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Squads 2018: Sigma FC

05/12/2018, 12:00pm EDT
By League1 Ontario staff

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)

Annual contenders for the League1 Ontario men's crown and runners-up in the 2017 League1 West division, Sigma FC return to the pitch this weekend in an eagerly anticipated match with Windsor TFC. 

We caught up with Sigma head coach Bobby Smyrniotis to talk about how the Mississauga-based academy's first team is looking ahead of the 2018 campaign.

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography) 

So how is the team looking this season?

"You'll always see changes in our lineup, as we have every year," he said.

"There are always familiar faces, but we are always looking to sprinkle in those that have made good strides forward, whether that is guys at the top end of our youth academy or those that have gone into their freshman year this year in university." 

"Those latter players may not have featured as much in the past season, but will probably have a prominent role this year in the squad." 

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography) 

Could you highlight some of those incoming players we should be looking for?

"We have a few that we are looking forward to seeing a lot from this season. One of them is Hilli Goldhar, who played in a few matches at the end of last season after we brought him slowly into the lineup. He's a 2000 born player that will be starting his scholarship run this August at Syracuse University, so we're looking forward to seeing him in the lineup from the beginning this season." 

"Then we're looking to a few of the freshman returning from University, such as Faisal Ghaffur (University of Akron), who featured in our lineup and started every game last year before he left for university." 

"Simon Triantifillou and Taijon Buchanan, who are at Syracuse University, and guys like Malcolm Duncan at Providence. So there are quite a few new guys, many of which have featured in the past, but we will look for them to have more prominent roles."

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography) 

Who are some of the returning Sigma players in the 2018 squad?

"Giuliano Frano is a guy that will be back. At the very end of last season, he took a bad injury, breaking one of this toes. It took a long time to get back and although we were hoping to get him off to the next level of the game in the off-season, obviously that didn't work out with the injury. We're happy to have him back and he has a great mindset to be back and centrally involved with working with the younger players and being a role model for them." 

"A couple other players that had a great season last year are back as well." 

"Triston Henry, who I thought was the top goalkeeper in the league last year, will be back with one of our younger keepers, Corey Marques (Grand Canyon University)."

"Then we look at two other key members from the senior end, Dom Samuel at centre-back and Kadell Thomas, who had a great season for us last year and finished second or third in the league for scoring." 

"There are guys we look for a lot from in the summer, such as Marcel Zajac (University of Akron), who had a great season at University. Another strong summer season and fall season at Akron could mean something very good for him going forward." 

"Another player from last year's defensive line, Jelani Smith, has come off an injury and I think he will be part of the squad this year as well. He'll also be one that is doing a lot of mentoring with the younger guys."

"We look forward to getting a guy like Reggie Laryea back into the lineup as well. He had a lot of injuries over last summer and wasn't able to play in any League1 competition, but you look back to 2016 and he was our starting centre-back for about 14 games before he left for University of Akron."

"So, although we have some holes, we have some very good players to plug in there right away and keep us rolling along."

Have you lost any of your key players from last year's squad?

"Johnny Grant is a player that has left and gone to Sweden to continue playing. He is one of those players that was out of his USL contract last year and decided to take a year, play a lot of games, and it has worked out very well for him."

Overall, what should we expect from the 2018 Sigma squad?

"I think we will get slightly younger from last year and keep a good balance."

"We've got a very exciting crop of attacking players, and a very strong squad overall. We have depth in all positions and are looking forward to it."  

"I think over the season you will see two or three guys that are very young coming through and are about ready to make the leap, but to be honest I don't want to put their names out there at this point to avoid any kind of pressure for them."

"To be honest, we have a very strong crop coming up from our U17 section, and even just below that level, and we are very excited to see how they develop. A couple of them have already played in the pre-season friendlies and come the start of the season we could have a few young surprises in the lineup." 

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography) 

You went close to winning everything last season, but just couldn't get past the leader in your division, Oakville.

Will there be any technical changes this year to push on and win the league?

"From a philosophy aspect, every year our tech staff will sit down and look at how we can be better. We add those tweaks into our program and those resonate throughout our whole academy. As usual, I will be heading up the group with John Zervos, who has been my assistant with the League1 team since the start of 2014, so a lot of consistency from the technical side of things."

"As far as tactics and formations, it always changes for us. We always play a 4-3-3 but as I always say to people, 'tell me what we are playing now' because it always changes depending on where the ball, opponent etc. is on the field. To be honest, hard commitment to any particular formation is something we have gone away from, as the game has evolved. We talk more about situations in the game, areas of the field, and the right decisions at the right times." 

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography) 

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