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L1O Game of the Week: TFC III to play Vaughan in League Cup final

It was a busy weekend in the League 1 Ontario Cup.

Robin Glover // Waking the Red

I’m going to expand my ‘L1O Game of the Week’ to include both semi-finals of the L1O League Cup played over the weekend.

First up was Saturday afternoon with Toronto FC III hosting Sigma FC at the BMO Training Ground in Downsview.

22’ TFC III 1-0 Sigma FC [Kunle Dada-Luke] — Luke Singh taps restart of Sigma offside call at TFC 30 yard line over to TFC Mohamed Omar. Omar sends low pass forward to TFC Mehdi Essoussi at Sigma 45 yard line and he dribbles to left and passes forward from 40 yard line. Dada-Luke receives pass at 20 yards on left as he cuts around Sigma Dionysis Stergiotis to get to ball. Dada-Luke runs forward and to middle and as he’s being bumped by retreating defender Jelani Smith rolls 10 yard shot to right corner of net beyond goalie Triston Henry.

32’ TFC III 1-1 Sigma FC [Mansoor Alfazy] — Sigma’s Kadell Thomas runs down left wing and at 7 yard line rolls pass back between two defenders to Alfazy who steps in front of teammate as he runs along edge of box and shoots 18 yarder down middle beyond flying goalie Brogan Engbers into low right corner of net.

End of regulation time the score is 1-1 and the game goes straight to penalties taken at the south end (the side away from the clubhouse). Here’s how the shootout went down:

Sigma miss (0-0): Sigma Kyle Walton blasts his shot off the top of the bar on right side of goal as goalie Brogan Engbers dove right.

TFC III miss (0-0): TFC Marko Mandekic takes shot low to right and goalie Triston Henry dives right and makes save with outstretched hand.

Sigma goal (1-0): Giuliano Frano blasts to left side over goalie who dives right.

TFC III goal (1-1): Zakaria Abdi banks roller off inside of left post as goalie dives right.

Sigma goal (2-1): Hilli Goldhar shoots low to right beyond diving goalie who dove correctly.

TFC III goal (2-2): Afram Gorgees shoots to top right corner of net as goalie slumps in middle.

Sigma goal (3-2): Marcel Zajac shoots to left side as goalie dives right.

TFC III goal (3-3): Kunle Dada-Luke shoots down middle just over crumpled goalie.

Sigma goal (4-3): David Velastegui shoots low to left as goalie dove to right.

TFC III goal (4-4): Luke Singh stagger-steps run up then shoots to left even with goalie getting a hand to but ball deflects in.

Sigma goal (5-4): Dionysis Stergiotis shoots low to left and ball is under flying goalie.

Sigma yellow card — Goalie Triston Henry earns it for intimidating TFC’s Ralph Priso by not letting go of the ball.

TFC III goal (5-5): Ralph Priso shoots to top left corner with goalie diving right.

Sigma miss (5-5): Charlie Anagho-Ntamark blasts shot off outside of right post as goalie dives left. The ball is hit so hard it deflects onto the next field delaying the next kick.

TFC III goal (5-6): Sal Mazzaferro shoots low to left corner with goalie diving right.

Final Score: Toronto FC III 1-1 Sigma FC, TFC III win 6-5 on penalties

Attendance was about 120 on this hot mostly overcast afternoon with a strong crossfield wind from the east. It caused ball struck into the air on crosses and corner kicks to either hang or sent them right out of bounds depending if they were kicked in or against the wind. The portable scoreboard which is somewhat of a cross between a trailer and a wheelbarrow blew over and crashed onto the concrete at the 6’ mark. The PA announcer/fourth officials tent was taken down as it was starting to vibrate across the sidewalk despite it being sandbagged down and there was a risk that it would fly away. More than once announcers opened their briefcases and their notes blew two fields over before they could be chased down. Their troubles didn’t stop as TFC’s Marko Mandekic was pushed out of bounds at 16 minutes and crashed into the announcer’s table drawing Sigma’s first yellow card of the game. His head just missed hitting the concrete sidewalk.

Sigma had most of the possession in the last half hour of the game with much of that time spent in the TFC end but TFC had two good chances in that time.

These two teams today also meet Sunday August 12 here at BMO Training Ground for a regular season game which may well determine who wins the regular season as these two teams have dueled the whole season in the 1-2 spots in the 17-team league.

Head coach Danny Dichio talked to me after the game. He said it was a great opportunity for the boys who had been watching the World Cup and thinking they could score penalty kicks. With TFC and TFC II both playing tonight the lineup was extremely young. He had three 2002s.

Dichio said the team only has two weeks off between the end of the L1O season (they actually are playing some midweek games to finish their schedule a month early to join the other league). With the long USSDA season and the point that their U-19 classification is right now their L1O team, Dichio said it’s doubtful that TFC III will return to L1O next year. Dichio said he’s not looking forward to the long travel involved in the USSDA.


Robin Glover // Waking the Red

Sunday had Oakville Blue Devils host Vaughan Azzurri in the other semi-final at Sheridan College in Oakville.

47’ Oakville Blue Devils 0-1 Vaughan Azzurri [Jarek Whiteman] — Anthony Osorio’s corner kick from right has Whiteman at 8 yards on right near end line flick header into top right corner of net past goalie Matt George.

59’ — OBD Filipe Vilela is tripped up on a defender’s sliding tackle at 5 yards on the left side of the VA box. Referee Marko Ristic awards OBD a penalty kick.

60’ — OBD Filipe Vilela blasts his penalty kick to the left side of net and flying goalie Michael Argyrides gets over to stop it and a defender clears on the left side for a corner kick.

