That’s how York9 FC’s Manny Aparicio described the opening leg of their Canadian Championship Qualifying Round 3 series against Montreal Impact FC on Wednesday night at York Lions Stadium.
With Cavalry FC facing Vancouver Whitecaps FC later that evening, York9’s clash with Montreal will be the first time a Canadian Premier League side kicks off against an MLS side.
“It’s exciting,” said York9 coach Jimmy Brennan. “It’s great for the game. Our guys are really looking forward to playing against a historic club that has been around a long time.
“[Montreal] have done a wonderful job building the stadium, building the club to where it is today. We hope to get there one day too with York9. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
In a world of constant comparison, this is the first chance to measure the new boys against the old hands.
“We want to show what our league is about,” said Ryan Telfer. “(Show) our professionalism, prove a point on where we stand compared to our neighbours. We want to show where we stand as a league globally.
“It’s going to be a huge deal for the players, coaching staff, people around CPL itself. It’s going to be a hell of a game.”
Montreal may have lost their last two in league play, but Brennan knows what awaits his side when they line up against the three-time Canadian Championship winners.
“They’re a very organized team, and they’ve got a lot of good players,” Brennan said of the Impact. “They’ll want to win. It’s going to be a good footballing match. Both teams want to play.
“You hope it’s not one of those where we cancel each other out, you hope it’s free flowing and a great game for the spectators.”
Add in their six wins from the pre-tournament era and the Impact have lifted the Voyageurs Cup nine times.
The first leg being at home provides some clarity for the Nine Stripes, though.
“We want to be on the front foot and get at them,” Brennan urged. “Our guys are confident in their ability; (we’re) a team that wants to play football, play it the right way, and every game we’re getting better and better.
“We want to win the game, create our chances and finish them, and score goals. And then head to Montreal.”
Having already gotten past FC Edmonton, 3-2 on aggregate, and PLSQ champions AS Blainville in the previous two rounds, York9 have picked up some lessons about knockout competition. Chiefly, for Telfer? “Staying focused for the whole 90 minutes.”
He added: “We got that from Blainville; they weren’t ready to back down. We’ll bring that same intensity to Montreal.”
A spot in the semifinals is on the line, the side left standing will face the winner of the Cavalry-Whitecaps series in the next round.
York9 isn’t daunted by the task at hand, though.
“Fill your boots,” Brennan offered. “It doesn’t bother us what you want to call the game. For us, it’s another match, another game that we want to get at, want to dominate, want to win. We’ve got our eyes set on two things this season: Get to the CPL final and win the Voyageurs Cup, and go as far as we can.
“Those are our goals. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. The whole David vs. Goliath thing doesn’t affect us any way whatsoever.”
Aparicio relishes these circumstances.
“I love that, I love that,” he interjected. “I love that feeling.
“Obviously, it’s always nice to be the Goliath, go in thinking, ‘We’re going to boss this game around’, but I love being the underdog and spoiling the day for the other team.”
Every fairy-tale needs a hero.
“Who doesn’t love a Cinderella story?” Telfer quipped. “All eyes on you, to see what you can do against these guys? Everyone is looking forward to that.
“Everyone is already seeing us as the underdogs, not seeing us go after this. We’re ready to prove everyone wrong.”