October 9th Edition

It's CPL Playoffs Season! Plus CanWNT are headed to Halifax

It’s CPL Playoffs Season! Plus CanWNT are headed to Halifax

Happy Thanksgiving! We here at The Northern Pitch could not be more thankful for our ever-growing group of readers who tap in every week to check out the newsletter and interact with us! We love being your weekly source of Canadian footy news and adding to the culture in this way.

Okay now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, let’s get into the action. It was a pretty unreal week for Canadian footy as the CPL regular season wrapped up, there was a squad drop for the men’s national team, and a couple of exciting matches announced, IN CANADA NO LESS, for the women’s team.

Here are the latest headlines for y’all to gobble up in between mouthfuls of mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Graphic: CPL

It’s officially pumpkin spice season playoff season in the Canadian Premier League! 

This year, the league is bringing a new and exciting format that rewards teams for how they finished over the course of the 2023 CPL regular season, which wrapped up over the weekend.

The action kicks off this Wednesday on Vancouver Island with a 4–5 matchup between Pacific FC and York United. The winner of that will then travel to Halifax where the Wanderers will be hosting their first-ever playoff match on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, first-place Cavalry face rivals Forge (who finished second) at home. The winner of that match advances directly to the final (which they will host), while the loser gets a second chance as they host the remaining team from 3rd, 4th or 5th. Confused? Just check the graphic above.

All of the action will be available on OneSoccer, or if you are in the area make sure to check out one of these matches because if this all plays out like it should—and like it has been all season—it will be absolutely electric.


Photo: Tagwa Moyo / Canada Soccer

Meanwhile, the boys are back! 

The Canadian men’s national team is off to Niigata, Japan for a friendly against the Japanese men’s national team on Friday. That match will be at 6:30 a.m. ET / 3:30 a.m. PT, so we’re back on scary hours this week in Canadian footy.

This is going to be a huge test for CanMNT as the Blue Samurai are absolutely balling out since a good showing at the 2022 World Cup. The match will be available on OneSoccer, with full pre and post-match coverage.

In their past four matches, they slapped up Concacaf’s own El Salvador 6-0, beat Peru 4-1, beat Germany 4-1 as well (yeah that’s not a typo) and recently beat Turkey 4-2. The team features absolute quality throughout the roster with names like Daizen Maeda (Celtic), the dribbling god himself Koaru Mitoma (Brighton), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad) and Takumi Minamino (Monaco).

Canada did beat Japan the last time they played in a pre-World Cup friendly, courtesy of a hilarious Lucas Cavallini chipped penalty kick.

This being the first camp under interim head coach Mauro Biello it was interesting to see what sort of lineup he would name. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was very similar to the A squad we have known under Herdman, especially with critical Copa America qualifiers coming up next month. But there were some new names, as you will find out later on in the newsletter (that’s called a tease folks).

Either way, after missing out on last month’s international window, we are stoked for some more CanMNT action (and slightly worried about how good Japan is).

Other news this week

Photo: Hanin Mazri / DARBY

🇧🇷 Canada WNT to play Brazil in two friendlies in October at Montréal and Halifax. Last year, CanWNT hosted friendlies against New Zealand. This year, Canada will face global heavyweights Brazil with two friendlies on the East Coast at the end of October. Games will occur at Stade Saputo and Halifax’s Wanderer’s Ground. Brazil have announced their 24-player squad, which includes Marta, Debinha and Adriana.

😳 Arcadio Marcuzzi reveals Joey Saputo’s unwillingness to further invest in CF Montréal and its unsustainability with MLS. Former media relations manager of CF Montréal, Arcadio Marcuzzi, revealed his opinions on the shortcomings of the club’s overall financial management. Highlighting economic unsustainability and Joey Saputo’s unwillingness to further invest in the club. As of the last two years, CF MTL has shifted its focus to talent producers, and selling said players for a profit. According to Marcuzzi, such models are not sustainable as the only means of significant income outside of ticket sales, merchandising and TV revenue. The club is run on a shoestring budget, focusing not on winning the league. Marcuzzi points the finger at the top of the pyramid, Joey Saputo, for the club's internal issues. Fans, staff and players have demonstrated passion for CFM daily. MTL has proven to be rich in soccer culture and a viable market. But a garden needs water to grow. The head of a multi-billion dollar dairy conglomerate seems unwilling to put money into the club that his family had started thirty years ago.

