By Darnel Harris
Canada’s national soccer cup tournament involves thirteen clubs seeking to lift the Voyageurs Cup and a shot at the top football clubs in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Since York9 FC launched its first professional soccer season on April 27th, the Canadian Championship has been a bright light for a club lacking league success. Recording their first win as a team against Montreal’s A.S. Blainville on May 22nd, they faced FC Edmonton over two matches for a chance to play Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact in July.
The first leg on June 5th at York Lions Stadium saw a trio of goals headed in by York9’s Luca Gasparotto, Rodrigo Gattas and Simon Adjei Karlsson to bury FC Edmonton on set pieces during a dominant first fifty minutes.
With 60% possession and eight shots to Edmonton’s one, York9 used their narrow field and experience playing in rain to great effect by converting three nearly identical corner kicks. Desperate to get back into the match, FC Edmonton took thirteen shots in an aggressive second half, eight of which were saved by the keeper or blocked. But despite their 60% possession only earned one goal, scored by Omar Diouck (Attacker) on a clear strike six meters from goal.
After the match York9’s goalkeeper Nathan Ingham was encouraged by his teammates’ performance on defence, passing accuracy and set pieces. FC Edmonton’s defenceman Kareem Moses, a Trinidadian with six caps for the Soca Warriors, was disappointed by the way his team responded to the corner kicks. On the level of play in Canada, despite his own initial skepticism, he praised the Canadian Premier League’s quality of play, and argued that the league would prove its worth against the major Canadian teams, Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The second leg on June 12th in Edmonton saw a determined Edmonton FC, known to their fans as the Eddies, fire sixteen shots, only three of which were on target. Ingham stood tall for York9 in the second half, as Edmonton FC’s pressure began to result in quality opportunities.
Omar Diouck forced York9’s keeper to make a sprawling save as he charged toward the net, followed by a leaping recovery to prevent an own goal a minute later. While FC Edmonton’s Mélé Temguia scored four minutes into extra time on a last-minute play started by his goalkeeper, York9 won the series, three goals to one.
Commenting on the importance of the league’s growing fan support, and their active fan group, Generation IX, York9’s Coach Brennan said, “Football without fans is just a workout.” Thanks to York9’s success, their fans will have a chance to inspire their team to what could be their first famous victory against Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Montreal Impact on July 10th at York Lions Stadium.