November 13th Edition

CanMNT prepare for massive Copa America qualifier against Jamaica

CanMNT prepare for massive Copa America qualifier against Jamaica

As Canadian Soccer closes out what has mostly been a turbulent 2023, there are still a few chances to end the year on a significant high note.

Qualification for the 2024 Copa America would be a pretty big one, which the men’s team will have the chance to do over the next few weeks against Jamaica. Meanwhile, getting a first win, and advancing for the first time to the knockout round, at the U-17 FIFA World Cup would be a huge boost for the next generation this month.

We’ve got both of these stories covered in depth ahead in The Northern Pitch, plus more club and player news from the week that was in Canadian footy.

Canada Soccer

As Canada look to make history in the next couple of weeks, a familiar opponent stands in their way.

On Friday (November 17), and then again on Tuesday, November 21 Canada will face Jamaica in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals, with the first leg being played in Jamaica, and the second at Toronto’s BMO Field.

Canada famously beat the Reggae Boyz 4-0 in their most recent meeting back in March of 2023 at BMO Field, which booked Canada a spot in their second-ever World Cup. The women’s national team, meanwhile, qualified for the Olympics in September by beating Jamaica, also at BMO Field.

Jamaica won’t be keen to see history repeat itself over the coming matches, however, in a pair of games that will have significant importance for both national teams. That’s because winning the two-legged series would mean qualification for the 2024 Copa America.

Interim manager Mauro Biello named his squad for these matches earlier this week and just about anyone who has followed this team for the last few years could have guessed about 22 of the 23 players included. It is, however, both nice and crucial to see Stephen Eustáquio and Tajon Buchanan back in the squad.

Luke de Fougerolles is the only big surprise, but is a pretty exciting one. The 18-year-old central defender made his pro debut for Fulham FC earlier this month in a win over top Championship side Ipswich Town in the EFL Cup and looked excellent. If Canada can find a way to get him cap tied he could legit be a 2026 starter at centreback.

With that in mind, as much as this is a must-win pair of games for the program, it still seems like time to start shifting the focus to that home World Cup and the next generation. Why guys like Mathieu Choinière or Victor Loturi still aren’t getting chances in the midfield is puzzling, especially given the poor for some of the vets have been in of late for both club and country.

Jamaica, meanwhile, have not named their squad just yet, but they have plenty of quality they can call upon including Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey, West Ham’s Michail Antonio, former Everton attacker Demarai Gray and Fulham baller Bobby Decordova-Reid. That’s a lot of Prem talent.

But beating them is a must, as qualifying for the Copa America would be an incredible moment for Canada: a tournament that will feature World Cup champs Argentina, the always electric Brazil, a resurgent Uruguay and a quality Ecuador team, among others.

That is an opportunity that this generation of players absolutely cannot miss out on as they look to make noise on home soil in 2026.

Other news this week

Canada Soccer

😕 Canada U17 lost their opening World Cup match to Spain. There are better ways to start the tournament. Spain opened the account in the 21st minute, coming from a header by Marc Guiu. Canada’s inaugural game went south as Alessandro Biello conceded a red card in the 38th minute. Spain later scored in the 76th minute, sealing the game for the European giants. The Los Rojas displayed what made Spanish football an effective, intricate, decisive play in the final third—breaking down opposition in tight spaces. Canada had a rough game, especially with ten men. The final score ended 2-0 for Spain. Canada have a chance to quickly bounce back against Uzbekistan early on Monday. Win that match, which would be their first W at the U-17 World Cup, and they are right back in the driver’s seat as the top two teams advance from each group, plus the four best third place finishers. Canada conclude group stage action against Mali on Thursday.

