The fifth League1 Ontario season starts with a bang this weekend, featuring 14 matches across the men's and women's divisions.
In Game 14 of Matchweek 1, Centennial College is the destination as new men's team Alliance United FC takes on North Mississauga SC:
Alliance United FC begin their first League1 campaign at Centennial College against North Mississauga SC on Sunday April 29 (6:30 p.m.).
Alliance United FC
Alliance head coach Ilya Orlov is at the helm for the team's first season, but it is hardly Orlov's first season in League1. He spent the last couple years as Assistant Coach of the League1 side at North Toronto, and has considerable experience as an Assistant Coach at University of Toronto.
We caught up with Orlov briefly to go over the new squad, and who is in it...
"Lukas MacNaughton is a centre-back that played with U of T for five years and North Toronto Nitros in L1O for the last two years," began Orlov.
"Our leader at the back and was captain of U of T this past season. We're looking for him to be one of the top centre backs in the league."
"Devon Bower is a left back and played with U of T for five years and North Toronto Nitros in L1O for two years also," he added.
"An experienced player that will look to help the younger guys."
"Justin Yarde was born in 2001, played for the Ontario Games team last year and will be given a big chance to show himself this level," said Orlov.
"He will play in an attacking position. He's a product of Markham SC and is the standout player from their u18 team last year."
"Jesse Assing won a national championship at Humber College and was athlete of the year for them," he continued.
"One of the older players on the team and will be the team captain. Will look for his leadership with the younger guys and our extension as a 'coach' on the field."
Goalkeepers will be Mark Rogal from U of T and last two years at Nitros L1O, a former GK of TFC Academy as well," he explained.
"The other GK will be Maxsim Agapov, former pro GK in Kyrgyzstan and has ten international caps for them. He is not eligible this weekend as we are waiting for his ITC."
Lukas McNaughton 2017 (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
North Mississauga SC
North Mississauga SC head coach Sam Medeiros goes into his second year with a very strong group in place, one that was the talk of the league last season for their ability to execute an extremely demanding style of play and a great ability to push the leaders to the limit.
Medeiros picks out a few of his squad highlights for the season ahead.
"Our keeper is Spyros Stergiotis," he said. "New to the league with tons of experience and should lead the team from the back."
"In defence we have Anthony Wright, who was selected last season to the League1 All Star team so we expect him to bring his experience on to the field and support the new players."
"Midfielder Camaal Reid has tons of experience and I am sure he will definitely lead the team and take control of the middle," he added.
"Midfielder Francis Ameyaw is a young player from Sheridan College with tonnes of talent and we expect him to step up and showcase himself well."
"Midfielder Emillio Esteves is a new member to L1 and a student of Sheridan and simply amazing," he concluded.
"Forward Tristan Watson is another strong addition to the NMSC family with tons of experience and should be right up there in scoring goals.
"Finally, midfielder Darren Chambers is a great addition to the team and should do well in the league as he brings tons of experience from the CSL."
Alliance United FC
"As a team, our objective is to get into the playoffs - this is the target as a promotion team," said Alliance's Orlov.
"As well as help in the development of all players that have ambition to play at a pro level (possibly CPL) and help bring through younger players from Markham SC and Wexford SC and expose them to a higher level of soccer to improve their development at the senior level," he added.
"We want to promote the work done at both clubs [Wexford and Markham] by promoting their top young players to be seen in L1O and help with their ambition be it at a pro level of expose them to university/ college opportunities."
Hard to call this one with a brand new team in the mix, even if that new team is full of familiar faces from the league and a known coach in Orlov.
However, the work Medeiros has done at North Miss in his first year, and some key additions of experience and quality to an already high-quality and stable group, makes looking past NMSC impossible.
Result: Away win for North Miss by a slim margin.