We fall just short, again.

October is a really strange month in Canadian football: the big (MLS) sides enter the Canadian Championships at the latter phases and yet the playoff schedule is built around a Wed-Sat-Wed layout, which, in congested times is fine but then why have six weeks off in July and August?! Surely the Canadian weather isn’t that conducive to mass heatwaves and hard ground, making it unsuitable. Google tells me that Nova Scotia sees around eleven days of rain and average temperatures north of 16 degrees – perfect for football! But…that cannot be the excuse. Twice we’ve come unstuck against Cavalry and we’ve now twice (expectedly) lost to Montreal in the last two seasons. I’m not going to avoid the big three at the semi final stages because nobody else beats them but I need to look at how I create a squad that can stay competitive there and then have enough legs in the final just three days later.

That being said – it’s still an insane season. In terms of performances, Marques’ direct dribbling and creativity, combined with that of Medjo and Ondaanfinished supremely by best player Adrian shows we have the makings of a top side. We will have to have that, though, with board expectations to meet this next year and go better the year after. Failure to do so will see me join Forge and York managers, who have just been moved on.

To do that, I think I need to be really clever with my roster management.

Enter ‘finishers.‘ I read a lot of football stuff and this X thread a couple of articles around the first ever substitute coach have made me think about what I have at the club, considering that I am not the prime recruiter. I don’t really resonate with all of these ideas but, in terms of just getting a deeper understanding of how I can change games with different types of players – especially as I don’t have room nor money for two players per position with ample backup then a plethora of youth players, I felt it was worth an investigation. With just €19,750p/w to play with, a minimum of 20 players and a max of 23, a total of seven non-Canadians (of which only five can start) and the imposed rules around 2,000 minutes of Canadian U21 time means that I can create a nice Carroll Diagram to show my thoughts:


The players in white currently contributes towards the U21 Canadian rule – and, given that there are at least twenty-eight games (a total of 5040 minutes for both starting players), I expect to meet the criteria with ease.

From this, I think I currently have a squad of 20 players who are able to be registered and play parts this season. I’m currently pretty happy with the quality within my starting XI and have some nice tactical ideas to get the most out of Adrian as a more advanced player than last year, putting most of my eggs into one basket that Ondaan can have a true breakout year. It’s really important for me that I keep a strong core of Canadian starters, given that six of them must be in the starting XI and, likewise, reduce the amount of non-Canadian non-starter players, as they take up valuable slots and are, largely, more expensive. In two more years (two and a half for Medjo), the current crop of starting non-Canadians will have – hopefully – taken citizenships and can allow for a wider recruitment net, but that is really not the aim of this program as, even if they do reach that under the age of 21, I don’t think that their minutes actually count, and, if they do, they certainly don’t take effect until citizenship is gained.

At this point, with a total of 20 players, I’d like my team to look at Canadian’s finishers who offer pace on the wings and ball winning ability in the middle – two areas that are really impactful in different parts of games. Whether or not that happens, I don’t know!

– – –

As I head into 2039, I’ve decided to up the ante in terms of opposition – facing Dallas, New England Revolution and Nashville before a double header against Orlando in the first round of the Concacaf Champions League. Whilst I expect absolutely nothing, they did finish 20th in the Supporter’s Shield last time around and – like most teams early season – might be so unfit that, if I get my own pre-season right, we could minimise that gap in quality.


  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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