City's hope springs eternal

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

Every season begins the same way for London City.

They will open the Canadian Soccer League season -- the league's name will change, dropping the word professional -- in May with great hope and fingers crossed.

The hope is this will be the year City competes for the championship.

The fingers are crossed because all that hope rests on the joints, muscles and late-summer plans of its players. Injuries and commitments to other jobs, teams and schools often have been the undoing of London City at summer's end.

So far, so good. Then again, it's only April.

London City got the word Dennis Peeters, 25, a rookie last year who wound up turning in a dominant season, has decided to play with City.

Peeters was an all-star and rookie of the year in the CPSL and was named City's most valuable and most dedicated player.

The Parkhill native is a management trainee with a company in the uniform, linen, napkin and mat business. He works long hours out of Toronto, leading to the possibility the only uniform he would be dealing with this year would be his company's.

But love of soccer and the need to do something other than work made the decision relatively easy for Peeters.

"I'm still in training phases at work, so doing both is very doable," he said. "I never really gave putting soccer on hold any thought. I'll continue to do both until time just doesn't allow for it."

To say coach, manager and public address announcer Harry Gauss was thrilled would be an understatement.

"What's the realm after happy? And the realm after that," Gauss said. "That's how happy I am. He's a great player and a great guy. It's unbelievable how much discipline he has to do what he has to do."

Peeters will be lining up players he can train with in Toronto because he may not be able to make training sessions in London.

"It's tough with the full-time job, but you've got to make sacrifices for your own social time if I'm going to be that far away," Peeters said.

For a first-year guy, he accumulated a lot of hardware and attention.

"It was a good year for individual accomplishments, but in terms of the team record, I wish we could have done a little better," he said.

"I'm just excited for the season. Last year, it was different because it was my first year in the league and I was more anxious about how it was going to go. Now, with a year under your belt, we're getting a lot of guys back. I'm looking forward to it. Just playing soccer and getting away from the work activities is going to be exciting."

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Gauss is excited about his team. He's always excited about the start of the season.

"No, really. Right now, this is the best team I've had to start the season. We can compete with any team in the league," Gauss said.

Longtime City player Eris Tafaj is returning to the team after a stint in professional soccer in Albania.

Gauss has added what he believes are strong additions up front with Michel Daoust from Wheatley River, P.E.I., and Tim Khaemba from Kakamega, Kenya, who was a striker at Carleton University.

London City will get an early test May 19 when it plays Angrense, a touring third-division team from the Azores, at Cove Road Field.

If City turns out to be competitive, its timing couldn't be better. It's a World Cup year, which raises the level of interest in soccer in this country and Gauss might benefit from that interest.

It's an interest he could cash in on if, for a change, London City manages to stay competitive through the end of the season.


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