CanPL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 23 | Presented by tonybet
The field continues to narrow.
After Cavalry became the first Canadian Premier League team to book a playoff spot last week, they were joined this week by Pacific FC, who were able to secure a spot in the playoffs for a fourth straight season after a big win away to York on Sunday.
Then, on the other side, Vancouver FC became the first team eliminated from contention, as they’re officially out of the race following their 2-1 road loss to Cavalry on Saturday.
As a result, it has narrowed the field significantly, leaving five teams to compete for the final three spots up for grabs.
Yet, with three matchdays remaining in the CPL’s regular season, it should make for a grandstand finish to the campaign.
Even though Cavalry looks to have all but secured the regular season title, which they can clinch this weekend, there is still a lot to battle for, from the remaining playoff spots to playoff positioning.
Right now, the finest of margins could make a difference, as some teams are learning.
On the subject of tightness, though, that leads us nicely to the Power Rankings, which remain as close as ever given the latest results. Yet, coming off a weekend where there were no draws, a rare feat given how close games have been lately, there is still some movement.
With that in mind, however, here are this week’s CanPL Power Rankings, presented by tonybet, and a look at what stood out from each team this weekend.
(Note, these do not include Valour and Vancouver’s clash on Wednesday, September 19th, which will be included in matchweek 23’s Power Rankings).
Cavalry continued to march towards the regular season title, as they picked up a no-nonsense 2-1 win over Vancouver. It was a closer game than they would’ve liked, as Vancouver outplayed them for most of the first half, and pushed for an equalizer late, but ultimately, Cavalry got the job done. And that’s what they continue to do as of late - that’s why they’re undefeated in six games (five wins, one draw), and have a record of 12W-1D-4L (37 PTS) across their last 17 games, as they just keep finding ways to win right now, with different players stepping up each game. This time, it was a bit of Ali Musse magic, a much-needed Myer Bevan sighting, and a typical showing from Shamit Shome in midfield. Yet, Cavalry’s depth continues to be a big reason for their success this year, and this game is another example of why.
Forge picked up just their second win in their last seven games, as they beat Valour on the road for the first time since September 12th, 2019, this past weekend. A big win given how much IG Field has haunted them since that last win, it was also a big one as it put Forge on the precipice of booking a playoff spot, which they can do outright with a win this weekend. Yet, in typical Forge fashion, they found a way to get the job done in Winnipeg. It wasn’t the sort of performance many are used to seeing from Forge, who hunkered down a bit more and sacrificed possession for direct play in the attack, but they were able to catch Valour by surprise on the day. Along with some Béni Badibanga magic on a late free kick, that was all the defending champions needed, putting them in a great position with three games to go.
It was a statement performance from Pacific this weekend, who refound their midseason form in a 4-1 thumping of York. Arguably their most complete performance of the season, Pacific gave York nearly no chance at doing anything in this game, too, throttling them from start to finish.
Thanks to that, they now co-lead the league in goals again with Cavalry, and they did so in typical Pacific fashion, as four different goalscorers found the net on the day (Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, Sean Young, David Brazão and Manny Aparicio). As a result, they now have seven players on four or more goals - only Cavalry (5) and Halifax (4) even come close to them in that department, with some teams having as low as two such players. You add that Ayman Sellouf jumped up to a league-leading eight assists in this game, just one of Sean Rea’s single-season record of nine, and there was a lot to keep an eye on offensively for the Tridents against York.
🚨GOAL🔱🔱🔱🔱@Pacificfccpl can't stop scoring, as David Brazão has now made it 4-0 over York, thanks to Ayman Sellouf's league-leading 8th assist of the #CanPL season— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 17, 2023
The Halifax Wanderers picked up a crucial home victory over Atlético Ottawa on a rare non-holiday Monday clash, as the original match was postponed due to Hurricane Lee. One of the games of the season, it was one filled with drama, too - Ottawa scored a 91st-minute equalizer that seemed to rescue a draw, only for Halifax to then secure a winner in the 92nd minute right off the kick-off. Thanks to that, Halifax went from at risk of falling out of the playoff picture, to being able to clinch a spot as soon as this weekend. One thing worth watching, however? Their U21 minutes situation, as they need 547 minutes over their next three games, which is six 90-minute games of minutes. As they look to try and clinch a spot, that’s worth watching, as they could drop points if they don’t manage those minutes wisely, if not miss out on it altogether, which would bring far larger consequences.
