Facing either a Mexican side or an American side at this stage of the competition signals that, pretty much, the cup run is over. We’re not a million miles from the bottom end of the MLS sides but, once the game is taken over two legs, it really becomes hard for us to maintain any kind of quality. Truth be told, both of these games were nowhere near as close as they look on the scorecard, with our illustrious opponents creating 600% of our total xG in the first leg, despite us taking a shock lead early on.

I think that this gap will be the breaker of the spell here in Canada. Sooner rather than later, I will rise to the top of the CPL with Halifax but still not be able to make headway in these competitions. Do I fancy twenty-eight wins to then get to four games – two here and two in the Canadian Championships – where I lose before rinsing and repeating? Absolutely not. Are we at the stage where I need to have this conversation? Again. No.


Five signings this off-season as my recruitment team continue to get it pretty much spot on in terms of what I’m after…

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Hans Age Fjellheim was the biggest talking point as his move to Sarpsborg smashed the Canadian record sale and brought us €1.5m. Despite being the best player in the league, moves like this are impossible to turn down and, honestly, part of the jigsaw I am going to try and build here, albeit with a future twist to Canadian nationals moving to Europe. My board re-invested none of the money from this sale into these signings but, overall, we’ve improved the quality within the squad.

James Connolly is probably the direct replacement and, whilst in comparison with Fjellheim, he’s a little less well rounded – I do think that his ceiling is going to be a bit higher. Being Canadian, too, I do feel a little more invested in his development as he joins the ever-growing list of project players I now have. Yeremay moves in after spells in the second string MLS sides and is a really interesting prospect, too. When compared with Fjellheim, I feel he is a slightly different type of player and, certainly, his height will be something that I look to build upon as a wide man,

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Ciro Ragaglia, a beautifully versatile jack of all trades but still actually pretty good was the last signing and has all the makings of a top quality Libero, in my eyes. Rowan Presland looks to be a top deal after being snagged off the back of three really strong EFL League One campaigns with Cambridge and actually has featured in the Premier League with his boyhood club, Luton.

We also added Sam Brown – once on the books of CF Montreal – late on as a backup right back.

I’m now left with something that looks a little like this:


No spaces left now in either the roster size of the non-Canadian players, meaning that I’ll likely have to sell in order to create spaces for future recruitment. That being said, I think that this is now – by some way – the best team in the league. Whilst I am not hugely worried about where the Canadian youth minutes come from as the core of the players will get plenty of game time, I am still not quite sold on the idea of the finishers just yet; we lack just that little bit of variety across certain areas and I need to pay attention to that!


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I’ve always been an advocate of tactical fluidity and that sense of chaos in the attacking third. The above four images show just parts of the flexibility within the approaches I can take. Each player in these images, whether they are on a Support or an Attack duty, is classed as being Attacking – which is ideal for the type of risk taking and directness that I crave. These options can be utilised against different opponents and I really feel that I don’t share my thought process enough: for example, Yeremay could be deployed as a WT(a) when we’re facing a team with small full backs or tired players, where his build up play can get people around him. Alternatively, Connolly – as an IF(a) – could be used against high pressing wing backs when there is space to exploit. Against lower blocks where we need space, using an AF(a) would stretch play and occupy defenders giving Ondaan more space and, inversely, Ondaan could be deployed as an SS(a) when I’m using Adrian to pull defenders out of position.

I do think that we now have the best squad and I’ve enjoyed this hands-off approach to recruitment. The next step is to then take that and become really fluid with my tactical approaches. What might now happen, though, is that we reach a point where domestic success is achieved yet continental success is so far off that my interest wanes. Canada has been a great side-step in this career but I’ll openly admit to not keeping this up any longer than is fun!


  • 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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