YORK REGION – The Spring title now beyond reach, York9 FC is now focused on doing what the team needs to do to compete with table-toppers Calvary FC and Forge FC.
The Nine Stripes are 14 points off the perfect pace set by Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s Cavalry side, with three matches remaining, and, as a result, York9 is looking to close out the opening portion of the 2019 Canadian Premier League schedule by continuing to move forward where they can.
“Right now it’s all about us,” said Jimmy Brennan after a 0-0 draw with FC Edmonton on Wednesday night. “We need to continue to work, continue to get better every single game and improve. Myself and the staff, we’re very happy with where the boys are now. We can see them improving week in and week out.
“The hunger is there, the desire is there. They’re loving football, they’ve got the never-say-die attitude, which I love.”
Time was always the biggest factor in getting York9 clicking, but time is also a luxury Brennan’s side no longer has for the Sprint portion of the season; Cavalry can clinch the Spring title on Saturday with a home result on Saturday against Forge, after all.
But even if they do, the season isn’t over. The slate is wiped clean after Canada Day and the race begins anew in the Fall portion of the 2019 CPL campaign.
“Tommy’s done a hell of a job with his team,” Brennan offered. “It’s a group he’s had for a while now and you can see the cohesiveness, the way they’re playing. (If) he wins the first part of the season? Fantastic, well done, Tommy. But the rest of us now are fighting for that next spot to get into that final.
“We’re definitely going to be there, definitely going to be fighting tooth and nail all (Fall) season to get into this final. These guys here, they’ll tell you themselves they won’t be giving up. We won’t be happy until they’re in there.”
It’s not just the Fall season that Brennan will have to navigate, though. Having advanced through the first two rounds of the 2019 Canadian Championship, York9 has now set up a July date against the Montreal Impact, and have looked improved after each and every match.
“Each game we build on the last,” said Y9 captain Manny Aparicio, to that end.
Returning faces boost York9 lineup
Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw with FC Edmonton also saw Joe Di Chiara return to the York9 midfield, and another key player, Roger Thompson, was also named to the bench, though, as Brennan explained, the competition for spots is fierce.
“Everybody has got to earn the right to play the game, and earn their spot in the team,” Brennan said. “Wata (Murofushi) hurt his shoulder, (he’s) been playing great as well; same with Manu, same with (Kyle) Porter. It would have been hard just to tuck Joe in, so that’s why we gradually brought Joe in and gave him a few minutes in the last game.
“A player gets injured, Joe comes in; Joe has a good game, now it’s going to be difficult for me to make my decision for who is going to play. That’s what I want as a gaffer: These guys coming in, putting pressure on me, everybody fighting for position, fighting for a job. Thompson was on the bench tonight as well, another guy that is going to be coming in, sniffing to get into the lineup. These are the headaches I welcome.”
On Saturday, HFX Wanderers FC come to town in a match that could go a long way in deciding who challenges Valour FC for that third spot on the table. And next Wednesday, Cavalry themselves pay a visit, perhaps looking to extend their perfect start at York Lions Stadium, assuming a result against Forge comes through.
Though the prospect of destroying Cavalry’s spotless record is appealing, York refuses to get ahead of themselves.
“It’s another game. You want to win every game,” Brennan offered, plainly. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, whether you’re playing Halifax, Edmonton, Cavalry – you want to win games. That’s why we play this game. You don’t just play for the fun, you play because you want to win. It’ll be a good test for us. Halifax is going to be a good game for us – they’re a good side. (Stephen) Hart plays some good football.
“We’ve got to focus on Halifax first. We want something out of that game and after that we’ll focus on Calgary, get at them, make it difficult. That’s another game that we want to win.”