WHAT TO WATCH: Jonathan David faces Chelsea, MLS is BACK, & this week's Canadian soccer stories
Here is your roundup of the Canadian soccer stories to watch out for this week.
Jonathan David’s biggest night
These are the kinds of nights that can change your life.
Jonathan David’s ascension to the top of European football — almost certainly with a big-money move this summer — is not in much doubt at this point, but he will have the opportunity to capture the continent’s attention when Lille visit Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday.
Remember what happened last time a Canadian played at Stamford Bridge under the lights?
David does not have the supporting cast Alphonso Davies enjoys at Bayern Munich, and a similar result for underdogs Lille is a long shot.
But the 22-year-old has the quality to impact any game and playing on the counter-attack suits him well, as we saw during Canada’s most recent batch of World Cup qualifiers.
A strong David performance in west London will further convince the clubs interested in him to part with the kind of transfer fee he will command at the end of the season.
Canadian women close to another tournament win
The midweek schedule is jam-packed with Canadian content.
On Wednesday, Canada’s women’s national team will face Spain in pole position to win the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup. A win guarantees top spot for the Canadians, while a draw will do the job if England fails to beat Germany later in the day.
Beyond the victory itself, winning the tournament could have the useful knock-on effect of seeing Canada invited back to defend its title if the competition is repeated next year.
Lets keep this momentum going! 📈— Janine Beckie (@janinebeckie) February 20, 2022
Full focus ahead of Wednesday now 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/eq7nBsnGwp
After a disappointing first half in the opening game against England, Canada has vaulted itself into first place. Janine Beckie’s equalizer secured a draw against the hosts before a 1-0 win over Germany followed on Sunday.
We have seen signs of growth in Canada’s game in possession, with Quinn and Cloé Lacasse making a strong contribution after being inserted into the starting XI at the weekend. And defensively, Canada has continued to look as strong as any nation on the planet.
A win against Spain, perhaps the fastest-improving team in the women’s game, would make Bev Priestman’s side’s start to 2022 a major success.
Montreal, Forge chase Champions League dream
CF Montreal will have to wait an extra day to avenge its 1-0 defeat in the first leg of its Concacaf Champions League round-of-16 tie against Santos Laguna.
A storm forecast to hit Montreal on Tuesday night has seen the return matchup pushed back 24 hours.
The 2022 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League is available exclusively on OneSoccer ⚽— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) February 11, 2022
Catch #CFMTL and @ForgeFCHamilton in #SCCL22 action, beginning next week on Feb. 15 & Feb. 16 📺
Join @MattCullenLive for French language commentary 🗣️
SUBSCRIBE 👉 https://t.co/6LyEo1HM9U pic.twitter.com/9YJ16VrXhg
On Thursday, the Canadian Premier League’s Forge visits one of the true cathedrals of world football: Estadio Azteca, host of two World Cup finals and the Hamilton club’s second leg against Cruz Azul.
Forge faces a mammoth task, trailing 1-0 on aggregate at the halfway mark. But few expected them to perform as well as they did in Hamilton against such an illustrious opponent, and that will breed confidence that an almighty upset is possible in Mexico City.
MLS returns with full weekend slate
It feels like no time at all has passed since we were watching New York City FC win MLS Cup in Portland, but the 2022 Major League Soccer season gets underway on Saturday.
Among the Canadian teams, the Vancouver Whitecaps kick us off with a visit to the Columbus Crew. It’s the beginning of what looks like a tough start for Vanni Sartini’s team: six of their first nine games are away from home, and the three at BC Place come against last season’s finalists and perennial Western Conference contenders Sporting Kansas City.
Crew-Whitecaps is followed by Toronto FC’s road fixture against FC Dallas in Bob Bradley’s first competitive game in charge.
And on Sunday, Montreal is in Florida — this time, thankfully, just to play Orlando City, and not to start another season relocated outside of Canada. All three clubs have their home openers north of the border the following weekend.