões defeat Sporting, 2-1.

🇳🇴 Jayden Nelson helps Rosenborg to victory. The Kids are Alright. The former TFC winger opened his Eliteserien account on Sunday, nabbing a poacher’s goal just after half-time. The match was just Jayden’s second start of the season, but the Brampton man made quick work to repay the faith as Rosenborg defeated Kristiansund, 2-1.

👀 Theo Bair is wanted. He’s fine, folks. Not in trouble. Quite the opposite, as it is rumoured that clubs have been seeking the services of the Bair. English Championship clubs like Bristol City and Blackburn Rovers are interested in acquiring the Canadian forward. Theo’s price tag has been set at £800,000 plus add-ons. 

👀 Liam Millar is also wanted. Canadians are on the transfer radar this summer. Currently on loan with Preston North End, Netflix faves Sunderland, and recently relegated Premier clubs Sheffield United and Burnley are interested in the winger. This is good news for Millar. He’s got options.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Daniel Jebbison returned to the pitch. The Oakville, Ontario-born striker graces the pitch after 360 days. He came off the bench in the 70th minute in Sheffield United’s 3-0 defeat to Tottenham. Jebbison, who represents England’s U21, is still eligible to play for CanMNT.

Canucks at Home

🏡 Bradley to CanMNT?

🤔 Michael Bradley to CanMNT? The former USMNT and Toronto FC captain has been linked to a job as Jesse Marsch’s top assistant. He is currently an assistant coach under his father with Stabæk in the Norwegian second division. Could this be a good hire? Sure. Bradley has proven to be a clear student of the game and few players have had a more significant impact on Canadian club football. But as we wait for Marsch to announce his staff, many will be keeping a close eye on how many Canadian coaches he brings with him. After all, this upcoming Copa América and World Cup isn’t just an opportunity for Canadian players to test themselves at the highest level, but could be a key experience for Canadian coaches as well. Be it Mauro Biello or someone else, having Canadians on the staff is crucial, it’s the least the often-overlooked cast of domestic coaches deserve.

⚽️ Tani Oluwaseyi is on the score sheet again. This game was a six-goal thriller with a goal from Tani Oluwaseyi, a penalty save from Dayne St. Clair and Moïse Bombito almost converting a tap-in goal that was given to his teammate Rafael Navarro. Tani, yet to be called up or declared for CanMNT, has six goals and three assists in 13 appearances.

🏟️ AFC Toronto exploring playing at Lamport? For any club looking to play in the GTA, the question of venues is bound to come (cough York United cough). The new Project 8 side may be close to an answer though, as Toronto City Council passed a motion this week to explore proposals for the Liberty Village stadium. The stadium, however, currently lacks a permanent primary tenant after the Wolfpack’s rebirth and requires a lot of tender loving care… possible reasons as to why the club have also named Centennial Park in Etobicoke as another potential destination.

🇲🇽 Benjamín Mora to York United? According to TV Azteca’s David Medrano Felix, the Pasquel brothers have tapped Benjamín Mora as the club’s next head coach. Mora claimed a Malaysian Super League title with Johor Darul Ta'zim in 2021 and coached the side to the round of 16 in the ACL. The 44-year-old Mexican was last in charge of Atlas, leading the side in a 1-0 win against TFC in the 2023 Leagues Cup — but was sacked at the end of the Apertura season after just four wins in 15 matches.

Other news

📰 In other news this week

❤️ Christine Sinclair gets her very own Barbie. For Barbie's 65th anniversary, the brand launched a role model campaign based on the achievements of impactful women. The Canadian and footy GOAT Christine Sinclair has been selected to be one of those Barbie role models. Specifically, this is a one-of-a-kind doll that will not be sold in stores or mass-produced. Just like the GOAT, it is one of one.

😳 No Messi, no Suarez and no Busquets at BC Place. Vancouverites were disappointed that the trio did not travel with the team, but at least they got Jordi Alba and Julian Gressel. Inter Miami dictated the game by commanding a 2-0 lead for most of the second half. But a foul on Fafa Picault in the box allowed Ryan Gauld to convert a penalty for the Caps. The game ended 2-1 for Miami.

