Halifax Wanderers President Chats 2020 Signings
With the Halifax Wanderers having finished the fall season in dead last, the harsh realities of the professional sporting world have already struck the east coast club: the Wanderers have already parted ways with Elliot Simmons, Tomasz Skublak, Ndzemdzela Langwa, and Kodai Iida, with more departures likely due to come.
The moves are set to pave the way for a new batch of signings that Halifax Wanderers President Derek Martin says will raise the pedigree of the east coast club’s roster in a bid to give the sellout crowds at Wanderers Grounds more to cheer about throughout the club’s second season.
While the club has confirmed it has retained the services of Christian Oxner and Akeem Garcia, it has already signed new players, too – it just hasn’t revealed them yet. For Martin, that’s all part of the plan.
We’ve signed new players now, part of this is just the strategy of when we announce. It was January last year. So, we’ll likely have fifteen-ish players announced before the end of the year this year, which puts us well ahead of where we were last year at that stage.Derek Martin
Looking back at how the club conducted its recruitment ahead of the inaugural season, Martin believes things were a bit too rushed. This time around, the club is more comfortable with waiting until preseason is due to start in March 2020 to finish adding the last pieces to its roster puzzle.
We’re excited about some of the players we’ve already signed and that we’re in negotiations with right now. I think we’ll have a much different-looking squad next year, both in pedigree in terms of where the players have played before and who they’re coming to us from, and also just in style.Derek Martin
Hart had previously stated that injuries had forced him to adapt to a style of play that he felt would best suit the club throughout in the inaugural season, rather than a style he preferred to play. In 2020, Martin expects the fans at Wanderers Grounds to witness a style of play that closer matches Hart’s preferred philosophies:
I think Stephen did a great job adapting to what he had, but the way we played this year isn’t the way he wants to play. I think based on who we’re targeting and trying to go after, we can have a style that’s a little bit more in line with the way he wants to play which is a more fluid, connected, passing-type game.Derek Martin
Of course, the club will potentially be bolstered by two CPL-U SPORTS Draft signings, too. Hart is currently in Montreal scouting the young athletes participating in the draft, with Halifax Wanderers having the first and fourteenth picks.
There’s little doubt that fans wouldn’t mind an international roster spot being used on Peter Schaale, either: after coming in through the inaugural CPL-U SPORTS draft, he impressed fans with his consistent performances prior to his return to Cape Breton University. As a graduating student this year, he won’t be part of the draft process and would count as an international signing.
Iida’s departure opens at least one international slot, with Jan-Michael Williams likely opening another: the club has confirmed that it would like to see him stay as a goalkeeping coach rather than a player, freeing up a second international roster spot. It also means the club will need to sign a new keeper as an alternative to the high-flying Christian Oxner.
It’ll be interesting to see what roster moves Stephen Hart makes ahead of the second-ever Canadian Premier League season. He isn’t afraid of utilizing his connections to attempt big-name moves, either, with the former Trinidad and Tobago head coach once trying to sign former Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones ahead of the inaugural season.
Having once said it was difficult to convince players to come to Halifax, Hart has stated that the atmosphere at Wanderers Grounds has helped improve the attractiveness of the club as a whole – even Toronto FC Captain Michael Bradley had hoped for an away trip there in the Voyageurs Cup, after all.
With Hart often speaking of the difficulties some of his first-year professionals had in staying healthy throughout a season with a tough travelling schedule, it’s fair to expect some leadership figures to be a part of his signing plans for 2020.
In the meantime, the Halifax Wanderers have confirmed that new player signings will continue to be announced throughout the coming weeks.