April 15, 2024
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Atletico Ottawa Zach Verhoven

How The Mighty Have Fallen: CPL Power Rankings Week 4

By on May 8, 2023 0 2211 Views

After a somewhat dull Week 3, the CPL Clubs delivered in Week 4. The season is getting spicier, and so are the Power Rankings.

Atletico Ottawa Los
Photo Credit: Tim Austen / Freestyle Photography

8th Place – Atletico Ottawa

The talk in the nation’s capital leading up to this game was focused on Ottawa’s poor home record: before this game, Ottawa had a home record of 8-14-9 and were currently on a seven home game drought without a win. Pacific brought the perfect opportunity to get back in the win column against a terrific team while building up momentum for their own Canadian Championship clash that would follow. However, the complete opposite occurred.

The clock at TD Place had yet to show ten minutes, and Ottawa was already down 2-0. Pacific would add another before the half to take a 3-0 lead into the break. Ottawa, as expected, played more offensively in the second half, grabbing a 52′ goal thanks to Ollie Bassett, but all the momentum dwindled when Pacific iced the game with a fourth goal. Ottawa loses once again in embarrassing fashion, adding a tenth loss to the record column and increasing the home game win drought to eight games.

If one looked at the stats, one would assume the game was pretty even, but don’t let the numbers fool you. Pacific won this game within the first 20 minutes. This game could have easily finished 6-8 nothing if Pacific had capitalized on all their chances. Ottawa, yet again, looked flat and unprepared for the start of the game – and this time, they were punished to the max. Ottawa has sat back for the fifth straight game and let the opponent dictate play in the first half. Ottawa has only come out to play in the second half, and evidently, it needs to be better. You can’t win games like that, and Pacific has shown that if Ottawa continues to play like this, it will be a long and challenging season.

Ottawa’s next opponents are Forge away in the Canadian Championship and Vancouver FC away. If Ottawa doesn’t come out with something substantial from these games, the panic button will definitely be pressed.

Forge FC Terran Campbell York United Paris Gee
Photo Credit: Jojo Yanjiao Qian / Forge FC

7th Place – York United

Last week I wrote that despite their win, York United didn’t look good. This week, they showed that their win wasn’t a fluke. Forge may have come away with the win, but I was very impressed by York. They had their fair share of possession and created multiple chances that should have gone in. This week, Martin Nash decided to play the three-headed monster of De Rosario, Austin Ricci and Brian Wright, and while they couldn’t muster up a goal, York looked dangerous every time they entered the Forge half.

Jumping from 8th to 7th in one week isn’t a massive movement, but York is on an upwards trend based on these past two weeks. Many people expected this matchup with Forge to end like how the Pacific – Ottawa game ended; however, York held their own. We finally saw a glimpse of what many fans were expecting York to play like this season. It’s encouraging to see the offensive talent all playing simultaneously.

Still, York is having issues scoring goals; and only having one goal from open play from their past five games is worrying. On the defensive side of things, I would say that Forge was held to only one goal, less because of what York was doing and more because of Forge being able to score. Despite the result, a solid performance from York (despite the result) moves them up the rankings, but their next two games will be complex tests as they face the Vancouver Whitecaps and Pacific FC. If they shock the world and have some terrific performances, expect York to shoot up these rankings.

Valour FC Pacifique Niyongabire
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

6th Place – Valour FC

The drop continues for Valour FC: after a hard-earned point last week in Calgary, Valour was hoping to capitalize off that momentum with a clash at home versus Halifax Wanderers. However, a nil-nil draw dried up any momentum that was earned. It was a fairly even match, with both teams creating numerous chances but squandering them. However, Halifax was likelier to score the winner between the two teams.

Valour remains undefeated so far in the CPL season, but three of their four games were draws. Many can argue that in the past three games Valour were lucky to get the points and could only do so thanks to their opponent’s inability to finish chances. Overall, a 0-0 draw at home versus Halifax where Halifax looked like the better team, means that Valour gets bumped down this week. The way Vancouver and York have been playing lately, paired with Valour’s next games being against Forge and Pacific, I fear Valour might enter a free fall during May.

Halifax Wanderers 2023 Squad
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

5th Place – Halifax Wanderers

This is another game where Halifax fans will feel like they should have won. On the positive side, Halifax didn’t blow a 1-0 lead; on the negative side, they didn’t score at all this game. This was a fairly even match, with Halifax slightly edging Valour in terms of better chances. However, like Valour, Halifax struggled to get their shots on target. Halifax has shown their preferred weapon to be their long balls, which they successfully performed all game long this weekend. But, with no goals to show for them, Halifax is leaving this game disappointed.

In the big picture, Halifax is undefeated this season with four draws, three of them being on the road. But when you look at the big picture, Halifax has dropped points in all four games. This game was less about Halifax blowing a lead and more about being unable to capitalize on their chances. Halifax drops to fifth in the rankings as their past two games have been disappointing in terms of results, and they haven’t been able to take the next step in growing as a team to be reckoned with. If Halifax doesn’t start winning soon, the east coast team may start to begin feeling pressure from their dedicated fans.