👍 Mathieu Choinière, Luc de Fougerolles and Harry Paton receive their first Canada call-ups. Mauro Biello has announced the roster for the upcoming friendly in Japan with three new faces. Finally, MVP All-Star Mathieu Choinière has been called up to the CanMNT. Many would agree he is a player who earned his spot on the team after an impressive season playing in multiple positions from wing-back, winger, CM, CDM and as a #10.

🔥 Luc de Fougerolles, the 17-year-old fullback from Fulham, is making his debut for the national team. The British-born player can play for Canada as his father was born in Montréal. Luc’s advantage is his versatility; he can play at CB, LB and CDM. Moreover, he has been making a name among Fulham supporters and within the Premier League 2—a good pickup for Canada.

👏 Motherwell midfielder Harry Paton from Kitchener, Ontario, is potentially motivated to have his first international cap with the CanMNT. He had been called up to the national team for the Gold Cup in 2021 but could not feature due to Covid. Now, the 25-year-old will have his chance to dawn the red kit.

🤔 But real talk, what does Joel Waterman need to do to get on the team? He is the most consistent player for CF MTL. When absent, it is felt in the team’s performance.

👀 Alphonso Davies’ agent says the Edmontonian is wanted by Real Madrid and Premier League clubs. As a headline, it's not entirely surprising. Not because we’re a biased Canadian newsletter, but objectively, how many effective young left-backs are operating at the highest level at the moment? Phonzy’s agent, Nick Househ, stated that Real Madrid has been keen on bringing in the MLS export, stating that “there are several Premier League clubs too. They all want to have one of the best left-backs in the world. We’ll see what happens.” With two years left to his contract, the world is his oyster, and he can go to any top club in any league. Or, he can extend his contract at Bayern Munich and become a club legend in one of the world’s most decorated clubs. Food for thought: Phonzy’s father is a Chelsea fan.

🍁 CanMNT players saw Champions League action again on matchday two. First things first, Davies won with Bayern Munich against FC Copenhagen. That shouldn’t be surprising. Celtic held their own against Lazio, scoring in the eleventh minute in which AJ started the attack on the right wing. Unfortunately for the Hoops, Celtic conceded a late goal for Lazio’s Pedro (remember that guy?) to end the game 2-1 at Celtic Park. Alistair is getting much media attention in Scotland and becoming one of Celtic's most reliable players. Stephen Eustaquio’s Porto went head-to-head against Barcelona at Estádio do Dragão, losing 1-0 at home. ‘Staqs was in the middle of some controversy—the handball(s) incident. A penalty was rewarded to Porto for Cancelo’s handball in the box but later overturned due to ‘Staqs handball in the previous action. That was not a handball. We can hear the echoes of Drogba’s post-game rant in 2008.

CREDIT: Inter Miami CF

✍️ Kamal Miller signs contract extension with Inter Miami. Beckham’s Florida club has announced a contract extension with the Canadian international until 2026, with an option for 2027. Kamal has made 31 appearances with Inter Miami in all competitions and has been the central defensive fixture for Miami.

☄️ Cloé Lacasse scores a banger against Manchester United. The Arsenal forward is proving her worth with the North London club. Within five minutes of coming off the bench, Lacasse scored a banger from outside the box to equalize the game 2-2. Most importantly, that was her first goal for Arsenal. That’s a statement of truth which Benfica fans know intimately.

🇨🇦 Canada draws USA WNT in the Concacaf U-17 Championship. The draws for the Concacaf U-17 Championship have been made. Canada has been drawn into Group B with the United States, Puerto Rico and Panama. After a round-robin group stage, the top two winners of each group will move on to the semi-finals. The finals will be played on February 11, 2024, in Mexico. Canada will play its first game against Puerto Rico on February 2nd.

❌ Atletico Ottawa is eliminated from playoff contention, while York United becomes the last team to qualify for the post-season. As the CPL wraps up its regular season, qualified clubs have been determined, and York United squeaked past Atletico Ottawa to solidify its place in the playoff rounds of the CPL. Last week, Atletico lost to York United at York Lions Stadium. This week, York United won against Vancouver FC, confirming their place in the playoff round. Unfortunately for Ottawa, that game versus York United was the real game to determine their potential spot in the playoff round. Ollie Basset and the company will have to wait another year.

