September 18th Edition

CanWNT's quest for a fourth straight Olympic medal continues

CanWNT/CanXNT’s quest for a fourth straight Olympic medal continues

This week, the Canadian Women’s National Team are back in action for the first time since the 2023 Women’s World Cup. 

To celebrate their critical two-legged matchup against Jamaica in Olympic qualifying, we are giving away a Canada home kit to one of our lucky readers!

For all the details and the latest Canadian footy news in this week’s edition of The Northern Pitch.

Photo: Canada Soccer

On Friday, for the first time since a humbling 4-0 loss to hosts Australia at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the Canadian Women’s National Team are back on the pitch in Kingston, Jamaica for the first of a crucial two-legged series that they need to win in order to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The good news is that Canada has never lost to Jamaica. In their most recent meeting, they won 3-0 at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, a result that earned them their spot in this Olympic playoff. In fact, they have won all nine times they have played Jamaica, and have failed to win just one match against a Concacaf opponent not named the United States since 2013. Jamaica are ranked 37th, the highest they have ever been, while Canada remain in the top 10.

In this current edition of the Jamaican Women’s National Team, however, Canada finds an opponent that very much plays into one of their biggest achilles heels. The Reggae Girlz have proven to be tactically organized and defensively difficult to break down. They allowed just a single goal in four World Cup matches, including clean sheets against France and Brazil.

Meanwhile, they have players like Manchester City star Bunny Shaw who is absolutely clinical when given the opportunity. Think a similar match to the one Canada faced in their World Cup opener against Nigeria.

Over two legs, it will be a chance for Canada to prove that they can break down well-drilled defensive sides during critical matches ahead of what could be their latest redemption tour at the Olympic games. After all, CanWNT has made a bit of a habit of recovering from disappointing World Cup campaigns by impressing at Olympic Games.

They are, after all, the defending Gold Medallists, something that seems so long ago given all the madness that has traspired since. As a result, missing out on the 2024 competition just isn’t an option for this group. Over two legs, especially one in front of a sold-out crowd at BMO Field in Toronto, expect them to do the business.

Leg one on Friday will be critical, and if anyone is expecting this to be a soft landing after the World Cup fall, they’ll be in for a surprise.

CREDIT: Vancouver Whitecaps

Other news this week

🇨🇦 Canada’s Men’s Under-17 squad learned their group for the World Cup this week, which will include Spain, Mali and Uzbekistan in Group B of the competition. It is a tricky group for Canada, with Spain four times finalists at this level, while Mali are two-time African champions, and Uzbekistan had the best defensive record during AFC U-17 qualifying. Canada kick off on November 11 at 7:00 a.m. ET, against Spain no less, to open their tournament. Much like the senior men’s World Cup, Canada are still looking for its first win at the U-17 World Cup.

👀 In further good news for the U-17 side, it looks like they will be preparing for the tournament with a camp and pair of high profile friendlies against Brazil and the United States later this month. While this hasn’t been officially confirmed by the Canadian federation yet, it was revealed by Brazil this past week. If it is true, this could be a hugely exciting development for a program that wasn’t expecting to have any sort of preparation camps for this competition.

😬 CF Montréal’s Matko Miljevic went viral this week. If you’re on social media, you know precisely the following story. Matko Miljevic joined an amateur soccer league and got into a scrap. Specifically, getting into a heated argument with another player and then striking that person in the face. The 22-year-old received an indefinite ban from the amateur league and an open investigation from CF MTL and the MLS. Why did Miljevic breach his contract and join a garage league? It's likely out of frustration from a lack of playtime. As tweeted by Tony Marinaro, it is reported that CF Montréal have allegedly terminated Miljevic’s contract.

🤕 Tajon Buchanan is out for six weeks. Last week, Club Brugge faced KAA Gent in a Belgian Jupiler Pro League match. TJ was part of the starting formation and went down with a hamstring injury early in the game. Club Brugge confirmed that Buchanan will be ruled out between 4-6 weeks.

