CanPL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 20 | Presented by tonybet
It was an early playoff preview.
On a weekend when 1v2 and 3v4 met in the Canadian Premier League, it offered a sneak peek at what the playoffs could look like in a few weeks' time.
And if these matches are to mean anything, the one guarantee is that these matches are going to be tightly contested. Given that those two matches had one combined goal between them, that much is a guarantee.
Yet, that’s not that surprising. There’s a reason why just one point separates first and fifth right now in the table - the margins are getting tighter every week.
Now sitting at the three-quarter mark of the season, it’s setting up a photo finish, as anyone in the top six race could conceivably either win a title or miss the playoffs entirely.
That parity is seen in the latest Power Rankings as well. There, movement continues to happen across the board, perhaps offering an early preview of what the race to the final matchday could look like in the CPL.
Speaking of, here are this week’s CanPL Power Rankings, presented by tonybet, as well as a look at what stood out from each team this weekend.
AGR’s Notebook: Quick thoughts from around the CPL
We’ve got a new leader in the Power Rankings, once again, as this time the Halifax Wanderers take over the top spot in this list after the weekend. Yet, it’s fully deserved, as they picked up a dominant 3-0 home win over Valour to climb up to a tie for second in the table. Not only that, it was a dominant performance, too - they were all over Valour for most of the game, making their win a just reward for their efforts. Plus, they’ll be pleased to see some in-form players continue to shine - Dan Nimick added another goal and was strong defensively, as he continues to push his name in the Defender of the Year and Player of the Year races, while Wesley Timoteo had a well-taken assist. Along with a goal and assist from João Morelli, who now has four goals and one assist in his last four appearances, this Halifax team is cruising right now, with a record of 8W-2D-3L in their last 13. And, based on their form, you can only back them in their quest to not just make the playoffs, but win the title. Imagine telling that to a Wanderers supporter earlier this year?
GOAL ⚓️@HFXWanderersFC open the scoring vs. @ValourFootball as Daniel Nimick scores in back-to-back matches, he has been in great form this season! 🎯— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 26, 2023
🔴 Watch #CanPL on OneSoccer pic.twitter.com/0N3ud8TVMo
(Also, the Wanderers really said tarps off for two of their goals, eh? Looks like they enjoyed playing in the rain).
GOAL🌊🌊— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 26, 2023
Joao Morelli scores his 4th goal in 7 matches so far this season and extends @HFXWanderersFC's lead to 2-0 over @ValourFootball in Saturday #CanPL action! 🔥
TUNE IN | 🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE pic.twitter.com/nNa47XvLWr
GOAL🌊🌊🌊— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 26, 2023
Tomas Giraldo scores his first ever #CanPL goal as Joao Morelli puts in the perfect ball for him to tap home!@HFXWanderersFC make it 3-0 over @ValourFootball
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE pic.twitter.com/aJlR6p74dl
In most cases, a 0-0 draw at home could be seen as a frustrating result, but not for Atlético Ottawa, as they drew Forge 0-0 in a battle of third and fourth place. Given that Forge had won 11 of their 14 previous meetings, a draw against them feels like a win, even if it meant dropping points at home. Yet, given that they’ve only lost once in their last 10, are now undefeated in seven straight at home, and sit four points off first place, Ottawa won’t complain. If they keep defending like that, they’ll have every shot of winning another regular season title, especially as you’d imagine there won’t be many more games where the likes of Ollie Bassett, Jean-Aniel Assi and Sam Salter were kept as quiet as they were against Forge.
It took a dubious penalty to see it over the line, but ultimately Cavalry were deserved 1-0 winners against Pacific, allowing them to build a four-point gap atop the CPL table. Their ninth win in their last 13 games, they’re as hot as anyone right now in the CPL, and now have a real shot to claim some silverware. Yet, in this game, credit has to go to their defence once again for holding strong to the challenge. Despite going up against a dangerous Pacific side, they limited them to just 0.59 xG on 10 shots, allowing them to see the result over the line. You add in that Myer Bevan is slowly creeping his way back into the Golden Boot race with his penalty goal, and Cavalry will have lots to be pleased about. Now, however, watch out - a multi-point first-place lead has been a bit of a kiss of death in the CPL this season - can Cavalry buck that trend and hold on the rest of the way? The ball’s in their court in that regard.
