CanChamp Semis Preview & CanMNT Dual National News
It’s sure to be a massive summer ahead both for the Canadian soccer program, as well as Canadian players around the globe.
This week, we learned which players are in consideration for Canada’s Nations League squad, dipped our toes into silly season as some of the nation’s top players have been linked with high profile moves, and also get set for what could be the most intriguing Canadian Championship semifinal round yet.
That and so much more ahead in this week’s edition of The Northern Pitch.
CREDIT: André Varty / DARBY Magazine
Clear your Wednesday night schedule because there’s a Canadian Championship semifinal double-header on deck.
The two best Canadian teams in MLS will face the two top teams in the Canadian Premier League this season in a pair of spicy matchups with plenty of history.
It all starts in Montréal where for the third tournament in a row CF Montréal will face Forge FC (7:00 p.m. ET). The MLS side has won the two previous meetings, but Forge came incredibly close to besting them back in the 2021 semifinals, losing in an 11-round penalty shootout.
For Montréal, keep an eye on the three former CPLers who currently play for the side, Sean Rea, Jonathan Sirois and Joel Waterman. Forge, meanwhile, has several former CF Montréal players in their ranks, including Woobens Pacius, Garven Metusala, Kyle Bekker, and David Choinière (whose brother Mathieu has arguably been CFM’s best player this year).
Meanwhile, out west, the ‘Ferryside Darby’ is back for the first time since 2021, when Pacific FC stunned the Vancouver Whitecaps at Starlight Stadium during the preliminary round of that year’s Canadian Championship (you can watch DARBY’s mini-doc on that match here).
The two sides face off again on the Island two years later, with the winner hosting the 2023 final. On the defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps, keep an eye on Canadian midfielder Ali Ahmed, who has been having a tremendous season. Pacific, meanwhile, look to have a real emerging star on their hands in 22-year-old midfielder Sean Young. That match is set to kick off at 7:00 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET, also on OneSoccer.
Headlines from the week that was
CREDIT: @Hanin.Mazri / DARBY
🚨 CanMNT’s provisional 53-man roster has been announced for the upcoming Concacaf Nations League finals, to be played June 15 and 18 in Las Vegas. All players selected for the final 23 player roster, which must be submitted a week prior to Canada’s semifinal against Panama on June 15, are required to be chosen from this list. All the usual lads are there, don’t worry, but if you want to see the full list you can check it out here.
✌️ There were a couple of intriguing dual nationals on CanMNT’s list as well, including 21-year-old Columbus Crew midfielder Aidan Morris, who has already been called up twice by the USMNT but not cap-tied. Morris has yet to make his international decision final, but is thought to be highly rated by John Herdman. He was also, interestingly, on the USMNT list as well.
✌️ Espanyol winger Luca Koleosho also made Canada’s preliminary list. The 18-year-old, who has been called up by CanMNT before for training camps but has yet to play, is also eligible for the United States and Nigeria, and recently represented Italy at the youth level.
🤷♂️ One name not on Canada’s list was Mo Farsi, the former Cavalry FC player in CPL who has been having a tremendous season with Columbus Crew this year. Rumour has it that he declined a Canadian call up, instead hoping to catch the eye of the Algerian national team. Farsi has previously represented Canada at the U-23 and futsal level.
🇵🇹 After being named Portugal’s player of the year, Cloé Lacasse has been linked with a move to Arsenal. The state of the potential transfer has been described “firm advanced negotiations” (Not quite “here we go confirmed”, but nearly that status). The Sudbury striker has tallied 100 goals in 129 games in all competitions for Benfica, the type of fire power Canada will need in the upcoming Women’s World Cup.
🧮 Ealier this week, Concacaf dropped a new club ranking system. The new ranking features CF Montréal at 14th, with the Whitecaps at 40th and Toronto FC 41st. CF Monterrey, Club America and LAFC take the top three ranks respectively. This new club ranking system works similarly to the FIFA rankings, evaluating teams based on their match records and expected outcome of each match. Full description of the ranking system can be found here. The editorial team would like to describe this system as “vibe-based rankings.”
🇨🇦 Canada has announced the U-20 Women’s roster for the upcoming 2023 Concacaf Championship. This U-20 side is entering the competition with a goal differential of +39 with Olivia Smith leading the way with 8 goals in the qualifying tournament. Canada will need all the firepower, as they share the same group with the US, Jamaica and Panama.
🚺 USL has announced the creation of a Women’s league. A new women’s league that will compete against NWSL but, above all, provide more opportunities for female athletes. With a mission statement to elevate, empower and evolve women’s football. For the W.
🙅♂️ It’s been a weekend of Ls for East Coast Canadian clubs in MLS. CF Montreal experience two straight losses away from home, with a very boring second half versus NYRB. TFC visited Austin for the first time and were dealt a 1-0 90th minute loss, with Berna-boy-deschi stating: “We play long passes. We don’t have an idea to play.”
🌊 Meanwhile on the west coast, the Whitecaps defeated Cascadia rivals Seattle 2-0 at BC Place. Finally, a club paying with an offensive plan.
⚽️ This week in the Canadian Premier League, HFX Wanderers lose 3-0 at home versus York United. The formerly-down-bad York side were desperate for a good game after a rocky few weeks. Their win at Wanderers ground must have restored confidence, especially with class goals from Matthew Baldissimo and Oussama Alou.
🏃♂️ Good news coming out of Munich, Alphonso Davies has been running again and is on track to a full recovery mid-June. Phonzy will likely return with the CanMNT for Nations League and the Gold Cup. In addition, Real Madrid and Manchester City are reportedly interested in the Canadian star.
🧊 Jonathan David has been nominated for Ligue 1’s Player of the Season, nominated alongside Messi and Mbappe. JD has scored 22 goals this season and is currently four behind Mbappe and Lacazette. There are two matches left in the season for JD to somehow catch them in the Golden Boot race, and perhaps make himself the favourite.
SOURCE: HBO Max
Gems from at home and across the pond. This week’s picks come from Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic.
📚 What to read
Soccer is life. This is a saying that many are familiar with, but in fact, it extends beyond just a person’s love for the game - societally, soccer influences the world, and vice versa. Franklin Foer dives into that phenomenon in How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, which sees how soccer can be tied back to the economy, the political climate and much more.
📺 What to watch
Having taken the NWSL by storm with its star-studded ownership group, big crowds and immaculate branding, Angel City FC has been a team to watch down in LA since its launch. And now, thanks to an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary on HBO, you can go behind the curtain to see how they put everything together in year one, from the ground up.
✅ Who to follow
In a world where the word ultras can bring a chill down one’s spine, for a lot of the wrong reasons, the Couch Ultras are doing support the right way — by being loyal to their teams and their players through thick and thin, all from the comfort of their couch (although you can catch them in stadiums around BC’s Lower Mainland). Plus, with tifos on the rise, they’re among the best at them, specializing in a rare kind of tifo - the couch tifo. You can check that all out on Twitter and Instagram.