The Breakdown: 7 takeaways from CPL, Week 20

Week 20 of the CPL season saw silverware awarded, redemptive wins and many, many goals scored. It was a matchweek full of positives, whether it was Forge FC’s leaps toward the Fall title, HFX Wanderers FC’s admirable showing or Valour FC’s comeback win.

Here’s what we saw from around the league in Week 20.

7. What happened to FC Edmonton?

Rewind to mid-July and FC Edmonton was a trendy pick to compete for the aforementioned Fall title. You know, with Easton Ongaro scoring for fun and Amer Didic clearing every ball in sight? Those were the days.

Now, FCE are one of many teams mired in that mid-table logjam after a pair of 1-0 losses last week. Winless in six, the Eddies conceded the Wildrose Cup on Wednesday before falling at Pacific on Saturday, as the gap between them and first place swell to 10 points.

Simply put, Jeff Paulus’ group just aren’t scoring. FCE has only scored three times across those six tilts, and haven’t scored in three.

There were good signs this week, however. Tomi Ameobi was unlucky not to find the back of the net against Cavalry FC, with a one-on-one breakaway, and with several headed attempts against Pacific. Defending doesn’t seem to be a problem, with a penalty and a deflected goal the only blemishes on their week.

Is it too late to turn it around? Seems to be…

6. Just how close is Forge?

While they are just two points ahead of Cavalry for the Fall title, Forge’s chances to book a spot in the CPL’s Championship are becoming greater and greater as the weeks pass by.

There are two ways Forge could claim that spot: win the Fall season outright or, if Cavalry win the Fall, take the second-best overall record across both Spring and Fall seasons.

The latter is almost a foregone conclusion. Forge (43 points) are 15 points ahead of third-placed FC Edmonton (28 points) in the overall standings and need only three points to lock up that second spot.

Forge’s prospects look as good for the Fall title, too.

After a four-point week, with a win against Valour and draw to HFX Wanderers, Forge (24 points, 11 matches played) need only a nine-point swing to best other contenders Pacific FC (15 points, 12 matches), Valour FC (15 points, 13 matches) and FC Edmonton (14 points, 12 matches played) to clinch a spot in the championship series with Cavalry.

Pacific FC, Forge’s closest opponent to clinch a spot in that championship race, can only reach a maximum 33 points on the season. Nine points are all Forge needs to best that total.

5. HFX nearly pull off the upset

Forge FC's Dominic Samuel and HFX Wanderers FC's Mohamed Kourouma. (Ryan McCullough/CPL).
Forge FC’s Dominic Samuel and HFX Wanderers FC’s Mohamed Kourouma. (Ryan McCullough/CPL).

Who doesn’t like a shock result? Well, I suppose Forge doesn’t.

HFX Wanderers were just ten minutes away from pulling off the upset of the CPL season on Sunday in Hamilton. Up 2-0 after an hour, in a top-versus-bottom Fall season tilt, Stephen Hart’s side  had the league-leaders, who played midweek against Valour, trumped with fresh legs and snappy attacking play.

Forge didn’t record a shot on goal until the 69th minute, when Chris Nanco scored his team’s opener. From there, things worsened for HFX, who later conceded an equalizer.

Still, there were many positives to pick out for Hart. Mohamed Kourouma owned the left side of the pitch, Akeem Garcia played his part well, and his defensive unit showed well, especially in the first half.

Oh, and these two teams play again Wednesday at Wanderers Grounds (5:30 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. AT, on OneSoccer). That should be fun. Or maybe not, if you’re Hart.

4. Winnipegers shine in Valour turnaround

Valour’s first 30 minutes against Forge on Thursday seemed like the second act to a Shakespearean tragedy. Goals started flying in, just as they had in record-setting fashion against Cavalry the match prior.

Then, in a moment of desperation, Adam Mitter did this, leading to the double-punishment of a red card and penalty.

Valour seemed set for another season low, but they found a way back. A second-half goal from local product Tyler Attardo (more on him later) gave the side a nice piece of ten-man consolation.

It was something fellow Winnipeg native Dylan Carreiro, who assisted on Attardo’s goal, highlighted after the match.

“We showed we can fight, we created chances with a man down and we scored a goal,” Carreiro said. “I think it shows that we care about this football team, we care about this city.”

Well, Winnipegers showed pride for their city on Sunday, with a 4-2 road win over York9. All four goals came from Winnipeggers.

Attardo’s brace was a particular highlight for coach Rob Gale. Valour FC’s lanky goalscorer put another two goals past York9, bringing his league total to six, his third on the week.

Named the best finisher in Manitoba at last Fall’s Open Trials, the now-18-year-old can no longer be ignored, by his coach or anyone else in the CPL.

3. Ryan Telfer’s T&T breakthrough

Ryan Telfer loves making CPL history, doesn’t he? The league’s first goalscorer became the first CPL player to score an international goal last week when he tucked one in for Trinidad and Tobago in a 2-2 draw with Martinique at home in the Concacaf Nations League.

What’s more, Telfer started both matches of that CNL home-and-home, slotting in right away for a side battling for a spot in World Cup qualifying’s newfangled Hex.

It’s a vote of confidence the 25-year-old appreciated, especially with interest from John Herdman and the Canadian national team.

“There was also a gut-feeling for me to lean towards this side,” Telfer told “Honestly, I’m happy with the situation.”

2. Can we talk about …

… Those goals by HFX’s Juan Diego Gutierrez and Valour’s Dylan Sacramento?

Their two debut CPL goals were the pick of a whopping ten scored on Sunday.

Operating in space left behind by an attacking Forge side, Gutierrez’s beautifully-taken, left-footed effort sailed past Henry to put the visitors up two.

An hour later, up the road in York Region, Dylan Sacramento would score a similar scorcher.

The diminutive attacker has played a platoon role in Valour FC’s offence, playing behind Michael Petrasso and Marco Bustos in his natural attacking midfielder position.

Getting the start against York9 FC, this absolute beauty shows what the former League1 Ontario golden boot winner brings to the table: Good positioning tricky, footwork and near-perfect finishing.

What a pair of first league goals…

1. Your photo of the week

Wet and Wild in Winnipeg. (CPL/David Lipnowski).
Wet and Wild in Winnipeg. (CPL/David Lipnowski).