Wed Apr 22
Written By: Staff, League1
Durham United F.C. is based in the eastern Toronto Durham region, and was founded in 2014 to provide a forum for top players from the region's clubs to move into elite levels. The club represents the collective efforts of a variety of Eastern Toronto clubs, notably Pickering Soccer Club and Oshawa Kicks.
In the League1 Ontario 2014 season, the club displayed a solid mix of defensive organization, midfield creativity, and offensive speed, which led to a run of good form at the beginning of the season, and a tight battle with Vaughan Azzurri in the semi-finals of the L1 Cup at the end, but a dip in form through the middle section of the schedule.
For 2015, Durham United has changed up their coaching staff, bringing in the highly-regarded Sanford Carabin to helm the men's side, and moving Tony LaFerrara – last year's men's head coach – to organize the debut season for Durham's League1 women. The club has also attained OPDL status to develop their youth players, and will field a team in the U21 OSL Provincial division to support the League1 men's team.
“This year we've simply not selected as many college players as we did last year,” explained Sanford Carabin. “Last year we had to find the best we could in a short period of time, and a lot of them were college players.”
“This year we started back in January so I've had a good two and a half months to look at a lot of players, and we've taken a group that are not in university yet, or are going to go in the Toronto region. This will help us when we turn over some personnel in late August.”
“As a club our first priority is to provide opportunities for players within the region, in terms of the talent pathway. Our preference is to be finding those 17, 18, 19 year old talented players from the region, and providing them with the opportunities first and foremost. I think this year we have done quite a good job of it, starting early in the year, and going out speaking to U21, U18 and senior men's coaches in the area to get a sense of the player pool. We invited 50-60 players into training over the last two months, and 70% were locally-based. The exception will be key players we need for certain positions, and just don't have the skill set necessary in our ranks.”
Aside from bringing through a new coaching staff to rejig the men's set-up, launching a women's program, and getting involved on the youth end in OPDL, Durham have availed of the brand new state-of-the-art turf facility in Pickering (where TFCA ultimately won the second leg of the 2014 Inter-Provincial Cup) to provide a dynamic pre-season period. Men's head coach Sanford Carabin is positive about early progress made by a new, young crop of players from the region.
“The biggest challenge in this league as a coach is getting the kids to work the way you want them to work, as there is a short preseason. Once we get outdoors, there is two weeks until the season begins and that is when the majority of organizing how you are going to play, and time to prepare tactically, occurs. I think you won't see the best of most teams until the middle of the summer, and I don't think we'll be any different.”
“It just takes time to get a team the way you want them, and there is no short-cut, although our winter training will be a major step up from how we prepared last year. We've had a good opportunity to assess and sharpen technical ability, run small sided games, and get a base level of conditioning and endurance. Moving forward, we will be ramping up tactical preparation, and next winter we will be improving our off-season program even more.”
In last year's League1 Ontario Young Stars of 2014, Durham striker Le Rohne Young (1995) made the starting XI after demonstrating a keen instinct for getting crucial goals, and a lot of them. Joseph Roccasalva (1994) also made the Young Stars Honourable Mention list for his valuable work in consistently knitting together the Durham midfield throughout the 2014 season. In the off season, keeper Ben Cowman earned a spot on the Second Team All-Star list for University of Western Mustangs of the OUA West Division, while midfielder Kyle Crichton won a national CIS title with York University. Speedy striker/ winger Jordan Dover went to Green Bay Phoenix in the States, and will undoubtedly benefit from his initial experience in the NCAA. But head coach Sanford Carabin says that some of his best assets will be new to the squad.
"We've just finished our assessment phase with all the players,” said Carabin. “In theory, the team will be a little younger than last year, with an average age of 19-20. In terms of players, we will have a big changeover, although our key performers from last year will be returning. We've formed a U21 team to support the League1 team, so our 17 and 18 year old prospects that are not ready for League1 will have a place to perform and advance.”
“We are expecting all of our key players back, including both of our keepers – Ben and Eugene. Our leader in the midfield, Taylor Lord, who was in the Canada U20 and U23 pool, will return to anchor the midfield. We have quite a few of young attacking talents, one of which is Kyle Laborde, who was on the team last year and has matured a lot in the last 12 months. I expect him to jump out for us this year, provided he remains healthy. He would play in wide attacking positions for us, as well as in the #9 role.”
“We've picked up some key players as well, some of which dabbled in Div 3 in Sweden, and aren't quite ready to go back to Europe just yet, for example Zak Morady, who was over there for the past year.”
“Additionally, we've picked up one player from Portugal's Beira Mar academy, a 19 year old named Miguel Oliveira. He's a good young player that deserves a chance in semi-pro, and if he does well we'd expect he would go to USL or back to Europe next year.”
“My ideal outcome for the season ahead would be both to compete every game, and I also expect some players to get noticed and move on. I think this year we're better positioned to withstand the back end of the season, but with that being said if our players do very well they could go on trial in late summer and get picked up. We do have a very good group in the U21 OSL Provincial league squad that are not far off coming up to speed for League1, so we have quite a bit more depth to withstand the back end of the season when we lost points last year.”