Week 2 CPL Power Rankings
It’s only week two, but all eight CPL teams have played three games thanks to the early Canadian Championship start. Of course, this is the CPL Power rankings and not CanChamp Power rankings, but I’d be a fool not to consider the midweek games – especially since all eight CPL clubs have played three games in seven days. The Canadian Championship will not have a massive effect on these power rankings, but it will play a part.
Alas, without further ado: here’s the Week 2 CPL Power Rankings.
8th Place – York United
Again to no one’s surprise, York United has stayed at the eighth position. After a disappointing first week, York hoped to bounce back with a couple of good results against Vancouver (Both in CanChamp and in the CPL). However, the opposite happened: on Wednesday, many can argue that York were gifted the win after being rewarded a soft penalty and getting away with a blatant penalty late in the game. Regardless, York won and hoped to use that momentum a few days later. Again, the very opposite happened. Vancouver earned their first win, and York looks awful to start the season.
After three games against CPL opponents, York has only managed one goal from open play. On Saturday, York had 60% of the possession and had 21 shots, yet looked weaker compared to the Vancouver expansion side. Once again, this has been an abysmal start for a team that is expected to make playoffs.
7th – Vancouver FC
Although earning their first win in club history, Vancouver has a long way to go before climbing Northern Tribune’s CPL power rankings. Vancouver once again proved they could ball offensively and took the game to York early on. Hundal capitalized on a York error in the 6th minute and grabbed Vancouver’s first-ever goal. 12 minutes later, Vancouver would add another off a penalty. However, Afshin Ghotbi’s side again looks very vulnerable on the defensive side of things: after giving up 15 shots to Pacific in Week 1, Vancouver turned around and gave up 21 to York over the weekend. This is an area that could lead to their downfall once teams start clicking offensively.
Earning your first victory in Club history on the road is very impressive. However, the fact it came against a struggling York side and Vancouver’s defence is looking extremely vulnerable means that seventh place is where Vancouver will stay this week.
6th – Forge FC
The first movement in the Power rankings of the 2023 season is to move Forge from 4th to 6th. After drawing at home with Cavalry, Forge hoped to return to winning ways against a Halifax side they should beat on paper. However, Halifax came out on the front foot and caught Forge by surprise, opening the scoring right before half-time. Once the second half rolled around, Forge got more into the game, but despite their 61% possession and 18 shots, the hammers only grabbed the equalizer in the 89th minute.
Halifax were the better team on the day, and Forge, for once, looks beatable. After the first three games of the 2023 season, Forge’s only win comes against semi-pro side FC Laval. Picking up 2 points from your first two home games isn’t a sign of weakness, but it definitely shows that you’re a team for the taking.
5th Place – Atletico Ottawa
After drawing 1-1 with Halifax in the season opener, Ottawa was hoping to get revenge during the midweek Canadian Championship – and revenge is what they got. Despite going down early to Halifax, Ottawa scored 3 straight goals helping them earn their first Canadian Championship win in club history. Moving onto the weekend, Ottawa hoped to take advantage of this momentum and gain three points over Valour. However, things went differently than planned. It only took three minutes for Valour to open up the scoring, and once again, Ottawa had to battle back from a deficit to equalize the game and salvage a point. Ottawa also got away with a blatant handball penalty.
In the Valour game, Ottawa looked like a team playing their third game in a week. The second half was flat, and Ottawa could not create any chances. It is worrying that they have gone down early in three straight games, but on the flip side, seeing them create plenty of opportunities and battling back from every deficit is reassuring. One does have to question how much longer until Ottawa can’t come back from a deficit. Ottawa seems to still be gelling, but that midweek win over Halifax shows that they will be dangerous when they start clicking. But for now, fifth place is where they will stay.
4th Place – Halifax Wanderers
It’s been a demanding schedule to start the season for Halifax. Playing Ottawa twice before visiting Forge, most CPL fans were expecting three straight losses for Halifax. Instead, the opposite has happened. Last week I said Halifax’s performance against Ottawa might have been a fluke, but this week Halifax proved me wrong. Yet again, Halifax took the lead early against Ottawa; however, they were unable to hold on, and Ottawa struck back with three goals to eliminate Halifax from the Canadian Championship. In the game against Forge, Halifax yet again took the game to their opponent and once again found themselves with the lead. Halifax could smell victory, but unfortunately, Forge equalized in the 89th minute.
