CanPL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 25 | Presented by tonybet
The final sprint is upon us.
Almost six months after the Canadian Premier League season kicked off, the end is near, as the final matchday of the regular season has quietly snuck up here.
Now, each team has played 27 games, and will play their 28th and final match this weekend, marking the end of a gruelling regular season campaign.
Yet, while the end of the road is approaching for everyone, there is still a lot to play for this weekend. In fact, other than the regular season title, claimed by Cavalry a few weeks ago, pretty much everything remains on the line this weekend.
Of course, there’s the fact that the playoff field is almost complete, as Cavalry, Pacific, Forge and the Halifax Wanderers will be four of the five teams heading to the big dance, while Vancouver and Valour have been eliminated from contention, but there is still a lot to watch out for beyond that.
For example, York and Ottawa remain in contention for that last playoff spot, with York holding the edge in that race after beating Ottawa 1-0 this past weekend. Then, in terms of seeding, spots #2 to #4 are still wide-open for Forge, Pacific and Halifax, who can still finish anywhere in those spots, which could have huge implications on their playoff path.
Because of that, each game matters this weekend, as it will either impact the race for the final playoff spot or seeding. That’s quite rare, as the final matchweek always contains dead rubber matches of some sort, reducing its importance.
But that just shows how wide-open this end to the season has been, as teams have been pushing right to the very end, knowing what’s at stake for them now. That’s been reflected in the Power Rankings, for example - there’s a reason why a team like Vancouver has made a huge surge over these past few weeks despite their elimination, as they’ve looked to finish the season on a high note.
Speaking of those Rankings, 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 in the CPL.
Cavalry can’t stop winning, so they hold down the top spot in the Rankings once again, as they won their fourth straight game this weekend, and seventh in their last eight matches. As a result, they’ve now got a record of 8W-1D-1L in their last 10 games, which is why they’ve been able to not just win the title, but do so in runaway fashion. Plus, as they showed in this game, they’ve got no intention of slowing down despite clinching the title so early, so look for them to close the season off on a high note with a strong performance against Pacific this weekend. Especially seeing how their big guns were able to shine in this come-from-behind win against Valour, such as Ali Musse and Sergio Camargo, that shows the hunger this team has to win.
GOAL🏇— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 30, 2023
Sergio Camargo beats Yesli to equalize the score for @CPLCavalryFC at 1-1 against @ValourFootball in #CanPL action🍁⚽️#CavsFC | #ForValour
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/tdYYmQnphH
Also, shout out to Cavalry U21 Canadian, Gareth Smith-Doyle, who scored his first professional goal this weekend, as he continues to push to be the latest U Sports to CPL success story out of Cavalry.
GOAL🏇🏇— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 30, 2023
Gareth Smith-Doyle opens his professional account with an early second half goal, giving @CPLCavalryFC a 2-1 lead over @ValourFootball in #CanPL action!🍁⚽️#CavsFC | #ForValour
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/kNe6vZdsE0
While Cavalry’s the hottest team in the CPL right now, Vancouver FC aren’t that far behind them, as they picked up their third straight victory this past weekend in a dramatic 2-1 win over Pacific FC in the Salish Sea Derby. In their first visit to Langford since opening day, they showed how much they’ve changed since then, scoring two early goals and then showing great professionalism to grind out a result the rest of the way. Because of that, they’ve now won four of their last five, and five of their last eight, as they’ve really caught fire as of late. Yet, that just shows how much they’ve grown as a team, as well as the impact of their midseason signings.
GOAL🦅— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 30, 2023
Gabriel Bitar gives the Eagles the lead in the first half of this BC Derby between @Pacificfccpl and @vanfootballclub in Saturday #CanPL action🍁⚽️#ForTheIsle | #VancouverFC
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/JsXNIEfdEa
GOAL🦅🦅— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 30, 2023
The Eagles lead is extended to two goals as Vasco Fry hits one from just inside of the box extending @vanfootballclub's lead to 0-2 over @Pacificfccpl in #CanPL action!🍁⚽️ #ForTheIsle | #VancouverFC
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/Wf3zZ2CFQQ
Otherwise, how good has Gabriel Bitar been as of late? Now tied for the team lead in goals, he’s been excellent for them at the #10 over the past few weeks, forming a dangerous partnership with Mikaël Cantave. Also, it was quite the performance for Callum Irving against his old team, as he made several key stops to help secure the win.
They didn’t lose ground in the race for second place after Pacific’s loss to Vancouver, but Forge will still be frustrated that they fell to the Halifax Wanderers on the road, snapping a seven-game undefeated run. Especially given that they did well to push the Wanderers for much of the game, finishing with 21 shots (including eight on target), doing enough to potentially earn a point. Yet, they were just not ruthless enough in front of goal, especially late on, and that cost them in the end, much to their frustration (which also ended up extending to the officials, after they felt they’d missed some key calls). In positive news, Woobens Pacius did score his 10th goal of the season, as he remained red-hot lately. Don’t be surprised if he makes a late push at the Golden Boot next week, now sitting just one goal off Ollie Bassett in first place. Other than that, Forge still controls their destiny in the second-place race this week, so look for them to return to form at home against Ottawa.