62’ Oakville Blue Devils 0-2 Vaughan Azzurri [Mario Kovacevic] — Kovacevic gets to a partial clearance after a knock around in the OBD box and blasts a low 15 yard shot that is blocked by a defender at 12 yards. He gets to his own rebound and blasts a low 15 yarder around the defender and into the left corner of goal with the goalie screened behind a crowd of players.

Final Score: Oakville Blue Devils 0-2 Vaughan Azzurri

Attendance was about 180 on this overcast day with rain that had fallen since the early morning but stopping in the early afternoon. As if on cue the sun came out at exactly the same minute Felipe Vilela earned his penalty kick and murmurs in the crowd were like this was some divine intervention.

Michael Argyrides earned the shutout for Vaughan and he had to make some great saves but the defensive line held up well and they had plenty of blocks and takeaways from OBD players threatening their box. Despite making four subs during the game, the backline of Devante Walker, Shiquan Lowe, Daniel Gogarty, and Josh Kiselyov were left on the field for the entire 96 minutes.

The game didn’t turn out as I expected. Vaughan had played an exhibition friendly against Frosinone Calcio of Italy’s Serie A on Friday night. Frosinone are in southern Ontario preparing for their return to top flight soccer for only the second time in their long history. Frosinone ‘only’ beat Vaughan 2-1 in that game but I was suspecting Vaughan would be tired as today’s game wore on. I don’t know much about the game except Dylan Sacramento scored the Azzurri goal and I saw his name scratched out of the lineup sheet today. “Uh oh, here we go,” I was thinking.

Assistant coach Wayne Mills said the team rotated the squad and with friendlies there would be frequent substitutions. One of the soccer dads said the visitors had a lot of players including trialists (a brutal schedule for them as they play a select team from the Canadian Academy of Futbol on Monday night and Oakville Blue Devils on Wednesday night) and then are on to Michigan for a game against Detroit City FC on Tuesday July 31. The soccer dad said Vaughan has a big squad too as they can draw on York University players (off season right now) and their U-21 squad.

Certainly the Blue Devils pressed in the second half but it left them open to breakouts by Vaughan and goalie Matt George had to make some fine saves to keep them in the game. Shooting accuracy could have been better on both teams for all the shots sent wide or high and the goalies wouldn’t have been able to stop them all.

Filipe Vilela had a rough day as besides the penalty saved he was checked off the ball several times. He really carried the offence of the team in the second half. At 49 minutes he had a run on the left to the end line and his 12 yard shot was stopped by the sliding goalie on the near post. 56 minutes had him cut around a defender on the right and had a 10 yard shot hit the top of the bar. The next minute he was fed a pass up the left and his 15 yard shot was wide right.

Regular season scorers Brandon Duarte with three, Filipe Vilela with four, and Anthony Novak with seven are listed as the only OBD players to have scored. Duarte and Novak were both subbed out at 66 minutes. “Senior” supersubs Judah Hernandez and Stephen Ademolu took their place (senior meaning well over age 30).

Vaughan had a play at 50 minutes where teammates Daniel Gogarty and Justin Springer clashed heads jumping trying to connect on a header at the VA 33 yard line. Springer needed the trainer and returned to the game with a field bandage wrapped around his forehead. Later in the game when OBD’s Konner McNamara was waiting for a corner kick in the VA box, he shouted out “Ref look at that guy’s head...I don’t want to be playing with that!” I could see through my binoculars that Gogarty had blood dripping through his hair. The referee ordered him off the field for treatment and the ensuing play led directly to the penalty kick with VA short a man in the box.

There were a few VA injuries that I was unsure of as serious or exaggerated time wasting but longest was actually for the treatment of OBD Carlo Difeo who had amazed the crowd with catapulting long throw-ins into the VA box but while jumping for a header actually almost jumped over a defender but flipped over and landed on his head and needed the trainer. That play at 88 minutes actually delayed the referee’s decision at 90 minutes as to how much extra time to add as Difeo was still down on the field.

I was on the field double checking for assists after the game when I heard it was Anthony Osorio. I went over to say what great corner kicks he took the entire game and he wasn’t the only hero in his family this weekend. His older brother Jonathan scored the winning goal for TFC against Chicago Fire the night before in MLS play. Younger brother Nicolas plays for Alliance United of L1O. Anthony and Nicolas faced each other last weekend.

Vaughan made it to the Cup final last year but were beaten by Woodbridge Strikers 3-1. They beat Woodbridge in the final for the Cup in 2016 and won the first ever Cup in 2014 in the inaugural year of L1O. This year they met and beat Woodbridge in the quarter-final round.

The final is to take place Saturday August 4 at 7:30pm at the Ontario Soccer Centre. L1O made it a double header by having the Women’s L1O Cup start at 5 p.m.

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I also got to one regular season game this weekend. Friday night had Darby FC hosting Unionville Milliken SC at Whitby Centre playing their third home game this week winning 2-0. Marcellus Paul scored on a header from 7 yards after a 35 yard freekick from Hayden Clarke was popped up in the box. Christian Moncrieffe scored an insurance goal when he bumped over Terrence Bernard in the center circle and when the play wasn’t stopped he noticed goalie Adrian Ibanez was off his line and chipped a 55 yard shot over him and it dropped into the net. Matt Zaikos earned the shutout for Darby having to make a few good saves.

Now that the weekend games are over Darby’s win moves them up to a tie for ninth place with Alliance United. It’s important to finish ninth to make the post season (eight teams make it but second place TFC III will not participate). Unionville hang on to seventh place.