Anytime you nab a 0-0 road draw against a team in form, you take it, so Forge will certainly be pleased with their performance against Ottawa this weekend. Given that they’d conceded seven goals in their three previous games heading into it, they’ll be especially content with their ability to grab a clean sheet on the day, too. Given that they’ve struggled a lot defensively this year, it was a nice return to their usual standard in that area of the field, and it allowed them to grab some crucial points. They’ll be disappointed that they didn’t get much going at the other end of the pitch - a lack of touches for Terran Campbell hurt them, in particular - they’ll feel that was an off-night in that regard. That will only correct itself, which would be huge if they can maintain this defensive form, which could only help them stay alive in the title race. Speaking of which, that will require perfection from them, especially given that they’ve played an extra game compared to most teams in front of them, so they’ll need to find a way to build on this.
Fortune certainly smiled in York’s face a bit in their win over Vancouver, but they won’t complain, as they picked up a much-needed result to keep them in the playoff race, with Austin Ricci stepping up big late on to secure the win. In particular, they’ll be pleased with two things - that they were able to claw back a result down 1-0, and that they finally won a game at York Lions Stadium. The latter stat, in particular, is quite important, too, given that they’ve got a four-game homestand awaiting them from September 8th to October 1st. That could very well define their season right there, so look for them to get some points on the board during that run. First, however, a trip to Halifax awaits this weekend, where York’s chasing back-to-back wins for the first time since May.
🚨GOAL 👑👑@yorkutdfc have turned this match right around and take a 2-1 lead against @vanfootballclub— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 26, 2023
Austin Ricci connects well with the ball to score a rocket! 🔥
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE pic.twitter.com/8sRBJqcSzD
There’s a tough duality to balance in Pacific’s loss to Cavalry. Was the penalty call that went against them extremely harsh and one that could’ve cost them points? Absolutely. At the same time, did they do enough to win the game in the end? Probably not. As a result, Pacific’s slump continues, leaving them in a precarious position with seven to go. Plus, it’s hard to put a finger on what’s hurting them more right now, either. They haven’t been bad at either end of the field, but they’ve been middling, which is reflected by the fact that they’ve been outscored 8-7 across their last six. Not bad, per se, but they’ll need better if they’re to win a title. Given that squad they’ve got at their disposal, they’ll look for more in these last seven matches.
It was a tough weekend for teams from BC and penalties, as Vancouver also saw a controversial penalty decision haunt them in a 2-1 loss to York. Not only that, but they had a legitimate claim to be up a player for the second half, too. Despite that, it was still a strong performance on the road from Vancouver, even if they were unable to pick up their first back-to-back wins of the season. They had some good spells of possession, scored a well-taken goal and pushed York right until the end. They still have some key questions to answer, no doubt - the deployment of Alejandro Díaz and Shaan Hundal seems to be helping neither right now, in particular - but they’ve found a good balance in midfield, and are starting to click defensively. Now, look for them to keep trying to play spoiler in the playoff race, with one game remaining against everyone else in the league left on their schedule.
🚨GOAL 👑@yorkutdfc have levelled things up 1-1 against @vanfootballclub— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 26, 2023
Mo Babouli smashes his penalty into the back of the net giving Callum Irving no chance! 🎯
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE pic.twitter.com/zfxsfGz9vM
Mathematically, they still remain alive, but it feels like Valour’s playoff hopes are officially over after this weekend, as they now sit 12 points off fifth place with seven games to go following their loss to Halifax. Yet, this game was the story of their season as of late - they’re struggling offensively, can’t seem to score the first goal in a game, and have regressed defensively. You add in that Rayane Yesli has come down to earth a bit as of late (hard to blame him when his team has allowed the third-most xG in the CPL), and it’s leading to some of these frustrating results. Overall, lots to ponder over in Winnipeg, where what was supposed to be a breakthrough season has quickly turned into one of regression, which isn’t what you want to see from a team still yet to make the playoffs in their history.