GOAL⚒️— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 30, 2023
Woobens Pacius equalizes for @ForgeFCHamilton at 1-1 against @HFXWanderersFC🍁⚽️
Pacius hits 10 #CanPL goals on the season🔥 #TogetherFromAways | #ForgeFC
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/YCoarUrzZr
For the second time in their history, and first time in a 28-game season, the Halifax Wanderers are heading to the CPL playoffs, as they officially booked their spot this past weekend against Forge. It was a bit more of a gritty performance than Halifax is used to putting up, but they did well to respond to the challenge of a team like Forge, showing good persistence to grab the lead, before showing good grit to hold onto it. Yet, it was the sort of performance many have gotten accustomed to seeing from Halifax as of late - good team play, especially on the ball, combined with some individuals shining - this week, it was usual suspects Dan Nimick, Lorenzo Callegari and Massimo Ferrin, along with a big showing from Yann Fillion in goal.
GOAL🌊🌊— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 30, 2023
Dan Nimick from the spot restores @HFXWanderersFC lead over @ForgeFCHamilton, they now lead 2-1 just before half-time🍁⚽️#TogetherFromAways | #ForgeFC | #CanPL
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/Fwmbiq2PlN
Also, on a fun note, Halifax will now host a playoff game at Wanderers Grounds for the first time, which is also pretty special, seeing how strong their crowds have continued to be as the city of Halifax remains fiercely loyal to their local club.
⚓️ THE PLAYOFFS ARE COMING TO HALIFAX!!!— Halifax Wanderers FC (@HFXWanderersFC) October 1, 2023
This weekend’s results have confirmed a top-four finish ⭐️
That means we will be hosting a first round match at the Wanderers Grounds!
Date and time still TBD based on where we finish in the standings with a game to go! pic.twitter.com/dF7QGpBagw
York picked a perfect time to snap a three-game losing streak, as they found their form again in a big late win over Ottawa. Of course, they’ll be pleased that they got the win over the line in the end, as it now puts them in the driver’s seat for their playoff qualification, but they’ll be especially happy with their performance, too. After some sloppy showings as of late, particularly in losses against Valour and Pacific, they needed that, as they were very good on both sides of the ball in this one. From there, they showed good patience to continue to push for their winner, which came from 2023 standout, Kévin dos Santos, who showed why he’s been so integral to this team this season. Along with a big showing from Niko Giantsopoulos in goal, that was enough for them to grab the win, as York continues to find a way to win when their backs are against the wall.
GOAL👑— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) October 1, 2023
Kevin Santos buries a goal in the dying minutes of the match and gives @yorkutdfc a 1-0 lead over @atletiOttawa in #CanPL action!🔥#UnitedByYou | #ForOttawa
TUNE IN | 🔴https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/vWtH6oU2HC
It was always going to be tough for Valour to win in Calgary, so they’ll remain relatively content with their showing on the road despite their loss to Cavalry, although they’ll be annoyed to not be able to hold onto the early lead that they were able to grab after a big defensive mistake from Cavalry. Yet, in a sense, this sort of game fittingly represents Valour’s season quite well - they can push anyone in the league on their day, but they just can’t seem to control the key moments in games, and can’t score when their backs are up against the wall. Because of that, while this may feel like a moral victory, they’ll be frustrated as they’ve had many of those this season, but not enough actual victories in games where they probably could’ve gotten more out of it than they ultimately did.
Pacific continues to be quite the Jekyll and Hyde team, as they dropped a frustrating result at home to Vancouver. Of course, credit has to be given to the Eagles for their performance, no doubt, but Pacific did have their chances to win, as they started the first 15 minutes of the game quite well, and then pushed heavily in the second half down two goals. Yet, their biggest issue cropped up once again in this game - they can’t seem to score when trailing, even when they dominate a game. When they get off to a strong start, they can be tough to beat - that’s why they’re still one of the best offensive teams in the league. But when they concede first, teams have proven that it’s possible to sit deep and absorb Pacific pressure, and Vancouver executed that game plan to a tee. Because of that, Pacific will need to put emphasis on starting games better as the playoffs near, as that’s already cost them a title, and could very well cost them more if it keeps up.
Lastly, Atlético Ottawa holds down the bottom of the Power Rankings this week, as they remain winless in six, having lost five of their last six games, all via late goals. As a result, that’s now put Ottawa on the outside looking in for a spot in the playoffs, as they’ll now need to win and get some help elsewhere to return to the postseason again. Yet, if Ottawa misses out, they’ve only got themselves to blame. Right now, they’re not taking advantage of the dangerous chances that they’re creating offensively, and are just giving up too many soft goals late in games, which is never going to be a recipe for success. For an Ottawa team that prides itself on its discipline and ability to defend in key moments, it’s been a far cry from what they showed last year when they won the regular season title. Now, they’ll need to channel that form, and quickly, or else what seemed like a campaign of promise is set to turn into one of nightmares.
There is nothing I can say or write that would alleviate us. You all have been there showing up for the entire season demonstrating your support. I know the saying says where there is life, there is hope but I’m going to say where there is hope, there is life! 💚 (1/2)— Fernando López (@4fernandolopez) October 2, 2023
To be fair, if they’re to win this week, getting Ollie Bassett (1 goal in his last 7 matches) has to be a priority, as he’s slowed down at a crucial time after looking like a runaway MVP winner, which has certainly played a role in his team’s slump.
"Grow up."— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) October 1, 2023
Frustrated after conceding a FIFTH late point-dropping goal in their last 6 matches, @AtletiOttawa GK Nate Ingham sounds off on his team's performances as a #CanPL playoff spot hangs in the balance 👀
"I don't think at this point we deserve another opportunity" pic.twitter.com/uF3Dd1HNv6