May 6th Edition

League1 showing out in CanChamps & new CSA President elected

It was another monumental week in Canadian Soccer as the month of May kicked off with some big developments.

The Annual Members Meeting saw the CSA elect a new President, while the Canadian Championship reached the quarter-final stage with a few shocking upsets and classic matches.

Meanwhile, Canadians picked up more silverware in Europe, drama in Montréal and much more ahead in The Northern Pitch.



👏 League1 showing out in the Canadian Championship

Photo: Trevor MacMillan / HFX Wanderers FC

The level of talented ballers across Canada has never been higher, and that was on full display this week in the Canadian Championship as League1 teams showed up and showed out.

No doubt the biggest story of this year’s tournament through the preliminary round is CS Saint-Laurent, who stunned the Halifax Wanderers in penalty kicks at the Wanderers Grounds no less to book a home-and-away quarter-final tilt with Toronto FC. That starts on Wednesday (7:00 p.m. ET) when they host the MLS side at Complexe Sportif Claude-Robillard.

Saint-Laurent are proving they are one of the top clubs in the country. Period.

The level of talent coming out of Québec right now is stunning, and the Canadian Premier League needs to put a team in the province yesterday to give these players more high-level opportunities. For its part, however, Ligue1 Québec is doing a great job, and we can expect to see more and more players emerge from this league over the next few years.

Speaking of Toronto FC, they hosted another semipro side in the opening round, League1 Ontario champs Simcoe Country Rovers. While the result was lopsided (albeit not as lopsided as John Herdman would have hoped), a 5-0 win for Toronto FC, what impressed was the fanbase Simcoe was able to bring to the match. Over 2,000 fans made their way to the away end of BMO Field, showing the incredible community support the Barrie-based club has established.

Finally, the darlings of last year’s Canadian Championship, TSS Rovers, nearly did it again as they travelled to Starlight Stadium to take on Pacific. After defeating Valour last year, Rovers became the first semi-pro side to advance past a pro side in the competition’s history. Rovers looked like they were about to stun the Tridents after a 75th-minute goal gave them an unlikely 1-0 lead.

This time, however, their Cinderella story fell apart just before the clock hit midnight. Pacific’s Reon Moore scored in the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time, and Rovers fell on penalties. Still, it was another impressive showing from the League1 BC side, especially after they took the match on short notice following Victoria Highlanders’ withdrawal from the competition.

That’s the magic of the cup, and as these leagues continue to establish themselves, expect them to provide more magical moments in the coming weeks. Who knows, with the way CS Saint-Laurent are playing, we could see another one sooner rather than later.

Should we see the tournament expanded to include more League1 teams? The proof is in the performances. It would only benefit the competition, and honestly, the clubs, as well as both MLS and CPL sides, could see how these players match up against them and how they could potentially perform if given an opportunity at those respective levels.

The quarter-final round of the Canadian Championship kicks off this week with leg one of two. Forge hosts CF Montréal in a school day game at Tim Hortons Field (11:00 a.m., yeah you read that right), while Cavalry FC hosts the Whitecaps that night. The next day is the aforementioned meeting between Toronto FC and CS Saint-Laurent, while Atlético Ottawa hosts Pacific FC — both matches at 7 p.m. ET. All matches will be available on OneSoccer via FuboTV.

Canada Soccer

🗳️ CSA name a new President-elect

Graphic: Canada Soccer

There is a new king of Canadian Soccer as the 2024 Annual meeting of the members saw Peter Augruso become the new president-elect of the CSA.

Augruso ran unopposed after Charmaine Crooks withdrew her name from the ballot. Augruso is the president and chair of Ontario Soccer.

Canada Soccer also confirmed that it increased membership fees from $9 to $13 — the organization's first increase since 2017. The additional $2.2 million which is expected to be generated from this increase, which will be split between the organization, the youth national teams, and to help fund the launch of Project 8.

Some unquestionably good news from the meeting is that Project 8’s six founding clubs have officially been granted membership by Canada Soccer. This is a significant step in the league’s proposed launch last season.

Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax have already been confirmed, with two additional markets expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.


🥩 Choinière and CF Montréal beef

Photo: Ararsa Kitaba / ClubEleven

Montréal experienced some highs and lows this week, from CS Saint-Laurent’s cupset in Halifax to the shocking trade request from CF MTL’s homegrown 2023 MVP All-Star Mathieu Choinière after failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension. The deal is reported to be dead.

Should MTL be worried? The season has just started under a new coach, and the club already has five injuries. Choinière’s fitness and work ethic is something that is not easily replaceable. While Samuel Piette plays the defensive midfield, Mathieu is a pure #8 box-to-box midfielder. Moreover, the man can play fullback, wing-back and winger. His versatility is another major asset. Losing a homegrown talent with his fitness and capabilities will be a major loss for the club.

