First Up: Here’s The L1O Men’s Clubs Who Cracked Top Flight Status
This is the final League1 Ontario season before promotion and relegation is introduced in a multi-tiered league format, so there’s plenty on the line for the 21 teams participating in men’s pro-am season right now.
Six clubs have already clinched one of the twelve spots for next year’s brand new provincial top flight: Vaughan Azzurri, Blue Devils, Guelph United, Simcoe County Rovers, Alliance United, and the North Toronto Nitros.
There are no big surprises here: four of these clubs finished in the top five last season, with Guelph leapfrogging the Prostars to etch themselves into top flight status early. Vaughan actually completed an undefeated season last year, with several members turning professional with the Halifax Wanderers.
To calculate who’s going to the top flight and who isn’t, the league is combining total points earned in 2022 and 2023. Last year’s points are added at 75%, while this year’s points are worth a full 100% in the cumulative table.
When the dust settled on last season, the eighth-to-fourteenth ranked teams were all within six points of one another. With half of the twelve-team top flight now decided, we’re in for an absolute scrimmage for the remaining spots.
Burlington Soccer Club finished seventeenth last season and looked destined for the second division, but the arrival of hometown hero Jace Kotsopoulos sparked a big rise in the rankings which could see them etch out top flight status – but it’s really coming down to the wire.
The biggest fall from grace likely lands with FC London: typically a top three team when there were east and west divisions, last year saw them plummet all the way down to dead last in 22nd. Despite recruiting some CPL talent, they’ve spiraled downwards at the worst possible time.
It looks like the likes of Scrosoppi FC, Electric City FC, and the ProStars will still lock things in for top flight status, with usual suspects Sigma FC and Woodbridge Strikers well in the running too – though it’s impossible to predict who the final six slots will go to.
That’s the absolute thrill of it: we’re in the midst of a promotion and relegation battle even before the concept is truly realized next season. There’s pure joy and heartbreak on the line, with the concept of going up or down to different leagues being fairly novel to North American soccer.
The women’s division sees eight teams clinching top flight status already, with Vaughan, National Development Centre Ontario, Woodbridge, Alliance, North Toronto Nitros, FC London, Simcoe County Rovers, and Electric City FC all in. The women’s top flight will host ten teams instead of twelve, so there’s only two spots left over there.
Whatever happens next will mark a historic moment for League1 Ontario and, of course, grassroots football in the province, too.