🇵🇹 Marie Yasmine-Alidou continues to shine with Benfica. The Montrealer gave a tidy one-touch assist to set up Lucia Alves’ goal in Benfica’s 5-0 win over Maritimo.

⚽️ Bianca St-Georges scores the winner for Chicago Red Stars over Racing Louisville. The Québecoise fullback stormed down the wing to score at the near post and hit the roof of the net—a strong run with an unstoppable finish. Love to see it.

Photo: Tagwa Moyo / CPL

All Canadian clubs played two games this weekend as the regular season draws closer to playoffs.

🌊 Vancouver Whitecaps saw some midweek action, defeating St Louis 3-0. Richie Laryea picked up his first goal with the Caps, while Sam Adekgube provided an assist. On Saturday, The ‘Caps travelled to Seattle for the Cascadia Darby and walked out of Lumen Field with 1 point as the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

🔴 Toronto FC were defeated in Charlotte 3-0 on Wednesday. Over the weekend, they travelled to New Jersey to play NY Red Bulls. Like the Charlotte game, TFC lost to NYRB 3-0. There isn’t much to say about this game. TFC continues to display the same issues throughout this season. Lacklustre defending and uninspiring attack. As stated in previous newsletters, TFC just needs the season to end to start working on a rebuild with Herdman.

🔵 CF Montréal still chasing a playoff spot after playing Houston to a 1-1 draw. On Saturday, MTL hosted Portland Timbers in their last home game of the season. On a rainy in Hochelaga, CF MTL has finally won at home by defeating the Timbers 4-1. After a disappointing draw on Wednesday, MTL came out swinging with impressive combinations between Romell Quioto, Sunusi Ibrahim and Mahala Opoku. Most notably, Mathieu Choiniére put in a shift all 90 minutes also scoring a screamer outside the box. When asked about MTL’s effective attacking performance and the lack of it throughout the season, Losada remarked: “C’est jamais trop tard.” It’s never too late. With one game left to the season at Columbus and a playoff spot up for grabs, we’ll see if it's truly never too late.

⚓️ Halifax Wanderers travelled to Winnipeg to face off against Valour. Eliminated Valour could not secure a win at home as HFX walked away with all three points with a 1-0 win, with the only goal coming from Massimo Ferrin’s outside-the-box screamer. This is a reminder that we’ve witnessed absolute bangers upon screamers upon rockets this season.

🦅 Vancouver FC hosted the final game of their inaugural against York United. VFC came into the game hoping to close the season on a positive note. Alas, it was not meant to be. York United’s Osaze De Rosario came out to play as he scored a brace against VFC. Vancouver salvaged a goal by Mikaël Cantave, who looked offside for the goal. But let’s give it to them. A little charity. It has not been the ideal first season for the new club, but, as the old saying goes, there’s always next year.

🔨 Forge hosted eliminated Atletico Ottawa at Tim Horton’s Field. Despite qualifying for playoffs, Forge donated a 1-0 dub to Ottawa. Jokes aside, Ottawa ended their regular season positively with a win away from home. The only goal coming from CF MTL loanee Ilias Iliadis.

🐎 Cavalry hosted West Coast rivals Pacific FC at ATCO Field. In a possible playoff matchup, Cavalry demonstrated why they’re favourites to win the cup by defeating Pacific 3-0. Calgary club played this game like a cup final, treating this match as a rehearsal for the final. This match felt particularly special as they were able to lift the inaugural CPL Shield officially. They made history.

Photo: Pacific FC / CPL

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and across the pond.
This week’s picks come from Thomas Meilleur-Giguère (@thomasmeilleur64)

Thomas Meilleur-Giguère is a central defender for Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League. The baller came through the CF Montréal youth academy and has suited up for Canada as a youth international. He won the CPL with Pacific in 2021.

📚 What to read

I’m not a big reader but you got to read Kobe Bryant the Mamba Mentality! I think you can just clearly see why this guy was built different.

📺 What to watch

No question about this one, Piers Morgan vs Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The power of the mind is something I found incredible from Zlatan. Don’t sleep on this one.

🎧 What to listen to

If you’re into R&B, you gotta go check my Montreal brother SLAE, he’s on next for sure !! He’s gonna bring you into his world.

✅ Who to follow

Please keep cheering for Canadian football (soccer) by following the Canadian premier league with the playoffs coming up it’s gonna be fire 🤞🏼