Five Things To Watch For In The CPL This Weekend
It’s that time again: the fourth round of the 2023 Canadian Premier League arrives season today.
It was a tight-knit competition that unfolded last week, with just six goals and half the matches ending in draws. With teams having another good week of rest, training, and dare we say some recovery, we hope to see that goal count rise.
Beyond that, however, this week will also see some very special moments unfold.
Here’s five things to keep an eye on as the fourth week of Canadian Premier League action unfolds:
Hold Firm, Halifax
The Patrice Gheisar era has opened up with quite a pattern: the club has taken the lead in all four matches across all competitions…and failed to hold on to it. There’s no doubt that the Patrice’s style has the team attacking nicely, but at the professional level you’ve got to be able to hold out for results – that’s the difference between entertaining football which helps the team reach playoffs, and entertaining football that ends after 28 matches.
It’s early days yet, and as Halifax grows further into the system we expect we’ll see further improvements. The positive signs are showing up out east, and the ingredients for a thrilling campaign are there.
The Canadian Premier League has always been chock full of parity, which makes sense given that teams operate under the same salary cap conditions. The first twelve matches saw just about 60% of them end in draws, with four teams – two top half and two bottom – still yet to taste defeat.
Will we see someone take firm charge? There’s only three points separating from top to bottom, and no team has scored or conceded three goals in a match as of yet. Eventually, some thumpings need to come…but who’s going to be the first to push against parity?
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These
This Sunday mark another big step for the history books.
It marks the first-ever home match for Vancouver FC, with the Willoughby Community Park set to host the first of many, many more football matches set to come. There’ll be eyes aplenty on how Vancouver FC edges into a highly competitive west coast sports market, but more immediately, it’s just about enjoying the fact that on Sunday the CPL is coming to Langley. Full-stop.
The design of the modular stadium is based on Empire Field, a temporary football stadium that resided in Hastings Park from 2010-2011. Vancouver FC’s home ground, however, is intended to be a much more permanent fixture.
Here’s how the stadium was looking on Thursday, by the way.
You’ve got to hand it to Valour: despite a harrowing injury list that only grew right out of the gate, the club has managed to concede just two goals in three matches – and that’s with a defensive line so thin that the club brought in a last-gasp player replacement and threw him in to a starting position last week.
They’ve really impressed at the back, all things considered.
The team has held on to the top of the table through three matches so far, and additions like Pacifique Niyongabire are proving an astute signing by Phillip Dos Santos. Is this finally their year? Well, we’ve seen their bright starts come crashing down before – but so far Valour is making quite a statement.
Perhaps one of the best things to watch out for this weekend is Atletico Ottawa’s purple threads: the club is donning a special kit in support of Shelter Movers Ottawa, with the kit boasting designs directly drawn by children supported through the shelter system.
Fans will be able to match Atletico Ottawa’s special look, with ten dollars from each jersey sale being donated to Shelter Movers, who will in turn dedicate the funds towards their ‘next thousand moves’.
Given that Atletico Ottawa also wore a special Ukraine kit last year, clubs from coast-to-coast ought to admire the capital city club’s gusto when it comes to using their platform for great causes.
The weekend’s action will start early with a Friday Night Lights 905 Derby between York United and Forge FC. Saturday sees Valour hosts Halifax, with Atletico Ottawa hosting Pacific FC. That leaves Vancouver FC the sole hosts for Sunday, with heavy-hitters Cavalry FC being their inaugural guests.