The Canadian Premier League wrapped up its season Saturday, crowning Forge FC as league champions for a second straight season.
Oh, yeah, the entire single-site campaign, dubbed The Island Games, was held on Prince Edward Island. A worldwide pandemic couldn’t stop eight CPL clubs and their players from travelling to the smallest Canadian province to hold a professional soccer season.
Despite the issues that COVID-19 posed, the CPL persevered and gave supporters lots to chew on after The Island Games were over.
Here are five things we learned from the 2020 CPL season.
Nineteen penalties were called in 35 matches in Prince Edward Island – half of all matches featured at least one. For context, penalties occurred nearly twice as much compared to 2019, when 35 penalties were awarded during the 98-match season. Thankfully, the 2020 CPL Final was spared any penalty controversy.
Goals from penalties affected 10 games in PEI, including four of the six second-round matches – remember back-to-back penalties for HFX vs. Cavalry? How about Forge’s equalizer against the Wanderers in one of the more dubious penalty decisions you will ever see?
“AAJ” is a perfect example of Forge’s “scoring by committee” approach, since he became the 21st Forge player to score in club history (and the 18th active player), joining Kwame Awuah and newcomers Paolo Sabak, Maxim Tissot, and Mo Babouli on the massive list.
Bobby Smyrniotis saw ten different goalscorers combine for a league-high 19 goals during the 2020 CPL season.
Look at the CPL Final. HFX Wanderers was close to fully fit by matchday while Forge FC was only missing Chris Nanco and Klaidi Cela.
HFX coach Stephen Hart admitted his side was “lucky” to go without major injuries: “We were fortunate to play in a tournament and get away without too many contact injuries… We’ve been lucky.”
A light sentence considering the CPL clubs eliminated to that point. Cavalry FC, after topping the first stage table, limped out of the tournament without usual starters Nico Pasquotti, Nik Ledgerwood, Oliver Minatel and Sergio Camargo. Those injuries surely affected Cavalry’s chances.
Take Gale’s Valour side which proved the most injury-riddled of the eight CPL clubs, leaving PEI with nine injuries. York9 started the tournament without Manny Aparicio, Chris Mannella, and Michael Petrasso.
CPL supporters are as passionate as ever
Canadian soccer supporters brought passion to The Island Games… even if they weren’t in Prince Edward Island. Social media was constantly flooded with supporters getting behind their teams.