The Canadian Premier League’s first year was a wild one, in which pretty much everything that happened was a first of some kind.
After a full calendar year, the CPL’s young record book is populated with all kinds of facts and figures — “mosts,” “fastests,” and so on.
How many of those league records, however, will still be standing ten years from now? Or even next year? Did the feeling-out process at the beginning of the inaugural season lend itself to stats that’ll never be beaten? Or will the league’s continued improvement keep every figure rising higher and higher?
We’ve chosen a few marks from year one in the CPL. How many of them will stand the test of time?
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1. Cavalry FC’s 8-0 win over Valour FC
This match was one of the most memorable in year one; just as it looked like they might slip behind Forge FC in the Fall title race, Cavalry FC reminded everyone why they won the Spring so convincingly. It took Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and his players just over a month to beat the previous largest win in league history (York9’s 6-2 drubbing of HFX Wanderers in late July).
This record is, of course, twofold. It’s the largest margin of victory in CPL history, as well as the most goals scored by one team. On one hand, soccer is a crazy sport, and if you watch it for long enough, you’ll eventually see some major blowouts. On the other, this is a league that’s likely to get more and more competitive each year. It feels incredibly unlikely we’ll ever again see a match as lopsided as this, especially when it goes against the home side.
We could well see games with more than eight goals total — a 5-4, or even a 6-3, perhaps — but it’s rare for this to happen between clubs in the same league (Leicester City’s recent 9-0 takedown of Southampton notwithstanding, of course).
The Verdict: This one will stand.
2. Tristan Borges’ 13-goal Golden Boot season
The 21-year-old from Toronto turned heads this season as Forge FC’s greatest attacking weapon, leading them all the way to a CPL championship. He scored 13 league goals, including one in Finals 2019, to earn himself the league’s first Golden Boot title (and therefore, obviously, the record for most goals in a season).
How indicative is that number of what the threshold for scoring titles will be in coming years in the CPL? Will 13 even be enough to win the award in 2020? Certainly, Borges was an incredible attacker, although he also contributed five assists. He wasn’t an out-and-out striker by any means.
Some of the more traditional number nines — Terran Campbell, Easton Ongaro, and Dominique Malonga, for instance — scored many of their goals in bursts of form (as did Borges, to be fair), with Ongaro especially not picking up steam until the Fall season.
It seems like, as the attacking quality of the CPL grows, strikers will become more clinical, and start filling the net even more consistently. In fact, anybody have any guesses for who the league’s first 20-goal scorer is?
The Verdict: This won’t stand. Heck, if Tristan Borges himself returns in 2020 he might break it.
3. Mathias Janssens’ 50% penalty save percentage
This one is a little more peculiar. Mathias Janssens, one of Valour FC’s goalkeepers in 2019, had himself a very busy few weeks in August and September, as he took over the reins as full-time starter with Tyson Farago sidelined with injury.
In that eight-game stretch, his side conceded six penalty kicks (the only six Janssens faced for Valour in 2019). That, in itself, is an interesting figure. What’s even better, though, is that Janssens actually stopped half of them.
There aren’t a lot of solid figures out there for how frequently goalkeepers save penalties, but the general average seems to be that they stop around 15–20 per cent. It’s a small sample here, of course, but Janssens’ 50 per cent is mind-boggling compared to that.
One of the spot kicks Janssens stopped, in Valour’s 8-0 loss to Cavalry, ultimately went in after Julian Büscher potted the rebound, but his initial diving stop was still impressive. He can have that one, especially considering his brave double stop on York9’s Rodrigo Gattas on Aug. 10.
A stat like this may be a little flukey, but it feels unlikely that another CPL keeper will go a full season with a better penalty save rate.
The Verdict: This one should last a while.
4. Marco Bustos’ fastest goal in CPL history
If you blinked (for 30 seconds) you’d miss it. Marco Bustos currently holds the record for the fastest goal in league history, as he fired a long-range blast at Tim Hortons Field just 29 seconds into a Valour-Forge game on June 15.
It was a pretty shocking start, with Forge riding good form and basking in perhaps their warmest home date of the Spring season. Of course, the Hammers came out on top, with their quick comeback within the last five minutes salvaging a 2-1 win on the day.
Still, it’s Bustos who made history. Thirty seconds is a pretty quick start to a 90-minute match, especially with such a long field and so many defenders to get through. Still, if you consider that Valour actually lost and recovered the ball in their own half a couple times prior to the goal, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where someone scores even faster.
The English Premier League’s fastest goal was 7.7 seconds in, scored by Southampton’s Aaron Long. Lukas Podolski once scored for Germany six seconds into an international match against Ecuador. Surely, one day, a CPLer will take it all the way right from a kickoff.
The Verdict: It might take a while, but this one won’t stand forever.
5. Forge’s 14-game unbeaten streak
Forge won their spot in Finals 2019 on the back of an absolutely dominant summer campaign. After not quite getting off the ground in the Spring, and opening the Fall season with a loss to FC Edmonton, they became unbeatable through the hottest months.
With 10 wins and four draws in a stretch that went from early July to their loss to Cavalry on Oct. 9, Forge surged up the table, looking like favourites to win the Fall. Plus, this all came amidst their Concacaf League efforts, which saw them travel to Central America twice without missing a beat in league play.
It was an impressive run to be sure, and yet they couldn’t quite hold on and take the Fall season title. Does that mean, perhaps, that a 14-game unbeaten run could one day be topped? Does the CPL’s future hold a dominant season in the vein of Arsenal’s Invincibles side in 2003-04?
The Verdict: This will probably last for a while, but not forever.