Seven of the eight Canadian Premier League teams were eligible to qualify for the second round going into the first stage’s final weekend.
Forge FC, Cavalry FC, Pacific FC, and HFX Wanderers FC punched their ticket in a hectic final few matches, setting the stage for what should be an eventful second round.
Second-round play kicks off Wednesday with a pair of matches: HFX Wanderers FC vs. Forge FC (1pm ET/2pm AT, OneSoccer) and Cavalry FC vs. Pacific FC (8pm ET/9pm AT, OneSoccer).
Before we dive into the penultimate stage, let’s take a look at how CPL’s first round played out.
Here are CanPL.ca’s fourth power rankings from The Island Games.
1. HFX Wanderers FC
MOVEMENT: +4 Last week: No. 5
With back-to-back wins and riding a four-game unbeaten run, HFX Wanderers surge to the top of CanPL.ca’s power rankings. A professional win over Valour FC and a 90-minute showing against Atlético Ottawa clinched a top-four spot rather easily. So much is going right for this team at the moment: Akeem Garcia leads the Golden Boot race, João Morelli’s return from suspension, and a backline that has recorded back-to-back clean sheets.
Despite their middling record against the other top four teams (draws against Pacific and Forge, a loss to Cavalry), we can agree the Wanderers have grown as The Island Games have progressed – and they’re peaking at the right time.
Second Round Schedule: Forge FC (Wednesday, 1 ET/2pm AT), Cavalry FC (Saturday, 3pm ET/4pm AT), Pacific FC (Tuesday, Sept. 15, 8pm ET/9pm AT)
2. Forge FC
MOVEMENT: – Last week: No. 2
The Hamiltonians showed off their depth on Saturday in a 2-2 draw with Valour FC. Already 2nd-round bound, Forge came out of a week-long break with coach Bobby Smyrniotis deciding to rest key members of his squad.
Considering the dead-rubber result and the rotated starting 11, it’s hard to justify moving Forge out of their second spot in the power rankings.
Second Round Schedule: HFX Wanderers FC (Wednesday, 1pm ET/2pm AT), Pacific FC (Saturday, 12pm ET/1pm AT), Cavalry FC (Tuesday, Sept. 15, 1pm ET/2pm AT)
A wishy-washy week leaves PFC as the lowest-ranked top-four side. Can they rebound Wednesday night against Cavalry FC?
Second Round Schedule: Cavalry FC (Wednesday, 8pm ET/9pm AT), Forge FC (Saturday, noon ET/1pm AT), HFX Wanderers (Tuesday, Sept. 15, 8pm ET/9pm AT).
5. Valour FC
MOVEMENT: -1 Last week: No. 4 Record: 2-2-3
Valour didn’t leave quietly at The Island Games. Rob Gale’s team took Forge head-on in need of a win, but a 2-2 result sent them home. The Winnipeggers suffered from a mind-boggling nine injuries by the full-time whistle on Saturday, several of which came in a midweek defeat to HFX Wanderers. Without injuries to key defenders (Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Stefen Cebara, Hocine, and Brett Levis) would Valour’s well-organized group have conceded four goals in the final two matches?
Y9 went 470 minutes without a goal in open play, a stretch that reached across an incredible five matches. While set-piece goals earned points – Manny Aparicio’s free kick goals against HFX Wanderers and FC Edmonton – they weren’t enough.
Jeff Paulus and FC Edmonton have departed Prince Edward Island with just a single point. As the gaffer said, the Eddies weren’t far off in defeats to York9 and Pacific FC, but a lack of cutting edge in the final third (a league-fewest five goals for) was their major issue.