2023 CPL Regular Season — Match #22
Halifax Wanderers vs. York United
May 13, 2023 at 3 p.m. AT/2 p.m. ET
Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia
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The Wanderers Grounds will host its second Kitchen Party of 2023 this weekend, as the Halifax Wanderers welcome York United to town for these sides’ first meeting of the CPL campaign.
Five games into the season, Halifax continue to search for their first win of the year. The mood hasn’t been particularly high or low at the club so far; they’ve had to settle for a draw in every league match they’ve played so far. As a result, the Wanderers are sixth in the early league table with five points — although they’re level with three other teams, and just one point behind third-place Valour FC.
So, the Maritime side continues to look for its first win under head coach Patrice Gheisar. Last time out, the Wanderers thought they might be en route to an away win at Cavalry FC; a pair of quick goals just before halftime turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. Later in the second half, though, Halifax would see their lead erased as Cavalry equalized with a penalty kick given in extremely controversial circumstances — a play called for handball that appeared in fact to have come off a defender’s chest instead.
Meanwhile, York look to get themselves back on track after a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Pacific FC last weekend. The scoreline may not have been indicative of their quality throughout the game, but a couple of late goals spelled doom for Martin Nash’s side.
Overall, the Nine Stripes have won once and lost four of their first five games, which means they sit at the bottom of the table with just three points. They’ve had some very close contests and strong performances but still haven’t quite found the rhythm they’re looking for.
In search of that rhythm, York have spent much of the week together in Halifax after flying from Victoria earlier in the week; perhaps an extended road trip is what they need to refocus.
“We can’t start games slow anymore,” Nash said Friday. “We’ve had too many outings like that. We have to figure out a way to come out of the gates flying. That’s a big key for us because there’s been so many games this year where we’ve come in and felt the game out too much rather than having a go and I think when you do that you can put yourself behind the eight ball.”
On the pitch, York continue to get healthier as a squad, with Tass Mourdoukoutas back in the lineup at centre-back and, last week, Michael Petrasso coming off the bench for his first appearance since October 2022. Key absences right now, however, include defenders Roger Thompson and Jonathan Grant, as well as — perhaps most concerningly — Mo Babouli, who hasn’t played since his hamstring injury in warmups on May 5 but may soon be able to return to the squad the week after this match.
Halifax, meanwhile, will be without pivotal midfielder Lorenzo Callegari who’s out on a yellow card accumulation suspension. Otherwise, the squad is getting healthier. Fullback Ryan James remains sidelined with injury, but could this be the first time Lifumpa Mwandwe sees the pitch after making the matchday 18 last weekend?
Last time these sides met they settled for a 0-0 draw last September at York Lions Stadium. Halifax had the slight upper hand in 2022 with two wins to York’s one from their four meetings, although the Nine Stripes did take their last match at Wanderers Grounds by a 4-2 scoreline.
This fixture has been fairly high-scoring in the past with a handful of back-and-forth draws; might we see another high-octane, competitive thriller between two sides looking for a breakout?
All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, FuboTV, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
- York looking for strikers to get off the ground: With a good deal of attacking firepower in their squad, it’s disappointing — and certainly surprising — that York United have scored just three goals in CPL play this year, only one of them being from open play. Strikers Osaze De Rosario and Brian Wright both have yet to open their accounts despite both players being top 10 in the CPL in expected goals and shots — De Rosario is second in the league in the latter with 14. Austin Ricci’s Canadian Championship goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps last week was a feel-good moment for him after a gruelling injury rehab process; perhaps he can be the catalyst York need to jumpstart their attack? “It’s just putting balls on target,” Nash said this week. “Eventually they’re gonna go in. … You just want one to go in for someone and then hopefully they grow in confidence.”
- Can Wanderers hold onto a lead? The most positive thing for the Halifax Wanderers so far this year is that they’ve had a lead in five out of six games they’ve played (all competitions). The most frustrating, however, is that they haven’t won any of them. The Wanderers have drawn all of their CPL matches, including at Cavalry last weekend when their two pre-halftime goals put them in the driver’s seat before a controversial penalty later gave the Cavs a lifeline. This week, if the home side score first, Patrice Gheisar will be keen to see them remain aggressive and push for a second and third goal to ensure their lead doesn’t slip. Gheisar pointed to that Cavalry game as a learning moment for his side, adding that he feels his players — many of whom are new to the CPL — will continue to adjust and grow in that sense.
- Wanderers’ midfield faces challenge sans Callegari: French midfielder Lorenzo Callegari has played every minute of the season so far for Halifax, but he’s now received a yellow card in four consecutive games (five including the Canadian Championship). That means he’ll be suspended for this game against York due to accumulation, so Wanderers boss Patrice Gheisar will be faced with a tricky proposition of how to replace a player who’s been one of the most adept distributors of the ball in the CPL so far this year. Expect Callum Watson to come into midfield, but perhaps it’ll be Mo Omar who plays in the more defensive spot to continue to allow Andre Rampersad to get further forward as has been a key for the Wanderers this year. “We’ll play the same way, but it’s impossible for me to say we’re going to replace him man for man,” Gheisar said. He added that, with how good Callegari has been this year, a match without being able to rely on him may actually be helpful for the rest of the side.
PROJECTED STARTING XIs
Halifax Wanderers: Fillion; Ferrazzo, Campagna, Nimick, Ruby; Rampersad, Watson, Omar; Fernandez, Nwafornso, Daniels
York United: Giantsopoulos; Gee, Mourdoukoutas, Soumaoro, Faye; Baldisimo, Adekugbe; Bayiha, Alou, Ferrari; Wright
Halifax wins: 4 || York wins: 3 || Draws: 8
Sept. 17, 2022 — York United 0-0 Halifax Wanderers
“It’s all going in the right way. I think we’re just happy to be home, happy not to be at the airport travelling. … We just want to come in and continue to take a step in the right direction. Every time that everyone has identified … you could see what challenges we had in regard to a tactical or individual problem, we fixed it and we got better the week after. … This is a result-oriented industry but I can also challenge and say look at the progression of some of the individuals as well.” — Halifax Wanderers head coach Patrice Gheisar
“They’ve started games well and often taken leads so we’re going to have to be after it from the first whistle. This is definitely not a fixture you can come in and feel your way into a game, you’ve got to come out flying and have the right mentality.” — York United head coach Martin Nash