City's improving play reason for optimism

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

This has to be pretty heady stuff for London City.

A month ago, the Canadian Soccer League team was having dinner handed to it most nights. But even with after defeats of 5-0 and 6-1, coach Gentjan Dervishi believed his team was headed in the right direction.

Four games later, Dervishi is being proved right. City is 2-1-1 in the last four games.

They head into tonight's 8:38 p.m. game at Cove Road Field against Serbian White Eagles with a chance to move into the middle of the pack in the CSL's National Division. At 2-5-2, a win would put them in the playoff hunt.

It won't be easy. The White Eagles are 5-2-1 in the CSL's International Division. But City has solidified its backline and has established some continuity in its lineup.

The biggest factor has been the return of veteran backline player Jeff Brown, who wasn't sure if he was going to play this year. He's had a history of knee injuries, but he returned four games ago and it's no coincidence the team has gone on a run. Brown returned in good shape and his presence has settled a defence that was being ripped apart.

"When he came back it was huge. He lost about 50 pounds. I took a double-take when he walked through the gate," said Ryan Gauss, City's acting general manager. "To have that veteran leadership back there has been an unbelievable difference. Working back there with Marco Peeters and a young defender like Roy Beishuizen, it really helps them out when you have that veteran leadership back there.

"Since his return, we're really rolling along the last little while. We only lost in North York and we should have won that game. We were up 1-0."

Gauss also believes Cove Road has become a tough place to play for opposing teams.

"It seems lately that no one is going to beat us at the Cove," he said. "We've squeaked out that game in the 94th minute against Trois-Rivieres but it seems the players are ready starting to like the Cove. Things are turning around."

City has used a large number of players this season, due in large part to the juggling early in the season. City needed to use players who were also playing in the Western Ontario Soccer League Premier Division. When conflicts arose, City would often lose those players.

"We've made a ton of changes," Gauss said. "Now we have the consistent lineup and we're not really moving from there. Most of the players either play with the London City reserve team or the CSL team."


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