In the 23rd match week of 26 in the CPL, expansion side Vancouver FC became the first to be mathematically eliminated from 2023 CPL Playoff contention after a 2-1 loss to Cavalry FC at ATCO Field on Saturday.
Myer Bevan opened the scoring from the penalty spot with his tenth of the season, tied for second in the league, while a second-half own goal from Vancouver’s Anthony White were the difference for Cavalry. Vancouver FC’s Renan Garcia, meanwhile, added a late consolation goal for the visitors.
With the victory, top-of-the-table Cavalry open a nine-point gap over second-place Pacific FC, who take on York United on Sunday. Cavalry now need just four points from their remaining three matches to wrap up the 2023 regular season title.
Fraser Aird really should have opened the scoring in the eighth minute, as he broke into the box and tried to chip the ball beyond a charging Callum Irving. He got his final action all wrong, however, sending an effort from close range wide of the target. Vancouver’s Shaan Hundal, meanwhile, came close with a header off of a corner in the 17th minute but also lacked the finish.
Despite being without head coach Afshin Ghotbi through suspension on Saturday, with Mark Village taking over on the touchline for this match, Vancouver quickly showed they were up for this match. Hundal had another quality chance to score in the 33rd minute, as former Cavalry player Mikaël Cantave sent in an outstanding cross from the top left of the box, which eluded everyone, but Hundal was unable to direct the chest-height ball into the gaping goal. Moments later, Alejandro Díaz forced an excellent diving save from Marco Carducci in the Cavalry net, who was also quick to pounce on the rebound.
That stop seemed to wake up the hosts who quickly broke down the right flank through Ali Musse. Musse beat James Cameron, before being taken down in the box by Vasco Fry, earning a penalty. Bevan stepped up, and despite an odd run-up, slotted home his tenth goal of the season to give Cavalry the lead in the 36th minute. That 1-0 scoreline held going into the half.
Both sides took a little while to create attacking opportunities in the second half. The first real sight of goal came in the 60th minute, when Maël Henry was able to get his head on a ball sent into the box by substitute Sergio Camargo, but was unable to direct it goalwards under pressure from the Vancouver backline. It was Eryk Kobza who had the next crack at goal in the 66th minute, but his low effort was collected fairly comfortably by Irving.
Cavalry kept pushing, and finally found their second goal in the 70th minute. Substitute Ben Fisk sent in an excellent low cross that Vancouver defender White beat Bevan to, but unfortunately redirected into the back of his own goal to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
The visitors, however, fought until the very end on Saturday. Tyler Crawford had an excellent chance in the 83rd minute as a ball played by Cameron found its way through to him at the back post, however, his low strike was well saved by Carducci.
In stoppage time, they finally found a breakthrough. Cantave found Garcia outside the box, and the veteran Brazilian midfield sent a brilliant left-footed strike off the post and past Carducci to make it 2-1. However, it was ultimately too late for Vancouver to mount a full comeback.
Vancouver FC have now lost eight straight matches on the road, and have not won away from home since their first-ever club victory 2-1 against York United back on April 22.
36′ — Myer Bevan (Cavalry FC) – pen.
70′ — Anthony White (Vancouver FC) – Own goal
90+2′ — Renan Garcia (Vancouver FC)
56′ — Vasco Fry (Vancouver FC)