🥲 TFC conceded at the last minute. FC Cincinnati visited a packed BMO Field. TFC has been in form and feels good about themselves. This game turned out to be a seven-goal stunner. It was a back-and-forth game with brilliant movement, individual brilliance, and moments of chaos. With three equalizing goals, this was a game that no one could’ve predicted. At full-time, FC Cincinnati won 4-3.

😰 Stade Saputo is at a tipping point. Last Saturday, Montreal hosted Nashville in a snooze fest of a game. After the CanChamps incident, CFM supporters are at a tipping point with the team. Despite tensions, Montrealers turned up to a sold-out Stade Saputo and continued showing the players love. Joel Waterman stood out as CFM’s most consistent player at the moment. That night proved JJ Waterman is MTL’s best player. While the rest of the team struggles to convert chances and put in accurate crosses. Nonetheless, a 0-0 draw is a step forward from the mid-week loss.

👏 Mauro’s Eustáquio’s first win in charge. After a whirlwind couple of weeks for the 31-year-old, York’s first match in the post-Martin Nash era ended with a first-half performance driving the Nine Stripes to a 2-1 win over Halifax. The Wanderers mustered up a late barrage, which saw Ryan Telfer slash one home at his old stomping grounds — but the star of the show? 100% the immaculate post-match presence of match-winner Dennis Salanović, showing up in sunnies and a vest after the final whistle.

🏟️ The Superclub™️ remain undefeated. The capital city packed out the house on Toonie Hot Dog day, as Ontario rivals Forge came to town on Saturday. Swiss frontman Rubén del Campo — whose fashion sense rivaled Salanović’s once again — scored for the fifth-straight game. Manny Aparicio and Alberto Zapater would also score on either side of a half-time Wiener Dog Race (winners’ medal claimed by Cosmic Weenie) as Ottawa wrapped up a 3-0 win over Forge to stay four points clear of the rest of the pack.

🦅 Vancouver soar late in the BC Darby. The Eagles (no, not the 70’s rock band) had Vasco Fry to thank once again on Saturday in the fifth Salish Sea clash. Ayman Sellouf would start the game off early from the spot, before Moses Dyer equalized on a broken play just before half-time. The game then seemed to be on a knife edge for the next 45 minutes. But, one-upping his winner against Forge, Fry would thump home a rebound in front of an expanded crowd thanks to Messi and Co.’s no-show at BC Place. That’s how this one would end, 2-1 Vancouver over Pacific.

🐎 Even honours at Spruce Meadows. A hectic one wrapped up the week in Foothills County. Valour, finishing up their monstrous seven-game road trip to start the season were in the lead a half-hour in as Juan Pablo Sánchez pulled out his pitching wedge after receiving the ball inside the midfield circle. Fraser Aird would hit back with force just eight minutes later, driving one home himself from 18 out. Cavalry would push on, hitting the bar at least once in the second half, but the horsemen would end up settling for their fifth draw of the season in a 1-1 final.

Northern Picks

This week's picks come from Sekou Thornell of Kitboys Club. He’s a creative strategist and works as a digital media specialist for Atlanta United in addition to other football related projects.

🎧 What to listen to

Currently, my playlist is a rotation between Kendrick Lamar, Gunna, and Joe Kay’s Soulection Radio. Since the Kendrick/Drake beef i’ve taken the time to dig back through K.Dot’s discography and it’s hella refreshing going back through. I’m also a huge fan of Soulection, so I spend most of my time working listening to their playlists. They curate across multiple genres and it always helps me discover new music.

Who to follow

Some of my favourite football accounts out there are @offthepitch_archive, @nssports @versus, @analogfootball, @soccerbible and of course the legendary @darbymag. I grew up collecting sneakers and streetwear so I spin through tons of mood board pages. A few of those include @hidden.ny, @undercoverkosh, @carsham.jpg, @blu, and @hypebest. Also big up @Clint419 cause that’s the only motivation you will ever need. 

👟 What to buy

To keep it 100, I spend way too much time scrolling through my favourite brands and sneaker releases. For kicks, i’m looking forward to Skepta’s new Puma sneaker and the Futura Nike SB. The New Balance 1906R has been one of my favourite silhouettes lately, and they’ve dropped a bunch of fire colourways with more coming soon. For brands, I’m looking forward to the rest of the collections from Stussy and Patta, and of course keeping an eye out for which club drops the most fire kit over the summer.

You can follow Sekou on Instagram here.