CanPL. Bangers. Only: The top 10 goals from the 2023 CPL season
CanPL. Bangers. Only.
At this point, that catchphrase has become synonymous with the Canadian Premier League, mainly due to the ridiculous number of jaw-dropping goals that seem to occur on almost a weekly basis across the league.
What started as a light-hearted catchphrase has come to define the CPL, bringing the sort of entertainment that fans love to see, as who doesn’t appreciate a good BANGER?
Plus, what’s more impressive is the range of bangers that have been scored across the league’s history, too.
Bicycle kicks? There are a few to pick from. Free kicks? Got a few of those, as well. Long-distance bangers? Light work. Olimpicos? There’s over a half-dozen.
And 2023 was no exception. Unfortunately, there was no near-Puskas nominee this year, after Ballou Tabla certainly came close to doing so in 2022, but there’s an impressive catalogue to choose from, especially in terms of picking this year’s Goal of the Season.
Because of that, here’s a look at the top 10 goals from this year, along with some honourable mentions, celebrating the range of bangers that were scored this season.
10. Maxim Tissot vs. Forge (June 25th)
There are layers to a good banger.
Of course, a banger is a *BANGER*. No doubt. But if your goal ends up standing as the winner, or helps tie or win a game late, it can be a little more memorable than one scored late in a 4-1 loss, for example.
Because of that, Maxim Tissot’s free kick isn’t just ranked #10 because of the technique, as he expertly wrapped his foot around the ball to send it over the wall and off the post and in, but because it was also a goal that helped Ottawa spark a comeback against Forge, too.
In the end, Ottawa’s comeback attempt came up short, as after making the game 3-3 shortly after this banger, Forge scored a late winner, but that this goal sparked that sort of end to the game that it did makes it special, especially given that it came against Tissot’s old club, one who he even scored a free kick for in the 2020 CPL final.
9. Kévin dos Santos vs. Halifax (June 21st)
Sometimes, you’ve just gotta put through your ball. Yes, it’s important to be smart with your shot selection in this day and age, as generating high-xG chances will give you a better chance of winning than spamming long-range shots, but sometimes you just need to have a go from distance.
Thankfully, York United’s Kévin dos Santos got the memo in this game against Halifax, as he decided to just put his head down and unleash a rocket from distance after breaking free from a defender.
His decision would pay off, too, as his shot bent and swerved its way into the top corner, much to the awe of his teammates and probably even himself soon, although based on some of the goals he scored since, it’s made him look like this was a lot more calculated than most long shots can be.
8. Marcello Polisi vs. Ottawa (August 18th)
When it comes to scoring your first professional goal, beggars can’t be choosers.
No matter if it’s a tap-in from inside of the box, a rebound or a goal that deflects off you and in, if there’s a time to not be picky, scoring your first professional goal has to be up there.
Valour’s Marcello Polisi had no such problem with that, however, as he scored his first pro goal in style this year, scoring a long-distance thunderbolt against Atlético Ottawa.
Even though it came late in a losing effort from his team, it’s one worth remembering, especially for a midfielder like Polisi, as this will be something that he can always reflect upon with a smug smile when looking back at the first time he breached a professional goal.
GOAL🎖️— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 19, 2023
Another #CanPL goal, another BANGER!🔥
Marcello Polisi with a worldie from distance to bring @ValourFootball within 2 goals of @atletiOttawa🍁⚽️#ForValour | #ForOttawa
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE pic.twitter.com/zvUPrQDwBI
7. Mikaël Cantave vs. Forge (April 15th)
Sometimes, you need to set the tone for a season, as it just feels like an opening day banger seems to set a precedent for more to occur, in what we’ll call the “Tobias Warschewksi theorem”.
This year’s Warschewski? Mikaël Cantave, who before making his midseason move to Vancouver FC, kicked off the 2023 season in style with old club Cavalry, scoring this rocket from distance against Forge.
From the importance of the goal, which gave Cavalry the lead in a key stage of their match against rivals Forge (although they’d later draw the game), to the technique of the shot, there was a lot to like from this goal, too, as it set the tone nicely for another year of CPL bangers.
6. Béni Badibanga vs. Halifax (August 19th)
If you were to do a Power Rankings of teams that you’d want to least give up a free kick to, Forge may just be up there.
Between CPL OGs Kyle Bekker and Tristan Borges, as well as stints from someone like Tissot, they’ve had some lethal free-kick takers over the years.
But this year, a new face threw himself into that mix, and that’s Béni Badibanga, who despite arriving in the CPL in August, quickly showed an ability to strike a dead ball unlike many in the league.
As a result, he was able to score two free-kick goals, which isn’t just impressive because of the fact that he scored, but that he took two free kicks for Forge in the first place, giving an idea of his ability seeing that Bekker and Borges usually dominate that responsibility.
Yet, Badibanga’s first free kick goal, coming in just his third appearance and second start for the club, shows why he was able to do that. Despite this being late in a game he trailed, on a free kick well outside of the box, he stepped up to take it, and hit one of the best knuckleballs the CPL has ever seen for his first CPL goal.
Not a bad introduction to a new league at all, let’s just say.
