Astros hope to rebound from slow start

Jun. 16, 2004

All is not well with the North York Astros.
The local Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL) squad has dropped its first two regular season starts and a handful of veteran players have already found themselves in the proverbial doghouse.

Though he refused to name them, North York's general manager Bruno Ierullo said four of his players were healthy scratches and did not even make the trip this past Saturday to Windsor as the Astros were downed 3-1 by the expansion Border Stars.

North York was also blanked 2-0 by the Brampton Hitmen during their season opener on June 8.

"I'm having some problems with the older players," Ierullo said. "They're not 100 per cent fit."

Ierullo said a decision on whether the veterans would rejoin the lineup will be made following tonight's (Wednesday) practice.

The Astros' next game is tomorrow on the road against the Toronto Supra. That match, at Etobicoke's Centennial Stadium, is set to begin at 8:30 p.m.

"I will sit them out as long as I have to," Ierullo said.

Ierullo said he's also hoping to see some signs that his benched veterans are improving in their conditioning levels.

"If they didn't get the message, they're going to get released," he said.

Ierullo added though he is not pleased that some of his players are not fit early on this season, he understands why.

"I can't blame them," he said. "Two players decided to play (this season) at the last minute. Their winter preparation was not there."

And even now, Ierullo realizes it's rather difficult for some of his charges to concentrate on soccer full-time.

"Work gets in the way," he said. "Soccer is something they do after work."

The Astros are part of the CPSL's five-team Eastern Conference this season. The conference also includes Toronto Supra, Vaughan Shooters, the Scarborough-based Metro Lions and Oshawa's Durham Storm.

Besides the Border Stars and Brampton, the league's six-team Western Conference also consists of the Hamilton Thunder, St. Catharines Wolves, London City and Mississauga-based Toronto Croatia.

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