City offering players chance to make team
Friday, May 10, 2002
By Kathy Rumleski, Free Press Sports Reporter
London's only professional soccer team is giving a couple of London Soccer Academy players a chance to crack its lineup.Fifteen-year-old Anthony Vassallo and Bryan Yanful, 17, both strikers, have impressed Jurek Gebcznyski, the coach of London City."We're looking at them quite closely," Gebcznyski confided.Gebcznyski, who is also the academy's coach, said Yanful "is good at actually performing in pressure situations" and has the speed, "which is really crucial.He said Vassallo "is willing to learn," and noted that his "speed and his big heart" are his biggest assets.London City begins Canadian Professional Soccer League play on May 24 against the St. Catharines Wolves at Cove Road field.City and the academy have an affiliation -- "that's the big part of it," Gebcznyski says."(Young players) practise with the academy. I try to develop their skills and if they're ready, they can play for City. That's the door for the European clubs."He says Yanful and Vassallo may not see immediate action but could in time be worked into City's lineup."We slowly introduce them. If they perform, that opens the door for them."Yanful and Vassallo were part of a group of 16 academy players who went to England last year for a chance to perform for scouts from First Division Grimsby Town.Yanful also plays for Forest United's under-18 team. Vassallo is with Greater London's under-17 squad.Another newcomer to City is defender Ken Copco, 31, of Wallaceburg. He came highly recommended from striker Sandro Constantin, 33, also from Wallaceburg, who played with London last season.Goalkeeper Altin Rucaj, who played with Strath-roy Portuguese of the Western Ontario Soccer League last year, has also been added to the roster.More than 60 players have come to tryouts for the team, which hasn't been finalized."We're still looking," said Gebcznyski. "It's shaping up."CPSL, launched in 1998 with eight teams in Ontario, now comprises 13 teams in Ontario and one in Quebec.For the first time this season, the league will be split into two conferences.City is in the Western Conference, along with St. Catharines, the Hamilton Thunder, Mississauga Olympians (formerly Toronto), North York Astros, Toronto Croatia and the Brampton Hitmen.