How many local talents have become successful after leaving Montreal? Quite a few. Bleu-Blanc-Noir has a track record of letting go or not signing local talents: Maxime Crépeau, Mohammed Farsi, Moïse Bombito, and Wilfried Nancy. What do they all have in common? Silverware. Nancy and Farsi have won the league in 2023 and are now Champions Cup finalists. Crépeau is an MLS winner and one of the best keepers in the league. Bombito may not have won the league, but he’s proving pivotal for Colorado’s defence. Whoever is willing to invest in Mathieu will get a monster.

Other talents have also departed: Kamal Miller, Alistair Johnston, Ismaël Koné, and James Pantemis. Many can agree that the departure of these players is good business. Kamal’s departure came as a big shock, which upset the supporters. However, the exchange for Bryce Duke and Ariel Lassiter seems to be paying off. In the case of Mathieu, he is becoming the franchise player and the club's poster boy. Good business with Choinière is to build a team around him.

If CS Saint-Laurent’s performance showed us anything, it is that there are ballers in Québec who need to be invested in. Instead, MTL seems to be letting these players go. Why? Maybe they are prioritizing business practices over investing in winning a cup. Whatever the reason, the club's front office needs to take a moment to reflect and look at Columbus Crew and Maxime Crépeau’s trophy cabinet. If Nancy sways Mathieu to Columbus, they will win the league again.

Our opinion? Give him all the bags: Gucci, Louis, Goyard or a DARBY tote bag. The front office wants to play Moneyball, but a 350k offer for Choinière is astonishingly low. It is rumoured that Ahmed Hamdi was paid more. If that is the case, CF MTL is not taking their players seriously and does not care about investing in winning a trophy.

What does he mean to the supporters? Mathieu Choinière is another example of the youth academy's success—a proper hometown lad. When the starting eleven is announced at Stade Saputo, Choinière’s name can be heard echoing through Montreal’s Hochelaga neighbourhood. The people's love for him is palpable and can be felt in the air. He is the personification of the club, Québecois excellence, and hope for Montreal’s future. And they’re letting him go. PAY THE MAN.


Photo: SL Benfica

🇵🇹 Alidou adds more silverware. They won the league by winning the Lisboa Darby. Mimi Alidou and Benfica hosted Olivia Smith and Sporting Lisboa in the Taça da Liga (League Cup). The game ended 1-0 for the home side. So far, Benfica has won the Super Cup, and they’re at the top of the league and in the Portuguese Cup final. Reminder: this is Alidou’s first season with Benfica.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Theo with Bair goals. FEED THE BAIR. Motherwell defeated Livington 4-1 at home. This win has secured that Motherwell will remain in the Scottish Premiership for another season. This is an outcome that Motherwell can thank Theo Bair for his two-goal contribution in this game. Theo now has 15 goals and four assists and is the third top goal scorer in the league.

⚽️ Team rosters expanded for Copa America. As UEFA increased their roster size from 23 to 26, CONMEBOL followed suit with the same expansion. For Canada, there is still room for three more players to participate in Copa America this coming June. With the European season coming to a close and domestic leagues in full swing, many names are circulating. Who will make it? We are just as excited as you are.

🤔 Is Alphonso Davies still headed to the Bernabeu? He will definitely be headed to Madrid for the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals. The question remains: Is he still leaving Munich? It has been reported that Bayern’s CEO, Jan-Christian Reesen, had lunch with Madrid executives before the first-leg matchup. During that lunch, no mention of Davies’ move was made, and Bayern is still pursuing contract negotiations. However, they have identified Zinchenko as Phonzy’s potential replacement. Rumours have emerged that Chelsea could be a potential destination for the Canadian.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Iké Ugbo survived relegation. Sheffield Wednesday were three points away from relegation; they needed a win, and they faced Netflix’s favourite away at Sunderland. Wednesday were able to win 0-2. Ugbo has scored seven goals for the club since joining in the winter.

🇮🇹 Evelyne Viens had a good day. When we say good, we mean a goal and three assists in Roma’s 5-6 win away at Sassuolo. Last week, they witnessed their Serie A title confirmed after Juve’s loss. This week, they celebrated their title triumph with a big win away from home. Viens enjoyed herself by putting on a champion’s performance. Here’s her goal.

🐐 Christine Sinclair is still scoring. Captain Canada does not stop. Last week, Sinclair registered an assist, and this past weekend, she scored in Portland Thorns’ 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit.

Photo: Columbus Crew

🏆 Columbus Crew in the Champions Cup final. Former CF MTL gaffer Wilfried Nancy will lead Columbus Crew in the Champions Cup final against Pachuca. The Crew travelled to Guadalupe, Mexico, for the second leg of the Champions Cup with an aggregate 2-1 lead. Being away from home didn’t matter, as they did the job by confirming their spot in the final with a 3-1 win. With JR Rowe scoring the third goal of the night. Mohammed Farsi will be the first Montrealer in the final since 2016, and standout talent Jacen Russell-Rowe will make a statement about his spot in CanMNT.

