CanPL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 24 | Presented by tonybet
26 games into the regular season, the Canadian Premier League Shield is officially Cavalry’s, as they were able to clinch the regular season title this past weekend.
Thanks to a combination of results that saw them nab a 1-0 away win to York, while Forge down Pacific 3-1, it ensured that Cavalry would finish atop the table for the first time since 2019.
Yet, it’s almost fitting in a sense, as since day one in the CPL, Cavalry have been the league’s most dominant regular season team. Just look at their performances across the four 28-game seasons that have been played in the league - they finished first in 2019, tied for first in 2021, tied for second in 2022 and have now finished first once again.
Because of that, it’s poetic to see on the week when the CPL Shield was officially created, it ended up in Cavalry’s hands, especially after they had nothing to show for their efforts in 2019.
Now, however, the real test lies ahead for Cavalry, as they must now push into the playoffs, where they’ve got some demons to take care of as they look to claim their first North Star Cup (formerly Shield, as was also announced this week).
Having clinched the top seed heading into the playoffs, and the perks that go along with it, everything’s set up for them to go on a run, but they’ll now need to build off what they’ve shown so far.
As for the others around them, though, they’re all still holding out hope that they too can go on a run of their own, even if they don’t have the advantage that finishing first has in doing so.
Before then, however, they’ll need to sort out how the dominoes fall behind Cavalry, of which a little bit of clarity was provided this weekend. We now know Forge will join Pacific and Cavalry in the playoffs, with the latter two now guaranteed to finish in the top four (and host a playoff game) after this weekend.
After that, though, it’s wide-open in the race for the top five. Halifax could finish second and hold a chance at making a final; they could also miss altogether, while York and Ottawa can finish anywhere from fourth to sixth.
All of that to say, the fun is just getting started even if Cavalry had a lot to celebrate this weekend, and there’s no better way to reflect that than this week’s Power Rankings, which saw a flurry of movement after another chaotic week of results.
Speaking of, here are this week’s CanPL Power Rankings, presented by tonybet, and a look at what stood out from each team across the weekend that was.
Fresh off claiming the CPL Shield, Cavalry remain atop the Power Rankings once again, as they continue to be red-hot in league play. With their victory over York, they’ve now won three straight, are undefeated in seven (6W-1D-0L), and have now claimed 40 points across their last 18 games.
🚨GOAL 🐎@CPLCavalryFC have taken the lead over @yorkutdfc, as Myer Bevan puts in the perfect ball for Sergio Camargo to put home.— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 23, 2023
Massive moment for the Cavs!
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/NwEjIxrrmU
That’s about as good as it gets, yet, that’s why Cavalry are lifting silverware and now have a 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup spot to their name. In terms of their win over York, however, it’s worth noting that Cavalry showed a different side of themselves, as they had to win ugly. It might not have been their best performance, but they did what they needed to do defensively, and Sergio Camargo made no mistake when Cavalry did manage to break York’s lines in the first half. Sometimes, that’s all you need to do to win, as Cavalry then cruised from there.
Having officially booked a playoff spot for a fifth straight year, Forge’s confidence will have to be high after their big 3-1 win at home over Pacific. A strange game given that there were two lengthy injury stoppages for head injuries (hopefully Pacific’s Kunle Dada-Luke and Forge’s Malcolm Duncan and Triston Henry are feeling better and recovering quickly after those injuries), Forge were clinical when they needed to be on the day, as they took their chances when they came. As a result, they’ve now quietly gone undefeated in their last seven games (3W-4D-0L), and have claimed 10 out of a possible 12 points over their last four. You add in that Woobens Pacius is heating up (he has five goals in his last four games to get him up to nine on the season), Kwasi Poku shone in his return from suspension, and that Forge’s backline played one of their best games of the season, and that’s a formula that Bobby Smyrniotis will be pleased to see, as the three-time playoff champions are finding their form at the perfect time right now, as one would expect from them.
🚨GOAL 🔨— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 23, 2023
WHAT A RESPONSE FROM @ForgeFCHamilton as they score the equalizer immediately. It's Rezart Rama who makes it 1-1 from a header assisted by Kwasi Poku!
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/ErzTqg3Soh
Also, don’t look now, but Forge are still yet to lose when Béni Badibanga starts… can they keep that up heading into the playoffs?
In one of the biggest rises of the season, Vancouver have climbed all the way to third this week, thanks to a pair of victories over Valour and Halifax. Despite being eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, Vancouver didn’t let that affect them, and they showed that this week, picking up two well-deserved wins.
GOAL 🦅— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 21, 2023
Take a bow, TJ Tahid! 👏
The confidence 😎
The timing, perfect ✅
The technique, fantastic ⭐️
The finish, spectacular 🕺@JimmyBrennan11 sings praise as @VanFootballClub take a 1-0 lead over @ValourFootball
🔴 Watch #CanPL on OneSoccer pic.twitter.com/Z9YKd5vm6H
With that, they’re really starting to heat up, too, having claimed back-to-back wins for the first time, and now sit with three wins in their last four games. After a run earlier in the summer where they were playing well and not winning, it feels like Vancouver’s luck is catching up to them, and it’s allowed them to have this nice run of form. Of course, they’ll be sad that it’s come with their playoff hopes out of reach, but it’s worth noting that they’re in a pretty darn good spot for an expansion team. That might not pay off now, but that could certainly help them next year, setting good building blocks for the future.
