Oakville Blue Devils FC will face Alliance United in a single semi-final

Sunday afternoon’s semi-final between Oakville Blue Devils FC and Markham Alliance United will decide who will face Vaughan Azzurri in next weekend’s final at Ontario Soccer Center Stadium in Vaughan.

You couldn’t ask for more balanced teams. After finishing the season 2 points clear in second and third, the Blue Devils, thanks to a first-round bye, will emerge from a week-long slumber to face a tried foe Alliance United.

However, the Markham-based side battled their way into this fixture with a 4-0 thrashing of Brampton’s Prostars FC on Thursday and will only play two days off which could strain their legs.

Both teams are pragmatic defensively, with the two lowest goals-against totals in League1. Alliance takes the green light in this category with one goal less throughout the 21-game schedule allowing only 15.

Games are won on the attacking side, however, and while no one has come close to Vaughan’s sheer attacking magnificence and their 76 goals in 21 games, the Blue Devils have managed a respectable 54, to Alliance’s 43.

Taha Ilyass was a big part of that. He managed 19 goals in 19 games and is a known commodity in this league.

Alliance head coach Ilya Orlov knows Taha’s brilliance and has prepared his team with detailed video analysis and data-driven commentary. “We prepare for every player we play against; in every match, we know the strengths and weaknesses.

While his team may have received all the information available, the outcome is on the playing field. “All preparation does is give you a better chance of winning, but in a one-off match, everything can happen.” says Orlov.

The Alliance have their own goal threats for the Blue Devils. They got all four goals from the Sivananthan brothers on Thursday. They both scored a brace and scored 18 goals between them during the regular season, with Atchuthan (or Atchu as he is known to his teammates) scoring 11 and his brother Nirun adding 8.

Meanwhile, Blue Devils head coach Duncan Wilde is looking for strong performances from his midfield trio of Kyle Porter, Brandon Duarte and Gianluca Spadafora.

“If those three are in unison, and they play together, and they express themselves, I think they’ll create chances, we’ll create form, and we’ll do well,” he said. Coach Wilde.

Alliance will be without Dusan Kovacevic and Matthew Montiero, who both previously played for the Blue Devils but were released with non-compete agreements in their waivers.

Those two teams tied 1-1 in June at Sheridan. With Alliance returning to the game in the 93rd minute, that just reiterates how close these two teams are in quality.

Now, having faced each other several times since Alliance joined the League in 2018, both coaches know what the other will bring to the table. Ilya says, “We know Oakville well; we’ve both been in the league for several years; we know what to expect from them,”

Oakville’s bench boss outlines what they expect from Alliance as Wilde jokes, “He (Orlov) is very structured, he’s very organized. He plays with a four-man back, he plays with two CDMs (Central Defensive Midfielders), and as soon as they give the ball away they get in there, and it’s a six-man block, and it’s hard to to break.

With this in-depth knowledge of everyone’s tendencies, this match has all the hallmarks of a classic. Duncan expects the same “because we both like to play expansive football and tackle the other team; we’re both very good at counter-attacking, so you know there are two types of styles that are similar in a way. “

Wilde believes the path to success will go through a specific avenue, “if they go back into midfield, we need to counterattack as quickly as possible and get our people behind their back line. They managed to accomplish this a handful of times in the regular season game, but couldn’t convert their opportunities.

“It has the makings of a game with goals and exciting play,” according to Wilde, and his opponent espouses a similar belief, “it’s going to be a 50/50 game.”

Today’s game was moved to Bronte Athletic Field, Sheridan College, where the Blue Devils have called home throughout the regular season.

It’s a familiar place for the club and considered the spiritual home of the Blue Devils in the playoffs. Since joining League1 Ontario, the Blue Devils have yet to lose on Lakeshore, feeding on the energy of fans who are close to the action.

“It’s a good atmosphere; the spectators are right on the touchline. Duncan brags about it.

That game kicks off at 4 p.m. and the winner will face a Vaughan Azzurri side who just slipped by newcomers Simcoe County Rovers on Saturday night 2-1.

If you can’t make it to Bronte Athletic Field, you can always tune in and watch on the League1 Ontario Youtube channel, where I’ll be providing play-by-play.

Comments are closed.