Vancouver FC Tyler Crawford
Photo Credit: James Glezos

4th Place Vancouver FC

Vancouver is off to a decent start, but they will need to prove more to me before jumping up more than one spot in these rankings.

Power Rankings Week 3

I wrote this last week about Vancouver, and wow, did they ever impress. Fans got their money’s worth when Vancouver hosted Cavalry in their inaugural home opener. In the 29th minute, Rocco Romeo was sent off in an extremely soft decision, and from that point many thought Cavalry would run away with the game, ruining the homecoming for the expansion side. However, that never happened. Cavalry did score in the 46th minute, but Vancouver responded back against the run of play in the 52nd minute. The statistics are ridiculously inflated due to Cavalry playing a man up for 61+ minutes, but for the most part Vancouver didn’t look like a team playing a man down. Overall, a 1-1 draw at home while playing 10 vs 11 is a fantastic result.

So why fourth place? I’ve been commenting on Vancouver’s defense for weeks now, critiquing about how many chances they give to their opponents. However, Vancouver has only allowed five goals from five games this season, with one being a penalty. This team reminds me of the 2022 ATO, where they were confident in sitting back because they knew they could strike on the counterattack. Vancouver is proving early on that they are a difficult team to beat: It took Pacific to the last ten minutes to win, they beat York at YLS, drew with HFX at Wanderers Grounds and now pulled off a 1-1 draw against a Cavalry side that were playing a man up for 60+ minutes. Vancouver is definitely not a team to be taken lightly, and until I see a team comfortably beat them, Vancouver fans should start to expect to see their team later on in these articles and not in the beginning.

Cavalry FC Myer Bevan
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

3rd Place – Cavalry FC

Let me clarify: Cavalry are only here because I can’t justify any of the five teams below them being in third. While Cavalry claim the spot, they are entering a dangerous territory of being unable to bring home three points. They have played five games across all competitions and have drawn all five. I will give them the benefit that they had to play Forge and Pacific in the first athree games, but the past two games have been highly disappointing for Cavalry.

Today, Cavalry had 60+ minutes to grab a win against a ten-man Vancouver side and not only did they not take home all three points, but they also blew a 1-0 lead against the ten-manVancouver side. 18 shots, 72% possession, and nothing to show for it. If I’m a Cavalry fan, I am going to be mad.

Cavalry and Halifax are in very similar boats: if they want to be taken seriously, they must start pulling off wins. The only reason Cavalry are still in third is because they performed well in the first three matches of the season. However, if these past two weeks are a telling sign of what’s to come, Cavalry will start to drop in these rankings.

Forge FC Derby Win
Photo Credit: John Jacques

2nd Place – Forge FC

Much to the chagrin of many, Forge are back on top of the CPL table thanks to a 1-0 road win against York United. However, due to our large sample of successful Forge teams, I don’t think they are fully clicking just yet – which is a scary thought for the CPL. Once again, for the fourth straight CPL game, Forge has kept their opponents in the match through their inability to ice games. Forge played a very solid defensive game against York, limiting the chances they had. Still, Forge should thank Henry for the clean sheet, as York had a handful of glorious chances. This Forge team that had a goal difference of +22 last season is off to a slow start, with +2 after 4 games. Still, it’s only May, and Forge are looking like regular season and playoff champion contenders yet again.

I know Forge fans will be asking why their Hamilton team isn’t top of this week’s Power Rankings, and simply, it’s because Forge hasn’t been able to ice games off. It is quite literally the icing on the cake for Forge, and once they can do that, Forge will be at the top of these rankings… but, there is one other team that can rival Forge in these rankings, and this team was able to ice their game early on…

Pacific FC Away Win 2023
Photo Credit: Tim Austen / Freestyle Photography

1st Place – Pacific FC

As an Atletico Ottawa fan, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m upset that Pacific embarrassed my team, but on the other hand, I’m pleased that Pacific has finally proved what I’ve been saying in the past three Power Rankings. The Island team came out flying this game. Pacific torched Ottawa’s defence for the entirety of the first half, scoring two goals in the first nine minutes and adding a third before half-time. Pacific could have easily been up 4-0 by the 20th minute. In the second half, Pacific could sit back and defend, and my only critique was that they allowed Ottawa to creep back into the game. Other than that, though, Pacific looks like a well-oiled machine ready to tear apart the CPL.

The only thing that was holding Pacific back was their scoring. Once again, Pacific put up 14 shots in a game, but they scored 4 goals this time. With games against TSS Rovers, York, and Valour in the next two weeks, this Pacific side can reach a new level of dominance that maybe even Forge can’t rival.

Conclusion

Outside of Pacific and Forge, the rest of the CPL clubs are all in one mix. Even a team like Ottawa is a simple fix away from climbing up the standings (play two halves instead of one). This is where Power Rankings will start telling the bigger story, as teams are playing better than their results. I hope you continue to enjoy these rankings, and I appreciate all the feedback and support the articles have been getting. See you next week!

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