CPL Power Rankings Week 14: Capital Gains
Six matches were played between last week’s article and this one. Did Cavalry retain the top seed? Did York climb out of the bottom of the table? Did Valour continue their slide to the bottom? Well, lucky for you, the answers are right below this paragraph.
8th Place – Vancouver FC (↓1)
This week, Vancouver travelled to the Nation’s Capital for another match with Atletico Ottawa… and all the good vibes they may have created last week were extinguished harder than a fireman snuffing out a flame. Vancouver conceded TWENTY shots against them, with eight on target. They may have only conceded three goals, but as per this season, that is due to Ottawa’s offence and not Vancouver’s defence. In fact, if they played like this against Forge, it could have been 8-0 or 10-0. You can’t give up so many golden chances and expect to come away with results. Also, you can’t equalize against the run of play just to crumble defensively a few minutes later.
Vancouver signed Alejandro Diaz this past week, and he immediately got on the scoreboard. However, Vancouver find themselves eight points out of a playoff spot, and Diaz may not be able to salvage this season for CPL’s newest expansion side.
Next week Vancouver face a surging Cavalry side who are coming off a massive 1-0 win over Halifax. However, Ottawa has shown that Cavalry can be beaten with a specific playing style. Unfortunately, Vancouver doesn’t have that playing style unlocked, so last week’s article may be the last time you see Vancouver anywhere above eighth place in these rankings.
7th Place – York United (↑1)
Make no mistake: York only moved up because of how badly Vancouver played. If I could, I would put York in 8B. After losing 4-0 at home last week, York desperately needed a response against a slumping Pacific side… and well, a 0-0 draw will never cut it.
It wasn’t a bad game for York as they finished with 56% possession, 11 shots and three corners; however, with no goals to show for it, York again left points on the table. Defensively, despite giving up 12 shots, York were able to keep a clean sheet, which is great after coming off a 4-0 loss, but those type of stats worry me.
The slide continues for York. Since losing to Pacific, they have only won once (against Vancouver in a game that could have easily ended in a draw) and hold a record of 1-2-3. Unless you are a pre-schooler learning to count, those order of numbers doesn’t bode well for York.
Finishing is still an issue. Despite having one of the best attacking three on paper, York have the third-worst Goals For with 17 in 16 games, and are currently on a two-game scoreless drought. To make matters worse, Ottawa has leapfrogged them in the standings, Halifax are only three points away from leapfrogging them, and York have played an extra game over Halifax.
It’s not looking good, chief – and these Power Rankings have been showing this for the past few weeks. However, next week provides an excellent opportunity to turn the ship around. With a win against Valour, York can move as high as third place in the standings and keep themselves ahead of Halifax or Ottawa for that last playoff spot. But on the flip side, a draw or loss could see themselves out of a playoff spot. Valour are a team who are desperately looking to turn their season around and start a playoff push of their own, so this match should be highly anticipated.
6th Place – Valour FC (↓1)
They didn’t lose, but they probably should have. After being outshot 17-8 last week, Valour decided to turn around and get outshot 19-5, which was not the type of improvement we were looking for. When you add 35% possession, 16 fouls, and only getting two corners to Forge’s nine, you get the full picture of what happened this past week. Yet! They still managed to get a draw, thanks to some late-game heroics.
The season is slipping away for Valour. They are currently on a three-game-winless streak, and despite ending their two-game goalless streak, this was Valour’s fifth game without scoring a goal from open play. What should have been a solid season for Valour has quickly turned into an ever so occurring nightmare as one glance at the standings shows the Winnipeg team in seventh place, five points behind the last playoff spot.
However, next week provides the saving grace that this team desperately needs… a matchup against the team in fifth place, York United. York are in a nearly identical situation to Valour, and the winner of this match could begin to turn their season around. If Valour can manage to win all three points, they’ll find themselves two points out of a playoff spot, and once you read who’s in first place in these power rankings, you’ll see that it doesn’t take much to find yourselves in a playoff spot when you’re on a roll. Valour need to start that roll, and a draw or loss could be devastating to the Manitoban club.
5th Place – Pacific FC (↓3)
Oh boy. Last week I said, “Could these be the early signs of a Pacific slump? Maybe, but probably not.” – CPL Power Rankings Week 13. I take that all back.
Pacific looked unstoppable for the entire season… until they ran into Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. Since then, they have gone on a four-game winless drought with a 2-1 loss and a 0-0 draw this week, adding to the misery. Against Halifax, Pacific kept up and played a decent away game. However, Halifax’s relentless attacks and Pacific’s red card eventually resulted in a loss. Lucky for Pacific, they could rebound right away against York United – but they ended up drawing this game 0-0 despite 12 shots.
I don’t know what is going on with Pacific. They are still averaging around 10 shots a game, yet they have lost their winning touch, drastically affecting the standings. What looked like an easy, confident lead in the CPL Standings has quickly turned into a free fall as Pacific are in danger of falling into joint second place. I wish I could say more about this team, but they genuinely confuse me, as unlike York, Valour and Vancouver, Pacific have played decently in all their games yet are in a slump.
