CanPL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 17 | Presented by tonybet
Is the CPL’s title race slowly turning into a two-horse affair?
It’s far too early to call at this stage of proceedings, but this past weekend certainly helped provide a bit of clarity at the top of the table, as Cavalry FC and Pacific FC picked up massive wins over fellow title contenders, Forge FC and the Halifax Wanderers, respectively.
Along with some key draws elsewhere in the league, that helped Pacific and Cavalry gain some key ground in the title race, as they slowly started to pull away from the pack heading into the final 10 games of the season.
Especially after two statement victories from the pair of them, with Pacific doing well to slow down a surging Halifax side on the road, while Cavalry managed to dethrone Forge in style, that sent a strong signal to the rest of those in the race.
Now, it’s up to those other teams to respond. With one final round of games approaching, this is now or never for some teams, especially those in spots 5 through 8.
Either way, one thing’s for sure - some of these races are going to come down to the wire, so any advantage gained can go a long way. So in that regard, score one to Pacific and Cavalry this weekend, and keep an eye on how the teams around them respond this weekend.
Speaking of, here’s a look at the state of the league in this week’s CanPL Power Rankings Presented by tonybet, as well as a look at some of what went down across the CPL this weekend, as the race toward the playoffs continues to heat up.
AGR’s Notebook: Quick thoughts from around the CPL
After their midsummer slump, Pacific FC are back on top of the power rankings once again, as they’ve done well to regain the top spot in the CPL with a pair of crucial road victories over Valour and now Halifax this past weekend. Certainly, fortune smiled Pacific in the face slightly in their Halifax win - the Wanderers were unlucky not to see two penalties called in their favour, but ultimately the scoreline was a fair one, as Pacific put up an otherwise spotless performance on the road. Led by another strong performance from Josh Heard, who claimed the winning goal, there was a lot to like from Pacific in this game - Emil Gazdov continues to rack up good performances and U21 minutes after regaining his spot in goal, Manny Aparicio had an energetic performance, and Pacific’s two goals were straight off the training ground. Pretty good all around from them.
There are two ways to look at Atlético Ottawa’s performance against York from last weekend. From a negative standpoint, they’ll be disappointed to fall just short in their quest to win a sixth straight home game, drawing York 3-3. On the positive side, they’ll be pleased that they came back from down 2-0 and 3-2 in the game, doing well to claim a deserved point in the end. Yet, credit has to be given to captain Carl Haworth for his role in this one - he really put his team on his back when down 2-0, and claimed a well-taken brace for his efforts. For all of the talk of how good the likes of Alberto Zapater and Nathan Ingham have been in Ottawa’s recent strong run of form, don’t discount how key Haworth has been, too, especially after he dealt with injuries earlier in the season. Otherwise, it’s worth talking about that ball Rubén del Campo delivered to Diego Espejo on their late 3-3 equalizer - perfection.
GOAL 🏡🏡🏡@AtletiOttawa draw level AGAIN! 😱— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 6, 2023
It's Diego Espejo with a POWERFUL header off a cross to bring this game to 3-3 vs. @YorkUtdFC – can someone find a winner in the last 10 minutes? 👀
🔴 Watch #CanPL LIVE on OneSoccer pic.twitter.com/KGwwTudJR7
Therefore, while Ottawa will be disappointed not to keep their winning run going at home, they did well to get points out of a game where they easily could’ve left all three on the table.
It feels harsh to have Cavalry FC down in third in the power rankings, as they arguably had the best performance of any team this past weekend in their win against Forge. A commanding result, they were in the driver's seat all game long, claiming a deserved 3-0 win in the end. Sergio Camargo was masterful between the lines, Goteh Ntignee dominated the left flank, William Akio had fun on the right, and unsung performances from Shamit Shome and Jesse Daley in the middle capped off a solid day of individual performances, as well. Really, it felt like Forge was on the back foot all game, and credit has to be given to Cavalry for how they made that happen.
Certainly, a game to forget against Pacific for Halifax Wanderers, who will feel hard done by the penalty decisions (or lack thereof) that went against them in that game. At the same time, it was a good learning lesson for them - the first non-called penalty was followed by Pacific’s opener just minutes later, while the second non-called penalty came with plenty of time left for Halifax to still muster up an equalizer.
Understandably, the frustration of the non-call got to them, but sometimes that’s soccer - it’s important to not get caught up in that, as it can hurt you in the moment. Elsewhere, just have one other thought on Halifax - Dan Nimick for MVP? He’s building a pretty darn good case, one that might prove to be hard to ignore if he keeps this up.
Weekend to forget for Forge FC, who got pretty thoroughly beaten by Cavalry on the road. The good news? No better way to bounce back than a 901 Derby against York United this upcoming weekend. Plus, it’s hard to imagine Forge’s best players having back-to-back quiet games, so keep an eye on the likes of Kyle Bekker and Manjrekar James in that one. Otherwise, it was an encouraging debut from new signing Beni Badibanga - he looks like he could be a fun addition to that Forge attack, especially in a position of need as a winger.
If you’re York United, you have to be perplexed - surely the weekend Brian Wright scored his first goal, they’d win, right? Turns out, that wouldn’t be the case, as despite seeing Wright finally find the net against his old team, a league-leading 10 missed big chances later, York couldn’t shut down shop in a chaotic 3-3 draw. In particular, they’ll be frustrated that they let two good leads slip on the road, as they haven’t done a lot of that this season. Despite that, they had a lot to be encouraged about, other than Wright’s much-needed goal (which seemed to give him all sorts of confidence). Clement Bayiha was a menace down the right and got two well-deserved assists, Kévin dos Santos had himself a shift on the left, and Noah Abatneh showed good confidence at centre back. The last point is crucial, too - expect to see a lot of Abatneh as York continues their quest to make up all sorts of lost ground in the race towards 2000 U21 Canadian minutes, of which they’ve got nine games left to reach, and 1342 minutes left to claim (an average of 149 minutes a game).
GOAL 👑@YorkUtdFC open the scoring vs. @AtletiOttawa in our @tonybet #CanPL Match of the Week – and it's a familiar face finding the back of the net as Brian Wright gets his 1st against his old team 🇨🇦— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 5, 2023
Shoutouts to Clément Bayiha for the assist, too 👀 pic.twitter.com/XePFMzgp8i
Overall, not much to take away from Vancouver FC’s 0-0 draw with Valour. Once again, they put in a solid performance, but they just couldn’t win. At the same time, while they remain locked to the bottom of the standings, there are a lot of positives to take away from this one - Vasco Fry’s debut was positive, their defence looked as good as it did for much of the season (although playing Valour might’ve helped in that), and their attack is showing glimpses of good combination play. If they keep that up, they’ll have a fun end to the season, even if the playoffs feel far out of reach at the moment.
It was the story of Valour FC’s season against Vancouver - a solid defensive performance, a Rayane Yesli masterclass, a good showing in midfield and a lack of goals despite chances. Despite continuing to string together solid performances, the wins aren’t coming for Valour, so if the goals don’t come quickly, don’t be surprised if that ends up defining this 2023 campaign for them, if it hasn’t already.