‘Beginning of something special’: Wheeldon Jr. on Spring deciders against HFX, Forge

Four days from now, Cavalry FC and head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. could be Canadian Premier League Spring season champions – just over six weeks into the professional side’s lifespan.

Their 3-0 Al Classico win in Edmonton on Saturday has set up a tantalizing two-match week for the Cavs: away to HFX Wanderers on Wednesday (6:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. AT/OneSoccer) and their final home match of Spring, against Forge FC on Saturday (6:00 p.m. ET, 4:00 p.m. MT/OneSoccer).

A Cavalry win on Wednesday would mean they’d only need a win or a draw to clinch the Spring title when they host Forge at Spruce Meadows a few days later, setting up a final-like atmosphere at home in Calgary and, potentially, taking the first title on offer in the Canadian Premier League’s history.

“We’ve played 10 games as a professional outfit so we don’t see it as the end of anything,” Wheeldon Jr. told Tuesday. “We see it as the beginning of something special.”

It sure has been a special start for Cavalry.

Undefeated at 6-0-0 in the league, Wheeldon Jr. has a chance to close out the 10-match Spring with two matches to spare, while also continuing their currently perfect run in the league.

“It is a bit of a sprint for the Spring season, but we haven’t gotten too carried away after our first and second wins, and went on,” Wheeldon Jr. said. “The wins are for the statisticians to count up.

“There have been last-minute dramas, goal-up-goal-down situations … We’ve found new ways to win football matches, we’ve led from the front, come back from behind. It just shows we have resilience in spades.”

Wheeldon Jr. admits they’ll need more of that resilience to finish this week as Spring title holders against the other two teams still mathematically in contention.

The Cavs travel to Halifax to face a Wanderers side that is on a full week’s rest, undefeated at home in the league, before heading home to host Forge in a pressure-filled match against their recent competitive rival ⁠— also on a full week’s rest.

“It’s poetic in terms of how we’re trying to develop a league and these key matchups, but I’m sure as we get more and more into the regular season there are going to be more and more teams (that) emerge and other teams become potential contenders.

“For us, it’s not about the ending of the Spring season at all. It’s like tournament football, you want to play against the best teams. That’s how you make improvements.

“Once we finish Halifax, we’ll focus on what we can do against Forge. We can’t look too far ahead in the future,” Wheeldon concluded. “It’s one game at a time.”

With files from Charlie O’Connor-Clarke & Armen Bedakian