May 20, 2024
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Canadian Premier League 2024 Round 1 Recap

CPL In Review: Matchweek 1 – The House Always Wins

By on April 15, 2024 0 855 Views

After just about half a year of waiting, the 2024 Canadian Premier League season got underway with a tantalizing triple-header on Saturday and a solo ‘VFC Derby’ to cap things on Sunday evening.

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If you didn’t have a casual 360 minutes to take in all four games, here’s an at-a-glance recap of all the action you’ve missed. For the opening weekend, that was total domination from the home teams.

Atletico Ottawa Manny Aparicio
Photo Credit: Tim Austen / Freestyle Photography

Atletico Ottawa 2-1 York United
Full recap here.

The 2024 CPL season’s opening match would see Atletico Ottawa complete a comeback against a York United side that had nary tasted defeat in the nation’s capital before. YUFC forward Austin Ricci made up for a shocking miss in the first half to strike first blood in the second, but new Ottleti star Manny Aparicio proved why he was so coveted with a goal and assist in a late comeback for the red-and-white.

Atletico Ottawa Quick Take: It will take time for Atletico Ottawa’s superstar lineup to gel on the pitch: while they got into dangerous areas, they didn’t always convert that movement into shot attempts. Manny Aparicio proved a difference-maker here, just as he had with Pacific…and his former side York United.

York United Quick Take: York United looked fluent and cohesive with definite improvements at the back, even with the ‘usual’ amount of injuries – but only scoring one goal with an xG of 2.2 beckons the all-too-familiar storyline of needing to be much more clinical.

Forge FC Tristan Borges
Photo Credit: Jojo Yanjiao Qian / Forge FC

Forge FC 2 -1 Cavalry FC
Full recap here.

This rematch of the 2023 CPL Final definitely felt more like a repeat of it: Cavalry grab a late lead, only for Tristan Borges and Beni Badibanga to bring the home side a coveted comeback win over their biggest league rivals.

Forge Quick Take: The reigning playoff champions repeated history against their league rivals, opening the season with a win for the first time ever – though, like so many times last year, they conceded first before putting things into overdrive. Deja vu on multiple levels, eh?

Cavalry Quick Take: Sergio Camargo scoring a phenomenal header to mark his 100th club appearance was a highlight for the reigning regular season champions, who seem to have a mental hurdle when it comes to dethroning their league rival Forge FC. Essentially having repeated the CPL Final, this match will leave a painful sting.

Pacific FC Reon Moore Halifax Wanderers Julian Dunn
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

Pacific FC 1 – 0 Halifax Wanderers
Full recap here.

The first coastal clash of the season was a tight affair decided only by a lone penalty, with Halifax unveiling a new formation (3-4-2-1? 3-4-3? Somewhere in the middle?) that proved effective for most parts of the game. The slim difference in scoreline would come after Halifax defender Julian Dunn – who had an otherwise solid game – gave away a penalty that would ensure Trident Territory started with three points at home.

Pacific FC Quick Take: Despite a difficult offseason that saw stars Manny Aparicio and Amer Didic leave, Pacific saw good showings from new additions like Reon Moore and French defender Aly Ndom, who was a big presence on the night. Young goalkeeper Emil Gazdov looks to have matured nicely over the offseason, too – the collective looks promising.

Halifax Wanderers Quick Take: It took time for Halifax to settle under Gheisar last year, and the new formation tweak might see some bumps in 2024 – but there were good flashes of a team that, when gelled, could become an absolute force. There are no big alarm bells ringing, but for now it’s a long flight home back to the Atlantic coast.

Vancouver FC Moses Dyer
Photo Credit: Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC

Vancouver FC 4 – 1 Valour FC

The ‘VFC Derby’ saw last year’s seventh-placed finishers host the eighth. Vancouver FC enjoyed a strong offseason, with Valour bringing in a mix of strong signings and a few question marks. They took an early lead through Aussie forward Jordi Swibel, but an equalizer just before half-time preceded a total blowout in the second half. Afshin Ghotbi’s home team put on an absolute clinic to finish 4-1 victors, with three of the goals coming from new recruits.

To add insult to injury for the visitors, Valour’s Jordan Faria received walking orders after picking up a second yellow for simulation in the midst of his team’s second half implosion.

Vancouver FC Quick Take: They may have gone down first, but Ghotbi’s side demonstrated a maturity that was missing for most of last season. Holding firm, they came back with aplomb and showed some lovely build-up, simply out-moving and out-thinking their opponents on the pitch. It was a deserved club record 4-1 win.

Valour FC Quick Take: There were some flashes of what Phillip Dos Santos has tried to do with the new-look Valour FC, but the warning signs were already there when they entered the game without key defender Tass Mourdoukoutas and captain Raphael Ohin, who has essentially missed the last two years of action. It’s a tough open for a team needing to show they haven’t been quickly outgrown by all seven other teams.

The second round of the league’s sixth season will see three clubs double down on hosting duties, with Vancouver FC hosting the Halifax Wanderers on Thursday, Pacific hosting Valour on Friday, and Atletico Ottawa welcome Cavalry on Saturday. Sunday will see the year’s first 905 Derby, with Forge hoping to spoil York United’s home opener in front of their new owners.

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