FINAL GAME STANDS OUT – CSL year end retrospective
The Canadian Soccer League continued its confident march into the future on Sunday, May 29, 2022, the opening day of a new season, as the oldest professional soccer league in the Canadian soccer community. Six teams played a schedule from May 29 to the end of August, led on opening game day by 2021 champions Scarborough SC, a game against expansion team York Region Shooters at Centennial Stadium in Toronto.
The Shooters, known for its development of young local players were back in the league following a successful 14 years which ended in 2017. They were expected to struggle in the opener against Scarborough, a team undefeated in league play the previous championship-winning season and fortified by several seasoned players from Europe and elsewhere and a top coach in Mirko Medic with a reputation as an outstanding defender in Europe and in Canada with Serbian White Eagles.
But a new York Region team was being coached by Sam Madeiros, considered one of the top technical members specializing in soccer skills development in Canada and known for his ability to lift young players mentally as well as physically to give that extra confidence needed for higher level performance. The Shooters surprised the current champions with a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, Jacob Vankey scoring the first goal of a new CSL season after just eight minutes of play.
The match ended in a 3-3 draw and the two additional games in a three-game opening day also ended even with BGHC 1 and Toronto Falcons playing to a 1-1 tie and Continentals FC and Serbian White Eagles deadlocked at 2-2 at the final whistle.
BGHC is a team formed at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic by both Brantford Galaxy and Hamilton City, while Toronto Falcons is an expansion team entered in the CSL by former FC Vorkuta coach/GM Samad Kadirov. Continentals FC, is the former FC Vorkuta.
Continentals FC defender Mykyta Trachev picked up the first red card of the new season near the end of the game with Serbian White Eagles.
It was the opening day for all teams, but no team won (or lost).
There were plenty of goals scored the following week when on June 5 Scarborough demolished Toronto Falcons 7-0 and Continentals FC thumped BGHC 5-0 and the day when York Region Shooters stunned Serbian White Eagles with a 1-0 victory. The White Eagles fielded several new signings including Canadian international Adrian Cann who in earlier times played for York Region Shooters, followed by Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps and briefly with Esbjerg of Denmark.
NEW TEAMS PLAYED WELL
The following week on June 12 expansion teams fared well when York Regions Shooters defeated BGHC 2-0 to go on top of the table, unbeaten following three games against established CSL teams. The Shooters also conceded the lowest number of goals. Toronto Falcons gained its first victory with a 3-2 win over Continentals FC and in the third game, Serbian White Eagles overcame a 2-0 second half deficit to strike twice in the late minutes to even the score, a 2-2 tie with Scarborough.
YORK REGION ON TOP
On week four, York Region Shooters won yet again, a 1-0 victory over Toronto Falcons to increase the lead at the top of the standings, while Continentals FC and Scarborough played to a scoreless tie.
Serbian White Eagles turned its poor goalscoring record upside down with a 7-3 defeat of BGHC . The White Eagles had struggled to find the net during an abbreviated 2021 season and scored just four goals during a winless start in the first three games of this 2022 campaign.
The Shooters faltered during the next three games with two defeats and a draw, ending the regular season with two victories and a tie in the last three games to take the runner-up position in the final standings. That was enough to earn a bye to the semi-final playoffs for the CSL Championship. York Region’s season ended with a 3-1 semi-final defeat by Scarborough, but the side from north of Toronto was admired by many for its determination time and again while succeeding against teams strengthened by experienced players from Europe.
But the two titles went to the two teams that finished strongly in the late stages following early disappointments. Serbian White Eagles’ 10-1 victory on July 30 was a sign of things to come during the last month, a campaign which ended with a league title for the west Toronto organization.
CLIFF HANGER VICTORY
While Continentals did have a 5-0 victory on June 5, the team’s fourth place of six in the regular season standings was not convincing championship form. The 2-0 semi-final victory over league title-winning Serbian White Eagles gave a glimmer of hope for the rebranded FC Vorkuta, however, and the organization that was so outstanding time and again in the Canadian Soccer League ended the 2022 campaign with a 2-1 cliff hanger victory over Scarborough.
The final match of the 2022 season was also the most exciting to watch while the never-say-die attitude of the east Toronto side was a feature of the second half right up to the final whistle.
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PICTURE: Mirko Medic (right), an outstanding defender in Europe before joining Serbian White Eagles to be part of the memorable Dragoslav Sekularac team of 2006, is the new head coach announced by Scarborough SC GM Kiril Dimitrov. When Scarborough SC lost its third championship final in four years following a 2-1 defeat at Racco Park […]