Congrats to Forge FC who, as per the philosophical approach laid out in last week’s column, are clearly the deserving winners of the North Star Shield, as there’s no possible alternate explanation for their championship victory.
Now then, I’m once again bursting with au courant quandaries — for one last time in Season One, let’s break ’em down.
For whom is this championship the sweetest?
Is it Kyle Bekker, who’s overcome his share of skeptics and now stands tall as a title-winning captain? David Edgar, who had more to give in Europe but decided to be part of history at home in southern Ontario? Tristan Borges, who capped off such a brilliant individual campaign with some team honours?
Maybe it’s owner Bob Young, who was instrumental in bringing the CPL to fruition in the first place? Or is it the Barton Street Battalion, who’ve been at the vanguard of CPL supporters groups since years before there even was a CPL?
For real though, does he? The 27-year-old was a big part of Forge’s early success, scoring three goals in 11 appearances before making the mid-season move to Hapoel Haifa. I dunno what the threshold is for being an official “part” of a title win, but if I get a vote (I don’t), I say there oughta be one with his name on it.
Are Tristan Borges’ days in the CPL numbered?
I mean, we all have a finite amount of time on this planet and so all of our days are numbered. But you know what I mean: as the off-season roster turnstiles begin flapping, I’ve gotta wonder if Borges could be on his way out, to Europe or elsewhere.
His stats were impressive enough, and Forge’s title victory likely boosted Borges’ profile even further. In fact, given their double-barreled dominance in 2019, both Forge and Cavalry must have suitors sniffing around about the services of their stars. But who? And where could they be headed?
Will the Golden Boot rule remain?
I’m all for the league trying unique things to differentiate itself — and that may have motivated the decision to include goals scored in Finals 2019 in the Golden Boot race.
But as insufferable adherent to quaint concepts like “fairness,” I simply can’t abide a statistical structure that gives some competitors an innate advantage over others. Good on Borges for making the point moot this year; hopefully we won’t need to have the discussion again next year.
Is Easton Ongaro already the 2020 favourite?
If we assume that Borges will be pulled away from us and that the league reverts to only counting regular-season tallies in the Golden Boot race, it’s tough not to consider the FC Edmonton big man as the favourite already.
He was among the league’s leading scorers this year despite playing about half as many minutes as the likes of Borges and Terran Campbell, and if he can even get close to maintaining his 2019 rate of 0.77 goals per 90 minutes over a full season, the 21-year-old will be tough to beat.
Will Joel Waterman’s suspension force a rule change?
Like it or not — and oh boy, do fans in Calgary ever dislike it — Waterman’s red card in the First Leg of Finals 2019 was legit, as was his one-game suspension (as per the guidelines outlined by Canada Soccer). But even non-Cavalry fans can admit that missing a game of that magnitude might have been within the letter of the laws, but not their spirit.
And although changing the actual DOGSO rule can only come at the FIFA/IFAB level, I wonder whether Canada Soccer has any capacity to amend its own guidelines, to allow the possibility of no suspension at all for a handball DOGSO like Waterman’s.
It wouldn’t provide much comfort to Cavalry fans right now, but such a change — again, if it’s even possible —
could mean some good has come out of the situation.
Are the Cavs an exemplar or a cautionary tale?
Winning the spring and fall campaigns does lend credence to the idea that Cavalry were the CPL’s best team this year; unfortunately for them, the outcome of Finals 2019 precludes them from being known as champions.
So, I wonder to what extent their fate will dictate how teams approach the season’s final weeks and months in years to come, assuming the format remains reasonably similar to 2019. Winning the fall season was a nice cherry on top for Cavalry, but would taking their foot off the gas pedal have helped in the end?
Tommy Wheeldon Jr. might be running retrospective “what ifs” through their minds, but other teams will be using their experience to run through the hypothetical “what ifs” of 2020 and beyond.
Who is Canada’s “top” club team of 2019?
Silly question, right? Forge are domestic league champs — so it must be them.
Except that, as just mentioned, Cavalry were the kings of the regular season.
Then you’ve got the Montreal Impact winning the Voyageurs Cup.
And, of course, Toronto FC could be MLS Cup winners in a few days’ time.
So, what do you think? Hit me up on the Twitter machine and add your not-at-all-tainted-by-personal-biases thoughts.
Who’s joining the party?
Which cities could be joining the CPL’s Group of Seven in the 2020 season? There have been murmurs all year long about the possibility of expansion teams landing in Saskatchewan and Quebec; undoubtedly, fans in both provinces are raring to go.
Then, of course, there’s the ongoing saga of the Ottawa Fury and where they’ll be playing in 2020. The less said about that the better, lest I run afoul of fans sitting on either side of the divide.
We’ll wait and see, but one thing’s for sure — the biggest question many had at the top of 2019 (“will the CPL still be going strong at the end of its first season?”) has certainly been answered in the affirmative. This party’s just getting started.