After seven months of football from coast to coast, with professional soccer taking root in cities such as Halifax, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Victoria, and triumphant entrances to top tier action for York Region, Calgary, and Edmonton, the 2019 Canadian Premier League regular season has come to a close.
With 98 total matches played across a Spring and a Fall campaign, the focus now shifts to Finals 2019, where Forge FC and Cavalry FC battle it out for the ultimate prize – the winner’s crown for the inaugural Canadian Premier League campaign.
But, beyond the CPL, this was an incredible week in Canadian soccer, on multiple levels.
Here’s what we saw on the final week of regular season action.
7. Cavalry FC on a warpath
Okay, let’s kick things off with the biggest talking point from the final match-day of 2019, shall we? Needing a win and nothing less against FC Edmonton to clinch the Fall title, Cavalry FC went into ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows for one last Al Classico dance in 2019, and emerged with those precious three points – winners of Spring and Fall.
So, mission accomplished for Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and his team, as the Wildrose Cup, signifying Al Classico dominance, is now firmly planted in Calgary until we kick off again in 2020. Cavalry is en route to a treble, with Forge FC standing in their way in Finals 2019. But Cavalry isn’t horsing around – okay, maybe a little– because nothing is guaranteed over two legs. It will take all of their resolve, character, and fight to come out on top. Bobby Smyrniotis isn’t going to hand them the CPL crown when his Forge team has a chance at spoiling all of Cavalry’s regular season exploits.
In the end of the day, just one single point separates these two teams in the Fall standings. It’s going to be a battle. Alberta vs. Ontario. Let’s go.
6. No time to make F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Before we here at CPL Editorial get into the flow of pre-, in-, and post-game coverage (CanPL.ca is your source for everything Canadian soccer, and a hearty thank you for reading us all year!), it’s important to remember – we’re all in this together.
In fact, the league was built on the mantra: We Are Many, We Are One.
What’s better: Winning a match 1-0 over 90 minutes, or 5-1 with extra time?
It’s a question Toronto FC had to ponder as they entered two extra periods of 15 minutes, following a last-gasp D.C. United goal in MLS playoff action on Saturday. That equalizer brought D.C. back into the game, but also opened the door for Jonathan Osorio, Richie Laryea, and Nick DeLeon to wreak havoc on Ben Olsen’s side after the “final” whistle in regulation time.
An interesting trend has emerged at BMO Field over the last few weeks: You anger a few Canadians in Toronto, and the result isn’t going to be pretty. Speaking of …
4. Realistic expectations? Shatter ’em
Last week, we spoke about what realistic expectations would be for Canada as they geared up to take on the United States.
Evidently, those expectations have now been raised tenfold, as Canada didn’t just defeat the Stars and Stripes 2-0 at BMO Field — they absolutely bossed the match for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, that’s not how everybody saw it. Headline? “The USMNT is an absolute joke, and it’s all U.S. Soccer’s fault.”
I’m sorry, but what?
Let’s be very clear here: The U.S. did not lose to Canada; Canada beat the U.S.
The amount of disrespect the Canadian national team is getting for doing what your suppose to do, which is win, is crazy. Some of these pundits and their comments are terrible and undermine all the hard work that has been done by all the staff and players of Canada.
If you don’t believe us, tune in to OneSocceron Nov. 15 to catch the rematch between Canada and the United States. Canada, now sixth in CONCACAF hex qualifying, will be sure to put all those headlines to good use as pre-match motivational fodder, when they meet the Stars and Stripes one more time, in Florida.
3. New developments on either coast
In off-the-field Canadian Premier League news this week, Pacific FC became the first club to make a change in their coaching staff, parting ways with Michael Silberbauer and appointing James Merriman as interim coach.
Pacific CEO Rob Friend cited a need for some “freshness” in the team in his 1-on-1 interview with CanPL.ca’s Martin Bauman, adding: “It’s a little bit about shaking this club up and not accepting average. We want to win tomorrow and shake the boys up a little bit. Let them know that it hasn’t been acceptable.”
It seemed to do the trick, as Pacific FC walked away 2-0 winners over Valour in the final match of 2019. After the match, Ben Fisk offered that he and his teammates “reiterated (Friend’s) comments that he has issued a challenge, and a bit of a threat, you know? That nobody’s jobs are safe.”
Over on the east coast? HFX Wanderers FC defeated York9 FC 2-0 at York Lions Stadium, to record their first and only away win in the 2019 regular season. It only took 14 tries, but Stephen Hart got the last laugh in the end, and the Wanderers head into the offseason looking for more in 2020.
2. Can we talk about …
…the 2019 regular season, please? Guys. We just witnessed the drama of an entire year’s worth of soccer, a saga played out in a fully-Canadian professional soccer league, for the first time.
We watched stars like Tristan Borges, Terran Campbell, and Nico Pasquotti, emerge out of the Canadian soccer shadows; we saw new faces like Marco Carducci and Amer Didic earn Canadian national team call-ups; we saw wonder-goals from Manny Aparicio, Louis Beland-Goyette, and Kadell Thomas, among others; we watched Marco Bustos, Ryan Telfer, and Easton Ongaro become household names; we watched Stephen Hart coach his team opposite Jimmy Brennan; we saw Alberta’s rivalry turn into a friendship, and, in lieu of disdain for each other, we saw Ontario become the focus of Albertan pride; in a couple weeks, we’ll see a champion crowned, history made, and a pact for vengeance emerge on the opposite end, too.
What a year. I’m probably forgetting something, too.