Looks can be deceiving.
It may look as though there’s a genuine battle in progress for the Canadian Premier League’s first-ever Spring title.
With little more than a fortnight remaining, it appears Cavalry FC has some competition. Forge FC has pulled within two points of the unbeaten runaway leaders.
Look a little closer. The math doesn’t add up.
Take nothing away from Forge. The men from Hamilton have done all they can in recent weeks. Three straight wins without conceding a single goal will quickly get you moving in the direction.
More impressively two of those wins came on the road. Forge beat Valour in Winnipeg and York9 in the 905 Derby before returning home to take care of business against FC Edmonton. They scored six goals in the process and recorded three shutouts.
Forge is clearly on a roll, but time is the enemy. Forge is fast running out of games. It has played two more than Cavalry and is still trailing in its wake. Forge has just three matches remaining and only more on home soil.
That takes place this weekend against Valour. It represents what may turn out to be a private race for runners up spot in the CPL and it could be richly entertaining. Forge leads the goal-scoring charts while its Winnipeg-based opponent doesn’t do ties. There have been three wins and three losses so far for Valour.
‘Al Classico’ matchup looms
Cavalry continues to demonstrate its superiority. Earlier in the week, the Cavs completed a Canadian Championship win over Forge to earn itself a crack at the big boys. The Vancouver Whitecaps are next in line for Tommy Wheeldon’s CPL leaders.
In the meantime, Cavalry must focus on the job at hand. It is preparing for its first-ever trip to Edmonton for the second edition of ‘Al Classico’ – the CPL’s version of the Battle of Alberta. Sooner or later Cavalry’s unbeaten run will come to an end and no team is hungrier than the Eddies to burst the Cavs’ bubble.
Unfortunately, Edmonton’s strike force has been firing blanks. The goal drought now stretches back four league games and although they managed to beat York9 in midweek Cup action, the Eddies simply must find a way to convert chances into goals.
It’s a quick turn round for Y9. On short rest, Jim Brennan’s team returns home to face the well travelled Pacific FC. York9 remains the only team without a CPL win but with a four-game home stand ahead, that elusive victory must be close at hand.
Pacific is taking the scenic route home. After a narrow loss in Halifax, PFC hopes to play spoiler in Toronto before moving onto Winnipeg in search of only its second win. Both Y9 and PFC have struggled defensively, so expect more goals at York Lions Stadium.
Verhoeven gets a crack at national team
The CPL’s inaugural season is all about firsts. First goals, first wins, first titles, and first opportunities.
Noah Verhoeven is certainly making the most of his chance. The Pacific midfielder from Surrey, who turns 20 this weekend, was recently invited to join the Canadian national team training camp preparing for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Verhoeven has already represented Canada at youth level but now he’s had an opportunity to rub shoulders with the senior squad. Among the familiar faces at the training base was Alphonso Davies – a former teammate from their days at the Whitecaps Academy.
This should be music to the ears of Canadian soccer fans. A core CPL mandate is to develop young Canadians and give them somewhere to play in a meaningful, competitive environment. Verhoeven has caught the eye playing every league minute for Pacific in 2019.
One can only hope he is merely the first player on a fast moving conveyor belt of young Canadian talent.