In this series, Steven Sandor examines the projected starting lineups of each Canadian Premier League club ahead of the 2019 CPL season.
Six of the seven Canadian Premier League teams are starting from scratch. So they all have an element of the “great unknown” about them. But, even with that in mind, it would be hard not to think of York9 as one of the wilder of the wild-card teams in the league. Just from casual discussions with coaches, players and fans, there are massive swings in opinion about Jim Brennan’s charges.
But, with MLS experience from the likes of Kyle Porter and Toronto FC loanee Ryan Telfer; plenty of League1 Ontario standouts and a smattering of European experience, York9 promises to be a fascinating crew to watch evolve through the season.
What this team does have, though, is players with points to prove.
Going into the April camp in the Dominican Republic, Matt Silva was pencilled in as the keeper of choice. He brings in European experience earned playing second-division soccer in Sweden. But, the signing of Nathan Ingham, announced during the DR trip, makes for an interesting battle. Ingham had earned the starter’s job at FC Edmonton a couple of years ago, but his NASL season was derailed due to a concussion. Ingham is a proven shot stopper, so Brennan will have a tough decision to make.
Luca Gasparotto, who has had a Canadian national team call-up and has more than 100 games of pro experience in Scotland, is the linchpin. He will be expected to be the cornerstone piece in both winning balls and distribution. Roger Thompson, at six-foot-four, has been called up to the Canadian under-20 in the past and has more than 100 games of experience in Swedish football. Gasparatto and Thompson will make it hard for opposition teams to ram the ball down the throat of Brennan’s set up. But, the option, then, will be to go down the wings, which brings us to the next section…
Ok, York9 is a team that promises to have strength in the wings. Ryan Telfer has shown promise for Toronto FC and will be expected to bring pace down the sideline. Add to that Kyle Porter, who has played forward, wing and fullback through his professional stops, including stints with FC Edmonton and the Ottawa Fury — and, of course, D.C. United of MLS. Porter was a player who, a couple of years ago, was on the fringes of the national team. And, when he’s challenged, when he plays with a chip on his shoulder, he can be a game-changer. Add to that Joe Di Chiara, who will be asked to be the playmaker in the middle; he stood out as an elite talent in L10 and, well, who else in the CPL can say that they’ve played top-flight football… in Russia?
As good as York9 promises to be down the wings, it won’t matter unless there are targets to pick out. At 6-foot-3, Swedish forward Simon Adjei will be asked to provide the thunder. Meanwhile, Wataru Murofushi will be asked to provide the runs that will force defenders to move their feet and give Adjei a lot of one-on-one battles to win. In depth, Michael Cox offers both the ability to win balls in the air and beat you with his feet. His combination of pace and strength could make him a Jozy Altidore-like option.