HFX Wanderers – Match Report Vs. Toronto FC (24/05/2022)

HFX Wanderers of the Canadian Premier League dropped a narrow 2-1 contest against MLS’ Toronto FC HFX lined up in 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond. Both of their strikers played quite wide. Toronto played with a 4-3-3 and held most of the possession in the game, though they weren’t terribly successful at breaking HFX down for most of it. 

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Zachary Fernandez

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Canadian 
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 24/09/2001
  • Current Club: HFX Wanderers
  • Career: CF Montreal (Y), AS Blainville 
  • Position: Right Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Zachary Fernandez played as a right back in this match. He did a decent job of defending and a good job of moving the ball up the right flank but was a bit lacking in the final 3rd. Fernandez was mostly solid when defending in 1v1 situations, although he did get burned once. His exact weight and height don’t seem to be printed anywhere online (this is something CPL teams could really improve on) but he seemed quite strong and won most physical duels.

Fernandez defended quite aggressively, preferring to try and make defensive plays further up the field. This mostly worked out for him but he did get caught out once or twice, which is to be expected for a player that plays that style. He also showed some decent recovery speed. He did sometimes bend the rules a little bit, using his hands and arms a lot when tussling with players. It didn’t get him into trouble in this game but it might have with a different referee.

With the ball at his feet, Fernandez looked quite comfortable. He was able to play accurate passes under pressure. He also advanced the ball quite well by linking up with Salter on the right side. His speed and physicality helped with his ability to carry the ball forward consistently. But once he got to the final 3rd things started to go off the rails. Fernandez had a hard time getting crosses off because he really struggled to beat defenders with his dribbling. He did manage to get a cross off his deliveries left a lot to be desired. He did however have the ability to take long throw-ins which could help bolster his lacklustre attacking contribution. 

Rating: A2

Fernandez has a pretty strong defensive game already for a player who only recently made the jump to professional soccer. If he can continue to improve that and add a little bit of offence to his game then I think he could be an MLS player.

Samuel Salter

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Canadian 
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 09/08/2000
  • Current Club: HFX Wanderers
  • Career: C.F Montreal (Y), Saint Hubert, FCO Dijon (Y), CSUN Matadors
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary Position: Winger
  • Preferred Foot: Left

Samuel Salter ostensibly played as a striker in this match but in practice, he was more of a wide target man. He did not spend very much time in the centre of the pitch, instead starting from a wide right position, linking up with teammates, and occasionally cutting inside on his preferred left foot.

Generally, Salter did a good job of linking up with his teammates. There were a couple of misplaced passes but he did a good job of linking up with Zachary Fernandez who was overlapping on the right and holding off defenders with his physicality. But his offensive play was a bit lacking. True, he scored HFX’s only goal. But the goal was a bit of a gift from the Toronto F.C keeper and he did not have a lot of dangerous chances otherwise. This was partly because he was starting from such a wide position but it would have been nice to see him getting into the box a bit more when the ball was on the left side. Instead, Salter was always starting his runs from such a wide position that he couldn’t connect with the ball to get shots off from high danger scoring areas.

His dribbling and first touch were ok but a little bit inconsistent. He was reasonably effective when cutting inside, he scored his goal and created a couple of other chances for his team this way. But the ball was also bouncing off of him a fair amount. Likewise, his passing was ok, he picked a couple of nice passes in transition. But there were also some instances when he didn’t get the weight of his pass right. Salter is quite big and strong, standing 6’1, which helped his hold up play and with the rare times he ventured into the box.

Rating: B1

Salter is right on the line between a B1 and an A2. He’s got some tools that make him an attractive proposition but he needs to get a lot more deadly in and around the box if he is going to make the step up to MLS or a league of a similar level. 

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