🔥 Tani Oluwaseyi is on fire. Your defence is terrified. Speaking of Russell-Rowe, another CanMNT-eligible striker is lighting Major League Soccer on fire. A fixture in this newsletter in recent weeks, Tani Oluwaseyi has done it again, with his third straight start and third straight goal for Minnesota United. The 23-year-old baller has five goals and two assists in under 350 minutes this season. That’s prolific.

👋 Ayo Akinola and Toronto FC part ways. The young forward, touted to be the next big-name forward, has officially parted ways with Toronto FC. John Herdman did not have Akinola in his plans and initially wanted the player to leave on loan, but now he has decided to leave.

🤕 Sam Adekugbe picked up an injury. The Vancouver Whitecaps hosted Austin FC at BC Place, and the game ended negatively for Canadian international Sam Adekugbe. He walked off the pitch, suffering a calf injury.

Photo: Hanin Mazri / DARBY

🤌 Welcome to the Bernadeschi show. Toronto FC hosted Dallas FC to witness the ballership that is Federico Bernadeschi. This game made people forget that Lorenzo Insigne was injured. Bernadeschi put on a masterclass of a performance with two banger goals and an assist to Matty Longstaff’s goal. How good was the former Juve man? Note the reactions of Prince Owusu and Derrick Etienne Jr. on Bernadeschi’s second goal. Their reactions summarize the TFC’s #10’s performance that night. The game ended 3-1 for Toronto.

🌊 The Whitecaps held to a draw at BC Place. Austin FC travelled to Vancouver and returned to Texas with a point after a 0-0 draw at full-time. As usual, the Whitecaps played tremendous attacking football that you can’t hate. Despite the beautiful footy, it wasn’t enough to break down Austin’s defence. The Caps were also unlucky with a disallowed goal due to Fafa Picault’s handling of the ball before finishing the play.

🔵 It’s not been a good weekend for CF Montréal, from the Mathieu Choiniére drama to losing away at Nashville. MTL enter this game without Matias Coccaro, Josef Martinez, Dominik Yankov, Lassi Lappalainen, Joaquin Sosa and Kwadwo Opoku. Nonetheless, MTL did not perform well. They conceded two goals in the opening 22 minutes, and Nashville was just too much for CFM to handle. The game ended 4-1 at full-time. With an Inter Miami matchup looming next week, Montréal must go again and regather themselves.

🐎 Cavalry’s attack is a stampede. Bit of a dad joke, but it works. All of Cavalry FC’s goals against Vancouver FC came from counter-attacking plays. Tobias Warschewski and Charlie Trafford came from a counter-attacking play at a pace VFC had no answer for. Calgary’s third goal may have been a pen, but the play leading up to the penalty was another counter-attack. The game ended in a 3-1 win for Cavalry.

😬 Valour is probably fed up with Ottawa for this month. Earlier this week, Atletico Ottawa defeated Valour 7-0 in the CanChamps. This past weekend, Valour travelled to Ottawa and was defeated 2-0. Valour have conceded nine goals in one week from the same team. Ouch. Meanwhile, Atleti are feeling good about themselves right now. This momentum will work in their favour as they head into the CanChamps this week against Pacific.

🔱 Pacific still haven’t allowed a goal. The Tridents have been defensively outstanding in opening the 2024 Canadian Premier League season, as they completed a club record fourth straight shutout on Saturday in a 2-0 dub over York United. After losing Manny Aparicio and Amer Didić this off-season, they are undefeated through their first four games of the season.

Games of the week

📺 What we’ll be watching

Canadian Championship 🏆
Forge FC vs CF Montréal (Tue @ 11am ET)
Cavalry FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps (Tue @ 7pm MT)
Atlético Ottawa vs Pacific FC (Wed @ 7pm ET)
CS St-Laurent vs Toronto FC (Wed @ 7pm ET)

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This week’s picks come from Cordell Cockett. Cordell is a former McMaster Men’s University Soccer player who is sports enthusiast, culture curator, and a delusional Manchester United fan.

📺 What to watch

Something that i’m excited to watch is the documentary on Manchester United’s treble winning season. The doc is titled “99” and will be released May 17th on Amazon Prime. As a Man United fan it’s sad to see our fanbase become nostalgia merchants. It’s been 11 years since United have won the Prem but hopefully the INEOS era brings us back to the glory days.

🎧 What to listen to

One of my favourite footy podcasts at the moment is FCM Podcast. FCM “Football Culture Movement” is a weekly footy show where the hosts Fuad, Culture Cams and Mayowa recap the weekend’s fixtures in the Premier League while providing elite football twitter banter and agendas that will have you laughing for days.

🛍️ What to buy

For the ballers who are looking for some pre game swag, check out the new NIKE NOCTA X L’ART de L'automobile collaboration that dropped this week. This capsule has some fire pieces that will have your tunnel fit game on point.

Who to follow

@GauravAnlyst is a twitter account I have recently stumbled on. This account provides great football analysis and tactical breakdowns for teams all over the world. This is the perfect follow for all the tacticos out there who love learning about build up play, pressing angles and setting up low blocks.

You can follow Cordell on Instagram here.


Toronto FC vs FC Dallas
📸 Hanin Mazri / DARBY