CPL Power Rankings Week 22: Would You Like A Drink With That Popcorn?
Wow. Everyone take a deep breath, that was an electrifying week of football that had many implications on the CPL Playoff race.
With only a handful of games left, see how the results affected this week’s Power Rankings:
8th Place – York United
York not only lost the game on paper but mentally, they were embarrassed by Valour this week. Playing at home, York desperately needed a victory to keep them up in the playoff race – especially since they have played a game more than everyone else they are competing with. However, the complete opposite happened. York completely lost their heads and gave up three straight goals to Valour before grabbing a consolation goal back in the 87th minute. The two red cards on the night were the icing on the cake for all rival fans.
York are in an incredibly tough position now. With only four games remaining for this Toronto-based side, York find themselves sitting outside of a playoff spot based on their -7 GD, which is 13 goals worse than Ottawa and Halifax. This means that York will have to jump either Halifax (who sit one point ahead) or Ottawa (who are tied on points but have a game in hand and a +6 GD). York’s opponents? Pacific, Cavalry, Ottawa and Vancouver. It is going to take a behemoth effort for York to go on a winning streak, and thanks to their red cards, they will be without a few key players. However, the most precarious position about York right now, is their U-21 Minutes. York currently need 513 more U-21 minutes to reach the quota in order to make the playoffs. This means York have to average 129 U-21 minutes per game while picking up all three points in their next matches.
Based on this Valour game, I don’t believe York have the mental strength or leadership to overcome all of these hurdles.
7th Place – Valour FC
This was a fantastic victory for Valour, but don’t get it twisted, its too little too late in terms of their playoff hopes. Sure, they technically aren’t eliminated from contention yet, but even with this victory Valour sit nine points out of a playoff spot with a -10 GD. While they performed excellently in this week’s match, it’s left me feeling frustrated and confused at where this Valour team has been all season long. We saw glimpses early on, but this Valour side were never able to reach their full potential. I mean, this was only their fifth win of the season, and fourth time scoring more than one goal in a match.
Maybe.. just maybe, if Valour can do the impossible and use this momentum to start a win streak going… they could finish three points out of a playoff spot 🙂
Jokes aside, I don’t see Valour doing anything with this victory. From their past ten matches they have a record of two wins, two draws and six losses. The last time they won, they went on a three-game losing streak. The time before that? Valour went on a six-game winless drought which included four losses. With matches against Forge, Vancouver, Ottawa, Cavalry and Halifax coming up, Valour are just waiting to be officially eliminated. BUT, if this game shows anything, it shows that maybe if the stars align, Valour can make a Cinderella run.
6th Place – Vancouver FC
This is a dangerous team as we enter the last few games of the season. Vancouver is a team with nothing to lose. Sitting on 23 points, Vancouver are all but eliminated from playoff contention, but this means they get to play spoilers. All season, Vancouver long have looked great on offence but horrid on defence. However, this past match against Ottawa should give them some courage heading into the remaining matches. Despite giving up 16 shots, only seven hit the target and many were low-scoring opportunities. Going forward, Vancouver were able to punish Ottawa on the counter attack and grab the victory at the end.
Now, I’m not saying that Vancouver are going to win out the rest of their season, but with matches against Cavalry, Halifax, Pacific, and York in their last five matches, I have a strong feeling that Vancouver are going to play a big part in both the title race and the Playoff race.
5th Place – Atletico Ottawa
It’s turned for the worst for Ottawa. The club yet again lost after a late winner in stoppage time, but this time it came to Vancouver. Ottawa was horrid all match long and didn’t deserve a single point from this game. The capital city side are now on a dangerous slide and are teetering on the edge of not making the playoffs.
Ottawa currently sit in fifth place with 32 points, tied with York and a point behind Halifax. They can kiss their title defence goodbye as they sit eight points behind Cavalry, and in terms of finishing in second or third – they sit four points behind both, making it a long shot with five matches remaining. Due to this year’s playoff format, finishing in fourth or fifth place would require Ottawa to go on a cinderella run if they want to win some silverware this year from the playoffs.