Next week is a borderline must-win game for Pacific as they face a Forge team that only sits third points behind them. A loss to Forge would bring Forge levelled with Pacific, but Pacific do have the GD advantage… but to make matters worse, Cavalry face Vancouver and a Cavalry win paired with a Pacific loss would push the Cavs into first place. This slump has to end now for Pacific, as all of a sudden they have lost control of the title race.
4th Place – Forge FC (↑2)
It’s fair to say that the slump is over for Forge. In two games they have put up 38 shots, and this recent result should have easily ended in another 4-0 scoreline. However, luck wasn’t on their side as Valour squeaked out a draw. Forge’s offence is back to looking terrifying, and the Hamilton side is playing with a swagger that terrorizes opponents. Dropping two points is disappointing, but Forge suddenly find themselves only three points behind Pacific, who sit in first place. Guess who Forge will play next week?
That’s right, Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium. It’s impossible to explain how massive this game could be. If Forge manages to pick up all three points and end the weekend in joint first or 2nd place, despite going on this historic slump, mentally, this could send shockwaves throughout the entire league. I’m not even trying to be dramatic. Imagine seeing Forge win 1 out of 7 games just to turn around and get 3 results to propel them onto the top of the table… This would be the equivalent of chopping Wolverine’s arm off just to see him grow it back on.
However, there is a job to be done at Starlight, and I’m very intrigued to see how Forge decide to handle this game.
3rd Place – Halifax Wanderers (-)
This Halifax side is so fun to watch; they play with incredible pace and ruthlessness on the attack that you just can’t tear your eyes away from the screen. However, for some reason, luck hasn’t been on their side. They earned a fantastic victory over Pacific in a torrential downpour, but in their next game against Cavalry, they left feeling robbed of a point, not because of a missed call but because Cavalry snuck away with all 3 points thanks to a Halifax own goal in the 91st minute. Despite 11 shots and 50% possession, Halifax have nothing to show for it, similar to their loss against Vancouver.
This has been their only blight recently, and it’s a big one because these dropped points could be a game-changer later on near the end of the season. Everyone always says that Champions find ways to win, but Halifax hasn’t caught onto that memo yet. Nevertheless, Halifax look fantastic and are always in contention to win the game, regardless of who they play.
Speaking of who they are playing, Halifax faces a red-hot Atletico Ottawa side in a highly anticipated clash. Ottawa currently sit in fourth place, but a win for Halifax would see them leap over their rival in a game that means so much to the two dedicated fanbases. With all the recent talk online of which fanbase is the best in the CPL, this game has another edge which the players will definitely be feeling.
2nd Place – Cavalry FC (↓1)
That loss to Ottawa ended their four-game win streak, and yet what was more disappointing was the performance that Cavalry put out. Only four shots to Ottawa’s eight, Cavalry looked flat and uninterested, and it cost them. Their second game this week against Halifax ended in a 1-0 win for Cavalry, but realistically, that game should have ended in a draw as both teams were equally matched. A win is a win, but these next two weeks will be very interesting.
Next week Cavalry face Vancouver in a trap game. This is a game that Cavalry should easily win, but this Vancouver side, who have just signed Alejandro Diaz, has proven to upset teams this season. Still, a win for Cavalry could place them as high as first place. The week after, Cavalry face Ottawa in a rematch of this past week’s game, and it could very much be a battle of the two hottest teams in the CPL right now.
Many will argue that Cavalry should stay first in these Power Rankings, but that 2-0 loss to Ottawa drops them a spot, mainly because Ottawa has done this:
1st Place – Atletico Ottawa (↑3)
Starting off last week in eighth place, Ottawa has found themselves in fourth place, five points behind first. Ottawa played twice this week. The first was a road match against Cavalry, where Ottawa played their ever-so-typical defensive football, relying on the counter-attack and grabbing two goals to earn a 2-0 win. They then had a quick turnaround and hosted Vancouver, where they posted TWENTY shots in a 3-1 win. The win against Vancouver was Ottawa’s 4th straight victory at home and Ottawa’s 3rd consecutive victory. They remain undefeated in four matches and have now turned their sights to the title, where they only sit five points behind.
The new signings for Ottawa have brought a new life to this team. Their defensive success from last season has returned, only allowing one goal in the past three games. However, the scariest part is how good their offence has been looking. 46 shots from their past three games and Ottawa hasn’t even started being efficient yet in front of goal.
Ottawa is burning hot right now, and with the influx of new fans coming over from Spain, Ottawa is yet again turning into a Massive machine. However, next week lies their toughest challenge. This Halifax side isn’t the same side that Ottawa saw this year. In fact, I don’t think Ottawa has ever faced a Halifax side as good as this one. On the road in Halifax, Ottawa will have to overcome many challenges to keep this win streak alive. If they do, CPL fans may have to begrudgingly declare that Ottawa is back in the title race.