CPL Power Rankings – Week 3
Wow, has it only been Week 3? The interesting results are starting to arrive, and that means the Power Rankings have just gotten harder to make.
Good thing I like the challenge – hope you enjoy!
8th Place – York United
“What? B-but, they won on the road against Ottawa!”
Yes, but they didn’t look good at all. York dominated possession in the first half but created no dangerous chances. It took a spectacular Mo Babouli free kick goal to put York on the board with the eventual game-winner. Outside of that, York never looked close to scoring again and allowed Ottawa to attack in waves upon waves. The only reason this game ended in this scoreline was due to a Niko Giantsopolous masterclass and Ottawa’s awful offence on the day. If York continues to allow teams to attack in waves while producing nothing on offence, they will be punished.
It’s a good win for York, but they still look like the weakest team in the CPL they’ve only scored one goal from open play in four games, and their defense looks exceptionally vulnerable. I need to see more from York in order to move up from the basement of these Power Rankings.
7th Place – Atletico Ottawa
I’ve been saying this for the past few weeks: at some point, Atletico Ottawa will not be able to come back from being one-nil down. This week was that week. Simply put, Ottawa are off to a frustrating start. Once again, Ottawa sat back in the first half and allowed York to pile on the pressure. This eventually led to the free kick which York capitalized on. From there, Ottawa chased the game yet couldn’t get the offence clicking. Whether it was missed passes or players giving up the opportunity to shoot, Ottawa seems to be struggling with the same thing every week, and today they were punished for it.
Ottawa has gone down one-nil in all 4 games played in 2023. While no team has scored more than one goal against Ottawa this season, every game feels like groundhog day, where Ottawa starts off slow, gets scored on in the first half, and then has to chase the game.
On offence, the team appears to be in shambles: Samuel Salter is off to an atrocious start, and fans are starting to question why Ottawa went out and purchased him. Ottawa still lacks chemistry at the front, with players refusing to shoot or overpassing their teammates. However, the biggest worry for Ottawa is the number six position. Miguel Acosta has been filling in that empty spot, and while defensively he has been solid, on the attack Ottawa is missing that natural midfielder. Ottawa hasn’t won a home game in seven matches at TD Place, and with games against Pacific at home and Forge away, Ottawa might find themselves in a downward spiral if they don’t start clicking on offence and turn this ship around.
6th Place – Vancouver FC
With Atletico Ottawa dropping to seventh, this means by default, Vancouver moves up – but not too far. Vancouver visited the east coast this weekend with a matchup against Halifax Wanderers. As expected, Halifax brought the pressure to Vancouver and were able to capitalize with a twelth minute goal. At that moment, it looked like my prediction about Vancouver’s soft defense would come true. Surprisingly, Vancouver brushed themselves off and built some pressure against Halifax before equalizing in the first-half stoppage time. The second half saw Halifax attack in waves, dominating possession with a final tally of 66% to Vancouver’s 34%, but they couldn’t grab the winning goal. Vancouver had a few chances but looked more like the team that would be happy with a point.
It’s been a decent start for Vancouver; they’ve gotten points from their last two games (both on the road) and seem to be a dangerous team on the attack. However, it is their defense that still worries me. They did limit Halifax to only 13 shots, but you can only soak up so much pressure before teams start finishing their chances. I would like to see a more attacking game from Vancouver moving forward, as when they attack they look like a team that can compete with anyone.
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.
5th – Halifax Wanderers
Four. That’s how many games Halifax has blown a one-nil lead in and dropped points. It’s incredible how the Halifax script has repeated itself to the dot four games in a row.
This game was no different from the other three: Halifax started out on the front foot. They brought the game to Vancouver and grabbed an early lead in the twelth minute. They continued to press afterwards and tried to build a gap, but like clockwork, as halftime approached, Halifax fell back into a shell and invited Vancouver to pile on the pressure. And like two of the past three games, Halifax conceded around halftime, meaning they had to do it all again in the second half. And just like the past three games, Halifax couldn’t grab a second goal, leading to two dropped points at home through a 1-1 draw vs Vancouver.