Winless in three matches and on a two-match losing streak, Ottawa now has to turn its focus to Pacific on Wednesday before a quick turnaround with a game in Halifax on Saturday. Two games in four days is absurd and unhealthy for the players, but Ottawa needs to get through it, and needs to get through it with wins. If Ottawa comes away with all six points, all of the sudden, second or third doesn’t seem too much of a reach. However, anything less than six points, Ottawa could find themselves out of a playoff spot. Their bad form has to end now.
4th Place – Halifax Wanderers
Honestly, Halifax was lucky to get a point out of this matchup. The club gave up 16 shots shots against Pacific, and there are many debates over whether Pacific should have been awarded a late penalty. There was nothing there that oozed confidence from Halifax, and this confidence has been missing the past few games. They may have earned a point from this matchup, but if I’m a Halifax fan, I’m getting pretty nervous.
Halifax’s last five games are against Cavalry, Ottawa, Vancouver, Forge, and Valour. All three matches against the ‘Top 6’ will be played at home, and this could very much be Halifax’s saving grace. Halifax has the second-best home record in the league with seven wins, one draw and three losses. They will be looking to heavily lean on this home record to propel them into the playoffs. However, two of their past three home losses came from their past four home games, with their most recent coming last week. It may be tiny, but it is a seed of doubt that can be planted in the minds of the Halifax faithful.
However, with all of this said, there is a catch. Halifax still needs 600 U-21 minutes from these last five matches. That averages 120 U-21 minutes per game. Its a tricky situation to be in while needing these crucial points, and I just have to wonder whether it will play a part in this playoff race for Halifax.
3rd Place – Forge FC
Forge may be in third place, but nothing about them screams reliability. This was their second 0-0 draw in three games; they have four draws from their past five games; and their only win since August has come against Vancouver. Forge may have some breathing room in terms of the standings, but that is due to York, Ottawa, and Halifax all dropping points.
It could have very much happened that all three teams would be a point behind Forge if not tied with them. Forge look like a team that’s on the brink of collapsing at any moment. They have been all season, yet they find themselves in joint-second. However, I have a feeling that if they don’t topple between now and the end of the season, an upset may be brewing in the playoffs.
2nd Place – Pacific FC
Pacific will be frustrated to only gain one point from this matchup, and they may feel like they were robbed of a penalty, but Pacific looked fantastic in this match. Once again, Pacific dropped 16 shots on Halifax, and came away with a point that keeps them in second place and four points ahead of sixth place. With their next three games being against Ottawa, York, and Forge, Pacific not only has a chance to clinch a playoff spot, but also secure at least a second place finish. The way Pacific is playing compared to these mentioned teams – I see them coming away with at least seven out of nine points.
A fun shout too is the fact Pacific play Cavalry on the last gameday. Sitting only four points behind the Cavs and having a +10GD to the Cavs +12, we could very much see this matchup turn into a “Winner wins the league” match.
1st Place – Cavalry FC
It wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done. Cavalry went into Hamilton and earned a tough 0-0 draw, which is good enough to keep them in first place and four points ahead of second place. Despite outposessing Forge, Cavalry were outshot 12-5. Yet, their defence held firm, and they earned a point to extend their undefeated streak to four matches.
Cavalry’s last five matches are against Halifax, Vancouver, York, Valour, and then last Pacific. In the position they are in, and in the form they are currently in, it would take an immense bottle job from Cavalry to lose this title. But Cavalry have never bottled before… right?
Thanks to their respective wins, Valour and Vancouver both avoid possibly setting the record for the least amount of points in a CPL Season. Vancouver only needs one more point to leave Edmonton as the sole holder of this unwanted record. Funny enough, both Vancouver and Valour are still technically in the playoff race, while it may be a long shot, a Cinderella run could be in the cards.
Ottawa, Halifax, and York fans will be kicking themselves after missing a critical opportunity to get within reach of second place. The runner-up spot offers the chance to play in a one-off game to decide who hosts the CPL Final. While fifth place grants a playoff spot, a team would have to do the near impossible if they want to lift the microwave plate at the end of the playoffs – all while never hosting a playoff game. It will be interesting to see who finishes in fifth place.
Five games are left (four for some). We have six matches this week, all will impact the standings tremendously. This is must watch TV that you don’t want to miss.