“Written in the stars, a million miles away”
Sigma were back on track this week with a dominating 6 nil win over last-place Pro Stars FC, hoping to make up ground on first place Oakville in the west. The first thing that struck me as the teams came out was the visible difference in the lineups. The Pro Stars team looked a lot smaller and younger than Sigma, it looked like men against boys. This probably explains their record for the season, with only one point on the board and that coming on the first day of the season.
Sigma made a number of changes from the draw against London last week. Mo Babouli dropped out of the squad altogether, presumably rested (?), while Jelani Smith returned to the back line and Christian Samaniego dropped to the bench. Daniel Jodah started in an unfamiliar striker position with Alex Halis just behind. Mansoor Alfazy came in alongside Giuliano Frano in midfield and two two would take it in turns to get forward while the other sat to provide security in front of the defense.
Sigma started the game as they intended by continuing to ask questions of the Pro Stars defence from the off, forcing saves from Jonathan Albanese. The whole match was just wave after wave of attack as Pro Stars struggled to get any possession. Anytime that Pro Stars did attack, throughout the game, it would fizzle out with a poor final ball or the wrong decision made. While Pro Stars started by pressing high up the field when Sigma had the ball, this died down as the game went on. Despite the number of chances Sigma had, Pro Stars held on valiantly for large parts of the first half. It is not only physically tough, but also mentally, to defend that much and stay switched on, especially with younger kids and the movement of the Sigma team, so it was never a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ Sigma would get a goal.
Even before Sigma took the lead, they missed multiple good chances, one coming from a David Velastegui corner that found Alex Halis all alone three yards from goal, but his header was straight at the keeper who pushed it over the goal. Sigma really could have had two or three before they eventually did take the lead in the 17th minute, and it looked like Giuliano Frano had had enough of his team’s struggles to find the back of the net and took it upon himself to make it happen. He won the ball in a 50/50 challenge, took a touch to set himself, and struck a vicious shot into the top corner from 20 yards that Albanese could only get fingertips to.
As he does against most teams, Kadell Thomas caused many problems down the left. All game he took on multiple defenders at a time with ease and got crosses and shots away. How he didn’t get on the scoresheet at all I don’t know. He had a couple good chances early on, forcing a good save down to the keeper’s right and another when the keeper dropped a cross at his feet but could only find the side netting.
Jodah was a surprise for me up top, I have never seen him play this position but he did well with his pace and movement, threatening all game. He finally got his reward for his good play in the 39th minute when Frano had the ball in the centre circle and found Alfazy in acres of space between the lines. Jodah made his run to the left side of the box with the centre back playing behind the defensive line keeping him onside. Alfazy slid the ball between the right back and other centre back, and Jodah, from a hard angle, especially considering the way he was running, blasted a left-footed shot into the roof of the net on the near side. Jodah could have had a second a few minutes later when he was again slid in by Alfazy, this time on the right side of the box, but his low shot was saved by Albanese.
Sigma went in at half time 2 nil up and the lead probably should have been more, but they put it right in the second half. With Pro Stars tiring a lot in the second 45 mins, with 10 men behind the ball at all times, they barely got out of their own half, and when they did it came straight back at them. Sigma didn’t even really seem to be playing at their full capacity, keeping possession and easily making the Stars’ players chase after the ball, adding to the fatigue in the Mississauga heat.
A lot of the Sigma play came down the right-hand side in the second half with Johnny Grant getting much more of the ball, and he showed a lovely bit of skill early on receiving a long ball from Frano. He jumped in the air, trapped the ball on his chest, flicked it behind him to get past his defender, and delivered a tempting ball across the six-yard box where Jodah lost his marker with a clever run but just couldn’t get his feet sorted in time, fluffing his shot.
At times, it felt like Sigma were just trying to walk the ball into the goal. Jerome Smith, who had come on for Jelani Smith at halftime, did just this in the 55th minute, putting Sigma three up. He won the ball in the Pro Stars half and ran forward, brushing aside two defenders who didn’t put up much fight, and coolly passed the ball past the keeper for his first goal of the season.
Frano scored his second of the game in the 68th minute from a similar distance as his first, this time from a freekick earned by Thomas. His shot was placed over the wall and into the bottom left corner. The keeper had no chance, especially when two players in the wall turned out of the way of the oncoming ball to avoid being hit when they could have potentially blocked it.
Jordan Kalonji came on for Alex Halis in the 71st minute and made a big impact. Kalonji is a player who is playing for a starting role in this team and looked very lively in his little cameo. He made it 5 nil in the 77th minute when he got the ball from Thomas on the left, knocked it past the midfielder, and drove a great strike into the near post from just outside the box. Kalonji then finished the rout in the 86th minute when he took advantage of a poorly headed clearance which fell to him alone at the edge of the area where he volleyed the ball into the bottom left corner to finish Pro Stars off.
It was likely down to tiredness but the Stars’ players didn’t seem to be aware of where the Sigma players were and weren’t switched on, which allowed Sigma to do what they wanted and they attacked at will. They looked like they were going to score each time they got around the Pro Stars area. We have seen a few very high scores in League 1 in the past few weeks and this really could have been one of those games. In the end, Sigma got a good win but I don’t think there is too much you can really take from this game other than the goals were all very well taken. There are tougher games ahead, including a game in hand against TFC III; Windsor, who despite a couple heavy loses held Sigma to a draw earlier in the year; and the Classic-eh against North Mississauga Panthers where they will be asked many more questions than they were this weekend.