This weekend is the last of the Summer, an official end before Fall officially arrives on Monday.
It also means there are just five more match-days remaining for CPL clubs, marking a desperate finish to the last quarter of season before the focus shifts to the league Championship after Oct. 19.
Whether it be HFX Wanderers FC hosting Valour FC (1:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. AT/OneSoccer and CBC Sports) and FC Edmonton taking on York9 FC (3:30 p.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. MT/OneSoccer) at Clarke Stadium on Saturday, or Pacific FC visiting Cavalry FC (3:30 p.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. MT/OneSoccer) on Sunday, these CPL matches could have a major impact on the final standings in the Fall season.
Here are three storylines to watch for this weekend:
Will Pacific FC win these ‘six-pointers’?
As ‘must-wins’ go, Pacific FC’s two upcoming matches are about as important as it gets; away to second-placed Cavalry FC (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. MT/OneSoccer) and at first-placed Forge FC (Saturday, Sept. 28, 3:30 p.m. ET/OneSoccer).
A loss by the Tridents on Sunday would see them drop 10 points behind Forge and Cavalry, who could be joint-top of the CPL’s Fall table with 25 points by the end of the weekend. Losing to Forge next week would be a potential nail in the coffin, with Pacific facing a mountain to climb for a CPL Championship spot.
But let’s not get too morbid. If Pacific FC wins Sunday, their Fall title chances would become a bit more realistic. A win over Forge the following week would bring them even closer, up to 21 points and four from the top with four matches to go.
Is it too far gone? Perhaps, especially as Forge has all but clinched the overall table tiebreaker.
But this is Pacific FC’s last chance to make things a bit more interesting.
Will FC Edmonton end its goal drought?
FC Edmonton’s recent offensive struggles have been significant – three games without a goal, and only three scored over their six-match winless skid.
This could be, in part, due to Easton Ongaro – their mid-season goalscoring machine – playing a smaller role. The 21-year-old came off in the Al Classico and arrived as a substitute against Pacific FC last week.
Now, his goal-a-game Fall pace is quite the exaggerated marker to set, and the Eddies would surely like to see Ongaro veer towards the end of the year on a positive note. With Ongaro looking to earn a spot on Canada’s Olympic team, watch for the skyscraper of a striker to go on a goal-scoring run for the Eddies.
Are HFX Wanderers the unluckiest CPL team?
Brace yourselves, Wanderers fans. This might hurt.
Wednesday’s 90-plus-minute equalizer from Forge FC’s David Edgar was a tough one to watch for HFX supporters, especially considering how close their side was from upsetting Forge a few days before when they were up two goals to the league leaders in Hamilton.
With a lovely Halifax sunset and another big crowd at Wanderers Grounds, it was easy to sympathize. Stephen Hart called the result “gutting” for his Wanderers team.
HFX’s unlucky streak runs back to their brutal travel itinerary in late July. Hoping between provinces like apps on your phone, HFX’s battery drained before they had a chance to get their Fall season back on track.
Saturday’s tilt against Valour (1:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. AT/OneSoccer) is the first of back-to-back home matches for the Wanderers before playing their home finale on Oct. 9 against Pacific FC. Hopefully “the Kitchen” can celebrate a win before then.