YORK REGION – Six weeks in, the Fall Competition of the Canadian Premier League is shaping up nicely with the top four sides separated by just four points.
York9 FC, in fourth spot on nine points from six matches, will be looking to get back on track after a home loss to Valour FC last weekend when they face Pacific FC on Saturday afternoon at York Lions Stadium.
“I want to see our side at the top of the table,” said Jimmy Brennan after training on Thursday. “We’ve got a goal as a team: We want to be on top of the table, we want to get into that final. Our guys have got plenty of confidence; playing good football right now. They know they’re close, very close, to getting there.
“That’s our goal right now. It’s tight, this is going to be an open race for anybody. It’s who is going to be the group that is willing to push themselves and really get there.”
Returning from an extended break with a match rescheduled due to their Forge FC ‘s participation in the Concacaf League, Y9 were slow out of the gates against a struggling Valour.
“I don’t think we came out the way we wanted to, giving away an early goal – a bit unlucky. It was always chasing the game after that,” recalled defender Luca Gasparotto. “We’ve been working this week on making sure the little things are right, fixing what we did wrong against Valour and continuing to build on what we did right.
Brennan was adamant post-match that his side were the better team on the day and the loss was a matter of finishing, hence his focus in training this week.
“We’ve been working a lot on our movement in the final third, pressing, creating those chances and making sure when we get to the final third; our decision-making has got to be a little bit better,” explained the coach. “We’ve worked on coming in more on angles – we’re rather too flat. It’s little things we’ve been trying to tune up this week.”
“We’re disappointed because the goals that we concede are through our mistakes,” highlighted Brennan. “It’s my fault, at times, because I’m asking guys to play out of the back – that’s our style of play, that’s our football. If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn.
“We talk about it all the time. The last thing I want our guys to do is to get into a shell. I want them to put their hand up, say, ‘I made made a mistake there, but next time that’s not happening.'”
Suspended and forced to watch from the sidelines, it was a particularly tough one for Nine Stripes captain Manny Aparicio, who is now looking to bounce back against Pacific FC in what he called a “huge game” for his club. In particular, Aparicio highlighted some of Pacific’s star players like Ben Fisk and Marcus Haber as worth keeping an eye on, as they bring “experience, and that bit of flair as well.”
Pacific may currently sit at the bottom of the standings, but Brennan will not be underestimating Michael Silberbauer’s side.
“I really enjoy the way that they play, they do it the right way. And that’s why every time we play it’s always a good footballing match,” said Brennan. “Michael has got a good squad there, he’s been unfortunate in a few games.
“We know it’s going to be a difficult one. They’re going to come here, try to make it hard for us. They know we’re a team that wants to maintain possession and will be on our front foot, so they’ll have a game-plan, but it’s going to be up to us to stick to our game-plan and break them down.”
Saturday’s match will be York’s final home game of the month. Ahead lies a run of four-straight away, beginning at Cavalry FC on August 21. Stops in Edmonton, Hamilton, and a fifth-and-final meeting with Pacific on the West Coast will follow before they return home on September 15 to face Valour again.
With FC Edmonton, Cavalry, and Forge battling with York for the top spot, there are plenty of six-pointers coming up. But those will have to wait. As Gasparotto explained: “We’re just going to take it one game at a time.