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Now That’s Parity: More Than Half Of The CPL Teams Are Tied For Last

By on June 26, 2019 0 4644 Views

With the possibility of Cavalry FC winning the Canadian Premier League spring season tonight after only taking one loss from its first eight games, one unfamiliar with the league can imagine that the seven-team league is fairly diverse when it comes to point distribution.

They would be wrong.

As tonight’s midweek fixtures bump every club to at least nine games played out of ten, most of the clubs enter the matchup on fairly even ground: the fourth through seventh teams all have the same amount of points with eight, with the third-placed team only having nine. In effect, more than half of the league is tied for last when solely looking at points.

These bottom five teams all have a negative goal difference ranging from -2 to -6, with the last-placed team having the best goal difference out of the bottom five, largely in part to the goalkeeping heroics of Nathan Ingham.

With two games left to play for every team except Forge FC (second with nineteen points) and Pacific FC, that means that even last-placed York9 FC could theoretically jump to third by the time the season concludes on Canada Day. It’s not often one sees a league table where more than half the clubs have the same amount of points, even if it is just a seven-team league (for now).

CPL Table

With the Canadian Premier League being structured in a two-season spring-and-fall system, the winners of both seasons will square off in a two-legged matchup called the Canadian Premier League Championship to determine the overall champion. If the spring season winner also wins the fall season, the team with the next-best points tally across both seasons will be given the fall season berth for the championship. In practice, it means every point still matters in a league so evenly matched, even if the other clubs know they can’t win the spring season itself.

So far, it’s clear to see that Calgary-based Cavalry FC and Hamilton-based Forge FC are the top performers. The two top teams have a budding rivalry, with Forge FC having recently stopped Cavalry from continuing its way to becoming the Canadian Invincibles. Still, Cavalry FC may have the last laugh tonight, needing only one point against bottom-placed York9 FC to secure the first-ever spring season and book itself a spot in the Canadian Premier League Championship.

The Canadian Premier League has a salary cap (though league officials have remained quiet on what it is), with the same curtain being put over player salaries and, in most cases, contract length. It’s a league structure that will feel quite familiar to veteran Major League Soccer fans, albeit with one caveat: more than half of the MLS table certainly doesn’t have the same amount of points. North of the border, the Canadian league seems almost perfectly even, barring the two exceptions.

So, how are Forge FC and Cavalry FC different?

Both of them rely on players who have an intimate knowledge of their teammates. Forge FC is heavily composed of Sigma FC graduates, with 15 out of the club’s 23 players having played for head coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ old team. Similarly, Cavalry FC has 12 players who came in from the Calgary Foothills, where head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. was previously stationed. This familiarity, it seems, has been the key advantage over squads comprised of athletes who hadn’t played together before a few months ago.

By the time the sun sets on Canada Day, the third-through-seventh-placed teams could all theoretically swap places. Whatever happens in the first-ever Canadian Premier League spring season, it’s going to be a wild ride for the clubs that are already out of the running. Barring the two exceptions and their +9 goal differential, it seems like parity is the name of the game so far.

With the fall season seeing each team play 18 games instead of 10, it’ll be interesting to see if parity will continue to keep clubs locked together in the standings, or if each club will finally forge its own path as team identities continue to develop.

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