PREVIEW: Halifax Wanderers @ York United FC
Canadian Premier League

2024 CPL Regular Season — Match #49
York United FC vs. Halifax Wanderers FC
July 6, 2024 at 4 p.m. ET/5 p.m. AT
York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario
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Two of the CPL’s most improved sides over the past month go head-to-head in north Toronto on Saturday, when York United FC play host to Halifax Wanderers FC for the second time in 2024.

York come into the game in fourth place in the Canadian Premier League, having entered the weekend level with third-place Forge FC on 17 points. Recently, they’ve been in good form, ever since the arrival of head coach Benjamín Mora in early June.

In four matches under Mora, the Nine Stripes have a 2-1-1 record with wins over league leaders Atlético Ottawa as well as Pacific FC, scoring six goals in the process. However, their most recent outing was less of a success; they conceded in the 29th minute in Winnipeg last Thursday, losing 1-0 to Valour FC.

Still, York remain one of the tougher opposition assignments in the CPL this year, third in the league in goals scored with 17 (prior to this weekend’s matches).

“We are evolving in the concepts, we’re setting the ways we want to continue the progress of the model, of the system, of the ways we want to play in different phases,” Mora told reporters on Friday. “Players are improving individually, they understand the requirements of what we need.”

Halifax, meanwhile, are in much better spirits than they were a few weeks ago. They went without a win for the first nine games of the season, but they finally triumphed over Vancouver FC two weeks ago. They followed that up with a 1-0 win over Cavalry FC on Canada Day, which means they now find themselves on a five-game unbeaten streak (including the entire month of June).

In recognition of that improvement in Halifax, head coach Patrice Gheisar was recently named the CPL’s manager of the month for June.

However, the fact remains that the Wanderers are at the bottom of the table still. With a 2-4-5 record overall, they find themselves six points out of the playoff picture. If they’re to return to the heights they achieved in 2023, they’ll have to continue picking up results in quick succession.

Matches between York and Halifax are rarely dull, including their recent meeting at the end of May. York won on that occasion, also at York Lions Stadium, where Austin Ricci and Dennis Salanovic scored en route to a 2-1 home win, with then-interim coach Mauro Eustáquio at the helm for the first time.

York have won six of the 20 meetings to date between these sides, and Halifax have taken five, with nine draws between them.

From an availability standpoint, York are missing a few contributors, including Ricci who remains suspended for two more matches. Fullback Orlando Botello is also suspended after receiving his eighth yellow card against Valour. The Wanderers, meanwhile, received some late good news this week as captain Andre Rampersad will in fact be available after his initial two-game suspension was reduced to one, meaning he’s eligible to play at York after missing out last week. However, Halifax did announce on Thursday that defender Julian Dunn will miss the remainder of the season with a serious injury.

These two teams are well familiar with each other by now, and both are desperate to continue picking up results — York to remain inside the playoff race, and Halifax to catch up to it.

(Photo: York United)

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  • York attack thriving on home turf: In 2023, York United had the second-worst home record in the CPL, winning just four of their 14 matches at York Lions Stadium but making the playoffs thanks to an outstanding record on the road. This year, making their own stadium more of a fortress was a major priority, and it’s been working so far for the Nine Stripes, who are now on a five-match unbeaten streak at home. Their only loss was to Forge FC in their home opener, and since then York have won four and drawn one game. What’s more, those results have largely been driven by York’s attack coming alive at home, with 12 goals scored in that five-game stretch and at least two per match since the first one. It’s become increasingly difficult for teams to go toe-to-toe with the Nine Stripes at York Lions Stadium, largely because of how aggressively and directly they attack — not to mention the outstanding form of Brian Wright, who has four goals and three assists at home this year.


  • Ryan Telfer finding form in Halifax: In the first few weeks of the 2024 season, it wasn’t immediately clear how the Wanderers could best fit Ryan Telfer into their lineup. Now though, he seems to be finding his form, playing a more consistent position as a central forward after some appearances at wingback or other spots. Telfer has scored three goals in the last two games and now has four on the season. Patrice Gheisar, who has known Telfer for years after working with him at Vaughan Azzurri, explained that what he likes most about Telfer’s game is his ability to play so many roles and adapt himself as a player to what the team needs. “He’s so good in so many positions that it almost gives you a challenge as a coach,” Gheisar said. “He’s a good left-back, he’s a good winger; in MLS he played as a left wingback, with Atlético Ottawa he played as a winger, at York he played an attacking mid. What it comes down to is his adaptability, to play in the system we want and be the player we ask him to be. He’s like a back-to-goal nine, but can drop into pockets, and he’s extremely athletic and strong to stretch a game. That’s literally what we needed.”


  • Familiar, but unfamiliar? Some new elements expected: There are few surprises between CPL teams at this stage of the season, when they’ve already played each other this year and are otherwise familiar with each other’s players from meetings throughout the clubs’ recent histories. However, this is a bit of a different situation; although these sides met just over a month ago on the same pitch, things are very different at York, where Benjamín Mora has been instilling a new system and deploying his personnel quite differently to Martin Nash or Mauro Eustáquio. That’s why this match will be a unique challenge for both sides; of course, it’ll be Mora’s first encounter with the Wanderers, but for Gheisar the preparation will be a balance between what he already knows about York’s players, and what new wrinkles he’s seen in the past few weeks under Mora. “We expect them to be different,” Gheisar said Friday. “It feels like a first round game, but it isn’t because we know their personnel. We’re hoping as they may surprise us, we may be able to surprise them as well.”


York United FC: Vincensini; Cordova, Abatneh, Sturing, Ferrari; Voytsekhovskyy, Martínez, Soumaoro, Martin-Pereux; Wright 

Halifax Wanderers FC: Fillion; Ferrazzo, Nimick, Loughrey, Timotéo; Bayiha, Ferrin, Callegari, Daniels; Coimbra, Telfer


York United wins: 6 || Halifax Wanderers wins: 5 || Draws: 9

Last meeting:

May 25, 2024 — York United 2-1 Halifax Wanderers


“They have been doing well in not only the last two games, but the last five games they haven’t lost. That’s a sign they’re improving as a team; they’re getting points and climbing in the standings. It’s important to know it’s a very difficult game like always. … We’re going to try to face this game as a final, like I always want to face games. We know their intention, we know how they play and how they’ve been doing things regarding the tactical disposition of the players.” — York United head coach Benjamin Mora

“I don’t think there was a major panic, I don’t think anyone started thinking about 2025 and packed it in. When you do see things start to change and go in the right direction, it does give you that extra incentive, that extra oomph, that extra fight, and that extra relaxation to really take a step back and look at the game from a bird’s eye view and see there’s a lot of really good things happening. We live in a world that often we see the negative things more amplified, even if it’s one over ten positive things, so that’s the biggest thing we’ve seen gone.” — Halifax Wanderers head coach Patrice Gheisar