The Canadian Premier League has finally released the entire 2023 calendar, finally allowing fans to plan out what matches they will attend and when they need to book accommodation for away days. The schedule release was seemingly put off for an irregular amount of time (it really wasn’t, the 2022 iteration was published in early February last year) and many followers of the CPL were becoming noticeably antsy. Now, all that’s left is the aesthetics, and there have been no hints as to when the kits will be released. We can only hope that those fresh threads come soon.
But we have a schedule, so let’s keep our eyes on it for a little bit. Some would contest that matches are merely dates on a calendar and the order of them doesn’t matter much, but they actually can dictate whether or not a club makes the playoffs. Long road trips or a month with a tough fixture list can make or break a club’s season.
Those times can show real character in a side and you can tell who is a legit contender, in this case for the North Star Shield. For York United, there are certainly some tough stretches. The season begins on April 16th, playing Valour at the YLS in what should be another entertaining duel between two teams who have a history of playing out great games. The next week, they remain in Toronto to contest Vancouver FC, the new boys. Two-wins-out-of-two is completely plausible to open the season. A big date to circle is May 5th, when the 905 Derby is renewed for another year. Once again York will be the home team, and once again it is a fixture where both teams go full-throttle; last year the results were split, with both clubs beating each other once at home and once on the road
Every game is important, no doubt, but the agenda is relatively ho-hum (fixture congestion-wise) until a perplexing two weeks that could very well be a scheduling glitch. York host Atletico Ottawa on June 9th, then… don’t play again until nine days later, a clash on Vancouver Island with Pacific. A three-day break ensues when Halifax comes to town, and following another three-day rest period the Nine Stripes will be at Spruce Meadows visiting Calgary. A challenging run, but one that can be combatted with what hopefully will be a healthy squad.
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The mid-season run in 2022 was ravaged by injuries and transfers, and Martin Nash knows now that the matches with a summer sun beating down on them are ever-so-important. July and August will see the blue and green on the road five times (in the GTA on three occasions) and the importance of those months is best exemplified by a three-match road trip where they visit Ottawa, Hamilton, and Calgary. Three cities, three clear contenders. If York can collect five or six points out of those games, well, they could be golden in terms of making the playoffs.
Canada Day will be spent on the east coast at Wanderers Grounds, another site of some absolute classics involving York, and after that, bar the season-ending visit to Langley on October 6th, a four-match homestand is scheduled. The value of that is undeniably high. While other teams (most likely York as well) are fighting in the last-ditch effort for a playoff slot, the Nine Stripes are sitting pretty at home, waking up in their own beds, without any distractions for just under a month. Incredible luck.
If there is one issue I have with the 2023 schedule, it is the denseness of fixtures due to the CPL’s newfound obsession with Sundays. York will play on Sunday 12 times in the coming year. The problem is, York happens to play a lot on Fridays. In fact, they are tied with Forge and Pacific for the most Friday night bouts, with seven. There are nine occasions where York has under one week, heck, six days to prepare for the next match due to the number of games on Sundays. At least most are matinees and the players can have a full night of sleep.
York made a few signings from other CPL clubs in the offseason, and who doesn’t like a revenge game? Here are the dates when some players will revisit their old stomping grounds:
- Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, the star defensive midfielder, returns to Halifax on May 20th.
- Elijah Adekugbe, brought up in Calgary and a keystone of the Cavs success so far, has June 24th in his mind in what might be an emotional evening.
- Brian Wright scored plenty against York last season, and will try to repay the club by finding the back of the net against Ottawa on April 29th.
- Michael Baldisimo was loaned from Pacific to York for the second half of 2022, but after he re-upped with the club he’ll be looking at May 14th to catch up with some old teammates on the Island for the first time in many months
I know that everyone is now frantically finding a pen and paper, okay, who am I kidding, pulling up their Google Calendar, and jotting down where they need to be and when, but there are still a few more days that carry games. The Canadian Championship draw is tomorrow, live on OneSoccer, at 8 P.M. EST/5 P.M. PT. York, who bowed out in the semifinals last year, preceded by an exhilarating run and a well-fought battle with the Vancouver Whitecaps, didn’t have a home match due to the craziness of the draw. They will certainly hope to host in 2023, preferably against an MLS club to merit a better draw at the gate.
I’m counting down the days like there are five seconds till the new year.
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