May 19, 2024
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York United Brian Wright

CPL In Review: Matchweek 3 – Jostling For Position

By on April 29, 2024 0 1433 Views

This third Canadian Premier League matchweek saw clubs shuffle around the league table as teams worked to reinforce what’s been working and patch out what isn’t. The past weekend’s action saw a whopping ten goals scored, and that’s with the final match finishing as the CPL’s first scoreless draw of 2024.

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Here’s an at-a-glance look back at all four matches:

York United Brian Wright Dennis Salanovic
Photo Credit: John Jacques

York United 3 – 0 Vancouver FC
Full recap here.

After a first half where neither side looked destined to score, York United came roaring out with a dominant second half display. Brian Wright doubled his club tally of goals in that half alone, bagging himself a brace while assisting a goal from Dennis Salanovic. Nash had urged his team to show urgency and organization following their 905 Derby loss last weekend, and the team responded in spades. Vancouver, meanwhile, looked like a team that had tired legs following their midweek cup loss to Cavalry.

York United Quick Take: This is the performance that would’ve been great to display with the packed house last week, but it’s better late than ever: the second half saw York United’s attack come alight, and fans will be quite happy with what they saw from the strong debuts of Juan Cordova and Frank Sturing.

Vancouver FC Quick Take: If you generate zero big chances in a match on the road, it’s probably not going to be enjoyable. This week saw the Eagles crash back to reality after entering the matchweek as table-toppers, but one expects some rest will do the team well.

Halifax Wanderers Andre Rampersad
Photo Credit: Trevor MacMillan

Halifax Wanderers 1 – 3 Atletico Ottawa
Full recap here.

The Kitchen Party for the Wanderers Grounds home opener was spoiled by a strong Atletico Ottawa performance buoyed by an early red card to Lorenzo Callegari. While Halifax changed shape and seemed to cope well with the man differential, Atletico Ottawa exploited individual errors and proved quick to cross the ball into dangerous areas, going three goals ahead before Halifax finally got their first of the season – though by then, the party was over.

Halifax Wanderers Quick Take: Gheisar’s team has been slow out of the gate, but this was a hard match to judge: they did well before and after going down a man, but conceding three similar goals is never a good look. The alarm bells aren’t ringing yet, but it’s clear things aren’t clicking out east.

Atletico Ottawa Quick Take: The visitors took their time to control the game, but once the just-before-half sucker punch lead was taken, Ottleti never looked like they were going to relinquish control. It’s a solid away win against a team quite strong at home, with Ottawa proving devastating on quick counters. A classic Manny Aparicio side, that.

Forge FC Noah Jensen
Photo Credit: Jojo Yanjiao Qian

Forge FC 2 – 1 Valour FC
Full recap here.

Forge went top-of-the-table after collecting three points at home against a visiting Valour side that looked stronger than it had been in the opening weeks, calling young Christopher Kalongo in to action on multiple occasions. Still, Forge answered back with a strong second half showing after going three-for-three in the opening games.

Forge FC Quick Take: The hammers were a little slow out of the gate this match, but enjoyed a stronger second half and, of course, a trademark late goal as a result. A particular highlight was Christopher Kalongo, who made six saves on the night and played a crucial role in the team collecting all three points over the weekend.

Valour FC Quick Take: While the club has succumbed to a third straight loss, there were plenty of positive signs on display against the reigning champions. The Valour attack looked well-organized and potent, though they were caught out twice by pushing their wing-backs forward – but you’ve got to take risks if you want to compete.

Pacific FC Sean Melvin
Photo Credit: John Jacques

Cavalry FC 0 – 0 Pacific FC

The league’s first scoreless draw of the season came with some goalkeeper heroics from best ends of the pitch and some resolute defensive performances. While the game saw 27 shots in all (mostly from Cavalry), few of the shots came from great spots – and even less of them were on target. Pacific nearly snuck a late winner but the home vibes were well-protected in the mitts of Marco Carducci.

Cavalry FC Quick Take: It was a dominant display from the hosts, but they’re really missing the clinical nature of Myer Bevan: the club recorded twenty shots with just seven landing on target. Despite an xG of 1.23, Cavalry settled for a single point and needed some late game heroics from Marco Carducci.

Pacific FC Quick Take: Sean Melvin looked a capable stand-in for an ill-stricken Emil Gazdov, with James Merriman’s roster shifting a few faces in light of their Canadian Championship clash on Wednesday. It was a tough away match that saw the Tridents nearly score in the end, but they’ll probably be pleased with a point…and their third straight clean sheet.

Expect the league table to keep juggling teams as clubs find out what’s working and what isn’t. The reigning CPL playoff champions now lead the pack after Vancouver slid down three spots, while at the other end Halifax and Valour remain on zero points and an increasingly negative goal difference. York’s first win, of course, sees them climb into their perpetual ‘will they or won’t they’ edge-of-playoffs spot in the table, right where they left it last year.

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Given that neither CPL side who had played a midweek cup match had the legs to grab a win over the weekend, it’ll be interesting to see how the other six teams set to play a cup match in the next few days will fare over next weekend.

The fourth matchweek will return to a one-game-per-day format: Cavalry will host Vancouver FC on Friday, and having just played this exact fixture in the Canadian Championship, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out. Saturday will see Pacific host York, while Atletico Ottawa will prove a tough test for visiting Valour on Sunday. The fourth match won’t take place till next Tuesday, with Forge hosting a Halifax Wanderers side that still has a lot to prove.

Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques

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