🇵🇹 18 year old Olivia Smith opened her professional account yesterday with an impressive finish in only her second pro game and first start for Sporting CP in Portugal.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Liam Millar making his mark at Preston North End. The Torontonian was involved with both goals in PNE’s 2-1 win over Plymouth Argyle at Deepdale. Millar helped create the chance for the first goal with a cross in the box. Later, he scored a tidy bottom bins goal, cutting in from the wing. We love to see it.

🦁 Adriana Leon joins Aston Villa from Manchester United. The Olympic gold medallist has signed a two-year contract with Aston Villa. She recently returned to England after a short-term loan at Portland Thorns.

🏆 Vanessa Gilles picks up silverware with Olympique Lyonnais. The annual competition is the French super cup called “Trophée des Championnes,” in which OL defeated PSG. Another trophy for our Canucks abroad.

🌊 Junior Hoilett has joined the Vancouver Whitecaps. The ‘Caps have been clutching it with transfers as of late. Sam Adekugbe, Richie Laryea and now Junior Hoilett. Vancouver are already a nasty team moving forward and now they’ve just beefed up. Hoilett will play for the rest of 2023 and if Vancouver are smart, which they are, they should get his signature ASAP.

😕 Due to lack of funding, it was revealed this week that Canada will not be sending a team to the 2023 Pan Am Games, with Mexico instead taking Canada’s spot.

Credit: Truenorthfoot

🏟️ HFX Wanderers reveal new permanent stadium plans. The announcement of the new stadium means one thing: football is here to stay. Currently, Wanderers Ground does not have permanent seating, no running water, no proper washrooms, nor does it have the ability to serve food. Moreover, the player's locker rooms are in shipping containers. The new stadium will have a seating expansion to a total capacity of 8500, a FIFA-approved turf pitch, a dome to cover the field, and permanent seats and bathrooms. The stadium will cost $ 40 million and is awaiting final approval. The main opposition against the new stadium is the location at Halifax Common Public Park. This is exciting news for footy fans in Nova Scotia, a proper football stadium.

🎉 Jordyn Huitema is staying with OL Reign. The Seattle club exercised its 2024 option for the Canadian forward’s contract. Jordyn will stay put in the American North-West for a little while. This season, she has registered five goals in sixteen games. This is a good move for her. More game time, more shine.

🇵🇹 Marie-Yasmine Alidou wins the Supertaça with Benfica. Life in the Portuguese capital is starting well for the Montrealer abroad. Alidou picks up the Portuguese Super Cup after beating Sporting CP on penalties. Marie-Yasmine has registered two goals for Benfica this season and earned a call-up to the CanWNT for the Olympic qualifiers. Things are looking good, and they are about to get better.

👋 Vancouver Whitecaps sell Sergio Cordova to Alanyaspor. With the Whitecaps gaining a forward in Junior, it is clear that Cordova had to go. He failed to make a significant impression with the first team this season due to injury. This is the best outcome for both the club and the player. Moreover, this opens up a DP slot for Vancouver. This is good news for the Whitecaps. There is more room for shopping.

🙌 CanMNT goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau made his first appearance for LAFC in 315 days on Saturday after breaking his leg in last year’s MLS cup final. He helped his squad take down LA Galaxy 4–2 in El Tráfico. It’s great to see him back between the posts.

CREDIT: Hanin Mazri / DARBY

🌊 TFC hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps at BMO Field. The ‘Caps walked in and handled business with a 2-1 win over Toronto. With Richie Laryea and Ali Ahmed in the starting lineup, it must’ve sent a message to TFC that top Toronto talents are finding a home on the West Coast, despite Toronto taking the lead with a high-class assist from Insigne to Deandre Kerr. Vancouver fought back with a Tristan Blackmon header and a Brian White goal in the 66th minute. This win at BMO sealed Vancouver’s spot in fourth place. For Toronto, it's about riding out the rest of the season. With only a few games left, if TFC can pick up a win or two, it’ll be a moral victory. John Herdman should start thinking about how to rebuild during the off-season. A task that we are all excited to see.

