York9 FC dealing with wear and tear ahead of Island Games opener

While some teams enter Island Games play fully fit, York9 FC isn’t as lucky.

Ahead of their historic tilt with Atlético Ottawa on Saturday (noon ET/1:00 p.m. ET), York9 coach Jimmy Brennan admits his side is dealing with a number of injuries as they have settled into life in the Prince Edward Island bubble.

“We have a few players that are borderline – we’re going to give them some treatment and hopefully they make the deadline and can be available tomorrow,” Brennan said.

“We’re hoping over the next few days, we’ll have a number of players healthy.”

The Nine Stripes, who arrived in Charlottetown last Saturday, have a full 23-man complement of players in PEI – one of only a few CPL clubs with such a luxury – after swapping stranded international players with local talents such as Lowell Wright and Isaiah Johnson. Those youngsters join a promising veteran crew ready to lead the charge in Year 2: Michael Petrasso, Luca Gasparotto, Chris Mannella, and Manny Aparicio chief among them.

While Brennan referred to the injuries as “a bit of wear and tear,” Thursday’s hot-and-heavy clash between Forge FC and Cavalry FC in the season opener stands as a caution about risking potentially worsening an injury — all 10 substitutions were made as both sides struggled to keep fitness levels over the full 90 minutes due to a lack of pre-season friendlies.

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“I thought the tempo was very high but you could see fatigue setting in by the second half,” Brennan admitted. “We know what’s gonna happen – our players are going to do the same.

“It’s about making the right subs and not pushing them too hard that you hurt them for the following game.

“We can’t exert too much energy. We need to be careful.”

While a few bruised heels aren’t troubling, it does call Brennan’s squad selection into question – specifically around his young players. Highly-touted prospects such as Max Ferrari and Ijah Halley could see the pitch as early as Saturday, Brennan admitted, and could even start.

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“Do you throw a player off the deep end and start them tomorrow? Those are the questions that I love to answer,” Brennan said. “Makes it easy that these players are eager to get on the pitch.”

Brennan enters the unknown with Atlético Ottawa, getting the first crack at the CPL’s first expansion side.

“It’s uncharted waters. We don’t know how they are going to play: style, formation, anything. I know Mista well as a player, though,” Brennan said, referring to their time together at Toronto FC

“We spoke to our players and we’ll need to make a lot of adjustments during the game because the game will dictate how we play. It’s my job to read what [Ottawa] does and adapt.”

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