🚨GOAL⚓️⚓️⚓️— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 19, 2023
More late drama at the Wanderers Grounds!
Just moments after Ottawa made it 2-2, @HFXWanderersFC have found a potential LATE winner through Thomas Giraldo
It’s crisis time for Atlético Ottawa, who are now winless in five after their loss to Halifax. Not only that, but across that five-game stretch, they’ve only claimed two points, and have dropped three games in added time (in the 91st, 92nd and 97th minutes, to boot). For an Ottawa team that looks to attack each game like a final, and prides itself on seeing out results, it’s been a rough stretch, one that could sink their season. Already out of the race to defend their regular season title, they’re at risk of missing the playoffs altogether, especially with their last games coming against York and Forge away. Safe to say, that could be their season right there. In better news, however, they’ll be pleased to see Sam Salter claim a brace against his old side in Halifax, as they’ll need him to be firing to have a chance at winning over the last few games. And, hey, they might have a fired-up Ollie Bassett alongside him, too, especially after his (understandably) frustrated reaction after being subbed off in the 71st minute of the Halifax game with his team trailing. Given his status as defending MVP, Ottawa’s going to need to keep him on the field over the last 270 minutes of their season if they’re to turn this around.
Things aren’t going much better over at York United, as they were dominated and outplayed in another home game, following up a frustrating display against Valour with the loss against Pacific. As a result, head coach Martin Nash was understandably disappointed after the Pacific game, noting that he felt many of his players didn’t show the “bare minimum requirements of a professional footballer.” Because of that, they remain one point outside of the playoff race, leading to a crucial next three games. With two of them at home, where they could end up finishing with a league-record low for home points in a season, which is currently 14 points (held by Valour in 2019). As it stands, York has 11 points from 12 home games, so they’ll need one win from their last two home games just to tie that record, so safe to say that those last two games against Cavalry and Atlético Ottawa are crucial for reasons even beyond the impact they’d have on York’s playoff hopes.
One’s outlook on Vancouver FC’s latest weekend may depend on their personality. For those optimists out there, they’d be pleased with Vancouver’s overall performance, as they went toe-to-toe with a good Cavalry side for large chunks of the game, and only narrowly lost 2-1 in the end. For the pessimists, however, they’ll notice that Vancouver made a few sloppy defensive mistakes, couldn’t score until it was too late, and are now eliminated from the playoff race. Yet, that’s not a bad thing - this is an expansion team, after all, so that they were even in the playoff race this late in the season is impressive. Plus, that they’re able to go toe-to-toe with the current leaders on the road is no small feat, as they would’ve likely been blown out in a game like this earlier in the year (they lost 3-1 to Cavalry in their first visit to Spruce Meadows). There’s a reason why these games were as much about the future as the present, and that’s the lessons that Vancouver is learning, which should hopefully help them next year. The lesson this week was the importance of being ruthless and not giving up big chances against big teams, something they’ll now look to take to heart across their last four matches of the year.
🚨GOAL🦅#CanPL BANGERS ONLY!— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 16, 2023
What a hit from @vanfootballclub's Renan Garcia, who finds the net from WELL downtown, cutting Cavalry's lead to 2-1 late on
Valour may technically remain alive in the playoff race, but their hopes are hanging on by a thread, as they missed a glorious chance to climb back into the race in their loss to Forge. Yet, as has been the case as of late, it was the defensive side of their game, not their offence, that let them down. Having grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second half, one would’ve expected it to be game over, but instead, they allowed Forge to grab two goals for the comeback win. But that’s been the story of Valour’s season - consistency, or a lack thereof. When they defend well, they can’t score. When they play great, they take a step back the next week. That’s why they don’t have back-to-back wins this season, and look well on track to miss out on the playoffs for a fifth straight season, unless they find some magic across their last four games.
🚨GOAL🟤— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 17, 2023
What a response from @ValourFootball! Kian Williams has levelled the score against Forge, doing well to slot home from close range to make it 1-1