General view of the soccer pitch between the Cavalry FC and the Montreal Impact during the second half during the Canadian Championship Semi-final soccer match at Spruce Meadows. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports for CPL
The Fall title race is heating up as we approach the midway mark of the 2019 CPL season’s second stanza, with four teams all staking a claim to the top spot this week, and only one doing enough to add multiple points to their tally.
Forge FC’s victory over Valour FC throws the Hamiltonian outfit right back into the conversation for the Fall crown, while Cavalry FC, FC Edmonton, and York9 FC all failed to find victories of their own – Cavalry, in particular, coming off the back of a one-day rest, having taken on the Montreal Impact in Canadian Championship action on Wednesday before turning their attention to the Al Classico on Friday.
Here’s what we saw from Week 16.
7. The moments that define us
Before we get into Canadian Premier League regular season talk, let’s take a second to highlight Cavalry FC’s midweek clash against the Montreal Impact, shall we?
Needing a 1-0 win or more in this reverse leg at Spruce Meadows, Cavalry couldn’t find the back of the net and succumbed to a 1-0 loss, giving the MLS side a booking against Toronto FC in the Voyageurs Cup final. But, there’s a certain amount of respect Cavalry deserves for their efforts, even if it didn’t end as they would have dreamed; for, having eliminated the Vancouver Whitecaps in the earlier round, and having gone toe-to-toe with the Impact over two legs, the Calgarian outfit put in commendable showings that have left Canadian soccer fans in the city, the Province – heck, probably the country – feeling rather proud of them.
Where does Cavalry’s CanChamp run rank among this season’s iconic moments? It’s the question our Charlie O’Connor-Clarke explores in the wake of this defeat – a must-read, for certain.
6. Does Forge’s Fall claim have the legs?
One single point separates Forge FC from both Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton at the top of the Fall season table after 6-7 matches.
It’s the result of the two Albertan outfits playing out to a 0-0 draw last Friday in the third of five Al Classico bouts this season, as well as York9’s 2-0 loss to Pacific FC on Saturday.
As such, Forge now sits ahead of the Eddies and the Cavs, with a game in hand on the former, and can start to widen that gap in the coming weeks; but, with CONCACAF League obligations adding to their schedule – and a particularly tricky away leg to Honduras to take on CD Olimpia next week – these next 14 days could be the most crucial to Forge’s campaign.
Edmonton has a chance to leapfrog Forge later today, taking on Valour FC in a busy week of matches on five separate days – so, as the Fall season churns along, expect plenty of movement in the table, too.
5. York9 looking around with envy
The grass is always greener on the other side, or so the saying often goes, but if you’re York9 FC head coach Jimmy Brennan, you’re also probably green with envy.
Off the back of another 2-0 loss featuring a late concession on an open net, the Nine Stripes have fallen back into a familiar scoreless slump over their last two matches … somehow far removed from a 6-2 win over HFX on July 27, looking ineffective up top once more. Clearly, York9 has the firepower needed to find the back of the net – but you’ve got to wonder what centre-forwards like Tomasz Skublak, Michele Paolucci, or Terran Campbell might do to help the Y9 cause up top.
Rodrigo Gattas and Ryan Telfer seem to be the main scoring threats for Brennan’s side, though neither are out-and-out centre-forwards, leaving York9, ironically, without a starting No. 9.
There are plenty around the league worth watching – Jordan Brown, Tomi Ameobi, Anthony Novak, etc. – all providing their more diminutive teammates the physical presence needed to pull defenders out of position, and, subsequently, opening up space for them to run into. Where Simon Adjei and Michael Cox fit into this equation is the biggest question mark Brennan now faces.
4. Frosh week festivities across the league
On Aug. 1, teams submitted their list of players drafted from the CPL-U SPORTS Draft who intend to return to school, and as such, we’ve bid a short farewell and likely see you soon to a few talented standouts across the league.
Most notably, HFX Wanderers FC centre-back and co-captain Peter Schaale has opted to return to Cape Breton University to finish his degree in his fourth year, prompting fan displays of affection and words of admiration by his teammates as he calls it time on his 2019 CPL season.
Meanwhile, Jace Kotsopoulos over at Forge FC will be heading back to the Guelph Gryphons, while Cavalry’s Gabriel Bitar has returned to the Carleton Ravens, too.
On the other hand, Emmanuel Zambazis over at York9 has opted to stay with the club instead of returning to York University, as has Zachary Verhoven of Pacific FC.
As per the rules of the CPL-U SPORTS Draft, players who remain eligible for the draft can re-enter next year, too.
3. Speaking of homecoming …
… guess who’s returning home after an extended away trip to a newly-renovated Westhills Stadium featuring a brand spanking new grandstand?
Why, Pacific FC, of course!
The Vancouver Island outfit has been on the road since July 31 for three consecutive matches, but returns home on Aug. 24 to host Valour FC coming off a 2-0 win over York9 FC, and you can bet the faithful fans in Victoria will be raring to see their team in action once more, now back to fighting fitness having shrugged off a few injury concerns. To borrow a common expression, “there’s no place like home,” and Michael Silberbauer will be eager to build on his team’s last win with another strong showing at home. The fans, we’re certain, will be up for the cause, too.
Also, speaking of fan displays at home stadiums … we see you, Saskatoon. We see you.
2. Can we talk about …
… Cavalry FC winger Nico Pasquotti, for the umpteenth time? Coming off the back of an electric showing against the Montreal Impact, Pasquotti was all over the park against FC Edmonton two days later – and we mean all over the park, leading his team in both shots and duels, including tackles and aerial challenges during Al Classico. It was the sort of performance that left Eddies head coach Jeff Paulus singing his praises after the match, telling reporters: “I mean, those lads? Pasquotti, their engine, is unbelievable – how does this guy do it, game-in and game-out?”
We have no idea, Jeff. But, we agree: “It’s amazing.”
1. Your photo of the week
Here’s how Paulus and Wheeldon Jr. reacted to the above photo:
Good thing they had me wearing the yellow security vest in case it became serious!