CanPL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 19 | Presented by tonybet
Can they go back-to-back?
That’s the question brewing over in Ottawa right now, as the 2022 regular season champions just can’t stop winning games at the moment. Thanks to that, they now sit just two points off first place, and based on their form, are arguably the favourites to finish atop the CPL table in eight games' time.
Yet, they’re not the only ones finding their form at the right time as of late. The Halifax Wanderers are continuing to pick up points, while Cavalry’s quietly regained the top spot in the table, which along with Ottawa, have arguably made them the three teams to beat as the end of the season nears.
On the flip side, it’s leaving big questions for fellow top six sides Pacific, Forge and York, who all dropped points this weekend, and are trending in the wrong direction at the moment. Not only that, but each team seems to be the orchestrator of their own demise, too, which will leave them with some soul-searching to do over the last bit of the season as they look to remain in the title hunt.
Either way, with all still to play for (even for Valour and Vancouver, although their time is quickly running out), they’ll all shift their attention to the week ahead, as some more crucial matches await.
Before then, however, here’s a look back at the matchday that was, as well as the latest CanPL Power Rankings presented by tonybet, helping set the table for what’s ahead.
AGR’s Notebook: Quick thoughts from around the CPL
No movement at the top of the Power Rankings, as Atlético Ottawa picked up a crucial 3-1 road win over Valour, allowing them to push within touching distance of first place. They remain in great form at the moment, too - they’ve picked up 23 of a possible 33 points across their last 11 games, have won three of their last four on the road, and haven’t lost back-to-back games since late May. Yet, they’re doing all of that while playing vintage Atlético soccer - they’re getting leads right now, and aren’t relinquishing them. Just consider this stat as an example - when leading games at half time this season, Ottawa have now outscored opponents 14-2. Not bad at all.
GOAL🏠🏠— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 19, 2023
Olliewood comes to Winnipeg!🔥@OllieBassett28 sneaks one through Yesli to give @atletiOttawa a 0-2 lead over @ValourFootball in #CanPL action🍁⚽️#ForValour | #ForOttawa
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Oh yeah, and the defending POTY and PPOTY Ollie Bassett, has to be leading the way in 2023’s race now, too, as he scored a brace to get up to 10G/3A in 20 games on the season, besting the 8G/3A he put up last year across the regular season AND playoffs. Also tied for the golden boot lead, his productivity has been huge for Ottawa, helping them immensely as of late. Overall, there are a lot of unsung heroes on this Ottawa team who deserve praise, from Karl Ouimette to Alberto Zapater to Nathan Ingham and more, but this team seems to go as far as Bassett’s willing to take them, and he’s been a man on a mission as of late.
GOAL🏠🏠🏠— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 19, 2023
You know the saying, "#CANPL BANGERS ONLY"!🔥@OllieBassett28 bangs home a free kick to tie the lead league, as well as get the brace! @atletiOttawa lead 0-3 over @ValourFootball in #CanPL action🍁⚽️#ForValour | #ForOttawa
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It’s never easy to get points away at Forge. So to do so twice in one season? Results like that are why the Halifax Wanderers remain high up in the power rankings, as they picked up a crucial 1-1 draw away to the defending champions. And, if not for a moment of magic from Forge off a free kick, they arguably could’ve won, too, in deserved fashion. Yet, credit has to be given to a strong defensive performance, led by Dan Nimick, who scored a goal and was excellent at the back once again. Surely he has to be the leader now in the Defender of the Year race now, and is definitely in the mix for both POTY awards, too. Otherwise, there were some interesting names who stood out across the board - Jordan Perruzza made some good runs, Mo Omar slotted nicely back into midfield, and Zachary Fernandez is quietly continuing to have a very solid season at right back.
It was a no-nonsense victory for Cavalry FC over York this weekend, as they picked up a big 2-1 win to return to the top of the table. Led by a fast start, as they scored just one minute into the game, they never looked back from there, doing well to hold on the rest of the way. It might not have been their best performance of the year, as they were quite sloppy in possession, but they defended very well and scored two timely goals. And that’s what this team can do.
🚨GOAL🐎— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 20, 2023
What a start from @CPLCavalryFC! Bradley Kamdem finds Ali Musse with a perfect cross, and he makes no mistake with the header to grab an early lead for his team🔥
They’ve got the horses at the back (pun sort of intended?), as Marco Carducci remains solid, Daan Klomp has continued to be a leader (and has to be in the Defender of the Year race right now) and the likes of Bradley Kamdem and Eryk Kobza have stepped up nicely alongside him. You add in that Callum Montgomery has finally returned from injury (and looked good in his first start in months), and there’s a lot to like there. From that, that’s allowed the forwards to really shine - Myer Bevan’s slowed down as of late, but Ali Musse popped up with the opener, which was key, while William Akio continued his bright start to life with the club, nabbing his fourth goal in the past three games. All complemented by unsung performances in the middle and elsewhere (Shamit Shome and Fraser Aird come to mind here), and it feels like Cavalry’s just ticking right now. As long as they remain solid defensively, they’ve got the individual quality to hurt you in moments, and that’s why they sit in first place.
