March 18: Recapping The Last Week In CPL
This week saw two clubs drop kit reveals and the semi-professional level of the game make big moves into new territory, with the shape of the 2023 CPL season changing under a new playoff format.
Without further ado, here’s a recap of the last week:
Ontario Kit Hype
This week saw four new kit reveals all from Ontario: Forge got the party started on Tuesday, unveiling new primary and alternate kits with a big focus on chains. The hammers will done an orange look at home which features an abstract tone-on-tone look, with the alternate kit sporting a black-and-gray chevron style.
The York United kit launch has received plaudits from coast-to-coast, with the Nine Stripes unveil a sleek new white home kit to kickstart its partnership with Carlsberg, while the retro-inspired green-and-blue away kit offering a classic look with a tasty collar to match. There’s a joke about collar-ed greens in here somewhere, but all-told the Nine Stripes have really outdone themselves this year.
League1 Canada Is Making Big Moves
It’s been a huge week of news for League1 Canada, who launched a League1 Alberta summertime exhibition series before testing the waters with a trip out east to put out feelers regarding League1 Atlantic, too. That being said, we’ve heard there’s a bit of trouble brewing behind the scenes regarding Alberta Soccer hosting the exhibition series rather than League1 Canada directly managing it.
Still, if all goes well in Alberta’s summertime series – which will see Cavalry FC field a men’s team, too – then a more permanent League1 Alberta will be put into place, with Dino Rossi alluding that it may involve some inter-provincial competition, too.
Four Players In…And All On Dev or U SPORTS Deals
With the season less than a month away, things finally slowed down on the transfer from this week: while last week saw eleven signing announcements, this week only saw four players, all of whom come in as youngsters on developmental or U SPORTS deals.
The Halifax Wanderers are adding Vaughan Azzurri U-19 forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes, who becomes the latest L1O-CPL connection for the ‘Vaughanderers’. He was prolific with the reserves in L1O, so it’ll be interesting to see how if he gets any minutes at the pro level.
The team is also bringing in 17-year-old defender Ethan Schilte-Brown, who stands at six-foot-three and recently trialed with a Kilmarnock reserves side who recently added a Simcoe County Rovers youth product.
Meanwhile, Cavalry FC – who paid the faith in Carducci to the tune of a three-year deal – brought in two young goalkeepers to offer some contest for the spot. The first is 23-year-old Sterling Kerr, a Mount Royal University shotstopper arriving on a U SPORTS Deal. The second is 18-year-old goalkeeper Joseph Holliday, who made his pro debut for FC Edmonton last year and arrives on a developmental deal.
Rumour Watch: How Much Does Sanvezzo Like Living In Vancouver?
Perhaps one of the wildest rumours of the entire offseason is that Liga MX veteran and former Whitecaps striker Camil Sanvezzo is interested a summertime move to Vancouver FC.
The 34-year-old Brazilian tallied 43 goals and 17 assists for the ‘Caps back in the day and has been a solid force in Liga MX ever since. The grapevine says he’s keen to play under Afshin Ghotbi and evidently must be big on the city of Vancouver itself, but he’d need to take one heck of a paycut if he’s to fill the expansion side’s last international slot when he becomes a free agent in July.
League1 Ontario Is Scooping Up CPL Free Agents
This week saw no less than three former Canadian Premier League players land in League1 Ontario.
The first of the bunch was former Atletico Ottawa loanee and Canada U-17 stalwart Gianfranco Facchineri, who inked a deal with hometown side Windsor City FC. The former ‘Caps youngster needs a bit of a reset, so there’ll be plenty of eyes on him as he carves out gametime with the recently-rebranded team.
Electric City FC brought in former Valour and York emergency goalkeeper Svyatik Artemenko, a Canadian-Ukranian goalkeeper who won a championship with Guelph United and, more recently, made waves for staying in Ukraine to defend his country against foreign invaders.
The last of the bunch is former FC Edmonton goalkeeper Darlington Murasiranwa, who arrives with two full seasons of CPL experience and a great number of pro appearances for a player of his age. That’s a great pickup for FC London, who also brought in Kelsey Egwu last month.
Canadian Premier League Adopts Curling-Style Playoff Format
The majority of teams in the league will now get a crack at playoffs with the top five of eight teams now reaching postseason.
The first and second-placed teams get a shot straight at finals qualification, but the fourth-and-fifth must duke things out to advance to face the third-place team, and the winner of that then advances to face the loser of the first-and-second bout.
The expanded format ought to be a good drama generator for a league hungry for headlines, and while football purists will lament more than half of the league reaching postseason (and a near-annual change to playoff formats), the series of single-leg knockouts ought to provide plenty of entertainment.
With preseason well under way and the matches flowing, it seems like it’s full steam ahead for the 2023 Canadian Premier League season.
This weekend will see some of the first CPL-on-CPL action of the year with Vancouver FC taking on Valour, and while one can’t take a lot of stock in preseason results, we sure do love a VFC vs VFC matchup.