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The Prize: CPL 2022 season finale + playoffs


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Final table + playoff picture + top players

League finale 2022

The narrative of the league finale has been a bit lost these last weeks, so let's create a single thread for it.

We have been witness to a rather incredible fight for the top spot on the table and the playoff positions, with Valour pushing into the narrative and all the rest of the top 4 taking points from each other. A great story that we are not telling properly. I'm a bit surprised OneSoccer has not spent much effort on the story either.

There are 4 matches left with everything at stake for the top 5, and maybe top 7. Pacific and Forge have a match pending, postponed due to the Pacific's Concacaf campaign, that will also come into play. Since the playoff is only semis and the final, single match, that means 6-7 matches left to season's end.

Even York and HFX could push into the playoff race, whoever wins the upcoming head to head. And if Pacific and Valour slip up their next fixtures.

IMO Forge, with the best attack and defence, with an early start to the season in Concacaf and a slow start in the league, has been the best team by a slight margin. Pacific until Wero was sold, Forge since. But if Forge don't show it in the next games it'll mean little.

Top players 2022

We have not had this discussion either. Previous top players in the league have not risen to the occasion. The first season I think de facto MVPs were Borges, Bekker, and probably Carducci. Morelli when scoring after that. Last year, Bustos seemed strong, Wero would have been a candidate for this year if he hadn't transfered out. For me, none of the previous MVPs have been near their previous levels.

So who have been the top players of this season? Who's the regular season MVP? It is close enough to the end to start discussing.

The debate for top player, keeper, mid, defender, young player, is fairly open. Maybe Sean Rea or De Rosario for the last category? Ingham with the slight edge as keeper? The sense is that these last 4 games, just 15% of the season, might decide some of these awards. And top scorer as well, if anyone can catch Alejandro Díaz.

Advance conclusion

This has been the best season of the CPL so far, by far. 

 

Edited by Unnamed Trialist
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Playoff Race

This race to the finish is setup to be probably the best regular season ending in the CPL thus far. Coming into last weekend I could've seen any of the top five squads missing out on the postseason. A York run would take a miracle but I hope they make things interesting, as their last 3 opponents will be teams in the playoff race.

 

Ottawa has barely skipped a beat, and maintained a top position all season. I'd expect them to secure a playoff seed with ease. I consider Forge to be in a pretty favourable position after their win and Valour's loss on Saturday. I'm thinking Valour continues their run of form, and then it comes down to Pacific vs. Cavalry for the last playoff spot in each of their final games on October 8th.

 

Top Players

For me, Sean Rea is the frontrunner for league MVP. 5 Goals, 7 Assists on the season. His playmaking seems to make the game easier on his Valour teammates, he is gifted at creating space and a lot of his goal contributions have been highlight reel moments. 

A super sub over the past few years, David Choiniere has ran away with a starting position this season. Forge has so many contributors that it can be hard to narrow it down to one player. I haven't been as impressed with Bekk's this season, some have praised AAJ but he's been inconsistent playing out of position. Choiniere seems to be the one who consistently steps up and delivers in the difficult moments, both as a creator and an attacking threat blazing up the wing.

An outside shout, but I've been impressed with Warschewski as he looks a step ahead of his teammates most of the time on a bit of a lackluster squad.

 

Breakout Players of the Year

Samuel Salter has taken a big leap forward, thrust into some more play time with the absence of Morelli, he's put up 10 goals in the league plus a big one against TFC (only had 3 goals last season). 

Sean Young looked a bit raw last season, but has really become an important piece of their squad this season. His versatility gives Pacific a lot to work with. Not a flashy candidate, but at 21 and in his 3rd CPL season he is starting to show the level of someone who may be a solid CPL player for the next decade.

Ali Musse has always showed creativity on the ball, but until his third CPL season it hadn't really turned into much productivity.  Between Pasquotti, Novak, Pepple, etc. this team seems to lose important attackers year-after-year and Musse stepping into a more prominent role has been able to soften that blow. (or at least he's dominated Forge all year)

Gabriel Bitar was dealt a tough hand in his third CPL stint, but it seems like playing time was all he needed to prove why he's been an impactful player at other levels. He should be one that FCEd builds around in the coming years.

 

Newcomers of the Year

Osaze De Rosario is the easy choice here. The de facto Golden Boot leader with Wero Diaz gone, he was the only consistent attacking threat on Forge until Babouli was brought into the side. 11 goals and 2 assists should put him into the Top U21 player nominees.

Wesley Timoteo has been the main facilitator in the Edmonton side. He's created 5 goals and scored 2 himself from an Eddies midfield that otherwise has felt disjointed from their offense.

Ballou has been an instant impact player, bringing some quality to a first place Ottawa side. While he hasn't consistently shown to be too good for this level, he has flashes of pedigree that remind you why he was such a highly regarded prospect.

