At last, it’s officially summer—so let’s get into the sunny spirit with some more mid-week hot takes.
Last week, I wondered whether Cavalry FC would ever lose — and sure enough, their rivals from Hamilton answered in the affirmative, with Forge FC posting a 1-0 win on Saturday to hand the Cavs their first-ever L.
I also wondered whether Valour FC’s Marco Bustos had clinched “goal of the season” with his left-footed strike against Forge. But in the last seven days, we’ve seen not one but two members of Pacific FC challenge for that crown: Terran Campbell with the winner against Valour on Thursday, and Victor Blasco with his long-range blast against FC Edmonton on Sunday.
This time out, I wonder…
Does a high tide lift all boats?
Provincial rivals in Edmonton and York Region may be inclined to disagree, but I’d posit that the dominance shown by Cavalry and Forge in this inaugural Spring season is a good thing not just for those two clubs, but for the entire league.
Sure, it has taken some of the drama out of the season’s final few weeks for the five teams whose Spring title hopes have already been dashed. But the existence of a powerhouse team (or two) provides opponents with something to strive for, a measuring stick against which they can evaluate themselves over the rest of the year.
A more balanced table would have had its merits too, for sure; but disparity creates animosity, which creates sporting passion. Just think of how angrily envious it’ll make fans across the country to see Cavalry or Forge celebrate that Spring title, how much they’ll want to pull the champs down off their pedestal.
That sort of passion can only help drive the entire league forward in the years to come.
Will the Championship format alter Cavalry’s Fall approach?
Having worked under the assumption for weeks now that Cavalry will emerge as Spring champs (which I still am), I’ve wondered in previous weeks how much incentive they’ll have to go full tilt during the Fall season.
I even suggested, in this space, that they might be content to sacrifice a few league matches early in the Fall season for the sake of their third-round showdown in the Canadian Championship against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
But even if the Spring season winner will have already booked their spot in October’s CPL Championship, we now know there’s an extra carrot dangling at the finish line of the Fall campaign: its winner gets to choose who hosts which game in the two-legged championship final.
That means, sure, the Cavs (or Forge, if they can somehow pull it off) will have their spot booked in the CPL Championship within the next few days — but they’ll also have reason to keep pressing all the way through summer and fall.
And that, like the first point above, is also a good thing for everyone.
How many more Tyler Attardos are out there?
I mean, in the world, there are probably a bunch of people named Tyler Attardo. But in this case, what I mean is: how many more moments will we get to see like the one that Valour FC’s Tyler Attardo got to experience on Thursday?
The 17-year-old Winnipeg native got to score his first professional goal in front of his hometown crowd, a beautiful sight for anyone who knows what the CPL is all about. His team didn’t end up getting a result on the day, but that moment will no doubt loom large in his memory and, perhaps, the memories of other local youngsters watching from the audience.
Is playing smarter, not harder, the key for FC Edmonton?
I’ll admit to not being heavily interested in the realm of sports analytics—heck, every time I see “xG”, I still instinctively think it’s some old-school emoticon that my brain isn’t properly interpreting. But, nope, it’s actually “expected goals”, and it played a big role in FC Edmonton finally breaking their goal-scoring hex.
As manager Jeff Paulus said after Saturday’s 3-1 win, it came down to shot selection against PFC. While that seems intuitive enough (“hey strikers, take good shots”), digging into the statistical side of shot probabilities has yielded results for plenty of teams over the years.
So now, the question is, have Paulus and his attacking corps figured things out? And if they have, will opposing defences soon figure them out? Or was the three-goal outburst simply a mirage amidst what’s been a largely barren Spring season for the Eddies?