CPL Power Rankings Week 23: Until the Dying Breath
You literally cannot take your eyes away from this game for even a second. This season may well be the best in CPL history. But nevertheless, let’s break down this week in another edition of the Power Rankings.
8th Place – York United
Right at the end of a playoff push, you lose 4-1 at home. It could have been 5 or 6-1. Pacific had 14 shots, seven on target, while you only muster two on target. York has now lost two matches in a row, being outscored 7-2. They are entering the worst form at the worst time. This team seems to have no passion or effort, and they all seem to be mentally checked out.
It’s incredible because York only sits one point out of a playoff spot, yet you wouldn’t have noticed by the way they have been playing lately. Regarding U-21 minutes, they currently need 394 more minutes with three matches. So, if you’re a York fan, you’re looking at an average of 132 minutes per game. York’s last three matches? At home to Cavalry and Ottawa before heading to Vancouver to finish the season. That Ottawa game is a six-pointer and could decide who makes the playoffs. This last playoff spot is still up for grabs, and York still has a good chance of making playoffs and completing the U-21 minutes. They have to turn their game around ASAP… and frankly, I don’t see them doing so.
7th Place – Atletico Ottawa
Pathetic. I don’t even want to write about my team right now. Ottawa has lost their third match in four games in stoppage time. This time, it was the worst one of the season. After grabbing an early goal in the first half, Ottawa could not add to their lead, leaving the backdoor wide open for Halifax. Apparently, leaving the door open wasn’t good enough, so Ottawa decided not to show up for the second half. Halifax utterly dominated this half and grabbed a lead that was holding strong until Ottawa equalized in the 91st minute. This equalizer had massive implications for the season. Not only did it bring Halifax back level with Ottawa on points, but it also kept Ottawa in fourth place. However, for the third time in four matches, Ottawa lost thanks to a 92nd-minute winner. That’s right. Right after equalizing, Ottawa allowed Halifax to run down the field and grab the winner, giving all three points to Halifax and leaving Ottawa with none…
From these three stoppage-time losses, Ottawa has dropped three points. With these three points, Ottawa would be sitting on 36 points, three points behind third place, four points behind second, and most importantly, four points ahead of sixth place. However, Ottawa now only sits one point ahead of sixth place, and unless they leapfrog Halifax, Ottawa will not be hosting a playoff match and will have to go on a Cinderella run to win the playoff title. Ottawa has mentally collapsed at the worst time of the season and are now in danger of not even making the playoffs.
Ottawa’s last three matches are home to Valour before travelling to York and Forge. Seven points minimum, and maybe you have a chance at finishing in fourth and earning a home playoff match… draw more than one game or lose a game and Ottawa may find themselves in sixth place by the end of the season.
6th Place – Vancouver FC
Unfortunately, Vancouver FC have been eliminated from playoff contention, but they still have something to play for. Not only are the players playing for their jobs next season, but Vancouver only needs one more point to leave Edmonton as the sole record holder of ‘Worst season in CPL history.’
Vancouver has four matches left in the season, with two of them against Halifax and York. You know Vancouver will be looking to play massive spoilers in the playoff race, but I am curious to see how much effort this team gives now that they are eliminated from the playoffs.
For now, Vancouver will stay in sixth, but I have a sneaky feeling they will play a massive part in this epic playoff race.
5th Place – Valour FC
They aren’t eliminated just yet… but they’re practically there. Still, Valour is a dangerous team right now. They are quite literally playing for their playoff lives, and this will give them an energy that many other teams will find hard to match. Even despite a loss this week to Forge, Valour played terrific and probably should have come away with some points if it weren’t for some awful goalkeeping from Yesli.
My biggest takeaway from these past two games is the fact they’ve scored at least two goals, two games in a row. It might be too late, but if Valour’s offence has finally arrived, they are going to be looking like a playoff team – despite their placement in the standings.
