Win… Lose… Season’s a draw thus far for Astros as .500 trend continues

North York Astros can’t seem to win for losing.

Or the other way around, for that matter.

The Canadian Soccer League club continued its season-long trend of .500 soccer after splitting a weekend doubleheader with London City.

The home team won each contest as London eked out a 2-1 victory June 22 for their first win of the season.

Gerson Hazael opened the scoring for London in the 18th minute and Alessandro Bancheri replied for the Astros at the 74-minute mark despite being reduced to 10 men.

But City took advantage of its extra player when Miguel Knox secured the winner in the 81st minute.

North York rebounded with a 2-1 victory of its own on Sunday at Esther Shiner Stadium.

After falling behind on a goal by London’s Fedja Dimitrov in the 21st minute, Astros’ Jose Perez tied the game on a penalty kick four minutes later and Bancheri found the winner at the 55th minute.

The win created a three-way tie for second spot in the National Division with North York, Windsor Border Stars and St. Catharines Wolves, all on 10 points. The three teams trail first-place Trois-Rivieres Attak by one point.

North York started the season slowly, but has rebounded in the past few weeks. Head coach Rafael Carbajal says team continuity was a problem early on, but the Astros are beginning to gel and show glimpses of a strong team.

"We are slowly, slowly working our way up." the coach said. "The players have confidence in me, they believe in what I am teaching them and they are working hard to improve.

"I have a lot of confidence in the team and I think we can play much better soccer."

After the doubleheader, the Astros faced the under-20 Mexican national team in a friendly on June 27 at Esther Shiner Stadium.

The Mexicans are preparing for the Under-20 World Cup, while North York saw the game as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"We are very excited and it will be a wonderful experience for the players," said Carbajal, a few days prior to the game. "The guys will definitely get a taste of high level players.

"They will be exposed first hand to the moves, the speed, the accuracy and the talent of some players who already play professional soccer (in Europe and South America)."

Mexico fields a strong team, as most players were part of the squad that won the 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Peru. Captain Patricio Gabriel Araujo Vàzquez is considered one of the best young players in the world and heads a roster full of talent.

The game came about from the hard work of Astros owner Bruno Ierullo and Mexican soccer officials. The group had many discussions and meetings spanning a three-month period before gaining necessary approval.

Since visiting teams usually look to play a preparation game before the start of an international tournament, the Astros lucked out with Mexico opening its tournament against Gambia on July 2 at BMO Field.

About this article:

By: Carmine Bonanno
Posted: Jul 28 2007 3:30 am
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto