Brennan On The Remainder of 2019: ‘It’s About Guys Playing For Their Jobs Now’
After a strong run of form in July, York9 FC has struggled to put together results in a fall season campaign that has seen the Nine Stripes slide down to sixth place in the Canadian Premier League fall season. Local rivals Forge FC are three results away from mathematically eliminating the Nine Stripes from fall season contention entirely.
Still, you won’t find the York9 FC players moping about with their heads down: each game shows a committed batch of players who fight for every inch on the field. After all, it’s not like there isn’t anything left to play for: as Nine Stripes gaffer Jim Brennan stated after his club’s 2-4 home defeat yesterday, many of these players are fighting to earn next year’s contract:
It’s about guys playing for their jobs now. Who’s ready to make that jump and be a part of the team next year, what players do we need to bring in to make the squad even stronger, and it’s about the process. That’s where we are for the last six games, is to continue to build this team.Jim Brennan
The Canadian Premier League isn’t transparent with player contract details, so the contract lengths for any of the York9 FC players aren’t known quantities. It’s expected that many of the burgeoning league’s players are on one-year contracts, and Brennan’s statement about his players fighting for a space in the squad next year seems to corroborate that expectation.
With the league requiring that each club has three domestic U-21 players on its roster, Brennan will need to make at least that many changes in the offseason: none of his current players will count towards that requirement next year. The squad has gone through some heavy rotation throughout the season, with only third-choice goalkeeper Colm Vance still to make his debut.
Overall, Brennan has been pleased with what he’s seen from the squad: the quality is certainly there, but the squad has struggled to show it on a regular basis.
It’s consistency. It’s who’s there to do it week-in and week-out. Who can handle the grind of being a professional. I think overall, the standard of play is very good. Like I said before, with all the teams it’s up and down. It’s finding that consistency. I think that’s the biggest eye-opener, it’s being consistent week-in and week-out, with training, with games, with everything.Jim Brennan
When the inaugural Canadian Premier League season concludes later on this year, there’s no telling how many changes will come for each of the league’s seven teams, or how quickly they will be made. Many players going through their first year as a professional athlete may once again find themselves on the outside looking in.
The league will also have to contend with a lengthy off-season that is sure to be a test for players still getting acclimated to a professional sporting environment. It’s something Valour FC head coach Rob Gale isn’t looking forward to:
Look, we’re going to have a massive problem in the offseason where we all go away for six months, so good luck being the U-20 coach who tries to qualify against Mexico when your players haven’t played for five months. I’ve lived that twice.Rob Gale
Whatever happens in regards to player contracts and a long offseason, 2020 will be a big year for the Canadian Premier League. The domestic professional league has put out a high level of play on the pitch, was represented well by Forge FC in the CONCACAF League, and even saw its spring season winners knock out MLS competition in the Canadian Championship. There’s a lot of quality to build from.
League commissioner David Clanachan is hoping that at least one CPL expansion team will arrive in the next season, and they’ll potentially go through the rigorous process of building up a 23-man roster from scratch, too. For Brennan, it’s now about keeping a core group of players and building around them on a smaller scale:
We’ve got a group here that we’ve put together, and now it’s about building this squad over the next 2, 3, 4 years to get a good nucleus of guys that are going to be here for a long time.Jim Brennan
While the likes of Nathan Ingham, Joseph Di Chiara, and Morey Doner are likely to be part of this nucleus, star player Ryan Telfer is due to return to Toronto FC to potentially ply his trade in MLS next year, assuming that TFC renews his contract. If and when the talented player goes, he’ll leave big shoes for York9 to fill next year.
York9 FC has six games remaining in its inaugural season, which includes tough bouts against the top two teams in the fall season table. Brennan will be hoping that his current squad can find some of the consistency he’s been searching for, but for now the cards are on the table: he’s planning on making changes in the off-season to make sure York9 FC’s 2020 squad can put together results. If players want to stay, they’ll have to earn it.