As we edge ever closer to the end of the League1 Ontario 2016 season, matchweek twenty brings us several match-ups that will go some distance to deciding the winners of the two men's divisions.
On Friday night, keep your eyes peeled for two men's division contests: one featuring east division powerhouses Durham United FA vs Woodbridge Strikers; the other featuring the defending League1 Ontario champs, Oakville Blue Devils, taking on the current West division behemoth, FC London.
Friday September 9 - Durham United FA vs Woodbridge Strikers @ Oshawa Civic Centre, 8 p.m. kickoff.
**Livestream on www.league1ontario.com.**
The race for first in the east is starting to heat up, with three teams fighting for the eastern crown.
Tonight we have the second place Woodbridge Strikers taking on third place Durham United FA.
The Strikers held the lead for most of the 2016 League1 Ontario season, but have fallen since early July.
A record of 3(W) - 3(D) - 1(L) since July 3 has seen Woodbridge relinquish the lead to rivals Vaughan Azzurri.
Momentum could be on Woodbridge's side, as they enter this match following a 2-1 win over Toronto Skillz on August 28 and are undefeated in nine road games so far.
Durham, on the other hand, lost their second straight match on September 1st to Vaughan 2-1.
Durham also has a strong home record of six wins and two losses, and will need striker Kashiff De Jonge to continue his scoring touch if they want to leapfrog Woodbridge in the standings.
De Jonge leads his team with eight goals and has been a prime outlet of their attack. Christian Moncrieffe is also in the running, as his seven goals has been a major help for his team.
It has been difficult for Woodbridge to find a striking outlet like Durham, with hard-working forward Emmanuel Issac their leader in goals with only five on the season.
The defensively strong Strikers will need Issac and former Dundee United and Queens Park Rangers player Dylan Carreiro to step up their game to stay in the race for the eastern crown.
Both Issac and Carreiro scored in the club's last match against Toronto Skillz and should be able to keep up their fine run of form come tonight.
Durham Win - Durham would be level on points with Woodbridge at 35, but would occupy second place in the standings due to the head to head tiebreaker following Durham's June 12 2-0 win over Woodbridge.
Durham would still be eight points back of east division leaders Vaughan with four matches left to play: FC London (away); Kingston (home); Masters (away) and North Toronto (home).
A loss for Woodbridge and a win for Vaughan Azzurri against Masters FA on Saturday, September 10th would end Woodbridge’s chance of grabbing first.
Woodbridge Win - Woodbridge would be on 38 points and occupy second place, with Durham effectively eliminated from contention for the east division title.
Woodbridge would be five points back of leaders Vaughan, with four matches left to play: Masters (home); Kingston (away); Aurora (home) and North Toronto (home).
Turning our attentions to the other end of the province, two of the west division in form sides clash in London, Ontario.
Keep up on Twitter at @L1Olive if unable to be at the match!
Friday September 9 - FC London vs Oakville Blue Devils @ German Canadian Club "The Cove," 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The reigning League1 Ontario men's champions, Oakville Blue Devils will look to spoil the parade for second place FC London.
FC London will be hoping to leapfrog current leaders, Sigma FC.
London does have a two game advantage over Sigma, and is only one point behind the club from Mississauga.
Head coach Mario Despotovic will need to have his best players with him tonight, as a loss on August 31 put a dented the southern Ontario club's intentions to catch Sigma earlier in the fixture calendar.
Striker Elvir Gigolaj has been a bright spot for FC London, with his league leading 20 goals a key reason why they have been so dominant in their first season in League1.
The 2016 League1 debutantes are coming off a 4-2 loss to North Mississauga Panthers, and have been on the road since mid July. A win in front of their loud home crowd will surely give them a boost in the final stretch of the season.
The first-year club has set up a formidable task for clubs coming to the German Canadian Club Field, winning six of their seven home matches. The defending champions will need to step up their game if they want to end to London's strong hold in the west.
Oakville cannot become back-to-back champions, but they can still play spoilers for London. It will be tough, considering they have only two wins and two draws when they are on the road, but will be spearheaded by last year's Golden Boot winner, Filipe Vilela. Vilela is currently tied for fourth in the Golden Boot race with 13 goals on the season.
The Blue Devils did start the season off slowly, getting their first win in their fourth match, but have won their last matches against Toronto FC Academy and Sigma - outscoring opponents 5-2.
The Devils have gone 2(W) - 2(D) - 3(L) in their last seven matches.
FC London Win - A win for FC London over Oakville Blue Devils would see them take a valuable two point lead in the west, with a one game advantage over Sigma FC, and four matches left to play.
London's final lap is: Durham (home); TFC Academy (Away); Sigma (home) and Sanjaxx (home).
Sigma's final lap is: North Miss (home); Pro Stars (home) and FC London (away).
Oakville Blue Devils Win - If Oakville wins, FC London would be four points back of Sigma FC, but with a game in hand on the leaders, meaning the west division title battle will probably go down to the final game in London.
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