Pacific FC cross the country in search of a winning formula
HFX Wanderers host match between clubs struggling to get in the win column
It is quicker to fly the Atlantic. Much quicker.
It's a long way to go for a game of soccer. Welcome to the big, wide world of the Canadian Premier League.
As road trips go, this is a monster. It is a seven-hour flight for Pacific FC from Victoria to Halifax. PFC better make it worth its while.
It's tough on the travelling players, but this is what we wanted. A fully professional Canadian league without regional boundaries. A nationwide, coast-to-coast, season-long battleground unrestricted by provincial borders.
When the dust settles, one club will best the rest. That club will be the CPL's first ever spring champions. It will have earned the right to celebrate a small piece of Canadian sports history. There is only one chance to become the first ever league winners.
That club may well be Cavalry FC. The Calgary Stampede has come early this year. The Cavs boast a perfect 5-0 record and a two-point lead over Forge but Tommy Wheeldon's team is idle for a couple of weeks.
Time enough, perhaps, for the chasing pack to narrow the gap.
Wins have been hard to come by
Both HFX Wanderers and Pacific FC will have to go some. Neither has torn up any trees in the early weeks of the season. The Wanderers are 11 points off the pace at the halfway point of the spring season while PFC are just a point better off.
It's been a while since either tasted victory. The Wanderers won their home opener in dramatic fashion against Forge but have scored only one goal and earned just a single point in three subsequent outings.
PFC is winless in its last four. Pacific narrowly beat HFX in the reverse fixture on opening weekend but has struggled to build momentum. It has tied its last two games but carelessly threw away a two-goal lead against York9 on home soil.
Despite recent results, Wanderers took some positives from their midweek draw. The return of Colombian striker Luis Perea certainly caused problems for the Y9 backline and only the frame of the goal prevented him scoring a late winner.
WATCH | CPL Match in a Minute - Wanderers vs. York9:
Now is the time for HFX to push on. The visit of Pacific represents the second of three straight home games so it is incumbent upon the Wanderers to push harder, take more risks and give their fans something to shout about.
The weekend's other game gives FC Edmonton home advantage against Winnipeg based Valour FC. Soccer is all about goals, but these two have had trouble finding the net.
Scoring chances few and far between
The Eddies have gone three games without a goal and didn't look like scoring in Wednesday's loss at Forge. It's one thing to miss the target, but when a team is not even creating chances, there's a problem. That simply has to change if Edmonton is to make any sort of impression.
Valour is a team searching for some kind of consistency. Two wins and three losses is the sort of form that drives coaches and fans to distraction. Add to that just one goal in the last three games and the omens are hardly encouraging. Hopefully Valour has used its bye week productively.
The CPL's first month has begun to sort the men from the boys.
Forge is looking like the only team that can stop Cavalry's charge. The Hamilton team has now won three on the spin without conceding a single goal. Wednesday's victory over Edmonton was a clinic in solid defending and creative offence.
The combination play between Kyle Bekker and Tristan Borges is emerging as a real threat. Their understanding, energy and technical ability is pivotal to getting Forge moving in the right direction.
Cavalry is feeling the heat. Forge is closing fast and must be considered a legitimate challenger for the spring title. Forge may not win it, but the Cavs will certainly have to earn it.