If the 10-match Spring session of the inaugural Canadian Premier League is a sprint, these two weeks is its final straightaway; one last push to find the ticker tape before as many others as possible.
With a dozen matches, still to be played and a champion yet to be crowned, let’s a look at each CPL side’s 14-day, end-of-June run-in.
1st in Spring Season (6-0-0)
REMAINING SPRING MATCHES: @ HFX Wanderers (Wednesday, June 19) vs. Forge FC (Saturday, June 22) @ York9 FC (Wednesday, June 29) @ Pacific FC (Monday, July 1)
Cavalry’s home tilt with Forge FC on Saturday, June 22 is, by far, the most important of the dozen Spring matches yet to be played.
Sitting on 18 points, two ahead of second-placed Forge on 16, the undefeated Cavs could win the Spring crown on that day at Spruce Meadows – their only chance to earn the title at home.
Despite the “final” atmosphere expected in Calgary that day, the Cavs are still in the driver’s seat. Failing to earn the six-pointer Saturday, the Cavs need only to claim five points over these four matches to take the title.
That being said, this is the most daunting two-week stretch on this list; three away matches, four long flights and that match against competitive rival Forge.
What’s more, that June 22 tilt will be their last match at Spruce Meadows for 29 days, the longest time any CPL team will go without a home game this season.
2nd in Spring Season (5-2-1)
REMAINING SPRING MATCHES: @ Cavalry FC (Saturday, June 22) @ FC Edmonton (Wednesday, June 26)
With two draws and a loss in those eight matches, the pressure is on Bobby Smyrniotis’ side to win away on Saturday to give themselves a chance at the Spring season crown. They’ll need results to go their way, too, including on the final Spring matchday, July 1, as Forge watch on as the only CPL side not in action.
The good news is Forge have the lightest late-season schedule of all having already played over three-quarters of their Spring schedule.
3rd in Spring Season (3-4-0)
REMAINING SPRING MATCHES: vs. Pacific FC (Thursday, June 20) @ HFX Wanderers (Wednesday, June 26) vs. York9 FC (Monday, July 1)
While not mathematically eliminated yet, Valour FC’s Spring campaign has come to a disappointing end.
Despite head coach Rob Gale dismissing their chances in CONCACAF League qualifying, Valour’s most important match of their sprint-within-a-sprint at the end of June is Saturday against Forge. They’d need a multi-point win and more, however, to challenge for the continental spot, as they sit three points and six goals behind Forge, whp have a game at hand.
There are very winnable matches on tap for Gale’s side as they build momentum for the Fall season, including two home matches against underachievers in Pacific FC and York9 FC. They’ll also get a CanChamp rematch with HFX Wanderers, a team that beat them in both legs of their Qualifying Round 2 tie.
4th in Spring Season (2-3-1)
REMAINING SPRING MATCHES: vs. Cavalry FC (Wednesday, June 19) @ York9 FC (Saturday, June 22) vs. Valour FC (Wednesday, June 26) @ FC Edmonton (Monday, July 1)
Speaking of the Wanderers, Stephen Hart’s Halifax-based side could build on their recent form as they sit dead-middle of the CPL’s Spring listing with a 2-3-1 record.
Don’t be surprised to see HFX overtake Valour for third place in the Spring, too. With a game at hand, albeit against Cavalry, the Wanderers are in a decent spot to asset themselves in third.
Managing travel, as it always is with HFX, will be an important factor in this four-game, home-away-home-away stretch, which will end with their first meeting with FC Edmonton on Canada Day.
5th in Spring Season (1-2-3)
REMAINING SPRING MATCHES: vs. FC Edmonton (Wednesday, June 19) vs. HFX Wanderers FC (Saturday, June 22) vs. Cavalry FC (Wednesday, June 26) @ Valour FC (Monday, July 1)
York9 FC are in the midst of an extended stay at York Lions Stadium that will continue into in the back half of June. It’s about time, too, as the CPL’s road warriors claimed their first CPL victory last weekend at home to Pacific FC.
Following a home date with fellow bottom-half side FC Edmonton their four-match run gets increasingly harder, with the toughest test coming at home to Cavalry on June 26 which – who knows – could be a title-clinching, penultimate result for the Cavs. No pressure.
6th in Spring Season (1-4-2)
REMAINING SPRING MATCHES: @ Valour FC (Thursday, June 20) vs. FC Edmonton (Sunday, June 23) vs. Cavalry FC (Monday, July 1)
Pacific FC come out of their two-week hiatus focused on the righting the ship. Plagued by injuries to key members of the squad, the international break could prove to be an important break for the West Coasters.
Heading to Winnipeg after a 1-0 loss in York Region and PFC are back home at Westhills Stadium for the foreseeable future. In fact, that June 23 home tilt against the Eddies is one of four-straight at home for PFC – a run that will bleed into the Fall portion of the CPL season. A great chance to turn things around for Michael Silberbauer’s side.
7th in Spring Season (1-4-1)
REMAINING SPRING MATCHES: @ York9 FC (Wednesday, June 19) @ Pacific FC (Sunday, June 23) vs. Forge FC (Wednesday, June 26) vs. HFX Wanderers FC (Monday, July 1)
A relatively easy start to the season will catch up to FC Edmonton at the end of this month as they prepare for five tilts against CPL opposition in 17 days, counting last weekend’s Al Classico.
Matches with fellow underachievers in York9 FC and Pacific FC lead into a pair of home matches – and a chance to end Forge FC’s last gasp for the title – to close the Spring season out. Could the Eddies get a few confidence-boosting results leading into the Fall?
They’ll certainly need it, as the Eddies have struggled of late with injuries, controversial calls, and a lack of tooth up top. But, with a few matches to go before the Fall portion starts, Jeff Paulus could use this time to iron out a few of the details that could make the difference over 90 minutes.