TORONTO, ON – For York United, it’s time to get a win. Playing under a new head coach in former Cavalry FC assistant Martin Nash, Friday may be the perfect night, as the Nine Stripes host their manager’s former club.
After dropping their home opener in a lacklustre fashion in a 1-0 loss to HFX Wanderers and following it with a disappointing draw in the snow against FC Edmonton, the situation looms perfectly for York to strike a win on Friday.
While their match against FC Edmonton was a far from a perfect performance, there were many positive takeaways for Nash’s side. York possessed 63% of the ball and often looked as though they had a purpose in possession, forcing the ball forward through Diyaeddine Abzi, Chrisinovic N’Sa, Max Ferrari, and an emerging young star in Osaze De Rosario.
While De Rosario’s long-range goal grabbed the headlines and the point for York, it was a solid showing from the whole group under challenging conditions and against an FC Edmonton side that fights tooth and nail for every ball.
So we meet again
It’s not just Martin Nash taking on his former club when the Cavs visit York Lions Stadium. Still, two other club members on the pitch, Dominik Zator, Niko Giantsopolous, and Oliver Minatel, also take on their former Albertan teammates. While the idea of playing a former club is often overhyped, it adds an element rarely seen in a young league like the CPL.
For Giantsoplous, the game against his ex-teammates comes in his first full season as a starting goalkeeper and against a Cavalry side that has mainstay Marco Carducci on the bench as he limits his playing time while recovering from testicular cancer.
The former Cavalry goalkeeper has looked confident through the first two games for York United, but was seldom called upon against an underperforming FC Edmonton attack and a nervous HFX forward core in the opening match; nevertheless, he will surely want a clean sheet and three points against his former club.
Zator has established himself as one of the CPL’s premier defenders through his time with Cavalry and now York, and is off to a stellar start once again on the Nine Stripes’ backline to start the season. In the snow against Edmonton, the 27-year-old had nine recoveries and four clearances and held down the centre in a shift to a three-man backline in the second half.
It is always intriguing to see players take on their former clubs, and with two integral pieces of the York’s backline formerly of their opponent, the battle should be heated under the lights.
Getting the goals flowing
Outside of De Rosario’s wonder strike against the Eddies, York United’s attack has been subpar. There has been little to like about the Torontonian’s attack, with just one goal on 28 shots and only putting 14 of those on target. At the same time, they are generating shooting opportunities, and against Edmonton, they got into better areas.
Coming into the match against the Eddies, York had a 0.96 xG (expected goals) but improved that to 2.26xG, indicating that they are advancing the ball into scoring positions but are not finishing their chances.
The improvement came after shifting to a 3-5-2 in the second half against Edmonton. After a knock forced Michael Petrasso out of the match, Ferrari stepped into the central role, and the fullbacks of Abzi and N’Sa pushed up into the attack, offering a more diverse approach in the middle third.
Having Petrasso back in the lineup would be a positive for Nash’s side. Still, their attacking initiative when the fullbacks pushed up is a factor that will be critical for their offensive success against Cavalry.
It’s not often you have two clubs face each other with such familiarity on both sides, but it is effectively a Cavalry reunion when the Albertans visit York to kick off the third week of CPL action in 2022. Still, there could be a boon for the home side, as they welcome back forward Austin Ricci, who will add another element to their attack, albeit likely from the bench.
Cavalry and York kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET at York Lions Stadium, streaming live on OneSoccer.ca
Cover Photo: Northern Tribune/John Jaques