🔵 CF Montréal welcomed back Kei Kamara to Stade Saputo as they faced the Chicago Fire. MTL featured seven Canadian players, with four of the seven being homegrown talents. Most importantly, Stade Saputo witnessed the return of Romell Quioto after a lengthy injury. Despite the positive note, this game ended 0-0. It wasn’t the most exciting performance from both sides. MTL had moments to score, but the finishing was lacking. As Bryce Duke noted: “that’s something to work on in training.” On a positive note, Jonathan Sirois registered his eleventh clean sheet of the season. Levelling him with Stefan Frei and Steve Clark for a most-earned clean sheet in the regular season. This pushes CFM to host FC Cincinnati on Wednesday.

🐎 In CPL action, Cavalry faced Vancouver at home this week, as the Calgary side defeated VFC 2-1. This game had a bit of everything in terms of goals: a penalty, an own goal and a banger. There was drama in this game, which we always like.

🔨 Forge travelled to Winnipeg to face Valour. This was a five-goal thriller, with both teams going toe-to-toe on goals. Forge opened the account in the tenth minute, then Valour responded with an equalizer two minutes later. The game went back and forth, only for the away team to walk away with three points. At full-time, Valour lost at home 3-2 to Forge—also, peep Man of the Match Béni Badibanga’s textbook freekick. Perfect dip.

🔱 Pacific FC were at York Lions Stadium yesterday and left with a dominant 4–1 victory over York United, whose playoff hopes are dwindling. Speaking of, Pacific can clinch a playoff spot tomorrow with a HFX victory over Atlético Ottawa.

🌨️ The match between Halifax Wanderers and Atletico Ottawa was postponed to Monday at 6p.m. due to Hurricane Lee.

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and across the pond.
This week’s picks come from Angelo Destounis (@Angelo_rfc)

Angelo Destounis is a creative director, founder of Ringleaders, creator of Frostbite Cup, co-founder of the Midnight Cup, and brand manager for Moonshine. He is also launching Angelo’s Soccer Shop in Montreal this fall!

📚 What to read

There are many ways to reach personal enlightenment; this was my way. Read these books in this exact order (last one is in french):

1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
2. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
3. Tao Te Ching Book by Laozi
4. Le Guerrier intérieur by Thierry Pasquier

Once you are done, these books then stay with you forever, as it becomes a lifelong practice to re-read them again.

📺 What to watch

Gate 7 International is by far the best "soccer" podcast in the world. The hosts are funny and passionate, honest and only speak with true facts and good intentions, and the deep dives and analyses from Aristidis Bouloubassis are impeccable. As a Greek outside of Greece, this show keeps me close to my roots and reminds me that football doesn't have fans; it has supporters. Olympiacos is more than just a club, it's a religion.

🎧 What to listen to

I love music. At my creative studio and at home, there is music constantly playing all day. At times I can listen to the same song on loop for days, or I listen to live radio on the internet. I adore watching DJ sets on youtube channels while I work on a creative deck for an upcoming pitch. At night I fall asleep to the sound of nature or ASMR in my headphones. | Shift Radio | Radio Armable | Rinse France | Fade Radio

My favourite part of music is hearing a track for the first time, I really like it when I don't know the artist or the name of the song. I like what it does to me and I always have my Shazaam app ready to go. This often happens to me during Moonshine parties. When attending an event, I often say that I come as a student and the DJ is my professor.

✅ Who to follow

I will keep this one short and sweet, please follow Maple & Cleats asap and help them grow. If you love Canadian soccer like I do, give them a chance, they certainly won't let you down. The content shared tickles a very special part of my heart and brings me closer to childhood memories.

Kit Giveaway

We’re giving away a CanWNT/CanXNT home kit in XL to one of our lucky readers this week!

If you’re already subscribed, you’re entered. No additional entry steps required! All that we ask is that you share this newsletter with a Canadian footy lover in your life (or two) so we can continue to grow.

The draw will happen Wednesday night @ 9pm ET, so make sure to subscribe before then. Good luck!