Goals, goals, goals – beautiful goals, at that – defined Week 12 of the Canadian Premier League’s 2019 campaign, as a slate of midweek and weekend fixtures saw all seven CPL teams participate in regular season action ahead of Wednesday’s Leg 2 bouts in the Canadian Championship (which you can read all about right here).
Who scored the best goal of this round of matches? A case could be made for many a player from many a match, but let’s break it all down, shall we?
7. Top of the charts to you
The number seven is kind of special this week for a pair of players, as Forge ace Tristan Borges and Pacific striker Terran Campbell sit tied atop the top scorer’s charts with seven goals apiece after net-bulging performances in their respective matchups.
Borges kicked off his Fall campaign with a goal against HFX Wanderers in an eventual 2-0 win, prompting head coach Bobby Smyrniotis to praise both he and teammate Kyle Bekker, labelling them the “best duo” in the CPL. We’ll dissect whether that’s the case or not a little later in this column, but Campbell stands very much alone up top for Pacific, surrounded by complimentary pieces around him who provide the passes he needs to find the back of the net – once against York9, and twice against HFX over the span of less than a week.
Behind them? Cavalry’s Sergio Camargo and Pacific’s Victor Blasco have five apiece, giving the Golden Boot race a two-goal cushion for the first time in a while. Could Campbell or Borges pull away from the pack in the coming weeks? Can Camargo, Blasco, or another CPL goal-scorer catch up and leapfrog? Only time will tell, cliche as it may be. Speaking of the No. 7 …
6. It took a while …
… but HFX Wanderers FC finally found a regular season goal away from home. It took seven road trips to find, however, with the Wanderers failing to find the back of the net during regular season away trips to Pacific, Valour, Cavalry, York9, Edmonton, and Forge, in order – that’s every single other CPL club, on their first foray.
But, facing Pacific once again at Westhills Stadium, the Wanderers finally got one on the board, with defender Matthew Arnone notching a 15th-minute equalizer … before Stephen Hart’s side succumbed to a 3-1 defeat.
So, while an away win in league play remains elusive for HFX, a goal is a goal is a goal. And, if anything, Arnone’s effort is something to build on, according to Hart.
5. The best duo in CPL?
As mentioned above, Forge’s Smyrniotis figures Borges and Bekker make up the best duo in the CPL … but many a dynamic duo have performed admirably in the last few weeks, as teams come together and chemistry brings about these natural connections on the pitch. But, before we point to the likes of Sergio Camargo-Dominique Malonga at Cavalry, or Oumar Diouck-Tomi Ameobi over at FC Edmonton, or Rodrigo Gattas-Ryan Telfer at York9, or any of the other possible combinations, let’s dissect exactly what Smyrniotis is saying.
Have Bekker and Borges really combined that many times to qualify as a “duo” anyway? Sure, they both found the back of the net against HFX, but between Bekker’s solo free kick and Borges’ solo corner kick Olimpico, that was two individual efforts, really. Looking back at Bekker’s assists, he’s picked out Borges just the one time – against Pacific FC, earlier in July.
Other than that – these two haven’t exactly turned heads with their dizzying combination plays, so maybe “best duo” is a touch premature.
Based on the stats, the best “duo” right now is actually Ben Fisk finding Victor Blasco over at Pacific … three times so far, in fact.
4. Confidence is a fickle friend
Any indication that Cavalry FC wouldn’t take the Fall portion of the 2019 CPL season as seriously after winning the Spring has been all but diminished, as the Cavs continued their winning ways, plucking a third straight victory to kick off this second stanza.
It’s the sort of confidence that Valour FC head coach Rob Gale would love to be able to instill in his players, who skidded to an eighth-straight winless result following an exhausting 3-1 loss to Forge under extreme heat and humidity. It wasn’t pretty, sure, but Gale was quick to dismiss any notion of trouble in Winnipeg.
“They gave it their all – that’s not a club that’s got a mentality problem or a crisis, let me tell you, before you ask a rubbish question.”
We’ll see how big a role confidence plays when Valour squares off against Cavalry at IG Field on Saturday (12:00 p.m. CT, 1:00 p.m. ET, available on OneSoccer).
3. Goal of the Year nominee(s)
Someone opened the scoring floodgates this week, my goodness. Three incredible goals across three separate matches left Canadian soccer fans across the country picking their jaws up off the floor, starting with York9 captain Manny Aparicio’s audacious long-range attempt against Pacific. Sure, he earned a yellow card for celebrating shirtless, but wouldn’t you if you scored the “best goal” you’ve “ever scored” in your career? That’s what Aparicio said of his effort, which fittingly earned the No. 9 berth in ESPN SportCenter’s Top 10 plays of the night.
Not to be outdone by their opposites in Ontario, Forge FC’s Borges produced another gorgeous goal, scoring an Olimpico – that’s a goal straight from a corner kick – against HFX Wanderers FC. Four days later, and Forge’s Kadell Thomas got on the scoresheet against Valour, stunning the Winnipeg side’s backline with some incredible fleet-footed magic before chipping the ‘keeper and giving his side a victory.
Three goals, three games, three goal of the year nominees.
2. Can we talk about …
… Pacific FC forward Terran Campbell, just a little more? In the absence of Marcus Haber, Campbell has emerged under the Canadian Premier League’s spotlight, notching a league-leading seven goals despite starting the season relatively slowly. Campbell has taken what should have been a disastrous injury crisis up top for Michael Silberbauer’s team, and turned it into a conversation – even if Haber returns, does he immediately go back into the lineup? It’s a question the Danish tactician now has to ponder, as Campbell has done everything in his power to make the No. 9 spot his own.
1. Your photo of the week
Folks, we have a tie: It’s either this shot of Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. …
… or this shot, of Pacific head coach Michael Silberbauer agonizing over his team’s fate.