5. Brem Soumaoro vs. Forge (May 31st)
There are not many better feelings than scoring in a derby. Those games always just seem to mean more, for many reasons, with the main one being the extra emotion that the fans bring to those matches.
So to score a late winner, in a derby, on the road? It’s hard to imagine many better feelings in the world.
Yet, that’s what York’s Brem Soumaoro got to experience at the end of May, as he scored a late winner against Forge in the 905 Derby, silencing Tim Hortons Field with this stunner.
Despite being well outside of the box, he decided to put the boot through the ball, striking the ball with the sort of venom that most players could dream of generating, beating Forge’s Triston Henry clean from 35 yards, which isn’t easy to do.
As far as late winners, it doesn’t get much better than that, as it’s not often you score a goal of the season candidate at that time of the game, with those sorts of goals usually being of the uglier variety.
#CANPL BANGERS ONLY 🚀— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) June 1, 2023
Take a bow, Brem Soumaoro 😎
The @YorkUtdFC man single-handedly defeats @ForgeFCHamilton in the 94th minute with a STUNNER from long range 🤯#CanPL | 🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE pic.twitter.com/1tHNaLW0G2
4. Zachary Fernandez vs. York (July 30th)
The scorer of this season’s first goal on opening day, Fernandez ensured that wouldn’t be the only memorable goal he’d score in 2023, as he scored this absolute peach for Halifax, helping them pick up their first road win of the season in late July.
Even though he received the ball deep outside of the box after a corner, where he likely would’ve been told to either pass the ball off or cross it in, he decided to rely on his instincts, putting his head down and leathering the ball.
And there, he struck the ball with fantastic technique, driving his body over the ball as it just slowly rose before dipping towards the side-netting, bouncing off the post and in.
At first, this goal might not stand out as much as some of the other long-distance strikes, but just look at the replay - the way that it just flew through the air makes it one of the best of this season.
3. Théo Collomb vs. Ottawa (July 23rd)
The funny thing about most bangers? The assist often gets forgotten. Sometimes, that’s partly due to how good the goal is, and sometimes, it’s because the pass to set it up is quite simple (think about Sergio Busquets' pass on *that* Lionel Messi goal, for example).
This Théo Collomb goal against Atlético Ottawa did not have such a problem, however, as it was one of the rare instances where the pass was just as good as the goal.
Just look at this ball from Dan Nimick, who made a habit out of regularly hitting this diagonal switch this season (he also assisted Massimo Ferrin on the goal nominated in the honourable mentions), as he picked out Collomb with this delightful pass.
Then, Collomb did the rest, striking the ball first-time with impeccable technique, curling it around Ottawa’s Nathan Ingham expertly, doing well to both generate power and control his strike.
Art, from start to finish, this one was. Not bad at all.
2. Luke Singh vs. Cavalry (September 2nd)
Back-to-back years of an Atlético Ottawa player finishing near the top of this list with an acrobatic goal - who says they’re boring?
There was certainly nothing boring about this goal, as not only was it a beautiful tally from Singh, but a hugely important one, too, as it helped Ottawa tie the game in the 88th minute against Cavalry, in a big match in the title race.
Yet, that’s just one of the many reasons why this goal was so memorable. From the way that Singh rose to strike the ball with a perfect scissor motion, to the contact he eventually made, and then the finish itself, it was all beautiful to watch, as well.
And the best part of it all? Singh’s a centre back. It’s one thing for a striker to score this type of goal, but for a defender? That just makes it better.
The only blemish on this goal is that Cavalry ended up spoiling Ottawa’s party by scoring a 97th-minute winner, the first of five times in their last seven games Ottawa would lose a match as they suffered a late collapse to miss the playoffs, but that hardly puts in a dent in this goal’s candidacy as one of the top bangers this season.
1. Tristan Borges vs. Cavalry (October 28th)
It's one thing to score a banger to win a match. But to go out and win a trophy off of a banger? Hard to imagine a better feeling.
Yet, it's one that Tristan Borges can now say he's experienced, as he had a CPL final to remember against Cavalry.
After coming off the bench in the game, he had to watch Cavalry's Ali Musse open the scoring with a banger, before watching his teammate Béni Badibanga equalize with a banger of his own.
Perhaps, that was on his mind as he stepped up to the corner flag in the 111th minute, as instead of picking out a target, he decided to go for goal.
And to his credit, he pulled it off, curling the ball into the side netting with an inch-perfect Olimpico, scoring what ended up standing as the winner, allowing Forge to claim their 4th playoff title.
But it's only fitting, in a sense, that the last goal of this season would be a banger, marking the end of the campaign in the best way possible.
⚒️⚒️GOAL🚨— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) October 29, 2023
Say it again, folks: #CanPL. FINAL. BANGERS. ONLY!@ForgeFCHamilton takes the lead deep into extra time, as Tristan Borges scores an Olimpico to make it 2-1
Honourable Mentions: Ali Musse vs. York (June 24th), Kekuta Manneh vs. Vancouver (June 2nd), Mo Babouli vs. Cavalry (June 24th), Fraser Aird vs. Pacific (July 8th), Massimo Ferrin vs. Forge (June 30th), Maxim Tissot vs. Pacific (September 13th), Ali Musse vs. Vancouver (July 22nd), Eryk Kobza vs. Forge (August 4th)