Cavalry FC defender Mason Trafford (5) and Forge FC midfielder Tristan Borges (19) battle for the ball in the second half during a match at ATCO Field, Spruce Meadows. (Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports).
The Breakdown, Week 23: Cavalry, Forge keep pace, Valour shines
Behold, the final month of the 2019 Canadian Premier League season.
Fresh after clinching a berth in Finals 2019, Forge returns to action in Week 23 in game four of five total meetings with Ontario rivals York9 FC. A trio of midweek matches, coupled with another three over the weekend, brings our Fall table picture to a little more clarity, as we approach the home stretch of the season.
Here’s what we learned in Week 23.
7. We see you, Amer Didic
FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic came to the Canadian Premier League on a “mission” – get into the Canadian men’s national team.
The 24-year-old centre-back earned the nod back in September of 2017, but didn’t play any minutes. Since then, his national team future seemed to be on hold. Didic was clearly talented, but needed consistency. He found that in Jeff Paulus’ backline … and has been rewarded for those efforts with a call-up for Canada’s upcoming CONCACAF Nations League bout with their rivals, the United States.
Didic certainly deserves the nod; he’s been one of the league’s top-performing centre-backs, after all. But, with all eyes on Cavalry’s Dominic Zator – who matches up quite favourably to Didic – the call-up going to the Eddies’ man came down to his ability to play the ball with his feet, according to Herdman.
His head coach Jeff Paulus figures Didic’s character helps, too.
“He takes the game of football seriously, even when he’s training,” Paulus told CanPL.ca. “He always wants the best of everything. He gets upset on a bad touch. He always wants to improve his performance, and he doesn’t accept mediocrity on the training pitch from anybody, mostly himself. He always demands more. He has a hunger for excellence, and for getting better.”
6. What to make of 6 regular season matches
With the finalists set for Finals 2019, the last month of the Canadian Premier League season serves to provide Cavalry and Forge a chance to hone their tactics and prepare for a gargantuan bout with a pair of rehearsal matches set to come, and for the rest of the league, a third-place spot is coveted due to potential Canadian Championship implications.
As such, this week’s series of six matches saw a couple of interesting talking points emerge: Cavalry made short work of Valour in a 4-1 win, keeping their dominance in the Fall table rolling. But, after a long September on the road, Valour’s return home saw them defeat FC Edmonton 3-1 in convincing fashion, stretching the Eddies’ run without a win to 10 straight matches. Forge had defeated Edmonton earlier in the week with a 1-0 win away from home, and returned to Tim Hortons Field to dispatch York9 FC 1-0, a correction of sorts for the inaugural match. Cavalry kept pace with a 2-0 win over HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday, which brought to an end a series of draws for the Wanderers, the latest coming in a 1-1 tie to Pacific last Wednesday.
So, what to make of these six matches? Not much. Forge retains its spot at the top of the Fall table, with a two-point lead over 2nd-placed Cavalry. Valour moves up to third after their spirited showing, though the Nine Stripes are just two points back with a game in hand. Tristan Borges has 12 goals to his name, overtaking Terran Campbell to lead the Golden Boot race. It’s all coming down the pipe for these seven sides as October 19 – the final regular season match day of 2019 – fast approaches.
5. It’s soccer season
Ahhh, Fall. As September rolls over into October and the promise of turkey and pumpkin pie entices us through the opening weeks of the month, another annual tradition is enjoyed by millions of soccer fans across North America (and the world, really) – that’s right. It’s FIFA season. Around this time, EA Sports’ FIFA and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer franchises launch their latest iterations, with FIFA 20 and Pro Evo 2019 hitting store shelves … with the latter offer plenty of customization options for hardcore supporters to tinker around with to their heart’s content.
With that in mind … just look at this, by “The Wonderful Forge FC” on YouTube.
It’s brilliantly produced, with player faces, stadiums filled with supporters, kits, scarves – the whole works. The Canadian Premier League comes to life with this fan mod, but will an official version follow soon, we wonder?
5. Don’t miss the moment
In a season filled with historic moment after historic moment, the 2019 CPL campaign is nearing its end, and if you’re a supporter in Calgary or Hamilton – or, really, the general area – you’ll want to be there for another major milestone, as tickets for the 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals are now up for sale on Ticketmaster, as the venues and date have already been selected between the two finalists.
Capping off an incredible season that saw professional soccer take root from coast to coast in Canada, Finals 2019 will celebrate all of the league’s early achievements – whether in its launch, the 10-match Spring sprint, Cavalry’s exploits in the Canadian Championship, Forge’s foray in CONCACAF League, Marco Carducci and Amer Didic’s Canadian national team call-ups, and more to come as the Fall campaign nears its conclusion.
Is this a takeaway? Not really … but if you’re a fan of soccer in Canada, here’s what I’d say: There are very few moments in sporting history like this. The first final in league history? This is one you don’t want to miss. Speaking of …
3. OneSoccer for all
The 2020 season promises even more drama, intrigue, and Canadian content on the field, and with that in mind, OneSoccer has a new offer for all season ticket holders: Every season ticket will come with a OneSoccer subscription.
Check out OneSoccerfor more details, and to check out all their Canadian Premier League content – including pre- and post-game shows, midweek reviews and previews, and more.
2. Can we talk about …
… Valour FC attacker Marco Bustos? The criminally underrated Canadian fire starter has emerged as one of the prime examples of the Canadian Premier League’s mission, manifest; having toiled through the Whitecaps youth academy before graduating to the senior team, and having made a move to Oklahoma City Energy in 2018, Bustos was on the same path as many of his Canadian peers, seemingly destined to fall off the radar despite his age (23). Instead, he’s now the key figure in a Valour team filled with players just like him in Louis Beland-Goyette, Michael Petrasso, and more. Bustos is a central figure in Rob Gale’s side; the team’s attack is built around him. With seven goals in 23 games … he’s likely on John Herdman’s radar now, too.