July 23, 2024
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Atletico Ottawa Ruben Del Campo

CPL Power Rankings Week 16: The Battle of the Giants

By on August 1, 2023 0 1814 Views

This week’s results gave me the most challenging time determining the rankings’ order. The top five teams are separated by just five points, and they’re all in form.

The question is, who’s the most in-form team? Continue to read to find out!

Valour FC Jordan Haynes
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

8th Place – Valour FC (↓1)

Valour could have been down 3-0 in the first five minutes. Somehow, they lasted to the 80th minute before conceding two more, but what a lousy game for them. According to the stats, Valour only gave up three big chances, but to my naked eye, they gave up at least five big chances. Pacific were able to get off ten shots, with seven coming inside the box, and left Valour with next to no chances created. Valour loses its second game in a row and extends its painful winless drought to five games.

It’s been over a month since Valour last won a game, and it’s fair to say that the season might be coming to a close for the Winnipeg team. Valour currently sit eight points behind a playoff spot, and needs to jump two teams if they want to take part in the post-season for the first time ever.

There is no chance of this happening if Valour continue to play like this. In this past month since their last win, they’ve played five games and have only scored twice. Getting shut out three times in five matches puts you on the path to despair. The worst part is you can’t even associate this winless drought with away games, as three of the five matches have been played at home. Valour are in pathetic form. Their fans are growing apathetic, and this team is in a precarious position both on and off the pitch.

Next week, Valour face Vancouver, and to be honest with you, I believe Valour are the underdogs in this match. With games against Cavalry, Ottawa, and Halifax in August, we may see the official end of Valour’s playoff dreams coming soon.

York United Max Ferrari
Photo Credit: John Jacques

7th Place – York United (↓1)

Yikes… that end-of-game scuffle really sums up how the club is doing right now. It’s another loss at home, making June 9th the last time York last won a game at YLS. This week, the Nine Stripes fell to the Halifax Wanderers in a game that was the same ol’ story for York. Outpossessed, outshot, outpassed, and outclassed, York were in this game, and the only shots that landed for York were in the fisticuffs that will earn Baldisimo potentially hefty suspension.

York are still having trouble scoring. The signing of Brian Wright has produced nothing, and Ricci and DeRo have been ghosting so much one might think they are auditioning for another Ghostbusters reboot. York currently have the league’s third worst Goals For count, with 19 – only beating out Vancouver and Valour. They have a -6 GD which puts them on the losing end of any current tiebreaker, which is why they sit in sixth place. They have two wins in five matches, but those two wins have come against Vancouver and Valour. You have to go back all the way to the aforementioned June 9th game against Ottawa to find the last time York won a game against a team that isn’t Valour or Vancouver.

York currently sit in sixth place with 24 points, tied with Ottawa and only three points behind Cavalry in third place. However, York’s next three matches are against Ottawa, Forge, and Cavalry. There is a very high possibility that York could be out of the playoff race by the time they play Vancouver at the end of August.

To make matters worse, York are sitting on a league-low 438 U-21 minutes. In order to reach the mandatory U-21 quota, York will have to average 145 minutes per game. If they don’t do this, they won’t be allowed in the playoffs, regardless of if they qualify through standings. So now, York have to balance winning games (which they are having trouble doing) while playing a ton of U21 minutes in order to try and get into that playoff spot. I don’t think they do it, and I don’t see them rising in these rankings anytime soon.

Vancouver FC Renan Garcia
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

6th Place – Vancouver FC (↑2)

This season is practically washed for Vancouver FC, so instead of focusing on the result, I want to focus on how they played – and they played great! Vancouver went toe-to-toe with Forge and had plenty of chances to take the lead in this game. Unfortunately, they ran into a hot Triston Henry and couldn’t get on the board. They did end up conceding twice in three minutes, leaving them with their third straight loss, but overall it was an impressive showing from the Langley side.

Expectations are on the ground floor for Vancouver at this point of the season. I could permanently place them in last for these rankings, but what’s the fun in that? I like that they were able to face Forge head-on, and I think they were unlucky that none of their 13 shots ended up in the back of the net. Despite all the losses this season, Vancouver remains a little dangerous on the attack, and when they have the ball, there’s always the sense that something can happen. However, their biggest problem has been defence, and this game showed it again. I really hope that Vancouver can end this season strong and advertise themselves to their local fanbase.

Pacific FC Adonijah Reid
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

5th Place – Pacific FC (-)

Finally, after a month-long drought, Pacific has finally won and somehow are back to first place in the CPL Standings. Pacific dominated as usual in this Valour game and walked away with a 3-0 win. Once again, they outshot their opponent, this time 10-6 and with three big chances created, Pacific probably should have walked away with a five, if not six goal win. Alas, they finally get a win which propels themselves up the CPL Standings.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. In this month-long win drought, Pacific still looked great. They were outshooting opponents and were creating many chances to come away with three points. However, luck sometimes isn’t on your side. It was on Pacific’s side this week, and they will be thankful that this cursed drought is over. However, before I move them up the Power Rankings, I will need to see whether they can repeat this result next week. In fact, I’m going to need to see if they can repeat this result for the next two weeks.

Beginning next week, Pacific visit the east coast for a showdown with the Halifax Wanderers. This has been a very even matchup over the years, with Pacific slightly edging out Halifax with a record of 6-5-5. However, Halifax is on a five home-game win streak, and it won’t be an easy test for the Tridents. The week after, Pacific face a streaking hot Ottawa side that has shown they can topple top sides. If Pacific can come out with two solid results from these next two games, I think they’ll be right back as favourites to win the title. Alas, only time will tell.

Forge FC
Photo Credit: Jojo Yanjiao Qian / Forge FC

4th Place – Forge FC (↓2)

They’re getting results, but they aren’t looking good. Forge beat Vancouver 2-0 this week thanks to two goals in two minutes in the second half. However, they didn’t look good. Vancouver had plenty of chances to take the lead, and if it wasn’t for Triston Henry, Forge probably would have lost this game. In fact, if it wasn’t for Henry, Forge would have probably lost last week as well. However, Forge have shown resilience and have now made it two games in a row where they’ve won 2-0.

Forge are undefeated in four matches, yet they look beatable week in and week out. They are a weird team to analyze because they aren’t playing well but are still pulling out results. However, this same thing happened earlier in the season, and the warning signs were ignored, eventually leading Forge into a five-match winless streak. Could these past few games be warning signs again? Well, one has to question how long Triston Henry can keep this up. If he can keep saving Forge until the end of the season, I think Forge remain title contenders. However, if Henry starts to falter, I think Forge will begin to suffer very quickly.

Forge play Cavalry, York, Halifax and Ottawa in the month of August. Not one of these games is an easy match, even York, as they tend to play well at Tim Horton’s field. If you’re not a fan of Forge, this is the month where Forge can either stumble or potentially place one hand on the trophy. However, I believe it will all come down to Triston Henry. If he struggles, so will Forge. This is going to be fun!

Halifax Wanderers Joao Morelli
Photo Credit: John Jacques

3rd Place – Halifax Wanderers (↑1)

Morrelli is back! Halifax’s star forward iced the match on Sunday as Halifax defeated York by a score of 2-0. This was another fun match for Halifax as they continue to ooze with confidence. Outpossessing York 51% to 49%, Halifax, while on the ball, displayed a confidence and swagger that the CPL hasn’t seen from this east coast team before. On attack, Halifax has multiple players who can punish opponents. Defensively, Halifax has cleaned up their problems, only allowing one goal in their past three matches.

On a two-game win streak, Halifax has jumped back into a playoff position. However, with two losses in their past five matches, there is that potential for Halifax to drop points at the worst time. The best way to get rid of these fears? Beat a top team. Luckily for Halifax, they play a Pacific side who are just coming off a 3-0 win on the road. If Halifax can beat this title-contending Pacific side while extending their home winning streak to six games, Halifax could very much be in the title race.

However, if they aren’t able to beat Pacific, there will continue to be a shadow of doubt in the back of my mind that any week Halifax could drop points against teams they really shouldn’t be dropping points to.

Cavalry FC Shamit Shome
Photo Credit: Matt Zambonin

2nd Place – Cavalry FC (↓1)

I don’t know what Cavalry has done to Ottawa, but they’ve lost again. After Ottawa ended their three-game winning streak three matches ago, Ottawa, this time, ends a two-game winning streak as Cavalry fall 1-0 in TD Place. It’s the same story for Cavalry in this matchup against Ottawa. Ottawa ends up scoring an early goal and then sets up a low block that Cavalry can’t penetrate for the rest of the game. Despite 62% possession, 433 passes to Ottawa’s 239, 13 shots and 5 big chances created, Cavalry walked away with zero goals scored.

So why are they second place? Because Ottawa is the only team to have stopped Cavlary from winning since June 17th. In their past seven matches, Cavalry has won five, losing twice to Ottawa. In that span of seven games, they’ve beaten five different teams. Do not let these two losses to Ottawa change your mind about Cavalry. They are still a dangerous team, and I believe they are still strong contenders for the regular season title. Cavalry now has a 2-1-8 record vs Ottawa, and not having Myer Bevan in this game probably played a part in this loss. However, Bevan will return, and Cavalry only has to play Ottawa once more in the regular season. Until I see the Cavs stumble against other opponents, I will still rank them high.

Next week, the Cavs face Forge. This is going to be an absolute battle. Forge haven’t been looking great but have been coming away with results; meanwhile Forge are the only team that Cavalry haven’t faced in these past seven matches. Can Cavalry knockdown Forge, or will the Hamilton side join Ottawa as Cavalry’s kryptonite?

Atletico Ottawa Ruben Del Campo
Photo Credit: Matt Zambonin

1st Place – Atletico Ottawa (↑2)

After dropping a stinker against Halifax, Ottawa turned around and won their fifth straight match at home against the high-flying Cavalry FC. Sammy Salter opened the scoring in the seventh minute, and that was all Ottawa needed to come away with all three points. Ottawa’s defensive low block is looking dangerous once again. They frustrated Cavalry all match long and created multiple scoring chances on the counterattack. I realize I keep saying this, but if Ottawa starts scoring on half the chances they create in games, they’ll be scoring 2-3 goals a game. Pair that with their defensive prowess, and Ottawa will be a tough team to topple.

This is Ottawa’s fourth win in five matches, and they are currently the most in-form team in the CPL with twelve points from their past five games. Last season, we saw Ottawa dominate on the road and struggle at home. This season, Ottawa is tied for first with Halifax for the best home record in the league. Ottawa and Halifax are both on a five home-match win streak and have turned TD Place into a fortress.

Unlike last season, however, Ottawa’s away record isn’t much to be proud of. They currently have the league’s third worst record. But that means there’s lots of room for improvement. If Ottawa can get back their away form from last season while continuing this dangerous home form, Ottawa could very much bully their way into this title race. I know I sound like a homer right now, but no one can argue the stats. Ottawa is hot right now.

Next week provides a surprisingly tough test as Ottawa faces York. Despite York’s issues on and off the pitch, York holds the edge over Ottawa with a record of 3-9-1. That’s right, Ottawa has only beaten York once and are currently on a two-game losing streak against the Nine Stripes.

Outside of this losing streak, Ottawa and York draw games all the time. If Ottawa wants to extend their home winning streak to 6, they must overcome some demons and beat a weak York side that is potentially there for the taking. In my opinion, this game is the most underrated match of the Week candidate. However, for now, Ottawa fans can celebrate being top of the Power Rankings once again.

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