A NEW-LOOK CPSL
Defensive midfielder Tony Marshall (left), of now newly-named Vaughan Shooters, seen here challenging Brampton Hitmen in the Rogers Cup Final last October. Shooters will play this coming season on the new FieldTurf surface at The Soccer Centre in Vaughan.
It�s a new-look CPSL.
Eleven teams without Laval Dynamites will launch the seventh season of the Canadian Professional Soccer League, with the first league game between Vaughan Shooters and Durham Region on FieldTurf at The Soccer Centre on Monday, May 24.
That�s the Victoria Day holiday weekend when the league will also kickoff its popular Open Canada Cup competition with the Preliminary Round, the first of four holiday weekend rounds leading to the Open Canada Cup Final on Labour Day, September 6.
These and other details are being released by the CPSL this week, to be followed by the complete 2004 schedule of 110 regular season league games during the week of March 15.
Vaughan Shooters is new�-it�s the same team with a new name, a blend of the Vaughan Sun Devils of last year and the umbrella organization York Region Shooters.
Durham has a new team and will soon have a new name�-that�s new. A new group headed by former Durham Region District president John O�Neill replaces last year�s Durham Flames. O�Neill purchased the Mississauga Olympians franchise from owner David Gee and relocated the team to the vast region east of Toronto. Gee has been a prominent and successful owner since the league launched in 1998.
The Soccer Centre as a CPSL venue is new�-both Vaughan Shooters and North York Astros will be using a ground on the site of the popular $10.6 million facility located in Woodbridge just north of Toronto. It opened in 1998 as the most expensive single soccer project in Canada�s history. That�s also the year the CPSL launched.
FieldTurf in the CPSL is new�for the first time Canada�s only complete professional soccer league will by playing on the FIFA-approved synthetic. This will be the first full season on the new surface, laid at a cost of $600,000 last August, a joint venture between the Ontario and Canadian governing soccer bodies.
Laval Dynamites are out�that�s new. The Quebec-based team ran out of time in bringing things together for the new season. Faced with ground renovations and other problems, the team just ran out of time and was eliminated from the schedule.
Vincent Ursini, president of the CPSL, explained the league�s position recently: �We regret losing any team, and especially from Quebec, but as I indicated late last year we intend to keep to our deadlines and could not make an exception with Laval Dynamites. We just had to move on,� he said.
The Quebec team is expected to take part in the Open Canada Cup.
Border Stars is new�an entry from Windsor and surrounding area will be playing games at Windsor Stadium and one or two just over the border in neighboring Michigan.
The CPSL season will be almost five months long, ending with the playoffs for the Rogers Cup League Championship final game on Thanksgiving Day, October 11.
EASTERN CONFERENCE: Durham, Metro Lions, North York Astros, Toronto Supra, Vaughan Shooters.
WESTERN CONFERENCE: Brampton Hitmen, Hamilton Thunder, London City, St. Catharines Wolves, Toronto Croatia, Border Stars (Windsor).