Zach Fernandez is continuing the trend of young Blainville fullbacks (Farsi, Abzi, etc.) making an impact at the CPL level. He's still young, but looks like he has room to grow into a player that eventually is ready to move beyond the CPL. He's an attacking driven player with good speed and on the ball ability. The team defence in HFX hasn't been great, but he should be the steady presence heading into next season.

 

Advanced Conversation

Looking forward, at what point does the playoff format change to give teams more to play for. If we have 10-12 teams in the near future, I fear the regular season growing even more stale as multiple teams are eliminated at early stages of the season.

Edited by Pottsy3
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19 minutes ago, Pottsy3 said:

Advanced Conversation

Looking forward, at what point does the playoff format change to give teams more to play for. If we have 10-12 teams in the near future, I fear the regular season growing even more stale as multiple teams are eliminated at early stages of the season.

About this, we are still in the Covid playoff mode, single knock-outs. Probably home and away is better, if you make the playoffs you deserve a home match at least. Ok, that is one more match, but one well worth it. Because I dislike a two-match final, a single game all or nothing is better, at the venue of the team that finished highest in the league. 

The new commissioner did say he wanted some award to the regular season winner as well, which I agree with. Apart from how standings play out for Concacaf qualifying.

V good analysis of players, I have not watched certain teams much, like HFX, I admit.

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Just now, Unnamed Trialist said:

About this, we are still in the Covid playoff mode, single knock-outs. Probably home and away is better, if you make the playoffs you deserve a home match at least. Ok, that is one more match, but one well worth it. Because I dislike a two-match final, a single game all or nothing is better, at the venue of the team that finished highest in the league. 

The new commissioner did say he wanted some award to the regular season winner as well, which I agree with. Apart from how standings play out for Concacaf qualifying.

V good analysis of players, I have not watched certain teams much, like HFX, I admit.

I'm fine with the home and away. I just wonder if that playoff eventually expands to 6 teams with 2 getting a bye, or if an apertura - clausara season eventually returns. 

 

Admittedly, some of the analysis is likely biased towards those players' impacts when they've faced Forge.

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1 hour ago, Pottsy3 said:

Zach Fernandez is continuing the trend of young Blainville fullbacks (Farsi, Abzi, etc.) making an impact at the CPL level. He's still young, but looks like he has room to grow into a player that eventually is ready to move beyond the CPL. He's an attacking driven player with good speed and on the ball ability. The team defence in HFX hasn't been great, but he should be the steady presence heading into next season

I haven't paid a lot of attention to him, but statistically he's amongst the leaders in duels and fouls won, and he's added 4 assists. I'll certainly keep my eye on him going forward

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2 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

About this, we are still in the Covid playoff mode, single knock-outs. Probably home and away is better, if you make the playoffs you deserve a home match at least. Ok, that is one more match, but one well worth it. Because I dislike a two-match final, a single game all or nothing is better, at the venue of the team that finished highest in the league. 

I like this format for the reasons you state.

3 hours ago, Pottsy3 said:

Advanced Conversation

Looking forward, at what point does the playoff format change to give teams more to play for. If we have 10-12 teams in the near future, I fear the regular season growing even more stale as multiple teams are eliminated at early stages of the season.

Personally, I'd like to see the league hold the line on the playoffs at four.  Yes, it means that some teams are eliminated early but it also means that getting into the playoffs is, well, meaningful.  And it keeps the playoffs short which allows for two-leg semi-finals without stretching the calendar.

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Without quoting all of the @Pottsy3post, thanks for reminding us we initially had apertura and clausura. It is very Concacaf. I am not sure fans would connect, but it has possibilities, and the way the schedule is now, could work quite well.

But you'd have to force two half seasons both with balanced schedules, which could be hard. And that may not allow for postponements due to Voyageurs Cup or Concacaf competitions.

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Final table + playoff picture + top players

League finale 2022

The direction of the remaining playoff fight will be determined this weekend. A Valour win over Ottawa and Forge win over Pacific would but Forge in the driver's seat for 1st place and Pacific would really be on the back foot for a playoff spot. The opposite results would just about cement Ottawa in first and leave Valour on the outside looking in with no home games remaining. 

Top players 2022

If we start from the conclusion that the MVP should come from a team in the playoff hunt, we can eliminate one or two candidates. Who are the candidates for each of the top 5? For Valour, which I've watched the most, Rea gets the headlines, rightfully. Diego Gutierrez might be their most important player, but in an unheralded role. Who is the most important on each of the other teams? Diaz, but he's gone. Aparicio? Forge has a few options. Choiniere always seems the most consequential player when on the pitch, but he is rotated often. Ballou in Ottawa? Who else? Cavalry has a team full of solid players, but a star?

Advance conclusion

Agree with UT that this has been the best CPL season. Improvement in refereeing would be nice, but fans of any league will say this. There does need to be a league-wide emphasis on allowing advantage to be played, as I've seen several clear cut scoring opportunities wiped out in the last few weeks. In a lot of ways 8 teams makes the balanced schedule and length of season just about perfect, but future expansion is to be welcomed as a sign of the overall health of the league.