Valour plays Vancouver Wednesday night, and if they can continue this scoring form and gain even more momentum, Ottawa, Cavalry, and Halifax will have to watch out, as Valour will be looking to play spoilers and somehow magically get themselves in the playoffs.
4th Place – Forge FC
Still not convinced. They got the win, but Yesli and Henry had significant parts to play in it. Henry saved Forge’s bottoms… again, and Yesli… well, he gifted Forge 2.5 goals. Forge may have gotten the win, but they struggled again. Forge still hasn’t beaten a team in a playoff spot since July 21st. Since then, they’ve earned three wins, one loss ,and four draws. Looking towards the playoffs, this type of form doesn’t scream confidence to me. A draw sends the match to penalties – which is anyone’s game.
Forge may be sitting pretty in the standings right now, but to be honest with you, they are fortunate that Ottawa and York have both decided to mentally collapse because Forge could have very much so been in the thick of a playoff race.
With their last three matches being against Pacific, Halifax and Ottawa, Forge finally has the chance to beat a playoff team and earn some momentum heading into the playoffs. If they continue this poor form… they may end up facing the fifth place team in the opening week of the playoffs.
3rd Place – Halifax Wanderers
What a game. Halifax somehow came out of that first half only down a goal. They then turn it 180 degrees in the second half and take the lead. However, they stumble right at the finish line as Ottawa equalizes – BUT right off the ensuing kickoff, they run down the field and grab the winner, giving themselves all three points and creating a four-point gap between themselves and sixth place, while putting themselves just three points behind third place.
This is the biggest win of the season for Halifax Wanderers. That difference of two points can utterly change their outcome and pathway to a playoff title, and their passion and no quit will give them that much-needed momentum to close out the season.
However, Halifax still needs 547 U-21 minutes. With three matches left, that’s 183 minutes per game. Now, Halifax could pick one match, such as the one against Vancouver, to eat into these minutes; however, Ottawa is only three points behind, and Vancouver is no longer a team to be taken lightly. Halifax must now balance the tricky line of gaining these minutes while clinching a playoff spot. Their next three matches are against Vancouver, Forge,and then Valour. The good news for Halifax is that it looks like 40 points will clinch a playoff spot – so four more points and Halifax have done it.
2nd Place – Pacific FC
Clinical victory. Pacific walked into York, dominated every aspect of the game, scored four goals and remain in second place. After a disappointing draw against Ottawa this week, Pacific had the exact turnaround game the doctor ordered. There’s not much more to say about this game, so I will discuss their remaining games.
Next week, Pacific faces Forge. Pacific currently sits one point ahead of Forge and holds that coveted second place spot. As mentioned many times, second place grants you a one-off game against first place to determine who gets a bye to the final and who hosts it. A win over Forge would put Pacific four points ahead of Forge with two matches left, and with Vancouver FC being their next opponent after Forge, one would think that a victory over the Hammers would all but clinch that second-place spot.
Pacific currently sits six points behind Cavalry for first place. Pacific also plays Cavalry in the last game of the season. If Cavalry somehow loses at least one of their next two matches and Pacific wins both, Pacific could possibly finish first place over Cavalry with a win on the last match day. It’s a long shot, but it’s still possible, so Pacific has plenty to play for and is in good form.
1st Place – Cavalry FC
They’ve all but done it. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but the Cavs went two for two this weekend, retaining that six-point gap at the top of the table and placing one hand on the trophy. Undefeated in their last six, winning five of those, and currently riding a 2twomatch-win streak, Cavalry only need four points to clinch the title. They also only need need 237 more U-21 Minutes from three matches, so the only thing that can stop Cavalry are themselves. They should handily beat York next week, and if they do, they would only need a draw against Valour to clinch the title. If they somehow lose one of these next two matches, they play Pacific on the last gameday. As mentioned, Pacific will need to win their next two matches and will need Cavalry at no more than 49 points for a chance to overtake Cavalry. It’s unlikely, but for drama’s sake, I hope we enter that last match day with a winner who wins the league match.