🇨🇦 Canada’s CP Football team also revealed their squad for the 2023 Parapan American Games this week. Canada will take on the likes of host Chile, Brazil, the United States and Venezuela. CP Football is an adaption of the sport for athletes with cerebral palsy, brain injuries, or other disorders that inhibit motor skills. Canada has one Parapan Am medal, back in 2007 in Rio, and will be looking to bounce back after failing to qualify for the last edition, Peru 2019. After a solid showing at the World Cup, however, the lads are primed to add another medal in Santiago.

❌ Something not surprising happened in Montréal: Hernan Losada was fired. The writing was on the wall after MTL failed to qualify for playoffs on Decision Day. The signs of impending firing were apparent at CF MTL’s end-of-season media day when players called out Losada’s management. Losada inherited a squad completely gutted from all of its major talents from last season and was able to make the best out of slim pickings. He was notably getting the best out of homegrown talents such as Mathieu Choiniére, Nathan Saliba and Jonathan Sirois, along with incredible and consistent performances from Joel Waterman. Nonetheless, the football on the pitch was often left to be desired, especially on away games.

🔵 So, who’s next for CF MTL? Head coach for CFM is not synonymous with job security. However, with the CPL season ending, MTL could look at the league again. Who will be the “Joel Waterman” of coaches for the CF? Five names have risen to prominence for the job: Bobby “Big Smyrda” Smyrniotis, Tommy Wheeldon Jr., Marc Dos Santos, Pa-Modou Kah and Mauro Biello. Two CPL winning managers, a CPL regular season winner, and two Montréal natives. All viable candidates that fans will be excited to welcome or re-welcome. In our humble opinion, if Smyrniotis does not become Canada's coach, he will be CF MTL's manager. Otherwise, we suspect Biello may have another chance. But a winning manager ought to have the job: Pa-Modou Kah. That is, if Colorado doesn’t hire the former PFC coach. Time will tell.

🧤 Kailen Sheridan was named to NWSL's second All-Star team and shortlisted for Keeper of the Year. Here are some stats to convey Sheridan’s season: led the league with nine clean sheets and 63 saves, conceded just 18 goals, had a goals-against average of 0.95 and won San Diego Waves’s first NWSL Shield. She is shortlisted for NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, and whether she earns that silverware or not it was another solid season.

🥶 Things are looking tough for Jonathan David. JD has been nothing but scary going forward for the last three seasons at Lille. Clinical finishing and consistently balling out as a top three goalscorer in Ligue 1. With the rumours of AC Milan going from a cool idea to a legitimate rumour, David has been stumbling. The first few months of the season have yet to go to plan for JD, so far only registering two goals in eleven games. In all competitions, he has dropped from the starting eleven in the last three games. With a €60m release clause, that price does not reflect his current form. Even in top shape, that’s a lot of bags for any club (unless you’re Saudi or Qatari). However, JD’s dip in form may be an opportunity for Milan to haggle for a lower price. We may see him in Milan this winter or summer if that's the move. 

🏆 Derek Cornelius picks up silverware. The first Canadian this season to pick up a league title in Europe is Ajax, Ontario’s Derek Cornelius. The Canadian international has won the Allsvenskan with Malmo FF. On the season's final day, Malmo defeated Elfsborg 1-0. This is Malmo’s 23rd league title. You’re asking for another link? Here’s a link with Derek’s stats against Elfsborg. Oh wait, here’s Cornelius’ fourth goal for Malmo on the previous matchday against Häcken. This means European football for Cornelius next season, and another chance to establish himself as CanMNT’s new go-to central defender.

🤔 Richie Laryea to stay in Vancouver? First, we must remember Richie is on loan from Nottingham Forest and not TFC. If you made that mistake, you’re forgiven. With his temporary stint with the Whitecaps ending, many question if he would stay on the West Coast. Laryea came to Vancouver mid-season and had little time to adjust to Sartini’s football philosophy. That’s normal. Despite Vancouver being knocked out by LAFC in the first round of playoffs, Richie is open to returning to the Whitecaps. This is not a solo decision, as many factors need to be considered, specifically what works best for his family. Richie stated: “[…], but I’ve also enjoyed myself, and my family has enjoyed it, so this would be a place that’d be good for us moving forward, but so many different factors will come into, as it’s not just myself making the decision.” The full article by Alex Gangue-Ruzic breaks down the story comprehensively. The link can be found here.

