CPL Power Rankings Week 18: Level Playing Field
We were treated to another incredibly dramatic weekend of football in the Canadian Premier League across Week 18. A two-goal comeback, continued home dominance, a back-and-forth derby, and a gutsy away victory gave us much to enjoy across the four games.
With Week 18 now out of the way, here is this week’s Power Rankings. There were several changes in comparison to last week’s Power Rankings – including the writer, as I’ll be filling in for Eddie while he celebrates a wonderful occasion this month. Congrats Eddie!
Here we go:
8th Place – Vancouver FC
As the league’s expansion club, it was always expected that Vancouver FC would struggle in this year’s competition. While the Eagles have battled admirably thus far, there have been several games where the inevitable beatings would come their way. Saturday was once again one of those matches.
Losing 3-0 at Wanderers Grounds to a constantly-improving HFX Wanderers side, Afshin Ghotbi’s charges now sit 14 points out of the last playoff spot. Their latest reverse was their fourth in their last five, going winless in that run. VFC’s hopes of the playoffs look increasingly low. Thus, they will likely be just trying to finish with as many points as possible, and drop back to last in the power rankings.
7th Place – York United
For the second week running, The Nine Stripes ended up playing to an enthralling 3-3 draw. This time, they did it at the home of the defending champion Forge FC.
So, why did they fall a place lower in the Power Rankings? Although they were twice behind at Tim Hortons Field, Martin Nash’s men held the lead at one point. Just as was the case at Atletico Ottawa the week prior, York failed to hold on to their advantage.
As a result of their draw, York fell a place in the CPL rankings – fitting as they also dropped a spot in this week’s Power Rankings. Better luck next week at Spruce Meadows, York United!
6th Place – Valour FC
For most of the first half of Valour’s match on Friday night at home to Cavalry, it seemed as if the Winnipeg-based club would be on their way to a proper hammering. Yet, Phil Dos Santos’ team turned it around in the second half, pulling off an impressive 3-2 win at home.
The win ended a six-game run without one, and also gives Valour some hope in getting back in the playoff hunt. They sit eight points back of Atletico Ottawa and HFX Wanderers with nine games to play. Keep hope, Red River Rising faithful: performances like their second half on Friday gives reason to see a run akin to what Valour did at this point of last season.
5th Place – Forge FC
After a July that saw Forge go unbeaten – winning thrice – August has not been as kind to the defending champions. As they did in Calgary the week before, the Hammers conceded three times in their match. While they did earn a point in the last 905 Derby of the regular season, it may feel like a loss to some around the club.
This has been something of a strange season for Forge. After getting off to a wonderful start, they stumbled for a good month before getting back on track. Now after back-to-back failures to collect three points, Bobby Smyrniotis and co have to look over the shoulders. After all, both Ottleti and the Wanderers are two points behind the third place Hamiltonians. What is worse? Both have a game in hand…
4th Place – Cavalry FC
The most in-form team in the league went to Friday’s match looking the favourites the claim a seventh win in their last nine. When they went two goals up, things looked good for the Cavs to do exactly that. But, when the referee blew his whistle for the final time at IG Field, it was them who ended up holding their heads in defeat.
The league’s leading scorers looked so good the week prior, destroying Forge at home. And while they looked in control throughout the first 50 minutes or so on Friday, Tommy Wheeldon Jr’s men showed fragility at the back. Consider each of the three goals they let in Friday reflect their fall of three spots in this week’s ranking.
All things considered, Cavalry has impressed of late, and while this is quite setback, they should not have reason to be concerned. They are still second in the ranking, and host a York side who seems not to know how to hold on to a lead of late. Perfect time to get back on track at their fortress, where they have lost once all season.
3rd Place – HFX Wanderers
Three goals, three points for the Wanderers. Things are on the up for the East Coast side, who have scored in nine of their last ten outings. With the best home record in the CPL at the time of writing, Patrice Gheisar’s club is starting to gel.
Star forward Joao Morelli has came back with a vengeance after returning from a lengthy injury. With three goals in as many appearances, the Brazilian is back to doing what he does best: scoring. If he keeps it up, look out for the Wanderers to continue moving up the standings.
2nd Place – Pacific FC
Like Forge, the Tridents started off the CPL season in impressive form. At one point, they had appeared to be running away with the league. Those days are over now: their most recent 1-0 defeat at home to Ottawa (more on them in a moment) proves Pacific still has some vulnerable points.
For instance, the 2021 North Star Shield winners have lost their last three home games. That is something James Merriman will want to improve with celerity. Pacific can be relieved that both Cavalry and Forge failed to pass them this weekend. Yet, having played last, the Tridents also lost the chance to add some distance between and the chasing pack.
1st Place – Atletico Ottawa
Here is a team that has absolutely turned things around. Last year’s regular season champions are on an impressive run, with just one loss in their last eight. Their 1-0 success over Pacific on Sunday sees them firmly in the race to defend their regular season crown after many had written them out in June.
Spearheaded by Ollie Bassett – who has already matched last season’s CPL goal haul of eight – Ottawa is in fantastic shape. Everything appears to be clicking for Carlos Gonzalez’s charges. They have found form at the right time when those around them are struggling. If they continue to make the most of this, they could be top of the table in no time.