Oct 16, 2019; Hamilton, Ontario, CAN; Cavalry FC forward Dominique Malonga (23) tries to get past Forge FC midfielder Tristan Borges (19) in the second half of a Canadian Premier League soccer match at Tim Hortons Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports for CPL
Canadian Premier League in 2019: A team-by-team, year-end review
2019 is a year that Canadian soccer fans won’t soon forget.
There were plenty of highlights over the past 12 months, including a historic win by the Canadian men’s team over the United States, Christine Sinclair becoming only the second player to score in five consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cups, and Alphonso Davies’ amazing ascent for Canada and Bayern Munich.
Topping the list, though, was the launch of the Canadian Premier League.
Starting in April with the first game at Tim Hortons Field, and concluding with the second leg of Finals 2019 in early November, seven teams from across the country competed in Canada’s top-tier division while giving fans from coast-to-coast plenty to talk about. From Forge FC lifting the North Star Shield, to Cavalry FC upsetting the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship, to the electric “Kitchen Party” in Halifax, to York9FC’s Ryan Telfer scoring the first goal in league history, the CPL made the rest of the soccer world take notice in 2019.
With that in mind, CanPL.ca offers this in-depth year in review of all seven Canadian Premier League clubs.
Forge FC: Champions of the inaugural Canadian Premier League campaign. Forever first. The faithful supporters at Tim Hortons Field will fondly remember 2019, as their team claimed the first North Star Shield in a season filled with memorable moments. Indeed, Hamiltonians can be proud when looking back on this historic year for Forge FC – where the club captured the hearts and minds of the people of the city, and brought a trophy back to Hamilton for the first time in quite a while.
In the future, when someone picks up the inaugural Canadian Premier League history book, Cavalry FC will be all over it. From the opening, snowy day at Spruce Meadows, coach and general manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr. had his side setting the highest bar possible in the CPL. That bar included capturing the Spring and Fall seasons, going on an impressive Canadian Championship run to the semifinals — hosting Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact along the way — and having two players earn call-ups to the country’s national team.
Based in talent-rich Ontario and thus favoured to be one of the top sides in the Canadian Premier League’s inaugural season, York9 FC overcame early difficulties to fulfill that promise, if still trailing Forge FC and Cavalry FC at year’s end. Y9 played some tantalizing football, though it oscillated between lovely and chaotic. Moments of class and mistakes alternated as the deciding factors in a given result. Consistency became the rallying cry, something the side achieved a measure of with a strong close that saw them secure third spot, both in the Fall Season and in the overall table
As the lone Canadian Premier League team that had a professional history and a standing academy, FC Edmonton had a lot of expectations resting on their shoulders in 2019. But FCE was a team that suffered through an identity crisis for good portions of the Spring and Fall campaigns. The team made a decent push early in the Fall, but in the end was overwhelmed by its inability to get goals from players not named Easton Ongaro.
It was a season of ups and downs for Pacific FC, from the highs of earning the first win in league history to the lows of a three-game scoreless streak in May. It was always about the youth movement on the West Coast; co-owners Josh Simpson and Rob Friend made that clear from the club’s first signing in 21-year-old Kadin Chung. At times, that inexperience cost them, though; the club allowed more shots on goal than any CPL opponent. Other times? It led to moments of brilliance (See: Terran Campbell’s goal-scoring run, or Zach Verhoven with the ball at his feet).
Questions answered led to only more questions being asked as Valour FC’s inaugural CPL season wrapped up. Was there a market for pro soccer in Winnipeg? Yes. Valour averaged over 5,000 fans per game with a crowd that lived up to the reputation of other Winnipeg sports teams. Was there enough Manitoba talent to give the club a local feel? Yes. Individual performances by Marco Bustos, Dylan Carreiro and Tyler Attardo made the case that hometown talent belonged at this level. The highs were certainly euphoric for Rob Gale’s troops, but equally substantial were the lows. From injuries, suspensions and an 8-0 loss thrown in, there’s a lot to remember for anyone that witnessed every minute of it.
It was a party in the stands at the Wanderers Grounds all season even if the HFX Wanderers FC’s final place in the standings wasn’t as cheery. Somebody had to finish last in the inaugural season and it’s no surprise the team that only won once on the road found themselves at the bottom of the league. It’s easy to point to the road performances as the reason why HFX finished last. The results leave a lot of “what ifs” and moments that maybe could have resulted in a favourable table position. What if big, veteran defender Chakib Hocine stayed healthy and managed to play in more than six games? What if fan-favourite backline anchor Peter Schaale didn’t return to university in August?