September 25th Edition

CanWNT pick up a big W against Jamaica & Cavalry are CPL regular season champs

CanWNT pick up a big W against Jamaica & Cavalry are CPL regular season champs

Well, how about that. 

A week in Canadian Soccer that actually felt like a celebration. The CanWNT did the business down in Jamaica and now look primed to qualify for Paris as they head home to a sold-out BMO Field on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Cavalry FC clinched the Canadian Premier League’s regular season championship after an electric title race this season and have qualified for the 2024 Concacaf Cup.

We have full coverage of both of those triumphs, the winner of last week’s kit giveaway, and so much more ahead in this week’s edition of The Northern Pitch.

Photo: Audrey Magny / Canada Soccer

Now that was the CanWNT we all know and love, wasn’t it? 

In their first match since a disappointing World Cup, Canada went down to Kingston, Jamaica and balled out under big pressure and difficult circumstances that come hand in hand with road matches in Concacaf.

Nichelle Prince and Adriana Leon bagged to give Canada a 2-0 victory that puts them in control of their two-legged Olympic qualifying campaign heading back to Toronto on Tuesday.

Both Prince and Leon were fantastic during the match for a Canada side that has often struggled to score, especially from open play, of late. Leon, in particular created several chances during the match and was fully deserving of finally putting the ball into the back of the net in stoppage time.

Shoutout to Sydney Collins as well, who made her first Canada start and was absolute class in the middle of the park. The 24-year-old dual national who plays for the North Carolina Courage looks like she could be a solid option for Canada going forward.

Also back three forever, what a difference Jade Rose makes in terms of her calmness and composure playing out of the back. With Ashley Lawrence pushed a little further forward she was able to play a more attacking role, crucial on Canada’s opening goal.

Oh, and they did all of this without Christine Sinclair, which is crazy. Taking one look at that field, it was probably the move not to let her risk injury.

It is only half-time in their series against Jamaica, but Canada head home in complete control. A sold out BMO Field awaits on Tuesday, and a chance to lock down a spot at the Olympic Games for the back-to-back-to-back medallists, and defending Olympic champions.

Graphic: Canadian Premier League

After five dominant Canadian Premier League seasons, Cavalry FC will finally lift a trophy this year.

On Saturday, Cavalry clinched the 2023 CPL Sheild as the league’s regular season champions, earning a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. Yes…there is a scenario in which Lionel Messi would have to go play at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Electric.

Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s men have been the most succesful regular season side in league history, but have often failed to turn that into silverware. Saturday changed that, and now they will also go into the CPL Playoffs as heavy favourites.

They have also been a side that has consistently won in different ways, as one of the best development clubs in the country. National team players Victor Loturi, as well as Mo Farsi (Columbus Crew), Aribim Pepple (Luton Town) and Goteh Ntignee (FC Annecy) also spent time with the Cavs.

This is a club that should be on the minds of every Canadian soccer fan in terms of how they do things both on and off the pitch. It is incredibly impressive to see what they have built after only five seasons.

Kit Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to subscriber Jameson Bevington on being the lucky winner from our random draw! The kit will be heading your way shortly.

Welcome to all of our new subscribers, and stay tuned for more giveaways in the future!


Other news this week

🏆 The Champions League is back! Phonzy and AJ experienced two very different types of European nights. The biggest CL match of the week is definitely Bayern Munich versus Manchester United at the Allianz Arena. Phonzy started at left-back in this seven-game thriller. Luckily, Bayern Munich walked away with all three points against the English heavyweights. Meanwhile, Celtic experienced a 2-0 loss away to Fayernoord. If we’re being honest, the scoreline could’ve been abysmal. Celtic’s Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Holm picked up red cards, bringing Celtic to a nine-man team. It was a brutal way for AJ to play his first-ever CL game. However, the Canadian international received praises for his performance. Celtic supporters and Scottish press are recognizing AJ as an emerging and reliable talent.

🇳🇿 Rylee Foster signed with Wellington Phoenix two years after a severe car crash. The former Liverpool goalkeeper found a new home in New Zealand’s only A-League Women team. Foster will be competing with Brianna Edwards as first-choice keeper. After a lengthy two-year road to recovery, Rylee will be motivated to return to action and make her mark in the A-League. We at the Northern Pitch wish her mercurial rise.

👀 Mauro Biello wants the Canada job permanently. After it was announced that John Herdman would be Toronto FC’s new head coach, Mauro Biello was revealed to be the interim manager of the CanMNT. The Montrealer expressed that he would strive to become the permanent head coach of the national team. Should Canada look to established European coaches to lead Les Rouges? It wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially with Carlon “King” Ancelotti expressing interest. However, Biello is a Canadian product, having played for the Montreal Impact and later becoming its interim head coach and then the club’s head coach for two seasons. The situation is mirroring his club managerial career at MTL. Reminder: Biello has brought Montreal to the Eastern Conference finals against TFC. Arguably the greatest East Coast playoff series in MLS history. He has also been an assistant coach throughout the Herdman era and understands Canadian football at an esoteric level. Mauro Biello as head coach would not be a bad idea, but time will tell. Unless Ancelotti comes running for the job.