Forge FC continues to drop points at home, and it’s costing them, as they’re now down to fourth in the table (and could fall to fifth if Halifax wins their game in hand). Yet, they just haven’t been able to have that same fear factor at Tim Hortons Field as in past seasons. Perhaps, however, that’s what they need heading into the playoffs - they did win all three of their North Star Shields away from home, losing the one final they did play in Hamilton, so maybe a road trip is what they need. Despite where they sit, however, this team has the individual quality to cause damage, as new arrival Beni Badibanga showed on his worldie of a free kick to help rescue the draw. Now, they’ve just got to clean things up tactically, as teams are starting to play them a lot more aggressively than ever, and that’s caught them by surprise a few times now.
Is it time to hit the panic button for Pacific FC? It’s probably still too early, but with just two wins in their last nine games, things are not looking good right now over on the Island. Especially after dropping their first-ever Salish Sea Derby to Vancouver FC, in a game they led through 75 minutes, and that was another one to forget for James Merriman’s side. Ultimately, however, two things are hurting them right now - their defence has taken a step back as of late, which isn’t helped by the fact that they aren’t also getting timely saves in goal. Then, up front, they haven’t had one player step up to be the “guy” to finish chances in key moments. Ayman Sellouf has been closest to that, but he’s more of a creator than a scorer, and chance creation hasn’t been an issue. If Pacific’s to win a title or a North Star Shield, those are two questions they’ll have to answer, quickly.
GOAL 🦅🦅🦅— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 19, 2023
GABRIEL BITAR AGAIN 😱@VanFootballClub take a LATE 3-2 lead over @PacificFCCPL in this back-and-forth BC derby – will it be the game winner!? 👀
🔴 Watch #CanPL on OneSoccer pic.twitter.com/FnLbfn9Xfk
As they say, wins are a cure-all, and that’s why Vancouver FC has climbed the power rankings, as they picked up a massive Salish Sea Derby win over Pacific, beating their rivals for the first time. It was fully deserved, too - from minute one to ninety, they were the better team, barring a 20-minute spell, doing well to take the game to their rivals. Vasco Fry was pulling the strings in midfield, Mikaël Cantave was dangerous out wide, while Callum Irving, Rocco Romeo and Anthony White kept things tidy at the back. Then, needing a hero, Gabriel Bitar came off the bench and saved the day, scoring a crucial brace to cap off the day. Overall, a dream day for Vancouver, who will look to use this victory to build momentum, showing that they can truly take the game to anyone in the league on their day. Even if they don’t make the playoffs, as they very likely won’t, this is the exact sort of result that could pay dividends next year, and they’ll look to prove that.
It's a FAMOUS VICTORY for @VanFootballClub 🙌— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 19, 2023
For the first time in club history, Vancouver FC have beaten Pacific FC in this 5-goal back-and-forth BC derby thriller in #CanPL 🇨🇦
🔴 POST-GAME ANALYSIS now live on OneSoccer ahead of Forge FC vs HFX Wanderers FC (7PM ET / 4PM PT) pic.twitter.com/TU3T0lGTA9
More misery for York United FC this weekend, as they extended their winless run to four, and have just one win in their last seven and two in their last 11. They didn’t play badly against Cavalry, either - they were probably the better team across 90 minutes, but they also went down early, so you can call that score effects. Really, this game summed up York’s struggles as of late - they’re dangerous in attack, but can be sloppy in transition and defensively. In fact, the latter has become a big issue - they’ve now conceded 33 goals in 21 games, only better than Vancouver (38 in 20). And, oh yeah, those U21 minutes… they’re not looking good, and won’t be helped by Carson Buschman-Dormond picking up a red card, and a possible suspension to go along with it.
🚨RED CARD🟥— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 20, 2023
York's Carson Buschman-Dormond earns a late red card, as he stops Cavalry's Gareth Smith-Doyle on a transition moment right before the full time whistle confirms the 2-1 win for the Cavs
It's increasingly looking likelier that York could be the team in the top six that will miss out on the playoffs, until they prove something to the contrary, which will make for a fascinating last seven games from them.
Lastly, it was another frustrating loss for Valour FC, who were unable to build off their big win the week prior. As a result, they now have just one win in their last eight, and now sit nine points off a playoff spot. Facing down a three-game road swing, this stretch could define their season, given that they usually also struggle on the road. Yet, if they’re to be eliminated from the playoff race in the weeks to come, they can say they did it to themselves, and this Ottawa game was an example of that. They continue to give up early goals, haven’t been able to impose themselves at home, and just can’t finish any chances to save their lives. You add in that it was a rare off-night for Rayane Yesli… and that’s how results like this happen.
Shout out to Marcello Polisi, though, for at least giving the Valour fans something to cheer about with this goal. Perhaps some of his forwards might want to take notes on the skills he showed to pick this one out…
GOAL🎖️— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 19, 2023
Another #CanPL goal, another BANGER!🔥
Marcello Polisi with a worldie from distance to bring @ValourFootball within 2 goals of @atletiOttawa🍁⚽️#ForValour | #ForOttawa
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