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7 hours ago, jonovision said:

Final table + playoff picture + top players

League finale 2022

The direction of the remaining playoff fight will be determined this weekend. A Valour win over Ottawa and Forge win over Pacific would but Forge in the driver's seat for 1st place and Pacific would really be on the back foot for a playoff spot. The opposite results would just about cement Ottawa in first and leave Valour on the outside looking in with no home games remaining. 

Top players 2022

If we start from the conclusion that the MVP should come from a team in the playoff hunt, we can eliminate one or two candidates. Who are the candidates for each of the top 5? For Valour, which I've watched the most, Rea gets the headlines, rightfully. Diego Gutierrez might be their most important player, but in an unheralded role. Who is the most important on each of the other teams? Diaz, but he's gone. Aparicio? Forge has a few options. Choiniere always seems the most consequential player when on the pitch, but he is rotated often. Ballou in Ottawa? Who else? Cavalry has a team full of solid players, but a star?

Advance conclusion

Agree with UT that this has been the best CPL season. Improvement in refereeing would be nice, but fans of any league will say this. There does need to be a league-wide emphasis on allowing advantage to be played, as I've seen several clear cut scoring opportunities wiped out in the last few weeks. In a lot of ways 8 teams makes the balanced schedule and length of season just about perfect, but future expansion is to be welcomed as a sign of the overall health of the league.

This will come with time, as we develop a pool of elite referees from across the country. The standard of CanPL football is obviously a step up from where even the best Canadian referees have been regularly working for the past 20 years. Over a few years, some referees will rise and others will be exposed as not being good enough.

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12 hours ago, Pottsy3 said:

I'm fine with the home and away. I just wonder if that playoff eventually expands to 6 teams with 2 getting a bye, or if an apertura - clausara season eventually returns. 

 

Admittedly, some of the analysis is likely biased towards those players' impacts when they've faced Forge.

I can't stand apertura/clausara.

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8 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

I forgot to add coach of the year--an equally tough decision. If Valour can make the playoffs solidly, the "other" DS, Phillip, could get the nod.

Koch has to be given a think.

And isn't that curious?  Two managers who might be on the outside of the playoffs demanded to be recognized.  Amazing. 

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11 hours ago, EnigMattic1 said:

I actually had to Google what that meant. In my defence, I am in the UK and our league structure is pretty basic.

Not for long!  All-Star game here we come ;)

 

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I'm too ignorant towards most non-York teams so I don't know about player awards, but I agree with everyone that has been saying this has been the best season. There have been some great highlight reel goals this season, and as has been highlighted tight races in the table. York seemed to have played themselves out of it a while back but all of a sudden they are hot and have made things a bit more congested, even if they ultimately are unlikely to make the playoffs.

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While the MNT is drawing our attention, this is the (first?) critical weekend for the CPL season.

Previews: 

-York needs to beat Valour to remain in playoff contention. A draw eliminates them. Any points for Valour benefit them, but a win puts them in the fight for a home playoff match. They can still mathematically even win the league, and the tie-breaking factors--total wins, goal difference, total goals--do not rule them out--as long as it's not Forge they tie on points.

-Cavalry and At. Ottawa will take points off each other, benefitting those behind. Even winning, neither can clinch a playoff spot if Valour wins earlier in the day. If Valour does not get full points, Ottawa can clinch a spot with a win themselves. With Cavalry winning after Valour not winning, we'd have to look at tie-breakers for future scenarios.

-HFX-Pacific being put back a day for Fiona means that the matches won't coincide on the same day. Oddly, they are predicting decent weather for Sunday, which may help HFX get a decent crowd out and help push for a result. A win puts them into playoff contention only if Valour loses, which would mean that 7 of eight teams were still in contention with two fixtures left: impressive for the CPL. Pacific needs the win to take advantage of their game in hand and make the postponed match away to Forge on 6 October especially meaningful.

-Forge has a game in hand and is away to Edmonton, the only team only playing for honour and the integrity of their professionalism. I am not sure if Forge returned to Hamilton this week, either way this a long road trip and it could take its toll. A Forge win ensures they push up to 2nd spot, even a tie keeps them in 3rd regardless of what the chasers do. 

Other stories:

De Rosario Jr is chasing the Golden Boot

Valour play their last three on the road, Cavalry their last three at home

Forge have the edge on potential tie-breakers, tied with Cavalry with 12 wins and a game in hand, and way ahead in biggest goal difference, most goals scored

Edited by Unnamed Trialist
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Calvary v Valour Sunday will decide if the playoff race goes to the final weekend. Valour needs the W.

For Cavalry, a tie is probably not enough if they want to win the league on the last day. 

Any of the 1st 4 could qualify for the final at home still (I realize technically 3rd v 4th could be a final).

Today AtOttawa and Forge face rivals out of contention. Atletico still hasn't met its youth minutes minimum.

 

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