Commissioner Clanachan proud of CPL’s achievements in Year 1

This inaugural Canadian Premier League season produced many memorable moments that got soccer fans from coast-to-coast talking about the beautiful game.

Whether it was the first match on April 27, any number of Al Classico and 905 derbies, or Kadell Thomas’ incredible goal for Forge FC against Valour, CPL supporters were not short of topics to discuss amongst themselves this year.

But, what single moment stood out the most for CPL Commissioner David Clanachan? The answer might surprise you.

More than any other game, a 1-1 draw between HFX Wanderers FC and Pacific FC on Oct. 9 in Halifax at Wanders Ground – a match between two sides out of contention – was the one that left a lasting impression on the commissioner.

Clanachan reflected on that contest when he was asked about his favourite moment as part of Finals 2019 Media Day at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field on Friday.

Clanachan explained that it was while watching a replay of the Wanderers-Pacific match the next day in his office that the importance and enormity of the CPL, and the progress the league has made, hit him squarely in the face.

“You know one of those moments where you’re watching something in sports and you’re taking it in, but you’re not really paying too much attention to it, but just enough that you’re actually seeing what’s happening? I’m watching this football match, and I’m watching players string seven, eight, nine passes together – all quality passes. … My brain had to click in and say, this is our league,” Clanachan told reporters.

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As part of the Media Day festivities that set up Leg 1 of the Canadian Premier League Finals on Saturday between Forge FC and Cavalry FC at Tim Hortons Field (3:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. MT, on OneSoccer, CBC &, Clanachan also officially unveiled the North Star Shield, giving fans and media a first glimpse of the Canadian Premier League’s championship trophy.

Clanachan spoke like a proud papa about the CPL’s achievements in Year 1, citing Forge FC’s run in the Concacaf League, Cavalry FC upending the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship, and Canadian national team call-ups for Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci and FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic as barometers of the league’s success.

That being said, there’s still room for improvement in 2020.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve done as a league. I was asked a number of times (earlier) in different interviews how would you rate yourself. I said a good start. We’re going to need to be better next year, for sure, as the expectations (increase),” Clanachan offered.

Better how?

“(When) came into this, we were the hometown favourite. We started this league this year and everyone was voting for us. We weren’t going to run a minority government here… The bottom line is, we came into this knowing that people were rooting for us. But, that’s your first shift. We all know the old hockey saying, right? You’re only as good as your last shift. Our last shift was this year so next year better be better,” Clanachan said.

“We have to be better… And that’s everything – scheduling, how it’s done on the field, how we entertain, what’s the level of play on the pitch. That’s all part of it.”

Clanachan touched on a number of other topics during Finals 2019 Media Day, and revealed that three groups are “very close” to landing an expansion franchise, although not likely in time for 2020. The commissioner said he expects to make announcements about future expansion teams in the next 30 days.

He also talked about tweaking the regular season schedule so that games are more spread out, as well as stating that the post-season format won’t change next year.

Tickets on sale now: 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals