CPL Power Rankings Week 17: Controversy
It was a tantalizing lineup of games this weekend, and they filled each day with controversy and drama aplenty.
What unfolded on the pitch left us with some big decisions in this week’s Power Rankings at the top of the table, while the bottom…was more predictable.
Let’s get into it.
8th Place – Valour FC
Don’t get it twisted; Valour are lucky they came away from this game with a point. Vancouver should have easily been up three or four goals by the time the 60th minute arrived, and Valour could only muster two chances – if that. With the most positive outlook, Valour at best was equally matched with Vancouver.
That last sentence alone is the issue. Vancouver have zero expectations for the remainder of the season. The fact Valour couldn’t beat Vancouver and probably should have lost the game says a lot about this Valour team. It has now been six matches since Valour last won a game. They sit in seventh place, eight points behind a playoff spot, and look nowhere close to making a push.
This season was “playoffs or bust” for Valour, and the worst possible outcome is happening to their fanbase. There is no longer any rage with the Valour fans. All rage has been replaced with apathy, and apathy leads to very bad things in terms of the longevity of a club. I hope Valour can turn it around, but with their next four games being against Cavalry, Ottawa, Halifax, and Pacific, I’m declaring their season already over.
7th Place – Vancouver FC
They didn’t win, but they ended their three game-losing streak while looking pretty solid all 90 minutes long. As mentioned, I believe that Vancouver was unlucky to not come away with all three points. They dominated possession 57% to 43% and outshot Valour twelve to nine with five on target. We’ve seen this type of offensive creativity from Vancouver before this season, but this seems to be the first time they weren’t able to capitalize on it.
This is Vancouver’s second game in a row where they have played great! Although they don’t have much to show for it, they have the opportunity to build on these performances and finish the season strong! These last ten games will be very important in terms of planting the seeds for next season and hopefully attracting more fans to the club.
6th Place – York United
York needed this win, but they blew it… twice. After going up 2-0 in the 26th minute thanks to two goals in just as many minutes, they threw a lifeline to Ottawa with ten minutes to go in the first half, and they cut the lead in half. Ottawa then equalized on a setpiece in the second half, before luck went on York’s side, re-gifting the lead back to York. However, Ottawa were relentless and eventually equalized with nine minutes to go in this game.
You cannot score three goals on the road and then choke the lead twice in a crucial six point match with massive playoff implications. York had Ottawa right where they wanted: stumbling and without any solutions of how to breach York. But then York just handed a lifeline back to Ottawa at the end of the first half with a horrible turnover, and that changed the game on its head. York even took the lead back thanks to some good fortune, but weren’t able to put the game away – leading to Ottawa equalizing and splitting the points.
York may be in a playoff spot as of now, but between themselves, Ottawa and Halifax, they are in the worst position thanks to their GD and their U-21 minutes. York are going to need 1,342 U-21 minutes to be eligible for playoffs. They are going to need to somehow achieve this quota while getting results against tough opponents, and to make matters worse, their top goal scorer Osaze DeRosario has been suspended for a month. It’s not looking good for York. If this game is a look into the future, I believe York’s playoff chances is going up in smoke.
5th Place – Forge FC
I got a lot of angry messages from Forge fans last week about their fourth place placement in last week’s rankings. However, this week proved my thoughts right: Forge yet again didn’t look good in the match but this time around they were made to pay. Losing 3-0 to Cavalry, Forge simply didn’t show up, leaving their fans very disappointed.
This is now the third match in a row that Forge hasn’t played well in. When you look at the season overall, despite sitting comfortably in third place, in terms of form and stretches throughout the season, Forge hasn’t looked that good. With matches against York, Halifax and Ottawa coming up, Forge could be entering another slippery slope despite their overall good records against these three teams.
On the other hand, good results against these teams will propel Forge up the CPL standings and these rankings. However, I still believe everything comes down to Triston Henry. If this is the start of a slump for Henry, I believe that Forge will follow. As of now, these past three games are reminding me of how Forge was playing during their slump. If this loss to Cavalry is a sign of what is to come – the playoff race may get even tighter than it is right now.
4th Place – Halifax Wanderers
They were robbed. I won’t say robbed of three points, but definitely robbed of one if not two penalty opportunities. However, that doesn’t always equal three points. Halifax played decent, but it wasn’t an out-of-this-world performance. Halifax and Pacifc both had eleven shots with Pacific edging out Halifax with four shots on target to the Wanderers’ three. Although playing at home, Halifax gave up plenty of scoring chances to Pacific to keep them in the game – which evidently cost them. As well, the Halifax players never were able to mentally recover from the referee mistakes, which also evidently cost them.
Halifax still played well, but they looked like an inexperienced team who weren’t able to mentally bounce back from the hardships. Moving forward, Halifax has a must-win game against Vancouver. This is a game that they cannot afford to drop points in, with the playoff race tightening up. As well, Halifax needs to start thinking about their U-21 minutes. With only ten games left, Halifax needs to average 107 minutes per game. It’s not a dire situation, but paired with being in the middle of a playoff race, and Halifax is going to need to start preparing themselves mentally for some more hardships. They cannot afford to fall apart, like they did this week.
3rd Place – Atletico Ottawa
The home game winning streak ends at five, but the undefeated streak extends to six. On one hand, they scored three goals at home, and came back from a deficit twice. On the other hand, they went down 2-0 in a span of two minutes and then scored on themselves after equalizing the game at two. It’s a weird one to analyze for Ottawa. They proved again that they are an impressive team going forward, but their injuries on the left side of the defence were being exposed as Niba had no solutions for York’s right side attacks.
These dropped points probably end Ottawa’s title hopes, but clawing back to salvage a draw could turn into a huge point as the season nears its end. They still remain a force, but with a tough match coming up in Starlight, I’ll be interested to see if Ottawa can pull another miracle out the bag, or if they will be sent right back into the thick of a playoff race with Halifax and York.
2nd Place – Pacific FC
Throughout their winless drought, I said that Pacific still looked good and they were just getting unlucky. Fast forward to now and Pacific are back on top of the CPL and riding a two-game win streak.
Some may say that the refs helped Pacific win their match against Halifax, but I believe that’s an unfair statement. Pacific came out and played their typical game. They created enough chances to put two in the back of the net, and were able to hold on defensively to take home all three points.
Next week Pacific host Ottawa, and if they come away with all three points, they’ll place one hand on the title with ten games left.
1st Place – Cavalry FC
In their past eight games, Cavalry have beaten every CPL team, except their Kryptonite Ottawa. Forge were their most recent victim, as Cavalry beats them 3-0.
It was a brilliant performance from Cavalry, and a very therapeutic one for the many Cavs supporters who have been beaten by Forge many times. Cavalry are the only team I can see right now going toe-to-toe with Pacific. Their defence is sound and their offence is more potent than Pacific’s. With their next two matches being against Valour and York before facing Pacific, I don’t see Cavalry coming close to losing until that massive clash against the Isle.
Cavalry remain the hottest team in the league and the only way they get douzed will be through their own doing. But its the CPL, so who really knows what next week will bring?