CPL Power Rankings Week 1 – Valour Surge, Ottawa Faulter

CPL Power Rankings Week 1 – Valour Surge, Ottawa Faulter

The offseason in the Canadian Premier League is long, but still, it feels like time has flown by after Forge took home the championship at TD Place at the end of October. While the fifth season is now underway, it comes with many changes being made. FC Edmonton is no longer, British Colombia has a second team, and to absolutely everyone’s surprise, there’s a new playoff format – this is clearly sarcastic. The only mainstays at this point are that Quebec still doesn’t have a franchise, and there’s a franchise everyone fears might close up shop.


Regardless of all the changes, there’s a sense of normal around the CPL for a second-consecutive season. The first slate of games gave some hope that this might be the most competitive season yet, but most importantly, brought the fans back out to the ground, and in some cases, with great numbers. Speaking of numbers, we got eight of our CPL writers and podcasters to vote on these power rankings, from first to eighth. Don’t write too much into it as it’s the first match week of the year, but one thing is for sure: they won’t be as controversial as Gareth Wheeler’s.

8. Vancouver FC

Last Match: @ Pacific – Loss (0-1)

Highest Vote: 7

Lowest Vote: 8

Average Vote: 7.5

Next Match: @ York United (Canadian Championship)

For their first game in franchise history, Vancouver had their moments, just don’t try to Google it, because all you will see is Vancouver Whitecaps stuff. They thought they took the lead in the first half, when Shaan Hundal headed one past Emil Gazdov in the Pacific goal, but it was called back for offside. Make no mistake, there’s plenty for the side to learn as they progress throughout the season, but in the BC derby, they looked like a formidable foe, before conceding a late goal. Many clubs in the CPL have found keeping Manny Aparicio under wraps a tough task, and it was just a little too much to ask for the second expansion team in league history. Still, it was great to see the supporters make the trip to the Island to see their team on the pitch for the first time.


7. York United

Last Match: vs. Valour –

Highest Vote: 6

Lowest Vote: 8

Average Vote: 7.375

Next Match: Vs. Vancouver FC (Canadian Championship)

York has expectations to live up to this season. They were crowned the champions of the offseason, with a handful of really nice-looking additions, but in their first test, they didn’t live up to the hype at all. Up against Valour, who some are predicting may be more likely to fold than make the playoffs, York couldn’t get things going. They allowed the Winnipeg side six shots on target, and conceded an own goal early in the second half, before Valour added another tally to put the game out of reach just three minutes later. Not getting a result against expansion side Vancouver FC in the Canadian Championship this week would be a really disappointing start to the season for York, so they’ll be looking to make it right there.


6. HFX Wanderers

Last Match: @ Atlético Ottawa – Draw (1-1)

Highest Vote: 5

Lowest Vote: 7

Average Vote: 5.75

Next Match: Neutral site vs. Atlético Ottawa (Canadian Championship)

In Patrice Gheisar’s first match in charge of the eastern-most team in the CPL, they walked into Ottawa, played a team fresh off a league title, in front of over 7,000 fans, and came away with an impressive draw. A coach in his inaugural season, whose most recent experience comes with League1 Ontario side Vaughan Azzurri, and a roster with a handful of players coming from Vaughan as well, many people have picked the Wanderers to struggle a little bit this season, and more than likely miss out on the playoffs. What we got on Saturday afternoon was a spirited side, who took the game to Ottawa, and if not for a seconds-long moment to end the first half, HFX could have very well come away with all three points to open the season. Like everyone else, it’s not time for overreaction, but you have to like what the Wanderers were able to do in Ottawa.


5. Atlético Ottawa

Last Match: vs. HFX Wanderers – Draw (1-1)

Highest Vote: 4

Lowest Vote: 6

Average Vote: 5

Next Match: Neutral site vs. HFX Wanderers (Canadian Championship)

In 2022, Atlético Ottawa turned in their best result in franchise history, and by quite some distance. Not only did they win the CPL’s regular season championship, but they made a run all the way to the finals, where they ultimately fell to Forge, because of course they did. But chin up, right? This year, Atlético are expected to be right back near the top by many, but their title hopes got off to a little bit of a rocky start with a draw at home against HFX Wanderers, a club that is as fresh as anyone in the league, save for Vancouver FC possibly. Carlos Gonzalez’s side looked a click off, and when a lot of your game is predicated on keeping the ball out of your own goal, mistakes like the one that led to Halifax’s marker simply can’t happen. It’s not disaster territory for Atléti, of course, but they looked like a team that lost a lot of big talent in their home opener.


4. Valour FC

Last Match: @ York –

Highest Vote: 1

Lowest Vote: 6

Average Vote: 3.875

Next Match: @ TSS Rovers (Canadian Championship)

A win at York is the dream start for Valour. Ignoring the off-field issues for the time being, they have been the popular choice for the wooden spoon, and many pundits and fans alike have already written them off, even though they were on the playoff bubble last season. Winnipeggers can look at the standings and see their club at the top, and even if that changes next week and is never seen again, at least they know they are competitive, and won’t rival FC Edmonton, the permanent champions of the wooden spoon – they deserve it.


3. Pacific FC

Last Match: vs. Vancouver – Win (1-0)

Highest Vote: 1

Lowest Vote: 3

Average Vote: 2.75

Next Match: vs. Cavalry (Canadian Championship)

It never really seems to matter how many players Pacific loses, James Merriman always finds a way to ensure they are competitive. Although maybe not the powerhouse and title threat they were only a couple of seasons ago, it probably isn’t too wise to write off the Vancouver Island side, especially not when it comes to earning one of five playoff spots (don’t get us started on that). Against Vancouver, they had their chances on goal, and are well deserving of the three points, but in the future, they could make things a lot easier on themselves by capitalizing on their chances when they present themselves, because when they meet with the Forges of the world, they might not get a second chance.


2. Forge FC

Last Match: vs. Cavalry – Draw (2-2)

Highest Vote: 1

Lowest Vote: 4

Average Vote: 2.25

Next Match: vs. Laval (Canadian Championship)

Unless you’re a Forge fan, there’s no question that you’re already tired of hearing about them. Coming into the season, everyone is calling them champions already, and even going as far as suggesting they could have a chance to do some damage in the Voyageurs Cup, putting them in conversation to possibly be the first CPL team to pip an MLS side. That being said, when Forge and Cavalry meet, it’s always a show, and ‘the rivalry’ lived up to expectations once again on Saturday. The Cavs took the lead twice, and both times, Forge answered back, and while they would have loved to leave Tim Horton’s Field with a win, their efforts can’t really be faulted. Hopefully, they don’t do to Laval in the Canadian Championship what the Canadian under-20 women’s team did to Martinique.


1. Cavalry FC

Last Match: @ Forge – Draw (2-2)

Highest Vote: 1

Lowest Vote: 3

Average Vote: 1.875

Next Match: @ Pacific (Canadian Championship)

You don’t want to pretend like it’s doom and gloom when you get a point at Tim Horton’s Field against Forge, but when you have the lead on two separate occasions and still don’t find a way to win, it’s not exactly a great feeling. The Cavs and Forge have one of the best rivalries in the league – which is entertaining because it doesn’t conform to traditional football narratives, and we love that in Canada – but it always seems like these teams never die. The single point isn’t a bad result by any means, but there’s a lot of pressure on Cavalry this season to finally get over the hump and get some silverware, and all three points would have been a great way to start.

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