York 9 FC head coach Jimmy Brennan and FC Edmonton boss Jeff Paulus were both left rather impressed with the level of play in Halifax on Day 2 of the Canadian Premier League’s #GotGame Open Trials, with the two tacticians pointing out that a smaller group of players has seen the overall quality improve in time for Friday’s 11-v-11 scrimmages.
Over 100 players showed up on Thursday for the Open Trials in Halifax, though that list was whittled down to around 50 players for the start of the second day. By mid-day, trial lead coach Alex Bunbury and the rest of the CPL’s coaching staff had whittled down the list once again to a final 28.
Paulus and Brennan agreed that this final round would be the true test of these trialists’ skills – luckily, the 28 players didn’t fail to impress.
“I would say that these trials have left me pleasantly surprised,” Paulus told CanPL.ca. “Not that I doubt the level of player in Canada – I’m always been an advocate for Canadian players – but just to see this many people that really you might not know or heard a lot of their names if you haven’t followed football out in the Maritimes is good.
“A lot of these players are new to me but seeing the overall level I think is a really nice surprise. It’s good. In that first game that was just played, there was a bit of quality in that field, and there were certainly a few players who caught the eyes of all the staff. It’s all positive.”
Brennan added: “We didn’t know what to expect, honestly, about who was going to come out for an open trial, but for the most part we’ve been really impressed with just how fit these players are, how determined they are, and they’ve been very professional in their own right with how they’ve handled the situation here. It’s not easy by any means but they’ve shown a lot of character and that’s good to see.
“I think there’s a few of them that can make the jump to the next level and need to be in that professional environment. But only time will tell. Once you get them training with your squad and have a good preseason, then you’ll really see if they can play at that level. The whole thing here is just identifying players and hoping there’s a couple of guys that can make that jump to that next level.”
As the two-day open trials came to a close in Halifax, the coaches now prepare to head west toward Montreal for the second stop of seven Canadian cities from coast to coast. Having seen some of the talent on offer in the Maritimes, Paulus is looking forward to taking in even more soccer in the weeks to come, especially in Calgary, the one stop in Alberta for the #GotGame Open Trials.
“It’s nice because this is taking me out of my office,” Paulus offered. “For me, just to come here and watch players play football is great because a lot of my role the last couple months has been on the administration side for FC Edmonton, and I’m doing a lot of paperwork and a lot of building programs behind the scenes, while also building and changing our academy. So, to come here and put all that administrative stuff aside and watch football players is brilliant.
“I’m lucky because the Alberta combine is being held in Calgary, and what that means is that Cavalry FC has to do all the legwork and administration of it,” he added. “I get to go down there, put my feet up and watch Tommy (Wheeldon Jr.) work, which is going to be brilliant as well.”
The CPL’s #GotGame trials now head to Montreal (Sept. 27-28), before making stops in Hamilton (Oct. 1-2), Toronto (Oct. 11-12), Winnipeg (Oct. 18-19), Calgary (Oct. 25-26) and Vancouver Island (Nov. 5-6). Think you’ve #GotGame? Register at CanPL.ca/GotGame.