I said last week that if Halifax can’t find a way to hold onto these leads, they will start dropping in the rankings, and dropping is what they have done. At this rate, teams don’t even have to be worried if they go down against Halifax because Halifax has yet to show the ability not to collapse inward when it matters most. Whether it is around halftime or full-time, Halifax drops back into a shell and invites pressure, and so far, they haven’t been able to repel it. We’ve yet to see Halifax score more than one goal in a game, and fans are now looking at six points dropped already.
Halifax has shown they can start games well and grab leads, but after that the Wanderers look like a team with no confidence in being able to bring home all three points. It’s still early in the season, but this is an early red flag for Halifax. Still, I’m giving them credit for taking the lead four games in a row.
4th – Valour FC
Man, what an effort from this club. Valour have been struck with the early injury bug and then had to go out to Calgary to face Cavalry FC. Valour, a team many were expecting to be strong wooden spoon candidates, went toe-to-toe with Cavalry and came out with a tough draw on the road.
A quick glance at the stats shows that Valour evenly split the game with Cavalry for the most part. However, what really impressed me was that they went down one-nil in the first half, rallied back in the second half, and grabbed the equalizer. Cavalry fans will definitely feel like they deserved the win, but Valour fans should be proud of their team’s effort this weekend.
Valour overall has had a strong start to the season; however, their only win has come against a weak York United side on opening weekend. Since then, they’ve had a loss in the Canadian Championship and two draws. Valour looks like a tough team to beat, but on the flip side, they aren’t looking like a team who are the favourites to win week-in and week-out. Compared to Halifax, I’ll keep Valour ahead for now due to the fact they have been able to beat one of the lower-powered teams.
3rd – Cavalry FC
Draws on the road against Forge and Pacific to start the season are great results; however, at some point, you need the three points in the bag. Cavalry played a solid game against Valour this weekend; they took the lead in the first half before Valour equalized in the second half. The stats show the game was pretty even, but Cavalry had the slight edge. Cavs fans will be disappointed in this result, but it’s been a strong start from their side this season.
The standings show Cavalry sitting outside the playoffs, but draws against Forge, and Pacific are great results, while the draw against Valour drops them a step in the Power Rankings. If Cavalry cannot produce against Vancouver next week, they will come tumbling down these Power Rankings.
2nd Place – Forge FC
We’ve all been waiting for the typical Forge performance that has tortured the league these past few years. They’ve been off to a slow start, but this weekend has shown a glimpse at what this season can hold. Forge went on the road against Pacific and played the perfect Road Match. Woobens Pacius was able to score on a very soft goal, and once Forge took the lead they were able to sit back and defend well enough to take home all three points.
Pacific definitely dominated this game at times, but Forge were able to repel the pressure and win – something that some teams have difficulty with. Draws against Cavalry and Halifax at home are disappointing, but a win on the road against Pacific is encouraging.
Forge screams up the Power Rankings, mainly because of how poor the other teams have been and less of their own performance. However, Forge’s next game is against York United, so a well-rounded performance is sure to solidify Forge in the top three for Power Rankings.
1st – Pacific FC
Yes, they lost at home to Forge, but they played great. Pacific looked comfortable and dangerous in possession, and outside of the Pacius goal, they limited Forge to seven shots.
Power Rankings aren’t solely based on results: Pacific are playing the best football in the league. However, once again – 15 shots, no goals. It’s a reoccurring problem that needs to be fixed ASAP. But for now, despite the result, Pacific are the top team in the CPL.
I can’t lie: this week, it was tough to make these rankings. Some teams are placed where they are just because they are better than the teams below them. Others I still need to see a few more games before I get a real feel for them. One thing is for certain, though, the craziness has just begun!