By Aaron Zaretsky
York9 FC is a Canadian professional soccer club that completed their inaugural season in the Canadian Premier League (CPL). Recently, I spoke to York9 FC head coach Jimmy Brennan to discuss their season, and the impact the team, as well as the league in general, has on soccer in Canada.
York9 FC had a slow start, finishing 6th in the Spring Competition but gradually improved during the Fall Competition finishing in 3rd place. The takeaways for Brennan from this season included: “getting a better understanding of the league and our players. We’ve only been together since March, so it’s a learning curve for everybody and I think this year we’ve improved leaps and bounds over the season.”
You can never have enough experience and York9 FC gained plenty from competing in the 2019 Canadian Championship for the first time. They reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated by the Montréal Impact from Major League Soccer (MLS). “The players did themselves proud; the organization enjoyed playing against the Montréal Impact. It was nice having an MLS team at York Lions stadium, so I think it was a great experience for everybody,” Brennan said.
York Lions Stadium is where York9 FC host their home matches directly located on the York University Keele campus. During the offseason, York9 FC will be looking to add a few players to improve the quality of the squad. Another area that they will be looking to improve is converting draws into wins. When asked to elaborate on that statement, Brennan said: “We had the most draws in the league in the spring season. In the second part we improved and picked up more wins. Players are making mistakes which is expected, but they are learning from those mistakes.” Although draws are better than losses, a draw grants a team one point while a victory grants you three points. Throughout a season, the point differential between wins and draws can prevent a CPL club from reaching the CPL Finals, as the top two clubs with the most points qualify for the CPL Finals.
A benefit of the CPL is it gives players a platform to showcase their talent in front of scouts, giving them opportunities, which they otherwise might not have, and to grow as a player and a person. For example, York9 FC Canadian defender Justin Springer and Canadian midfielders Emilio Estevez and Ryan Telfer all earned international call-ups: Springer with Saint Kitts and Nevis, Estevez with Chinese Taipei, and Telfer with Trinidad and Tobago.
For Brennan, the goal of York9 FC and the CPL is to: “keep improving these players every day and hopefully the rest of the squad will eventually get noticed by a national team or maybe their dream is to move onto the Premier League, La Liga, etc.” However, at the very least, the CPL, “is giving these young Canadians an opportunity to play professional soccer.” Improving the development of the athletes in the CPL is the impact the league and York9 FC has for its players. Such impact can enhance the quality of players for Canada’s Men’s National team. If the team has more quality players it enhances their chances of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup. That would dramatically increase the amount of Canadian supporters, especially if Canada competes in the 2026 FIFA World Cup as a portion of those matches will be played in Canada.
For the supporters such as Generation IX , the impact of the CPL is growing the sport domestically in Canada, as it is Canada’s first domestic soccer league. Generation IX is a York9 FC supporter group that can influence those who have not attended a match, to witness a match by spreading their joyous experiences. And Brennan’s message to those who are not aware or have not been watching York9 FC or the CPL is: “If you like soccer, come support York9 FC. It is a domestic professional club right in your backyard. York Lions stadium is a great spot to support soccer on a domestic level.”