Durham United Football Alliance have refreshed their image with an off-season re-branding, and though the team has lost a few key players to the pro ranks the League1 team appears to be in rude health.
Back is a strong and talented core of players that have made Durham a very difficult team to topple, and alongside is an impressive number of new signings, youth prospects, and pickups from other League1 teams. In short, Durham appears to have experience, youth, quality and - perhaps the most dangerous ingredient - confidence.
Durham United FA head coach Sanford Carabin took a moment to detail the 2016 changes to the black and gold east Toronto reps...
There is a new look to the team for 2016, and of course this means new challenges and goals. What are they?
Fortunately we have be able to keep stability within the club as the majority of players are returning from last year except those that moved on at the close of the season to pro ranks.
We have augmented the team with some of our U21 players that got a taste of League1 at the end of last season and are now ready to be integrated into the full squad.
I would say the new challenges are:
a) the league gets better every year so we constantly need to improve our standards both in training and in games and need to enhance our preparations both before and during the season;
b) the weather in early april prevented us from getting on the field early to prepare for the season... so we have had to squeeze more into our pre-season prep this year.
Our goals this year are to improve on last year in every competition. That means get into the cup final and improve our standing in the league, and 2) fully integrate our U21, Mens and League 1 teams to provide a seamless pathway through the teams for players.
Joseph Roccasalva (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
You've had an impressive group of core players in the team over the first two years of existence in League1. Please highlight a collection of returning players?
Our core players are returning this year to lead our team, such as Taylor Lord, Christain Moncrieffe, Leshaun and Lerohne Young, Joe Roccasalva, Bruce Cullen, Jordon Dover, Ben Cowen, Eugene Alves, etc
It looks like you've hand-selected a few new additions to the group as well. Please highlight a collection of new players, in terms of where they are coming from, achievements, attributes etc.?
We have applied a variety of methods this past winter to to attract players to our program. The first of which was to reach out to Durham-based players currently playing in the US and Canadian College system.
Secondly, we opened our winter training up to Durham based players that have previously played in League1 and were looking for an alternate option, closer to home for the 2016 season.
Finally, we have partnered with West Rouge SC and their men's program to fill the gap between our U21 and League1 teams by offering a men's program that allows for the freedom of movement between the three teams.
Some key players we will look to integrate immediately include: Eddie Lay, Trevor Hill, Taejon Campbell, Gary Canam, and Nashon Campbell.