“Listen, we made offers to a number of our 2020 squad to retain them and when they said no it’s natural to move on quickly,” McNab told CanPL.ca. “In initial discussions, the squad wanted to stay and felt we had enough to go again and compete.
“But they had their own individual needs that they fought for and that meant it wasn’t economical [to keep the group] and I didn’t really value one much more greatly than another. It’s lovely to be very idealistic and all but people have to do what’s right for their careers.”
The first York9 stalwart to leave was Joe Di Chiara, who is expected to complete an intra-league swap and follow in the footsteps of former captain Manny Aparicio, who joined Pacific last week. Aparicio told the media he left Y9 under a cloud of uncertainty as key players remained out of the contract.
Six York9 players from 2020 remain unsigned, with centre-back Roger Thompson appearing to be the lone player expected to return. McNab revealed the club is in “advanced stages” to bring Thompson back for 2021.
“Manny’s moved on and I’m sure Ryan [Telfer], Joe [Di Chiara], Chris [Mannella] and others will as well soon,” McNab admitted.
McNab reiterated that no returning players have been rewarded for underperforming in 2020. Instead, the club puts its focus on bringing in newcomers.
Brazilian William Wallace, 18, is very much at the heart of the new group. The left-sided player arrives from one of South America’s biggest clubs in Fluminense. McNab is confident in young players such as Wallace and Argentinian Mateo Hernandez to complete a changing of the guard at York9.
“Look, soccer fans in Canada are smart,” McNab stated. “I think they might not get this signing (Wallace) since he’s so young and there’s a risk in any transfer, but we just felt that this was a calculated and very, very potential high return form of risk.
“He’s coming from one of the biggest football clubs in the world, not just one of the biggest football clubs in Brazil. For us to be involved in a discussion with Fluminense and to complete a transfer with them, within two seasons of operating, is absolutely massive.”
York9 also added a new No. 1 goalkeeper in Niko Giantsopoulos, who swapped Cavalry FC for the Nine Stripes in search for more playing time.
“As [Cavalry FC coach] Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said, he’s earned the right to be a number one in the league somewhere,” McNab explained. “We gave him the no. one shirt and a multi-year deal for a reason – we believe in him.
“Tommy was great in terms of having that conversation with him. Niko is a guy who they loved at the club, who they really enjoyed being there. But he’s the right guy, the right personality for us and for what we’re building here, to fit in really, really well.”
As the old guard departs, another arrives for York9, now significantly younger, with ultra-promising internationals such as Wallace, Hernandez, and Julian Ulbricht set breathe new life into the CPL club. McNab also revealed that more young internationals are coming, with an Argentinian attacker pegged as the next target.
“We’ve got to build the club and shape it into this force I think it really can be within the league, both on and off the pitch,” McNab said.
“It wasn’t right in the 2019 season – and 2020 was its own thing, with COVID-19 and whatnot.
“It’s the start of what we hope is building towards something very special in developing internationals and young Canadians – Isaiah Johnston, Max Ferrari, Lowell Wright, and now Cédric Toussaint – that’s exciting, really exciting.”