York9’s Telfer on CanChamp: ‘It’s what football is all about’

TORONTO – Home sweet home, finally.

York9 FC is eager to make its first appearance at York Lions Stadium on Wednesday night when the Nine Stripes welcome AS Blainville for the second leg of their Canadian Championship series.

After opening the Canadian Premier League season with nearly a month on the road, York9 finally get the chance to trot out in front of home support.

“Something that we couldn’t put it into words,” said Manny Aparicio. “We’ve been unlucky with how many road games we’ve had.

“Since the first day we signed our goal was to play at home, in front of our family and friends. It’s going to be great, the atmosphere is going to be great.”

Joseph Di Chiara, who has missed the previous three matches, league and Cup, through injury was taking in the views of the stadium on the evening before it’s debut.

“Coming in today, a lot of the guys poked their head in, looked at the stadium and the field,” said Di Chiara. “I’m sitting here right now, everything looks really nice: it’s a soccer atmosphere.

“It’ll give, even the Blainville guys, energy, give us energy. The game will be very exciting.”

Having taken a hard-fought point from the inaugural CPL match in Hamilton against Forge FC, the York players have seen progression in the matches since.

“You can see that every game we’re getting a little better. We’re, in the Pacific match, down 2-0 at half-time, to come back to 2-2,” explained Di Chiara. “It shows that the team is courageous, that we don’t give up.

“Hopefully we build off that momentum, carry it into (Wednesday) because Blainville showed they have a strong defensive setup, they’re going to be very resilient.”

The two sides played out a goalless draw in the first leg, though each had chances to nab the advantage, leaving it all to be decided in the second leg.

“They’re a good, technical team, clearly know what they’re doing,” said Ryan Telfer. “They didn’t end up here by some wish or surprise, they earned their spot.

“We have to be ready to compete with them because they’re coming on like everything is against them. We have to come out with that same intensity and show them what it really takes to be at this level. They’re going to bring it and we have to be ready.”

A 0-0 finish in the opening leg is a double-edged sword. The home team was not able to maximize their advantage, but nor did Blainville concede the dreaded away goal.

“You can take it as a positive or a negative,” said Aparicio. “They can come here, score an early goal, and you’re on the back-foot. I think it’s still a positive.

“We went there with the idea of being the protagonist, showing that we’re the pro team, to keep the majority of the possession, which we ended up doing very well. Our movement off the ball, our rotations between our midfielders was good,” continued Aparicio. “We missed that last through-ball, that cross, but it was something that helped us build on.

“We reflected it in the second half against Pacific. We showed that we can possess against any team and the opportunities will come. We don’t have to get ahead of ourselves because we have the players and the quality to make and score those opportunities. It was a good stepping stone for us and hopefully tomorrow we build on it even more.”

That was exactly the advice that the experienced Di Chiara had for his teammates heading into leg two.

“Not worry about the little things, like the scoreline or the 60th minute is creeping along, or it’s almost the end of the game and you still haven’t scored. You’ve just got to get that out of your mind, relax. Be calm, play your game,” stressed the midfielder. “We have a stronger side than the Blainville team.

“Our quality, just by playing a solid game, will carry us through this tie and onto the next round. Now it’s a 90-minute game, winner takes all.”

For Telfer, these Cup night are, “what football is all about.”

“Any team on any given day can beat any other team,” said Telfer.

“If a team comes out to fight and they give enough effort, they will be able to come out with a result. That’s what this Cup is all about: who wants it more.”