Photo: OneSoccer

🇮🇹 Evelyne Viens scores again for Roma. Viens scored in the 38th minute for Roma as they defeated Napoli 6-0. This goal marks her seventh goal of the season for the Giallorosse. Roma sits first in the league with 21 points, three points ahead of Juventus. 

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Cloé Lacasse is settling into North London. Adjusting from Portuguese football to English league would take a minute to adapt. Things are slowly turning up for her as she earned WSL Goal of the Month for October. She also picked up a goal against Deanne Rose and Leicester City. But wait, there’s more: Lacasse also picked up an assist against Leicester City as Arsenal returned from being down 2-0 at halftime to win 6-2. Yup, you read that right.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Jessie Fleming scores a banger in the WSL. Chelsea travelled to Everton and handed the home side a 3-0 L. Jessie Fleming opened the game with a volley against Everton. With Chelsea’s win over Everton, the West London club now sit in first place with 16 points.

Olivia Smith turning up for Sporting CP. The North York native scored a brace over the weekend in Sporting CP’s 3-0 win over Clube Albergaria. Smith scored in the first-half stoppage time and registered her second goal in the 83rd minute. Canadians love to ball out in Portugal.

😳 The media ghosted TFC. We’ve all seen it. The viral photo of Lorenzo Insigne in a lonely room with one journalist and a handful of staffers. Emblematic of the season that was, the image shared by Neil Davidson illustrates many things that supporters would find disturbing—a reflection of poor performances and the lack of interest/support from the media. The photo truly is worth a thousand words.

Photo: Neil Davidson

🍀 Cue the music, it’s Champions League action. Let’s start with the bad. Celtic lost 6-0 to Atletico Madrid. The Bhoys in green had a rough time in the Spanish capital, AJ described that night, “It was frustrating and difficult because it feels like you can’t get the ball, you can’t get in their half, and it’s just wave after wave.” Not a good night for the Canadian fullback. Here’s a link to the full highlights.

🌶️ Hot Take/Prediction: With Tottenham compiling a long list of injuries, Ange will look to reinforce the defence by getting Alistair this winter. It’s either a gut feeling or just plain wishful thinking.

🇩🇪 Meanwhile, it was the usual thing as Bayern Munich defeated Galatasaray 2-1. Not to dismiss Galatasaray’s footballing prowess, only a few elite clubs can defeat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on a European night. Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League win was an exception. (sorry, but not sorry, Chelsea fans, you know you were not the favourites to win it.) If there’s anything worth highlighting, Phonzy’s solo performance has gone viral on social media. This guy is asking for Madrid to get him.

🇵🇹 Stephen Eustáquio and Porto defeated Antwerp 2-0. Porto picked up three points at home, placing them second in the group with nine points. Equal to Barcelona. With every game unfolding, Eustaquio is proving to be Porto’s main fulcrum at center mid. His stats against Antwerp show an industrious performance.

Northern Picks

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

🛍️ What to buy

The homie André Varty just launched the first tee from his new project Team of the Month, paying homage to 4-Time CPL Champions Forge FC. I picked one up in black but the white is just as clean!

🎧 What to listen to

Rhyan Douglas is a Toronto-based R&B artist that just dropped his first single Last Page, and i’ve had it on repeat ever since. I heard him perform the track live last October so was happy to see it finally release.

✅ Who to follow

Naomi Accardi is a creative consultant, writer, the Editor-At-Large of Season Zine, and one of my favourite follows footy-related or otherwise. Her work is both insightful and incredibly cool, and she just launched a new football and fashion platform systemarosa that’s definitely worth checking out.