How Marco Carducci became the Volkswagen Premier Performer

Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci is your 2019 Volkswagen Premier Performer.

Carducci took home a 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI at Tuesday’s 2019 Canadian Premier League Awards ceremony in Toronto after capturing the season-long, Volkswagen Premier Performer distinction based on data and statistical performance.

Carducci led for most of the Fall season in the Premier Performer (VWPP) standings as Cavalry’s no. 1 goalkeeper, ending with an average score of 77.36 points. He wasn’t much farther ahead of fellow Golden Glove candidate Nathan Ingham, who ended with an average of 76.74 over a full season with York9 FC.

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It’s been a whirlwind season for Carducci, a 23-year-old native of Calgary. He made history in September as the first CPL player called up to the Canadian men’s national team, en route to backstopping Cavalry to Finals 2019.

It was Carducci’s consistency over the Spring and Fall seasons that landed him the highest VWPP score of any CPLer in 2019.

Here’s how he became the Premier Performer.

Game-saving Al Classico stop (Spring season, May 18) – 81.45 pts

Premier Performer awards points for, well, performing well. Let’s start with Carducci’s first big outing (and big Premier Performer point total) of 2019.

Early in the Spring campaign, when CPLers were largely known for their past, ex-Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Marco Carducci was part of a stable of Calgary Foothills players making the jump to the pro ranks after winning a PDL Championship in 2018. After three wins from three games to start the season, the Cavs were starting to pull ahead in the 10-match Spring sprint.

On May 18 at Spruce Meadows, Cavalry faced FC Edmonton in Al Classico. Rivalry aside, this match was an important one for Cavalry’s Spring hopes. While Jordan Brown played hero at one end, Carducci did the dirty work at the other. His save on Marcus Velado-Tsegaye (see video above) brought the home crowd to their feet. With Velado-Tsegaye’s attempt trickling towards the post, Carducci switched his balance, leaping and stretching to tip it wide.

It was enough to keep the Eddies at bay and give Cavalry a win in the inaugural all-Alberta tilt.

Spring-clinching clean sheet (Spring season, June 26) – 89.27 pts

Cavalry's Marco Carducci. (Photo: Nora Stankovic).
Cavalry’s Marco Carducci. (Photo: Nora Stankovic).

After dropping a potentially Spring title-clinching match to Forge FC (Kyle Bekker’s screamer was their only shot on target), Carducci and his cohorts travelled to York Region looking to seal the deal. What proceeded was an aesthetically-pleasing result at both ends for Cavalry, claiming the Spring crown with a 2-0 win.

Forced to make five saves, Carducci also hinted at a calming presence at the back, completing a team-leading 39 passes on route to earning the Spring title – and an 89-point haul of Premier Performer (VWPP) points.

A record outing in Halifax (Fall season, July 13) – 98.60 pts

Carducci and Cavalry didn’t let up after winning the Spring title. July 13 at Wanderers Grounds brought Carducci’s biggest single-match VWPP point total of 2019.

Carducci completed a five-save clean sheet performance against a stingy HFX Wanderers group. He bailed out his side several times with difficult saves, especially a last-minute grab – with the sun in his eyes – to pick up a staggering 98.60 VWPP points and surge up the leaderboard with the best performance that week.

Game-saving stop against York9 (Fall season, July 21) – 87.81 pts

Arguably Carducci’s greatest piece of work in 2019 came just a few days later. York9 FC forced a season-high seven stops from the Cavs ‘keeper on July 21, with the last being his finest. Past added time, a Y9 free-kick dropped to Kyle Porter at the back post. Carducci rushed out quickly to close down the angle. Sprawling, arms out, Carducci made this result-saving stop look easy in the moment, with his quick thinking and positioning assisting heavily.

Another five-save performance and clean sheet saw the Calgarian take the lead in Premier Performer’s top five standings, something he wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the campaign.

Wicked Spruce Meadows acrobatics (Fall season, August 28) – 85.31 pts

Not all superb goalkeeping showings are clean sheets. Take this Fall season tilt with Pacific FC at Spruce Meadows, which ended 1-1, for example.

A defensive error from Jay Wheeldon left Carducci exposed for the opening goal – although he almost batted Terran Campbell’s attempt away after an athletic dive. The Cavs ‘keeper remained calm after conceding early as the Tridents held the run of play for most of the first half.

But it was Carducci’s save in the 72nd-minute that put a stamp on things. Zach Verhoven’s looping long-range effort was somehow parried by Cavalry’s keeper.

Solidly in the lead, Carducci was keeping pace with the rest of the VWPP contenders as the impressive saves and all-around performances racked up.

Carducci was well ahead of the pack by October before clinching first place in the VWPP standings on the last day of the Fall season (Oct. 19) when he conceded once in an Al Classico victory over FC Edmonton.

Here were the top five point-getters of 2019. A more detailed, position-by-position rankings can be found here.

Top 5 Overall

1 Marco Carducci Cavalry FC 77.36
2 Nathan Ingham York9 FC 76.47
3 Ryan Telfer York9 FC 76.46
4 Tristan Borges Forge FC 75.79
5 Dominique Malonga Cavalry FC 75.43