🤕 Jayde Riviere and Deanne Rose were left out of the CanWNT roster for the Olympic Qualifiers. Both players are ruled out of the current Olympic Qualifier campaign. Riviere and Rose have been set aside due to injuries. Jayde has missed out on Manchester United’s last few friendlies. Meanwhile, Deanne Rose, who recently earned a move to Leicester City, has yet to feature for the Foxes. On the bright side, youngster Annabelle Chukwu has been called up to the senior team for the matches against Jamaica.

☑️ Cavalry FC, Forge FC, and Pacific FC have clinched playoffs. After a long season, the CPL regular season is reaching its end. With two games left, Cavalry, Forge and Pacific have qualified for the playoff rounds, with Cavalry FC picking up the inaugural Canadian Premier League Shield. Forge’s win over Pacific places the Hamilton club in second while Pacific drops in third. Under the new CPL playoff format, the first and second-placed teams will play in a quasi-semi-final match. In which the winners will play and host the playoff finals. At the same time, the loser will enter the bottom half of the playoff bracket and play in the semi-finals—a lot of perks for the top two teams.

CREDIT: Canadian Premier League

🏆 Canadian Premier League introduced the CPL Shield and the North Star Cup. Trophies are nice. It's a redundant statement, but after a 28-week regular season, you want to earn something for it. The CPL recognized such an effort and introduced a regular-season trophy called “The Canadian Premier League Shield.” The regular season winners will earn this trophy and a slot in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Meanwhile, the North Star Cup will replace the North Star Shield. The new trophy will be given to the winners of the CPL playoffs. The design of the North Star Cup will be unveiled at the finals on October 28th or the 29th.

🙌 Janine Beckie is back in training with the CanWNT. The DARBY Magazine cover athlete has finally returned to training with the national team. It has been six months since her ACL injury, and she has finally reunited with her national teammates. Due to her injury, Janine has been training in isolation and has expressed difficulty training alone. The challenges she faced were both physical and mental. As a team sport, solo training presents a mental component that may be overlooked or taken for granted. We’re gassed to see her return to the pitch, especially for the upcoming Olympics.

👮🏾‍♂️ Lionel Messi refers to Kamal Miller as “his security.” Kamal Miller is Canada’s outstanding defender in the MLS. His move from CF MTL was met with confusion by the fans, but it has clearly become the right move for Kamal. He has flourished in Miami and now is playing with the living Argentinian God and MLS rookie Messi. The pair seem to get on quite well. During games, Miller is the first to come to Messi’s defence after a hard foul. It has come to the point that Messi refers to Kamal as his “security.” If it’s not the former Navy SEAL shadowing Messi, it’s Kamal. The full interview by Michael Scianitti can be watched here.

3️⃣ Phonzy was involved with Harry Kane’s first Bundesliga hat trick. Would it surprise you if we told you that Bayern Munich defeated Bochum 7-0? The win is expected, but the scoreline is less so. Harry Kane registered a hattrick and an assist against Bochum. The first goal came from a Phonzy run down the middle, in which the fullback ran into a defender while the ball bounced off the opposition and found Kane in the box. Although not an assist, we’ll take it.

CREDIT: Ketsia N’Kumbu / DARBY

😬 This week in MLS, there was some mid-week action along with typical weekend matchups. One thing to note: not a good week for Canadian clubs in the MLS.

🔵 CF Montréal travelled to the dirty south to take on Atlanta United. CFM’s week has been somewhat mixed despite earning a point against league leaders FC Cincinnati and shutting down Luciano Acosta. Montréal failed to gain all three points at home as they conceded a last-minute penalty. This week, MTL travelled to the ATL and lost 4-1. With Joel Waterman picking up a red card towards the end of the game. CF Montréal’s have one of the worst away records this season, only collecting eight points on the road (2-11-2). With four games left, two of which are away games, CF MTL is starting to feel the heat. Especially with DC United a point behind, MTL needs to find a way to pick up all three points home and away. It’s crunch time.

🌊 Real Salt Lake hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps. Like Toronto, this is Vancouver’s second away game this week. Last Wednesday, the ‘Caps travelled to Texas and lost 4-1 to Houston. Rough debut for Hoilett. It gets rougher. The Whitecaps were handed a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. Vancouver has five games left in the season, with two away games. However, they host league leaders St. Louis and LAFC and travel to third-place Seattle Sounders. It’s going to be a hectic last few weeks for the ‘Caps. If they can pick up wins against STL, LAFC and Sounders, it’ll be somewhat of a dress rehearsal for playoffs. Our gut feeling is they’ll survive the gauntlet.

