Three Things To Watch For In The CPL This Weekend
The second week of the 2023 Canadian Premier League season will unfold this weekend, and it follows what was quite an opener: Valour rests top of the table for the moment, shocking York United two-nil in the season’s first match. With midweek cup fixtures adding more competitive minutes early on, teams are marching into the weekend ready to grab points – particularly as six of the eight have one or less.
Without further ado, here’s three things to watch out for in league play this weekend:
Quick Fixtures, Fast Injuries: Will We See Some Rotation?
The Canadian Championship got its earliest-ever start this season, but the congested schedule of a hectic opening week has seen the injury counts rise: players like Ollie Bassett, Raphael Ohin, Manny Aparicio, and Joe Mason have all been impacted by injuries mid-week, with a variety of other players (likely the above-pictured TMG) picking up lighter knocks.
With each CPL team about to play for the third time in a seven day stretch, there might be some regular starters being rested to avoid complications further on down the road. It’s an early league-wide test of roster depth that each club must contend with – though with six tems without a win after opening day, the majority of teams will be hungry to really get their campaigns going with strong lineups.
Can Valour Bounce Back?
After rising to the top of our power rankings in the opening weekend, Valour FC were humbled midweek by semi-professional side TSS Rovers, who rose to a three-one knockout cup victory on Wednesday. It wasn’t a particularly weak starting eleven notched out by Phillip Dos Santos, who also saw club original Raphael Ohin leave the match injured after having missed the entirety of last season.
Now set to host regular season champions Atletico Ottawa in a home opener just days after club ownership expressed disappointment in last year’s ticket sales – opening up discourse for a lack of investment into the team’s overall community outreach – there’ll be plenty of eyes on how Valour reacts to the situation. Winning is an ‘easy’ solution to bring in fans, but does the roster Dos Santos assembled have what it takes to bounce back? We’ll find out shortly.
Will Vancouver FC Open Its Account?
New club on the block Vancouver FC had suffered two straight one-nil defeats in competitive play, and both were fairly harsh: the first saw a stunner from Aparicio silence the away support in the club’s inaugural match, and the second came through a suspect penalty decision in cup play midweek, with the Eagles having been denied a club-first goal by a crossbar in that match.
The expansion side had tested York United’s defense that match, and they’ll have another ninety minutes against them this Saturday as they seek to open their account. Head coach Afshin Ghotbi had said the season would have learning experiences for his lower mainland side, and that’s been the theme right from the get-go.
Still, York United is the only other team yet to score in league play, and they have a worse goal differential than Vancouver FC – so will the third time the charm for Vancouver?
The second round of the 2023 Canadian Premier League season will open up with the aforementioned York United – Vancouver FC match at 1:00PM EST, with neighbouring side Forge FC hosting the Halifax Wanderers at 4:00PM EST. A CPL triple-header will conclud with Valour’s home opener against Atletico Ottawa at 7:00PM EST, with Sunday’s lone fixture seeing a Pacific – Cavalry rematch at 4:00PM EST just three days after their knockout cup dust-up.