Tue Jun 3
Written By: Hylton, Kamal
Kickoff weekend for League1 Ontario continued at the Ontario Soccer Centre on the morning of Sunday June 1st, featuring a highly anticipated match between Sigma FC and Durham United FC.
A goal from Durham’s Tristan Grant early in the second half was cancelled out by Sigma's Jordan Stoddart with seven minutes remaining on the clock, leaving both clubs with a 1-1 draw and a share of points in their league debut.
It was a cagey first half, with both clubs looking to gain possession of the ball, work combinations, and find angles.
From a tactical perspective, Sigma played a fluid 4-3-3 formation for much of the game. Smoothly rotating their front trio between zones, Sigma's former Toronto FC first round draft pick Emery Welshman began on the right, recent Canadian National Team call-up and University of Connecticut standout Cyle Larin started through the middle, and Nolan Holdridge initially took up the left flank – yet within play the attacking three exhibited a dynamic understanding of when to swap positions.
Sigma's central midfield three was equally mobile, often resulting in the University of Akron's Richmond Laryea cropping up in the role of deep playmaker and providing a couple of early passes that sent Larin into space to finish. Laryea's movement was complemented by his midfield companions of Mark Gonzalez (University of Evansville) and Christian Samiengo.
Durham, on the other hand, took a much more direct approach, beginning with a deep-seated and immobile 4-2-3-1, and looking to penetrate via one v one situations in wide positions against Sigma's fullbacks.
The duel between Durham's right midfielder, Kyle Laborde, and Sigma fullback, Kwame Awuah, became an early focal point, before Laborde took an injury just before the half. As the game progressed, Durham coach Tony La Ferrara shuffled personnel between roles to locate weak points in Sigma's eleven, ultimately finding several successful combinations.
La Ferrara’s tactical decisions paid dividends for the visitors in the 48th minute, as the choice to have forwards Martin Dumevski and Tristan Grant switch wings allowed for Durham to take advantage of Dumevski's ball control and composure, beating his defender down Sigma's right flank, pulling the keeper out of position, and playing a low ball across the box to set up Grant for tap-in at the far post.
With a sense of urgency clearly in mind, combined with Durham's press subsequently dropping off to preserve the lead, Sigma began to find more space for some personnel and tactical changes of their own. Substitute Chris Nanco, used in a high left wing role as a tactical counter, played an inswinging cross into the box for half-time sub Stoddart to head home at the back post in the 83rd minute.
Both teams can use this match as a good building block for the remainder of the season, showing some positive play and movement on the ball, but also needing to take advantage of set plays and be more clinical in front of goal. Sigma, in particular, squandered several early chances that, had they been finished, could have entirely changed the complexion of the match.
The next game for both teams will be June 8th, as Sigma FC return to Ontario Soccer Centre to face Vaughan Azzurri in the late match at 7 p.m., while Durham United FC have a date with Internacional de Toronto at Kinsmen Park in Pickering with an afternoon kickoff of 12:30 p.m.