If I’m a Halifax fan, I’m delighted by this start to the season. In games against the regular season and CPL champions, Halifax has arguably been the better team in the first half for all three games. However, the keyword is the first half: Halifax tends to allow their opponents into games, and the midweek match against ATO shows that if their opponent is clinical, Halifax will most likely end up being punished. Halifax did almost end up beating Forge, but one has to question whether that was due to Halifax or due to Forge being unable to capitalize on their 18 shots.
Regardless, I’ve been very impressed by Halifax, and if they can start to see out these leads, they will continue to rise up these rankings. However, this week they will not break into the top three due to the fact they’ve blown three leads in seven days.
3rd Place – Valour
I will begin by saying their win last week against York was overvalued. York were supposed to come out flying out of the gates this season, but after three games they’ve looked tremendously disappointing. This week, Valour were hoping to continue in their winning ways to prove the rest of the CPL wrong – however, things didn’t exactly go to plan. First, Valour were dumped out of the Canadian Championship by L1BC semi-pro side TSS Rovers. In a game where Valour dominated in possession, the Rovers were the more clinical side, and Valour ended up on the wrong side of a cupset. Pairing this result with the fact that the York win was overvalued meant Valour were slipping down the Power Rankings. The only way to stop the fall was by getting a result on Saturday.
On Saturday, Valour had a date with the reigning CPL regular season champions in Atletico Ottawa. The visitors were fresh off a 3-1 Canadian Championship win and were hoping to use that momentum against Valour, but it was home side that caught the momentum early on when Gutierrez headed the ball into the net in the third minute. Dos Santos would equalize in the 32nd minute for Ottawa, and to be honest with you, you could have stopped watching after the first half. This game was a prime example of ‘This is our 3rd game in 7 days; we do not have the legs to run’. However, Valour did a solid job dictating play, out possessing Ottawa 59% to 41% and stifling any counterattack chances Ottawa created.
While a 1-1 draw at home is a bit disappointing after losing 3-1 on Wednesday, the fact Valour completely nullified anything Ottawa did was impressive. This Ottawa side had the best away record in the league last season and were just coming off a three-goal performance on the road, yet Valour gave Ottawa next to nothing. This week Valour remains in the top three due to the York win and a solid draw at home. However, I suspect Valour will continue falling down the rankings as the season progresses.
2nd Place – Cavalry FC
Honestly, Cavalry were lucky to escape with a point today. Due to tired legs and heavy rotation, this game was another game we didn’t see the best performance. Still, if we glance at the midweek clash between Cavs and Pacific, Cavalry played a very solid match and held Pacific to a draw before losing in penalties. Aside from Halifax, Cavalry has had the toughest schedule: Forge Away, Pacific Away, and Pacific Away again. The fact they have remained undefeated, even when defending for their lives, speaks a lot for this team, and Cavalry fans should be impressed.
Cavs will remain second place for now, but in the next few weeks they will face Valour, Vancouver, and Halifax. If the wins don’t start rolling in, Cavalry may tumble down these rankings.
1st Place – Pacific FC
After drawing with Cavalry midweek, Pacific hoped they could take advantage of Cavalry’s tired legs in the rematch on Sunday. Pacific hopes… kind of came true. Pacific dominated the game with 56% possession and a staggering 22 shots. However, just like in the game against Vancouver, they only managed to score one goal.
It’s a weird start for Pacific. They look great and tend to dominate the games they play. However, they keep their opponents in the game merely due to their inability to score goals. Still, Pacific have gotten the results they need and definitely look like the strongest team in the CPL. I just have to question: will Pacific start scoring first, or will other teams start catching up to Pacific’s play?
I think every fan agrees that there were way too many games played in the first week. We’ve seen many players go down with injuries already, and the second CPL week only produced one win due to the staggering amount of tired legs. York and Vancouver are the weakest teams in the league so far, with many defensive questions needing to be answered. Forge and Ottawa are off to shaky starts but have shown glimpses of what they can do when on top of their game. Halifax has impressed everyone, but they must start holding onto their leads to get results. Valour started off strong but seem to be heading in the wrong direction and will need a big result next week to stay up in these rankings. Lastly, Cavalry and Pacific both look like the two strongest teams, but Cavalry needs to start winning games, and Pacific needs to start scoring.
Hope you enjoyed these rankings, and I hope everyone enjoys the well-deserved rest until next weekend!