I know this is late, after getting home from the match at 11.30, work and Canada vs Jamaica the next evening this is the first opportunity I’ve had to sit down and type this all up, so I’ll make this short with a few thoughts on the game.
There were a couple changes from the lineup posted online, both in defence, with TFCIII’s Julian Dunn and Oakville’ Victor Gallo replaced by TFCIV’s Jamar Kelly and TFCV’s, Aaron Schneebli. The latter went on to be the only player to last the 90 mins and was rewarded with the MOTM.
It was a big crowd of 900+, a lot of youth players from the L1O teams watching their representatives. A few famous faces in the crowd as well, with Canada’s director of development Jason de Vos and ex TFC player Jimmy Brennan in attendance watching on the next generation of Canadian stars.
L1O had a an extremely strong starting XI, with at least 5 ex pro’s, although I’d imagine all were auditioning for roles in potential CanPL teams with a few owners watching on from the stands. The PLSQ team had a few good players of their own though and definitely weren’t slouches.
It was L1O that looked the better team in the first half. The midfield trio Manella-Carreiro-Frano showing their experience controlling the game, with everything going through them. The full backs Johnny Grant and Bruce Cullen got forward at every opportunity, Cullen in particular had a good game on the left, taking on defenders and getting a few good balls into the box. And it was he who won the corner that led to the only goal of the game. Schneebli played a long ball out the back the Cavallini on the left, passed to Cullen overlapping on the inside who used his quick feet to take it round the diving defender and attempted to dink it over the onrushing goalkeeper but was deflected out for a corner.
Carreiro swung the ball into a dangerous area, that goalkeeper Gabard Fenon couldn’t get to, the looped shot was cleared off the line by a defender, but they couldn’t clear the ball and it was headed back across goal to Frano, who with his back to goal, let the ball come across his body where he swiveled and volleyed the ball into the roof of the net.
Unfortunately, especially for Sigma, just before the corner was taken Johnny Grant went off with an injured ankle. L1O and Sigma coach Bobby Smyrniotis advised after the game that Grant had been having niggling issues with his ankle for a while and was unsure at this stage whether he would be ok for Saturdays big game against fellow allstar coach Hermann Kingue’s North Toronto Nitro’s.
Although occasionally putting a few passes together, PLSQ never really had prolonged possession enough to put on any real pressure. They had a few chances but nothing that really challenged Quillan Roberts in goal.
The second half was like a typical friendly match, where multiple substitutions are made. It was very stop start and disjointed. I think this played in favour of the PLSQ team, who grew into the game and it was a much more even half. Both teams getting into good areas but unable to make that final shot count. Sigma’s Kadell Thomas had two good chances, but couldn’t hit the target with either. Late on, PLSQ won a free kick just outside the box that was spectacularly tipped over by the final Sigma allstar Tristan Henry at the same end he made a spectacular save against Vaughan a couple weeks back.
Disregarding the obvious players, the three that impressed from L1O were all defenders left back Bruce Cullen, and starting centre backs, Jamar Kelly and Aaron Schneebli who all showed why they deserved to be starting in this game and took their opportunity to shine. From PLSQ I liked the look of centre back Renan Dias, who looked big and strong, but was also comfortable bringing the ball forward out of defence.
Overall I think the game went how I expected it to. I think in a game were the normal amount of subs was allowed L1O would have secured the win a little more easily, and the substitutions took the sting out of the game, but completely understandable. It was a good night though, I got to meet a lot of people, from fellow writers and journalists, Dino Rossi, Anthony Totera, Paul Beirne to the Mississauga supporters club. I think more importantly it was great for the kids to see the stars of their clubs representing their league and province in a professional environment against good opposition, getting to meet their heroes after the game and hopefully firmly planting the dream in their heads that one day they will be the ones on the pitch playing in front of CanPL owners hoping to be the next Canadian star.