759. That’s the number of days York United fans have been waiting to play another game in the Canadian Championship. But the wait finally came to an end as they played host to Masters FA on Saturday at York Lions Stadium.
A lot has changed since their last Canadian Championship match. The team signed many young stars in the making like Max Ferrari, Ijah Halley and Lowell Wright. They also secured the services of a long time Canadian legend in Paul Stalteri to join the coaching staff. The club itself even underwent a rebrand. Gone is the name York9 FC and the old lime green and white colour scheme and in is the new name and a bold dark green and blue palette.
And of course the COVID pandemic that shutdown the world.
But that hasn’t deterred the fans from supporting their team. The road back has been a long one, but also definitely worth it. Fans came out in bunches to cheer on their squad in a local Derby two years in the making.
The game itself had moments of class. York dominated possession and kept Masters striker Rashon Phillips on an island by himself. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to convert early so the game stayed level until the 39th minutes when Ferrari was sent in clear and finished.
York would add a second just before the half as Michael Petrasso played the ball across the six yard box to Osvaldo Ramirez. It was easy for the only American on York to put away his first with the club and give them a 2-0 at half.
“The coach gave us a lot of energy,” Masters FA captain Adam Czerkawski “[He] told us that we were still in it. We believed we were still in it. Two goals isn’t the greatest of cushions.”
Sure enough, Masters FA came out of the gate flying to start the second. First half substitute Osman Hussein and Phillips each had chances in the first minute but could not beat York keeper Nathan Ingham.
York would then put it away as Jordan Wilson headed in the cross from Petrasso from the short corner to go up 3-0. Masters did push and tried to get one back, including a chance from Hussein but to no avail. York Sub Julian Ulbricht would add a fourth from the penalty spot and a fifth from the run of play to wrap the game up. The 5-0 win sends York into the second round of the Canadian Championship to face Toronto FC.
“We had to make sure we put in a professional performance tonight,” York United Head Coach Jim Brennan said post-match. “I felt we did all over the park, even the subs that came on. They showed some good work ethic, and we were disciplined in our approach. I thought it was a good performance.”
At the end of the day the biggest achievement from either team on the day was just playing the game. The return of Canada’s biggest club competition has been long overdue. The players and coaches have been building to this moment. The fans have been waiting patiently and thankfully it came to the end.
For Masters FA, the 2019 League1 Ontario champions, this was a chance to showcase their talents. Some players stood out, including Hussein and defender Terrell Spencer. Phillips also did everything he could to score on the day but couldn’t get one.
York on the other hand continued the progression in the right direction. Petrasso, Ferrari and defender Diyaeddine Abzi all showed their class, with Petrasso taking the man of the match title.
Masters FA will get the chance to reset next Saturday on the road against 1812 FC Barrie in League1 Ontario action while York will be at home again on Wednesday against HFX Wanderers FC.