May 1, 2015 League 1 Ontario--Preview of Vaughan Azzurri (from League 1 Ontario website)

Vaughan Azzurri - 2015 Season Preview
. Fri May 1 
Written By: Staff, League1  

Who is Vaughan Azzurri?

Vaughan Azzurri is a well-established club in the Greater Toronto Area, with a reputation earned 
over many decades for developing quality young players for post-secondary and professional ranks, 
as well as many championship winning sides.

In the first season of League1 Ontario, the Azzurri were one of the league's stand-out performers. 
Although they ultimately finished fourth in League1 Ontario final standings, they took the L1 Cup 
at the expense of Sigma F.C. in a brilliant exhibition at BMO Place.

The Azzurri return to the field-of-play this year with a relatively intact returning core from 
2014, and a host of promising young talents. Highly-regarded head coach Carmine Isacco returns 
to lead the Azzurri.

What they're saying:

"We're going to continue with the same set-up as last year, with OSL men's, U21 and League1 
as levels to bring through and develop players," said Isacco. "We don't want to tie players 
down to one level, and if we have to sacrifice a small aspect of our competitive structure due 
to rules – for example, this season we will not participate in the Ontario Cup due to restrictions 
we had at nationals last year – then we will do that."

"Our purpose is to ensure the player development, and our main objective is not to win a national 
championship at club level but to develop the players and get them as many minutes as possible. 
It was probably our mistake for entering Ontario Cup and Nationals last year, but our focus was 
getting our youngest opportunities to play at that level."

"We believe in putting our players in various high-quality, competitive situations, and that 
is the only way they will grow and go to the next level of high-level amateur or semi-pro. 
Our finals team was primarily made up of U21 players in the Ontario Cup, and although administrative 
issues can sometimes get in the way – we're trying to do things the right way. The point is that 
the rules exist, and we need to respect the issues, but the only change we're making is that we won't 
enter the Ontario Cup competition, which will hurt us because it's another good level of meaningful 
games and that is what players need. If we stop our players from having as many meaningful games 
as possible, that is a problem, but we will stay focused on what we can do. I think we need 
to be player-centric when we develop the administrative end of things, not win or lose-centric. 
That's our focus."

"The thing we were happiest about last year was that we were able to get our young players in," 
said Isacco. "We used a group of our U17s and U18s at key parts of the season, and it was a great 
springboard for these players to bigger and better things – that was our greatest accomplishment 
as a club."

What did Vaughan do in off-season?

In the off-season, head coach Carmine Isacco was able to keep a core of the Vaughan Azzurri 
at York University, where Isacco is also the head coach. The fruits of having trained and played together 
all summer in League1 was quickly apparent, as York romped all the way to a CIS championship.

Coach Isacco has also been involved with the Canadian national team structure, including the youth 
section, and has a number of Canadian U17 players involved in the League1 Ontario Azzurri 2015 side.

What they're saying:

"Obviously, in our partnership with York University, where I am also the head coach, it was good to see 
a group competing together at a high-level and obviously taking that momentum and winning a CIS National 

"From a Vaughan perspective though, we are most interested in proper development, in getting the players 
from U15 through to League1 the appropriate opportunities. Last year, in our League1 team, we were second 
most of the year trying to fight for first with TFC, but had to make a decision at a certain point to ensure 
that our kids get games, and we might again have to sacrifice the winning of the league to ensure our U17s 
and U18s get important games at that level."

Key Vaughan players?

Outgong Vaughan players include Joseph Di Chiarra, who was the team's MVP in the L1 Cup final, who was 
signed into Okzhetpes in the Kazakhstan Premier League, and young Azzurri player Daniel Fabrizi was picked 
up Toronto F.C. Academy.

However, Isacco points to the return of the team's core, featuring a number of experienced players that 
will mentor a young set of incoming Azzurri prospects – many of which are already involved in Canadian 
national levels.

What they're saying:

"The purpose as we see it is to develop the next phase for our younger players, and keep our aspiring pros 
at a high-level and hopefully move them along, as we did with Joseph Di Chiarra, who is now in Kazakhstan 
playing professionally."

"We lost Daniel Fabrizi to Toronto F.C., which is not a loss but rather a promotion, and something that 
we want to do – getting more exposure to our players. We have good relations with the staff at TFC, and 
a large number of our youth players go there every year. Otherwise we are pretty much the same squad, despite 
losing Joseph, but our philosophy and focus will be to prepare the players to go back to school, and prepare 
the younger players."

"We're going to have a good group of '98s coming through, and we want to make sure they get the proper 
development. League1 is part of that development, but so is the OSL Provincial Elite men's team, and the 
OSL U21 Provincial team. Our main focus is to get them as many competitive games as possible, and make 
sure they get to the next level."

"Obviously you need proper pros to ensure the development of our younger players, and while their main role 
is that, they are obviously competitive players and they want to win. Players such as Henry Moody, Dena Ieazady 
etc. will all still be a big part of the program in that respect."

"Of our 97s, we had a number get invited to U20 Canada camp, and Dane Sinclair (signed with University 
of Maryland), Kamal Miller (signed with Syracuse University), and Dejan Harris (signed with Penn State) 
will be part of the U20 pool for sure. I think we have a good chunk of players on the fringes of the national 
pool, and some that could potentially be part of the Pan-Am picture."

"We had a couple young players with us last year that were very good, and have been playing in Greece, 
or in NCAA in the States, and should be back. I would expect that these players have grown as individuals, 
but also as mentors for our youngest players coming up. We're looking at a full perspective of things, and yes 
it will be hard work, but the mentors that develop our culture is key to making our goals are achieved."

"We're going to do the right things regardless of the result, and we're going to play and teach without fear 
of making a mistake, so the likes of Kamal Miller, Dejan Harris, Austin Ricci, Jake Cooper, Lucas Piteo – those 
kids that were mentored by the likes of Matt Stinson and Henry Moody – are some of our older players now and 
will have to step up, lead properly, and not be afraid to make mistakes in the pursuit of that goal. This 
is our main focus."
Ideal outcome for Vaughan in 2015 League1 Ontario season?

"I'd like us to be as competitive as possible. We could go out and play our best eleven every game, and 
I think we could win the league, but that's not the purpose of what we're doing," said Isacco.

"In the club system our main focus is the development of our U17s and U18s, and to expose as many players 
to that level that have worked for and earned it – that is our main goal. We want to ensure that we are 
developing our young group, and keeping our existing aspiring pros at a high level as well, and getting 
results as much as we can."

"Last year, for example, we took our U17 group to Windsor, and they lost in the ninetieth minute, but the 
experience of playing at that pace and in that atmosphere was irreplaceable. That is the ultimate goal. 
Of course we are at a competitive level, and there is the expectation to do well – and accountability 
if we do not – but we would like to do that in tandem with the development of our young group as well."

back to 2015 League 1 Ontario Men's index