🔴 TFC visits the Big Apple as they take on NYCFC at the world-famous Yankee Stadium. This is Toronto's second away game after losing to Miami 4-0 midweek. More does not need to be said other than Messi exiting the match in the 37th minute due to injury. Last Sunday, TFC visited NYCFC and handled a 3-0 loss to the home side. This loss has officially eliminated TFC from playoff contention for the third season. Toronto will need a total rehaul of the team and footballing philosophy to address the issues it faced this season. John Herdman has a job and half at hand. But if there’s anyone that can build a team and lead them to greener pastures, it's shepherd Herdman himself.

⚽️ It’s that time of the year in the CPL! With two games left to the season, clubs are fighting for a playoff spot. Cavalry was named regular season champs, and Forge and Pacific qualified for playoffs. In contrast, Vancouver and Valour are eliminated from playoff contention.

🐎 York United is among those looking for a chance at the Cup but faced playoff-clinched Cavalry. York United hosted the Calgary club that currently sits in first place, while York is in sixth and needs to be in fifth to qualify for playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the game ended 1-0 for Cavalry with a goal from Sergio Camargo. It’s crunch time for York United as they only have two games left in the regular season.

🦅 Halifax Wanderers travelled to Langley to face last-placed Vancouver FC. VFC is officially eliminated from qualifying for playoffs. However, despite that reality, they were able to defeat Halifax Wanderers 2-1 at home. The Wanderers currently sit in fourth place. The odds for playoff qualification are in their favour. However, they face Forge at home and Valour away. It’s all about maintaining fourth at this rate.

🔨 Pacific FC travelled to Hamilton to face Forge FC. With the new playoff format, this match held significance in terms of finishing in second place. Forge have put themselves in second place after defeating Pacific 3-1. Pacific opened the game in the third minute with a goal from Djenairo Daniels. Forge replied with a goal a minute later by Rezart Rama, with Woobens Pacius scoring in the 29th minute and Jordan Hamilton in stoppage time.

❌ Atletico Ottawa hosted eliminated Valour FC in a must-win match. Ottawa needed to hold their position in the league to qualify for playoffs. Unfortunately for Atletico, Valour’s Walter Ponce ruined their vibe by scoring in stoppage time in the 94th minute. The game ended 1-0 for the away team. Valour is in last place, while Ottawa sits in fifth, only a point ahead of York United. If Atletico Ottawa want to confirm a playoff spot, they need to win their next game away at York United. A win will confirm their playoff spot.

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and across the pond.
This week’s picks come from Khendrick Beausoleil.

Khendrick Beausoliel is a Haitian-American creative from New York. In 2020 he joined Wavy Footy and in late 2022 co-created the 5ASIDE Podcast. He currently works in the legal department at Major League Soccer and is looking to grow the game in the United States.

📚 What to read

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain - I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an introvert (I likely fall somewhere in the middle) but I appreciate this book because it highlights the importance of turning inwards, being patient, and moving with intention in a world that emphasizes and often times rewards focusing on the world around you, making quick decisions, and being the loudest in the room.

All About Love by bell hooks - a classic, taught me a lot about how I could better love myself and ways in which I’ve failed to properly love those around me. My favorite quote from the book:

"Love is as love does. Love is an act of will-namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love”

📺 What to watch

Small Axe (2020) - an incredible small-film series that tells the stories of London's West Indian community between 1969 and 1982 (a perspective we don’t often hear about or see in film/tv). It explores a number of subjects from police brutality to education to falling in love. Beautifully shot and a soundtrack worth saving!

🎧 What to listen to

Most of the time when I listen to music, I’m listening for melodies and identifiable instruments - less concerned about words or meaning, more concerned with how it makes me feel. I’ve been listening to a bunch of French rap recently - Tiakola, Leto, Gazo, Lala &ce, Le Juiice, La Fève, and most recently, Chilly.

Ruger as well who dropped an incredible album, “RU The World”, that tied together dancehall and afrobeats seamlessly.

Lastly, if you’re into jazz (even if you’re not actually, maybe you’re just looking for something new), listen to Love Tape by Marquis Hill, an incredible trumpet player. The spoken word on this album will take you on a journey and I seriously think everyone should listen to it at least once in their life.

✅ Who to follow

5ASIDE Podcast (@5asidepod) - incredible football / soccer podcast exploring the football world and its intersection with music, football, fashion, politics, and more from the perspective of 5 Black men living in the United States.

Wavy Footy (@wavyfooty) - beautifully orchestrated football / soccer brand “bridging the culture through all things footy” - highlighting the cultural significance of footy through features like “Photographer Friday”, “Music Mondays”, “MLS/NWSL Fits if the Week” and more.

The Local Project (@thelocalproject) - for the architecture lovers!