Three Storylines Heading Into The Sixth CPL Matchweek
With seven of eight Canadian Premier League sides experiencing midweek cup action ahead of the weekend, we might see a little bit more roster shifting than we’re used to seeing as clubs duke it out for three points.
See Also: Recapping The Canadian Championship’s Opening Round
Several CPL sides have reinforced their lineups in the buildup to this weekend, with Pacific adding Luca Ricci, Atletico Ottawa taking in Ivan Perez on loan, and Halifax landing a potential Morelli replacement in Mour Samb (more on that later).
Without further ado, let’s take a look at three big talking points for this weekend:
Can Atletico Ottawa Finally Get One Over Forge?
Make no mistake about it: two-time league champions Forge FC will host Atletico Ottawa as heavy favourites on Saturday, and it’s not on merit: the hammers haven’t just beaten Atletico Ottawa in all six of their league matchups, but they’ve scored fourteen goals in that time without conceding a single one.
To make matters tougher for an Atletico Ottawa side that bowed out of cup action on Tuesday, head coach Carlos Gonzalez will be serving a one-match touchline ban (pending appeal), with assistant coach Kwesi Loney set to take the reigns.
“I never like to talk about luck, it’s about taking our opportunities in key moments,” said Loney ahead of the match. “Finding those little details and squeezing everything from them. At this moment in time, we are in a good place mentally and a matter of continuing on the path that we’re on and looking to get that result in the next match.”
The club brought in left-back Ivan Perez on a short-term loan ahead of a busy summer schedule, though one imagines former Forge man Maxim Tissot will be raring to go against his old side.
Still, this weekend will see Atletico Ottawa’s return to league action begin with tall task for the capital city club.
Top-Versus-Bottom: The Biggest Underdog Test Yet
Reigning CPL champion Pacific FC has soared to the top of the table, staying true to their counter-attacking mentality to score more goals than any other team in the process. Only two teams have kept the heavy favourites out of the net so far this season: Cavalry, and this weekend’s visitors FC Edmonton.
This underdog FC Edmonton side has proven fairly resolute at home, but rests firmly at the bottom of the table with just three points after six matches. Having yet to secure any kind of result away from home, a trip to Starlight Stadium isn’t one the club will expect to get a lot of joy from.
Still, Alan Koch’s FC Edmonton side held the reigning champions to the league’s first scoreless draw in the fourth round, and nearly netted a winner through an early chance from Mamadi Camara.
Still seeking their first win, this top-versus-bottom tilt should be a good one for the neutral – or if the Eddies have their way, perhaps a game of few chances.
Might We See Mour Samb?
With league MVP Joao Morelli out for the season, the Halifax Wanderers brought in versatile attacker Mour Samb to give the club’s goal tally a boost.
The former Ottawa Fury striker has been training with the team for several sessions now, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hart gives him minutes against Cavalry this weekend – especially since he’s already a familiar face to Aidan Daniels and Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, allowing him to integrate himsself more quickly.
Capable of playing in a variety of positions across the front, it’ll be interesting to see where Samb gets deployed for his first steps as a Wanderer. Wherever it is, we’re betting the moment is coming soon.
This sixth round will open on Saturday with Forge FC hosting Atletico Ottawa, with the top-versus-bottom Pacific and FC Edmonton clash set to follow. Sunday will then see Halifax host Cavalry, with the weekend concluding as Valour hosts York United – though whether Austin Ricci will be available for the reunion after going down in midweek remains to be seen.