GOAL 🦅🦅— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 23, 2023
It's an OG as @HFXWanderersFC defender Dan Nimick scores on his own net to give @VanFootballClub all three points!
The Wanderers don't clinch a playoff spot today, they will have to wait.
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/VcLUTjEAaR
For the first time all season, Pacific lost a game in Ontario, as they’d won three and drawn two of their previous five games in the province before their loss to Forge. Yet, it was a day to forget for Pacific, who were too sloppy defensively, and didn’t generate enough dangerous chances offensively. Of course, you do have to feel for them, given that they had to see one of their most consistent players in Dada-Luke leave the game early with that aforementioned head injury. They’ll be pleased to see that he was okay after the game, but that he’ll now likely miss games looms large given that he’d played every game up to that point, and he was certainly missed in this game. Now, a huge last two games await them, as this loss was also quite painful in their quest to finish in the top two and potentially host the final. If they're to do that, however, they’ll need to return to form defensively (they’d allowed only five goals in the five previous games before this one), while finding some consistency offensively (they’ve scored two or more goals in a game in just three of their last eight).
GOAL 🔱@Pacificfccpl open the scoring against @ForgeFCHamilton as Djenairo Daniels slams home a perfect ball from Manny Aparicio! The Tridents take an early 1-0 lead in Hamilton!— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 23, 2023
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/uLw7V7a4yT
Halifax’s 2023 road woes continued this weekend, as they fell to Vancouver to a late own goal. Yet, it felt like that was coming for the Wanderers, who started brilliantly in the game, going up 1-0 by half time, but then just faded out in the second half. Not only that, but they started to make uncharacteristic mistakes in possession, too, which for a team that likes to hold the ball the way they do, proved to be fatal. As a result, they missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot, which also has to be frustrating. The good news, however? They did claim some much-needed U21 Canadian minutes, although they’ll still need around ~300 across their last two games. Given that they’re into the playoffs if they win one of those two games, it’ll be interesting to see how they now balance trying to get those numbers, especially with one of them being a clash at home against Forge in which a win could actually give Halifax a chance at top two. Safe to say, that could be a tricky balance for Patrice Gheisar to manage.
Valour climbed out of the basement of the Power Rankings this week, as they did well to bounce back from a heartbreaking midweek loss to Vancouver, which eliminated them from playoff contention, to beat Atlético Ottawa 1-0 in Ottawa with a 94th-minute winner on Sunday. After a gritty defensive performance, it was a well-deserved reward for Valour, too, as they did well to keep Ottawa to just 0.89 xG. Yet, that’s a credit once again to their play in midfield, as Dante Campbell, Marcello Polisi and Diego Gutiérrez were key on both sides of the ball, while Rayane Yesli had a good bounce-back in goal with a clean sheet. You add in a confidence-boosting goal from Walter Ponce at the end? Not a bad way to respond to elimination from Valour.
For a team that is known for being stingy defensively, Atlético Ottawa’s most recent five-game stretch has to be the most frustrating thing imaginable. Thanks to Valour’s late winner, that was the fourth time in five games that Ottawa has lost a game to a winner scored in the 90th minute or later, as Cavalry (97’), Vancouver (91’), Halifax (92’) and Valour (94’) have now all picked up late winners over the 2022 regular season champions. Yet, this is why Ottawa has gone from a candidate to win the CPL Shield to a team fighting for their playoff hopes over the last few weeks, as they continue to struggle with managing key moments. This Valour winner was a great example of it, too, as Ottawa were far too easy to play through, which can’t happen at that stage of a game. Now, that’s left Ottawa in a fight to even make the playoffs, sitting just one point ahead of sixth-place which won’t be easy given that they now play York and Forge away in a pair of derby games. It’s crunch time now in the Nation’s Capital.
Atlético Ottawa's last 6 #CanPL games:— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) September 24, 2023
0-0 vs Forge
2-1 L vs Cavalry (97' winner)
2-1 L @ Vancouver (91' winner)
1-1 vs Pacific
3-2 L @ Halifax (92' winner)
1-0 L vs Valour (94' winner)
Just 1 point ahead of 6th place York United, away games vs. York and Forge loom large
York United has to be really happy that those around them keep stumbling, as they somehow still only remain one point out of the playoffs despite losing a third straight game (all at home) this weekend. To their credit, they were much better in this Cavalry loss than they were in their previous two games, so that’s a plus, but it wasn’t enough to beat this savvy Cavalry side. In particular, they lacked energy offensively, which probably makes it frustrating that Mo Babouli was serving the second game of a two-match ban for a red card earned for dissent. Now, they must at least draw or beat Ottawa to keep their playoff hopes alive this weekend, because if not, a loss will see them miss the playoffs for a second straight season. Given that they also need a win to avoid setting the record for the fewest home points in a campaign, there’s a lot on the line for them at York Lions Stadium in this one, which should give them plenty of motivation.